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Archive for the ‘Playstation 2’ Category

Odin Sphere – Atlus/VanillaWare Inc. – Playstation 2

I’m surprised I haven’t done this game earlier. It was about this game (maybe a game or two before) when I really started to notice how much I loved Atlus.

All right, so Odin Sphere. This game puts an all new spin on 2D Adventure RPG games. The story itself is intertwined amongst five different characters, and I’ve only played through about one and a half, so I really can’t give you a thorough story background. Just take my word that its good. :]

The art is what is really captivating. VanillaWare Inc. do all hand drawn sprites and it shows. The backgrounds are lush and full of life, the characters are articulate, and all of the cutscenes are done with voice overs that match the characters’ personalities perfectly. Really, it is all quite breathtaking.

The gameplay is unique too. The concept of ‘square mashing’ is defeated by a POW bar (power bar). Basically, every attack you do depletes that bar. The stronger the attack, the more it depletes. Let it empty, and you will be stunned for a set amount of time. You can mash on the buttons and rotate the joystick for a speedy recovery however. If you do not wish to be stunned, simply not attacking will allow your POW bar to regenerate. Also, being struck by an enemy replenishes it as well.

Your HP is recovered by eating food, but each piece of food has a set EXP value to it. After so much EXP, your HP ‘levels up’ and you gain a larger max HP. This is where strategy comes into play, because if you level your HP up, you also refill your entire bar. Its a very interesting concept.

Your ‘magic’ in this game is called phazon. When you defeat an enemy, plant a phazon plant seed and have it mature, or complete alchemy of sorts, it releases phazon for you to absorb. At the same time, phazon is used to grow plants, so you have to juggle leveling up your phazon (by absorbing it) or leaving it float in the air (for your plants to absorb).

The alchemy in this game runs off a small math system, so basic understanding of it definitely helps (though they do provide you with a brief in game tutorial, in which case a basic understanding on how to read helps). The seed planting is nice, as you can see the plant developing so you always know how much phazon went into the plant.

The maps are run on closed circuit boards meaning that if you run left or right far enough, you will eventually run in a complete circle. This is not a problem, because it helps you from being lost.

There is only one significant err I find within the game: it loads a whole lot. Granted they are not long loads (the first is usually the longest, being at about 5 seconds, and the rest being only a second to a second and a half), but goodness. If you enter a new area, it loads, back track an area, it loads, storyline unfolds, it loads. I think you get the picture. Its not enough to bring the game down though. Not in the least.

The game has many new features that I have not previously seen in any other game, making this an ‘Editor’s Pick’, if you will. I really recommend this to anyone who enjoys an adventure game with RPG elements tied in. Even if you don’t understand those concepts, this game is solid enough for anyone to just pick up and play.

8.5 / 10


Steambot Chronicles – Atlus – Playstation 2

ZOMG a new console?! Haha, yeah, I decided to review something new. I’m not exactly finished with this game, but I think I have a basic understanding of it to review it.

Vanilla Bean, a boy who possibly crash lands his ship on a beach, and is awaken by a girl he thinks is named Coriander. Why is everything variables? He’s lost his memory. Its up to you to guide him through this newfound town, and see if you can jog his memory and see where he came from.

The game is very open ended, allowing the choices you make turn you into a hero, a villain, or somewhere in between. On the back of the box, they say that if Miyazaki were to make a game, this would be similar to what it looks like. I suppose from a certain view, I can see it, but that was really shooting for the stars. Its a sandbox style of gameplay, and they make it well known from the title screen. Basically, it means that you don’t have to follow the beaten path the whole time if you don’t want to. You’re free to do what you will.

Gameplay consists of playing musical instruments, which all have a neat way of going about it, to maneuvering in the Trotmobiles: vehicles of mass customization. I mean, everything on these things are interchangable, from the most useless things like the license plate to the more essentials like the body and legs. They’re a nifty little thing, and kind of give off a Mechwarrior feel.

The controls are perfect for the game, but I think they could have made them a little more comfortable, mostly for the Trotmobiles. You use the two joysticks, pressing both forward to move forward, one up and one down to turn, etc. But there will be times when you are fighting someone and you’ll not be facing the foe completely. It tends to get a little frustrating, but you can get used to it. Also, Vanilla is SLOW without a Trot, so make sure you have yours readily available. He becomes even more slow when he’s hungry.

The visuals are great. Everyone is beautifully colored and drawn, the towns look great, coming alive at nights, and busy worker people running around during the days. Its really quite awe inspiring. Also, all of the main scences are done with voiceovers, which are synched extremely well. The voices also fit the characters properly too, so none of that “he should sound more like this”.

Other little quirks are the mini games to earn money, the album collection for your records, and two player pool and trot battles give the game a little icing on the cake. I wouldn’t not recommend the game to anyone, I just feel that slapping Miyazaki’s name on it was a cheap shot. :P Atlus makes wonderful games, they don’t need tactics like that to sell.

7.5 / 10

Final Fantasy XII – Square-Enix – Playstation 2

Oohh maahhh gawwwd.

You are Vaan, a young orphan living in Rabanastre, trying to get your life back together when the empire killed your parents and your brother. He is joined by his best friend Penelo, along with the Sky Pirate Balthier and his attractive Viera friend Fran, the ex old empire soldier Basch, and Princess of the old empire Ashe. Each character has their own specific goal in mind but it all leads to one thing: overthrowing Emperor Gramis Solidor, and his two sons, Vayne and Larsa.

Kay well first off, this game steers off the beaten path for being the first non online FF to not have a turn based battle system. Lots of people were skeptical on it, saying as how it tears away from the “classic” feel. Let me reassure you, if this doesn’t feel like a true FF game, then President Bush is my uncle. I assure you, he’s not. FFXII’s new battle system is so much more entertaining than the original its a wonder why they didn’t make this earlier. They’ve now implemented a new system called the Gambit system, which allows you to create an AI for each character. Playing through a totally new dungeon? Keep the gambits off, and make decisive actions that could cost you your life. Running through an area with creatures you can kill in one hit? Throw the gambits on so you don’t have to sift through the menu every time. The new active battling along side of the gambits make for an interesting prospect on FF gamers.

The Licensing system is another new feature added into FFXII. Basically what it means is when your character owns a weapon, he or she cannot use that particular weapon unless they have the license to do so. To earn LP, you just kill monsters. They are gained right along side EXP. The LP are also used to power up your characters with more gambit slots, additional HP, or added attack power. With the license system in place, no two people’s characters will be the same, and you have nearly all the control to develop a character the way you want them. If you want to have a group of white mages be your party? Then by all means do it. The choice is yours.

The graphics are the third thing that stand out. They are truly phenominal. The CG’s are absolutely breathtaking. Its hard to tell that I’m still playing a PS2 when they show those gorgeous scenes. And even during gameplay, its hard to tell the difference between a CG and the game itself. Don’t get me wrong, the change is noticable, but its not out of control like in FFX or below.

With all the new features, its easy to see why FFXII would be a scary game to purchase. They say never to fix what’s not broken, and believe me, before XII, Final Fantasy was far from broken. But you know what? Who takes a perfectly good car to a modification shop and says, “Please take everything off and put it back on again!” You gotta try something new every once in a while, and Square-Enix has done that, succeeding every step of the way. With a cast of highly lovable characters, beautifully created worlds, and a vivid storyline, you’ll recognize the true Final Fantasy magic once you’ve experienced it first hand.

9.9 / 10