Archive for September, 2010

Valkyria Chronicles II: Final BLiTZ Codes [Updated]
September 30, 2010

Hopefully everyone that’s stumbled upon the Quester’s Log has heard of Valkyria Chronicles (PS3) and its PSP sequel Valkyria Chronicles II. The former is in my opinion the PS3’s best SRPG, let alone one of the system’s best games; and the latter is Sega’s follow-up, a game that allows players to take Valkyria Chronicles with them on the go.

Truly the sequel (and the recently announced 3rd entry in the series also debuting on the PSP) owes its existence not only to the solid concept of the original Valkyria Chronicles, and abundant critical praise, but also to a loyal fan base who loudly supported the game here in America and ultimately made the game a success story for Sega of America.

And as a way of thanking fans for supporting the series, the Sega of America blog has been providing DLC codes for Valkyria Chronicles II that unlock special bonuses, such as characters from the original game (Selvaria Bles among them!), clothing for your troops, and stickers from Sonic the Hedgehog to Skies of Arcadia to adorn your tanks. There have been numerous codes handed out to date that you can glean from in their Community BLiTZ newsletters and you’ll be glad that you did as there’s some neat stuff to be had there for use in-game. But they say that all good things must come to an end and today’s update will be the last. But apparently they’re going out with a bang and will be releasing four final codes that they’re excited enough about to partner up with the Official Playstation Blog to help get the word out. Very cool of them to do all of this I gotta say.

Here are the final four BLiTZ codes, though I hear we shouldn’t necessarily rule out more DLC down the road:

Nintendo 3DS (& Virtual Console) Details!
September 29, 2010

Nintendo (Japan) detailed the 3DS in their press conference Wednesday and, as expected, some exciting news followed:

The 3DS is scheduled for a February 2011 release in Japan, a March 2011 release in Europe. There’s no official word yet on when the United States will see the 3DS, but estimates are around March 2011 as well. In Japan, the hand held system with cost 25,000 Yen, roughly $300 in U.S. dollars (though perhaps we’ll a little cheaper in the U.S. and Europe?) and includes a 2GB SD card, retractable stylus, and charging hub in the price. Further, in addition to the 3-D technology it employs the system includes communication abilities that allow it to transfer information from user to user with multiple in-game and real world applications, internet usage, 3DS camera, 6 paper cards (utilized for augmented reality games), a pedometer, Mii hub, and plenty of other features likely to receive more press in the days and months to come. So, yes, expect the 3DS to land Nintendo more than a few sales and contribute to a very successful future — I know I’ll be picking it up.

The Nintendo 3DS software line-up for Japan includes:

  • Animal Crossing
  • Chocobo Racing 3D
  • Dead or Alive Dimensions
  • Dynasty Warriors Chronicle
  • Kid Icarus: Uprising
  • The Legend of Zelda: The Ocarina of Time 3D
  • Mario Kart
  • Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater
  • Nintendogs + Cats
  • Paper Mario
  • Pilotwings Resort
  • Pro Baseball Spirits
  • Professor Layton and the Mask of Miracle
  • Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D
  • Resident Evil: Revelations
  • Ridge Racer 3D
  • Star Fox 64 3D
  • Steel Diver
  • Street Fighter IV: 3D Edition
  • Super Monkey Ball

And please reference the following video for the Nintendo 3DS Japanese Launch trailer with a look at the games themselves:

[Update: Also worth noting is that the 3DS has a Virtual Console service of its own, allowing players to purchase and download Game Boy and Game Boy Color games. Possibly Game Boy Advance games?! Hopefully we’ll hear more on that soon.]

Eagerly Awaiting Guild Wars 2
September 29, 2010

I’ve been fascinated with NC Soft’s Guild Wars MMORPG series, the world of Ascalon and its many characters since the original was released several years ago (its ‘free-to-play’ shtick didn’t hurt either). I can happily say that I own the core game and it’s final expansion, and that I’ve really enjoyed the occasions when I’ve been able to sit back and spend a few hours exploring. Sadly, the time for me to do that is always at a premium these days it seems, but that certainly doesn’t stop me from anticipating Guild Wars 2, particularly if the innovations it’s making might be helpful for the player, like me, that’s forced to take things a little more casually.

To that end, what they’re attempting to accomplish sounds exactly like what I’m looking for:

Our goal with Guild Wars 2 is to flatten out the leveling curve, keeping progression simple and straightforward. We expect everyone to make a reasonable amount of progression with each play session. It shouldn’t take days of playing before you feel like you have made any progress, and you definitely shouldn’t have to kill a bunch of creatures or do a bunch of repetitive tasks just to see what’s over that next hill. We want our progression to keep up with your play style. If you’re a casual gamer who plays for a few hours here and there, why should you feel like it’s going to take you a decade to finish your character? If you’re a hardcore player, why shouldn’t you be able to blast through the game with skill and speed, trying to experience every last bit of content?

…overall, we expect our content to be the driving force behind how long it takes to do things in-game. Anyone can increase the length of an experience bar and call it content, but our world is filled with an almost endless stream of things to do. We expect content—not long, grindy progression—to be the deciding factor that keeps people playing our game. We want everyone to stick with Guild Wars 2 because our content is fun and enjoyable, not out of some dogged determination to slowly, slowly advance. And because our world is ever-changing and dynamic, you can play our content again and again! Two characters journeying through the game will have two different experiences, which means the game will remain fresh for all you out there who enjoy making a million characters.

So, if you’re tired of the size of your experience bar controlling the pace of your progression, and you’re looking for a simple, content-focused progression system with endless potential for enjoyment, Guild Wars 2 is for you.

Anyone else in the same boat? Speaking for myself, this is very welcome news and I love the idea of simply starting all over if by some miraculous chance I get through everything I had hoped to experience the first time around. And, yes, as Dragon Quest IX; Sentinels of the Starry Skies (DS) has recently reinforced, apparently I am one of those people that likes creating a million characters.

Then, of course, there’s Kekai Kotaki’s art that comes to life throughout the game (literally from the ground up), which is reason enough for me to be anticipating this one as much!

[GW2 concept art from Kotaki’s Cake Mix blog.]

Nintendo Power Celebrates 25 Years of the NES!
September 28, 2010

Now what notable RPG character sprite is missing?

For your viewing pleasure, the November issue of Nintendo Power celebrates 25 Years of the Nintendo Entertainment System, and does so in fine fashion with a silver retro cover  featuring the iconic sprites of the many classic NES games that released on the system, fold out Mario Poster (informing us that, alas, our princess is in another castle) and a 26-page feature celebrating the NES/Famicom console with a look back at the system’s ultra-successful history, tributes by some of the most famous game talent in the industry, as well as articles on the classic games and heroes that have attained  legendary status in the years that followed. I haven’t finished the issue in full yet, but it’s a nice tribute, and I appreciate that Nintendo Power took the time and money to to take us on a trip back. This issue might be worth tracking down at a local retailer if you don’t currently have a subscription.

Anyhow, I think I’ll leave my own first experiences with the NES for a future post here in the near future, but I definitely wanted to pause for a moment to commemorate the anniversary and think back to those glory days. Enjoy the sprites!

*And the answer I was looking for was Dragon Warrior’s hero, Loto!

Dragon Quest IX Log: Quest #139
September 27, 2010

Quest #139: Has Sellma Sold Out?

Finally had the chance to fire up Dragon Quest IX again today after not being able to play much in the last couple of weeks and one of the things I really wanted to get to was finish Quest #139: Has Sellma Sold Out?, a recent DLC Quest that allows the player to recruit Sellma — DQIX’s resident DQVC host — from Errin’s Inn to join your team. Like, Patty, after successfully completing the quest she’ll be able to join you on your adventures as a playable character, initially of the Priest class unless you decide to grant her a new vocation.

Here’s how to go about completing Quest #139 and recruiting Sellma (I’ll try to keep it relatively clear of story specifics) :

At Erinn’s Inn, speak to Sellma behind the counter, and then to Erinn, where she will (cautiously) direct you to the banker in the Inn. Speak to the banker from behind the counter and you will receive the Guestbook. Then return to to Sellma behind the counter where she’ll ask to see the Guestbook, and will proceed to peruse its contents. Leave the inn and you will see a scene shedding light on why she needed the Guestbook. Following the scene, head to Gleeba. At Gleeba, enter the palace and make your way to the Plumbed Depths (accessed through the Queen’s bathing quarters) and make your way through the dungeon until you see a small scene upon entering through the Magic door. From there, make your way to the Graveyard and descend the secret stairs to level B3. A scene will follow between Sellma and an infamous crime boss. Following the scene you will fight his beloved pet (certainly no problem for anyone who’s beaten the game, or likely above Lv. 30).  Following its defeat there will be a scene between the player and Sellma. Once the scene has ended return to Stornway and speak to Sellma behind the counter where she’ll happily reward you for your aid. Upon completion of the quest Sellma will join your party anytime you need her help.

I still haven’t settled on a vocation for her just yet (I already have a powerful Priest) but I’m leaning towards a Martial Artist or Warrior as she doesn’t immediately come off as such and that sounds kind of fun.

Now if only they’d make Pavo a playable character! It would be great to play as a Celestrian, particularly if you could utilize her great[er] power during the Post-Game Content, grotto hunting, et al.

Q4 2010: What I’m Picking Up…
September 27, 2010

There’s a lot to look forward to in the coming weeks and months. As always, Fall and Winter seasons are jam packed with dozen(s) of releases and while I can only manage to snag a couple of these games at launch this year, here’s what I’m looking forward to picking up:

Epic Mickey (Wii) – I love classic Disney and am grateful to have bookshelves lined with classic comics featuring Carl Barks’ Duck tales, Floyd Gottfredson’s Mickey Mouse adventures, and video collections chronicling Disney’s pioneering animation from the 1930’s to present. I treasure these, and while I’m always a little hesitant to hear of a Disney game release (given their hit-and-miss natures) it didn’t take long for Warren Spector’s Epic Mickey to win me over. It definitely didn’t hurt to find out that Spector is a huge fan of Disney’s classic source material and that he was a huge Floyd  Gottfredson fan, as is evident in his interviews. Knowing as much immediately let me know that he’d have a firm grasp on Disney’s flagship hero (given that Gottfredson really refined Mickey’s appeal as a character) and that I’ll likely appreciate the direction that the game takes. And…Oswald! Thus far I’ve been fascinated by most all the info. that’s been garnered and previews that we’ve seen and am awful excited to see what Spector and Disney Interactive Studios pull off here in the end. Look for it on November 30th.

Kirby’s Epic Yarn (Wii) – I don’t know anyone that’s spent any time with a Kirby game that doesn’t love the “super tough creme puff’ already, but after seeing what they had cooked up for Kirby in his newest (and long anticipated) adventure I was sold on the…ahem…yarn that they were creating. Kirby games have innovated from the beginning (starting on the surface with his ability to “copy” his foes abilities) and it appears that Kirby’s Epic Yarn looks to not only continue the trend, but blow it out of the water by placing him in a world made of yarn and various textures, adding multi-player components and retaining (and amping up) that “fun factor” that the series is so well known for.  Another plus in the games favor is that my wife enjoys playing Kirby games so this may be something we’ll be able to play together and I always look forward to that. Look for it on October 17th.

Believe it or not, these are the only two titles I plan to pick up at, or right around launch. Not that I don’t want to purchase a dozen more,  but my entertainment funds are a little more limited these days now that I’ve started a family. That said,  in the months to follow I do plan on looking seriously into the following titles as well:

  • Castlevania: Lords of Shadow (Konami; available on the PS3 & Xbox 360 on October 5th)
  • Costume Quest (Double Fine Productions; available on PSN and Xbox Live in October)
  • Final Fantasy: Heroes of Light (Square-Enix; available on the Nintendo DS October 5th)
  • The Sly Collection (Sony; available on the PS3 November 16th)
  • Vanquish (Sega; available on the PS3 & Xbox 360 on October 19th)

What’s more, it appears Q1 and Q2 2011 aren’t going to let up in the least. What’s your forecast for the coming months, what games are you looking forward to most?

Starcraft Battle Chest!
September 23, 2010

It appears that while I was happily playing Age of Empires there for several years, that Blizzard Entertainment released an RTS entitled Starcraft (something or other) and that it just happened to become one of the most critically acclaimed real time strategy games, never mind one of the greatest PC games, of all time. It’s definitely been awhile since I’ve sat down to enjoy a good RTS game and I figured that it was high time that I checked out what all the hub-bub was about where Starcraft was concerned — especially after seeing how impressive its sequel, Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty looks to be.

So, I jumped on over to Amazon to see what they were offering the original Starcraft for and stumbled upon Starcraft Battle Chest which contains:

  • The original StarCraft
  • StarCraft: Brood War (official expansion pack)
  • Official strategy guides to both games

The original sale price is already a fairly impressive $19.99 (I come from an era when NES cartridges cost $60+ so I impress easily perhaps) but this week Amazon has Starcraft Battle Chest marked down to $9.99. I couldn’t resist that, so I threw it in my checkout cart and went to complete my transaction…where I was reminded that I had a $10 game credit to apply from a previous game and fortunately I’ve already got free shipping through Amazon Prime Student. So, yea, owning a couple of great games for free was certainly a nice surprise this afternoon. If you don’t own these already (and honestly, I’m probably one of the few that didn’t) you may want to consider picking it up this week at the heavily discounted price.

It All Started with Dragon Warrior…
September 23, 2010

It’s funny how things often go full circle.

My first RPG experience came in the late 80’s when Nintendo Power offered a free copy of Dragon Warrior for the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES). Like most kids my age I was going nuts over pretty much anything coming from Nintendo at the time and (recognizing my excitement) my Mom had offered to get me the subscription to the magazine to get all the gaming news I could in that pre-internet era. A free game was just icing on the cake! Eager to gobble down almost any action title on the system back then I remember the excitement at finding out what lay in store once I popped that cartridge in…just as I remember my disappointment when the game actually started. What followed were inventory screens, menus, static monsters and an open world I had to have a fold-out map to find my way through. Don’t get me wrong, I tried to enjoy the game, but I just couldn’t get past the menus, combat and random encounters. Sadly, after only a handful of attempts I stopped playing.

At the time it appeared that Super Mario Bros., Mega Man and Strider were more my speed and as a result of that first RPG experience I stuck with Mario, Sonic, Street Fighter, 007 and the more action oriented games, and really didn’t touch another role playing game until a good 10+ years later. It was actually Xenosaga Episode I: Der Will Zur Macht on the PS2 (2003) that proved to be my breakthrough game in the genre. I was looking for an engrossing story and after reading an editorial on the game I thought that perhaps this one would turn out to be something I’d enjoy, despite it being an RPG. It took me a little while to get used to the game play conventions of turn-based battles, leveling up, skill allocation etc., but unlike the last time there was this moment where everything just finally *clicked* and I really found myself having a lot of fun. I played through the game [2] additional times and to say I was hooked would be an understatement (still love the Xenosaga series btw). Obviously I’ve since gone back and played, or attempted to play, a number of the classic RPG’s I had missed during my self-imposed exile from the genre — and ultimately that led me back to Dragon Quest.

I had felt guilty for some time about my first experience with the series, and when Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King (PS2; 2005) was announced and I saw those first screens, well, I knew the game would have to be my first foray back into the world that Yuuji Horii and Akira Toriyama had painstakingly created — and dang if I didn’t pick a fantastic DQ game to jump start me back! I was so enamored with DQVIII, what with its dynamic world, rich characters and addictive game play that not only did I figuratively face palm myself in the head for not realizing its greatness back then, but I also decided to use it as a springboard to start up my own Dragon Quest collection. I quickly re-obtained that original NES version of Dragon Warrior, hunted down gently used versions of the Game Boy Color DQ Remakes I-III, Dragon Quest Monsters I-II, and DQVII for future rainy days.  I scarfed up Rocket Slime and Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker for the DS a couple of years ago, Dragon Quest Swords: The Masked Queen and the Tower of Mirrors for the Wii, and of course, the shiny new versions of DQIV and DQV on the Nintendo DS which with the future release of DQVI will bring the series up-to-date here in the states. Of course, Dragon Quest IX: Protectors of the Sky hit U.S. several months ago now and 150+ hours in to the game it has certainly earned a place in my Top-Ten already…but more on that down the road.

Point being, Dragon Quest has become my favorite series in gaming in spite of my initial frustrations with the original, Loto/Roto (the original DQ hero) is one of my favorite characters, RPGs are my favorite genre and, truth be told, after 20-something years I even picked up a subscription to Nintendo Power again recently, so as to enjoy some of those nice 3-4 page spreads again. Yes, things really do often come full circle.

Welcome to the Quester’s Log!
September 22, 2010

Welcome to my humble Quester’s Log. Feel free to kick your feet up.

By way of introductions, I’ve been playing video games (responsibly, honest!) since picking up those Pong paddles in the early 80’s and thought it was high time that I created a place where I could share my thoughts on the games I was playing, news, exciting announcements, concept art…whatever. I know there are plenty of blogs out there for just that, but I know I always enjoy reading yet another good one so hopefully this will be a place that you can stop by and relax for a few moments and shoot the breeze.

Japanese RPG’s and SRPG’s are my favorite genres, so likely those games will see a little more air time here, but expect to see everything from Ace Combat to Ratchet & Clank to Mega Man, Metroid and in-between as my interests run the gambit.

Consider this a Quester’s Inn as much as a log. Glad you stopped by.

*Dragon Quest IX: Sentinel’s of the Starry Skies concept art courtesy of The Dragon’s Den, a long running fan-site where you should definitely consider hanging your hat if you’re a fan of the Dragon Quest series.