Virtual Console is pretty fantastic every once in a while. There are big periods of nothing puncuated by great games, like Do Re Mi Fantasy: Milon's DokiDoki Adventure, a Japanese Super Famicom game and the sequel to Milon's Secret Castle, a fun NES game from back in the day.
I am pretty picky about what I buy on Virtual Console and after I heard one of the Joystiq guys talk about how much fun this game is and that it is a rare treat to get such a good imported game, I decided to bite the bullet and pull the trigger. Those may be two conflicting analogies, but whatever, internet. You get my point.
The game play is pretty simple and classic, a fantastically copmpetent platformer in the vein of Super Mario World or Yoshi's Island.
As you gain new abilities each stage, they are explained using pictographs, even showing what buttons you press on the controller, so you don't really need the translated version of the text to figure it out.
I'm on the seventh stage and play a bit each night. It's easy to start up, fast to get into the action and a refreshing change from the myriad of JRPG's I have been playing lately.
Now, I'm a huge fan of Disgaea, having played through the first one, buying the second one and the psp version, as well as the soundtrack, so it was an easy decision to get Disgaea 3 when it came out. In fact, this was the only game I have ever pre-ordered and got a nice, little soundtrack compilation as my pre-order bonus - yeah! I would be playing it as we speak, probably even forgoing this post to do some more leveling up, but for one problem.
I don't own a Playstation 3.
This isn't the first time, or the last I have bought a game for a system I didn't own. I own a few Saturn titles and have never owned a Saturn. I own some Famicom and Super Famicom games, and I don't own either of those systems. I just find myself not wanting to miss out on something, knowing that I can get the system sometime in the future. Especially something as fantastic as another Disgaea title.
I know that I will be buying a PS3 shortly - especially when Valkyria Chronicles comes out in a few months. But, man, there are a lot of good XBox 360 JRPG's comming out that I probably won't want to miss out on either. I may have to get some of those as well.
Well, I'm stoked. This is the first time I have made it to stage 5 on 1 credit and I even got a new high score all at the same time. This was certainly my best run so far - heading into stage 4 I had five lives in reserve!
Stages 1-3 are pretty routine now and the stage 3 midboss, which was giving me some trouble previously, is no longer a problem. Stage 4 is comming along, though the nightmares at the end of the stage still require a bomb or two to pass. Those things are brutal!
I haven't really worked stage 5 all that much so it took me out in very little time, but I did manage to get past the first large airplane without bombing, only to die shortly after. Really, just getting to stage 5 was a thrill and I was happy with that, but getting a new high score with 64,625,438 really put the icing on the cake. Especially since I have been sick with the stomach flu for the past five days!
I should be on my way to the clear before the year is up, but stage 5 is hard as hell, so I'm taking it slowly.
Killin' it! Very close to 800k and one of my best runs yet for a new high score of 797, 975.
I must have played about 100 games of CC today and I put together some great runs, snagging gemeaters left, right and center and getting really solid at 8-2, Cross Maze and all of the stage 9 boards. In fact, in this high score run, I didn't lose a guy until 10-1 after losing one on 8-2.
A lot of the game is touch and I can feel the board a lot better now and see ahead of what I am doing, which is key to being able to deal with some of the weird pattern changes the compouter AI likes to throw at you. I have along way to go to start getting to the goal of 850k, but I can feel it comming.
On this run in particular, I left a lot of the gemeaters alone after having some good, smooth early boards, but really worked some of the later boards which up until now I have been pretty weak on.
Been working on stages 8-1, 8-2 and 9-3 to pick up some extra points this weekend and knocked out a new high score, but using most;y old patterns.
I have also been trying to get to 10-1 without losing more than one life (as you gain two on your way to the end) so that I can get the max life bonus, a good 60k. I did make it to the end with three extra lives, but lost one when the skeleton at the top of 10-1 decided to walk into the lane I was using, which I haven't seen him do, so I was pretty bummed. I did finish with a 20k life bonus and botched some earlier boards, so I think the 800k game is right around the corner, but we'll see.
Quick anecdote: I was playing this morning and made it to 10-1 with no lives left and died right as I collected the last gem. The game counted it as a finished game for a score of 769k, which became my new high score for a few hours. I was pretty surprised to say the least.
For the past two weeks, I have been fully absorbed in Crystal Castles and a bit of Mushi Futari, but also a couple of really good console titles, Final Fantasy Tactics A2 and Mana Khemia - The Alchemists of Al-Revis, a seriously under-appreciated PS2 title that's got me seriously addicted.
On the classic arcade gaming front, I have spent my time working on a few boards in Crystal Castles and not really going for a high score, so I haven't had to post anything new to increase the size of my classic gaming e-penis, but I have been busy gaming on it nonetheless.
The October CAGDC tourney (classicarcadegaming.com - for those who've never been there - go!) should happen and I want to post an 850K score, which means I'll need to really work some of the level 8 boards, namely 8-1 and 8-2, the Cross Maze, which is a bitch, and working to max the life bonus, which is worth an extra 60K. I have been able to add another 20K to my score, snagging some gemeaters and getting the extra gems, so I should be on track to do well, but as I have enever broken 800K on CC, I know I have some work ahead of me.
This morning, I was on track to beat the holy hell out of my high score, reaching 9-4, Bertilda's Fortress with the short tower and four guys in reserve. As I started the board, what had been an overcast day turned into an obnoxiously bright one, casting some serious glare on the arcade screen. I died five times trying to finish the stage, unable to see the board or the killer balls. I should be depressed, and I am, a bit, but I'm still stoked that my skill set is building quicker than ever and I am really excited to see what lies ahead.
STG-wise, I have been working Futari's Maniac stage 2 with some success, but the counter maxing is tricky and is taking some time to get use to. The game is a hella lot of fun, but really spanks you when you mess up as most of the time its due to waiting too long to max the counter before cashing it in for double the gems, rather than just working the shot and collecting the base amount. The graphics and music are amazing and I always pause to marvel at what Cave accomplished with this one. I'm hoping to see 200K soon, but I also have DOJ here after Dave left it a week or so ago and its starting to call to me. And hell, I still have to work on the ESPrade clear. And maybe another Ketsui high score...
A while back, Mana Khemia came out and garnered some luke-warm reviews as another ho-hum JRPG, but the more I read about it, the more intrigued I was. I bit the bullet and picked it up one week while driving home from work, passing one of the five Game Stops in my area. The day I opened it up and started playing, I was immediately hooked. It combins the best elements from previous NIS titles, namely a fun story and simple but deep menu layout and adds a dose of FFX, but with layer upon layer of depth. I have about 35 hours into it and am just finishing up with chapter 7 out of 12. The graphics are a bit bland, especially after viewing some Vanilleware titles who take 2-d sprites to a whole new level, but you quickly forget the simple graphics when you are cycling through all the wonderful menus. Addictive and fun with a pretty good story and suprisingly good voice acting (Vayne is voiced mny the same guy who did Akihiko from Persona 3).
FF Tactis A2 is jst super fun. Way too addicing and more refined than previous FF titles. I have been pouring in hours playing this and even though it lacks some of the depth of Disgaea, its is a very fun and interesting Tactics title. The auction mini game is typical of the FF franchise, simple and fun and adds a good break to the game evey few hours of battling and grinding. The added character classes are fun and I have found myself doing the 'one more battle' thing too much when trying to walk away to play or do something else.