Friday, March 7, 2008

DQ: Rocket Slime, LEGO Star Wars II and traveling with a PS2



I travel for business in the summer months and the DS usually provides me with more than enough gaming enjoyment to sate me until I return home and can fire up a console or my Astro City.

For this trip, I decided to bring along my DS as usual, but also my PS2, which I had never done. I'm pretty embroiled in Persona 3 at the moment and a post about it is WAY past due (look for one soon). I just couldn't leave my house without my console.

I had noted that most TV's in the hotels I have been staying at had the three-plug connection for my PS2, so I felt pretty good about being able to play on the hotel TV without any problem.

I had also brought along my iPod and it's aux. adaptor kit which I use in my car as I had noticed that most rental cars have the capability to use an aux. port.

And, of course, Murphy's Law hits. No aux. port in the car and only an RF plug in the back of the TV. Damn.

Radio Shack, by the way, is a wonderful place. I found one in downtown Boston on my second day here that had an RF convertor, which you can plug your PS2 into and connect it to the co-axial port in the back of the TV so that you can play your PS2 problem free on any TV in any hotel. Fantastic!

After my last appointment, I got back to the room, plugged it in and viola! A working PS2 right in my hotel room. It instantly made my bland hotel room feel like home.

I had brought along three games: Persona 3, of course, but also Yakuza as it got pretty good reviews for a modern RPG which was unfortunately sold as a GTA 3 clone as it came out during one of the many iterations of the famed franchise. Rounding out the trio was LEGO Star Wars II - The Original Saga as I have heard nothing but good things about it and the series in general. I had also heard through the grapevine (Player One Podcast) that there will be an LEGO Indiana Jones series as well. If it is anything like the LEGO Star Wars series, is a must-buy.

I decided to fire up Lego Star Wars and give it a go first and man, it has to be one of the best games I have ever played. The controls are simple and the interface is easy to navigate in and out of stages. Home is actually the Mos Eisley Cantina. The game is really, really funny and very enjoyable with so many Star Wars in-jokes for fans. There is even a hidden area in the first game where you can get an Indiana Jones-style fedora for Han Solo. Brilliant.

The PS2 version has all three games in the first series, Episodes IV, V and VI (Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi) and they are all playable seperately, but I decided to play them in order.

There are also a ton of secrets in the game. For instance, once you beat a stage, you can return with characters you have unlocked by buying them, killing them or playing them in the main story and get to other areas previously unaccessible, adding a certain degree of replayability for those of us who are a bit OCD. This would be me.

I finished Episode IV and I am on the third stage of Episode V and loving it. The story mode has FMV cut scenes which are so well planned and put together, it belies belief. Think Star Wars geeks meet video game geeks with the writing quality of a very, very good parody and you're about there. There is no spoken dialogue, but the mutterings of the characters do a very good job of mimicking the actual dialogue, which I think I know by heart by now.

It also doesn't hurt that as a child, my two favorite things in the world were Star Wars and LEGOs.

For DS fare, I brought Dragon Quest: Rocket Slime and it was throughly enjoyable, but relatively easy overall. I didn't expect it to be a tour de force (note: this is not a Star Wars pun) and it was fun for what it was, which was a simple RPG. I heard someone once refer to Super Mario RPG as "My First RPG" and this definately feels a bit like that.

I played through it in about a day and a half, but I had a lot of down time (six hours alone at the airport). It is about a ten hour game and can be played in short bursts. It plays a bit like Pokemon, a bit like Dragon Quest and a bit like Legend of Zelda - The Phantom Hourglass. You do lot of collecting of other slimes (100 total in the game) and of course, I had to get them all.

The battle system is split into two parts. First, there is normal stage battling, which is all action based like Phanton Hourglass and then there are tank battles. The tank battles are very enjoyable as you have to load your tank up with ammo wich you can find, have gifted to you for saving a slime or create once you save the alchemist Krak Pot early in the game. Once the battle starts, you collect ammo from a few areas in your tank and load it into the two cannons on the top floor and fire away.

Later in the game, you get other tank mates who help you out via two tactics available to you for each character (although, some only have one action they can perform). The tank battles are the best part of the game and I got pretty into collecting items to build ammo, which you do by throwing items onto carts located in each level that return the item directly home with out supervision.

The end boss was fun, the story was cute and it definately gave me ten hours of enjoyment.

Strangely, I never got around to playing Persona 3...

Now I have to get back to LEGO Star Wars Episode V before I have to pack up my now mobile PS2 and fly back to cold, cold Chicago.

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