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Review: Fantasy Life (3DS) ~ Joyful RPG at it’s near finest.

Fantasy_Life_box_artLink to the Wikia – First Impression article

And the award for the most generic title goes to… Fantasy Life… Wait, what? I’m copying my buddy’s latest article title and making my own joke out of it? Oh sorry, I’m sure he won’t mind. I have been delaying this review again and again. But after nearly putting 75 hours into this game, I think it’s fair for me to review it. While I haven’t completed it 100%, I am already far beyond the point of beating the full game and the DLC story. So, without me reading the first impression article, this is the taste this game left in my month. As usual, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion of the content of this article and/or this game. 

Story time

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So, one of the weakest points of this game is the story, apart from the DLC story. But don’t read me wrong: the story is solid and the characters are memorable. The huge issue is that thanks to the 12 different paths you can take, there are so many. Too much even for my young brain to remember. On the other hand, this makes each life unique with different characters and personalities.

The main story is a bit generic. It stands out in it’s writing, though. That’s extremely well done. People would easily skip over the story since it’s one you have experienced before: save the world. Yet, when you actually take the time to enjoy the story, you will be pleasantly surprised with it’s well done execution.

This is one of the first Level5 games I played where there is no voice acting. Well, apart from the few grunts from enemies, but I can’t comment on that.

So, let’s move on to the DLC. It truly expands on the main game nicely. It even adds more story and expands the game in nearly every area. The DLC is truly worth it, because the story alone has such a perfect ending, it actually touched me and made me laugh. Just the way how it’s written… Amazing.

All right, enough said about the story of this game. Let’s dive right into the other parts of this game. First of all, the sound design and music.

Just that

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The music and sound design is good. Just that. Good. It isn’t bad, nor is it great. It helps to immerse yourself into the game, but I don’t see myself listening to the soundtrack on my mobile any time soon.

While I think Level5 generally makes great scores for their games, some tracks got annoying to me. “The theme of intrigue” is an example of a track I don’t like. While the “Theme of Courage” is such an amazing track and really hyped me up.

Also, the enemies don’t have a distinct cry. Well, not all. And in my mind, this is a really big issue. Some enemies start to feel bland, generic and cut-outs. Some enemies have some nice sound effects, but not enough.

For the sound design or music, it isn’t worth it to get yourself a headset to enjoy it. As I said earlier, it’s good, but it won’t be memorable. Some tracks are catchy and I remember some battles but that mostly wasn’t because of the sound and music design. It helped, but it wasn’t the most important factor.

The design of this game is something that is actually really well done. Apart from one major issue I will talk about later.

The game world looked bright and colourful or dark and gloomy when it needs to be. They give off the right atmosphere and the area’s are pretty well crafted. The animation looks crisp and neatly done. Some could argue that due to the overload of dialogue some voice acting would benefit the game, but the animation does such a nice job that the voice acting isn’t really needed.

So, about that major issue I had with the design. Well, it is something I feel really mixed about. Visually, it looks lazy… but game design wise, it is a great move. Some enemies, like the spirits, return in various area’s, but they have just a different colour. Looks lazy right? But on the other hand, in some lives, you get the quest to kill a certain amount of some enemy. This makes finding that enemy in later area’s much easier.

Oh, and one minor design flaw is that it’s sometimes really tricky to read an enemy’s name. Because if you come too close, the target marker pops up above their head.

The other parts

112516_3ds_fl_merc_pr_ukSo, in my first impression I think I touch upon the controls. They are quite well done. Apart from the mercenaries life. They are quite flawed. It’s really unclear how you pull off certain moves in that life. Sadly enough, you need to do them in order to finish that life. “Press 4 times A”. Ehrm, I tried it and I wasn’t always able to pull off that move.

I still find it very remarkable that they made such a neat looking and easy to understand interface to display while you have some much content to offer. A nitpick I have is that the bounty clerks are sometimes too far apart.

The main story and the DLC story will take you around 15-20 hours to complete. Nice length. But the game can be a lot longer then that! You won’t be able to complete each and every life in even double the time. I have played this game for over 60 hours and I only fully completed one life.

The difficulty of this game is decent. While some area’s present some challenge, I barely died in this game. The game is also very forgiving in that regard. When you die, you can either revive (if you have a Life Cure) or go back to the nearest check point, or go home. You loose nothing. Also, when you are trying to mine a major gem later in the miner’s life… When you run out of SP, you can stop mining and drink some potions. When you then continue to mine the gem, the gem didn’t heal enough to loose that much of your progress. You aren’t able to do that in the fishing life and that’s one of my other nitpicks.

Before I wrap up this review, let’s talk about some of my other nitpicks. One is that some lives play similar to each other. While they are different and require a different play style, they can give off the same vibe. Mainly the crafting lives, they are all quick time event based. The animation is different, but the core mechanic isn’t.

Talking about crafting lives, the menu system is a bit flawed here. You aren’t able to see your quests when you start working.

The next nitpick is one that annoys the heck out of me. Certain lives have a dedicated shop. Like the carpenter and the woodcutter have a dedicated shop. But when you want to craft all the carpenter items, they won’t sell all those items in that shop. This means that you run around sometimes to get each and every item.

The next nitpick I have is that Flutter and your pets can only be accessed in one house: your starter house. Maybe I haven’t unlocked it through the bliss system, but I don’t think you will be able too.

So, the game is a nice experience but flawed. It’s really addictive and hard to put down for the people who enjoy these kind of games. But it lacks some polish. That also shows in the map. You can’t control the map at all. You can have an overview of the map, but you can’t see where all the shops are located.

Well, I think I talked about everything I wanted to talk about in this review. Time to wrap this one up.

Conclusion

The bad;

– While the writing is excellent, the story is one we have seen in different games a million times over. (Apart from the DLC one)

– The music and sound could have been done better.

– The game is overall too easy.

– The lack of bounty clerks in some area’s.

– Some small issues can hinder the experience and make it irritating.

The good:

+ Amazing visual world.

+ 12 different play styles to enjoy.

+ You can switch class when you want.

+ Very neat UI.

+ The character creation has a lot of features.

+ The animation is extremely well done.

+ Addictive.

+ …

Conclusion

So, is this game worth playing? If you enjoy games like Harvest Moon, Tomodachi Life or anything similar, odds are you feel right at home here.

The characters are memorable but they suffer from a weak(ish) story. The writing is funny and won’t get boring, but they also suffer from the weak story.

This game lacks some polish. While the game has a lot of polish in certain area’s, not every part of this game has been polished enough. This is one game that could have benefited from a bit more development time.

Be warned when you play or start playing this game, it’s difficult to put down. I haven’t played many other games for over a month because I wasn’t able to stop playing this game. It truly took me be surprise how fun it can be.

I love this game, I think it’s near perfection. But the reviewer side of my character disagrees and sees the flaws in this game. It isn’t perfect, but it’s near its finest form.

So, that wraps up my review of this game. I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I did writing it. (and playing the game in order to write this review.) And I hope to meet you another time here on my blog, but until then: take care and game on~

Score: 85/100

First Impression: Lego City Undercover – The Chase Begins (3DS) ~ Mediocrity at it’s best

Lego_City_Undercover_The_Chase_Begins_box_artOfficial site

One of my favorite YouTubers made a let’s play of the Wii U version of this game. When he finished the game and when I saw this game sitting on the shelves, I picked it up. I didn’t do any research on this game so I went in blind. In the back of my mind I was afraid of a bad port of the Wii U version. When I started the game those worries were put to rest. The intro to the game is slightly different. I kept playing the game, and then I got distracted by some other games. Now that I’m trying to beat it for a review, I thought it was a great moment to reflect on my current experience with this game. Is this game a worthy alternative to the Wii U version or is it just a cash-in? Let’s take a look. As usual, feel free to leave a comment on the content of this article and or the game. 

Mediocrity at it’s finest

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This game is a weird one. The story has a similar vibe to the Wii U version, yet it’s different. Once I read that the 3DS version is actually a prequel to the Wii U game. If that would be the case, I would give the story a thumbs down. Since it doesn’t explain many things from the sequel.

The story is told through cutscenes. Some of them are movies and others are text boxes. Here the game already makes a huge flaw. Only some things are voiced. The 3DS can voice a full game. Virtue’s Last Reward is an excellent example of this. This was a big letdown for me.

The cutscenes are voice-acted. The voice acting has very high quality. The reason for that is simple. The voices are from the same people as the Wii U version. I’m glad that’s the case since otherwise I would be let down even more.

The problem with the story is that some things aren’t explained very well. As a hobby-writer I found a few moments where I sighed deeply. “How did Chase find that clue?” or “How does Chase know exactly where that is?” and many other questions often came to mind.

The story is worthless as soon as you put some thought into it. So, my advice is, just take it for what it is. A bland story based of the Wii U version.

Mediocre?

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The music of this game is rather enjoyable. But I can’t decide if it’s memorable or not since they just used the music wrong. Most of the game has barely any music to it. I had moments when I was exploring that this game was actually silent, apart from the sound effects.

But when the music does play, it plays the same music in the same events. That isn’t a huge problem, but it makes the songs go boring rather quickly.

Since it’s a thing lately, the game runs at a steady framerate. I never had any slow downs. While I’m on the subject, the game does have to load here and there. Sometimes the loading is a bit too long for comfort. I wish it loaded faster.

The game takes place in the various areas. From a prison to the woods,they are very varied. Unless you played the Wii U version, then you will recognize most areas. I started to have a feeling that they first wanted to fully port this game to the 3DS, yet they decided in the end to make something different with the source material. But I have a bigger fear. I’ll talk about that later in this article. First, let’s talk about some other aspects of the game. Like the visuals, difficulty and the gameplay. In the next section of this article.

Push that button.

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The gameplay is repetitive beyond belief. In each area you have to fight enemies, do a side quest and then fight even more enemies. The repetition makes the game go boring really quick. I started to play this game while I’m on the train since then I can listen to the announcer when my train arrives in the station I need to get off.

The controls, that’s something I have to address, they are just… flawed. To change costumes, you can use the D-pad. The circle pad is used to move, but it goes so slow. I always go from point A to B in a vehicle when possible. The game uses the motion sensor of the 3DS, and there is no option to change that. Why? I don’t want to look like a crazy dude on the train.

Visually, this game isn’t anything groundbreaking. There are some places you can see how they worked around the limitations of the 3DS, yet I haven’t seen any flaws with it. There are some animation flaws I noticed. Mostly flaws in how they show a location in a cutscene and how it appears just moments later.

I’m reaching the end of my article. I think some parts of this game should be explored more in my review when I have beaten this game. But before I close off this article, I want to talk about my fear of this game.

I think they were developing a port at first, but then changed to make a different game. But this game was developed together with the Wii U version. The team had to split it’s resources over the two projects. The Wii U version got the love, and rightfully so. They made a solid gem of a game on the Wii U. That makes the 3DS version underdeveloped in some areas, and it shows. At least, that’s my theory of this game. I have to dig a bit deeper on this.

Anyways, that’s everything for my first impression. I hope you enjoyed reading it as I enjoyed writing it. Thanks for reading and I’ll see you next week when I kick off my GB(C) month! Hopefully until then, take care.

First Impression: Corpse Party – Book Of Shadows (PSP) ~ It’s not over just yet.

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Link to the official website

You thought it was over after Corpse Party? Well, think again, Corpse Party Book Of Shadows shows the tale extremely different. With the opening of this game, you get the impression that this game is a sequel but once you actually start with the game, it’s clearly far from a sequel. Corpse Party was an excellent visual novel horror adventure game for the PSP, I truly enjoyed playing it and directly got myself the sequel. And I have been playing it often. The game is extremely different from the original and in this article I’ll talk if those changes are for the good or for the bad. Be warned, this article is about my first impressions of the game. I have only played a major part of the first chapter. I’m also finishing up the bonus chapters in the original, since you can unlock content with it in this game. But enough talking in this introduction, let’s dive right into Corpse Party – Book Of Shadows.

Deeper story.

In the original game I would go far if I told you that the characters weren’t developed. While it’s true that you don’t get a lot of information about the characters themselves, the actions of the characters easily shape a picture of them. But this game takes it a step further. In the first part I played of this game, I have already gasped several times.

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In this game, things that you could suspect in the original return. What’s Seiko’s deal with Naomi’s ass anyways? Well, you get the answer in this game.

This game seems to have a deeper story. You can always check back on the previous conversations by the touch of a button. And here, it’s getting in the right direction. You can scroll up and down and get to the top and bottom rather easily.

A major improvement is the ability to save anywhere you want and there are even more then just one save file! The save system is greatly improved since the original.

One thing I didn’t like is that you have to watch the introduction movie if you start the game for the first time. I honestly admit that I forgot to save the game after the first time I played it and I couldn’t skip the long introduction. Before you can get to some gameplay you will have to go through huge parts of text. I’m sure that this first part took me more then a hour to get through. Man, I wish I had a speed-up button.

The original is a joke

617350_20130124_640screen001Yes, the original is almost like a joke to this game. The visuals are kicked up a big notch. You now run in a sort of 3D world. The graphics are extremely nice made for this game. You can see the cursed school from all it’s 3D glory. And this get a thumbs up from me.

The voice acting is extremely well done too. I have had the annoying part where you tapped the confirm button way to fast that the voices couldn’t follow. Yes, the original had that slight problem. This game doesn’t have that issue.

Also, the more the cure gets to you, the more blurry your screen gets. And this is such a nice addition. I actually don’t understand the mechanics of that just yet, but I’m sure that’s just a matter of time.

The controls aren’t explained but they are straight forward non-the-less. You can search each room easily and when you can get information about something, you cursor will turn blue. Also, the parts that are timed, don’t interrupt the gameplay at all. But those didn’t interrupt in the original game either.

Time to turn up the amazing dial. 

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I gave the original game already a high score, but this game seems to run past it with ease. And I have only played the first chapter. The music is tense, and memorable.

With hints to the first game everywhere, in the music and story, this game is an improvement of the first game. I can’t repeat that enough. With the save files you can now see when and what time you made that save file.

There is one step back though, with the name tags list, they were better organised in the original. There it was per chapter and you had a little picture for each corpse. Now, both aren’t there. Oh well, that’s a minor nitpick anyways.

I realize that my thoughts in this article are all over the place but what I forgot to mention with the story is that thoughts are now no longer simply between brackets. Oh no, they are now in a different colored box. That’s great for newcomers to the genre. What’s also better is that there are more visual pictures to look at while the story is unfolding. There is less use of a black screen with a box in this game.

Have I mentioned that this game is slowly growing towards my list of most influential games in my life of all time? Only my favorites get  on that list and this game is a big blast to play. I don’t mind the long waiting times between gameplay since the story is extremely well written. The voice acting draws you in even more. The sound design is one of the better ones I have heard in a game for a while.

Music that I want to listen daily too, memorable characters, great design and a challenge for every gamer. This game is getting a high score from me already, but is the game going to keep it this game throughout the whole game. That you will read in the review, when I am done with the game. But for now, NekoJonez signing out.