Tag Archives: JRPG

Cracking the Case: Record of Agarest War

I am possibly going to offend many JRPG fans today.

It’s not because I don’t like role playing games from Japan. I have a collection of RPGs dating back to Final Fantasy and Dragon Warrior on the Nintendo. RPGs from both sides of the pond have found their way into my game systems and on my television set for nearly three decades.

The reason many fans of JRPGs are likely to come after me in droves is because I am about to open fire on a game that has been applauded by fans of RPGs, strategy games and war stories alike.

Today, I’m Cracking the Case on Record of Agarest War by Aksys Games.

Not to be confused with the old anime/manga series Record of Lodoss War, Agarest has seen some success in North America. Enough success that the developers have ported both its prequel Record of Agarest War Zero and its sequel to North America.

Like I said, I grew up with RPGs, but fell in love with strategy RPGs. Ogre Battle and Final Fantasy Tactics have been revisited time and time again in my house. Its reached the point where I can avoid picking up any strategy games these days, in hopes that I will find a successor to the Ogre Battle series.

Will Agarest War be able to compete with many other successful franchises it share roots with? Let’s find out.

WHAT THIS GAME DOES RIGHT

This game has an addictive battle system.

Agarest War Battle System

The game’s battle system is its strongest point. Each battle allows you to take six members of your army into the fray, each capable of using their own moves. These moves, when synced up with other members of the party, creates devastating combos, capable of doing tens of thousands of points in damage. The first time you break the nine thousand point mark, they even reward you for it.

Its over 9000.png
WHAT!? Nine thousand!?

The game even keeps track of your highest combos and ranks you compared to other players online, providing more motivation to achieve bigger combos.

This game has loads of characters.

The game’s storyline takes place over five generations, each introducing more characters into the mix. By the end of the game, so many characters join up that it can be hard to keep them all straight.

Agarest War Characters.jpg

That’s not including the monster capture and breeding system, which lets you create some unique and devastating characters for your team relatively early in the story. I was able to create a level 90 monster in generation 3, about halfway through the game. The top level you can get is level 99, effectively creating the equivalent of a nuclear bomb on the battlefield.

It’s like the game gives you the opportunity to create Thundergod Cid from Final Fantasy Tactics, just for the hell of it.

Orlandu Final Fantasy Tactics
Orlandu Cid = Gamebreaker

This game has a unique generations system

In most games, your main character is a product of your decisions. This game takes that statement literally.

Each generation’s main character is based on the decisions of the hero in the previous generation. One choice in particular, as the main character decides who he wants to… umm… sleep with.

Agarest War Marriage System
Say what??

The term for it in the game is ‘soul breeding.’ Basically, you have three women in each generation that you can marry to give birth to the next hero. Each time creates a unique character, with certain strengths and a different design that will be carried to later generations.

Agarest War Furry
Talk about variety!

WHAT THIS GAME DOES WRONG

This game needs to fire its writers

I’m not sure what Agarest Zero or Two are like, but if they kept the same translators from the first game, things don’t bode well for the rest of the series.

Picture you are having a conservation with the most rigid and repetitive person on Earth.

Shia Labeouf 2
Shia Labeouf will do!

Now imagine that this person has soul bred with every person in the game and you have Record of Agarest War. Conversations are repetitive, characters speak like an English major trying to speak French and dialogue in one scene will often have no flow or connection to any other scene.

I realize this series has a medieval setting with its own set of gods, but other games have done settings like this before and actually have good writing. Chrono Trigger pulled off 600 A.D. with no issues at all and both remakes of Final Fantasy Tactics and Tactics Ogre also did so nicely.

My complaint with Agarest is not period writing; this is lazy, repetitive garbage trying to be masked as period writing by eye-candy characters.

Shia Labeouf
In other words, a Shia Labeouf movie.

This game has stiff and wooden characters

Writing plays a lot into this and while I’ve already fired a shot off the game’s bow for that. But if you have ever played this game, how many characters ca you actually remember without looking at a Wikipedia site? And I don’t mean what moves you use or what they look like. I mean their background story and what contribution they actually had to the story.

Agarest War Contribution
That’s not the kind of contribution I’m talking about…

Granted, not all of the characters in this game are bad. Some are actually enjoyable, like Winfield. The problem is you can see what’s going to happen to most of the characters about a mile away. Character design doesn’t help here. One of the early party members, Vashtor, is a clear example of that.

Vashtor Agarest War
Clearly not evil… The shoulder flames say so.

The game loves wasting your time.

This game is a perfectionist’s Hell. If your goal is to collect every single item in the game, just stop now.

Agarest introduces us to the most convoluted system for getting new items and new abilities that I have ever seen.

There is item crafting, which revolves around its own point system to level up items. To get the points, you have to get into endless battles.

Crafting Screen - Record of Agarest War

Once an item is fully leveled up, it can be broken down into its base parts, which can be used to build new items.

These new items require additional items to build them, which can only be found by beating certain monsters who have a random drop rate for items, or capturing monsters and turning them into items through their monster breeding system.

Once you build a new item, you can either use that item in battle or trade it in, with additional items, to get new abilities for your characters.

Those abilities can also be built up through constant repetitive use, which means more battles.

Sounds like a great system, right? Prepare to be disappointed.

The amount of points some items require to level up are just ridiculous, based on the amount of points you get per battle.

Also, the game includes Oops items. That’s not the actual term for them, that’s the only way I can describe this. Every now and then when you give the OK to build that weapon you’ve been working for hours to get all the materials for, the blacksmith screws up and builds an ENTIRELY DIFFERENT ITEM. Sometimes, that item is either worthless or an item you already have.

If you didn’t save, you’re out of luck and back to the drawing board.

And to add further frustration, you can’t buy that item you’ve been trying to build in the stores. The shopkeeper only stocks items you’ve ALREADY BUILT. As if you are the only person building weapons and armor in this freaking place.

Explosion
No picture can explain my rage for this game…

You basically have two options. Either spend half of the time you will be playing this game building things, or spend your actual money on DLC items that make the game a cakewalk. Either option is fundamentally wrong on a level of game design. (I went with the DLC, by the way.)

FINAL THOUGHTS

I would suggest renting this game first to see if you like it or even download a trial version, but neither option is available. This game seems to be hard to find on disc and there are no trial versions through XBox Live. Your options are to pay whatever price the XBox store is asking for or not to bother at all. My choice would be the latter.

Avoid this game, classics like Tactics Ogre and Final Fantasy Tactics do what this game is trying to do much better. Heck, even Disgaea is a better choice.

If you’re only looking for eye-candy, check out Catherine or the Dead or Alive series. Less effort needed there.

 

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GameOn First Impressions – Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth 2

Today, I take a look at Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth 2, coming to us from Idea Factory this time around! Neptunia Re;Birth 2 is available physically and digitally across North America now.

We’re bringing back our GameOn First Impressions series, and believe me, you will be getting a lot of first impression videos, now that we’ve got a PlayStation TV.

The latest game on the list is the newest in the Hyperdimension Neptunia series, which I could see myself getting into.

Last year, I was introduced to Fairy Fencer F, a game with a weird name, but an awesome battle system. I played that game for easily three weeks because I couldn’t put it down. Whenever I had free time, I was giving the game another go.

Hyperdimension Neptunia is where that battle system came from and the latest installment in the series refines it even further.

I’ll admit it, I am a little lost with the storyline, as I am joining the series mid-franchise. But at the same time, the game is presented in a way that you can actually join in at Re;Birth 2. Its not an impossibility, as they explain a lot in the opening story sequences.

If there’s any complaint I can make, its that the game starts off almost TOO WORDY. Knowing what kind of battle system I was expecting, I just wanted to jump in and start fighting.

This complaint though is more from the perspective of someone trying to broadcast the game. Trust me, I do recognize the importance of recapping some of the series history and teaching people how to play the game. That’s something that happens in every long-running RPG series.

Some characters in the game have quirks that I’m not the biggest fan of. I would almost say this game tends to be TOO ANIME-ISH for my tastes, but that’s a personal preference, not an actual critique of the game itself.

Bottom Line – If you are deep into anime culture or have experienced Hyperdimension Neptunia before, this game is a no-brainer to pick up. It refines every system you find in the series even further and just plays smoothly. If you aren’t the biggest anime fan, but like JRPGs or RPGs in general, try borrowing this game from a friend or give a demo a go if you can find it. The battle system is something to definitely experience.

If you can’t see yourself getting into it or the character’s seem too weird for you, you might try Fairy Fencer F instead. Its kind of like a Hyperdimension Neptunia LITE and more approachable for a traditional American audience.

GameOn First Impressions is our chance to give you a look at what to expect from some of the newest games to come out. Sometimes a game is simply too long to give a full review under our time constraints. We’re looking at the first hour of this game and talking about what stands out and what falls flat.

If you like what you see, check it out for yourself and download Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth 2 on your PlayStation Vita from PSN!

GameOn First Impressions – Demon Gaze

Today, Jeff takes a look at Demon Gaze from NIS America, as we bring back our GameOn First Impressions series.

And believe me, you will be getting a lot of first impression videos, now that we’ve got a PlayStation TV.

NIS America has provided us with an absolutely ridiculous catalog of games to give a go, so we’re going through quite a few JRPGs at the moment, including today’s title.

Demon Gaze for the PlayStation Vita is a dungeon crawler with very anime-ish graphics. While the visuals are usual fare for NIS America, the play style is not and that’s what intrigues me about this one.

Think like the Wizardry series, only without taking itself so seriously and infused with the usual brand of humour found in games like Disgaea or Fairy Fencer F.

GameOn First Impressions is our chance to give you a look at what to expect from some of the newest games to come out. Sometimes a game is simply too long to give a full review under our time constraints. We look at the first 15-30 minutes of the game and talk about what stands out as we play through the start of the game.

If you like what you see, check it out for yourself and download Demon Gaze from PSN!

Fairy Fencer F Review – Part Two

We wrap up our review of Fairy Fencer F for the PS3! Today, GameOn’s Jeff Johnson shows you the battle system and dungeons!

Overall, I give this game a 3.5/5 score. If you’re wondering why the score is that high, simply check out the game’s battle system, which is shown in today’s video.

Fairy Fencer F is the latest offering from NIS America which came out in North America on Tuesday, September 16th.

The game is available in stores now and online through PSN. I highly recommend you pick up this game if you are a fan of JRPGs or RPGs in general.

Roger Plays Games – Mugen Souls Z Review

GameOn Contributor Roger Dalke is taking on the latest game coming from NIS America, Mugen Souls Z.

Mugen Souls Z is due out on May 20th in North America and due out in Europe on May 23rd and was created by Compile Heart and GCrest.

If you’re ready for free-roaming battle maps, a unique turn-based combat system and massive amounts of customization, this is the game for you!

Check out our review and if you like you see, go pick up this game for yourself!

Expect to see Roger Dalke bring you more of his thoughts on gaming in the future through RPG – Roger Plays Games.