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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

First Impression Review - Valkyria Chronicles II

SEGA’s Valkyria Chronicles (also known in Japan as Senjou no Valkyria) was a big success back when it was first launched for the Playstation 3. It introduced a very unique kind of turn-based strategy gameplay never before seen from other games in the same genre. It even got its own anime series, shown a year after the game was released, which boosted its popularity even more.

Now, VC returns for its sequel, Valkyria Chronicles II, though this time for the PSP. It’s now a question if the second installment of the game would work well in a handheld with much less hardware power, and if it’ll still be the same real-time tactical role-playing as its predecessor.

The story of VC II starts 2 years after the events of the original, where a civil war has emerged within the Principality of Gallia. Because of the recent war and its law issues, which prevents the forming of a proper army to fight against the rebels, the government resorts to deploying military academy cadets to the frontlines instead. The story focuses on a new student at the Lanseal Military Academy named Avan Hardins, along with his friends (also newly enrolled) Cossette and Zeri, as well as their classmates in Class G (the bottom feeders of the academy), as they fight to gain a good reputation with the other classes and fulfill their personal motives, and fight the war at the same time.

Some fans of the original VC probably scratched their heads upon learning that game series’ theme mixed school life with the existing war theme. I admit that I prefer a more serious tone in the story than a light-hearted one, BUT that doesn’t mean that VC II’s story just goofs off. Personally, I still find the game’s story very good despite the mood. The idea of incorporating a school is odd but the way they did it is kinda clever. In my opinion, it’s pretty much acceptable.

The overall tactical gameplay is faithful to its predecessor. It still uses VC’s unique battle system called the BLiTZ (or Battle of Live Tactical Zone) system, where, from an overhead map view, selected units will switch to third-person view and can freely move around and take action with a limited number of steps. At first, you might feel confident at being able to breeze through missions with just a few units at hand without much of a strategy, but soon you will realize that the game tends to catch up with you and you’ll definitely end up needing to play strategically and put every unit you have to good use.

The game’s intermission is all found in the academy itself. The academy features various options for leveling-up your unit classes (as opposed to individual units), changing a unit’s class, buying/creating weapons and equipment, vehicle upgrading, and mission selection. You can also see events that drive the story of the game, or just various characters’ side stories. Character-related events can be triggered depending on how much you use the characters in missions. This opens up their back stories and furthers character development of that particular character. Clearing events involving certain characters will improve its relationship to the main character or even to other characters. This could greatly affect the overall performance of characters when used in combat missions.

Missions are broken into several parts and grouped by month. Certain key missions must be cleared to advance further in the game’s story. Even if you’re done, you can always go back and repeat the missions, in case you want to grind up some experience before going to the next objective, or get a chance to improve your unit ranks in certain missions. Same thing also applies to missions that are triggered through character-related events and free missions. 

There are tons of hidden stuff and achievements that you can unlock in the game. There are a number of hidden characters as well. Most of them are characters from the original VC. Certain tasks must be completed to obtain each one of them, or you can just input a password at the Extra menu option of the title screen. Do note that hidden characters are merely extra character sprites for the game and don’t have any relevance to the main story.

VC II greatly impressed me. I easily got hooked with the uniqueness of the battle system and its war-themed story. Although the story may have not been given a more serious tone compared to the original VC, overall it’s okay and personally, I have no major complaints with it. More importantly, it’s still Valkyria Chronicles. If you’re a fan of the original VC, then VC II is highly recommended for you. For gamers who love tactical role-playing games, then you should definitely try VC II as well.

And that’s my first impression of the game. The rest is up to you to find out.

Until then! 


Wednesday, October 13, 2010

First Impression Review - Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep

Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep is a new KH title exclusively for the PSP. As Square-Enix has finally brought the franchise over to Sony’s handheld, let’s take a peek into the Kingdom’s door and see if the game is worthy to be the “awakening” title for KH.

Before anything else, let me give you few guidelines to my review: Since I’ve never played any of the past KH games and am not very familiar to the story of KH in general, I can’t tell how different KH:BBS is to previous KH titles or even how their plots are connected to each other.

KH:BBS is a prequel to the original KH series. The story revolves around 3 friends, Ventus, Terra, and Aqua, as they get involved in an incident that relates to the appearance of dark entities called the Unversed. These happenings lead them to a journey and eventually tear them apart.

The game is separated into 3 campaigns, one for each of the main characters. The three travel separately through different Disney worlds. Although they would all travel through the same worlds, their paths taken are mostly different. For example, in Snow White’s world, Ventus is with the dwarves while Terra is in the Evil Queen’s castle. Another is at Cinderella’s world, where Terra is assisting Cinderella to the castle while Aqua just came to follow his tracks. They would sometimes bump into each other at certain points of the game and even fight together at times.

KH:BBS’ Command Deck System allows you to customize things such as the Battle, Action and Shotlock commands for use in the fight. Battle commands consist of skills and magic commands that can be leveled-up to certain degree. Slots used to insert commands are limited but will eventually increase as you level-up. You can insert any commands or even items to be used and order them however you want, but if properly arranged, you’ll be able to connect combos out of it. Action commands are basic movements like Jump, Dash and Block. You will eventually obtain more movements like Air Dash and High Jump that will soon be useful not just in battles but also while traveling. Shotlock commands are basically just your regular long-range attacks that consume your Focus Meter, which may not be of much use most of the time, but still comes in handy at times.

You can create new Battle commands by “Melding”. Combining 2 mastered commands will create a new command. Meld it again with another mastered command and you might probably get a new one again. Also, if you add a Synthesis item while melding, new commands created can get bonus abilities that can be used to boost your stats, attacks, defenses, item drops, experience received, etc. Abilities such this will only activate if you use the command that goes with it, but once you’ve mastered that command, the ability is yours to keep and use even without the command (kinda like the learned abilities in Final Fantasy IX).

KH:BBS’ battle system plays quite similarly to the action-based, hack-and-slash style of previous KH games. Since the battles are fast-paced, it would probably take some button-mashing until the hordes of enemies are defeated. However, button-mashing isn’t everything here. When you face the cleverer and more powerful enemies, especially the bosses, you HAVE to fight strategically. Here, camera angles might pose a problem. Although your cursor automatically locks on to the nearest enemy, the camera angle won’t follow so you might find yourself viewing the fight from a wrong angle. This might become a problem, especially in boss fights. Anyway, you can still manually aim your attacks at a target if you desire.

Other than your Command Deck, you have other abilities to use in the battle. D-Link (or Dimension Link) allows you use other characters’ commands and allows you to fight at the same groove as that character. For example, if you’re Terra and you D-Link with Ventus, you can use the latter’s commands and you even move just as agilely. You also have this command gauge that fills up for every blow you throw at the enemy. Once it’s filled up, you become temporarily powered-up and can do a final attack move, but if you’re only able to fill it up partly using your Battle Commands instead of your regular attacks, you will sometimes change Command Styles. Your Command Style will depend on the Battle Commands you used. Once you change Command Style and are able to fill up your Command Gauge again, you can perform a much more powerful final attack.

There are other features in the game that would probably keep you busy other than the main missions. There’s this Mirage Arena which features several modes, mainly for multiplayer play. Although I haven’t explored much of the multiplayer aspects of the game (since I don’t have someone to play the game with), I could still say that the multiplayer feature here is probably something worth a try. There’s also a mini-game called Command Board that is more like a board game that plays using your Deck Commands.

Overall, KHBBS is a very good game. For a game that’s on a handheld, the graphics and cinematics are beautiful. Of course, since it’s Kingdom Hearts, the highlight of it all is the crossover between Disney and Square-Enix characters. Though I’m not much of a fan of Disney’s works in general, a crossover like this always amazes me. The voice-acting is okay (I guess), but there are parts that’s kinda off. Nonetheless, it’s very much tolerable, considering that most of the voice actors/actresses here I believe are popular in the field. The replay value here is high especially if you wanna go over each character’s campaign.

Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep is an action/RPG game developed by Square-Enix for the Playstation Portable, released in September 2010. The game requires Official Firmware update 6.20. It has an optional Data Install option that requires 200-600+ Mb of data.

Until then!


Thursday, September 16, 2010

SH Figuarts x Square Enix PlayArts x S.I.C., or the Action Figure Primer Part 2

OK, so by now you’ve got about a couple or more anime action figures in your hands and you might be thinking of getting more. Let’s get into more action figure business, shall we?

We’ll be looking at SH Figuarts, Square Enix PlayArts, and S.I.C. in this installment.

Let’s start with SH Figuarts, which stands for “Simple Heroic Figuarts”, an off-shoot brand from Bandai. It is well-known for its extensive Kamen Rider lineup, though the line also includes popular anime characters from Dragon Ball, One Piece and Pretty Cure.

A typical SH Figuart figure stands at around 14 millimeters, but don’t underestimate its build based on that. SH Figuart figures are known to be sturdy and accurately articulated, rivaling Revoltech and Figma figures. Bandai kept it simple and clean with this line, with crisp detailing and paintjobs not readily seen in similar-sized figures.

Now, S.I.C., or Super Imaginative Chogokin, is the direct opposite of SH Figuarts. Though both lines are from Bandai, S.I.C. specializes in re-imagined versions of mostly Kamen Rider and other tokusatsu characters such as Kikkaider and Hakkaider. The overall theme of S.I.C. presents darker, grittier versions of the characters, which appeals to fans that prefer an alternative feel to their favorite characters.

Square Enix on the other hand has expanded their merchandise base to include action figures of their characters. Square Enix PlayArts features characters from wildly popular Square Enix games such as Final Fantasy and Kingdom Hearts. Lately, the line has expanded to include figures from non-Square Enix games such as Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker, Halo and Devil May Cry which became known better as Square Enix PlayArts Kai.

Square Enix PlayArts are valued by collectors because of the accuracy and value-for-money as each Square Enix PlayArts figure is made from heavy stock ABS plastic and includes completes accessories for each character.

So there you have it. More action figure discussions on the next installment of The Action Figure Primer!


Friday, September 3, 2010

"Jima-san... Sanjou!"... Oh, and Some Super Robot Taisen too...

Hey there, minna-san! Jima-san here. Yeah, I know. I haven't been posting ANYTHING lately, even though I'M the guy who's supposed to be running The HobbyBox. Anyway, life can get in the way a times, but hey, it's still all good.

Anyway... I suppose I should just start a bit light, so here's a promo video of the upcoming
Super Robot Taisen L, set to be released on the Nintendo DS. (Wai!) Yeah, it's probably not going to be released in English, but a guy can dream, ne?


Monday, August 23, 2010

Old-School Review - Konami Wai Wai World

It’s always been to my amazement seeing gimmicks such as crossovers of any form. Recently, I’ve been seeing many crossover games. Of course it’s no longer surprising considering that Capcom has done almost every crossover they could come up with in their fighting games. But don’t you think it would be cool if they could do a crossover platformer, adventure, or RPG game? So far though, I haven’t seen any such thing happen… At least not yet on my end. The closest I’ve seen to that was the Metal Gear Solid/Monster Hunter crossover in Konami’s Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker, or Square Enix’s Kingdom Hearts series. But from all the crossover games I saw so far, for me, nothing would still top my one and (I guess) my only favorite retro crossover game: Konami Wai Wai World.

Konami Wai Wai World (or as I usually call it, Konami World) is an old-school game by Konami where they feature various Konami characters banding together to save the world. The game starts with your two main characters: Konami Man (I used to refer him as Captain Konami…) and Konami Lady. They’re both summoned by Dr. Cinnamon (from the Twin Bee series) and sent to different worlds using some sort of teleportation machine operated by Pentarou (from Antarctic Adventure) to save other Konami characters, and then travel together to space using Vic Viper (from Gradius) and Twin Bee to stop aliens from conquering the world… or at least that’s how I understand the game story goes.

Wai Wai World is a part platformer, part shooter game, having six platform levels to get through, one shmup level and one final platform level. Players will most likely need to get through the six levels to get their comrades, items and sub-weapons. Each world has a different feel, replicating the six Konami games they feature in the crossover.

There are eight playable Konami characters in the game. Each comes from other Konami games. (Well, almost.) I’ll try to share a little info on each character to the best of my knowledge…

Goemon: From the game Ganbare Goemon. His character is that of a ninja. I’m not really familiar with this character or any of his games. All I know is that he’s one of those old-school Konami characters. Goemon’s basic attack strikes upwards, giving you an advantage when hitting enemies from below. He’s also the only character that can open treasure chests for items. I’m not sure why, but perhaps it has something to do with his character.

Simon Belmont: From the Castlevania series. He’s a vampire hunter equipped with the legendary whip, Vampire Killer. Well, everybody who knows Castlevania should know about this guy. No need for further explanation. >=) Simon’s major advantage is his basic attack that can reach enemies mid-screen, However, it’s slow so you can’t always rely on it, especially since most enemies move at a quick pace. His sub-weapon (Cross Boomerang) is great… like always. >=)

Getsu Fuma: From the game Getsu Fuma Den, which I was fortunate to be able to play back then. Fuma is a swordsman possessing the legendary wave swords, called Hadouken, which he uses to fight off demons. Though he really looks cool in his game, I don’t see anything special about him in WWW. Strangely, he can break walls with his sword. Also, according to other reviews, with Fuma, items drop more often from enemies. I’m not sure though since I’ve never paid attention to the drop rate.

Mikey: From the game The Goonies, which was adapted from an old film carrying the same title. Mikey is a kid, making him the smallest among the characters. Because of this, his basic attack is also short-ranged and weak, but he can easily avoid projectiles especially when he ducks. Just be careful because he takes more damage than the others… because he’s a kid. >=)

Moai: This big-headed stone character was based on the enemies from the Gradius series and didn’t have its own game until they released a game some time after WWW, called Moai-kun (also one of the rarest games I’ve played back then) that featured it in SD form. Moai in WWW is big and is the strongest among the characters. He can break rocks and has tougher defense than the others… because he’s a rock, I guess. XP

Kong: From the game King Kong 2: Ikari no Megaton Punch. This game was based on a King Kong film. Like Moai, Kong is big and also one of the strongest characters available. He can jump higher than others because… he’s King Kong. (Why else? XP) His sub-weapon is also much stronger than others, but has very short range and the direction of the attack is downward, so it’s only effective when hitting enemies below.

Konami Man/Konami Girl: They’re the main heroes you start with in the game. The two are pretty much basic with decent attacks and sub-weapons, but later in the game, once you acquire a certain special item, they would have the ability to fly around, which is pretty helpful especially when using sub-weapons. Don’t think you can breeze through the game with this ability though. Its not going to work that way… >=)

Each character has their own theme music and plays whenever you’re using them, like Simon Belmont’s all-time favorite Vampire Killer theme. They also have their own death sequences. If any one of your characters dies, you have to revive them with the help of Dr. Spice (Dr. Cinnamon’s brother. They’re pretty much alike except that Dr. Spice wears black =/), and pay 100 bullets per character (yeah, paying bullets to revive a person doesn’t make any sense also =/). If all of them die, KM and KL are only ones that will be revived.

Twin Bee, Vic Viper.. launching! >=D
Once you’ve gathered all the characters, you’ll able to ride either the Vic Viper or Twin Bee for the shmup stage. The two ships have their own distinctive characteristics in terms of power-ups, like VV has its usual laser and missiles while TB has its knuckle missiles and ring beam. But they also share some common power-ups like the barrier shield and options. (which we all know belongs to the VV, but here, TB can also receive it. Now that’s crossover!) >=) After the shmup stage, you’ll reach the final stage of the game. I guess I should leave that part for you to see for yourself. ;)

Konami's old-school powerhouse characters >=D

Konami Wai Wai World was a very good platformer/shmup game. I believe its one of the best games Konami made for the NES/FamiCom, though I wouldn’t be surprised if only a few people have had the experience of playing it. After all, it was only released in Japan. The difficulty of the game was okay, as it depended on the stages themselves. Personally, Kong, Fuma and Moai’s stage were the hardest. Navigating through the options would be something that might need some getting used to since it’s all in Japanese, but it shouldn’t take too long to figure it out. ;) If you’re a Konami fan of any sorts especially of their old-school games, then you have to try this. It would be much appreciated if you would also play the games that were featured here.

You know, for many years I actually had this wish. I wished Konami would get the idea of creating a new WWW game and feature today’s Konami games: Silent Hill, Metal Gear Solid, Suikoden, Castlevania… uhm… and Yu-Gi-Oh! Now THAT would be a great crossover, don’t you think? >=D Well, anyway, its just a wish. That’s about it for now.

Until then!


Tuesday, August 10, 2010

A Special Birthday Post for Jima-san

In honor of The HobbyBox’s “Big Boss” for his upcoming birthday, let me share this post to him… That is, if he’ll allow this to stay posted, hehehe! 

Since Jima-san’s birthday is coming, I thought of posting something in The HobbyBox in dedication to the event. I couldn’t think of anything really interesting though, so I just thought of writing a testimonial about Jima -- on how I met him, how we managed to get along, what were my impressions of him at first, etc, etc. Something like that. So, this is how it goes… 

The Encounter 
We started as college buddies back then. Jima was my classmate in one subject during our first semester but we didn’t know each other yet at the time. However, he was one of the few people I easily recognized because I always saw him in the arcades, playing Power Stone 2. We only started to get along during our second semester. I got easily drawn to the guy because he’s one of the few people I could share my geekiness and such. From that point on, I would often visit his place and spend like half a day or more doing nothing but otaku stuff. Even up to this moment, I still keep in touch and pay him a visit whenever I can. So that’s how our “pack” started.

First Impressions 
Jima is very much an okay guy to me. Though some people would tend to think of him as a weird guy full of nonsense because of his ways, that’s just them, people being crappy a**holes. Guess it takes a geeky person to understand another geeky person, heheh! Unlike me, he’s not a very serious type of person. He’s easygoing and pretty much loves to have fun. I also first thought of him as a short-tempered person before because he usually swears whenever he’s deeply engaged in playing a fighting game in the arcade, but (according to him) he’s not angry at all. In fact, he’s not actually that easy to anger. 

Jima as an Otaku 
Jima doesn’t always ride along with the mainstream. He would rather enjoy things differently. He doesn’t flow along with other people getting into MMORPGs, Counter-Strike, DOTA (Defense of the Ancients) and Tekken, and instead would rather play Pokemon, Hokuto no Ken (Fist of the North Star), ParaParaParadise, The Sims and shmups… Yeah, he’s something like that. ;) Jima greatly appreciates old-school games of any form. He’s also a big fan of Nintendo which is why he’s most likely patronizing its products, like the DSi XL, and buying its games (as opposed to just merely pirating them). 

When it comes to anime of course, he’s an otaku through and through, so basically he loves everything about it. I can’t really pinpoint what are his all-time favorites since I don’t usually ask him about it though. Other than those usual popular ones, he loves anime with loli-based characters and simple slice-of-life stories. He also likes tokusatsu shows, most especially the Kamen Rider series, but I believe he only began his interest in it from Kamen Rider Kiva

Despite being an otaku, Jima is not actually that much interested in attending anime-themed gatherings like the Ozine Fest or such, not unless there’s something there to interest him or something good would happen to him at any of it. Of course, other than being an otaku, he’s pretty much a normal guy who also likes to do things like read books, watch informative shows like documentaries (like Mythbusters) and such. 

Wish for the Man 
Well, what should I say…? Have good health, be prosperous, always be good, and all those other common birthday greetings I guess, hehehe! (^^) But seriously -- Always stay the same. Always be true to yourself. If you’re gonna change, always change for the better. What else…? Hmm, a girlfriend maybe? That would be nice, right? Hehehe! (^^) Well, just take your time with looking for your soulmate. Just one more thing -- if ever you’re gonna have one, make sure she’ll accept everything about you and you, her. That would make the relationship a lot easier (^^). Anyway, just always live your life the way you want… Stay otaku, of course!

Happy Birthday, Jima-san! 

Until then!


Monday, August 9, 2010

Figma x Revoltech x Nendoroid, or the Action Figure Primer, Part 1

One of the first Figmas: Hatsune Miku!
We otaku have our own fixations and most of us have probably bought and collected action figures of our favorite anime and manga characters at one time or another. It’s easy to confuse one action figure manufacturer with another given that there are a hundred or so of them out there. Here’s a handy guide to some of the more trusted brands out there:

Let’s start with Max Factory’s Figma action figure line. It’s one of the most popular out there and is usually the first choice among otaku when it comes to moe figures. The line’s signature is its anime and manga heroines: From Suzumiya Haruhi and her gang to the girls of Evangelion and K-On!, the line is just oozing with moe (though there are some male figures too). The figures are presented at about 1/16 scale, making an average Figma around 3 to 4 inches tall. They possess a high degree of accuracy towards a character’s features. Figma figures are full-featured and well-articulated, utilizing ball and hinge joints for maximum posability. All figures in the line also comes with a display stand, extra hands (affixed to a “hand rack” so that they won’t go missing) and faces, accessories and a zip-lock bag for storage and transport.

Some words of wisdom: Figma models may not be budget-friendly but are well worth the money. Another thing is that the figures tend to be fragile, so it’s best to store your Figmas in a moisture and dust -free environment when you’re not displaying them.
An assortment of Revoltech figures

Next we have Kaiyodo’s Revoltech figures. This brand is known for their use of the “revolver joint,” a newly developed joint that resembles a revolver pistol’s chambers. Revolver joints lock in place until they are moved, thus Revoltech figures are known to be solid, durable figures that can hold a particular pose indefinitely.

Revoltech is best known for their mecha figures, with the first released lines being Nagai Go’s robots, which include Getta Robo and Mazinger Z. Subsequent releases include Macross, Gunbuster and Evangelion mecha among others. Due to their exceptional posability, Revoltech also features characters from various video games and shonen anime like Street Fighter and Sengoku Basara to name a few. Thus, Revoltech is known as a GAR (or “manly” in common terms hehe) brand, the opposite of Figma which is too moe to handle.

But Revoletch has a special line called Fraulein Revoltech which features anime and video game girls. The line-up is not as extensive as Figma’s and not that moe (because of the revolver joints) causing the line to be a bit unpopular to moe figure collectors.

That said, Revoltech figures are surprisingly cheaper than Figma’s, making them a good choice for otaku on a budget. 
K-on! Nendoroid!

Now Nendoroids (mostly created by Good Smile Company) are a different case altogether. If Figma is known for being moe, Nendoroid figures take moe-ness to a whole new level. Nendoroids are all super-deformed (SD): Big-headed and child-proportioned figures, which simply spells moe and cuteness all in one neat package. Add to that the fact that almost all Nendoroids are anime babes and we got one of the best-selling toylines from Japan.
Death Note Pucchi Nendoroids: smaller than your average Nendoroids

And what’s better than a Nendoroid? A Pucchi Nendoroid! Smaller and way cuter than their bigger counterparts, Pucchi nendoroid are the latest in the lineup. You’d better get your hands on these when they’re released since some of them are made in very limited quantities.

So there you have it. Next time you want to get your hands on the anime action figure of your choice, you’ll know what you’ll get for your money’s worth and satisfaction. Watch out for Part Two of this series for a round-up of more anime toylines!


Monday, August 2, 2010

Old-School Review - Dragon Quest, Erdrick Trilogy

In honor of the release of Dragon Quest IX for the Nintendo DS handheld, let me share with you this review of one of my best-loved RPG games, right before I even knew about Final Fantasy!

Dragon Quest is one of the first few known RPGs back then, created by Enix (now Square Enix, after joining forces with Squaresoft). It was a decent RPG for its time along with Final Fantasy, but DQ didn’t have as much recognition in the US (DQ was renamed Dragon Warrior in its US release) compared to FF, and was an underrated game. Today, ever since the merging of Enix and Squaresoft, DQ games started to gain popularity in the west little by little as they were able to reintroduce old DQ titles by remaking it for certain consoles and, very recently, for handhelds.

For all of you who didn’t know, DQ is one of my all-time favorite RPGs, the reason being that it was actually the FIRST role-playing game I ever played, and I grew to like it much more than FF, which I only learned about around the late 90’s. Because of that, even though there are now new DQ titles available, I still love the original series of DQ, which is also known as the Roto (Erdrick in the US version) Saga.

The Erdrick/Roto Trilogy  
The first three DQ games cover the Erdrick Saga, essentially making it a trilogy. The series basically tells of the story of warrior descendants of Erdrick fighting evil in the land of the Alefgard Kingdom, which was the main setting of the game and later sequels. In the story, Erdrick was a legendary hero who freed the Kingdom of Alefgard from darkness. Main characters in the game are referred to as Erdrick’s descendants. Erdrick’s legend was revealed in Dragon Quest III, the final part of the trilogy. 

Dragon Quest I  
The story here revolves around a land called the Kingdom of Alefgard. It starts Tantegel Castle. The king calls upon the descendant of Erdrick (namely you) to journey to Charlock Castle to defeat the evil Dragonlord and reclaim the Ball of Light, which the Dragonlord had stolen, to restore the peace to the land. The hero will also have to rescue Princess Gwaelin, the king’s daughter who was abducted and held captive by a dragon in a cave located far away.

DQ I was a very simple RPG with very basic RPG elements, so basic that you might think you can actually do better if you created your own RPG in RPG Maker. Its battle system was also very simple. Monster encounters were only 1:1, but the simplicity of its battle system became one of the game’s trademarks, which they also applied to future DQ games. Because it was so basic, the game has its fair share of grinding to level-up and buy equipment, so that you can keep up with the adventure. 

 Dragon Quest II  
Set a hundred years after the first DQ, a new evil has appeared by the name of Hargon, an evil wizard who started attacking the Moonbrooke Kingdom. One soldier of Moonbrooke had managed to survive long enough to travel towards the Kingdom of Midenhall and tell everything to its king. After being informed of what happened, he ordered his son, the prince of Midenhall and a descendant of Erdrick to travel and defeat the evil wizard. As the prince travels, he is joined by his two cousins: the prince of Cannock, a neighboring kingdom, and the princess of Moonbrooke, who was cursed after her kingdom was attacked, but is later freed from it with the help of the two princes. Both cousins also share the same bloodline as Erdrick. Together, they travel the world to stop the evil wizard Hargon.

DQ II shares the same elements of the first DQ with some improvements. Graphics are much improved here. You can now command three characters to each have its own preferences. Monster encounters now spawn a number of monsters instead than just one. The world of DQ II is much bigger, allowing for travel from land to land, and also across the sea using a ship. Overall RPG gameplay was still basic, but expanded enough to give players a more solid RPG experience. 

Dragon Quest III  
DQ III is the prequel and the final story of the Erdrick series. When Aliahan’s hero, Ortega, fell in battle with the evil fiend Baramos, who is threatening to destroy the world, all their hopes are passed down to his only son: you the main character. When he turned 16, the king of Aliahan summons and gives him the opportunity to follow in his father’s footsteps to be the hero who will save the world from Baramos. The new hero of Aliahan travels the world along with hired warriors towards the castle of the evil fiend, but later realizes that saving the world is just a small part of the quest. A greater one was still to come.

DQ III was the most expanded DQ game among the three. It presented a whole new and much bigger world to explore. The game now allowed you to form a party with up to four members and let you choose from a variety of characters with different job classes. You can now save/store your money, items and equipment at certain storage shops available at the start of the game. The interface and battle system are still pretty much faithful to the standard DQ style. It was still basic as always but the many new features thrown in still made it worth playing.

DQ probably may not be the most engaging RPG you could play, but the traditional RPG style is something that separates it from other RPGs. It has its share of charm because of its not-so complicated story that might be too generic for some, but totally works all the way. To think that the character designs were done by the famous Toriyama Akira, of Dragon Ball fame.

I personally love DQ III because of its expanded gameplay and also because of my ever-so-geeky tendency to follow the story of an RPG all the way to how its legend started, which made the story of DQ III interesting to me. If you’re looking for a much simpler yet very good retro RPG other than Final Fantasy, then I would recommend you playing these first three DQ games, l and of course I would also recommend you to try DQ IV to VII and even the recent titles DQ VIII and the recently-released DQ IX. So that’s it for now.

Until then!


Friday, July 23, 2010

Death by Moe and Mecha: Wonder Festival

Japan is gearing up for their annual toys and kits extravaganza known as the Wonder Festival or WonFes for short. WonFes is known for showcasing the best sculptors, kit builders, kit painters and garage kit makers from all over Japan.

Nendoroid Rei in entry plug resin kit (Wonfes exclusive, limited to 50 pcs.)
resin SD Dancougar (Wonfes exclusive)

Good ole' Mazinger Z resin kit (weep, as it is Wonfes exclusive)

WonFes is famous for assembling Japan’s top hobbyists to trade, sell or just basically show off the fruits of their hard work and guts. Featured in the said event are mounds and mounds of toys and kits of both popular and obscure anime and manga series, all exclusive to the festival. Top selections for WonFes toys and kits include mecha and anime babes (many of the ero kind *wink wink*) though as they say there are almost every other character imaginable like supervillains, showbiz personalities and even American comic book characters find their way into the fray.
Zero (Rockman X) resin kit
Shrike unit from Border Break(Special color, Wonfes exclusive)
Star Wars X-wing Special Chrome Plated Resin Kit

Most of the toys and kits are of very limited quantities and go for astronomical prizes, which is why WonFes is one of the most eagerly anticipated hobby events in all of Japan, and even possibly around the world, as attendees from other countries are known to flock to the event. Some prominent personalities like otaku overlord/blogger Danny Choo is confirmed to attend the event with his entourage of “daughters” (of course I am referring to his harem of Dolfies).

Figma Rei Ayanami (thankfully, is not Wonfes exclusive but was released during the event)
Figma Ga Rei Zero Kagura (Yes, another Wonfes non-exclusive! Go get yours!)
They even have Figma Michael Jackson. FTW!
Many mainstream model kit companies were built up from their success at WonFes, with the likes of Volks and Kotobukiya (which brings to mind their uberly-astonishing Armored Core and Gurren Lagann kits) and relative newcomers Tokyo Hunters and Jamming rounding off the list of retailers.
The new queen of dark moe: Figma Black Rock Shooter
Death by moe and mecha? Yes please.

More WonFes:





Thursday, July 8, 2010

Kamen Rider 000’s Comin’ Your Way!

What’s with multiple 0’s these days???

 Kamen Rider 000 logo. Nifty.

Just when we all thought that there was gonna be a shortage of Kamen Rider themes, out comes Kamen Rider 000 (pronounced “O’s” or “OZ”). Slated for a Fall 2010 release (when all the other good stuff happens in Animeland), Kamen Rider 000 will replace Kamen Rider W on the Super Hero hour.

With the “green-yellow-red circles” motif, 000 seem to have taken his cue from stoplights. It seems that it’s standard for all Heisei-era Riders to be multiform and 000 is no exception. The forms aren’t shabby and it looks like 000 can rival the current title holder for Kamen Rider with the most number of forms: Kamen Rider Kuuga... Or maybe even W’s form, though in his case the forms are actually permutations rather than true forms themselves.

So far, with all the press releases, 000 seems promising. Then again, was there ever a Kamen Rider series that disappointed?


Saturday, June 26, 2010

First Impression Review - God Eater

God Eater, an action-adventure game released by Namco Bandai for the PSP, has been gaining popularity for one reason: It’s similar to Capcom’s Monster Hunter series of games in a lot of ways. Though the US release of the game is yet to come, many are already itching to play it. I, on the other hand, was curious about how good the game is to be compared to MH. To satisfy my curiosity, I got a copy of the Japanese version to see it for myself. Since it’s still just an import, I will most likely be limiting the review to as far as what I could observe in my initial play and try to dissect the game’s battle system.

The story starts with three main characters fighting a monster and eventually taking it down. The scene cuts to (what I think is) their base where the game introduces a new guy, which would be your player. Some long conversation takes place and then you finally go and choose missions from a girl in front of a counter (similar to MH’s Guild Hall).

 As you progress, you will eventually unlock new and more difficult missions. Unlike MH, movement in GE is more versatile. Players can jump, dash, roll, sprint, and even sidestep. GE, like MH, also has status bar that decreases with every dash/roll maneuver. The game also has the same difficulty with the camera. You have to keep on adjusting the camera as you move. Luckily, you can reset the camera angle if needed and a lock-on feature enables you to focus the camera on the target enemy.

Players wield only one weapon, which has the ability to change forms to suit your battle preferences. Blade form allows you to do slashing melee combos and block attacks similar to MH’s great swords. Gun form lets you fire from a distance and use various types of bullets for added effect. This form has its own energy bar that’s consumed with every shot. If you run out of energy, it can be filled again with every melee attack you connect. 

Finally, there’s Predator form, a charged attack that transforms your weapon into a monster-like mouth. Once you hit the enemy with this, players can enter “super mode” temporarily. In this mode, players will have stronger attacks in both Blade and Gun forms. With all these different weapon forms, players have a wide range of abilities that can be executed in battle, making them more balanced in both melee and ranged combat. The battles are executed a bit faster in the sense that there’s not much strategy to be applied here with taking down monsters… or at least that was my impression during my first fight.

Overall, GE is a solid game that can stand on its own. You can’t really compare it to MH. Personally, they’re not as similar as everybody thinks. GE impressed me by having an actual story in it as well as voice-acting, graphics and cinematics that give it an “anime” feel to it. Since I’m a complete sucker to the “big swords changing into big guns” kind of thing, I personally love their weapons here. They’re so badass.

BUT! Unless the US release is made available, I won’t bother myself with this just yet. I don’t want to play games that I don’t fully understand (except for Super Robot Wars/G Generation games, hehehe!). I just hope they won’t mess up anything that would ruin the storytelling. I mean, personally, I’m all good if they intend to dub it in English, AS LONG as this won’t ruin it. If they can’t do that then its better to leave the Japanese voices alone and just give us English subtitles. For now, I give it a thumbs-up! Everyone would probably love it. Personally, just wait for the US release (if ever) or try to find a English patched version of it. It’s all up to you. There still a lot of things to discover in the game. I just scratched the surface and got my first impression. Everything else is all up to you. Again, this is my first impression of God Eater.