Atelier Ayesha Review/Discussion: Atelier Hwhat, Bobby

An atelier is a workshop usually associated with artists or designers. Just putting that there for reference, because I’ve had to define it for at least one person before. Got it? Good.

The Atelier series is a long-running development project and the primary flagship series of Gust, one of the more prolific and constant mid-tier JRPG developers. The core concept behind them is that of alchemy; you gather materials either through exploration or combat, use that to craft items, and then utilise these in battles or for quests and such. While many RPGs contain some kind of crafting or material system as a secondary feature, the Atelier series focuses on it as the primary strength, with everything else being secondary.

With this slightly difference focus, one may wonder: just who is this kind of game for? It’s a question a friend has, in fact, asked off-handedly before. Atelier games lack or have reduced focus on the usual strengths and highlights of the more notable JRPGs; the battles are more about what you bring into them than how you execute strategies with the party on hand. The stories and characters don’t tend to stand out among the bigwigs of Persona or Legend of Heroes, often leaning to fairly plain designs and personalities highlighted from a stock standard list of anime tropes.

Yet the games continue to be made and continue to maintain a decent following. So it was that, during my never ending search, I dug up an Atelier game or two that I had picked it up mostly out of curiosity at the time but had never fully invested myself in: Atelier Ayesha most notably. I started it pretty much the moment the new year began, and then finished it in rapid succession, making it the first game I played to completion in 2019. Now I have quite a few thoughts about both Ayesha, and the series as a whole.

So who is this game for? Turns out it might just be me.

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Some Games I Liked From 2018’s Second Half

For the games I liked from the first half, here’s a link to the post. Assuming you don’t want to scroll down a screen’s length, anyway. Don’t say I don’t look out for you~

Just as I am somehow delivering another (hopefully) great post within a week of the last one, so too did it seem that the second half of 2018 was dropping an intriguing title in our laps at much the same pace. This breakneck schedule seemed to continue pretty much until the first week of December, whereupon it took a quite breather for the holiday season and then is slated to get right back to it in just a few days.

Looking at you, Tales of Vesperia. Can’t even give me time to fully digest the FF14 patch updating as I write, can you?

So let’s get right back to it then. First, a couple of footnotes of sorts that I could have included from the first half, then right back to the second half of 2018, culminating in a quick talk about my favourite game of the year at the end. I’ll have plenty more to say about Yakuza Kiwami 2 than what’s here, but keeping to the 2-3 paragraphs trend for this article seems to suit me well.

Continue reading “Some Games I Liked From 2018’s Second Half”

Some Games I Liked From 2018’s First Half

My personal favourite game of the year for 2018 was Yakuza Kiwami 2.

Amazing how short this can be when I skip all the preamble, huh?

Regardless, welcome one and all to the other side of 2018. Love it or hate it, it was an interesting year for video games. There was a slew of stellar indie titles, some absolutely incredible high budget games from big triple A studios that were purely single player or console exclusives… and there was a continuing, unrelenting downwards spiral into a late-stage capitalist hellscape which saw more backlash and discussion from gamers than I’ve ever witnessed before despite all that.

Single player games got better, multiplayer games didn’t (for the most part), fan-favourite company goodwill was squandered, burned, and ultimately lost, and we’re all starting to feel quite bitter and jaded of the whole hobby.

With all of that in mind, I’d still like to draw attention to some of the games that I quite enjoyed throughout 2018, which I’ve picked from a list of game releases I found on Wikipedia. The list proved too long and unwieldy to fit in one article, so I’ve split it based on the first half of the year with the latter to come around Soon™.

I don’t plan to draw it out or make a spectacle of it like the hideously late Delfies, though I will draw special attention to and write at length about my favourite game that I mentioned up there afterwards. Instead, I’m going with the abridged format: no more than 2 or 3 paragraphs on each game, and the only criteria was that they released from January to June and I played and enjoyed them. Let’s begin.

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Xenoblade Chronicles 2: A Focused Look at the Systems and Flaws of the Combat

Xenoblade Chronicles 2 came out in December, and I played about ten hours of the game in that month before putting it down for other titles. I did enjoy those few hours, but there were a lot of issues with it that kept it from gripping me at the time.

Eventually, I did come back to it about six months later, and did power through it to completion. That took an additional 100 hours of playtime, give or take, with a lot more content that I could still go and do; that should give you an idea of the size and scope of the game. It did improve considerably as it went, but there were times even dozens of hours in when I found myself saying “I’m not sure if I love this game or hate it.”

But still, results speak for themselves. I got through the game and overall quite enjoyed my time. The conclusion was satisfying, and some of the plot developments and twists were quite enjoyable. There were nice and unexpected tie-ins to the first game that made it worthy of being called Xenoblade Chronicles 2 in ways that X was not. And then I ended up binging the sizeable expansion that released shortly after I finished it, enjoying that also.

Now, as much as I like the game, plenty of those flaws do stick with me. There’s a lot of questionable game design in there that I wanted to deep dive into, going over what works and what doesn’t. That was originally the purpose of this article; alas, like many of my writing projects of late, it didn’t pan out as intended. It’s been about two months since the first draft of this article was written, which probably comes as a surprise to absolutely no-one. That said, I want to put something out there, so I’m repurposing what I wrote into a more focused article.

I could talk about the Xenoblade series as a whole quite a bit on many levels, and perhaps I shall do so at some point. For now, this article is taking a good look at the fairly interesting combat system that Xenoblade Chronicles 2 offers, and why it ends up being so flawed and clunky despite the promise.

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The Delfies 2017 Abridged

It’s about the time of the year when one would start considering contenders for their game of the year selections. Many strong titles have released already, there’s a few right around the corner, and the big release season is about to kick off and continue pretty much until the end of November. A good chunk of the games that might be considered are already out and being thoroughly digested already.

…And then there’s me, still not writing up his picks for 2017. Go figure.

I said a couple of months back that I was going to do an abridged version of the remaining Delfies, and I genuinely did attempt to do so. Only issue is that, in true Delf fashion, it took me no time at all to continue rambling until the abridged versions… weren’t so abridged. When there was always something more to say, I wanted to make sure I was saying as much of it as possible, and as I got closer to #1 it only got more unwieldy.

Now, it’s August. I should have had this up in January. At this point, it’s nothing but a mental thorn in my side that’s serving as a writing block that keeps me from wanting to put to paper any other topics on video games and utilising this blog as intended. I’m going to fix that here and now, and get the Delfies out of the way so it no longer weighs me down.

So: a single paragraph! That’s what each of the remaining seven games is getting, no more and no less. You know where to find me if you want to hear more in-depth thoughts on each of the games, and no doubt I’ll have plenty to say about them in future discussions. For now though… let’s just get this over with at long last, shall we?

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Backlog Battle Report (5th Feb 2018)

Rumours of my death have been greatly exaggerated.

I hadn’t been intending to skip over the last couple of reports, but with the focus being on keeping up with the Delfies I didn’t get the chance to write it. Clearly, I didn’t really keep up with the Delfies either. After having to put Right Click to Zoom to an intermittent release schedule due to not meeting my regular plans, you’d think I’d know better, but alas! I’m still working to get those written and out as quickly as possible, so do stay tuned.

Given that I was trying to write a lot during the skipped weeks, I didn’t play all that many different games at first. After three weeks though? Well, I’ve accrued quite a bit of playtime in various games and sampled a few titles, so I’m going to hit as many as I can. Let’s go.

Super Robot Wars J (GBA)

At some point a few weeks ago, I got to talking about mecha in a Discord chat. Very soon a handful of us were nerding out about our favourite giant robot anime or games, our favourite robot designs, and other such discussions. I love this stuff, but this knowledge tends to lie dormant for extended periods up until something reminds me about that love.

In this case, the discussion was enough for me to immediately go out and order a couple of giant robot games to fill the void. Problem is, good games that utilise good series and designs don’t tend to be all that common of late. I wanted to go to the heart of it, but in order to do so I would have to order a couple of games that don’t get western releases.

Rather than have to muddle through Japanese menus and incomprehensible plots, however, I nowadays have the option of ordering games from Southeast Asia that have cheaply done but perfectly functional English translations. The only catch is that those usually take a few weeks to ship. So I ordered my mecha fix, and then immediately was left waiting for it to arrive… meaning I had to take stopgap measures in between.

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The Delfies 2017 #9

Assuming you don’t count any Switch titles as exclusively handheld games — and the jury is still out on that one — then this is the sole appearance of a game on a handheld console this year. Given that the 3DS has mostly been supplanted by the Nintendo Switch and the PS Vita continues to barely exist outside of Japan, this might be the last hurrah for solid handheld exclusives for the rest of the console generation.

That said, it feels fitting to me that perhaps the final game on the 3DS to get this distinction is also a glorious return to form for a long absent series, as well as a solid reimagining of a classic game.

Delfies 2017 #9: Metroid: Samus Returns

Genre: 2D Action/Adventure/Platformer

Played on: 3DS (Exclusive)

It’s been a while, Samus. Good to see you again; I know many missed your games, and I’m definitely among them.

2016 was the 30th anniversary of the original Metroid, but it barely received even the slightest acknowledgement from Nintendo during this time. It had been six years since the last Metroid game, unless you count Federation Force (which nobody does), and it had been even longer than that since the last good Metroid game. For a long time, the fanbase of Metroid was distraught and felt that perhaps there’d not be a return of the armour clad bounty hunter heroine’s adventures.

Instead, it took the extremely well made fan game of Project AM2R (Another Metroid 2 Remake) to acknowledge the prestigious date of the anniversary. Boasting immense attention to detail and quality pushing it well beyond what fan games had ever seen before, Project AM2R was an instant success and massively adored by players. It was sad, then, that Nintendo culled the project barely a week after its release, ordering its total closure.

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