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HelenBaby

What game are you currently playing?

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I just got Skylanders Imaginators with the Crash pack for about thirty bucks. I'm playing through with Crash mostly and having a really good time. The levels are well designed and the combat is satisfying. Planning on getting DK, Bowser, Spyro, and maybe Cynder.

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Putting the finishing touches on Valkyria Chronicles 4 and Pokemon Ultra Sun so I can move onto Lets Go.

 

VC4 was such a great game. I still need time to sit back and digest what I just sat through. The story alone is worth the price of admission - let alone the fantastic strategic gameplay. I'll be back once a few more of the DLC maps drop later this year.

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Currently playing Overlord on the 360 for the past 2 weeks and have been really enjoying the game. Surprised too as I thought when I picked it up that it might be okay. It's got a charm to the game, plenty of irony, looks great (for the time when it was made) and just liked the gameplay. If I have to describe the game to a stranger, it's like Zelda mixed with Pikmin if it was made in Europe. It started hard but once that I leveled up and got regenerative armour, it has been more balanced. Still die but not as often. I was also glad that I didn't trigger the Brewery glitch because that would have been a downer but then again did that in almost one go anyway. Even though they aren't related at all but it is giving me a little bit of practise for when I get to play Dark Souls (or Demon's Souls) due to learning about attack patterns and timing as the Overlord. Like there was a boss but all my minions were killed and still managed to beat it.

Literally right now, on the desert part of the game and know that its getting towards rushed out of the door/running out of time moment where the polish dropped, the area is much smaller, recycling enemies and have a suspicion that there isn't much more to the game. I mean there are 7 bosses in the game and 5 have their own areas, the early ones have been pretty big after all.

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Octopath Traveler (Switch) - A wildly ambitious tech demo which overstays its welcome.  The hand of the designer is conspicuously present in Octopath Traveler.  With its emphasis on individual choice and an almost open-world map, there is a clear system to the construction of the game.  Each character has four chapters, spread across three concentring rings of towns; an inner circle for Chapter 1, a middle circle for Chapters 2 and 3, and an outer circle for Chapter 4.  The map connections between these locations and the positioning of short optional dungeons are strictly regular; there are a few deviations, but they only serve to highlight the overall rule.  So the map construction is almost ritual, artificial.

The characters and their stories are equally ritualistic in construction, but considerably varying in quality.  Each chapter consists of a short series of interactions followed invariably by a boss fight, no matter how little sense it makes for there to be a boss fight; and several chapters rely on the contrivance of a monster suddenly leaping out of nowhere, or in one case, Team Rocket leaping out of nowhere.  Story objectives are marked on the minimap, making the whole exercise feel rote and handhold-y, especially as characters' individual talents often feel only thinly-utilised or, in some cases, flat-out abandoned.  Tone and importance of incident vary wildly; one character's Chapter 2 might confront you with "the villagers are being kidnapped and their blood is being drained and turned into occult blood crystals," while another is "oh no a child got lost in the woods" - but the variation is joyous in its unpredictability; nonetheless, there are distinct dud chapters where the moral and overall theme seem confused (Alfyn's Chapter 3 ignores the existence of town guards and systems of law and order generally, and Primrose's Chapter 4, while it's great theatre, I simply can't comprehend the point of).  Final chapters tend to have a link to the hidden overarching story, and these too vary in how organically they're worked in; Primrose's story is essentially one big nod to the overarching narrative, while Olberic and Tressa's links are dropped in more awkwardly, particularly in the latter case where the sudden intrusion of the grander picture has essentially nothing to do with the rest of her story at all.  Because of the emphasis on individual choice, character stories individually have zero interaction and zero crossover, which feels like a waste; postgame side-stories and the final dungeon reveal a great number of hidden connections, and in a way these feel like what the game should have been.  The story might have been better off structured like Dragon Quest IV: Chapters Of The Chosen, or the more recent Alliance Alive, where you'd go through every character's introductory storyline and then they would all meet up and join together - at which point the storylines could merge more organically.

Each character has a path action, a specific means of interacting with the many and varied NPCs; and these vary widely in usefulness, with Inquire/Scrutinise and Steal more or less essential, Guide/Allure dropping off enormously after the early game, Purchase only really being viable in the endgame, Challenge being only of use in occasional artificial moments, and Provoke being inferior to Challenge in just about every respect.  One respects enormously the attempt to make what is essentially a town-based RPG rather than a dungeon-based one; but the path actions really need rebalancing.  Perhaps the summons produced by Guide/Allure and beast capturing should be infinite-use, and/or of higher strength generally; perhaps Challenging/Provoking could get you the rewards from Purchase/Steal as victory profits, or perhaps Scrutinise/Inquire could also log an NPC's aptitude in an overall index of recruitable characters.  There are ways of intertwining these actions, ways which aren't taken.

"Noble" path actions are level-gated or restricted in other ways; "rogue" path actions are probability-based (which in effect is also just level-gating, but level-gating which can be savescummed), and failing the roll results in a loss of "reputation"; but a small donation is enough to restore your reputation.  This seems like a missed opportunity for a more sophisticated system of interactions.  Challenge unpopular characters to gain reputation; give items and money rather than taking them; reputation-gate story developments.  Turn the reputation system into something which can be gamed in multiple ways to ingratiate yourself with different factions for different ends in particular character storylines.

The battle system is deceptively simple, with just the right level of complexity and flexibility.  Boost to gain more powerful actions or multiple attacks, attack enemy weakpoints to drop their defences, add extra job abilities with the crucial restriction of there being only one spare copy of each job, so you can't just overload the party with the "best" (as you might in, say, the Bravely Default games).  This system carries the entire game and creates a myriad party-building options as well as enemy-construction options, and experimenting is a great deal of fun; the downside is tedious amounts of equipment micro-managing, but it's hard to see how they could have avoided that.

The major flaw in the battle element is a tragically wonky level curve combined with the stingy decision to only give experience to active party members; by their respective Chapter 3s, my main party members were overlevelled for everything in the rest of their storylines and had already defeated the high-level optional bosses, while my non-main party members languished in the low levels.  The intention is presumably that you would in fact be swapping out party members regularly; but if that's the case, why offer the illusion of choice at all?  This could all have been avoided by rewarding full experience to all party members, and holding back on the experience gains for higher-level characters so they wouldn't zoom wildly ahead of the story.  But the fact that you have eight sets of chapters to go through, each stage of which assumes you're at parity with every corresponding stage, inevitably means you'll either be underlevelled or overlevelled; which is another reason why it would have been better for storylines to merge.

The graphics, as I believe I've noted before, are beautiful and a fascinating attempt to merge the game's SNES-era inspirations with modern 3D and HD design; the result is uncompromisingly stylised and quite unique.  The large-scale boss illustrations, which ignore the usual sense of scale between human characters, create appropriately imposing and striking designs.  I don't have much of an ear for music, but it made enjoyable listening, appropriate to the mood of each scene; and a good thing too, as they sure got a lot of milage out of some of those tracks...

Last but not least, a few words on the hidden postgame dungeon.  Ordinarily I am not fond of postgame bonus dungeons which are in fact the true ending of the story, though in the case of this game I think it was the right decision.  Nor am I fond of high-level, intricate bosses which require a ton of level-grinding and a pretty narrow set of strategies in order to defeat, though even this I could live with.  But what I can't forgive is busy-work.

Spoiler

The decision to place a point of no return, not after, but before a boss gallery of eight not-very-improved villains from each character's story, with no saving, is inexcusable.  Sure, they're just busy-work to any party capable of taking on the final boss; but then, why ask players to take them on again every time they fail the real enemy?  What's the point?  It's just a waste of time that disincentivises the player and saps their will; and sadly that's exactly what happened to me.  If I'd had a save point directly before the final boss, I might have been willing to give it more than a single attempt; might experiment, try some alternative strategies.  But having to wade through the eight preliminary bosses every single time?  I'm sorry, but I don't care enough.

...I also have to question the fact that half of the redux bosses are actually Chapter 3 bosses, not final; and in every case the actual corresponding Chapter 4 boss would have made more sense.  The argument some have made, that Redeye would have been inappropriate and that Esmeralda and the Ogre Eagle aren't actually dead, I could live with; but that doesn't explain Yvon, and it doesn't explain Tressa's Chapter 4, either.  Can I understand that chapter on my own, yes; but that's not the point.  Simeon's lore drop didn't tell me anything I didn't already know, either.

So, an amazing game, but let down in parts probably by the sheer weight of work involved in creating what is a frankly enormous title; and this is where that "overstays its welcome" part comes in, because if I'm honest I was getting fatigued with this game by the eighty-hour mark, and by the time I quit I was at literally double that.  I would be happy with a sequel that's only half as long and much more tightly and organically-constructed; the Bravely Second to this game's Bravely Default, if you like, and on that note I'm certainly looking forward to whatever this team comes up with next, whether it's Bravely Sword or Nonaquest Journeyer.

Coming up next: Well, it's been a long journey, but at last I have only one game in my backlog, and it should be relatively quick to beat before yet more long RPGs start coming out in the New Year.  ...So naturally I'm not doing that, I'm doing something I've been meaning to do for years: Replay Golden Sun: Dark Dawn (DS).  I want to refresh my memory on what went wrong.  Well, according to my completed save file from my original playthrough, it's only a quarter of the length of Octopath Traveler, so it can't take that long!

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Recently I started playing Fallout 4, Forza Horizon 4, Battlefield V, and Destiny 2 on my PC more often than my other games. They’re all pretty fun to play but it was a hassle to be able to play Battlefield V (blame Origin).

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I've temporarily tabled Let's Go Evee! for Katamari Damacy Rerolled on the Switch.  I only ever played the PS3 Katamari, so most of these levels are new.  Having the sticks at different levels on the Joycons takes a bit of getting used to, though.

Still No Man's Skying on PS4, interspersed with Ni No Kuni 2.  My NEXT save (started for the NEXT update in August) in NMS has now passed 100 hours, while my original save is well over 200 now, and another 150 on Permadeath.

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Been playing some games I've been curious of for a while now. Since they are on the Switch, I'd get them for that.

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Bright and colourful characters, cartoonish style and an interesting looking puzzle game. Those three reasons are what got me to finally give this a try. To think, I had no idea that it was originally a Game Boy Colour game.

So Toki Tori is the name of the protagonist. He's on a quest to rescue his siblings that are still in there eggs. He has a vast range of tools at his disposal, but you can't use them as much as you want. This is a puzzle/platformer game, so you've gotta traverse the environment while using your tools wisely.

I've only made it to the second world and I'm starting to struggle. You have a Wildcard, which you can use to skip a particularly tough puzzle, but you only get one, the only way to retrieve it is by completing the puzzle you used it on.

Toki+Tori+2+Plus+PC+game.jpg

The other game I got is it's surprisingly different sequel. Toki Tori 2+ is an open world puzzle/platformer. In the first game, you just pick a puzzle and solve it, then move onto the next. With this, you are traveling to the puzzles which act like a part of the levels.

Gone are the tools from the first game, but TT still has some tricks up his wing. He can now stomp and whistle. Those two things alone are all you need to solve every puzzle in the game, it doesn't give you anything new as you progress. Though you will be taught tunes that can assist in various ways. One acts like a fast travel, able to fly back to specific places you've been to once before and another rewinds you back to the last checkpoint you passed. Which for me, has been very useful.

It's possible to mess up a puzzle in such a way that it's unsolvable in that state. You have no choice but to restart.

What I find interesting is how varied the stomp and whistle effect the other creatures you will meet. At the start of the game, you'd often come across areas that are unpassable, but as you keep playing, you'll learn new ways to use the stomp and whistle, so when you return to those unpassable places, you find that you can actually get across with what you had, all along. That's some pretty clever design work, if you ask me.

Though it's also a tough game, just like the first. I'm determined to see them both through to the end. Somehow.....

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Golden Sun: Dark Dawn (DS) - See here.  Better than I remembered, but only mediocre in comparison to the originals; and simply incomplete without the sequel which was never made.  A true shame; but the developers got complacent.

Iconoclasts (Switch) - I understood this game, more or less correctly, to be one of those once-in-a-lifetime indie games, a uniquely personal one-man project of a high degree of both quality and idiosyncrasy.  It's a game that riffs on a number of popular styles whilst somehow defying easy description; it wouldn't be wrong to describe it as a level-based 2D platformer with Metroidvania elements, with an adventure plot about fighting religious and social oppression and discovering the truth about the world whilst leaving an awful lot to the player's interpretation - but at the same time that somehow feels inadequate, too.  The one point I think nobody would disagree on, and which everyone seems to mention, is that the story has extremely strong main characters who spend most of their time suffering; and they're what I'll remember, I think, long after the game itself fades.  Normally I write pretty long reviews; but I think I'll round this one off here.  It doesn't feel right to go into intricate detail, even where it concerns my qualms about things like invisible passageways, the unambitious tweak system, and the often rather chaotic fights - because they aren't corporate-produced, so in a way that's not the point; or rather, there's no point in the criticism.  Iconoclasts is every bit as much an experience as a game, and one that you have to play for yourself to truly understand.

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So ever since I've gotten my SNES Classic I've been playing quite a lot of Earthbound, the first time in years actually. The last time I've played it was when I was in love but I digress. But now that I'm older now somehow I feel like I appreciate this game a lot more now and I've been looking at it critically at least.

Firstly besides my nostalgia for it this game feels so wonderful to play again. I do like how colorful and cheery it is. However there is one thing that I realized about it, namely its an more urban fantasy over the medieval settings in usual RPGs like in Final Fantasy, Secret of Mana, and Fire Emblem and that makes it pretty unique. Even then no other RPGs, including ones with a similar setting don't have the same child like glee it does. Instead of swords, guns, and the like you're armed with baseball bats, slingshots, frying pans... Needless to say Earthbound plays around with the typical RPG tropes. Heck it even leans a lot on the 4th wall and its actually pretty endearing that this is a game with a kid's perspective. However I did notice there's a lot of dark elements here and there which is somewhat jarring like someone brandishing knives on a kid, an evil cult is around, and there's domestic abuse. I'm not taking points away for that, its something interesting to point out. The cheerful world that our carefree protagonist isn't so bright in a way but our hero still goes on trying to save the day regardless. Its a typical coming to age story and I do like it.

But with that said I think this game might be ahead of its time in some aspects. There's no random encounters since you can see the enemies on the map. I will note that Earthbound also has the ability where if you're too strong you'll automatically end the battle when you encounter an enemy. This is something I rarely ever see and its a very unique mechanic RPGs should honestly take note of, if to make grinding less tedious as well as not wasting time getting from place to place. Another unique mechanic I also never see is the rolling numbers mechanic. Whenever you take a big blow your health goes down but if you're fast enough you can heal yourself before you end up dying. I think that's pretty neat. Also like I said I think the setting of the game is also pretty unique and again ahead of its time. Even today RPGs go for either fantasy or futuristic settings where Earthbound is "today." The closest thing I could think of that's very similar is the Persona series namely it has a hero going around a modern day setting and saving the world in some way. If anything Persona 1-2 is pretty close to Earthbound but even then Earthbound's child like atmosphere can't be replicated. However despite that the game has a few flaws that aged terribly, namely the inventory system. Each character can only carry so much but some items are necessary to keep in for the space, namely the ATM card, the Sound Stone, and Equipment. Not only that but managing it can be a pain whether or not you have to go through the party members or call Escargo Express to take stuff at a time. Still though I still this game is unique, even to this day.

I feel so happy revisiting this game again. Its just giving nostalgia all over again and I still think it holds up to this very day. I'm sorry if I'm rambling too much about it but that's how much I love it. I'd put it on my top 10 if I were being honest. But that's been a nice hot minute of CROW talking about Earthbound.

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Been playing through a few games recently:

- I completed Spyro 1 Reignited (120%) just a couple days ago. It's an enjoyable game, if a bit easy for the most part, though he "bosses" are definitely one of the weakest parts of the game. I'll be moving on to Spyro 2 soon.

- I've also been revisiting Spider-Man PS4 every now and then, and it's still an absolute blast to play. Currently going through New Game +, then heading into the DLC.

- Finally, there's Smash Ultimate. I've recently been going through the World Of Light mode, and after finishing it I can say that I'm... not really a fan of it. I found it to be pretty dull at some points, then awfully frustrating at others. The time it took to finish it all also didn't help. But at least the rest of the game is still a lot of fun!

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I've been positively surprised how much I've enjoyed Ultra Moon so far as I was not going to play it at all after beating Sun. Just beat Totem Togemaru yesterday that luckily wasn't too much of a problem. 

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11 hours ago, BlueFlare said:

I've been positively surprised how much I've enjoyed Ultra Moon so far as I was not going to play it at all after beating Sun. Just beat Totem Togemaru yesterday that luckily wasn't too much of a problem. 

What a coincidence! I’m getting back to playing Ultra Sun after abandoning it since last August!

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9 hours ago, Perkilator said:

What a coincidence! I’m getting back to playing Ultra Sun after abandoning it since last August!

That's cool. 😚 I actually love these games again. I hope you will enjoy your journey.

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So I've been playing multiple games lately. Not all at once mind you but I'm trying to at least clean up the backlog a bit.

Yakuza Kiwami 2

So this game has been a blast so far. There's a lot that I really love about this game. I like how big Kamurocho and Sotenbori feels in this game, it might be because Kiryu walks by default but it adds to the atmosphere. That said they changed things up where there's very little loading screens between places that everything feels connect and I love the fact you can drag fights into stores now since the game is more open than previously. I do like how there's more to do and it feels unique to this game like the golf minigame or the fact you can play Virtua Fighter 2. The fact they brought back the Cabernet Club minigame from 0 with some simple fixes to it really makes me glad its back. And finally the story has been pretty good. I do wonder where it could go from here because its an interesting crime drama. It is taking some cues from 1 but it feels like its doing it better than that game.

Metroid Prime

I wanted to revisit this game after like a decade or so to see if it holds up and to get the point where I can tackle Prime 2. I am having fun with it and it has a lot of neat effects that I don't see too often in modern gaming that I wish they'd take notes from. I do love how it tells its story with minimal words as possible but there's a lot of world building through scan logs (which I tend to do a lot). However my disk is having issues running because its an old game so I'm thinking I might have to replace it or something. I don't wanna go to 2 just yet since I really like Prime 1 and I want to experience it again.

Star Fox Adventures

Now this is a random one, mostly because I found it by complete chance when looking for Metroid Prime. I decided "hey I haven't played this game in a long time so let's give it a shot!" I kind of don't know what to think of this game right now. It looks fine for the most part but its gameplay is a bit weird. It does feel like a lesser Zelda clone for various reasons but the thing I really don't like is the lack of camera control where you only have a button to move the camera behind Fox since the C Stick is used for the inventory of all things. I am trying to be fair to it at least but I think it has its own issues not related to the series' history to say the least.

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Smash Ultimate. Just Smash Ultimate.

Seriously, there's just so much to do. Beat classic mode with all characters several weeks ago and beat World of Light a few days ago. I was planning on calling it quits there, but I can't shake the desire to work on nabbing the last 400 spirits, despite my better judgement. Yet more games I want to play keep coming out.

I'll never get my backlog whittled down.

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Started the Octo Expansion a few days ago and it's kicking my ass lol

Almost finished it, just a couple more stages to clear ^^ I can technically collect the last... "thang" now and finish the story portion but since I've cleared all but 2 of the stages I figured I might as well clear them first ^^

Loving the music in this expansion!

Will probably return to Celeste and start playing the Switch port of Deltarune after I'm done with it ^^

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Darkest Dungeon (Switch) - technically in progress.  I had a free gaming period over Christmas, and was curious about this title; what I'd heard was that it was dark, brutal, mechanically intricate.  So I took a gamble.  Well, the rumours are true; it's a tremendously stressful game to play, with a very steep learning curve - I'm sure even the controls must be possible to simplify.  But when you get into it, it's actually really satisfying.  The art is moody, tone-appropriate, and always worth looking at, in all its horror; the mechanics, whether wandering through dungeons or engaging in ever-dangerous battle, are laid bare and without unnecessary opacity or obfuscation.  As a dungeon-crawler, I find it very rewarding.  But, will I finish it?  Now that I doubt.  Because I've sort of moved on already; and this is also the sort of upgrade-based, loot-grindy game where it seems like the intention is that you should prepare to be there for quite a long time, repeating very similar content.  I'm not sure I regard this as a game that's essential enough for me to complete; I think I already fundamentally know what the experience is going to be like from start to finish, and while I enjoyed playing it and would do so again, I just don't think I can prioritise it over anything else.  Maybe, if I get a gap again (seems unlikely, mind); or perhaps I'll just wait for the sequel...

Tales of Vesperia (Switch) - Now this is a game I'd been hearing about for years, in glowing terms.  Owning the kinds of consoles that I do, the only Tales Of game I'd previously played was the 3DS port of Tales Of The Abyss; and that I enjoyed a great deal, with its darker storyline, complex characters, and fully-realised fantasy world that develops over the course of the game.  Granted, I didn't actually remember much about the experience; but the broad brushes were enough for me to want to play another Tales Of game, when the opportunity arose.  Did it pay off?  ...Mixed.  The greater part of my enjoyment might be summed up as "Tales of Vesperia the fantasy novel".  We spent a long time learning about the world and understanding it, and, at last, changing it fundamentally; I'd have preferred a bit more of the latter, but when most fantasy works just use their world as a backdrop rather than something which develops with the protagonists, I can't complain too much.  I felt it was mostly a pretty strong set of characters, too; the Tales Of series's use of frequent optional skits for the characters to bounce off each other in discussions about the plot and other random occurrences really help them to come alive, and this is really aided by Yuri, an unusual protagonist with tremendous charisma who really helps the game shine through its otherwise rather slow early hours.  Granted, while the team are certainly fun, they do have their low points; Raven and Judith spend a lot of the game as little more than walking stereotypes (she's a mature woman, he's over thirty and therefore old), Patty's wackiness can grate and I don't believe her subplot one jot, Karol I never really took seriously in the first place.  Instead, it's Rita who I really connected with; abrasive and never quite at ease with others, passionate about science, and, more surprisingly, a devoted friend of Estelle's, which deepens her character tremendously.  Estelle herself is sweet and well-written, but her plotline, like, it must be said, an awful lot of the game's plotlines abruptly vanishes in the third act.  Flynn suffers by the same token; the game spent a lot of time presenting his duality with Yuri as a major element of the plot, but it just sort of gets dropped, along with the idea of any consequences for Yuri's lawless actions.  The third act as it stands is pretty strong and represents appropriate development for a lot of the established features of the setting; but it somehow doesn't feel like the direction we were going in.  Saying that, a lot of plot points were long-term predictable, but did a good job of obscuring themselves along the way; I called the Schwann twist the moment he first turned up and correctly identified the final boss based entirely on the opening animation, but by the time those twists finally hit then I had long forgotten about them.

So that was a lot of criticism for the part of the game I actually enjoyed the most, and now for the part of the game I could never really get excited about: "Tales of Vesperia the game".  I respect the action battle system - I didn't even find the ally AI that objectionable - but it often felt like enemies could be HP sponges, and there's just little enough TP management for me to think that they should really have just done away with TP altogether and let you go wild with your abilities.  The world map is gigantic but has nothing in it, and you get the airship equivalent so early that distance becomes meaningless; you could cut two, maybe three whole continents from this game, easy.  Puzzles are largely non-existent.  Dungeons are generally short and sweet but some can really drag on and on and on, which is a problem for a game which did I mention until the past couple of days had a problem where it would just randomly crash?  Save points in dungeons are spaced far too far apart, and there's no quicksave either, so sometimes you have no choice but to leave the game on while you go out or to bed, because there's nowhere to quit.  More subjectively, though, what I had forgotten was the Tales Of series's (apparent) approach to optional content, and that is for there to be absolutely stacks of it, almost all permanently missable and involving backtracking to random locations after every other plot point.  In fairness, I can see why some people would love this; the kind of people who take one game and immerse themselves in it fully for long periods of time, never quite wanting it to end.  I have a hard time doing that.  In fact, I know that this game has a number of optional dungeons and sidequests I could still take, but I just want it to be over.  It could well be a time thing; there are so many games these days I want to play, and so much less time in which to do it.  But I suspect I may just not like console RPGs very much.  There's too much content, and I find the amount of choice overwhelming.  It's an important lesson learned, really; I may have to steer clear of console RPGs in the future, no matter how intrigued I am by the story.  Because that's what I'm ultimately in it for, a lot of the time - the story.  But I can't forget that a novel takes far less time to read than a game...

Etrian Odyssey Nexus (3DS) - in progress.  I put this on hiatus in order to charge through the rest of Vesperia, and I suspect I'll be going straight back to it next.  A celebratory final 3DS installment for the dungeon-crawler series, this game pulls dungeons and classes from across the entire series, all with their own twists and tweaks, to create a game twice as long as any previous Etrian Odyssey, and I'm having a whale of a time.  It's hard to believe, but so far it's even managing to have more plot than Etrian Odyssey V, despite its compilation title nature...  The character design is by and large far less obnoxious than V, too.  The character-building is as intricate and rewarding and challenging as ever; the dungeons require a careful and thoughtful approach, even random battles are unique and demand careful application of your skills.  The revisited dungeons even hold up astonishingly well compared to their original incarnations, with some truly unexpected twists for the player expecting an excess of recycling.  From what I've heard, the only real point of criticism on that front is their selection of which dungeons to bring back, which seems to be very much along the lines of the first-zone syndrome people disliked in Sonic Generations...  But as I haven't played Etrian Odyssey 2 or 3, a much greater proportion of the game will be new to me than it will be to real veterans.  On which note, I've deliberately gone into this title with the intent to push myself, playing on the hardest difficulty rather than one of the safer ones, and forgoing my usual dependence on classical tanks and healers.  I'm running a Ronin/Hero/Pugilist, Sovereign/Arcanist team, and it's working out fantastically.  I'm looking forward to getting back.  I'm just about to embark on Waterfall Woods, but my feelings on this game were pretty much set the moment I stepped back into Lush Woodlands, the first stratum from the first Etrian Odyssey game I ever played.  It felt like coming home.

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