Archive for the ‘3DS’ Category

Dragon Quest 7: Fragments of an Epic Adventure

October 17, 2016

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Dragon Quest 7’s 3DS remake trades adventure for accents and accessibility

To read reviews of the 3DS remake, you’d think Dragon Quest 7 on Playstation was a plodding bore. It ain’t so. Dragon Quest 7 was and is a succession of beautiful, melancholy fables.

I don’t think I ever fully understood the purpose of Dragon Quest’s town stories before playing it. Each town acts as its own bite-sized JRPG so that you can come home after a busy day at the office and make real progress. And each story is so damned compelling, in large part, because of the Playstation game’s translation.

Many JRPGs are stripped of ‘offensive’ content or altered so that they make sense to a western audience. Dragon Quest 7 instead provides a very literal translation, but one that’s clear and concise. It feels in many ways like a modern translation of a literary or religious text. Since that’s what we’re dealing with here–fables where rain turns men to stone, a town is turned into animals, or a young boy is raised by wolves–the original translation is vital for establishing the tone of the game.

The 3DS remake, in contrast, injects such a heavy dose of colloquialism and accent into the dialogue as to be insufferable. For example, when multiple characters say they need to “put their skates on.” Maybe the translations were this excessive in the other DS remakes; I don’t know. What I do know is that here it feels especially egregious. No dialogue box can go without multiple injections of old-timey slang.

Instead of feeling like holy fables, passed down over generations, these stories are chopped up bedtime stories, stripped of their original meaning. By cutesying themselves up, they lose their pathos.

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But there’s more about this remake that grates. The opening hours of the game have lost a very great deal. Originally, Dragon Quest 7 required 4-6 hours(!) of exposition before letting players fight even one measly slime, time spent exploring the first island and its ancient ruin. The ruin acts as the game’s first dungeon–it has no enemies, but it is large and there are numerous puzzles to solve. Exploration is a meaningful part of the adventure, and it establishes the pace of the game. If that opener sounds boring, well, it’s not. It’s just slow, contemplative even.

The remake’s stripping down of this dungeon, on the other hand, is incredibly lame. There is no opening dungeon within the ruins, and there are no puzzles. Your characters go back and forth, fetching items and having them translated. In all it takes about two tedious hours to get through this opening segment. You get all the worst parts and very little of what’s interesting.

Much is lost. The sense of exploration and anticipation over hours of gametime, that slow burn of an opening as the player works their way deeper and deeper into the torchlit ruins. And then finally, once they’ve solved the trials, assembled tablet shards together on a pedestal and proved their heroism, they’re whisked away.

To where? Somewhere far away, somewhere strange, another land. They’re off their quaint fishing island and walking through a dark forest, when there’s a screech from the trees and–suddenly, finally, after all. this. time.

A SLIME ATTACKS.

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G.G Series brings bite-sized indies to 3DS and DSi

July 14, 2015

Simpler is better—give me two buttons plus one good idea and you’ve got yourself a game. That’s the idea behind Genterprise’s G.G. Series, a slew of Japanese indie games that have recently been unleashed on Nintendo’s 3DS/DSi eshop for $2 a pop. The G.G. games are simply designed, often featuring only one song and a single background shared between all stages, but they shine as handheld games thanks to snappy, focused gameplay. I downloaded and played four of them recently. Here are my thoughts:

All Breaker

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Puzzle platformers aren’t really my bag; I’d rather not spend my time sitting stumped instead of making progress. All Breaker is thankfully action-heavy, rather than truly puzzling. The purple-haired main character swings a massive hammer in order to destroy red blocks scattered throughout the level. Her hammer only stuns enemies, however, so she needs to destroy floors or hit certain “attack blocks” to kill them. The level layouts are simple but effective, and smashing blocks is plain fun. This would be a good game for speedrunning score challenges. You’re awarded points for destroying blocks and killing enemies as well as finishing quickly, and the block-based levels mean you can improvise your way through to some extent, finding the quickest path. I’m probably in the minority here, but I greatly prefer this game to Wayforward’s Mighty Switch Force.

Assault Buster

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The central mechanic here is a gem—the main character (another weapons badass, this time with a laser rifle as long as her body) boosts rapidly around the screen, firing in every direction to destroy robotic baddies. Gravity brings her down slowly, allowing her to shoot as she descends, and holding down the shot button lets her fire continuously in one direction. In many ways Assault Buster reminds me of Treasure’s classic Alien Soldier, with hints of Bangai-O or Gunstar Heroes. Each level is a few short waves of enemies, followed by a stage boss. Most bosses are made from a collection of blocks surrounding a core, with each block firing its own weapon. I much prefer these to the occasional “robot master” style bosses, which zip around the screen and generally have too much health. My one gripe with the game is that time bonuses and enemy kills don’t matter much for scoring. The +5000 score bonus for destroying the boss blocks eclipses the rest of the points you’ll earn in a level. Kind of a bummer, but you’d wanna shoot the crap out of those bosses anyhow, right? A very fun game single-screen shooter regardless, and well-suited to quick bursts of play.

Dark Spirits

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I wasn’t taken with Dark Spirits at first. The main vampire dude is a bit slow-moving for a manic shooter, and the gamplay felt a bit basic. But I grew to appreciate the elemental upgrade system as I played more. Vamps has four elemental orbs that change type when they touch different upgrades, allowing you to mix and match elemental types. If you run into the same type upgrade multiple times, that orb will level up, so you need to make sure you’re grabbing the right upgrade with the right orb. There are focused, wide, and backwards-facing shot formations, giving the game depth and making up for the character’s slow movement speed. The visual design in this one is pretty cool as well; the future-horror vibe must have been inspired by Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow. And there are two different backgrounds to this game instead of one, whoa! Dark Spirits’ one problem is that it’s way too easy. The ice elemental shot especially makes the game a breeze, as it deals a ton of short-range damage and cancels enemy bullets. Fortunately the (otherwise pretty short) game loops over and over again as you beat it; I ended up reaching stage 3-2 before biting the bullet. Those who consider the genre far too difficult may see this as a breath of fresh air, but for myself the game lasts a little too long to work great as an on-the-go title.

Great Whip Adventure

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This is the simplest game of the four, but it’s also my favorite. Great Whip Adventure is the pint-sized brother to La Mulana and Spelunky. The Indy-like main character whips enemies and latches onto hanging hooks to traverse jungles and temples. The mechanics are simple yet functional, with a nice stage-to-stage challenge curve and a scoring system based on enemy kills and quick completion. This is a great example of how few objects and enemies are required to make a fun game, and could serve as a textbook case for game designers everywhere. And that music track! It’s used in another game (All Breaker, I think?), but here it magically nails La Mulana’s adventurous soundtrack. Great Whip Adventure’s stripped-down elements all work incredibly well together. At $2, it’s like stolen treasure.

And there you have it! I may do another sweep of the G.G Series in the future, as there are now a ton of them on the eshop. Or I might finally dig into the eshop on the whole, and see what I find. Until next time!

– Tom K, Catstronaut Loves Games

Animal Crossing Over

July 6, 2013

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PostStrip: Welcome to your New Leaf

Why do I so thoroughly enjoy Animal Crossing: New Leaf? I work ceaselessly for more bells, catching scores of sharks and billions of beetles, striving to earn enough cash to pay off my loans and buy a new couch, besides. And some wallpaper. And some clothes. It’s essentially capitalism: the game, and capitalism just isn’t that fun. Animal Crossing is toil. I don’t like toil.

“Welcome to your new life!” hollers the back cover, in a neighborly sort of way. And indeed it will consume and replace your life, constantly drawing you back with its aura of pure pleasantness. You need to visit the store every day to purchase fortune cookies and get official Nintendo items (the best kind of items, really), but then you happen to see some cracks in the ground, so you go hunting for fossils and gyroids. While you’re at it, you may as well search for the fabled money rock, as well. And gems, don’t forget about gems.

But then Sally sees you, goes ding with revelation, and asks if she can visit your house in, oh, fifty minutes’ time. So you begrudgingly say yes, only because Sally is the greatest, and spend your sweet time collecting seashells. You see a shark fin poking out of the water and cast your line, hoping to earn a 20,000 bell payoff. You travel to and from the store selling seashells, use your slingshot to shoot at balloons, and go buy some new shoes.

By the time you’re finished, Sally has come and gone. You missed her. Poor Sally. And now you feel bad, so you go buy her a present.

It all just adds up, and it eats away at your life. Your old life. Past tense. Gone. Yes? Yes.

Why do I enjoy this game? I dunno. Animal Crossing is a special case. The emotions involved are incredibly complex.