Sunday, February 28, 2010

Let's try this again

This is an email from work, to see if the insta-publish works.
The one from home didn't work, so I'm thinking it'll only work from the registered email address (the g-mail one), so I'm giving this a try.
Tally ho!

EDIT: *sigh* I tried an email from home with a few different formatting things, which didn't work, and this plain one I sent from a different address (neither of them the gmail address) DID work! Maybe it was the formatting? I'll try without the red and the size change tomorrow.

Sorry, but you're going to have to get used to a few random posts while I figure out what works and what doesn't, cause when I find the limits, I'll start doing small updates from work, usually with a joke or something...


Urgh... Formating...

Sorry about the formatting in the Eternal Sonata review. I typed it up in Word, making sure it was just right, then copied and pasted it into the 'New Post' text box. Blogspot then proceeded to screw up all presses of the enter key, which I think I've managed to fix, but looking at the post some paragraphs appear to be single spaced and others 1.25 spaced...

Not sure how to fix that (short of starting again, which I'm not going to do), but I'll try a few things next time I compose my post in Word...


Eternal Sonata Review

Eternal Sonata Review

Available on: PS3, Xbox360

Reviewed on: PS3

It’s reallllllllllllllllllll pretty!

The end.

Oh wait, more?

Ok, Eternal Sonata is an RPG from Namco Bandai and was originally an Xbox exclusive, but came out on PS3 after… a while. I forget how long, but it was long enough that they added a bit of extra stuff and fleshed out the story slightly.

First things first, the graphics, as a whole, would make Awesomely McAwesome from the Planet Awesiom 9 say “Damn, that be awesome!”. They are beautiful cell shaded visuals that really look like an anime come to life! In HD, using HDMI, the colours look so bright and crisp! It’s wonderful… until you get to their hands…

The characters never really interact with or touch anything (with few exceptions), even to the extent that their fingers are spaced out and don’t really move! The most they’ll do is slightly clench their fist, and anytime they ‘touch’ or ‘hold’ something it’s either done off-screen, or it doesn’t really look like they’re actually touching or holding the item, I’m guessing it’s because the developers didn’t want any ‘clipping’ to ruin the otherwise impressive visuals. Also, the characters arms are held out at a slight angle so they don’t interfere with their clothing (which again would result in a clipping problem), but because the game’s set in a fantasy setting, all the clothes are puffy and layered, meaning the arms are going out on quite an angle. So overall, the visuals are awesome except for their hands and arms.

Gameplay wise, Eternal Sonata is quite interesting. The ‘overworld’ works very similar to Final Fantasy X. You roam around set paths, with in
visible walls to stop you going where the game doesn’t want you to go. The paths are fairly linear throughout, leading you from one location to the next with the occasional branching path, although this usually results in a chest in one and the other being ‘the way to go’. There are no random battles at all, the enemies appear in the field and can be avoided to the extent that the level layout will allow you to stay away from them.

The battles themselves are turn-based, but are very action oriented. When you touch an enemy you are whisked away to an arena-type area, where your party and the enemies can run around. Three members of your party participate in every battle, with the numbers fluctuating throughout the game, ending up with twelve characters to choose from at the very end! Each character (party member and enemy) acts in turn, depending on their speed. Depending on your party level, you will have different amounts of Tactic Time (TT) and Action Time (AT) available to you. TT is the start of each characters turns when you’re deciding what you want to do. At lower party levels T
T is unlimited, but very soon dwindles down to nothing, meaning you have to think ahead of time what the next party member is going to do. AT is when you actually move about, getting into position and then attacking the enemy. Again, this decreases at higher party levels.

Aside from moving, each character can use a regular attack, a special attack, or use an item during AT, with each action taking a specific amount of time. Using items is simple, but getting them there is an odd little process; everything you pick up goes into your general bag, which has an unlimited amount of space, but to be able to use items in battle you need to move them into your battle pack, which has a limited amount of space (which increases at higher party levels). In all honesty I didn’t use that many items, only the occasional ‘revive’ on some of the bosses, so it wasn’t really that much of an issue, it was just a little confusing to work out. Regular attacks are just that, regular, but they also increase your party’s combo meter, stepping up after 4,
8, 12, 16, 24 & maxing out at 32 hits. These can be carried over from party member to party member. It especially comes in handy with your special attacks. Each party member has two light and two dark special attacks (I’ll talk about this later), and the higher the combo meter, the more damage the special attacks do. Also, at higher party levels, once you reach a combo of 16 you can chain together special attacks, with a well timed button press. When the enemy attacks, you can use this same mechanic to guard yourself, reducing damage taken. Also, which way you and/or your enemy is facing will affect whether a guard or attack is successful. It’s better to attack the enemy from behind, but not for you to be attacked from behind!

While the flow of battle is generally very good, the camera can hinder your progress a little. There are three different camera positions available: one at an isometric-ish angle, one straight overhead, and one zoomed back to see the entire battle field. The problem is the camera is always on the one ‘side’ of the arena, meaning a larger enemy can block your view of party members behind it, resulting in you attacking thin air. This is especially annoying when you get enemies of vastly different sized, meaning you have to zoom out, but that means you can’t see the small enemies properly.

While Eternal Sonata is primarily a single player game, the battles do give you the option to have up to three players going at once, with each player controlling a set party member. I haven’t been able to try this, but I imagine it wouldn’t be all that satisfying, short of hitting the other people on the couch for not following your tactics, because it means more time spent waiting for your specific character to move again and players two and three lose control when the battle is over.

The light and dark aspect is very interesting. Depending on lighting conditions you’ll either be standing in light or darkness. Depending on which ever it is, you’ll have different special attacks that do different things. For example, one character could heal when in the light, but fire a magic spell at enemies in the dark. This goes for enemies as well, in fact, some even change completely when they move between light and dark! The amount of light and dark in the battle arena will depend on what the environment was doing before you entered battle. If you’re in a sun-lit meadow, the arena will be mostly light with the occasional shadow from clouds; if you’re in the interior of a pirate ship (it does happen!), it’ll be dark except for circles of light surrounding lanterns swaying from the roof. A small thing, but your characters and enemies also give off shadows, so if you want to cast a healing spell make sure not to stand right behind a tall enemy!

The music and the story are highly intertwined. The game is set in a dream of Frederick Chopin during his last night before his death. Frederick is a playable character in the game and even knows it’s a dream, but he’s going along with the rest of the party because he knows something important is going to happen… kinda a bit ‘meta’ but you get used to it after a while. The music is heavily influenced by Chopin’s works, with actual piano pieces performed at major story moments, setting the mode quite nicely and giving a little background on the origins of those pieces. The regular music, I think is only inspired by Chopin’s music, although it could be actual pieces, I’m not 100% sure, but is very orchestral and suits the whimsical nature of the game very well. Major story moments are voiced, with the option of English or Japanese dubs, and English or French (???) subtitles, in fact I don’t think you can actually turn the subtitles off. There were a few moments near the end of the game that I thought should’ve been dubbed but weren’t, but otherwise I thought there was quite a nice amount of voice acting in the game. I don’t usually see the difference between good and mediocre voice work (unless it’s truly terrible), so I’m going to leave judgement here.

The game is linear. There’s not much outside of the main quest to do apart from a trading trail (which you do as you go along) and a neat little side game involving music matching. You collect 4-bar snippets of music and need to match it to NPC’s snippets that are placed throughout the world, to try and get a sound that matches their mood. It’s kind of hard to explain, but they have a piece, you have several to choose from, and when played together you have to try to make the resulting ‘duet’ match their mood to get bonus items. Since the story is based on Chopin all the places and names are musically inspired, depending on their personality, and all the menus and icons are musically themed, too. Polka is a bright little girl, Tuba is this big lumbering oaf, To Coda Ruins is the road to the final area in the game (‘To Coda’, going to the end, get it!?!), etc, etc. One little thing I didn’t notice right away is that the window scroll bars (for lack of a better name) are mini piano keyboards, the black and white keys! Little touches like this show you that the music theme certainly runs deep.

The game is good and long, taking me about 68 hours, including an optional dungeon at the end, with only a little bit of grinding to defeat the final boss. As long as you fight all the enemies in each area you should be fine. There is an ‘encore’ mode where the enemies are harder, there is an extra PS3 exclusive dungeon and you keep all your ‘sheet music’ for the music matching game, but at this point I was getting a little tired of it and didn’t want to go through it all again so soon. A little note for those near the end; make sure you leave some time to watch the ending, it certainly takes a while. Not quite MGS4-1-and-a-half-hours long, but it’s certainly the better part of 30 minutes or so (and it may leave you more confused than ever).

Do I recommend this game?



Saturday, February 27, 2010

Review Guidelines

Before my first review I figured I better think of some sort of rating if I'm actually going to do 'reviews' (and I plan to do more).

I'm going to go with a simple three point scale, asking the question "Do I recommend this game?":

YES - It's good/great!
MAYBE - It's alright/goodish
NO - Pure crap/barely alright

Also adding in a + and - modifier (what is this, D&D???). This doesn't mean it's a nine point scale, but it's just to give little tweaks to each category:

YES+ is really really great!
YES- is just good.

I'm going to (try to) wait until I've finished a game or until I'm a fair chunk through it (for longer games) to counter any release day hype. I will also do games I've finished ages ago (bringing light to old classics, or merely something to put up here!) or for ones that don't end, such as rhythm games, I'll just do it whenever I feel I've played it enought. Also, ones I've given up on may get a review (they'll usually get a NO- rating).

So, to summarise the previous sentence, I'll do a review when I've felt I've covered enought of the game to have an opinion!

EDIT: I'll give a general outline of the story (if there is one), and I'll try my hardest not to give out any serious spoilers, but there may be some minor ones that I don't think really matter (ZOMG Bowser kidnapped the Pricess!!!~!). But for those of you who like to 'go blind', you have been warned.


Friday, February 19, 2010


Well, I've only been at this a few of weeks and already I've managed to fail the goal of one post a week.

Meh... *hand waving*

This is mostly a note that today is the last day for submission of comments on the R18+ Comment Paper (I don't know what the actual title is, but that sounds close enough), and seeing as I did my submission yesterday and I make no delusions that anyone actually reads this, I can say with all honesty that no extra submissions are going to be generated through this post, especially since I don't have a link or anything. I did get a word template from a friend that I emailed in (it's awesome that they're moving into the future and allowing emailed submissions!), so there is my submission.

That's all for now, hope to have a review of Eternal Sonata up later today, I finished that game since the last post and thought I'd share my thoughts on it.


Monday, February 8, 2010

NEWS UPDATE!!! UPDATE! Update! Update. update...

Ok, so this next post is a little sooner than I thought.

It's mostly just to say that: Yes, for those of you that don't run some sort of adblocking software/plug-in, I will be having ads (all none of you), although it's just Google Ad Sense, or Ad Words, or whatever the hell the default is on BlogSpot.

I will say, I have no dreams of striking it rich, or even receiving more than maybe one cheque ever (spelt the proper way) from Google, being that for them to cut you one requires $150 worth of credit, something I don't envisige happening for a long time.

This was mostly started since my previous website at GeoCities (I'd link it, but Yahoo shut them all down) was a little spot for me to express... stuff. Not sure what, but I could rant. The only problem was I rolled the whole site myself, and while it very basic HTML it was still something a little more than just typing normal sentences in a text box (as seen in the picture below {If I can get a picture to appear below}), which was just a little too much effort for my lazy, lazy self (unless I had some sort of burst of energy).

So by having this easily updatable blog, with most of the design and stuff done for me, I might actually update on a regular basis, and by projecting from the outset that I'll have weekly updates, I've set the bar lower for myself so I don't get demotivated, and each post will be at least a couple sentences or (if you're lucky!) something this long, and I can still feel like I'm living up to the standard I set myself.

What was I talking about?

Oh, right! Ads!

Yes, they're there. Click on them if you want, or don't. I don't care either way. It was easy to set up (once the page loaded in IE, didn't want to work in Firefox for some reasonm) and they're placed automatically. No work for me = done!

Anyway, that's enough for now! I'm just going to quicky check if I can't insert pictures into posts, and if I can't (quickly figure it out, that is), then I'll just upload it to my Flickr account and put a hyperlink.


PS and here is... picture!

Awesome, this really is easy!!!

Sunday, February 7, 2010


As if I don't not post enough on Facebook and Twitter, I decided to start a blog...

Don't ask me why, it just seems all the cool kids are doing it.

I'm hoping to post on a weekly-ish basis (at least), on pretty anything that comes to mind.

... Since I'm just setting it up, this is pretty much it for now!