Monday, February 25, 2008

Izuna: The Unemployed Ninja

I was interested in this game because of its old-school flavor, but having never played a roguelike, I didn't really know what I was in for.

The game system, while being familiar to people who have played other roguelikes, may be confusing to others who are use to a traditional, turn-based combat system. There are no cut scenes or battle menus, just hacking and slashing away, the A button becomming the mouse button for those familiar with the Diablo series.

Rather than going into explanations of the talismans, weapons and items, it would be best to explain how I got use to the system. I spent a lot of time trying to understand how to use talismans effectively by attaching them to your weapons and gauntlets. I broke a lot of items as I couldn't figure out how to attach talismans without overpowering the piece you were attaching them to.

Oh, and I died. A lot.

In retrospect, I probably should have read the manual.

The game's only combat is in the dungeon and each level is randomly generated. If you die, you loose all of the items, weapons and money that you are carrying on you. Bummer.

So for the first few tries, I went into the dungeon, got wiped, started over and got wiped and started over again. This went on for some time. Finally, I started to understand the talismans and how they worked (kind of like spells, armor and weapon upgrades all in one). I started to understand how to actually get out of the dungeons (using a talisman you can only find in the dungeon, not buy at first) and what it takes to survive.

There's a very steep learning curve at work here. At least for me, although general consensus is that the first dungeon is the hardest.

In truth, I totally agree. It took me a bunch of replays to beat the first dungeon, but after falling back on my grinding experience, I leveled up considerably and easily overpowered the boss at the end of it.

The next four dungeons fell in quick succession and I kind of got bored with the whole system as I had it down pat with some pretty devestating weapons. I also have more money than I know what to do with, even thought I buy healing orbs and Kikan talismans (warping out of dungeon spells) every time I get back to town.

What Izuna does right is a small, but effective number of things. Izuna herself, is a really fresh character for this type of game. She's irreverant, funny, saucy and not your typical heroine. The localization is done right, with Japanese jokes and mannerisms all left in. There are a few funny characters and some good personalites, especially the gods who you encounter throughout the game. They are most definately your typical period-piece RPG fare - serious and blue-blooded. However, when they have to deal with Izuna, she'll throw them off with her goofy comments and brash, teenage nature which adds a fun twist to what would have been otherwise boring converations in-game.

Right now, I am on the second to the last dungeon and I'm encouraged to finish it, not because of the great game play, but so that I can move onto other titles, although I am interested in the final boss battles. If I were to rate it, I would say Izuna is a good 7 out of 10 overall, but just not my cup of tea.

Ketsui DS Stage 5 screens

After a lot of screens of the DOOM boss fight, we have a few good screens on a Japanese blog of the upcomming Ketsui DS game which show some shots of Stage 5 from the original arcade game and a few more shots of DOOM.

Most people believed that this DS game would be just a simple boss rush of stages 1-5 as that's all anyone has been shown up until now, but it looks like there will be some stages from the original game as well as a 'chip attack' mode where you can play against a partner via wi-fi to see who can collect the most chips in a given stage.

No word on when this will be released, but you can follow this post on for all the latest, including the aformentioned Japanese blogs screens and a link to the blog.

I imagine there are some people who have held onto the arcade pcb for some time, waiting for it to appreciate in value and who may fear a price drop due to this DS port, so you may see a few more of these pcb's hitting the market. Personally, I think that number will be quite low and if the game can do a somewhat descent job of bringing the arcade experience to the DS, those pcb's will just gain in value as a whole new group of people will start searching them out.

Those who can shell out the cash to get one...well, that's a much smaller number indeed.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Etrian Odyssey - COMPLETED!

I finished the main game of Etrian Odyssey this morning and damn, what a hard and unbelieveably enjoyable game.

About a week ago, I hit floor 20 with the brutal FOE's and the end boss. There are about 15 of them that you have to take out BEFORE you make a stab at the final floor 20 boss. To add insult to injury, the boss just happens to be roaming around the floor and will come after you when you are in a fight too close to him. If you take him out before the other FOE's, he will respawn and you will have to kill him again to get past the floor.

I first gave it a shot when my party was at level 46, then 47, then 49, then 51 and I got wiped out every time. I had to keep leveling them up earlier in the dungeon (on floor 18 with the revitializing spring) to level 56 to be able to beat that floor. Wow. Maybe if I had an Alchemist or Troubador or something I would have had a better shot earlier on. I had to fill my bags up with Amrita II's, Nectar II's and a few Somas and spend a ridiculous amount of cash to make it past that boss. But it was totally worht it because the final floors are fantastic.

From floors 20-25, I pretty much cruised past everything, although I got wiped out a few times by these damn flowers that put your entire party to sleep. There are some tough FOE's, but you can take them all out pretty quick. There aren't any like the first few floors of the dungeon that are overpowered.

The final five floors are possibly the most maze-like in the game and very beautiful. Walking down into the 21+ floors in the dungeon was stunning. I don't want to spoil it, but there are a lot of good moments in the final few floors.

It took me a few days to make it through the last floors and fight the final boss, which seemed a breeze after the 20th floor FOE's! The ending is fantastic and the last battle has some great cinematics that open it up. Make sure you wait through the credits and save your finished game - there a few more floors to go!

There are apparently another five floors you can complete after you defeat the final boss and three new quests after the game ends and I might take them on, but I think I'll have to load up Izuna: The Unemployed Ninja first. This game kind of kicked my butt and I enjoyed the hell out of it. Having to refocus at level 20 made me more cautious and where hard work is involved, the rewards are sweeter.

For anyone thinking of picking up this game - do it. It's getting harder and harder to find and like most Atlus games, it's starting to command a premium price on the 'bay, so if you see one at your local Game Stop, pick it up and dive in.

Friday, February 15, 2008

DoDonpachi Daifukkatsu gameplay footage, reviews and pics

The responses on the boards have been fast and furious as more information leaks out of the 2008 AOU Show. Both (formerly Danmaku Dreamer) and Shmups! Forum have the best information as well as video footage and pics.

GP, aka Gaijin Punch on the forums and site guru over at was at the AOU show and posted a fantastic review of DoDonpachi Daifukkatsu and a bit about the show in general. Do yourself a favor and check it out.

From early game play footage, it looks like the dolls are actually the stage bosses this time around rather than pilots and they pop up on the screen when the boss ship is destroyed.

The gameplay is fairly reminiscent of Dai-Ou-Jou and the bullets patterns don't look too far removed from those difficult spreads. It does remind me a bit of Mushihimesama, though and I would hope that the difficulty isn't set too high to get more players interested.

Gigazine has some good footage and pics, though I'm sure if you stay tuned to the two previously mentioned forums as well as, you should get new stuff fairly frequently.

EDIT: There is also a FIVE-MINUTE video on youtube with some really good footage here:

Rumor has it that the guy with the beard is none other than GP himself. You can see whoever it is knows DOJ well as they are feathering that shot to keep the hit counter up.

Damn, I'm so stoked for this game.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

2008 AOU Show- Dolls Unveiled for Daifukkatsu

A French maid and a ...schoolgirl? Possibly Reco's distant cousin? Who knows. OK, well, not the best of news, but we have yet to see the gameplay.

Dolls aside, I'm stoked (as I know probably everyone who has checked this blog is) and I cannot wait for footage to hit the internets this weekend. The 2008 AOU show will have a few shmup forum members in attendance, so I'm sure we will see some good footage.

I'm expecting (and this is just wild speculation) that the game will have a few different difficulty settings like Mushi as the last DDP (Dai-Ou-Jou) proved very difficult even for seasoned Cave shmuppers. It would only make sense to try and appeal to the greatest number of people and Mushi's settings seem to have been quite popular, as did those of the Espgaluda port to PS2.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Ketsui High Score #2

Did you notice I didn't bother with a fresh picture of the Ketsui scoreboard? Yeah, that's because I didn't really kill my old score.

I worked on Ketsui a bit this past weekend, hoping to work some new patterns and make some magic happen, but I just ended up playing Paper Mario and Etrian Odyssey.

I topped my old score at 37,281,792 and died at the 3rd stage mid-boss. I'm working on killing that 3rd stage mid-boss without bombs, so I can get the 1up regularly. I hate bombing anyway, kind of a wussie way out and a bit of an insult to my pride when I do. I just take it like a man when the overlapping blue and red large bullets come at me at that mid-boss and die. But, to get better, you got to take risks and I know there's a good way out. I just have to work to find it.

Overall, I still dig this game, even if it owns me rather than the other way around.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Dungeon hacking goodness

I have finally reached the third stratum, level 11 of the dungeon and I cannot put this game down, even when the blood runs out of my hand and my shoulders hurt from being bent over my DS for hours and hours at a time.

So far, I have conpleted a number of smaller quests and two or three big ones and I haven't yet felt like the creators decided to 'phone it in' and start in on the repetitive tasks that get so many people bored with these types of games. Usually refered to as fetch quests, this game has none of them. You do not have to go and find eight Ogre skins, or three bird necks or five flaming skulls or ten polished spheres of pure obsidian at anypoint in time. The tasks are actually fun and motivate you to get down and dirty in the dungeon, something I am really enjoying doing.

I went to bed playing it. I woke up and started playing before I put on my glasses. I made coffee with the DS on the counter so I could tap the A button to grind out a few battles. If it was waterproof, I may have showered with it so I could work on the 10th floor a bit more.

Super Metroid is really, really, really good

After opening up my Wii and getting some time in on Super Mario Galaxy and Trauma Center: New Blood, I decided to get my classic gaming gears in motion and download some old favorites.

There are a lot of games available for the Wii's download service, the Virtual Console, but not a ton that really light my fire. Except, of course, for Super Metroid.

Now Metroid was great and the Gameboy sequel was very good and also very underrated, but Super Metroid is the shining gem of the classic 2D Metroid games.

Super Metroid moves very fast , which earlier games didn't and quite often, you ached to save the game so you could try and forget about wall jumping your way out of a deep corridor. The puzzles and hidden areas are so much fun to figure out that you constantly seek out places where a bomb might just get you into a whole new area. In fact, the first major boss fight is only accessable at an elevator point by bombing a wall.

One of the standout features of the overall series for me is the fact that there is no buddy or computer telling you what's up. In fact, you don't meet anyone ever that doesn't want to kill you. You have to solve each puzzle your self and hunt for the power-ups and energy tanks without any hints or sinide remarks from know-it-all sidekicks who just really deserve a kick in the head.

The soundtrack is also amazing and actually works to compliment the game world, much like current 360 hit Bioshock. It's creepy and exciting and it keeps you focused while being very minimal and non-intrusive.

I had beat this game a number of times years before, but the end battle still got me excited. It may be the best classic end boss battle of all time (at least in the pre-64-bit era). Instead of using cut scenes and FMV's, it uses in-game mechanics to move the story along in Mother Brains's chambers which only serve to heighten the excitement.

It is a short game by today's standards, but that works to its advantage, seeing as how it's only 8 bucks and it is a downloaded game so you don't feel neglectful of the other more expensive titles sitting by your Wii, waiting for their turn.

If you haven't played it, get it. It's a hella fun 7-hour blast and a must for any 16-bit fan.