Legend of Legacy

Box

Introduction

Legend of Legacy is an RPG for the 3DS published by Atlus in 2015. Since playing and enjoying Etrian Odyssey 2 Untold I’ve been getting more interest in Atlus. I played a demo of this game a year or so ago and was interested by it.

Setting: The Isle of Avalon mysteriously appeared out of nowhere. Numerous adventurers have traveled to the island seeking to solve its mysteries and find treasure. You pick one of seven characters who is traveling to the island, each for their own reasons. Your pick will be the main character but the others will join up with you and form a party.

Tale of Two Legends

I’ll lay it out right now: this game was a miss for me. I got tired of it and didn’t finish it. It did some cool things but ultimately had some big flaws that just annoyed me too much. It kind of reminds me of Legend of Mana; a cool game that gets held back by its flaws. But unlike Mana the cool things that Legacy does weren’t enough to counteract the flaws for me.

The Bad: Leveling System

Legacy follows a “you get better at what you actually do” system. For a lot of RPGs your wizard will get smarter and better at magic even if you have him just hit things with a stick over and over. Legacy is one of those games that does away with conventional overall levels and instead assigns levels to all the different skills and abilities you use. This by itself is fine but I’ve found that implementation can be difficult to do well.

Unfortunately the game Legacy most reminds me of with this is Final Fantasy 2, an NES game where the leveling is largely seen as a major weakness. The leveling is per-action and I’ve yet to see a per-action system that doesn’t make drawing out battles seem necessary to an extent. Though this isn’t to say per-action is immediately bad, just that it has inherent weaknesses. Indeed, Legacy made me draw out some fights longer than they needed.

But the worst part is the randomness. Even FF2 had measured experience meters with consistent progress for its weapon and spell levels. Legacy, as far as I can tell from both playing it and looking online, is random. You can do everything right and not get a level up in a skill for a long time. One streamer I watch recently discussed this while playing a PS1 RPG, saying something like, “If I’m doing things right I should be rewarded for it, not just given a slightly better chance for it.”

Indeed, there was one spell I used a lot in a variety of fights and as far as I know I did everything right for leveling it. Over 10 hours later I finally got the crucial level up for it. More on that later.

The Bad: Encounters

Legacy utilizes “monsters are on map, touch them and get taken into the battle screen” for encounters. I’ve covered this in a few other games now. As usual, you can avoid fights if you want though sometimes it’s tough. My main problem with the implementation is that unlike most other games the enemies on the map don’t reset or move at all when you get out of a fight. Also, the enemies are very aggressive and persistent in chasing you. So what happens is if you don’t want to get into a fight you try to get around an enemy. Unless you’re in a wide open space the enemy will see you. You run from it and in doing so run by and aggro two other enemy groups. Eventually you run to a dead end and get into a fight with one of the groups. End the fight and the other two groups are still there so you end up getting into three consecutive fights when all is said and done.

Also the leveling system is balanced such that weaker encounters will give you little to nothing in level ups. Most easy fights will get you nothing. At least games with EXP or SP make easy fights not entirely useless. And whether you get and easy fight or hard fight is pretty random too. The last dungeon I was in before quitting I was still getting fights from the first dungeon mixed up with tough fights with little way to tell which would be which.

The Bad: Magic Headaches

Element_Scale

Here is my main gripe with the game: how magic works. First, magic is lame in Mana but Mana is easy enough that it doesn’t matter. Legacy is decently tough to where I doubt hacking and slashing on its own would get through without a bunch of grinding.

Here’s what you need to do to use magic. All magic fits into elements and to use magic of an element you need to spend a turn making a contract with that element. A character can only make a contract with an element if he/she has that element’s Singing Shard equipped in one of two accessory slots. So already to use magic you need to spend a turn with a character that has an accessory slot used.

Enemies can use magic too but the unfair thing is when they use magic they get to use a spell and gain a contract in one turn. Also, Legacy has a “choose turns at the beginning of the round” combat system that makes this even more problematic. Plan to use a spell but then an enemy gains the element’s contract from you. Wasted turn and SP (this game’s version of MP). Also, plan to have your fastest character and a slower unit use a spell and by chance the faster character goes after the slower one? Wasted turn and SP. The last fight I did in Legacy was a tough fight in which this situation happened twice that finally made me rage quit.

It gets even worse when it comes to learning spells. Spells are learned by Whispering Shards, another accessory. So you have to sacrifice your accessory slots to use magic and thus you can only have so many spells. But fret not for eventually you can learn spells! However, as mentioned above this is finicky and random. I used Hailstorm, a nice AoE water spell, for crowd control often from the moment I got it. Only 10 hours later did my hero learn Hailstorm so she could finally equip a different Whispering Shard to learn a spell.

The Good: Field Elements

One cool thing the game did was have elements affect battle and change during fights. When you enter a fight the elements will be at certain levels. For example, when you’re in the water temple fights usually start with water in the high teens while the other elements are close to 10.

When an element is stronger than the others it has an effect on battles. Water will half magic damage, wind halves physical damage, fire increases physical damage, and shadow increases magic damage. This goes for allies and enemies. Thus, if you’re in a fight with lots of physical bruisers it helps to strengthen wind in the field.

Getting contracts with an element also produces effects. Getting a water contract will give your characters HP regen at the end of the round and a wind contract will give up SP regen, allowing you to use spells and SP-costing skills at will. Thus, tough fights can be a fun exercise in getting contracts and strengthening elements to produce effects you want.

The Good: Mortal Damage

7-Heroes

The 7 Heroes

Legacy handles 0 HP in a unique way. Characters are still down for the count at 0 HP as usual. But there are no special reviving skills or spells for 0 HP. The same healing spells you use on someone still standing work when they have 0 HP and will get them back on their feet. Easy, huh? The trade-off is that all damage a character takes while at 0 HP lowers their max HP. Don’t worry, it’s not permanent; characters’ normal max HP is restored by going back to town and staying at the inn. Characters can still be targeted at 0 HP and take more mortal damage.

Fights are tough enough that you’ll see mortal damage fairly regularly. Your party is restored to full HP after every fight but only up to their current max HP. So the game is forgiving despite its difficulty but then it becomes a risk-reward game where you can carry on with your units weakening or eventually decide you need to rest.

The Good: Stances

There are three stances available at the start of the game. The game made it seem like more would be unlocked later but I never saw that happen. Anyway, the stances are Attack, Support, and Guard. You create formations where you choose stances for each character and you choose a formation at the beginning of every turn. Attack increases damage. Support increases the odds of going first and makes healing better and status ailments more likely to hit. Guard decreases damage and any defensive skills use apply to the whole party. One tactic Legacy teaches you early is to have one person in Guard use Block. They will take physical damage for the whole party and that damage will be reduced from using Block.

This made for some interesting tactical decisions. Need something done early, put someone in Support. Against a group of physically tough enemies you’d generally want to put someone in Guard. It’d get very interesting when you have conflicting goals. Someone at low HP and you need them to fire off a healing spell? Do you put them in Guard so they can take a hit or in Support to increase the odds they go first?

Difficulty

Legend of Legacy scores a whopping 99.61 on the difficulty spreadsheet. This puts it all the way up at 5th out of 151. It’s rated even harder than Fire Emblem Fates: Conquest! It’s just below games like Adventure of Link and the first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles on the NES.

While the game was tough I didn’t get far enough to see that level of difficulty. Nevertheless, it points to another difference between Mana and Legacy. You could ignore Mana’s more annoying pieces as the game wasn’t tough enough to make you fully use every part of the battle system. Legacy, meanwhile, clearly expects you to learn everything and use it to its fullest.

Conclusions

Legend of Legacy is a promising game that just made too many wrong choices in its design. If they just got rid of the “spells fail if you don’t have the element’s contract” piece and made leveling measurable instead of random I think those two changes alone would greatly improve the game. The game did some unique things with the elements’ effect on fights and mortal damage as well as having some nice-looking settings and dungeons. I can’t help but wonder if I had played this game when I was younger and had more time if I might have just pushed through it. Nevertheless, I decided to put the game down due to its flaws.

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Metroid: Samus Returns

Boxart

Introduction

Samus Returns is a remake of Metroid II: Return of Samus. The name also heralds to the first Metroid game to feature Samus since Other M in 2010. Unfortunately, the Metroid series is no stranger to turmoil and hiatuses. After the SNES-classic Super Metroid the series was completely missed on the N64 which saw several now-legendary releases for other Nintendo series. The Prime series and 2D entries Fusion and Zero Mission rekindled interest in the series. Then Other M came out and is regarded very poorly. Federation Force came out in 2016. I know little of that game other than hearing bad things about it. Thus, it was on Samus Returns and the soon-to-come Prime 4 to redeem the series and I’d say they’re off to a good start.

New Abilities

Melee Counter

Melee_Counter

Melee has never been Samus’s strength. Well in this game she can counter an enemy’s charge by uppercutting with her arm cannon while expelling energy. Gameplay-wise if you time the counter right you’ll block the attack, knock the enemy back, and lock onto them to finish them with shots. In boss fights you’ll also get extra cinematics of Samus fighting off the boss, forming this game’s version of Quick Time Events. It was a cool new move but they made it a bit too overused in the beginning as every enemy’s attack pattern is pretty much charge you so you can counter them. From midgame onwards I thought its usage was just right.

Aeion Abilities – These are four abilities that share the Aeion Gauge. Use them and the gauge depletes, get refills from enemies, and gauge expansions are among the items you can find.

Scan Burst – This game’s way to find secrets and fill out the map. I don’t like that it’s an aeion ability; scanning shouldn’t be limited. It was also a bit annoying to use in big rooms. Breakable blocks blink and beep but if you’re not near them you’ll have to let out another burst to find them. Other than that, scanning was pretty good and I liked that they gave it a nice, big range per burst.

Lightning Armor – Damage goes to the Aeion gauge instead of Samus’s Energy (health). There are a few areas with unavoidable toxic plants that expect you to use this. I forgot about this in combat for much of the game until remembering it for the last two boss fights and using it to save myself when I was down to one hit.

Beam Burst

Beam_Burst

Samus’s primary beam becomes a gatling gun. Not only dishes a ton of damage but can harm some foes usually immune to the beam. Some enemies require this and others just need to be taken out ASAP. The coolest Aeion Ability, in my opinion.

Phase Drift – Slows down time for all but Samus. Didn’t realize it until someone pointed it out but in a way this is a different take on the Speed Booster: Samus is moving really fast but instead of you seeing her go fast you see everything else as slow. Unfortunately, it’s missing the destructive power of the Speed Booster. Nevertheless, a cool ability. This is mostly used to get over crumbling blocks without falling. I also used it in a few boss fights to get extra shots at a weak point or dodge a tough attack.

Free Aim

Another new feature is Free Aim. In old 2D games you’d use the shoulder buttons to aim at a 45-degree angle. With Free Aim you hold a shoulder button down to lock Samus in place and then the analog stick controls her aim. Samus will aim where you put the stick with no limit on angle, giving much more precision than the other 2D games.

One thing that was oddly fun for me was when I’d fight swarms of little flying bugs. It reminded me of the scenes in Last Jedi where the transports are getting picked off. At first with the base beam I could only rapid fire and take out one at a time. Later you have the Spazer and Plasma Beams to take out whole clouds of bugs in a couple shots.

Old Toys

Samus comes with her usual assortment of old toys. Other than the Speed Booster I think all the classic 2D powers were present. You’ve got your Morph Ball and the powers that go with it like the Bombs. The original Metroid 2 introduced the Spider Ball so for the first time in 2D I got to enjoy that. It has Samus latch on to walls and ceilings and you can roll up them. There are plenty of slippery surfaces and spikes around to knock you off though.

The Space Jump returns with all its 2D glory. In the 3D games your jumps are limited but in 2D the Space Jump has unlimited jumps basically giving you flight. The Screw Attack is back too making Samus’s spin jumps into electric buzz-saws. They did go with a different aesthetic for the Screw Attack; instead of having Samus glow with electricity she creates an electric aura around herself. I miss the old look.

The Varia and Gravity Suits return with their damage-reduction glory. Samus starts in her relatively dinky yellow suit and gains her well-known orange Varia suit with its huge shoulder pads. Other M apparently messed up the Gravity Suit by making it an aura instead of a recolored Varia Suit. This game goes back to having it be a suit and even makes it more than a recolor, adding extra armor.

Gravity_Suit

Gravity Suit

My favorites are usually the beams. First, they split the Ice Beam into its own easy-to-switch to weapon. I loved this choice; adding Ice to the primary beam can make often add an extra hit to enemies as they get frozen and then killed.

The primary beam was as awesome as it usually is in the 2D games. Start with the dinky little yellow shot (which still looked good with the improved graphics). Then get Wave to make it purple and go through walls. The Spazer returns for the first time since Super Metroid to make your beam into three light spears, looking more badass, increasing damage, and making it much easier to hit enemies. Finally, Plasma made the beam an electric green while letting ot pierce enemies. Samus Returns also did a great job of leaving you with your beams long enough for it to feel outdated then giving you the next beam upgrade so you feel super powerful again.

Exploring SR388

SR388_Approach

Couple knocks on SR388 to start. One, the overall map of SR388 is much more linear than most Metroid games. You get to an Area, eventually unlock the path forward, and go to the next Area. The map looks like a loop but the path between the final Area and the Surface is closed until the end. That said, exploration was plentiful within an Area. Lots of secret passages and trying to figure out ways forward as well as finding where the Metroids dwell. Enemy variety was also lower. Lots of recolors in the game.

Moving around an Area and fighting off the enemies was a lot of fun. Enemies in this game hurt a lot. I thought enemies in Fusion did a lot of damage but enemies in this game do even more and you have less health than Fusion. You get the Wave Beam to shoot through walls earlier than any other game and that definitely helps.

Another thing I noticed is that this world feels the most like going through the wilderness of any Metroid. It doesn’t have the creepiness or quite the alien feeling of Super Metroid but Super has a Space Pirate base on it and plenty of isolated rooms with technology, including every save point. Save points in Samus Returns are out in the open; they don’t get their own rooms. This makes SR388 feel more wild.

Bosses

 

 

The vast majority of bosses and minibosses in the game were the Metroids. There were three non-Metroid bosses.

The Metroids themselves come in several stages: Larva (the form seen in other games), Alpha, Gamma, Zeta, Omega, and one Queen Metroid.

Omega Metroid – Late game bosses have a wide variety of attacks. Omegas can swipe at you with claws and tail, breath out a laser beam and hold it for a few seconds, torch the floor and walls, and bring debris down from the ceiling. You need to read the tells and react. See him wind up a claw and you need to Space Jump away. See if charge energy in its mouth and you need to keep moving as it may target your current position.

Offense is interesting in this fight. Its weak point is covered so you need to blast the covering. It’s difficult to hit the covering from afar. So I found it was best to get right up to the Omega and blast away. My aggression was awarded with better shots and a higher chance of it using its easily dodged melee attacks. When you break the covering the Omega will try to bite you which can be Melee Countered. Do that and you get a short scene with Samus and the Omega wrestling and tumbling around and plenty of openings to missile the Omega.

Diggernaut – A giant digging machine that’s been harassing Samus all game. It can swipe its huge arms across the floor, make sloe moving globs fall on you while trying to laser snipe you, and try to suck you in and crush you. My favorite attack was its laser formations. First it fires low so you have to Space Jump over. Then it spliyd low and high so a well timed normal jump is needed. Finally, it ends mostly low and one high. You need a precise Space Jump for that.

You need to shoot its head when it enters the foreground. Do that enough and it gets stunned and brings its arms forward for you to Morph Ball into and Bomb. Finally, its head will reveal weak spots so you need to Spider onto it and Bomb those. Winning gets you the Power Bombs which you then use to completely destroy the machine.

Queen Metroid

 

This fight featured chaotic combinations of attacks by the end. The Queen can breathe out green energy spheres that stick around for a bit and can light floors and walls on fire. Towards the beginning of the fight the trick is to Spider up the wall to the ceiling. The Queen then knocks you off so you need to avoid the green energy as you fall. Later, the Queen lights the ceiling and wall first. The ceiling is put out as the Queen lights the floor on fire but you can’t use the wall to escape. You then need to use the Spiderspark (blast yourself up using a Power Bomb) to get to the safe ceiling.

You need to use a lot of abilities in this fight. Space Jump is important for dodging as usual. Spider Ball and Power Bomb as mentioned above. All this and you need to find time to shoot the Queen in her mouth too. I finished this fight down to my last hit depending on the Lightning Armor.

Proteus Ridley – Ridley tends to be a tough fight. He comes to this fight with some classics including swiping with his vicious tail. This fight felt like a true Ridley fight and yet they added enough to it for it to feel fresh too. Ridley will breath out energy blasts in various formations. Once I got used to dodging his tail he started employing delayed attacks to throw off my timing. Unlike the Metroid fights which often depended on waiting for a weakness to open or trying to pinpoint them with the thin Ice Beam Ridley is vulnerable to the standard beam. Thus, if I had time to shoot I could rapid fire Plasma Beams at him. There are scenes between phases where the Metroid Hatchling gets involved in the fight, helping Samus escape Ridley’s attacks and absorbing energy from Ridley to heal Samus.

Difficulty

Samus Returns clocks in at 34th out of 151 on the spreadsheet with a 47.17 (current median is 16.60). That’s inside the top 25%. That’s around games like Final Fantasy Tactics, PS1 Dragon Warrior VII, and Mega Man 4. For Metroid games I’ve played that puts it behind only Metroid Prime Echoes.

Overall I’d say this is far. I feel like I had a much tougher time with Metroid Fusion when I first played it but I was also much younger. One great thing about the difficulty here was that it was challenging while rarely being frustrating. Generous checkpoints and enemy attacks that were challenging but usually didn’t seem unfair made this game the right kind of difficult.

Conclusions

Ah it’s good to play a 2D Metroid again, or any Metroid for that matter. And this game is why a well-done remake is great. On the few occasions I played the original I wanted to like it but was too spoiled by advancements made in the later games. This remake allowed me to enjoy it. Further, the game itself is just a good, fun game that fits right into the Metroid series.

External Music Links

Surface of SR388 – A good upbeat theme for landing on an alien planet that you’re about to explore.

Allarea 98 – Played in the abandoned Chozo laboratory areas late in the game. Really adds to the atmosphere or exploring a technologically advanced but now empty lab.

Proteus Ridley (Phase 3) – Ridley’s back and so is his theme. Samus Returns features a lot of good songs from past Metroid games. This is a very good rendition of the classic theme.

***** PLOT SECTION *****

Plot Intro

After Other M messed up and had tons of dialogue and plot Samus Returns goes back to the minimal, show-don’t-tell style of most Metroids.

After the Space Pirates mounted a galactic threat with the Metroids in the first game the Federation upgraded the Metroids to threat level Sith Lord: they’re too dangerous to be left alive. They sent some squads to the Metroids’ homeworld, SR388, to exterminate them. Of course, the squads all got killed so the Federation had to send Samus. There are corpses in the opening area.

Eradicating the Metroids

Samus works her way through the depths of SR388 killing Metroids as she goes. The Metroids grow into progressively more powerful forms. Samus also comes across abandoned Chozo technology. The Chozo are the lost civilization of the Metroid games: they were once a great civilization. Samus was raised by Chozo and her power suit is of Chozo design. She comes across mining machines and some, especially the huge Diggernaut, go rogue against her. She later finds an advanced laboratory close to the Metroids’ hive.

Samus works her way through Metroids until her Metroid Counter is at one. She comes across the Metroid Hive and the counter suddenly goes up. She fights a few Metroids in their original, more iconic form. She then finds the reason why: one Metroid has grown to the point it can produce more Metroids. Samus fights the last Metroid, the Queen Metroid.

The Hatchling

After killing it she comes across a Metroid egg that hatches before her eyes. Samus prepares to gun down this newly born Metroid hatchling. Instead of being menacing like the others the hatchling chirps affectionately; it thinks Samus is its mother as Samus is the first thing it saw. Samus spares the hatchling and they go back to her ship.

Metroid_Hatchling

Samus finds the Metroid Hatchling

At the landing site they are attacked by Ridley. Ridley has began to shed some of the cybernetic enhancements that made him Meta Ridley at the end of Zero Mission and the Prime games, taking on a new part organic part machine form called Proteus Ridley. In an intense fight Samus and the hatchling defeat Ridley and escape.

With that: “The last Metroid is in captivity. The galaxy is at peace.”

The Stinger

After the credits there was a stinger that I absolutely loved. I expected it to be Ridley getting up, setting up the beginning of Super Metroid which happens soon after. Ridley’s mechanical arm lays abandoned, implying that Ridley shed the rest of his cybernetic parts as he is completely organic again in Super Metroid.

But even more awesome was what happened next. A hornoad (basic toad monster) is cheerfully hopping along. Then a weird yellow blob appears. Behind a pillar the blob attacks the hornoad. The hornoad emerges from the pillar but it then transforms into a more hideous and aggressive form. The hornoad has been infected by an X-Parasite, the antagonists of Metroid Fusion. With their only predator, the Metroids, now eradicated the X-Parasites are free to take over SR388.

X_Parasites

X-Parasites

Chozo Memories

Beating the game unlocks a collection of pictures that show the history of the Chozo on SR388. You see them land and begin colonizing the planet. They take particular interest in the Aeion energy emitted by the planet. They had trouble with the aggressive wildlife, especially those infected by X-Parasites. Thus, they created the Metroids. I had heard this was the case but this is the first time this has been stated in a game (at least in English).

Chozo_Memory_Metroid

The Chozo creating Metroids

The Metroids fought alongside the Chozo at first. Then they began to grow into their more powerful forms, implied to be because of absorbing Aeion energy. They became aggressive and attacked the Chozo, forcing the Chozo to create the acid structures that sealed the Metroids underground.

The final picture is a sinister one that shows some rogue faction of Chozo killing the other Chozo that had arrived on SR388 first. This is the first time there has been any friction or possible evil in the Chozo in the backstory. Is this meant to simply be a mystery to guess at or is it possibly a hook for future Metroid games?

Chozo_Memory_Rebellion

Rogue Chozo

Star Wars Battlefront II: Resurrection DLC – Storyline

Battlefront 2 6.jpg

DLC for the Last Jedi hit with new characters in multiplayer for Finn and Phasma as well as some new storyline DLC for Iden.  This will focus on the storyline part of the DLC so spoilers ahead.  Spoilers are basically about Iden and friends as universe events are known from the Force Awakens.

The main game storyline left off with Kylo Ren using his mind probe power to extract where the piece of map for Skywalker was from Del (original member of Inferno Squad and now married to Iden and they have a daughter we find out).  Hask kills him and lays a trap for Iden.

Shriv (became member of Inferno Squad when Iden switched sides to Rebels) reveals that Del was helping the resistance (never really clear when and why Iden stopped, maybe supposed to be implied because started a family) investigate rumors of mass disappearances (kids like Finn being trained by First Order) when he disappeared.

Going to Athulla to locate Del’s last know location, they find some of the ships that capture and transport the missing people.  Iden, Shiv, and her daughter Zay destroy the fighters and capture the flagship.

Next stop is Vardor (Iden’s home planet) where the kids are said to be taken for training.  After Iden and Shiv land, they see red streaks in the sky (Starkiller base taking out the Republic).  They find Gleb’s body (old trainer) and Hask captures them.  Hask orders his star destroyer to destroy the Corvus with Zay on it and looks to execute Iden and Shiv but folks the First Order betrayed attack and that gives Iden and Shiv a chance to escape.  Corvus was destroyed but Zay was able to make it onto an escape pod and the action moves to finding her.

The trio make their way onto the Star Destroyer to steal information on the First Order to give the Resistance (Info on the kidnapped kids becoming troopers, size of fleet, dreadnought info).  After stealing the data, they sabotage the hyperspace generators and while doing so have a dealing with Hask who Iden kills.  The Star Destroyer is taken out of hyperspace and heavily damaged, you see Starkiller base exploding.  Iden then reveals she took a fatal wound and tells Zay to escape with Shriv and get the info to the Resistance.  They hand the plans to Leia and then are sent to the outer rim to gather more allies for the resistance thus giving them a place to be during the Last Jedi.

My personal thoughts was I was bummed to see Iden’s story end.  I really enjoyed her character.  I thought the death was a little cookie cutter complete with we won but moments after savoring victory you find out that she took a wound during the fight that was hidden from our view until the dramatic moment with her daughter.  Little cheesy but fine, not everyone can have an epic ending.

I’m not sure if they are doing more storyline DLC but it seems they are indicating they are with Zay and Shriv heading out.  I’m not as invested in them as was when Inferno Squad was involved as the irignal group is now dead.  I’ll certainly still play it but instead of being interested in both Iden’s story and how it ties to the galaxy, I’ll be just interested in any tidbits that tie to the galaxy.

There wasn’t a whole lot new in the game play of the storyline.  Got to use the AT-RTs some with was cool.  I don’t remember any new weapons even though one I believe was in the multiplayer only and not in the original campaign which was cool to use outside of it.

Overall it was fun to play through, nothing earth shattering but fun.

Battlefront 2 5.jpg

Maul not in this DLC but fun to play in arcade mode and not to be messed with in a tight spaces

Craig’s 2017 Gaming Awards

Most Disappointing Game: Super Mario Maker

Like last year just because I put a game here doesn’t mean I didn’t like it. Heck, I played this a bit just a few weeks ago. This is a particularly strange entry here as the part that disappointed me is something I knew about ahead of time but I underestimated how much it’d add. Anyway, what I’m referring to is the inability on the 3DS version to upload levels. I always thought it strange they wouldn’t make the effort to add that in but didn’t think I would mind so much.

Then towards the end of the year I finally had some people play the levels I made and provide feedback. It’s amazing how much my blinders affects my design. Now I wish I could get feedback more readily. Thus, now I’m a bit disappointed they didn’t put in level uploading.

Most Challenging Game: Fire Emblem Fates: Birthright

Will this award always go to a Fire Emblem? Could be, it’s a tough series. That said, reviewing games played this year for this award revealed a year without a lot of challenges. Birthright was certainly tough at times but not anywhere near as tough as Conquest.

Favorite Replay (favorite run of a game I’ve already played): Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past – Randomizer

For a while I’ve been playing this game about once a year or so. Being introduced to the randomizer brought a fresh twist to an old classic. I played through ALttP Randomizers much more than my usual once per year. This replay was not only fun but it had me thinking of ways to spice up other games I’ve played through, to varying degrees of success.

Favorite New Game (favorite run of a game I hadn’t played in the past): Bravely Second

A worthy sequel to Bravely Default, a game I enjoyed a lot. As mentioned in the Bravely Second posts this game was aware of its status as a sequel and embraced it. I wondered if BS would be able to capture the thrill of the plot twists in its predecessor and it certainly did. This game brought out everything I liked about Bravely Default while still doing more than enough new stuff to feel like its own game.

Game of the YearLegend of Zelda: A Link to the Past – Randomizer

It was a tough call between the ALttP Randomizer and Bravely Second. I ended up going with ALttP Randomizer because of how fascinated I became with it. For the second summer in three years I found out about a cool way to enjoy an old game. I not only played the Randomizer myself but I watched a lot of races and runs and even now continue to do so once in a while.

Next Year:

I’m already playing through Metroid: Samus Returns for the 3DS and liking it so far. Some time this year I intend to get to Legend of Legacy, a 3DS RPG by Atlas I played a demo of and liked but haven’t gotten around to playing the full game of. There’s also the third game in Fire Emblem Fates, Revelation to get to. Beyond those three, who knows? I feel like it’s been a while since I did a game of Civilization V. ALttP Randomizer runs will likely show up at some point. And there’s an ever-increasing collection of games filled with gems to replay.

Super Mario Maker – New Level and Level Tune-Up

I went back to Super Mario Maker to spruce up some of my old levels. I also had a little bit of inspiration and made a new level. Some of my old levels I decided I’d let fall by the wayside due to a combination of them requiring more work and me not liking them as much in general.

New Level: Charlock Castle (Super Mario Bros., Castle/Castle)

Charlock_Entrance

The entrance to SMM Charlock Castle

Named and modeled after the last dungeon in Dragon Quest 1 and 3. Specifically, DQ1 as the two versions have some notable differences. This was a random idea I had one day where I realized that there were some loose parallels between SMB and Charlock Castle. I chose the original SMB as the theme here to match me doing a DQ1 dungeon and because SMB graphics seem like a closer fit for DQ1. I do need to get some more SMB3 levels out sometime as that’s my favorite theme.

Charlock_Rainbow

First there’s Rainbow Bridge. In DQ1 you spend much of the game getting what you need to make the Rainbow Drop. Put the Drop into the isthmus leading to Charlock Castle and it creates the Rainbow Bridge for you to cross. I put a bunch of different block tiles for the bridge and some coins with a P-block to represent creating the bridge. I thought I remembered more colors for the blocks but maybe that’s just the Wii U version. I added a Star for Mario to at least be a rainbow.

Charlock_Throne

The throne room

The first section of the actual castle mirrors floor 1 of DQ1 Charlock. There are two paths that twist around and lead to the throne room. I tried to put all the enemy types from DQ1 in SMM form, with varying success. The Wizards are Magikoopas which work very well. The Magiwyverns are flying Koopas because I think the two look similar. The Werewolves are…giant gophers. I probably should’ve just not put anything in for Werewolves since that was really the closest thing available. The hallway can be tricky due to lack of space, the wrenches from the gophers, and Magikoopa teleporting around causing trouble. Being careful will get you through though. DQ1’s throne room famously had a secret staircase behind it that led further on. I implemented that here with a brick floor and a P-switch to change them to coins, leading to a pipe.

The next couple areas are mainly focused on enemies. Hammer Bros. seemed like a good substitution for DQ1’s Axe Knights. There is one twisty hallway with two. One is on bricks so you can beat him from underneath if you avoid the hammers. Another is below you and there’s a “wyvern” koopa nearby you can kick into him. I put a mushroom in the beginning of each room not only to ease the difficulty but to simulate DQ1’s Healmore spell that you’d be using a lot around now.

Charlock_Erdrick

Erdrick’s Fire Flower

The next area has Bowser Jr. (stepping in for the green and red dragons of DQ1). You can also see a room boxed in that you’ll get to later with a checkpoint and a fire flower. This simulates Erdrick’s Sword and the layout is much like actual Charlock. Also, I put some rotating fire here and find it difficult, but not impossible, to get through without a hit.

The next room forks like DQ1 Charlock. One way goes forward the other goes back for that fire flower you saw. I marked which way goes where. The next room has a “Stoneman” or for SMM, a giant Dry Bones with a cannon and giant beetle on it. Heavy defense like the actual Stoneman. Not too difficult to beat with care though.

Charlock_Dragonlord_1

The Dragonlord

Going forward finally has you confront the Dragonlord. He’s not too tough to beat, like the actual game. He’s a giant Magikoopa with wings. One fireball will do it. You need to beat him to get the key for the door. I also added a pipe and the word “JOIN” in the room. In DQ1 the Dragonlord will offer for you to join him. You can choose to do so and it kills you. Same here; the pipe leads straight to lava. Maybe I should have omitted it since a pipe that leads to death is generally bad design for SMM but I wanted to include an homage to the Dragonlord’s offer. Hopefully the easy-to-see locked door and the word “JOIN” pointing towards the pipe indicates the pipe is not the way to go. The checkpoint isn’t too far away either.

Charlock_Dragonlord_2

The Dragonlord reveals his true form!

Of course, I had to include an homage to the Dragonlord’s true form: giant flying Bowser. I made it so you have to beat him and with no stage stuff to use you have to use “Erdrick’s Fire Flower.” I’ve seen other levels create cool boss fights using fireballs on a track. I have yet to gain the skill needed so I tried a few configurations and settled on a lame track just above Mario’s head to make dodging a little trickier. I also included two Healmore Flowers in a room should you get hit.

Finally, I put in every fanfare SFX on the exit to simulate the celebration for beating the Dragonlord.

Jailbreak (Super Mario World, Castle/Underground)

Jailbreak_Tuned

The C-Jump

I added some arrows around to make it more clear where the player is supposed to go, especially at the bottom of the beginning section which is a bit busy. I removed a lot of the Dry Bones after the checkpoint so it’s no longer bone bullet hell there. Finally, there’s that jump where I want the player to run left and jump but immediately correct their jump to go right, a sort of “C-jump.” I still like that jump and left it in but I changed the layout there a bit to make it much more forgiving.

The Ungrounds (Super Mario Bros., Ghost/Ghost)

Ungrounds_Tuned

Now with fewer Boo’s

First of all, I got rid of a bunch of Boos at the beginning. I also added a mushroom. There’s still quite a few Boos around but it’s now very unlikely to get trapped by them. And you have the extra hit from the mushroom in case you do get hit. I also changed the moving platform to be a bit less painful. Like Jailbreak I added some arrows, especially in the area after the pipe, to help guide the user. Most of the end of the level seemed fine. This could be because my playtesters didn’t get that far or maybe I suck at beginnings but do alright on endings.

The Redevastator (Super Mario Bros. 3, Airship/Airship)

Redevastator_Tuned

A nice place for a quick rest

Fixed the very beginning to make it less painful by lowering the vines so you don’t have to bounce off a cannonball immediately or die. Also got rid of several enemies, especially Hammer Bros., that pretty much served no purpose than to peg Mario from off screen. I recently learned you can have a second checkpoint in a level; you can have one per sub-level. So I added one on the top portion to make the level less of a marathon. I fixed that rude jump with the conveyor belts and the spike wall. Mostly I slowed down the conveyors so Mario doesn’t go flying into the spikes and you can actually make an approach. It’s still a challenging jump but not ridiculous, or so I hope. Overall, that describes my changes to the level overall: challenging but not as rude.

Golgoran Cliffs (Super Mario Bros., Overworld/Underwater)

Golgoran_Tuned

This now being the level I’m happiest with this required the fewest changes. Really I just added some arrows around. I did very little with repositioning enemies or jumps. Most of my changes were in the underwater section.

Fun side-story: I recently saw a streamer play a bootleg NES Super Mario World. The game was awful in many ways but it had one thing that I would actually say is an improvement over actual Mario games: Mario didn’t bounce off ? blocks underwater. It’s very annoying to me to hit underwater ? blocks since Mario just flies downward.

Final Fantasy IV (Steam)

FF4_Logo

Introduction

Final Fantasy IV was released for the SNES in Japan and America in 1991. America didn’t get FF2 or FF3 originally so when FF4 came out they called it Final Fantasy II over here, a move meant to avoid confusion that would end up causing more confusion later when the actual FF2 and FF3 would eventually make it here.

Troperific

FF4 is a significant game in both the history of Final Fantasy and jRPGs in general. It’s a good example of these two tropes, explained below:

Growing the Beard – The moment when a game/movie/etc. comes into its own and gets better. Chances are if it’s a popular piece it’s from this point onwards that it became popular. Named for Star Trek: The Next Generation as it is generally agreed that series became great somewhere around when Commander Riker grew a beard.

There’s some debate on if FF4 is Growing the Beard for the FF series but it’s at least the stubble. While FF 1-3 were obviously good enough to get another entry FF4 was the first one to have a deeper story with memorable characters, the kind of plot FF would come to be known for. It also introduced the ATB system (more on that in a bit) which would be used in FF 4-9 and heavily influence FF12.

Seinfeld Is Unfunny – A work that was considered revolutionary in its day but gets looked on harshly but those that missed it the first time and go to it later. This is because the work was so good it got copied by everything in its genre afterwards so that those that come later are already very familiar with the aspects that made it different in the first place. Trope is named after Seinfeld which many people can’t stand because many sitcoms since have copied the things that made Seinfeld popular.

FF4 brought expanded story and battle system elements to jRPG’s. However, it also hasn’t aged very well. Since FF4 brought a compelling story now it is expected of jRPG’s, not just FF’s, to have such stories. Some now see FF4’s story as filled with clichés (clichés that it helped establish, ironically). And while FF4 took a step towards an action-turn-based blend its lack of character customization sticks out compared to what is now available in the genre.

Versions

 

FF4 had different versions before different versions were cool. The story is that there were immediately two versions when the game was released in Japan, one being called EasyType. The FF4 that the US got (as FF2) was a mix of the two. When FF4 was ported for the PS1 that version was the same as the original non-EasyType version.

Then they made a DS version, of which this playthrough of the Steam version seems closest to. This was closest to the non-EasyType but with additional changes:

  • Some bosses were changed such that the go-to strategy for them in the other versions are now horrible to use against them.
  • Some characters’ abilities are different, usually expanded. For example, Edward’s Bardsong is now a command list of different ailments to inflict on all enemies instead of being locked into one based on the currently equipped harp. Yang’s Focus can now be used up to 3 times to unleash an ultra-powerful physical attack, while before Yang would always attack when Focus was done.
  • Addition of Augments, ways to add new abilities to characters, and customization on characters’ abilities. You can equip five commands and passive abilities. Augments are mostly commands of former party members but there are some new ones.
  • I swear battles needed to level up have been drastically decreased. As has been more the norm for me I decided to cut out purposeful level grinding this playthrough. I have done quite a lot of that on past playthroughs. Yet on this playthrough I ended up at similar levels throughout the game as my past grinding playthorughs. Makes sense as this version was intended for a handheld.
  • You can see the characters’ thoughts on the menu which reflect progress in dungeons or reflections on the latest plot. As I often state, I love extra bits of characterization like this and these thought insights did not disappoint.
  • Graphical, sound, and translation updates.

Characters

Cecil (Dark Knight -> Paladin)

 

Cecil starts the game as a Dark Knight. In that role he’s your typical tank: hit stuff and take damage. Later he turns into a Paladin. As a Paladin he gets a small list of White Magic with some healing and buffs. Cecil’s role here is still to hit stuff but I found myself using his White Magic more than I can ever remember. I gave him the Counter and Draw Attacks augments which made for a great combination. 100% aggro on him and 100% counter rate against physical attacks. Getting targeted with magic was a problem in the late game but this combo ruled the mid-game and was still useful until the end.

Kain (Dragoon)

Kain

Another tanky character. I think he got a HP cut in this game. With Cecil sporting Draw Attacks I gave Kain equipment focusing on raising his offense. Thus, he had better offense but worse defense most of the time. He has the classic Dragoon attack Jump but I’ve never found it all that great in this game even though others love it. It’s basically a charge attack during which Kain is invincible. It has its uses especially against counter-attack bosses but I find it situational at best.

Rydia (Summoner)

Rydia is a Black Mage and Summoner. Magical damage is her specialty. Magical offense suffers in this game from charge time in addition to MP costs. It often does more damage than physical attacks but the charge time makes physicals far better damage over time. It is great against enemies with elemental weaknesses. There are enemies and bosses with high defense or that counter physical attacks to make magic attacks useful though. Rydia also wields whips which have a chance to paralyze enemies which comes in handy.

Rosa (White Mage)

Healer. She equips bows too but I almost never had her attack from mid-game onwards. In addition to the typical heals and buffs she also had Haste and Slow which were amazing in boss fights. She has the Pray command. In the old versions this was basically a 0-MP first level Cure that sometimes failed. In this version it was incredible: healing the same but also restores a good amount of MP and the failure rate seemed drastically reduced. Great for making it through long dungeons.

Yang (Monk)

Yang is another physical heavy hitter. He has two nice abilities: Kick and Focus. Kick is a physical attack on all enemies. Focus is a charge attack but you can charge up to three times in this version to unleash a very powerful attack. Yang also gets early access to elemental weapons and weapons that cause status ailments as well as being able to equip two at once, giving him a lot of offensive versatility.

Edge (Ninja)

Edge is honestly a worse Yang and unfortunately Yang eventually leaves never to return while Edge is there for the long haul. He’s very fast but does the least damage of the physical attackers. He gets two weapons but no elements or status ailments. He can Steal but it hardly works and there doesn’t seem to be much good stuff to steal. He can Throw which, as usual, I tend to forget exists (which is my fault, not Edge’s, of course). Finally, he has Ninjitsu, his own brand of magic. Most Ninjitsu takes the form of an elemental, all-hitting spell. Problem is its damage is almost obsolete right when you get Edge. It comes in handy a few fights when the enemy is weak to an element and even that fades quickly. They actually added new Ninjitsu to this game with extra elements but no extra damage so Edge is learning new garbage spells up to Level 60.

Dungeons/Bosses

Sequence: Battle of Fabul Castle – Baron is attacking with a hoard of monsters and Cecil, Yang, and Edward are on the front lines of the defense. The boss theme plays throughout this sequence which really helps make it feel like a great battle. Wave after wave attacks with no chance to rest and pushes the heroes back. Only problem is that, gameplay wise, the fights are easy. I flawless victory’d most of the fights with basic tactics and then the heroes would declare they had to retreat. The end of it is awesome featuring Kain betraying Cecil with a fight played out in the battle engine and the introduction of Golbez, the main antagonist, who wastes Yang and Edward, berates Kain, and kidnaps Rosa.

Dungeon: Lodestone Cavern – Never my favorite dungeon. The idea here is that the Dark Elf that you’re after is weak to metal weapons so he conjured up a metallic field which paralyzes anyone wearing metal. The idea is you’re supposed to de-equip metallic stuff (as in, all of Cecil’s best stuff) and find other ways to get through. I don’t have the patience for that so I take advantage of how easy it is to run in this game and use that to skip every random battle until beating the boss, which causes the field to disappear.

Dungeon: Tower of Zot – While not a cakewalk in the other versions they upped the difficulty here and it caused me to take two Game Overs. The main problem are the elemental dogs. Frostbeasts are found in random encounters and their breath weapon does a ton of damage to the whole party. You can find up to two of them in a fight and with other enemies too. Hellhounds are the fire version and are fought as a chest monster. Their breath weapon does even more damage. Compounding the issue is that in this dungeon you find elemental armor and in this game it not only halves one element but makes you weak to the opposing element. In addition to my Game Overs I had a battle with two Frostbeasts where they got the jump on the party and almost killed everyone before I could run away.

Tower of Zot is also another dungeon with awesome story. It’s Golbez’s lair and you’re there to complete a hostage exchange. Golbez of course double crosses you. Tellah finally gets to confront Golbez for killing his daughter and casts Meteor, the ultimate black magic. The spell wounds Golbez and releases his mind-control on Kain but the stress kills Tellah. Golbez moves to leave and Cecil cuts him off. Golbez hits Cecil with a spell but for some reason can’t bring himself to finish Cecil. Golbez flees and the group saves Rosa. Barbariccia, the Fiend of Wind, cuts of the group’s escape and the group fights her in a battle that has Kain and Rosa playing key roles.

Boss: Bahamut

Bahamut

The game did something very rude with this fight in this version. In all versions the idea is Bahamut will charge up his one attack, Megaflare. Megaflare is a total party kill in most versions. All versions, including this one, give an in-game hint on what to do: use Reflect. Reflect will bounce Megaflare back to Bahamut, saving your party and doing massive damage to Bahamut. Problem is in this version Megaflare ignores Reflect but the in-game hint remains telling you to use Reflect. At least Megaflare does less damage; my whole team somehow survived it. But then Reflect also blocks healing spells so I had to try and Dispel Reflect to heal people. They must also have reduced Bahamut’s HP because I beat him before healing everyone.

Boss: CPU – CPU is supported by an Attack Node and Defense Node. Defense Node heals the CPU while Attack Node attacks with Laser Barrage (formerly known as Maser which is a name I liked for some reason). Both nodes have little HP but if you destroy both of them the CPU will spam Globe 199, an instant death move, and then bring the nodes back. Thus, you want to destroy one node and leave the other until you off the CPU. In previous versions Maser was manageable while the healing was tough to overcome so the Defense Node was the one to get rid of.

They upped the damage of Laser Barrage in this one. It really hurts. Had to have Haste on Rosa and have her fire off MP-burning Curajas, the most powerful healing spell. Without Haste the Attack Node would likely get two barrages off before Curaja finished casting. The CPU also has pretty high defense and casts Reflect on itself. Summons ignore Reflect but hit the Attack Node. I tried to Dispel Reflect at one point but then CPU put it back up before my attack spell cast and I nuked one of my own people. At one point I had all but Cecil and Rosa down and they had to desperately bring the team back from the brink.

Dungeon: Lunar Subterrane, Boss: Zeromus

Zeromus

The last dungeon. I remember the enemies being tough in previous versions but I swear they got a step up here. I almost Game Over’d twice before getting far and that was just on random encounters. Status ailments are definitely the way to go. I was having trouble with groups of three Dark Sages with their powerful spells and surprisingly high HP and defense. Turns out group-cast Toad has a high success rate and renders them harmless. Dragons of all kinds were tearing me a new one but Stop worked on them with 100% hit rate.

This is a long dungeon. It also features a ton of amazing gear. Ultimate weapons for the physical attackers, each guarded by a boss, full sets of amazing armor for Kain and Cecil (Dragon and Crystal, respectively), and great torso armor for Edge and the mages. Between that and the 7 levels my whole team got by the end I didn’t need to mess around with statuses much anymore because my team had just gotten significantly more powerful.

Zeromus has always been a tough final boss. His deal is he charges up Big Bang which does a ton of group damage, inflicts Sap (HP ticks down like a basketball timer under one minute), and looks awesome. That said, if you spam healing spells you can keep up with it, especially if you keep Haste on Rosa. Midway through he uses Meteor and other spells. In previous versions the battle is pretty much won at this point since Meteor is strangely ineffective against you. Well they fixed that here, it does quite a lot of damage and doesn’t have a tell like Big Bang does. He also mixed in a new attack that put my whole team in single-digit HP. Typical FF final boss fare…except he used it right after Big Bang. That let Sap tick down the few remaining HP before I could do anything. Only Kain was spared as he was in the air on the last Big Bang. He desperately had to heal himself and bring the team back with items. I had to use my Megalixir here (full HP heal to all conscious PCs).

Difficulty

On my difficulty spreadsheet the PC version got a 24.00, good for 61st out of 150. This puts it near games like Final Fantasy XII, Super Mario Bros. 3, Mortal Kombat Deception, and the GBA A Link to the Past. The PS1 version, the previous version I’d played the most, got a 17.68. I can see why this version would get a tougher grade but the sped up leveling alone made several sections easier, in my opinion.

***** PLOT SECTION *****

One of the main themes of FF4 is redemption. Cecil is an orphan raised by the king of Baron, a great and honorable knight. But the king has changed. He has ordered Cecil to master the Dark Sword, a weapon fueled by anger and hate. He then has Cecil and the Red Wings launch an unprovoked attack on the village of Mysidia to steal their Crystal, killing many in the process. These acts leave Cecil racked with guilt. He asks the king why they must carry out these actions and the king demotes him and sends him and his best friend, Kain, to deliver a package to the village of Mist. Cecil’s love, Rosa, hears his confession on what happened and wishes him well.

FFRK_Mist_Cave_FFIV

Once at Mist the package explodes, setting the village on fire and killing most of the villagers. Kain concludes that Mist is home to summoners and the king wanted them eliminated. This crosses the line for Cecil. He decides to defect. Kain agrees to defect as well. They find a small girl, Rydia, the only summoner left. They try to convince her to come with them under their protection but Rydia blames them for her mother’s death and summons Titan, who she cannot control. The ensuing earthquake knocks Cecil out and when he wakes up it’s only him and Rydia around. After protecting her from some Baron soldiers Rydia decides to trust him.

Soon after they find Rosa, having tried to follow Cecil, seriously ill with desert fever. They go to Damcyan to find help at finding a cure but Damcyan gets devastated by a Red Wing attack in front of their eyes. They help console the Damcyan prince, Edward, who joins them. He helps them find a cure for Rosa. The four go to Fabul, which they conclude will be the next place for Baron to attack. They save a Fabul monk, Yang, and mount a defense against the Red Wings.

Kain shows up and betrays Cecil. He’s serving the new leader of the Red Wings, Golbez. Golbez defeats the heroes and kidnaps Rosa. The rest of the group decide to sneak into Baron by ship. The king of Fabul warns Cecil that he cannot defeat true evil with a weapon of hate. The trip goes well at first but the ship is attacked by Leviathan. Rydia, Edward, and Yang are all lost at sea. Cecil wakes up alone near a town…Mysidia.

Even now I marvel at how rock bottom this is. Cecil has lost all his companions, his love is held by the enemy, betrayed by his best friend, his foe seems invincible, and now he wakes up alone near the town that he led a savage attack against. And the locals remember him.

Mysidia

The elder hears Cecil out and tells him the only way he can continue is to climb Mt. Ordeals, which nobody has ever returned from, and become a Paladin. Cecil climbs to the peak and a strange voice calls him “son” and bestows its light on him. But before the class change is complete he has to face his former self, a Dark Knight. This is a memorable fight. If you attack the Dark Knight the voice tells Cecil that a true Paladin doesn’t give in to aggression. Instead, you need to sheathe your blade and defend until the Dark Knight wastes himself using his hate-fueled Darkness.

That’s really only the first act of the story but in the interest of trying to cut down the length of my posts I’ll cut it off there. While there are many awesome moments in the rest of the story Cecil becoming a Paladin is, in my opinion, the best moment.

Paladin.jpg

Conclusion

This was a cool version to play. The improved visuals and voice acting added to the experience for the most part (there were a couple times where it failed). Having less time to play games these days I really appreciated the quicker leveling. The gameplay and enemy changes brought a breath of fresh air and kept me on my toes. However, the augments were a bit disappointing. I was hoping they’d give some much needed customization to the game. Then I hardly use them. Part of this is my fault but the augments were largely underwhelming. A lot of it was skills used by departed heroes and a lot of those skills were tailor made for those heroes. Finally, I did find myself missing the old 16-bit sprites and graphics at times. I don’t know if this version is now my go-to for FF4 but it definitely made a strong case.

As for FF4 as a whole it remains a game I regard fondly. It’s certainly not the best one and it hasn’t aged well but it’s still a fun time for me.

Battlefront 2

Battlefront 2 3.jpg

Spying on an Ackbar mission briefing

I’m going to start with the single player mode which basically will cover the story portion of the game.  Considering the book Battlefront II Inferno Squad was all about the main characters should consider this whole section spoilers for that book as well as this game.  Skip to the next picture if want to skip spoilers for now.  As for other books/events, I will start the paragraph with the name of the book or event so can decide to skip the paragraph or not.

Iden Versio is one of four characters who made up the initial Inferno Squad which is a top level special forces unit.  Basically the best of the best of the best sir (with honors).  Her father is an Admiral who put the group together and she comes from a world that is heavily for the Empire.

Play as an Imperial and see their side was kind of how the single player campaign was billed.  Which is why the criticism of how quickly she ends up fighting the Empire is valid.  She spent her life fighting for the Empire, she spent the book Inferno Squad infiltrating them, and maybe 20-25% through the campaign events unfold where she switches sides.

Aftermath Trilogy – Even though she seems like a hard line Imperial I wasn’t disappointed with the turn because it made sense to me when you consider two things.  One, she grew up idolizing the Empire and the rule it brought under the Emperor.  Once gone and the Emperor’s self destruct plan went into place, she saw the changes and saw the Empire she knew gone which was spot on.  I think it’s easy to see Imperials as having a lack of morals because they don’t match up with ours but it’s not impossible that their compass is ok with the Empire doing more good than bad in their mind and the order is needed to fight the chaos they believe would happen.  And once that they see atrocities that are beyond the good out weighing the bad or the Empire even switches how it operates, changing side for even a hard liner is believable.  Second, she is written as intelligent and self thinking despite the training received that makes it seem like the Empire wants just yes people.  At the end of Inferno Squad, it is certainly implied she let someone go from the Rebel cell they infiltrated rather than executed.  She certainly wasn’t ready to switch sides at that time but she wasn’t acting like a mindless drone in the book that couldn’t make her own decisions on how even people on the other side could be once she knew them.

Lost Stars – Another criticism has been the number of big events Inferno Squad has been involved in but as an elite unit, I really don’t find it all that surprising.  Wouldn’t they be wanted at all the big spots?  I had that peeve with Lost Stars because it is a book about two people from the same backwater planet that end up going into the Empire and while they are near the top of their specific class, they maybe great recruits and then officers but not like they were elite units and yet those two ended up everywhere.  It was a man and woman who ended up as star crossed lovers as he defected in the book while she stayed in the Empire (lamely in my opinion, much weaker as a character than Iden).  Amazingly when the Alliance set out to figure out what the Empire was doing with their fleet before Endor, he was part of the scouting and of course when the Empire sent out ships to fight them, she was one of them.   Just got to be too much for two excellent but not elite officers (though he wasn’t even that high when he defected in the rebellion) compared to Inferno Squad being elite and should be expected to be at major engagements.

I liked the campaign for the most part but it did get disjointed because they wanted to include the heroes and let you play as them.  That’s fine but it felt like forcing some stories were fit in poorly.  Luke’s was cool because of what the mission was and the same with Solo (maybe not executed the best) but Leia and Lando felt like they were just stuffing in two characters and a couple locations.

For the most part the campaign was fun and I liked how Iden progressed.  There was one annoying ship battle.  Inferno Squad started as four, one died in the book, Iden and Meeko went to the Rebellion, and the lone member still in the Empire, Hask, was trying to shoot them down in a space battle.  He was incredible hard to track and shoot that it got frustrating and felt like a poorly designed boss battle.

Battlefront 2 1.jpg

So in speaking about the rest of the game I’m not going to go over gun play or how good the maps are because I just don’t play enough of these games to really know if the aiming is loose or whatever.

Two modes I haven’t touched so far is Strike and  Heroes vs Villians.  Strike because I don’t feel like the small teams are good for me.  Haven’t done Heroes vs Villians as have not unlocked a lot of them yet and would rather wait to have more options.

Most played is Galactic Assault.  20 vs 20 is pretty hectic which maybe not to my advantage but it’s a lot of fun.  Starfighter Assault is exactly what it sounds like.  Blast is  10 vs 10 in smaller space.  Really only played it because it was part of the new Last Jedi season.

Battlefront 2 4.jpg

Last Jedi season is pick a side and complete challenges for your side.  Side that wins at the end gets some bonuses.  While you pick a side to fight for, this does not lock you into playing only that side.  You still play the game normally.  One challenge was play 5 games of Blast so completed it.  If there are challenges for the other modes which seems likely I will play those then.

When playing you pick a class:  Officer, Specialist, Assault, Heavy.  Each has their own advantages and disadvantages.  I prefer Heavy right now because of the personal shield that allows me to maybe survive a fight I normally wouldn’t and maybe get a kill in the process.  The heavy duty gun they have is fun to use too.

You gain points in the match for kills or doing the objective and once you die, if you have enough points you can get reinforcements or heroes.  Reinforcements are what I’d say more like special ops charaters though still generic and not named people.

Upgrading is through Star Cards.  I don’t want to try and explain the whole upgrade system but basically everything can be upgradeable and has to be done separately.  Each of the four classes do, Luke has his own, Rey, Vader, etc.  Even Han and Chewbacca Falcon hero ship has different ones from Rey and Chewbacca Falcon hero ship.

Star Cards have 4 levels and you can get lucky and open up higher rank ones but mostly open the first level and then earn crafting parts to upgrade.  Can’t upgrade at will as there is also character levels that must be hit.  Like level 2 needs a level 10 player and right now since I don’t play a ton, I’m almost at level 7 so I can’t upgrade anything to level 2.

There is also arcade mode which can do battles set up or can create your own situation.  All of the hero play I have done so far is in this mode.  The situations are stuff like kill 100 in X time or team battle to 50 kills first with all AI besides yourself.

Overall I find this game fun despite still be horrid at multiplayer shooters.  But it’s not so much that I want to play hours and hours per day.  Some here and there especially when new content comes out would be good.

Battlefront 2 2.jpg

So going to answer the questions from the clip post here.

Luke’s power was Repulse.  Agreed it seemed like generous hit box going on.

Yoda was a little tougher than Luke, Rey, or other average height characters.  I felt all of the lightsaber people were a little harder than I remember the last time, not sure though.  Worst character to me is Emperor though.  He’s a ranged character essentially with his normal damage dealing option but it’s a small range since it’s force lightning that didn’t seem to kill fast enough.  I was doing a battle with him and just getting  drilled while trying to lightning other guys down.