Save Point

Money can buy everything except “love”, “friendship” and “exp points”.

Atelier Crack and Other Stories December 27, 2009

Well, I’ve been dead to the world lately!

As for games, I’ve mostly been playing Atelier Annie, a DS game known affectionately by my family as Atelier Crack because I play so much. It’s a resort development sim game with the Atelier alchemy engine as a major part of the development. I tried very hard to get the best ending without looking in any FAQs– and by “very hard”, I mean “thirty playthroughs hard”. Normally I’m not one to fast-forward through dialogue, but the game can be played in a few hours if you do. Unfortunately, it’s only possible to trigger the best ending, or even the normal ending, by coincidentally visiting a particular location in a particular month– the game gives no clue about this trigger point, and I had no reason to visit at that time, so I missed it every playthrough. It was easy enough to get the best ending once I gave in and looked it up, but I may never have stumbled across it otherwise. I think that’s bad game design. But not to worry; the game has seven different endings, so there’s plenty to figure out on one’s own. There’s also the addictive compulsion towards 100% data completion, from which I am one rare drop away.

A lament to Nintendo: I bought Super Mario World for the GBA because I was nostalgic for the original, which I learnt to play like a pro with my eyes closed when I was ten. Unfortunately, I was disappointed by the controls; on the DS I had to hold my hand at a wrist-spraining angle just to accelerate and jump. I suppose this isn’t anyone’s fault because the buttons were remapped for the GBA, which didn’t have as many buttons as a SNES; but it’s made a choppy, barely-playable mess of a game that played like warm butter in its original configuration. The result is an insult to the gorgeous playability of the original. I wish they would re-release it for the DS with its proper control configuration. At least, I am glad they added a few bonus coins– it’s just like the original but with some extra bits that make me think, “Aha, that wasn’t there before…”

I’ve also been playing N+ for the DS. It’s a great deal of fun, although the lack of background music is a small disappointment. The difficulty of the levels is highly variable: some are ludicrously easy, and some are rather hard; since it’s meant to be a time trial game, experienced gamers will probably enjoy alternating between the two.

You all know, dear readers, that I’m in love with Mana Khemia 1 and have played it four times so far, right? In case I haven’t mentioned it yet, I adore that game. The sequel, on the other hand, does not even deserve to exist.

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Good Idea, Bad Execution August 23, 2009

Filed under: Specific games — haounomiko @ 5:51 am
Tags: ,

I know it’s been ages since I’ve posted in this blog, but that doesn’t mean I don’t still have things to say about video games. So I’m going to defy the irrational little voice in my head saying, “No! It’s been too long, so you shouldn’t post in here!” and do it anyway.

I’ve been playing Steal Princess, which is cute until the gameplay starts. It’s a puzzle game with a fun premise and a promising beginning, as well as an anime intro that visually resembles the love child of Cowboy Bebop’s and Utena’s but has bland music. Unfortunately, after coasting along for a bit, the fun stopped on a dime.

The game is about a female thief who has to become a hero and rescue a kidnapped prince, which is refreshing; and although the title makes no sense in context, I can imagine wanting to use “princess” instead of “prince” to attract little girls who might enjoy a game with a glamorous female protagonist. It’s silly and fourth-wall-breaky, and that was fun at first– but once I got into the puzzle levels, the incessant banter of the characters started to drive me nuts. It interrupted my gameplay for many dialogue boxes of predictable, repetitious wisecracks that are meant to lighten up exposition about the game controls but don’t actually explain them very well. The same joke is only funny so many times. Still, I could have put up with that if the gameplay had been good– which it was, but only for a little while.

It was fun for the first few levels, and then it abruptly became not fun for the sole reason that the controls are awful. If I used the buttons I couldn’t choose where to retarget my whip, and if I used the stylus it didn’t always register my tap even when I think I hit the target dead-on (which is why I hate stylus-based reflex challenges to begin with). My stylus tap wouldn’t register half the time, and then I’d fall into the water and have to start the level over again. To begin with, I’m not thrilled with puzzle games being so dependent on reflex tasks– but when the controls aren’t registering input on a time-sensitive task, that just instantly kills the fun.

Well, that was that. Steal Princess: how to convince little girls that games aren’t fun and they’re no good at them.