Pokemon Transporter App Updated for Pokemon Gold and Silver

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I can confirm as of September 17, the Nintendo 3DS App PokeTransporter has an update available to allow Pokemon to be transferred from the 2nd Gen to 7th Gen. There are no update notes but given the update is 421 blocks, it’s obvious that’s what the update is for.

…For those who may be wondering, Nintendo has confirmed you will be able to use the Time Capsule in Gold and Silver to transfer Pokemon to or from Red, Blue and Yellow which were released earlier this year. Just be mindful you can’t transfer anything from the 2nd gen that didn’t exist in the first. So no 2nd Gen Pokemon, moves on 1st gen Pokemon they don’t learn in the 1st gen and no Eggs. They can’t even be in the party just so you know.

 

Image result for Pokemon Gold and Silver 3DS Themes

 

Those who buy Gold and/or SIlver will receive a code to get a Celebi in the 7th Gen games. The redemption code is on the digital receipt, which can be viewed bt foing to the eShop and pulling up your transaction history. Write the code down or take a picture since you will need to go into the Mystery Gift option in the 7th Gen games–Sun, Moon, UltraSun and UltraMoon–to redeem the code and get Celebi. Celebi is the 2nd Gen’s Mew in that it’s an Event Pokemon otherwise unobtainable in-game. Celebi was officially released in the U.S. when the Poke Bank App launched after being delayed to fully test it.

 

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Originally announced as being Japan-Only, you can get these Gold and Silver 3DS Themes when you buy the games. The code is on the receipt below the Celebi one. Speaking of, the codes for both the themes and Celebi are only good for 1 year. That’s all the more reason to redeem them ASAP.

 

…I actually preordered both games. I expect alot of folks to try to download the game on Day One so…yeah. How digital pre-orders work is the full game is downloaded but is locked until its official release date. A small update unlocks the game if it’s not set to automatically unlock on its own on the official release day. For those who either need a refresher or never played the original Gold and Silver, check out this page I made on the 2nd Gen games!

 

 

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Posted in Blog, Brendan Aurabolt, News, Nintendo 3DS, Preview, Retro Gaming, RPG, Serene Adventure, Video Games | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

That time Nintendo made two different NES Super Mario Bros. 2 Games

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…This happens far less today than it did 30 years ago but often, a game maker would make two or more prototypes of an upcoming game and then pick the one they like the most to focus on. Depending on the promise, sometimes the prototypes they passed on will see a release at a later time. This was the one time Nintendo literally made two different sequels to Super Mario Bros. and BOTH were mega successful.

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Those of you in North America who played the NES have likely played this version of Super Mario. Bros. 2. In exchange for being a single-player game you could play as Mario, Luigi, Peach or Toad and each of them played differently: Mario was balanced, Luigi could Super Jump (which would return in later games), Peach could glide (reused in later games) and Toad could chuck objects faster than the others. Unlike the prequel and the Sequel (Super Mario Bros. and Super Mario Bros. 3), Bowser was not the final boss: It was a giant frog named Wart.

Not only that, the game had a distinct Arabian motiff: Flying Carpets, Lamps and so on. Compared to the game that came before it and the game that would come after it, Super Mario Bros. 2 felt like another game.

Well, it was originally:

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The game was Doki Doki Panic, a Famicom (Japan’s NES) platformer. The story goes, then Nintendo of America president Howard Lincoln sampled the Super Mario Bros. 2¬† that had been released in Japan. That version of Super Mario Bros. 2 was basically the first game with increased difficulty and new mechanics in the form of wind and the Poison Mushroom. Lincoln felt it would be too hard and frustrating for American gamers so Nintendo of America looked at the Famicom library for an existing game to reskin as Super Mario Bros. 2.

The game they settled on: Doki Doki Panic, which had never been released outside Japan.

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…The similarities are impossible to ignore. LOL.

They basically took the game and Mario-ized it for its North American release. Take a look at the picures: In Doki Doki Panic, you were trying to rescue someone. In Super Mario Bros. 2 the 5th person is removed but the pose remains! Gamers in the U.S. would have no idea the Super Mario Bros. 2. they came to know and love was actually a reskinned port of a game that had already been released in Japan until a Nintendo Power publication dropped the news 8 years later. It’s worth noting Shy Guy and Birdie are both credited as having come from Doki Doki Panic in later game appearances.

What did Japanese Gamers think of the U.S. getting a different version of Super Mario Bros. 2.? They wanted in on that action:

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…So they got it in 1992–two years after Super Mario Bros. 3 had been released: Nintendo took the North American version of Super Mario 2 and localized it for Japan’s NES the Famicom as Super Mario USA. It’s funny when you think about it given at that time, the Super Famicom and SNES had just been released in Japan and the U.S. It’s also funny given the game Nintendo of America used as a blueprint–Doki Doki Panic–had already been released in Japan several years earlier!

I believe this was the first and only time we have seen anything like this in gaming history. Here’s a chart to help clarify the timeline:

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…The obvious remaining question to ask is would North American gamers ever get to play the Japanese release of Super Mario Bros. 2? After all, Japan got the U.S. Version. The answer to anyone who played Super Mario All Stars for the SNES is yes:

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I played the game, known in the U.S. as Super Mario Bros. The Lost Levels (aptly named, mind you) in 1994. This was during the holidays and the same year I had open heart surgery. I remember it well. I referenced this before in past blog posts but THIS–Super Mario All Stars–was the very first game I ever pulled an all-nighter to play. I was 10 years old. Ironically, I played Super Mario Bros. 2 first. This was the first and only time I actually beat Super Mario Bros. 2 believe it or not: I have not to this day ever beaten the NES version of Super Mario Bros. 2 (U.S.) despite owning every single port of the game (Game Boy Advance and Virtual Console).

Anyway when I got to the Lost Levels, it felt like the first Super Mario Bros. but I could tell it was a completely different game. The wind and poison mushrooms–the latter easier to tell apart from Super Mushrooms than the Famicom version–were the giveaways. They certainly didn’t exist in the first game! Anyways, I beat it in the same night. Then I went and cruised through the other two games. By the time I finished, my older brother and cousin were just waking up the next morning. I felt like a BOSS.

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…Watching the above video brought back some painful memories. I can’t fault Nintendo of America for not wanting to release it in 1986!

Aside from the graphical upgrade, nothing was changed in terms of gameplay. If you feel like from just watching the video the game was designed to make it as hard as possible to beat, that’s exactly what it felt like playing it: in World 3-1, there is a warp pipe that sends you back to World 1-1 and in World 8-1, there is a warp pipe that sends you back to 5-1! Even today it is an extremely tricky game to clear. Just look at the last two minutes!

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…Super Mario All Stars would be re-released 20 years later on the Wii, allowing a whole new generation of gamers to play both the U.S. and Japanese versions of Super Mario Bros. 2 along with 1 and 3. It’s worth trying at the very least but fair warning, the ragequit factor is VERY high! In fact, most who beat the game would seldom be willing to do it again. It’s THAT difficult. If you think today’s games are “too easy”, this game might be right up your alley!

 

Posted in Blog, Brendan Aurabolt, NES, Nintendo Wii, Retro Gaming, Serene Adventure, SNES, Video Games | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim for the Nintendo Switch is coming!

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…After being “accidently” leaked by Bethesda when the Switch was 0fficially unveiled last year, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim has been confirmed to be making its way to the Nintendo Switch. You read that right: The 2011 Game of the year which won almost 100 Awards is coming to a Nintendo console! As you can see from the box art, all 3 expansions are included.

Skyrim was originally released on the Xbox 360, PS3 and PC but was later released on the PS4 and Xbox One when they were released. It is still mega popular 6 years after its initial release. It’s an RPG for those who would not play a traditional RPG series like Final Fantasy to put it simply. The game has 3 Expansions: Dawnguard (new areas and quests), Hearthfire (able to buy and furnish houses) and Dragonborn (New abilities and quests), all of which were also released for the console versions. Later releases automatically include the three expansions with the game (no downloading required).

…I myself have the PC, PS3 and PS4 Legendary Edition versions of Skyrim, which includes all 3 expansions. I haven’t finished the main story yet–yes, there is one–in any version. Mostly because I got a whole bunch of games since I bought Skyrim for the PS3 three years ago. I just remembered I should probably finish the PS3 and PS4 versions at least (LOL!). I got the PC version from Steam on sale to try a mod two years back but it’s not currently installed on my computers.

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…This is one of the reasons to get the Nintendo Switch version if you have the console: It will have Amiibo Support. You can scan Amiibos to get additional gear. As of right now, we know you can scan Legend of Zelda Amiibos to get Link’s Tunic, The Master Sword and the Hylian Shield. It’s not a stretch to believe Fire Emblem Amiibos will be compatible or it will be added =O

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As you can clearly see from these pictures, the Nintendo Switch Version will be a significant graphical downgrade from even the PC version on the lowest settings. I do suspect this is how Skyrim would look on the Vita as well actually. It’s a question of weather you’d be willing to deal with the obvious graphical downgrade in exchange for slightly improved gameplay and portability.

…I already have two HD versions of the game (PS3 and PS4). My answer is obvious: I’ll pass. If you never played Skyrim but have a Switch though, go for it. If you never played Skyrim but have one of the other platforms, it’s a must-have.

Posted in Blog, Brendan Aurabolt, News, Nintendo Switch, PC, Playstation 3, Playstation 4, Preview, RPG, Serene Adventure, Skyrim, Video Games, Xbox 360, Xbox One | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Review: Samurai Warriors Chronicles: Spirit of Sanada (Playstation 4)

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…We knew this was coming: A game dedicated exclusively to the Sanada Clan. For the first time in franchise history, Masayuki Sanada is a playable character. It gets alot of things right but by the end of the game I was sorely disappointed with how two of the other 3 new characters–Sasuke and Chacha–ended up being used. More on that in a minute. The fourth new playable character in the series is Katsuyori Takeda, son of Shingen Takeda.

Spirit of Sanada chronicles the Warring States Era vets of the series know but mainly from the Sanada Clan’s perpsective. Specifically Masayuki and his second son Yukimora. There are secondary battles that take place that are optional but playable during the main story.

Simply having Masayuki as a playable character corrects long-maintained historical inaccuracies in the series about the rise and fall of the Takeda Clan, which the Sanada were aligned with until Katsuyori’s death. Spirit of Sanada correctly notes Yukimora and Nobuyuki never fought for Shingen Takeda because they were not yet of age. The game also correctly notes Masayuki becomes head of the clan when both of his older brothers are killed in battle.

Getting back to Chacha and Sasuke. Now, Chacha really did exist and she was the oldest daughter of Nagamasa Azai and Oichi (Nobunaga’s younger sister). While it’s likely she lived during the time, the problem is we know Hideyori Toyotomi was the undispiuted de-facto leader of the Toyotomi after Hideyoshi passed away. For this story to be believable, you would have to protend Hideyori doesn’t exist.

The obvious problem: Hideyori is at least mentioned by name in every. Previous. Samaurai Warriors. Game. Sasuke felt like a waste of a character slot as he doesn’t have much growth at all. Having him get killed off toward the end left me scratching my head a bit there like the implied death of Chacha. It also felt like a missed opportunity they purposely did not pursue pairing Chacha and Yukimora as more than Lady and Retainer despite how I felt it was being set up for that.

…Speaking of, they DID get Yukimora’s death right this time: According to the historical record, Yukimora came “within striking range” of Ieyasu Tokugawa before being forced back. Seriously wounded but still able to fight, he famously said “I will allow you to take my head” as Tokugawa’s foot soldiers converged on his position. Even though he fell in the final battle, Yukimora is still considered the greatest Warrior in Japan that ever lived.

As good a story as Yukimora and Nobuyuki clashing in Samurai Warriors 4 was, we know that from a historical standpoint Nobuyuki himself was actually in Edo at the time. When Japan split after Hideyoshi’s died, Nobuyuki sided with Ieyasu while Masayuki and Yukimora decided to side with the Toyotomi Clan. This decision split the Sanada Clan and ultimately ensured it survived through Nobuyuki, who would assume leadership of the clan after his father and brother died.

Moving on.

Although the game closely follows the Sanada clan, you can unlock everyone else as playable characters for use in Free Play. This includes both playable variations of Masayuki, Ieyasu and Nobuyki (Young and Old) and all 3 of Yukimora (Child, Youth and Adult). The (mostly optional and for Free Play) playable cast is everyone from Samurai Warriors 4 and Samurai Warriors 4-II + Sasuke, Chacha, Masayuki and Katsuyori. The method of unlocking them all is fairly easy and you can get started on that about halfway through the game. You simply have to run through exploration areas and collect items as well as take out baddies.

In closing, I’ll give the game an 8/10. I would say Spirit of Sanada is a good intro to the Samurai Warriors series, more so given Yukimora has not only been in every single Samurai Warriors game but the spinoff Warriors Orochi games. Comes with being the face of the franchise! I will say if it’s your first, then you should definitely play Samurai Warriors 4, Samurai Warriors 4-II and Samurai Warriors Chronicles 3 as well. If you want a bit more strategy, you can’t go wrong with Samurai Wariors 4 Empires!

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My Top 10 Nintendo 3DS RPGs: Retail Edition

…I’m sure I’m gonna need update this in a year or two but whatever. LOL.

The following are 10 RPGs released on the Nintendo 3DS or New Nintendo 3DS that I have personally played. For the purposes of this list, I omitted anything Fire Emblem AND Pokemon because they are MEGA Popular. This is more about showcasing other RPGs. Besides, all you need to do is Search Fire Emblem or Pokemon to see my reviews of every 3DS release of both series. LOL. Really though, I challenged myself to not include either series on this list to be fair to other games.

As noted by the title, eShop-Only RPGs are EXCLUDED. That will get its own list. Games available both Retail (physical) and Digital (eShop) will be on this list. It goes without saying Nintendo DS and Nintendo DS eShop titles will also be excluded. Once again: These are all games that I have played myself. If a game you think should have been here is left out, it’s very likely I haven’t played it myself.

Ok here we go.

 

10. RPG Maker FES

RPG Maker Fes Box Front

 

Now YOU make the next Classic RPG!

This game makes the list albiet barely due to the simple fact although the full game costs $40, you can download the RPG Maker FES Player free of charge from the eShop for FREE. What does this do? Oh, not much. just lets you download and play user-created games FOR FREE. If you just want to play games made from RPG Maker FES, you can download the Player and skip the full game.

To those looking to make RPGs, please keep in mind the making process is a MASSIVE time sink. The small handful of RPGs I’ve played so far have been a mixed bag in terms of quality but my biggest beef has been the poor grammar in many 5-star rated games. Games that took 30+ hours to complete tended to be of better quality. Games under 20 hours are usually presented as Demos to be tested by others for feedback while they work on it more.

 

9. Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse

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It’s not every day the Shin Megami Tensei games get a direct sequel.

Yet, that’s what we got in SMTIV:A. Like the first game, there is DLC and multiple endings. The game closes out the lose ends from the first game and further explores the 3-way struggle between Humanity, Demons and Angels. Fair warning: Devout Christians may find the overt agnostic and athiestic themes of this game and its predecessor offensive.

8. Lord of Magna: Maiden Heaven

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Short but sweet!

The game’s token storyline is tolerable given the game has 7 different endings depending on which of the Heronines you bond with the most by the game’s climax. It’s a strategy RPG and eqipped items carry over per playthrough as do unlocked skills. It’ll certainly keep you busy for a while to say the least. I bought it physical but it is also available digitally. The game is voiced as well.

7. Rune Factory 4

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Harvest Moon with RPG Mechanics!

The Rune Factory series began on the Nintendo DS and it’s assumed Rune Factory 4 will be the last in the series due to the brand split. All the more reason to play this gem. It’s an amazing blend of Harvest Moon Mechanics and your standard hack and slash RPG. It is available both physical and digital but the

6. Etrian Mystery Dungeon

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It’s Etryian Oddysey Meets Mystery Dungeon!

I found this game by accident two years ago on eShop and bought it. It’s a must-have if you’re a fan of either Mystery Dungeon or the Etrian Oddyssey series.

 

Speaking of Etrian Oddyssey…

 

5. Etrian Odyssey Untold: The Millenium Girl and Etrian Oddyssey Untold 2: The Fafnir Knight

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A tie!

The EOU games are enhanced ports of their original Nintendo DS releases. The 3DS ports include an original story with VAs as well as DLC. You get the choice of playing Story Mode or Classic Mode, which is the original game with the 3DS enhancements. A nice bonus: When you clear one mode, you can carry over character process to the other one.

I bought both games digitally but you can find physical copies of both. Each game has its charm. Both have your standard silent protagonist but it’s not too overbearing if that’s not your thing.

 

4. Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth

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Persona 3 and Persona 4 meets Etryian Oddyssey!

I thought this game wasn’t going to do well in the U.S. but it the fanservice actually lured folks who played Persona 3 and Persona 4 on the PS2, PS3 and Vita to buy a 3DS JUST FOR THIS GAME. I have had it for a few years and haven’t beaten it yet but I would be remiss to not give this game props. It’s available both physical and digital.

3. Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor OVERCLOCKED

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…Yes, I’m aware this game and its sequel are both Nintendo DS Ports.

That’s exactly why I reccommend this one. Enough to put it om the Top 3. I bought it on sale Digital for $20 3 years ago but you can still find physical copies of the game. A manga series based on the game was recently released just so you know. I actually have the first 4 volumes. The 3DS version is fully voiced, has a New Game +, A Compendium (absent from the DS Version) and has an additional 8th Day Chapter with certain endings. Fair warning: Devout Christians may find the overt agnostic and athiestic themes of this game and its sequel offensive.

2. Stella Glow

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…Honestly, I wanted to give them #1 but I felt highlighting the game that got that spot was more important. I just revewed this game the other day so I won’t say any more than it’s a solid Strategy RPG.

1. Tales of the Abyss

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…Surprised?

As of right now it is (still) the only “Tales of” game to get released on the 3DS. Sure, it’s a port but it IS the full game. Unlike the Vita release of Tales of Hearts R, nothing was added to the 3DS version aside from slight control scheme tweaking to fit the console. Fans like to complain about the audio quality in the 3DS version but if you use headphones or even better, a portable speaker that problem is solved. That and the game not getting a digital release are literally the only complaints folks have about TotA 3DS.

Abyss, like the Xbox 360’s Vesperia is one of the Black Sheep of the series: Really good but under appreciated. Atlus may have put both Square Enix and Namco to shame in regards to 3DS RPG releases but it’s all the more reason for both companies to show the 3DS some love. A New 3DS port of Vesperia could work.

 

0. Honorable Mentions

 

…Let’s get the obvious out the way, shall we?

 

  • Pokemon X and Pokemon Y: The first 3DS entrants for the main Pokemon series and half of the 6th Gen. Mega Evolution was introduced and as a bonus, we got Pokemon Bank (WOOT!).
  • Fire Emblem Awakening: At the time Awakening was in development Intelligent Systems got an ultimatum from Nintendo: If Awakening bombed, the Fire Emblem series was done. Not just in the U.S. but in Japan as well. As well all know, Awakening is the highest-grossing game in the series EVER. The game-changing pair up mechanics (nerfed in Fates) added an additional layer of strategy. The various references to past games in the series for Fire Emblem fans was like icing on the cake. Nevermind being able to recruit guest units for all of the past Fire Emblem games! Robin and Lucina are both playable characters in Super Smash Bros.
  • Pokemon OmegaRuby and Pokemon AlphaSapphire: The Ruby and Sapphire remakes served as a kind of bridge between the 6th and 7th gen in a few ways. More Mega Evolutions as well as Kyogre and Groudon’s Primal Reversions are introduced.
  • Fire Emblem Fates: Birthright, Fire Emblem Fates: Conquest and Fire Emblem Fates: Revelations: As a sort of “Reward” to Fire Emblem fans, Intelligent Systems released not one game but 3 this time. Conquest follows the story from the side of Nohr, Birthright follows the story from the side of Hoshido and Revelations focuses on the story of the Lost Kingdom of Valla. Corrin, the main Lord of Fates is a DLC Character in Super Smash Bros.
  • Pokemon Sun and Pokemon Moon: The lastest entrant in the Pokemon series introduces Z-Power, which allows Pokemon to launch a Super Move once during battles. Sun and Moon are highly acclaimed for the Evil Team, Team Skull. Why? Because being bad has never been as cool as they make it look and feel. They’re not about world conquest or stealing Pokemon. They’re about being HARD. As was announced a few months ago, Sun and Moon are getting enhanced remakes in UltraSun and UltraMoon later this year.
  • Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia: The simple fact that this game was released worldwide renews hope we may see Fire Emblem: Binding Blade starring Roy (the game released before GBA Fire Emblem but is actually its sequel) and possibly Geneology of the Holy War (starring Sigurd and Seliph). Shadows of Valentia is a remake of the series’ black sheep Fire Emblem Gaiden. It takes place between the events of the first two Fire Emblem games was the first Fire Emblem game to have both a traversable map (brought back in Sacred Stones and Awakening) and two Protagonists (brought back in Sacred Stones and Radiant Dawn). The game was rebuilt using Gaiden as a base but also has the honor of being the first Fire Emblem game to be fully voiced. If you consider yourself a fan of the Fire Emblem series, you owe it to yourself to buy this piece of history.

 

I’ll be honest: The REAL reason I excluded the above 11 games is so folks can’t say “Oh, he just had to give Pokemon/Fire Emblem the top spots like there aren’t other RPGs on the 3DS.” Pfft. Wait ’till you see my list of Top 10 RPGs that are eShop exclusive. That isn’t to say the above 11 games are unworthy of making the list. There’s also the fact a trifecta of RPGs is getting released next March: Radiant Historia, Etrian Odyssey 5 and Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey Redux. Let’s not also forget Fire Emblem Warriors, which is also being released on the Nintendo Switch.

This year, the last few years and obviously next year should be more than enoughto¬† shut up people who like to say “There are no decient RPGs on the 3DS other than Pokemon and Fire Emblem”. The 3DS has been doing far better than the Vita in comparison. Don’t get me wrong, I have almost all the RPGs released on the Vita worth playing–The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel 1 and 2 are most-owns on that note–but they simply don’t hold a candle to what the 3DS offers.

You also have those who have been saying since the Switch was unveiled last year that the 3DS is being phased out. That simply isn’t true. The release of Pokemon UltraSun and Pokemon UltraMoon in a few months say hi. Yes, Nintendo is phasing out older 3DS and 2DS models but one shouldn’t take that to mean the 3DS is done. As Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aime firmly stated at E3 last year, the 3DS is far from done.

…Look forward to my list for eShop-exclusive games when it’s posted^_^

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Posted in Atlus, Blog, Brendan Aurabolt, Fire Emblem, New Nintendo 3DS, News, Nintendo 3DS, Nintendo DS, Pokemon, Review, RPG, Serene Adventure, Shin Megami Tensei, Video Games | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Review: Stella Glow (Nintendo 3DS)

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…Whew.

Putting together my top-10 list of must-have RPGs on the 3DS, this one definitely makes the cut if not an honorable mention. Originally released back in 2015, I came across the Demo last October on the eShop.¬† The Demo covers all of the first chapter of the full game, which is also the game’s tutorial. There is no data to carry over since you don’t get access to inventory + item storage until the second chapter. In terms of storytelling, this game is top-notch. It was developed by Sega but published by Atlus.

The story has a diverse cast. Through unique sidequests, all the playable characters are well fleshed-out. If you want to max out your Affinity Level with everyone in a single playthrough, you will have to wait until New Game+ though. Speaking of, the only thing carried over each playthrough is your money though with New Game+ you gain more money and EXP. Nothing else.

Prettymuch, once you’ve beaten the game twice (it has two endings) you’re done with the game. Once you max out your relationship with someone, you can just save after downing the final boss and reloading that file to pick another paired ending to see. I saw Lisette’s and unsurprisingly, she and Alto get married and settle in Mithra. Lisette’s mother jokingly implies they need to start making babies.

 

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The main villains for most of the game are the Harbingers: Hilda, Dante, Dorothy and Hrodulf. You find out when she’s first introduced that Hilda is a Witch just like Lisette, Popo, Sakuya and Mordimort. Or is she? One interesting clue you get in the Second Chapter is there ARE supposed to be five witches of 5 Elements: Water (Lisette), Wind, (Popo), Fire (Sakuya), Earth (Mordimort) and Time (Hilda). At a certain point in the game, Hilda reveals to Alto she IS the Witch of Time as well as the Witch of Destruction she’s come to be known as (among other things I won’t spoil!).

During the game’s climax a traitor is revealed and the Harbingers end up joining Alto and the others. I won’t spoil the details but yes, Hilda does become a playable character along with Dorothy and Dante. The Mysterious Artificial Being Giselle will join Alto once you’ve maxed your relationship with a certain character before the game’s climax.

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There is one interesting change from the Japanese version that is indirectly referenced during the game’s Hot Springs scene (I know, they seem to be in every JRPG these days LOL). I’m talking about Ewan, who is in the Men’s Bath but shown wearing a towel to cover “his” chest. Apparently, the original plan was for it to be revealed Ewan is really a girl posing as a boy when you max your relationship with him. This was removed from the finished product though.

Another thing of note–and this IS a MAJOR spoiler–Alto is revealed to be the Hero Elcrest. A huge clue to this is when you tune a Witch during battle, Alto’s eyes are Golden just like Elcrest’s. 1,000 years earlier, Elcrest was severely wounded and almost died (The official record states he died after the final battle). The Water Witch Francesa used her Qualia to heal him in the area that eventually became Mithra. We do know Alto was discovered by Risette and her mother 3 years before the start of the game and had no memories of his past life as Elcrest. Once he regains full access to him past self, the two become one. Hilda kinda figured it out early on but didn’t say anything since Alto clearly couldn’t remember his past self.

Overall, I give Stella Glow a 9/10. The lack of a proper New Game+ is why I took a point off. Being able to carry over Items and Orbs at least would have been nice. It’s a definite must-try though. An added incentive to buy it digital is you get a free Theme with the game. I bought mine physical though so…yeah. If you’re into Strategy RPGs you will not be disappointed with Stella Glow.

 

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AtGames releasing another Classic Sega Genesis Console [UPDATE 7/28/2017]

UPDATE 7/28/2017: In a scathing first-look review, Gamespot is telling consumers not to buy AtGames’ Sega Genesis Flashback. Read the article for details but one thing I overlooked is the fact that like the console they released last year, this one comes with almost two dozen unlicensed third party games mixed in with Genesis and Game Gear titles. Gamespot Alleges is not only AtGames intentionally misleading consumers by advertising 85 games (45 Genesis, 12 Game Gear and the rest third party) but the console itself has a ton of technical problems.

Based on this, I have removed my endorsement of the console. Unlike Nintendo’s Classic Consoles, the Genesis ones by AtGames lack Quality Assurance and is a cash grab. Why Sega allowed this is anyone’s guess but fans of the older consoles are clearly the target demographic. If you still have an original Genesis you really have no reason to buy this overpriced knockoff that apparently can’t even emulate physical games well.

…This should come as no surprise after the one released last year. It will retail at $80. Not only does it come pre-loaded with 85 games but it also comes with the ability to play almost all physical Genesis games (!). So, if you happen to have any Genesis games in the closet for Nostalgia this might not be a bad investment.

AtGames seems to have both learned their lesson from the previous one as this one reportedly only comes with Genesis and Game Gear games. It seems they also got cleared to include many third party games that weren’t included with the previous release. Here is the list I pulled off AtGames’ website:

 

  1. Adventure in the Park
  2. Air Hockey
  3. Alex Kidd in High Tech World
  4. Alex Kidd in Miracle World
  5. Alex Kidd in the Enchanted Castle
  6. Alex Kidd: The Lost Stars
  7. Alien Storm
  8. Altered Beast
  9. Arrow Flash
  10. Baku Baku Animal
  11. Bomber
  12. Bonanza Bros.
  13. Bottle Taps Race
  14. Break the Fireline
  15. Bubbles Master
  16. Cannon
  17. Chakan: The Forever Man
  18. Checker *
  19. Chess *
  20. Columns *
  21. Columns III
  22. Comix Zone
  23. Crack Down
  24. Cross the road
  25. Curling 2010
  26. Decap Attack
  27. Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine
  28. ESWAT: City Under Seige
  29. Eternal Champions
  30. Fantasy Zone
  31. Fantasy Zone The Maze
  32. Fatal Labyrinth
  33. Fight or Lose
  34. Fish Story
  35. Fish Tank Live
  36. Flicky
  37. Gain Ground
  38. Golden Axe *
  39. Golden Axe II
  40. Golden Axe III
  41. Hangman
  42. Hexagonos
  43. Jack’s Pea
  44. Jewel Magic
  45. Jewel Master
  46. Kid Chameleon
  47. Mahjong Solitaire
  48. Maze 2010
  49. Memory
  50. Mortal Kombat
  51. Mortal Kombat 3
  52. Mortal Kombat II
  53. Mr. Balls
  54. Naval Power
  55. Phantasy Star
  56. Phantasy Star II
  57. Phantasy Star III
  58. Phantasy Star IV
  59. Plumbing Contest
  60. Ristar
  61. Shadow Dancer: The Secret of Shinobi
  62. Shining Force
  63. Shining Force II: The Ancient Seal
  64. Shining in the Darkness
  65. Shinobi III: Return of the Ninja Master
  66. Snake
  67. Snowboarding
  68. Sonic & Knuckles
  69. Sonic 3D Blast
  70. Sonic Chaos
  71. Sonic Drift 2
  72. Sonic Spinball
  73. Sonic the Hedgehog *
  74. Sonic the Hedgehog 2 *
  75. Sonic Triple Trouble
  76. Spider
  77. Super Thunder Blade
  78. Sword Of Vermilion
  79. Tails Adventure
  80. The Ooze
  81. Vectorman
  82. Vectorman 2
  83. Virtua Fighter II
  84. Wall-Breaking
  85. Warehouse Keeper

* Genesis and Game Gear games are different from each other.

 

I bolded the games I knew were Game Gear games, mainly because I either owned them during the mid-1990s or at least heard about them. The short-lived Game Gear was technically superior to the Game Boy during its lifespan. It wasn’t the first handheld console in color (Neo Geo’s Wonderswan Color was the first) but it was the first to have a built-in backlight. Who remembers those night lights Nintendo made for the Game Boy Pocket and the first-gen Game Boy Advance consoles? LOL. Anyway, the Game Gear only lasted four years because of its crippling weakness: It was so powerful, it could drain six AA batteries in 2 hours (!). I had an AC Adapter and it lasted a few months at most. Sega released rechargable battery packs to help offset this but they proved to be a fire hazard and could damage the handheld from overheating.

If Sega wasn’t releasing a new console every two years and actually fixed the problem, they could’ve given Nintendo some serious competition in the handheld market for the rest of the 90s. Then again even if they did, the release of Pokemon Red and Blue/Green in 1996 probably would’ve killed the Game Gear anyway.

Getting back on topic.

Noticably absent from the above list are Street Fighter II (all 3 Genesis releases), Streets of Rage (all 3 games), Sonic 3 (strangely Sonic and Knuckles made the cut) Sonic 3 and Knuckles (Sonic 3 and Sonic and Knuckles combined) and Shining Force: Sword of Hajiya (Game Gear release). While yes Street Fighter belongs to Capcom I’m sure that if they asked, Capcom would’ve greenlit having Street Fighter II + Champion Edition + Super Street Fighter II included. Fun fact: Street Fighter II Turbo is the SNES equivalent of Champion Edition (Super SFII was released on both the Genesis and the SNES). Phantasy Star I, III and IV making the cut is HUGE as they’ve only been re-released a small handful of times compared to II.

 

Nether Realm Studios owns the rights to the Mortal Kombat franchise so…yeah. Would’ve been cool if they could’ve gotten EA Sports to let them include Madden, Jordan vs. Bird, Coach K and NBA Jam. One can dream!

 

Nintendo and Sega suddenly making retro versions of their old consoles is for more than just nostalgia. There’s a demand for it first and they’re aggressively combating piracy head-on. These days, folks hack their smartphones to run NES, SNES, Genesis and in some cases PS1, N64 and Dreamcast games. Nintendo keeps re-releasing their older games to make them accessible. Mind you, there will always be a percentage of games from the older consoles that can never be re-released due to licensing reasons.

Activision famously remade Goldeneye 007 several years back since the original couldn’t be re-released due to the license holder–Rareware–had since been bought by Microsoft. When Nintendo re-released Diddy Kong Racing on the Nintendo DS, Conker and Banjo were replaced with Dixie Kong and Kiddie Kong (The latter last seen in Donkey Kong 64) since Microsoft now owns the rights to Conker and Banjo (Banjo-Kazooie and Conker’s Bad Fur Day have both since been re-released on Xbox Live). Rareware is a 2nd party company within Microsoft just like Intelligent Systems (Fire Emblem) is within Nintendo.

In closing, the Sega Genesis Flashback comes with two wireless controllers but is also 100% compatible with wired controllers. So again, if you or anyone you know has physical Genesis games they’ll work. The digital games have Save Anytime plus the ability to pause or rewind (Save State prettymuch). Finally, you use an HDMI cable to connect it to your TV. I’d say this console would make a good buy for either a hardcore collector or someone who played the original Genesis but doesn’t play video games much anymore. Outside that, you’re better off getting a Wii U in my book.

 

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Review: Shin Megami Tensei IV Apocalypse (Nintendo 3DS)

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…Only a handful of times can I recall one of Atlus’ flagship RPG series getting a direct sequel. 2013’s SMTIV (also on the 3DS) getting one was a pleasant surprise.

SMTIV:A takes places a year after the events of SMTIV and it is assumed the third path was taken. Speaking of, you can import clear data from SMTIV to SMTIV:A. Like the first game, there are three endings in SMTIV:A. You have the Lawful Ending (side with Merkabah), the Neutral Peace Ending (side with Flynn), the Neutral Anarchy Ending (side with Dagda) or the Chaotic Ending (side with Lucifer). If you’re doing either Neutral Ending, at a certain point you will be forced to side with Dagda or Flynn.

…I do want to say this about the ending I got: Your final opponent will be YHWY. In other words, God himself. Literally.

I believe I made a comment on this this when I reviewed SMTIV and Devil Survivor Overclocked: This game has overt athiestic and agnostic overtones those who practice Christianity may find very offensive. That said, as a reminder this game is a work of fiction. Like all of Atlus’ RPGs that feature beings from not just Judeo-Christian lore but the mythologies of other religions, SMTIV:A doesnt really try to teach or persuade the player in regards to whatever they may or may not believe at the time.

Everything is for the purposes of storytelling. I can laugh at the game’s depictions of Lucifer, Satan and YHWY–not the images but how they are portrayed–because Atlus fictionalized all three characters for the purposes of the game. That and they went with the viewpoint most athiests and agnostics as well as many Christians have about God in general for YHWY’s in-game depiction. By that I mean the belief that God is the reason for all the suffering in the world in short. I’ll speak more to this mindset on My Blog on The Bible at a later time if you’re interested. By the way the game’s audio censors “YHWY” on purpose and this is a nod to the belief God’s Holy Name should never be spoken aloud. Of course, God goes by many names. Other than YHWY he is referred to as The Creator in SMTIV:A.

 

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…Anyway, moving on.

Like I said before, SMTIV:A takes place a year after the events of SMTIV. In addition to Flynn chosing the Neutral Path, Flynn took out the Ashura-kai and the Ring of Gaea’s leaders (both of which are required to get the Neutral Ending in SMTIV but you only have to take out one or the other for one of the other endings). SMTIV:A isn’t Flynn’s story, though. It’s Nanashi’s (Japanese for “No Name” since the protagonist is an orphan), whose story begins with death.

Nanashi is ambushed and killed by a powerful demon. On his way to the Underworld Nanashi meets Dagda, a powerful being who makes him an offer he literally can’t refuse: In exchange for bringing him back to life, Nanashi becomes his Godslayer. In other words, Nanashi will have the power to slay Gods as well as powerful Demons. Mind you, Dagda has his own reasons for doing this and they will begin to become clear when the Divine Powers are introduced. Because of this, you are not allowed to die. Dagda will simply bring you back each time (unless you play with instant Game Over at 0HP). Speaking of, toward the end of the game you will enter a dungeon where Dagda’s power to rez you will be blocked. Try not to die in there. LOL.

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Like SMTIV, the game is both fully voiced and you can freely adjust the difficulty (which has no bearing on the game’s story). I always play on the easiest difficulty level until I have seen all possible endings. When I want to be challenged, then I turn up the difficulty. I’ll speak more to this in a video blog later this week.

Also like SMTIV, there is DLC. Some Free but mostly paid. Aside from the usual Macca/Levels/AP grinding maps, there are some additional quests with optional but interesting story content. Of course, it makes sense to do the story DLC aftet you’ve cleared the game at least once. Certain knowledge is assumed, after all. There is also a Demon Market Map where you can buy high-level demons. Unlike the ones use fuse, these ones are not bound by level restrictions. So, you can use them right away. Do note that there are some who are locked behind story progression and naturally, getting a few requires seeing all the endings.

The game has at least 30 hours per playthrough weather or not you use the grinding DLC Content. Unlike SMTIV, 98% of the game takes place in Tokyo. You do pay Mikado a visit at a certain point in the game so…yeah. Forgot to say this but you do not have to have played SMTIV first to play SMTIV:A. Everything relevant is explained for you prettymuch. As a reminder, this isn’t Flynn’s story but the new protagonist’s.

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Overall, I gave Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse a 9/10. It’s a solid, complete RPG weather you played the first game or not. The game being fully voiced is just icing on the cake. It also directly advertises the first game for those who may not have played it. I wish there was more opportunities for both protagonists to work together but not a big deal. The religious overtones aside, it felt more with this one than the first that Atlus had to prove the 3DS is worthy of “adult-oriented” games. That’s the vibe I got anyway. There were a few over the top moments I can’t mention due to plot spoilers but they’re few and far apart.

Overall, it’s worthy of getting a 3DS just to try in my book. It’s available as both a physical game and a digital download so…yeah.

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Starcraft Remastered to arrive August 14; Original Starcraft now FREE

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Last week, Blizzard announced the HD Remake of the first Starcraft game + its expansion Brood War will be released together on August 14. This comes a few months after Blizzard released the original Starcraft 1 game + its expansion FREE to download. Yes, Blizzard is giving away the original Starcraft–previously retailed at $20–absolutely FREE. All you need is a Blizzard account to download the game. If you’re thinking of getting HD Remake–selling for $15–it may be worth playing the original first.

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The above designs are preorder bonuses and should look familiar to those who’ve played StarCraft II. Now, the obvious question to ask is “Why should I buy the HD Remake when Blizzard is giving away the original game?” The remake has FULL Blizzard network integration in addition to the graphical upgrade while the original game does not. That’s why. Another is it will be modder friendly just like StarCraft II. It’s the same game fans of the original remember with a fresh coat of paint and the ability to play with others or talk to friends playing a different Blizzard game.

If you never played the original, it may be worth getting. Plus, you can still play the original free of charge. I actually downloaded the original last weekend so I can point this out: The remake will use the Blizzard Desktop app but the original does not. You’ll have to keep that in mind. While it is true all of the story events in StarCraft are touched on in StarCraft II, this way you get to play them. Either way, you can’t go wrong!

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Postgame Review: Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia

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Yeah, BOEY! Pun intended.

While it is true Nintendo has alot–and I mean A LOT–of experience remaking old games (Starfox and Pokemon both come to mind), never before has Nintendo taken a game from the 8-bit NES era and modernized it like they did with Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia. For those who might have missed the Fire Emblem Direct earlier this year, this is a remake of the Japan-only Fire Emblem Gaiden–a game that was up until now considered the Black Sheep of the Fire Emblem series. Why? Because it was released the year after the SNES had been released. The game pushed the NES to its limits and was ahead of its time for reasons I’ll get into in a moment.

Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows if Valentia is called Fire Emblem Echoes: Another Hero King in Japan. The game takes place between the events of the first two Fire Emblem games (Shadow Dragon and Light and Shadow) on the continent of Valentia. The Whitewings Sisters and the origin of the Triangle Attack that’s been staple in the series–Palla, Catria and Est–are playable characters. They get mixed up with some pirates while visiting from Archanea–where the events of the first two games starring Marth take place–and end up helping Celica on her mission.

Story: 10/10

Kudos to Nintendo for this one: Anyone who’s played Fire Emblem Gaiden will tell you the story was bare bones. Nintendo took the existing story and not only fleshed it out but gave every single character–both old and new–a detailed and fleshed-out backstory. Here’s a few noteworthy ones and be warned, there are MAJOR spoilers.

 

  • Alm: One of the game’s two protagonists. He leads The Deliverence against the Rigelian Empire to the North as well as the corrupt Zofian Military. Alm’s surprisingly straightforward and clever despite both his upbringing and his lineage. He is the Hero King who would unite all of Valentia.
  • Celica: One of the game’s two protagonists. She leads her allies and friends on a mission to find out what happened to Mila, the Divine Dragon on Zofia. Celica hides a secret even from Alm: She is real Princess Anthese, who the Zofian Knights are searching for. Celica finds herself forced to chose between sacrificing her life to save Alm or watch the whole world burn.
  • Masked Knight: One of the new characters in Shadows of Valentia who didn’t exist in Gaiden. He is revealed to be Conrad, Celica’s brother and prince of Zofia. Having long thought the other dead, Conrad aids Celica on her mission before eventually joining her as an ally.
  • Faye: One of the new characters in Shadows of Valentia who didn’t exist in Gaiden. She has a seriously crush on Alm. If you see their A-Rank support conversation, Alm admits he’s known she had feelings for him for some time and since she clearly didn’t take the hint, he plainly turns her down.
  • Mycen: A former Rigelian Knight who found himself the caretaker of both Alm and Celica. When Alm decides to join The Deliverence and fight against the Rigelian Empire, Mycen suddenly disappears. When the two meet in Zofia Castle and later Rigel Keep, it’s revealed Mycen was far more privy to the goings-on of Valentia.
  • Emperor Rudolf: The Emperor of Rigel, the northen Kingdom of Valentia. Emperor Rudolf personally leads his army in an attack on Mila’s Temple, binding her with the power of the Valentian Falchion. In a cruel twist of fate, Emperor Rufolf is slain in battle by his long lost son: Alm.
  • Zeke: A mysterious knight in the service of the Rigelian Empire. Heeding a cryptic message from Emperor Rudolf, Zeke joins Alm after he rescues his friend Titania from harm. This is the same Zeke who also appears in Archanean Fire Emblem games.
  • Duma and Mila: Both are Manakete who are worshipped as God and Goddess. Dragons have a long lifespan and this both a strength and a weakness for them. Over time, they will lose their minds and become a threat to mankind. Such was the case with a certain dragon in Fire Emblem Fates. Such is the case with Duma in the final battles of the game.

….I could go on.

There are subtle references to the events of at least 3 other Fire Emblem games for those who’ve played them to spot:

  • Fire Emblem Awakening: Most obviously, the continent of Valentia is present-day Valm. Walhart’s backstory isn’t all that different from Alm’s when you think about it. Perhaps the biggest hint is Alm promotes to the Conquerer Class–the same as Walhart but with different weapons. Alm can use Swords and Bows while Walhart can use Swords, Axes and Lances. In the postgame town, one of the villagers also references the Valmese invasion that takes place halfway through Awakening.
  • Fire Emblem Fates Revelations: This is a MAJOR spoiler for those who haven’t played the third route in Fates but the big bad you fight at the end with the combined forces of both Hoshido and Nohr is the Divine Dragon, Anankos. Around the time Azura lived in Valla, Anankos succumbed to madness and turned his rage on mankind. Shortly after Corrin was born, knowledge of the third kingdom was lost to a powerful curse to protect Nohr and Hoshido. By the time Shadows of Valentia begins, Duma has succumbed to madness. Mila sacrifices herself to cancel out her counterpart’s power and is dead by the time Alm and Celica find her in Duma Tower.
  • Fire Emblem: I mentioned this already by Shadows of Valentia/Gaiden takes place between the events of Marth’s two games. Zeke and the Whitewings are originally from Archanea obviously.
    Fire Emblem Sacred Stones: It was viewed as an homage to Fire Emblem Gaiden. It’s so obvious where the inspiration for Sacred Stones came from at the time it was released back in 2003 on the Game Boy Advance. The traversible map and dual protagonists are the dead giveaways so…yeah.

The Dungeon Exploration mechanic is a pretty cool feature in both the original and the remake. One can only hope it’s used again in a future Fire Emblem title ^_^

Soundtrack: 10/10

Easily the best part of the game for me. Every track from the original game was upgraded.

 

Here’s March of the Deliverence, which is Alm’s pre-promotion battle theme music:

And the original version from Fire Emblem Gaiden:

Exact same song. All they did was use a real orchestra. There was nothing to add beyond that.

 

Here’s Celica’s pre-promotion battle theme music, With Mila’s Divine Protection:

…And again, the original Gaiden version:

 

As you can see, the conversion is near-flawless here, too.

Shadows of Valentia is also the first Fire Emblem game to be fully voiced–not a bad honor for a remake. All dialogue is voiced including most of the optional interactions with villagers. How cool is that?!

 

Difficulty: 9/10

Despite the graphical facelift, Nintendo went out of its way to preserve the original game’s level of challenge weather you play Classic (fallen units are lost forever) or Casual (fallen units return after battle). Unlike the later games, Gaiden didn’t have a Weapons Triangle and neither does its remake for that matter. Spells also cost HP unlike the later games. As a reminder, you automatically lose the battle if the main Lord–in this case–Alm or Celica–lose all their HP. It’s an instant Game Over.

What keeps it from getting a Perfect 10 is how overtuned the final battle and the final battle in the postgame dungeon seemed to be. For the purposes of reviewing the game, I did my first playthrough on Casual with the Normal Difficulty. Even though I had access to DLC Content for EXP grinding as well as the DLC-Only 4th-tier classes, I struggled to clear the final battle and was curb-stomped in the final battle of the postgame dungeon.

I couldn’t help but assume the postgame dungeon’s final battle had been tuned with the assumption players would either overlevel or at least had access to the EXP Grinding DLC Maps. The Status Ailments alone are a pain given only two characters can remove them but the enemies in that battle being able to 2-shot anyone not named Alm or Celica is a bit of a problem. LOL.

 

DLC Content: 7/10

You got your staple EXP, Money and Rare Item grind maps. They come in two flavors: One for the first two Chapters, the rest of the game. Then you have the 4th-Tier Classes for all classes including Alm and Celica. Then you have the four prequel maps, which takes a look at certain characters before the events of the game. There are even maps featuring characters from the Japan-only Fire Emblem Cipher Trading Card Game! I touched on this in a separate blog post but all the DLC content combined costs more than the game. Not a good look for Nintendo. It’s also why I took 3 points off this, more so given the grind maps that have been staple since Awakening.

 

Amiibo Support: 8/10

Alm and Celica have their own Amiibos, which serves two purposes. One is access to special dungeons you need their Amiibos to challenge. The other is to power up your Amiiino for summoning purposes. Alm or Celica can summon their Amiibos or that of Robin, Lucina, Roy, Ike, Marth or Corrin (when it’s released) to fight for one turn. I took two points off because of the restrictions: You can only summon a phantom fighter once per battle and it will only last for one turn. On top of that, Alm/Celica can’t act like a normal summon either. That makes it hard to justify using the feature at all when you think about it. Nintendo dropped the ball here.

Overall: 10/10

Despite it clearly being a remake and despite the overpriced DLC, Shadows of Valentia is a must-own for any Fire Emblem fan. If you are new to the series, I reccommend starting with Awakening though. Regardless, this is yet another good year to own a 3DS!

 

 

Posted in Blog, Brendan Aurabolt, Fire Emblem, NES, New Nintendo 3DS, Nintendo 3DS, Retro Gaming, Review, Serene Adventure, Video Games | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment