Hump Day Otaku News Report 10.15.03

Greetings, and welcome back to the new and improved version of the Hump Day Otaku. Last week was an interesting one, because not only did I change the name of the column temporally, but it also was not out on hump day. It should have been the Hump Day BAKA News Report, but due to some sort of error, it was not available to be posted on Wednesday. For the record, I did have it completed and sent in prior to Wednesday, but apparently it never arrived, and by the time it did, it was too late. Hopefully it won’t happen again.

This week isn’t going to be quite as special to you, but it’s special to me. The report itself will still have the same improved content it had last week (except with more game stuff this time), but this week I’m off from work. Well, I work Friday, but that’s it. See, I turned 26 on Saturday, and decided to give myself a little vacation. For the record, all I got was money for my birthday, and I put it to good use by spending it on games and anime. Hurray!

For the record, I got Sims Superstar (which is primarily for my wife, but I play it too), Demikids Light, Ai Yori Aoshi 2, 3, and 4 (and will probably get the final volume this week), His and Her Circumstances 4 and 5 (finishing it off), Love Hina Again (finishing it as well), Please Teacher 2 and 3, and Sugar 3, Boys over Flowers 1, Steel Angel Kurumi 2.1 and 2.2 and Chobits 3 and 4. So expect some mucho anime reviews in the coming weeks! And with that out of the way, let’s start off the week with what most of you are here for.

Gaming News
Damn, there’s virtually no really noteworthy news this week, but I’ll make due.

Shining Tears Trademarked
Sega of America has trademarked the name “Shining Tears” and the documentation lists it as a game. It can only be speculated at this point what this release really is. It could be an entirely new game, or it could just be a re-released and renamed version of an existing Shining game. Everyone of course would rather have a brand new game, and I’m in that same crowd. So come on Sega, give us some Shining Love here.

Wild Arms: Alter Code F Details
New details have emerged on this remake of the original Wild Arms title. Previously, it was known that you could control the original 3 characters from Wild Arms (Zack, Rody and Cecilia), but it has now been announced that 3 secondary characters from the original will be playable as well. These characters are Ema, Jane and Magdalen. This game looks to be a winner, and will hopefully renew my faith in the Wild Arms series.

Final Fantasy Online Failure: Phase One
At the end of this month, the PC version of Final Fantasy Online will be released, so that foolish people can waste their money on a NAME. The game itself will retail for a full $50, and each month, you get to fork out $13 to play as ONE CHARACTER, and tack on an extra $1 for each additional character you make. Oh, and you know that minigame from Final Fantasy IX, Tetra Master? Not only was it vastly inferior to Triple Triad, but the rules were skewed and the game itself was utterly pointless. Anyway, that’s on here too, but if you wanna play, add in another $1. Fuck you, Squaresoft. You aren’t getting a DIME from me on this game. You are obviously money hungry and need a serious swift kick to the ass. Did the measly 135,000 copies sold in Japan (and that probably counts the expansions too, and doesn’t count the still active subscriptions) give you a hint? The game is a failure. But Squaresoft isn’t stupid. They didn’t make this game for the Japanese market. They made it for the stupid gaijin. And the sad part is that they may succeed. But I doubt it. Not only is it and unproven MMORPG from an unproven MMORPG company, but it’s also more expensive than the existing ones. So please, gamers, DO NOT buy into Squaresoft’s bullshit. The game is probably inferior to Everquest and Asheron’s Call 2, and more expensive. Get one of those, and tell Square that if their games have no gameplay and no story, then the game is just STUPID.

Squaresoft Wants Me Dead
After seeing the last news entry, Squaresoft has sent their psycho ninja assassins after me, in hopes of shutting me up for good. I will continue this column, but if you don’t hear from me next week, you’ll know what happened. I love you guys, and I love you mom.

Christian’s Crazy Game Releases
Keep in mind, these are ship dates and are not set in stone. Game companies LOVE to push stuff back at the last minute, so don’t blame us if it’s not right. Also, since it is a ship date, it may take several days to arrive at your favorite store, depending on what it is, so please call before rushing over to pick up a game that may or may not have arrived.

October 11
Super Mario Bros Advance 4: Super Mario Bros 3 E-cards (GBA)

October 14
Backyard Wrestling: Don’t Try This at Home (XB)
Kirby Air Ride (GC)
Spirits & Spells (GBA)

October 15
Haunted Mansion (GC, P2, XB)
Jak II (P2)
Mega Man X7 (P2)
Mega Man Zero 2 (GBA)
Morrowind: Game of the Year Edition (XB)
NBA Live 2004 (GC, P2)
SSW Dr. Suess – Green Eggs and Ham (GBA)
Virtual On Marz (P2)

October 16
Music 3000 w/Dance Pad (P2)
NBA Live 2004 (XB)
Tak & the Power of Juju (GBA, GC, P2)

October 17
Batman: Rise of Sin Tzu (P2, XB)

Release dates courtesy of Christian at Game Crazy. See your local Game Crazy to enter the Tony Hawk Underground Tournament on October 25th. You can win a copy of THUG for the system
of your choice!

Christian’s Comments: The Super Mario E-cards are kinda useless until the game comes out next week. NBA Live is going to be pretty big, but the good reviews on ESPN NBA Basketball (which comes out next week) may hurt it. Jak II looks good, but I don’t know if its difference from the first game will help or hurt it during the Christmas season. Other possible movers are Morrowind and Mega Man X7.

Lee’s Comments: Liquidcross is going to be creaming himself with the release of TWO Mega Man titles on the SAME DAY. Personally, I’m not really that excited about any of the games this week. I’m not that big of a fan of platformers, which seems to be the majority of the games this week. The only one I WOULD be interested in is Morrowind, but it just never seemed like my style of RPG. But I’m basically out of money now, so it’s not like I’ll be buying much anyway.

Survey Time
I only got one reply on this one, and of course, it just happens to be Matt Hardin! Here’s what he suggested:

Survey: Hey, quoted in full! I miss the down-lo :*( Hey, do you mind
lending me a soapbox each week in Beb’s stead? ;-) So far as what you
could add… hmm… you know, Bebito had a really good thing going with
the j-cheesecake. T&A is always a good addition. And everything else
I just came up with in the past 5 minutes is silly. So count me
stumped. Yes, you may take that as a compliment, lol.

So, he’s suggesting more Japanese womens in bikinis and more of HIM. I’ll work on the Japanese women, and Matt, as I told you before, whenever you want to say something to my adoring fans (which equals you and like 2 other people), then I’ll post it.

I was going to ask a generic question this week, but decided against it. This week’s question is about pets and such. All of my pets, except for one, are named after an anime character. I have two cats: Darrien (from Sailor Moon) and Naru (Love Hina). We also have a Sugar Glider called Sugar (yes, named from the title character from Sugar). And we also have a ferret named Mokona (Moki for short). The only non-anime animal we have is Snow, our Jack Russell terrier. She was actually my wife’s dog, and had been named before we met and I got her hooked on anime.

So my question is, do you have any pets you’ve named after video game or anime characters? Is your otakuness so profound that not only do you name your pets after a character, but soon they start to take on the traits of their namesake? My Sugar is a hyper silly thing, and she loves her pineapple, which is her version of WAFFO! And Naru, who is often times a bitch, but can also be sweet and loving. So tell me about your silly pets!

Anime News

New Ai Yori Aoshi Coming?
As you’ll see in the anime releases for this week, Ai Yori Aoshi Volume 5, which will conclude the series, is soon to be released. That’s not news, but the disc itself contains some good news. “Thank you for supporting the first TV series of Ai Yori Aoshi. However, the love story between Aoi and Kaoru is not quite over… Please look forward to the next series of Ai Yori Aoshi “Enishi (Fate)”. Personally, I think this is good news and bad news. Good, because I love the first series very much, and bad news, because it means there’s more stuff for me to buy.

Anime on TV
Two popular shows are going to be aired on television soon. The first is the ever-popular GTO, which has 43 episodes and will begin showing in November on Showtimes Sho Next channel. The other series is a personal favorite of mine, Chobits. That one will be shown on ADV’s The Anime Network. The thing that sucks about all this is that I get none of these channels. I suppose I could get Tech TV and Sho Next if I forked up more money for them, but The Anime Channel is the cream of the crop, and it’s not available here yet. I get Cartoon Network though, so I guess I can’t complain too much. Except for all the DBZ they show.

Suncoast Closings
Musicland has announced that they will be closing 150 Suncoast and Sam Goody stores after the 2003 holiday season. While I could care less about Sam Goody, Suncoast is a great place to buy anime. Sure their prices aren’t the greatest, but if you want anime and you want it now, there is no better place to find it than Suncoast, unless of course you actually are lucky enough to live in a town with an honest to goodness anime store. Anyway, the Suncoast I go to puts VERY heavy emphasis on anime, which is surprising considering it carries ALL TYPES of DVDs, yet they cater to one crowd. All I can say is that I hope the Suncoast here doesn’t close.

Why You Must Own Witch Hunter Robin
You know, whenever I watch a fansub and get excited about a show, I usually forget about 1 major detail. See, I’ve only gotten excited about 3 shows this much: Noir, RahXephon and Witch Hunter Robin. I go and get all excited and completely forget to think about the dub actors. Yea, it’s not important to everybody, but it is to me. Anyway, Noir and RahXephon turned out great in the dub department, so why should I feel otherwise about Witch Hunter Robin. Anyway, as is customary, when we popped in Love Hina Again, we watched the trailers before anything else. And what did my finely trained ears hear? I had to rewind to make sure. Well, sure enough, the voice actor for the main character of WHR is none other than Crispin Freeman! Holy shit! I was joking with Matt Hardin that it’d be a hard sell to get my wife to want the series, because she wasn’t that fond of it. And you know what? I think good ole Crispin will do it. Good, because I want that f*cking series!

AODs Weekly Anime Release List
October 14
Ai Yori Aoshi Vol. #5 (Geneon)
Angelic Layer Vol. #1 w/ box (ADV)
Bandit King Jing Vol. #3 (ADV)
Beyblade Vol. #5 (Geneon)
Demon Beast Resurrection Collection (Anime 18)
Demon Beast Resurrection: Soul Survivor (Anime 18)
DNA2 Collection (Central Park Media)
DNA2 Vol. #5 (Central Park Media)
Full Metal Panic Vol. #4 (ADV)
Heat Guy J Vol. #2 (Geneon)
Initial D Vol. #2 (Tokyopop)
Legend of the Dragon Kings Vol. #3 (Central Park Media)
Lupin the 3rd TV Vol. #4 (Geneon)
Master Keaton Vol. #3 (Geneon)
Neoranga Vol. #5 (ADV)
Nightmare Campus Vol. #5 (Anime 18)
Patlabor: The Original Series Vol. #1 (Central Park Media)
Revolutionary Girl Utena Vol. #9 (Central Park Media)
Risky Safety Vol. #2 (AN Entertainment)
Saiyuki Vol. #5 (ADV)
Sugar Vol. #4 (Geneon)
Super Milk-Chan Show Vol. #1 (ADV)
Time Stranger (Central Park Media)
YuGiOh Vol. #14 (FUNimation)
YuGiOh Vol. #15 (FUNimation)

Thanks to Anime on DVD who posts these release dates and I rip off on a daily basis. This site is one of the best places for anime news and reviews, as well as having the best anime forum on the web.

Release of the Week: Demon Beast Resurrection Collection
To be honest, this was a very difficult decision, due to the fact that I know virtually nothing about most of these shows. So I went with something that is not only out of the norm for me, but something that may be disturbing to everyone. This collection is hentai, pure and simple. It most probably involves tentacles and rape, and likely is not for the weak of stomach. So if you’re in to that kind of thing, this show is for you! So please, if you are under 18, don’t bother.
Purchase at The Right Stuf.

Anime Bargains from TSRI
Matt Hardin actually suggested this a while ago, but I held off until now to post it. Anyway, there’s one site out there that many people regard as the best place to find anime at the best prices. They’re called The Right Stuf International (or TSRI). Every week on Thursday, they release a list of bargains which is usually 15-50% off retail prices. So from now on, I’ll start posting a link to their Weekly Specials and running down some of the best buys of the week. Keep in mind, they’re posted on Thursday, so you’ve only got one day to make your purchase!

This Week’s Specials

As always, almost every deal is great, but some are just unbeatable. Case in point is their still running deal on the Gasaraki Perfect Collection. It’s a great series, and you get 26 episodes for $55. This was the deal I got, and it’s hard to beat. Though not really a bargain, a wacky deal they have this week is for Soap Bars of the Noir Girls. They’re cute and they’re Otaku Bars. It says so right there on the outside! “A Pure Powerful Anime Clean!” ADV is nuts. Here’s another deal that I just noticed and am considering getting, if it stays around for a few weeks. Knight Hunters (Weiss Kreuz) DVD Box is on sale for a low price of $59. Don’t know diddly about the show, but that’s a good deal for a 26 episode series.

That’s it for this week. Come back next week for some more great deals! Oh, and as an added bonus, here’s a link I forgot to throw in a few weeks ago. It’s for the coolest DVD boxes EVER. Paul Champagne designs these kick ass metal DVD boxes, and he shows a lot of love for anime. They’re pricey (like $40 per box), but are all beautiful. Check out his stuff.

Mini Anime Reviews
This is week one of my psycho anime reviews. I’ve got a lot to watch, which means we all win! Well, unless you don’t read these reviews, in which case you lose and you’re a loser. These reviews rule and you know it. Anyway, keep coming back in the consecutive weeks to see me go nuts over anime!

Love Hina Again
Love Hina is arguably one of the most popular shows to be released here, but as with most shows, there is a bastard child of the family, and this is it for Love Hina. Very few people that mention the show talk about it without scorn in their voice. Lucard will not admit it exists! But is that really the case?
Story: Keitaro has done it. He’s finally able to go to Tokyo U! When he gets there, he gets so excited that Naru punches him and causes him to break his leg, which means he doesn’t get to go just yet. He ends up going with Seta on an archeological dig, and while he’s gone, his step-sister Kanako manages the Hinata apartments in the hopes of driving Naru out of Keitaro’s life. Hilarity ensues.
Animation: As will all the LH releases, the animation is superb. All the characters are well designed, and are designed in a way to show that they have matured. Colors are used well as always, and everything sets the mood well.
Voices: Not a whole lot to say here, really. All the previous dub actors and actresses returns. The only new character is Kanako, she’s played by Tina Dixon, who is best known as Edward, from Cowboy Bebop. She played the role given to her perfectly. And all the other actors do a great job, as usual. I haven’t watched it subbed yet, so I don’t know how much Wendee Lee changed this time around, but chances are, not much considering the existing subject matter.
Packaging/Extras: This series was originally 3 OAVs, so it ends up being like 3 episodes on this one disc. The normal cover shows Keitaro and Naru running from the whole crew + Kanako, while it features a reverse cover that shows Kanako, Keitaro and Naru. Both covers are pretty underwhelming. The disc itself has a beautiful picture of a sad Naru. The insert has the same picture as the normal cover on the front, the cast list on the back, and the inside has a picture of all the girls in the hot spring. The extras on the disc itself were somewhat underwealming as well. It had the opening and all 3 closings in a no-text version, which is nice, but it’s all but standard now. The only real added bonus is outtakes. Personally, I love outtakes, so I was excited about this. When I think of outtakes, I think of the ones off Lunar. Sadly, I was vastly disappointed. There were a total of 4 outtakes. It lasted no more than 3 minutes. Come on Bandai, you could have done a lot better than that.
The Verdict:: B-
I honestly don’t get why people hate this show so much. Unlike the Spring Special, the story wasn’t all fluff. The basis of the story ends up being less about Kanako, and more about Naru. She has to make up her mind as to what she want kind of relationship she wants with Keitaro. So while it starts out fast and hilarious, it is slowly toned down and ends up sad and touching at the same time. I think it’s an excellent transition from all out comedy to somber drama. Plus, for you fans of fan service, there’s a decent amount in here. Definitely a lot more than in previous episodes. So while I think the release isn’t as good as the actual series, it is much better than the Spring Special, and it wraps everything up in a definite way this time, but still in classic Love Hina fashion.

Links to the Past

Retrograding – Alex Lucard
Even though he’s not our “leader” per se, to say that Alex Lucard is a mentor to most of us is an understatement. In this column, he outlines the State of 411Games, and what is coming in the future. So we hope you like what is coming soon.

Retrograding Advance: Shining Soul Review
This was posted two weeks ago, but didn’t show up in the proper place, so here’s where you can find the new version. I haven’t played the game yet, so I can’t really comment on the game itself, but is it just me, or is this one of the most entertaining reviews out there?

Thank God It’s Thursday News Report – Bryan Berg
This week, Mr. Berg goes over the ESRB’s new label, the Mario Kart Bonus Disc, the PSX, and the new Zelda collection. One thing he also mentions is the Half Life 2 source code hacking. The whole thing smells fishy to me. Yes, I can understand that 1/3 of the source code for the game was stolen. Yes, I can understand that people could use said code to cheat in the game. Yes, I can understand that at least one person, and probably multiple people, f*cked up royally and will be fired. Seriously, how stupid is it to have source code THAT accessible? Anyway, having this stolen does not explain why they would lose money and why they have to push the game back. Are they going to re-write the 1/3 that was taken? I highly doubt that. And I also doubt that any code was deleted. What I think is that the game wasn’t ready yet and this is an excuse to push it back and not make them look bad. Then again, I’m not an expert. If anyone can break it down for me, I’d appreciate it.

The Angry Gamer – Liquidcross
Liquid makes a lot of good points in this one, which deals with what games are “kiddie”. This is something that we’ve gotten pissed at lately, in particular when some retard on the Penny Arcade forum bashed our Gamecube review because not only Pokemon Colliseum, but also Harvest Moon: A Wonderful Life were kiddie games. The same people are probably saying the same about Demikids (I can tell you right now, it’s not a f*cking kiddie game”¦any kid would lose patience after 10 mins). So to you assholes who call a game kiddie before you play it, get off your high horse and get a life. There are some games that can be easily considered kiddie, like Barbie and Mary Kate and Ashley games, but Pokemon and Harvest Moon are made for many age groups.

Gamer’s Hangover News Report – Cory Laflin
Congrats, Cory. You’ve got me rooting for the Chiefs. And they’re still undefeated. Oh, and thank you kindly for the Pimp Coat. I’ve been wearing it everywhere. Since it’s one of a kind, people see me on the street and instantly have to get my autograph. I could have used a Pimp Stick too, because damn these people are all over me. Keep in mind that this all happened in my head.

The Gamer’s Conscience – Frederick Badlissi
Fred wants to save you money. So rather than you looking for the best bargains, he hooks you up with 3 – count em – 3 sites that allow you to save money on your gaming habits. Fred is a very, very good guy.

411MAX: News News Revolution – Alex Williams
Williams is a god among men. Well, we all are, but he’s one of us, and that’s saying a lot. Anyway, it could be argued that I am a fanboy or an anti-fanboy myself. And to be honest, I WAS a fanboy at one point. Now I am a much more objective gamer. I give Squaresoft a lot of shit because I get SO pissed at the potential they throw away. They haven’t made a total package game in YEARS. I love them and I hate them too. Oh, and Alex, let me take a jab at the Ngage. I went to Gamestop to get Demikids and some anime, and right next to the GBA section was the Ngage section. I shit you not, I seriously considered unzipping my pants and pissing on it right then and there. And I may have if my bladder wasn’t empty. Oh, and if I didn’t have this inherent fear of going to jail. But if those two problems were taken care of, that Ngage display would have been SO pissed on.

A Thumb to the Eye – Chuck Platt
While Chuck is a cheap game whore, I’m an expensive game whore. Case in point: 2 of my favorite games were, at one point, on the VERY high end. Castlevania: Symphony of the Night used to be VERY hard to find and I loved it and found myself very lucky when I found it in a Sony Electronics store. Not a game store, mind you. It’s since gone down in price a lot though. The same cannot be said for another favorite, Suikoden 2. The game is going for an upwards of $50-80 on ebay, which isn’t too shabby considering the age of the game. And really, it’s the best of the series. I do need to get in to the cheap Dreamcast thing though, because I love the DC, but don’t have many games for it still. I need to remedy that.

The Lucardian Review

I’ve never done this before, and I may never do it again, but I thought I’d give it a try. We’ve been throwing around different methods of reviewing, in hopes of having a uniform review system. This method was developed by Alex Lucard himself, and breaks games down in to more categories, including more ratings. I personally like having these extra categories because it helps give you, as a consumer, a better idea whether or not you’ll like a game. This may become a standard with the rest of us, but maybe not. We’ll see. To see a breakdown of how the method works, check out Lucard’s explanation in a past edition of Retrograding.

Final Fantasy Tactics Advance
Genre: Strategy RPG
Platform: Gameboy Advance
ESRB Rating: Everyone (Alcohol Reference, Mild Violence)
Developer: Square Enix (Division 4)
Publisher: Nintendo
Release Date: 09/08/03
Official Home Page: FFTA @ Square Enix USA

In 1997, Squaresoft released Final Fantasy Tactics and just about every RPG had something to say. The game was very high quality and was very well designed, but people complained that it wasn’t really a Final Fantasy game because not only was it not developed by Squaresoft themselves, but it was also what considered to be a cookie cutter strategy RPG. It was made by Quest, one of the best Strategy RPG developers in the business, but in reality, they could have made the same game with different enemies and names for items and such, and it’d still be an excellent game. Despite these complaints, the original IS a good game, due primarily to the great (if convoluted) story and top notch gameplay. So a sequel was a foregone conclusion.

Fast forward to the present. Squaresoft got eaten by Enix, and Squenix is born. Square has not been producing as many titles as they did in their heyday on the Playstation. I’ve gone from a poor college student to a poor drunkard. And finally, Square has decided to release a sequel to Final Fantasy Tactics. The sequel is two milestones: first and foremost, it marks the return of Square to Nintendo hardware, and secondly, it is the first game by Square Enix Division 4. These guys have their work cut out for them, since they’re following the masters of the Strategy RPG, but the question is how did they pull it off?

The story begins in the present in a town called St. Ivalice. As the game starts, we witness a snowball fight between two sides: one side populated by bullies, and the other side populated by, for lack of a better term, the wussies. The bullies are picking on one kid, Mewt, who just so happens to carry his teddy bear to school. Keep in mind that he’s at least 13. But he should be allowed to be a little weenie and carry around a teddy bear because his mom is dead, and his dad is a drunkard. Sticking up for Mewt is our “hero”, Marche, who is the new kid in town. His parents had recently divorced and his mom and his brother moved out to the country. See, Marche’s brother Doned is confined to a wheelchair and apparently has problems breathing or something, and has to take medication. When the bullies pick on Marche, Ritz steps up. Ritz is a spunky chick who don’t take shit from anybody. What’s her big, earth shattering flaw? Her hair is WHITE. Shhhhh. She dyes it every morning though, but people still tease her.

Anyway, this group of social sob stories gets together and becomes best buddies in the span of about 5 mins. Mewt goes to a book store to buy a book. But not any book, it’s the f*ckin NECRONOMICON!! Well, not really. It’s some book in Latin or something. The kids lament about not being able to use magic or fight with swords or anything like that. Then they talk about how they love video games, and how they wish they could be in a game like Final Fantasy. WHAT? No game should ever make reference to itself, unless used for humor purposes. This game is very serious in that, and it’s just wrong.

After the friends go home, an odd thing happens. Their world changes. Instead a modern setting, it is now a medieval setting. Marche awakes in full battle garb and must fight a lizard. He meets a moogle called Montblanc who helps him out, and Marche joins his clan. In their adventures, they meet up with Ritz (who has turned into a bitch), Doned (who has turned in to a prick) and Mewt (who has turned in to a spoiled f*cking brat). Really, the only characters that are GOOD are the ones that DON’T TALK. The whole clan thing is written very poorly because your clans are essentially gangs, with turf and all. The stupidest thing is the bounties you get on people, you go and try to kick their ass even when they say they didn’t do it. What kind of message does this give to kids these days? Guilty until proven dead, baby!

In all seriousness, the story for this game is VERY poorly written. And not in a “let’s smoke another bowl” kind of way. In a 100 monkeys at 100 computers kind of way. Really. Every time a story scene would occur, I’d cringe beforehand in preparation. Granted, a lot of it was dialogue, which can be blamed on translation, but they couldn’t have f*cked the story up this bad. It was bad to begin with.
Rating: 3.0

Note: I screwed up and wrote this before realizing that there is no Gameplay in the 10 point system. Ooops. Well, this time it’ll be an 11 point system.
On the surface, the game plays like a standard strategy RPG. Battles take place on a grid with varying degrees of terrain that plays a part. Your characters all move around a certain amount of spaces on the grid and can attack within a certain range, depending on the weapon. In lieu of a traditional RPG world map, where you actually walk around and encounter enemies randomly, there is instead a point A-point B style map. Like I said, it’s pretty standard stuff up until here.

The main focus of the game is on your clan. Your clan is the group of people you have that you control in fights and do missions with. Almost every battle is based around a mission. You go to a pub, contract the mission, pay a finders fee, and go complete the job. There are two different mission types: battle and dispatch. Battle types are straightforward in that you simply go to where the job says (or more likely, DOESN’T say) and fight a battle. Win the battle, and you complete the mission. Lose the battle and you die. The dispatch missions are the same as they were in the original FFT. You pick a party member, and assuming they meet the requirements, they will go on the mission for a set number of days, battles, or enemy kills. I feel stupid because I didn’t notice the surefire way to see if they are capable of completing the mission on this screen. If they’re jumping up and down, they’ll win it. I didn’t notice this until halfway through. When you complete the missions, you get money, items, AP, and clan points. The clan points will raise your clan level, which doesn’t serve a whole lot of purpose, but as you go on, you need certain clan levels to access certain missions. Also, it gives you items on certain clan level ups.

The job system is completely different than in FFT. Rather than getting skills based on experience, you instead need to equip specific weapons that match the job you have, and after gaining a certain amount of AP, you learn the skill. This makes it a lot like Final Fantasy IX, but it is executed rather poorly here, because typically it’s the weapon’s power that is important, but now that isn’t the focus, since it’s only the skill. Add to that the fact that the weapons come at different times, so it’s possible that you’ll get a really crappy weapon later that gives a good skill that you need. It just could have been done better. In addition, there are multiple races, which is cool, but each race has a specific set of jobs they can do, which is a limitation I’d rather not have.

Another important part of the game is laws. Every battle (with a few exceptions) have laws. The laws forbid certain things (like White Magic or Greatswords), and suggest other things. Breaking the law will cause the judge (present in virtually every battle) to slap you with a Yellow Card as a warning, or a Red Card, which sends you directly to jail. Don’t pass go, don’t collect 200 gil. Someone probably used that already, but I DON’T CARE. Later on, you can collect antilaw cards, but it’s usually pretty easy to just not break the law. It’s pretty frustrating when either you forget about a law, or when they get you on a technicality. Either way, I think the laws were added to make it more challenging, but it’s doesn’t succeed in that regard.

The last thing I’ll mention here is the world map. After certain story missions (cringe), you will gain a piece of the world, like a town or cave, and you place it on the gameboard-like map. Depending on where it’s placed, it will give treasures in connecting areas. Normally, this would be cool, but the explanation of how to get the best items was not explained all that well, and it ended up being a pointless feature to me. Add to that the fact that the whole idea has been done before, in games like Legend of Mana, for example.

So overall, while most of the things here were executed well, others were executed poorly, and nothing was all that original. I enjoy the gameplay, but several things were just too frustrating. Good effort, but not great.
Rating: 6.0

These are what I expect graphics to look like on a Gameboy Advance. And to be honest, my expectations for Squaresoft are much higher than every other company in this department. So I’m somewhat disappointed in the fact that the graphics in this game are only slightly above average. The character sprites are good, but not all that detailed. The only real detail comes from the character portraits. So while it’s refreshing to see that they didn’t focus entirely on graphics for once, I also know that they can do better.
Rating: 6.0

This one is going to be easy. The sound effects are all what you’d expect from a game of this type. Sword strikes and death cries are all standard. The music is what’s important, and sadly, it falls flat of the mark. Though not bad by any stretch of the imagination, it doesn’t use the hardware to its fullest capabilities. There are only like 5 or 6 tunes I can think of, and none of them are all that special. Then again, games of this type aren’t really known for great music, but it wouldn’t hurt it anyway.
Rating: 6.0

The controls in this game are not only simple, but they are also very fluid and become second nature in under a half hour of play. The only thing I wasn’t able to figure out quickly was how to scroll quicker in the item menus, but that was as simple as holding down L when scrolling. So they did everything right here.
Rating: 9.0

This is a hard call for several reasons. For one, the game doesn’t end when you beat the final boss. You can still play and try to finish all the missions. So that adds something, but not much. There is only one ending, and no random aspect to the game, so when you win and finish the missions, it’s all there is to do. Really, after a while, the tedium of trying to accomplish mission after mission gets to you, and you can’t really help but want to quit. Will I play this game again in a few years? Not likely.
Rating: 2.0

This game doesn’t ever really change in difficulty. Sure, there are some battles that can be difficult, but that’s usually because the enemies have a REALLY jacked level. For everything else, the game is easy, even when working around the laws. And some of the missions were just annoying because you’d either have to wait an ungodly amount of battles/days for them to end, or you’d get someone thrown in jail for something stupid.
Rating: 4.0

This game is basically just a hodge-podge of already used ideas. Take for example the learning skills from weapons from FFIX. Or the area placement and biorhythm, taken from Legend of Mana. Or everything else, taken from Final Fantasy Tactics. The only thing in this game that is original is the Law system, and as I’ve stated, that’s flawed.
Rating: 2.0

Squaresoft did something very right with this game by making it quicker than FFT, because it’s easy to pick it up, play a few battles, and put it down. Penny Arcade even devoted a comic to that. But despite that, I found myself playing it for many, many hours. So I’ll be nice here, because for the majority of my 70+ hours of playing the game, I loved playing it and had a hard time putting it down. It was really only after winning it that the missions became TOO frustrating and boring that I couldn’t play for more than a few battles at a time, and then not at all. Sadly, I did not complete all 300 missions. But I did enjoy everything before the end.
Rating: 9.0

Appeal Factor
Will Jonny-Come-Lately like this game? Probably not. It was made primarily for fans of strategy-RPGs. Even though it was easy as hell for me, it’s probably not going to be easy for the average non-RPG gamer. Squaresoft didn’t really cater to that crowd, though Nintendo did. But I don’t think that any person who doesn’t enjoy strategy RPGs is going to like this.
Rating: 3.0

It’s hard to think of something that’s here that hasn’t already been said before. I suppose this would be a good place to put the gameplay section, but that’d throw the order out of wack, so I’ll just mention one thing that pissed me off. Shops in the game had an option for Trade Items, where you could go and buy a random item at a price that may have been too high for what you got or low for a cool item. I thought this was a really cool thing because I had a ton of money and nothing to spend it on. I had 99 of every consumable, and at least 2 of everything else. So I bought all the Trade Items that the store had. I read that you have to Link to another player and battle or something to get the Trade Items to replenish quicker, but I thought that there’d be something there eventually. Nope. Once you buy the trade items from one town, they’re gone from ALL the towns forevermore unless you Link. Which is STUPID. To require something like that makes no sense to me. So by the end of the game, I had an assload of money and nowhere to spend it. I HATE it when games do that.
Rating: 3.0

Ratings Summary
Story: 3.0
Gameplay: 6.0
Graphics: 6.0
Sound: 6.0
Control: 9.0
Replayability: 2.0
Balance: 4.0
Originality: 2.0
Addictiveness: 9.0
Appeal Factor: 3.0
Miscellaneous: 3.0

Average: 4.81

THE 411: Yes, in the Drive-By, I rated it a 7. But going through and examining the game, and my feelings for the game, more in depth have made me realize that it’s not THAT good. It’s fun, but not THAT fun. And I think people who are more inclined to play strategy RPGs over traditional ones will probably not like it as much, due to the lack of originality. But it is fun for a while. I’ll give it that much.

Overall Score: 6

Well, I hope you enjoyed this week. I’ll be back again next week (if the Square ninjas don’t get me) with more of the same. I’ll have more anime reviews for sure. Don’t forget to read my Demikids: Light review, along with Alex Lucard’s Dark version, coming up either this weekend or next week. Have fun. Otaku pride, bitch! Kujikanaeekara!

Lee Baxley is THE Bad Guy. When not downing a bottle of some alcoholic beverage, he can be found taunting people by either throwing his toothpick in their face or feigning fright, or sometimes even both. Despite these pastimes, he still enjoys playing RPGs and watching anime. You can read about his further exploits on his blog.