Tales of Hearts R is the JRPG I’ve been waiting for

It’s been way too long again, and life has been super busy. Since my last post, I left my retail job, moved to London, and started a PR internship. From November, I didn’t have any time for gaming, as I was concentrating so hard on doing well at the internship, which would hopefully turn into a full time, permanent position. Thankfully, from January 5th 2015, I am a permanent, full time graduate trainee, and I’ve started to make some time for my favourite things again. Of course one of those things is video games.

And now that Christmas has been and gone, new games have made their way into my life, and for the first time in a while I’m trying to make my way through one game before moving onto another, and Tales of Hearts R is that game at the moment.

13929800394_942a49d208_zTales of Hearts R has really taken me by surprise. I’m a fan of the Tales of series anyway, but there’s something special about this one. One of the things I’ve noticed, is that I’m actually using the battle system properly, instead of just button bashing. In the past, I have never used the guard function, so I just went in all guns blazing, and it usually worked in my favour. However, this time I find myself guarding a lot more often as it has a real function, instead of just reducing damage.

1119639573The story is also pretty damn good too. It’s totally generic, and the characters are huge JRPG stereotypes, but I’m absolutely fine with that. Readers of this blog will know that I’m a sucker for an old school JRPG, and this serves old school style up in droves. I’ve not been bored for a single moment, and even the random encounters battle system hasn’t frustrated me too much. The character conversations are cheesy, but I’m genuinely invested in how party relationships are evolving.

Tales-of-Hearts-R-FMV-Footage-1-747x309I’m about 15 hours into the game at the moment, and it’s showing no signs of slowing down. If you’re a fan of classic JRPGs, and are looking for a great PS Vita game, you can’t go wrong with Tales of Hearts R. Unfortunately the DLC is ridiculously expensive at £7.99 for each set of costumes, but the outfit additions you get throughout the game satisfies the need for humorous character customisation, without the hefty price tag.

Other games I got for Christmas were Borderlands The Pre Sequel and Danganropa Trigger Happy Havoc. After I finish Tales of Hearts R, I’m planning to move onto Danganropa, as it’s something I can dip in and out of on the way to and from work.

Am I missing any amazing games on the PS Vita? Let me know in the comments!

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Murasaki Baby is all I wanted, and more

Murasaki Baby was released yesterday, and I picked it up for the more than reasonable sum of £6.39 with PS+ discount.

I’ve been eagerly awaiting Murasaki Baby for quite some time, as it looked like just my kind of game. It looked dark, creepy, and involving. It really reminded me a lot of LIMBO, which is one of my favourite games on the Xbox 360.

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I’ve stayed away from reviews mostly, as I wanted to form my own opinion of Murasaki Baby. I did manage to see that it only lasts about three hours, and a lot of players thought that the touch controls get in the way of the graphics. I’ve only played the game for a short period of time, but I’ve really enjoyed it so far, and while I appreciate what many reviewers are saying about the touch controls, it’s nice to find a Vita game that actually makes good use of both the front and back touch screens.

The back touch screen is used to change the environment you’re in. Some environments scare monsters away, while others may produce rain or wind. Each environment serves its purpose, and it’s a nice little extra, and as I said, a welcome use of the back touch screen. It also really helps bring colour into a game that otherwise could be quite bland by default.

The front touch screen is used to control Baby, and her balloon with simple finger swipes. It’s not just Baby you have to look after; her balloon is just as important. If her balloon pops, then you’ll have to start again from the last checkpoint, and believe me, there are so many things that can pop that balloon. You will shout, and you will swear if that balloon pops. Not just because it’s frustrating, but because Baby will start to cry, and it’s just heartbreaking.

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The lack of any actual voice acting, aside from the odd creepy exclamation of ‘Mummy!’ from Baby every time she thinks she’s getting that little bit closer, make it a really unique experience. This is why I compare it again to LIMBO. LIBMO didn’t need voices. It didn’t even need a soundtrack, and the story came across beautifully.It really is a challenge to create a story with no voices, and Murasaki Baby does it just as well as I was expecting.

I for one am loving the innovative idea of Murasaki Baby, and don’t regret spending the money I did on it. It looks stunning, plays well, and makes you think about what to do next without frustrating you too much and making you rage quit.

If you’re not a PS+ member, you can grab Murasaki Baby for £7.99. It might seem expensive for an indie game, but if we don’t support the indie devs, we’ll never get anything different.

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Rising Star Games Haul

I see a lot of beauty bloggers writing about their clothing and make up hauls. While, as a woman, I do still have these hauls, the ones I am most proud of are my gaming hauls. See, while most women are always on the lookout for the biggest and best deals on their favourite make up or clothing brand, I’m currently on the lookout for the biggest PSN sales. And this week, that was the Rising Star 10th anniversary sale.

I love Rising Star. I love their games because they’re just so damn addictive. Their sale on PSN was just too good to miss, so here’s what I bought, and what I make of each one so far:

Harvest Moon Innocent Life  (£2.40, PSP/PS Vita)

This is actually the one I wasn’t convinced about, but the one I’ve been enjoying the most so far. I’ve always been intrigued by the concept of a futuristic Harvest Moon, and it’s not exactly as futuristic as the synopsis would lead you to believe. I won’t spoil anything, but it maintains a focus on farming, along with various other bits and bobs to do. My favourite thing is definitely that it appears there is little need to bond with the residents. There’s no giving gifts to your object of affection, when that time could be spent harvesting crops and tending to your livestock. While I am enjoying it though, it really does just leave you to it, which is both good and bad. I’ve had to check online several times to see what I’m exactly meant to be doing for any form of progression. I’ve killed a good 8 hours on it so far though, and is quite nice to play before I start work in the evenings.

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Futuristic farming never looked so…traditional?

Harvest Moon Hero of Leaf Valley (£3.60, PSP/PS Vita)

I was actually a little disappointed with this one. I’ve always had a bit of an issue with the console attempts at Harvest Moon as they just never translated well from a handheld, and this feels like a console game on a handheld. The movement of the character is very slow, and the focus has been taken away from farming, and is more focused around building relationships with the residents, which is something I’ve never been keen on. For me, a Harvest Moon is about farming. It’s about making enough money to get more upgrades, more equipment, and getting enough materials to build an extension on your house. This just feels like a poor attempt if I’m honest. I will give it another chance though. Just as soon as I’ve stopped being addicted to Innocent Life…

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A lacklustre modern attempt at a classic

Virtue’s Last Reward (£8.25, PSP/PS Vita)

I have to be honest, I haven’t played Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors, and I really should, but I might just brush up on the story online unless I can grab a cheap copy in town. It’s something I always looked at and thought ‘I’ll buy that one day’ and never got round to it. I’ve not had the opportunity to play Virtue’s Last Reward yet, but I’m excited to get stuck into it. Apparently it’s more like a visual novel, where you make choices that affect the gameplay, and some of those choices sound like they might have some dire consequences for some characters. Sounds like my kinda game.

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A dark visual novel

Rune Factory Oceans (£7.20, PS3)

I really wasn’t sure what to expect from this. The critics slated it, calling it boring. However, the general gaming public seemed to love it, so I thought I would give it a go. The voice acting is a little bit grating so far, but I can get used to that. Cutesy animation is never going to have stellar voice acting to go with it in my opinion. Anyway, from the looks of it, it’s going to take a while for me to sink my teeth into this one as I’ve only just acquainted myself with all the residents, so no farming or adventuring has really happened so far. I’m looking forward to getting home from work in the evenings though and having a nice relaxing session on this little beauty.

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Cutesy farming, with a side of action

Half Minute Hero (£3.00, PSP/PS Vita)

I’ve always been a bit intrigued by the concept of this game. To be honest, I knew very little about the game, but at £3.00, I couldn’t say no. I’ve had a bit of a dabble, and it’s actually a really good idea. It’s a nice little game that I can jump into for a short period of time due to the time constraints on the game, but a nice little challenge.

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Pixelated, chibi fun

In summary, I got all these great games for a really good price, and if you like the sound of any of them, you have until 12am GMT 18-09-2014 to get your hands on them. The full sale can be found here.

Long Time, No See

It’s been two months since I last updated this blog. It’s not because I haven’t wanted to. Believe me, updating this is one thing I really do want to do, however, I finish university on May 7th, and that is consuming my time at the moment, understandably. Along with having very little time to update, I am saving up to move down to London with my other half at the moment, which is eating into my gaming fund.

I just thought I would take this opportunity to do a quick update about where I’ve been, what I’ve been up to, and my general gaming ponderings at the moment.

This Christmas just gone wasn’t a heavily gaming based one for a change. My parents bought me a PS Vita, which I absolutely love, but due to the financial situation I’ve only been able to download the PS+ games; I don’t actually own a physical copy of a PS Vita game yet. I’m not even sure which ones to buy to be honest, because I’ve just been sucked in by all the PS Store sales, so I have Spelunky and Hotline Miami that I’ve actually purchased. Oh, and FFIX, but I just couldn’t resist the Square Enix sale. Ironic that the PS Vita Slim is announced just as I get the original, but to be perfectly honest, I’m glad I’ve got the original. The Slim doesn’t really appear to add anything else, aside from £’s.

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Aside from that, my gaming time has been very scarce. Lightning Returns has been released, and I have to say I’m quite glad I don’t have time for it at the moment, because it looks terrible. It’s almost like Square Enix have thrown away everything that made Final Fantasy good. I can’t believe they’ve taken such a bad character and made her the focal point of a terrible trilogy. It’s received some terrible reviews from the public and the critics. All I can say is, bring on FFX/X-2 HD next month.

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I’m still waiting for Bravely Default to drop in price, but again, I probably won’t be getting hold of this until May time. Bravely Default looks to be the JRPG of the year so far, but it’s early days.

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That’s it from me for now. As I said, May 7th is my final deadline, and I’m optimistic I’m going to graduate my Journalism course with at the very least a 2:1. It’s been a tough three years, and I’ve neglected this blog a lot in favour of my degree, but I hope that what I’ve learnt I will be able to transfer to here, and start making this blog as great as I want it to be. If you want to keep up to date with what I’m doing/ranting about until I return in May, then follow me on Twitter @Debus42. Is there anything you want me to write about upon my return? Let me know in the comments. I’ll try to post before then, but I can’t promise anything.

Tis the season to be uninterested

Every year my love for video games wanes for one reason or another. Now appears to be that time of year. This year I have the added stress of uni work taking over, but in the past few weeks I just don’t have the time, nor the energy to turn on any of my gaming consoles. A quick recap on what has caught my interest though.

Final Fantasy XIII-2 was about 5 days late, which made me severely rage. Then my Stray Sheep Edition of Catherine was late because Amazon didn’t actually bother to check they had it stocked before release date. Both arrived eventually, but in the end Catherine held my attention a lot more.

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All style, and still lacking some substance

*Sigh* You know, I was really hoping to get a lot more from FFXIII-2 after FFXIII was such a disaster. It started off well, and yeah they’ve fixed quite a lot of the things that were truly awful in the original game, but it hasn’t held my interest at all. Instead of holding your hand you’re literally just thrown into this world without even the slightes hint about what you’re meant to be doing. I’m currently trying to find invisivible treasure with the help of Mog (The awesome Moogle that unfortunately does have a tendancy to grate on you occasionally). Mog can cast some form of magic that reveals hidden chests, but his radius is very small. Trying to find treasure with such a tiny radius is beyond frustrating.

The story is also a little bit confusing to me personally, with a lot of assumed understanding, and typical JRPG repeating of what has been said (as if that will have it make any more sense). All in all, a bit disappointed, but I will go back to it once I have some time over Easter.

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Catherine has stunning visuals, and quite a deep story at times

Ah Catherine, you did not disappoint me in the slightest. Before I begin, it is important to note that Catherine really is not for everyone. For the men out there that just want to look at 3D rendered boobs, there’s a hell of a lot of man bashing in it. If you’re cool with being berated for idiocy, then carry on and play. That being said, this isn’t a game for women, nor is it a game for men. It’s a game for those who enjoy puzzles, the visual element of it is just a bonus. I played this with the man, and we both had a good laugh at it. The story is a little bit complicated, but it resolves itself at the end with a bit of a twist I wasn’t really expecting. The puzzles can be fiendishly difficult without the help of a YouTube video or two, but that doesn’t really remove from the enjoyment of is. I’m on my second playthrough, manipulating the ‘Good and Evil’ scale in order to see a different ending (and whore some achievements out of it).

Aside from these two games though? I haven’t really played anything else. I’ve spent the weekend playing Dungeon Village by, you guessed it, Kairosoft and that was really enjoyable. It could have had some more substance to it, but I’m on my second playthrough of that as well.

It's beautiful, and awesome. 'Nuff said.

A list of things I have no interest in

There are a lot of things being released at the moment that the world seems to get excited over, but I just can’t seem to find it in me to care. The PSVita is one of them. Why on earth would I want this? I have a PSP, I don’t need or want a PSVita. How many people are still playing their PSVita as much as they were on release date? If you can prove that there are many, then I tip my hat to you.

Another thing I don’t care about is Mass Effect 3. It’s no secret that I hold no love for the Mass Effect series. Not saying it’s not a good series, because it is, I just can’t find myself to care about the story. ME3 also has Jessica Chobot in it. Not entirely sure why, but I’m not even going to start on my rant about that. This is certainly one game I won’t be buying.

I still find myself waiting for that one game that will consume my whole soul and not let me leave until I have finished it. Someone please guide me to the place that this game is. Even Skyrim hasn’t held my attention that much, mainly because of not having the time to engross myself in it.

I hope this phase of disinterest disappears soon, as I’m a bit bored of not wanting to play my games.