Save Point

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

The Finish Line February 12, 2009

So, I finished Ar tonelico 2 last week (Cloche’s path, third Reyvateil’s ending). It was a good follow-up to the first and a good bridge for the trilogy, but in my opinion it doesn’t stand well alone.

Initially, I had thought that it had promise to be greater than the first game, but that plateaued around the end of the first phase and it kept up a steady level of similar dramatic tension throughout. Even when the stakes were raised, the emotional investment was not. It was good for world- and character-building, and it probably helped establish some important things in preparation for the third game, but it did not snowball into the high climax that vindicates a 30-hour-minimum work of fiction. I would not recommend it to anyone who had not already finished the first game with the best ending, but it is a worthwhile experience for those who have.

After finishing Ar tonelico 2, I putzed around in the world for a while getting some of the optional things I hadn’t done. Ideally this game needs at least two more playthroughs, three if I want to see every ending, but I need a break before I play it again. Normally I’d even take a break before getting into another RPG, but I had stopped partway through Mother 3, and was eager to get back to it; I’m in chapter 8 closing in on the ending. Since I have a long weekend coming up, I might be able to finish it soon.

I was sick for a while last week, and I couldn’t sleep last night, so I found the rest of the puzzles in Professor Layton and the Curious Village, and unlocked the Riddle Master’s door to get at the last three. Now there’s only one final puzzle behind that door for me to finish and 100% the game– and it’s another sliding block puzzle. Nooooooo! I’ll probably just mess with it until I get the red block out, which is an unsatisfying method of solving puzzles, but I don’t know how to solve this kind (with the differently-shaped blocks) other than brute force or aimless fiddling.

 

No Word In Hymmnos For “Wait” October 2, 2008

I want to clarify some of what I said about Professor Layton and the Curious Village. I said that the plot was “kid-simple”, but in retrospect I feel I may have given the wrong impression. It’s not that it’s dull or a bad plot, but rather that it’s easy enough for a child to understand, and some of the characters’ motives are the sort of motives you get in children’s cartoons; one of your first tasks is to find someone’s missing pet cat, Layton often reminds his young apprentice to be a gentleman, and there’s a bad guy whose entire motive seems to consist of being The Villain in a “Curses! Foiled again!” sort of way. Having finished the game, though, I certainly found the story satisfying for what it was. It doesn’t matter that it wasn’t a realistic adult story because it certainly wasn’t trying to be, and the plot resolution was just creative enough to feel like a fitting end. I hope I did not give an unduly negative impression of it in my earlier post by skimming over this detail. In contrast to MillionHeir, or, say, Kurupoto Cool Cool Stars, it certainly delivered plenty.

On another note, I seem to have gotten another of my friends hooked on Ar tonelico, simply by showing him the beginning. Again I say that it is a shame that no one has heard of it, because it really is a quite excellent RPG. It started out mildly surpassing my expectations and ended up far surpassing them. If only Atlus would promote their games a little more, this could have been a major hit instead of a very niche cult classic. Ar tonelico 2 is apparently coming out in the US in December, and I’ve already pre-ordered from the company’s website. Get it while it’s so hot it’s still in the oven. After all, there’s no word in the game’s conlang for “wait” (a fact that really amuses me, since it’s also a dating sim.)

 

I Say, Old Chap, That Reminds Me Of Some Gameplay September 16, 2008

Filed under: Retro games,Specific games — haounomiko @ 5:37 pm
Tags: ,

I’ve been playing Professor Layton and the Curious Village, which is nicely easy to pick up and put down, to leave alone and come back to much later. The plot is kid-simple and the game recaps it every time you turn it on, as well as giving you journal entries and reminders of everything that’s happened and every objective you want to accomplish, so there’s no danger of forgetting where you were; but even so, the fun of it isn’t in the plot.

Most of the game consists of searching for puzzles and solving them, in order to talk to townspeople to solve a bigger mystery and lots of sub-mysteries. There seem to be about 130 puzzles, give or take, so the gameplay is much like working your way through a puzzle book of mixed types. You can also find hint coins which you can use to get hints on puzzles– sparingly, because to get anything useful out of them you usually have to buy all three hints for the puzzle. There’s no dearth of coins, though, and getting through the game isn’t too hard. It’s fun, and if I do get tired of puzzling, I don’t feel obligated to finish it now before I forget what I’m doing– I know I can play something else for a while and come back to it and pick up right where I left off. There’s no big investment in the progress I’ve already made.

In other news, I’ve been playing Myst:Exile, which has some stunningly beautiful locations. If I ever become a powerful person with research labs and journals that need to be kept safe from the mentally unbalanced and sadistic villains who tend to chase after me, then I will not secure my study with elaborate locks that require me to tediously walk up and down steep cliffs every time I want to unlock them, but can be opened by solving a puzzle. I also will not engrave the lock combination into a plaque. And when I am in dire need of someone’s help, instead of giving them a journal filled with backstory, I will give them a journal full of puzzle solutions for wherever they’re going.