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mookysam

@Kidfried The theme of the cycle of abuse was very interesting and quite thought provoking. In all I actually think they handled it very well. As it is a theme not often broached in games, it was quite bold that the developer even went there. Each of the antagonists had extremely deep scars inflicted by various forms of abuse, which was sad to see and certainly added more depth. Where it is typical in many other games for bosses or antagonists to simply "be the bad guys", it's not that simple here.
For me one of the most shocking parts of the story was when it was revealed that the person you thought was a "good guy" is actually a paedophile. Whilst the children had to be stopped, this alone lent weight to the central theme.

Unfortunately the game is full of "fan service" and characters are inappropriately sexualised. At its worst, during an encounter with Monaca where each hit strips her of an item of clothing until she runs off red-faced in her underwear [/spoiler], it even undermined what the developer was trying to say and inappropriately poked fun at [spoiler]how she had been sexually abused.

#BlackLivesMatter

PSN: mookysam

Ralizah

Kidfried wrote:

Concluding? This was my personal favorite Danganronpa so far. I know that's not a popular opinion, but for me this game just hit a lot of the right buttons.

Oh wow. Someone actually likes it more than I do! Glad you took to it. It's an extremely cool spin-off, I think, and, aside from the VERY troubling sex stuff and fanservice (it's not as bad when it's Mikan and mostly treated as a joke, or when it's Junko and used to add to the disturbing atmosphere, but a bunch of emotionally traumatized children is probably the right time to maybe start showing restraint with the fanservice; also, I'll never not be shocked that the molestation machine bit wasn't cut, lol), a great addition to the franchise in terms of the depth it adds to Toko, the interesting setting it explores, and the new characters it introduces. It's also nice to get some worldbuilding that doesn't (primarily) revolve around You-Know-Who. That Hit List, in particular, is great in this regard.

I loved the music, too, even if it was a bit limited in this entry. Each track adds something unique to the game (even the horrible, carnival-esque music whenever the WoH are on-screen).

The person you didn't like... Haiji Towa?

Glad I'm not the only one who didn't mind the shooting gameplay. It's fine. It's not meant to be Gears of War, and works for the pace of the game. I liked the puzzle rooms a lot, though, since they felt fairly unique for what you could typically do in a shooter and broke up the gameplay a bit.

Edited on by Ralizah

Playing depressing games alone in my cold, dark room <3

PSN: Ralizah

Foxy-Goddess-Scotchy

Excellent write up @Kidfried ! I know this is only a side story and not what the gameplay of the main series is usually like but...

--Proceeds to put the Danganronpa series onto my list of games to buy--

It sounds like a treat barring the sexual themes... Hopefully it won't be too uncomfortable

Edited on by Foxy-Goddess-Scotchy

"Well that was fun. Horrible, but fun!" Fargus The Jester - Pandemonium (After a summoning a monster that destroyed his home town)

"Words don't make changes. Wounds do." Agent Black - Iconoclasts

Ralizah

Foxy-Goddess-Scotchy wrote:

--Proceeds to put the Danganronpa series onto my list of games to buy--

You mean it wasn't already?!

Playing depressing games alone in my cold, dark room <3

PSN: Ralizah

Foxy-Goddess-Scotchy

It wasn't no @Ralizah

All I knew about it was your and Kidfried's adorable avatars were from it.

But the following review piqued my interest and reading up on it as unspoilery as I could... They are now

"Well that was fun. Horrible, but fun!" Fargus The Jester - Pandemonium (After a summoning a monster that destroyed his home town)

"Words don't make changes. Wounds do." Agent Black - Iconoclasts

Ralizah

Shin Megami Tensei: Digital Devil Saga

Platform: Playstation 2

Level of Completion: Fully beat the story, and have seen a decent amount of side-content. 55 hours total if you include the lost time from my corrupted save file.

What is it? An SMT spinoff developed for the PS2. Features the press-turn combat and demon encounters of mainline SMT, but the game itself is designed more like a linear, story-focused JRPG ala Final Fantasy.

In the apocalyptic world of The Junkyard, various tribes vie for dominion over eachother so that they can be granted access to Nirvana by the mysterious intelligence communicating from the Karma Temple at the center of The Junkyard. The tribes are cursed with a virus that transforms them into demons and trives to cannibalize one-another. The main tribe the player follows, The Embryon, eventually takes in a mysterious young woman named Sera, who possesses the mysterious ability to quell their demonic rage.

What I Liked:

Press-turn combat. The brilliant, strategic, Pokemon-esque combat system Atlus created for SMT: Nocturne returns almost unchanged for this spinoff, and it works as well as it ever has.
Fascinating themes and symbolism relating to Hinduism. While it's probably mostly window-dressing, ideas surrounding reincarnation, karmic imbalance, etc. weave their way into this narrative and add an interesting flavor to the proceedings.
Evocative setting. The world of The Junkyard is very cool: equal parts Silent Hill and what you might expect a big city to look like after a nuclear war, the setting does a great job of conveying a sense of despair that helps to explain why these characters want so desperately to leave this place. In many ways, it's reminiscent of depictions of Purgatory I've seen in popular fiction.
Elaborate dungeon design. Many of the dungeons in this game are particularly well-designed, with puzzles, secrets, complex designs with non-linear progression cycles that take the player out of their comfort zones and force them to explore and often engage in light mental gymnastics in order to proceed. They're also nicely varied, and you explore everything from the blasted remains of a seemingly ancient ruined cruise ship to labyrinthine waterways and illusory mansions.
Well-paced story. While the game is a bit on the short side for my liking, one thing I can't dock it for is the pacing of the story itself. This is one of the few JRPGs I've played that ticked along with a ruthless, mechanical potency from beginning to end. There are certainly spots where you can slow down and deviate a little bit from the main plot, especially right near the end, but the game never forces the player to slow down, and you're always doing something different.
Loads of side-content. While the majority of the game is strictly structured, a ton of side content opens up near the end, primarily taking the form of challenging optional bosses who you have to beat to obtain various items that unlock new mantras and/or improve your selection of equipment or available macca in the sequel. To be honest, if you include grinding to level up enough to beat all of these enemies, you could probably spend as much time doing this as you would completing the actual story content of the game.
Great voice acting for the PS2 era. While the voice acting is mainly found in cutscenes, the quality of the acting itself is surprisingly high, considering the generation this game released in (consider Tidus and his terrifying crow-like "laughing" scarred the minds of a generation of youths just three years prior).

Gorgeous presentation. In particular, the cutscenes in this game are frequently gorgeous, and look a far sight better than most of this title's peers in that generation.
Kazuma Kaneko's gorgeous art. This man appears to be the person most responsible for the singularly unique look of early-to-mid SMT, and his shadow looms large here as well. The creepy demon designs (although I'm not sure how I feel about one of the female party members having teeth for nipples and using those to eat her enemies in demon form; strikes me as a bit Devil-Man-ish) and eerie, doll-like people mix well with the bleak setting.

What I Didn't Like/Was Disappointed By:

Humor and ethnic stereotypes conflict with the vibe of the game. The game has a prominent funny streak throughout, which I'm usually a big fan of, but I feel like one series that usually does better to stick with a straight face is Shin Megami Tensei. In this case, it's a spinoff, but it still has a similarly uncompromising vibe. Now, don't get me wrong: Atlus games are never humorless, and the mainline SMT entries are filled with a lot of wry and black humor, but the comic relief here strays uncomfortably close to what I'd term "slapstick." On that note, I'm not sure how I feel about Cielo, the sole Jamaican-coded character, being the primary source of bumbling comic relief in this game. If Atlus wanted to make this game more light-hearted, I wouldn't mind terribly, the aesthetics have to match up. The goofy anime antics in SMT IV: Apocalypse were fine because all of the characters involved looked like young people you might find in a Persona game. Not true here, and the subject matter is a bit too grisly for it to jive well with the vibe.
The way you're depicted consuming your enemies is a bit of a cop-out. Now, look, I get it: no game that doesn't want to immediately be horrifying and alienating is going to feature anything close to an actual realistic depiction of someone eating another person. But... there is supposed to be a carnal and grisly element to the cannibalism element here, and turning enemies into balls of light that you absorb just doesn't do it for me. I will say, though, it is very creepy and very cool that the best way to prime your enemies for consumption is to terrify them first.
Lack of demon negotiation and fusion hurts the game, and the Mantra Grid isn't a great replacement. The conversations and bargaining with demons, fusions, gradual learning of new skills via careful combinations of demons, etc. are a huge part of SMT games, and, just as PS2-era Persona games suffered from a lack of these elements, so do these games. The replacement of these various complex systems with a skill grid where you grind and buy all of your skills with macca isn't nearly as satisfying or engaging.
Human form, and guns, are mostly pointless. Aside from having to take a turn to transform when enemies get the jump on you or de-transitioning to hunt Omoikane (more on that in a sec), there's almost no point to becoming human, and, as such, no reason to invest in bullets either. It's pointless. You ALWAYS want to fight in demon form. It's just needless fluff.
Omoikane. These enemies are needlessly annoying. They're sort of like the Wealth Hands from Persona 4, but INFINITELY more annoying because of how quickly they flee and how absurdly difficult it is to find a way to damage them before they do have a chance to flee. Until you get to the point, late, late game where you might actually stand a chance of killing one (if it doesn't IMMEDIATELY run off, which it usually does), they're just an obnoxious waste of time whenever you happen to encounter them.
Field Hunts. So, I made these way worse for myself than they needed to be, because I didn't realize until near the end of the game that they would reset automatically if you failed them, so I kept restarting my PS2 to try them over again (more on that in a moment). Even putting aside my own idiocy, though, these mini-games just suck. You're given a super strict time limit to run around a series of rooms and... slash at orbs with your arms. You almost never succeed at these the first time because you have almost no room for error, and the orbs appear in specific patterns every time. At the end of these, if you're fast enough, you can fight enemies that, when consumed, give you a time of macca and experience with which to level up your currently equipped mantra (the set of skills you're learning at a given time). But the activity itself is mind-numbing. There's no skill to it, it's just pure tedium.
Lack of a soft reset function/the ability to quit to the title screen. So, I obviously blame myself for making the field hunts worse than they needed to be, but, even if I hadn't done that, it was still annoying that, if I did something and wanted to quickly reset the game, I'd have to restart the console because Atlus didn't see fit to add something as basic and helpful as a "back to title screen" option to the menu in this game. What a weird oversight, and one that probably added up to me losing hours of my life waiting for the stupid PS2 to reboot back to the point where I could pick back up from my last save.
Side-content is unnecessarily hidden. While I dig all the optional content near the end of the game, I don't like how hard it is to even know it exists in the first place. I hope you like randomly trawling large dungeons you've already visited in the past for minor changes that'll lead you to new bosses, because that's the only way you're ever going to learn about their existence without just looking up the info online.
Towns are very streamlined. Without any real equipment or quests to speak of (outside of the forementioned endgame content), there's just not a lot to do in most of the game's towns and hub areas.
Aside from optional bosses, the game is excessively easy. Like, really, really easy. So easy, in fact, that Persona 5 on hard mode gave me a good deal more trouble than all but the hardest optional bosses in this game. Pretty much the only times I died was when the RNG of random battles decided I needed to be kicked in the stomach and a bunch of rando demons spammed Mudoon before I had a chance to react. Some of this might be down to how streamlined skill acquisition is in this game, combined with the ease of obtaining stat boosting items. But the bosses in these games just aren't ferocious at all.
Bland music. I do sort of like the random battle theme in this game (although not enough to keep listening to it when I'm grinding; I'll just mute the game and put on good music instead), but the majority of the music in this game is really bland guitar-based alternative rock. It's weird, because I usually love Meguro's soundtracks for these games.
Unnecessarily ambiguous ending. I have NO idea what happened at the end of the game. Some random evil lady shows up as the final boss. I easily defeat her. And suddenly The Junkyard is blowing up, and everyone is comically floating around. At the end, we see the main character trudge into what looks to be the wasteland of a city. Is that the Junkyard, or did DDS1 take place in something like The Matrix? The latter is my guess, because there's a lot of computery jargon thrown around in this game. The Junkyard is probably a digital world of some sort, and the visions characters keep having, and references to previous lives, are actually memories they're having of when they were living in the real world. So I'm guessing defeating the last boss crashes The Matrix and wakes up our intrepid heroes This is all pure stabbing at the darkness, because the game doesn't care to explain what's happening at the very end.

Conclusion: Wow, that's a lot of complaining! I did quite enjoy this game, though. If it seems like there was a lot more criticism than praise, it's because a lot of the praise-worthy stuff... there's just not a lot to say about it. And, as usual with me, most of the complaints are more nit-picky than stuff that actually ruins the experience. Digital Devil Saga is, ultimately, a compelling and very fun experience. One I'd gladly play again at some point in the future. I'll absolutely be playing the sequel sooner than later, as I want to find out what happened at the end of the game.

Verdict: 7.5/10

Misc: The world of DDS is apparently quite deep, and extends to various forms of media. Not only is there a direct continuation of the story in the form of a sequel, but there was also a five-novel series adaptation of the mythology, translated into English as "Quantum Devil Saga." These were written by author Yu Godai, who originally created the concept and story for these games but eventually withdrew from the role for health reasons and was replaced by someone else. She chose to adapt her original vision for the story into these novels instead. Only the first two novels have been published in English so far. I'm INCREDIBLY tempted to pick these up once I finish the sequel.

@Foxy-Goddess-Scotchy It's up.

Edited on by Ralizah

Playing depressing games alone in my cold, dark room <3

PSN: Ralizah

RogerRoger

So over the past couple days, I've dipped my toe into the scary world of PC gaming; more specifically, I've managed to get an old, pre-XP game working on my new Windows 10 machine.

The set-up process encapsulated every hideous detail that has traditionally kept me glued to consoles. I managed to find an original, still-sealed copy of the game I wanted to try on eBay but of course, popping the disc into my tower and hoping for the best wouldn't cut it. I had to research how to get it running, download and install a custom launcher, fiddle with resolution settings in three different places, change the settings on my monitor and then, when all else failed, go back to the beginning and find the small box I'd forgotten to un-tick in the corner of a sub-menu.

At multiple points, I'd have given up, happy to enjoy the pretty pictures on the game's large cardboard box and read the instruction manual (remember them?) but thanks to the saintly patience of my technologically-minded partner, I'm pleased to report that...

Untitled

...and I've been able to play and complete Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace (PC).

Because yeah, that was a predictable first choice, wasn't it? Having always played the PSone version, being forced to jealously admire school friends' PC versions from afar, one of my all-time favourite games had always carried an edge of regret about it. I knew there was a better experience out there, no matter how much I loved my console port. Being able to play the "proper" version now, with vastly superior texture quality, draw distances and technical stability, feels like I've suddenly been introduced to 4K after watching nothing but VHS tapes for twenty years.

And in those twenty (!!!) years, I don't think I've ever reviewed the game. Don't worry, I'm not gonna make up for lost time with an equal number of paragraphs; sufficed to say, it's largely the same experience I've always had. The environments are still a little too ambitious, the overall runtime is still a little short, and the combat is still a little clunky (think less "Jedi Knight" and more "woodcutter at a rave" as you awkwardly swing at things with your oversized glowstick). But the rich detail still makes everything feel authentic, and the ability to go off-script in a living, breathing slice of Star Wars is as tempting as ever, particularly in the combat-free Mos Espa levels. The voice acting is (mostly) terrific and it's all accompanied by John Williams' score from the film itself. Every licenced game might promise an interactive version of its source material, but this is one of the few that truly delivers.

The PSone port does have one bonus over the PC version; for all the codes available on PC (all weapons, first-person mode, character swapping, debug mode, etc.) there's no invincibility cheat. Over the years, I'd gotten used to running about with the PSone's only available leg-up activated, so meeting the Droid Starfighter at the end of the first level gave me a bit of a sharp shock. I finally understood what Yoda means when he tells Luke to "unlearn what you have learned" as I struggled to survive the Gardens of Theed, got Queen Amidala killed a handful of times and then raged at Jabba's champion. It was enough of a fiddle to re-adapt to keyboard commands, no matter how basic the inputs, but then to also have to "git gud" at a game I know inside and out, backwards and forwards, made me chuckle.

Well, I say that I know it inside and out, but there were other (more welcome) surprises along the way, too. Some conversations had extra flourishes that were missing from the PSone port. At one point, I spoke to a droid bartender who offered me a free drink; I chose the option to decline, explaining that I didn't partake. Later on, I needed to coax a barfly's help with free booze but now, that same droid bartender greeted me with "I was under the impression that you didn't drink, sir?" to which I could snap "Just give me the drink!" or sigh "Never mind, then." More important than these cute, classic LucasArts touches, however, was the increased detail and wider camera perspective that allowed me to find a hidden area in the Mos Espa Arena; a room with an NPC inside who shared unique dialogue with Qui-Gon and gave him a much-needed medpak if you said the right things in the right order. In twenty years I had never, ever managed to find this room. I can only imagine what my resultant expression of childish joy must've looked like, as I was far too focused on this brand new wrinkle in my ancient comfort blanket to check a mirror.

It's difficult to describe what this old bucket o' bolts of a game means to me; not without descending into cliché, at any rate. All I know is that, after playing it countless times on PSone, finally being able to see its full potential was totally worth that ninety minutes of brain-aching set-up.

Not sure my partner would agree, but hey... in sickness and in health, right?

PSN ID: GDS_2421
Making It So Since 1987

Foxy-Goddess-Scotchy

I was waiting a while for this review @Ralizah and I wasn't dissapointed!

Well... maybe at the soundtrack being called bland


I definitely agree with you on your many likes.

Regardless of what you may think of the sequel, I think you'll appreciate this entry a little more upon having seen the whole story.

There's a whole bunch of things alluded to that the second'll explain that actually seemed to pay off and were pretty neat for me at least.

I can't say more about your thoughts on the story, themes and the likes without heading into massive spoiler territory.

Ralizah wrote:

Kazuma Kaneko's gorgeous art

I actually didn't think much of Kaneko's art at first for this or Nocturne... But it really has grown on me and the almost porcelain doll like look to the humans really does make them stand out and the main demon designs really are unique, especially the version of Cerberus in this!

Argilla/Prithivi and her mouth... "mounds" are definitely weird though.


Ralizah wrote:

On that note, I'm not sure how I feel about Cielo, the sole Jamaican-coded character

I quite like him and his light blue dreads. I thought he was just jovial enough to lighten this up but not be too OTT that it clashed.

But I can totally understand why he might be considered out of place to some. considering the fact the entireity of the junkyard's inhabitants only get emotions after being branded, I assume that's maybe why he seems one note, especially as he's probably the least story important member and thus less focus

He gets a few neat scenes in the sequel and becomes much more rounded overall I think.

Ralizah wrote:

Lack of demon negotiation and fusion hurts the game, and the Mantra Grid isn't a great replacement

Ralizah wrote:

Human form, and guns, are mostly pointless

Ralizah wrote:

Field Hunts

Yeah pretty much!

Ralizah wrote:

Omoikane.

Been a while... But I think in the sequel it's just as bad even though they changed the mechanics entirely

Ralizah wrote:

Side-content is unnecessarily hidden

Ralizah wrote:

Towns are very streamlined

I think that's the price for the main story being rather tight. Though the bonus bosses are definitely quite obtuse.

Ralizah wrote:

Aside from optional bosses, the game is excessively easy

Probably the only point I'd disagree on. I didn't find it stupidly tough or anything (It's easier then Nocturne for sure) but I think it has a pretty decent overall difficulty. Though maybe I just sucked at the Atma mechanics and stuff, making it harder on myself :')

The boss battle against Mick the Slug is definitely this games wake up call fight. He's not the Matador but like him, -Kaja spells are definitely needed to make it more managable

The bonus bosses are tough though no doubt about that.

Ralizah wrote:

Bland music

Untitled

I love Hari-Hara in particular (The first final boss theme).

Hari-Hara: The Second Movement is a bit weak though.

Hunting and Hunting - Comrades are pretty sweet too.

But then this definitely personal preference as you know I'm not too fond of Persona 5's soundtrack barring a few choice picks!

I'd have to say I think Nocturne or Persona 3/4 have better overall soundtracks then DDS

I think you might appreciate DDS 2's soundtrack more. The final boss theme in that is one of my favourite boss battle tracks across the board.

Ralizah wrote:

Unnecessarily ambiguous ending

So as you already mentioned (which I was gonna tell you about if you didn't know) Yu Godai was pretty ill and ended up having to leave the project with her replacement piecing together her notes and adding his own stuff (I dunno how sudden Godai's departure was and what that meant for the story exactly)

The ending of this is explained in the sequel... I think it was more of a sequel hook then anything or possibly they weren't fully sure what they were doing yet/had to do more of the sequel's script by themselves?

I've heard Quantum Devil Saga differs quite a bit in how the events are played out Ralizah (Maybe leading to DDS2 being more original then her notes), definitely might be a good idea to give it a look-see once you're done


Great read for sure Ralizah! DDS really has a great cast of characters I love and loathe the ever backstabbing Bats in equal measure 😅

Heat is voiced by Crispen Freeman, whom you heard very recently as Helios in Horizon: Zero Dawn The Shadow Carja human antagonist and Hades' underling

Argilla is Amanda Winn-Lee who is Yukiko Amagi from Persona 4, Ulala Serizawa from Persona 2: Eternal Punishment and Ichiko Ohya from Persona 5 to name a few. Yup a whole lotta Persona under her belt.

Serph (Though you wouldn't really know it) is voiced by Yuri Lowenthal. Need I say more?

& Angel (and Jinana) is Mary Elizabeth McGlynn who is... The Major in the Ghost in the Shell Stand Alone Complex Series' English dub apparently. I just mentioned her cus I quite like her voice!

... now I just gotta wait for your DDS2 thoughts in like ten months or whatever!


and awwww... What a neat little review yours was @RogerRoger ! Not much more I can really say other then it put a smile on my face!

Edited on by Foxy-Goddess-Scotchy

"Well that was fun. Horrible, but fun!" Fargus The Jester - Pandemonium (After a summoning a monster that destroyed his home town)

"Words don't make changes. Wounds do." Agent Black - Iconoclasts

mookysam

Yoshi's Crafted World

Off the bat the game is absolutely gorgeous to look at. As the title would suggest levels have the appearance of being constructed from an array of household materials (it seems Yoshis recycle) and paper crafts; from plastic straws to aluminium foil and cans to brightly coloured cards. Yoshis themselves - as well as Baby Bowser, Kamek and cute-as-a-button Poochy - seem to be made of felt. A great deal of care has gone into the visual make up of the game with no detail left ignored - and as a result it is utterly delightful.

As to be expected from a platformer there are a broad mix of themed worlds, each overflowing with an abundance of visual creativity. These include Feudal Japan, a haunted house and outer space, to name but a few. In turn each world comprises three or four differently themed levels (sub-themes?) which keeps everything feel snappy and moving along, never lingering too long in one place or on one idea. Most levels are traditional platformer fare, though there is also a solar-power themed race and one that sees Yoshi controlling a giant vehicle in order to punch everything in its path for points.
One of my favourite levels sees Yoshi in a spooky warehouse, avoiding light so that he doesn't activate security robots hellbent on his destruction. Another takes place behind a moving shoji. Boss battles are another highlight, although on the easy side, with each only taking three hits to defeat.

Level design, world theming and a slower pace of platforming is strongly reminiscent of LittleBigPlanet. Thankfully unlike Sackboy Yoshi controls incredibly tightly, which is to be expected from a Nintendo platformer. In typical Yoshi fashion he moves at a leisurely pace and cannot jump too high - instead relying on his trademark flutter jump to provide extra height and hover in mid-air. Yoshi's other moves comprise a ground slam and the ability to eat enemies and turn them into eggs, which is unfortunately far less gruesome than it sounds.

While on the whole enjoyable - and despite the clever concepts - level design is somewhat less ornate than the game's immediate predecessor, the sublime Woolly World. This a shame as there are points where the clever concepts could be taken much further. On the whole it is considerably easier, too and the pure platforming and tight level design of that game is missed. One core difference in the design is that levels do not only extend along a single 2D plane, with the path occasionally taking Yoshi into the background or foreground. This doesn't always feel entirely successful; it's not particularly creatively implemented as in Donkey Kong Country Returns, for instance.

As is typical for a Yoshi game there are a number of collectibles in each level; primarily smiley flowers, but also yellow coins, red coins and health. Reaching the end of a level with full health and obtaining all the red coins and 100 of the yellow variety will reward the player with more smiley flowers. In turn smiley flowers are needed to unlock more and more of the world map, where they are demanded by fatigued robots that block Yoshi's path.

After a level has been completed the game then vomits more collectibles in the form of poochy pups, which are found in the "backside" of a level (nothing kinky, it's basically flipped around). However, it doesn't stop there. On the world map the self-same robots that blocked Yohi's path may also request items from certain levels, whether it be cardboard cows or some other crap I didn't pay attention to. Additionally, after beating the final boss a robot then hides in each level. It's not a particularly inspired way of extending the playtime, and isn't even necessary given the base game's satisfying length

One area where the game falls particularly short is in the central gimmick of firing eggs into the background and foreground of levels. As Yoshi makes his way through each level there are various objects or enemies that can be hit for coins or collectibles. Sadly, and perhaps unsurprisingly, it never feels quite right. At best it doesn't really add anything to the experience. At worst it's incredibly frustrating; mostly when said objects jerk about like a hyperactive child who's eaten too much candy. Yoshi's aim tends to be slower than the moving object, and if his aim is not precise the egg will instead fire across the main 2D plane. Throughout levels are dotted a number of challenge clouds (for lack of a better term) which when hit activate timed shooting, blue coin collecting or fruit eating challenges in order to win a smiley flower. There are also a few levels based entirely around the background shooting mechanic - basically a scrolling firing range - and these are perhaps the game's worst.

The music is another weak point, with just a few tunes repeated ad nauseam, sometimes with a slight variation in order to fit the theme of the level. Woolly World had a delightful score, and so it is a shame that that feat is not repeated here.

In all, despite Crafted World's gentle level design and a gimmick that largely falls flat, there is something quite beguiling about the game. It oozes charm from every pore and I genuinely enjoyed traversing through most of the levels. It never reaches the heights of Woolly World, which is a grand shame, but on its own merits there is a delightful experience on offer that I found a nice change of pace.

How much did I complete? All levels completed and base collectibles obtained (required a few run-throughs), barring boss level challenges. I did not collect all of the Poochy pups or additional tat. I played exclusively in handheld mode, where performance was solid, although the resolution a little soft.

Edited on by mookysam

#BlackLivesMatter

PSN: mookysam

Ralizah

Foxy-Goddess-Scotchy wrote:

maybe at the soundtrack being called bland

lol I figured that comment would get me in trouble. The music... I dunno, usually it's quite distinctive and evocative in Atlus' games, but nothing really did it for me here. I really think the style just does nothing for me.

Foxy-Goddess-Scotchy wrote:

Regardless of what you may think of the sequel, I think you'll appreciate this entry a little more upon having seen the whole story.

Probably. This was clearly designed with a second game in mind, and I'm willing to bet 90% of the actual story is in that game.

Foxy-Goddess-Scotchy wrote:

Probably the only point I'd disagree on. I didn't find it stupidly tough or anything (It's easier then Nocturne for sure) but I think it has a pretty decent overall difficulty. Though maybe I just sucked at the Atma mechanics and stuff, making it harder on myself :')

This is one of the only SMT-related games that never had a story boss or two that made me deeply reconsider my party composition or skill assignments. I think part of it might be how exploitable the mantra grid is, but the bosses also had almost nothing in the way of unique mechanics that forced me to reconsider the way I play (which was the brilliance of Nocturne's Matador, I think; if you didn't understand how buffs and elemental skills worked, you weren't getting past him without some insane luck).

Not a big deal, but... unusual from a developer whose games have a reputation for being utterly hardcore.

Foxy-Goddess-Scotchy wrote:

Nocturne

[Incoherent yelling intensifies]

Persona 5's OST is probably my second favorite ever from Atlus, but I do like the soundscapes of most of their PS2 games as well. P3 + P4 are, of course, brilliant within their respective genres. Nocturne's music (what I've heard of it, anyway; I didn't get terribly far in on my first go, so I need to give it an actual full playthrough one of these days) is weird for me. I can't say I particularly like it on its own merits (like, I wouldn't sit down and jam out to some Nocturne music), but I think it's a good fit for the game in terms of adding to the atmosphere.

Foxy-Goddess-Scotchy wrote:

I've heard Quantum Devil Saga differs quite a bit in how the events are played out Ralizah (Maybe leading to DDS2 being more original then her notes), definitely might be a good idea to give it a look-see once you're done

I was shocked both by how recently they were published AND that they're still well in-stock. I'm definitely checking them out.

Foxy-Goddess-Scotchy wrote:

Heat is voiced by Crispen Freeman, whom you heard very recently as Helios in Horizon: Zero Dawn The Shadow Carja human antagonist and Hades' underling

Argilla is Amanda Winn-Lee who is Yukiko Amagi from Persona 4, Ulala Serizawa from Persona 2: Eternal Punishment and Ichiko Ohya from Persona 5 to name a few. Yup a whole lotta Persona under her belt.

Serph (Though you wouldn't really know it) is voiced by Yuri Lowenthal. Need I say more?

& Angel (and Jinana) is Mary Elizabeth McGlynn who is... The Major in the Ghost in the Shell Stand Alone Complex Series' English dub apparently. I just mentioned her cus I quite like her voice!

That's quite the star-studded cast. No wonder the voice acting was good.

You really do know these games like the back of your hand, don't you?

Foxy-Goddess-Scotchy wrote:

... now I just gotta wait for your DDS2 thoughts in like ten months or whatever!

Probably next year. Thankfully, both games are still cheap online, so it shouldn't be difficult to procure a new copy of DDS2.

It's a pity that the Raidou Kuzunoha games are thoroughly out of print now, though.

@Foxy-Goddess-Scotchy

@mookysam It's crazy how good YCW looks in handheld mode, considering it can dip as low as 396p. Even docked, the game pretty much never hits 720p. I'm genuinely eager to see how good that game looks on a more powerful Switch successor.

Edited on by Ralizah

Playing depressing games alone in my cold, dark room <3

PSN: Ralizah

Foxy-Goddess-Scotchy

Ralizah wrote:

which was the brilliance of Nocturne's Matador, I think; if you didn't understand how buffs and elemental skills worked, you weren't getting past him without some insane luck)

Not a big deal, but... unusual from a developer whose games have a reputation for being utterly hardcore.

Well I think you'll find DDS2 more challenging, especially if you choose the hard difficulty!

Ralizah wrote:

(like, I wouldn't sit down and jam out to some Nocturne music)

... Like who'd do that?! [Has the soundtrack on her phone and listens to it on ocassion]

It's disorted as hell but there are actual lyrics to Nocturne's songs that are actually the Demi Fiend's inner thoughts with him wanting to be human again, cursing god and Lucifer & stuff like that

And as I said I think you'll like DDS2's soundtrack better. It's more Electro/pop with some Meguro typical guitars sprinkled in for good measure!

Ralizah wrote:

That's quite the star-studded cast. No wonder the voice acting was good.

You really do know these games like the back of your hand, don't you?

Steve Blum was Green haired Spock Gale, Cielo was Dave Wittenberg and Sera was Wendee Lee. It's a fantastic cast!

I happen to be pretty good at recognising voices.

Plus admittedly looking at Wikipedia & the Megaten wiki helps for remebering names of tracks and voice actors!

I can remember DDS's story pretty well despite I haven't touched it in five years.

My phone number though? Forget about it... sometimes I even forget part of my address! 😂

Ralizah wrote:

Thankfully, both games are still cheap online, so it shouldn't be difficult to procure a new copy of DDS2.

Thankfully same here. Ghostlight have been pretty good at reprinting Nocturne, DDS 1 and DDS 2 with them being about £15 for a new copy.

Koei published Persona 3, Persona 3 FES and Devil Summoner: Raidou Kuzunoha Vs The Souless Army here. They're all like £60/70 just for a used copy and constantly getting higher.

Raidou's an odd one though @Ralizah .

We never got the sequel here for starts (Though I think it's on the PS3 as a PS2 Classic). The setting is neat and the music was pretty good buuuut that's kinda it for me. The action gameplay get's old really fast and the demon AI kinda sucks. The story is ok I guess.

Definitely the weakest PS2 Meg-Ten game I've played though.

I ended up selling it off in fact for £50 three years ago (And bought Dark Souls III) after buying it for only £10 like eleven years ago! No regrets!


I think (should I have got a decent read of you and your likes by now) you'll quite like Digital Devil Saga 2. I look forward to the eventual discussion we have on it!

Also my Jade Cocoon review is being written!

Edited on by Foxy-Goddess-Scotchy

"Well that was fun. Horrible, but fun!" Fargus The Jester - Pandemonium (After a summoning a monster that destroyed his home town)

"Words don't make changes. Wounds do." Agent Black - Iconoclasts

KratosMD

Just finished Until Dawn. Brilliant game, I honestly think this is PS4's quintessential horror game. It has all the standard tropes of a typical horror game, but it still manages to keep you on your toes and exceed your expectations throughout your playthrough. The jump scares in this game are plentiful, but sadly the game didn't do a good job at creating a creepy atmosphere in between the action in my opinion. However, the gameplay mechanics, such as QTEs and time-based decisions, as well as the fact that you can easily kill off a character during the final stretch of the game, makes the game definitely more scary and tense. There is one part of the game that I found to be quite unfair in terms of the survival of a character, but other than that I felt like the game did a good job of warning you ahead of time. You really need to explore and gather as many clues as you can in order to figure out the best strategies for decisions that are to come.

That's also one aspect of the game I really liked: the lore. Instead of gathering some meaningless collectibles, you're gathering clues that help you understand the backstory of everything that's happening as well as some nifty collectibles that show you a glimpse into the future of possible events. I felt encouraged to always look around and find these because of this incentive. It also helped lengthen the playtime of what is otherwise a linear story-based game.

Another aspect that I liked is the accessibility of the game. Anyone can pick up and play this, which makes it a perfect title to play with other people. I saw a YouTube channel who passed around the controller to different people between each episode while playing this game, which I thought was a brilliant thing to do. The fact that the game also lets you choose your own path makes the replay value really high and great to play through multiple times with different groups.

Furthermore, the characters in the game are all so expertly crafted and believable. I also think that because there were some famous actors in this game, like Peter Stormare and Rami Malek, that it helped boost its production value and make it a truly quality title. This game is definitely going to be one of the most memorable titles on PS4 mostly due to its wonderful cast of characters.

In conclusion, this is the quintessential horror game on PS4 in my opinion. It delivers a terrifying experience while constantly keeping you on the edge of your seat. The characters are unique and memorable, the plot is gripping and interesting, and the gameplay opens up for numerous playthroughs with different outcomes. This is a must-play for anyone who owns a PS4, it truly needs to be experienced at least once.

KratosMD

Ralizah

@Foxy-Goddess-Scotchy Nice! Looking forward to hearing your thoughts on Jade Cocoon. Especially considering how fuzzy mine are. It might need to be something I revisit.

I'm expecting to enjoy DDS2 more than the first game. I hear it's a more complex and challenging game than DDS1 even on the Normal difficulty, and it sounds like the soundtrack is different enough to appeal more to me. Also, DDS1 feels primarily like build-up to the second game.

I thought about doing the Hard difficulty, but I hear you can't use the rings you get for beating optional bosses in the first game, and I've seen a number of people say they consider the second game to be quite a bit more challenging, so I think I'll go in on normal difficulty so I don't wind up with a situation where the game ends up being obnoxiously difficult (like Nocturne on hard mode).

But, as mentioned, I enjoyed DDS1 quite a bit as well, despite how critical I've been. It's cool how Atlus took some of the same concepts as they use in traditional SMT and made more of a normal JRPG out of it.

This is a WAY better start to a two-parter than the boring The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky FC was.

Playing depressing games alone in my cold, dark room <3

PSN: Ralizah

Arugula

@KratosMD Really pleased you like it! Definitely in my top 5 PS4 exclusives, possibly top 3. Ready for more in the imminent Man of Medan!

Arugula

Th3solution

@KratosMD I’m glad to see that I didn’t lead you astray with the Until Dawn recommendation. It really is a great game. Often overlooked in the huge number of classics in the PS4 library.

@RogerRoger I’m a little late but I gotta say— that gif is about the most fitting gif to a story that I have ever seen. Bravo! A thanks for the interesting read, as always.

@Ralizah @Foxy-Goddess-Scotchy I wish I could remember anything at all about the DDS games I played in the past. I feel like I played at least two from the SMT universe on the PS2, but I can’t seem to remember anything about them, even after reading your review. All I know is that I did seem to like them.

The early bird gets the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.

————————

Forum Megapoll 2020 - Best Video Game Box Art: Xenoblade Chronicles 2: Special Edition

Foxy-Goddess-Scotchy

Glad you enjoyed Until Dawn @KratosMD

I assume you did the reasonable thing and not kill Emily using the revolver with Mike cuuuuuuus I had just had enough of her at that point no matter the cost to the cast's sanity 😅

There's a nice amount of choice in this with all the alternate paths you can take. I did a second run, restarting from chapter 7 to save everyone.

and then a third run from the beginning to bump everyone off. It's a bit harder then you might expect for some!

I was surprised at how much I ended up liking Mike at the end when I at first thought he was a bit of a jerk. Sam (Played by Hayden Panettiere) was pretty decent too though best preformance probably goes to Stormare and Dr Hill. He was loving the role from the looks of things!

Plus despite him going absolutely the wrong way about things I still couldn't help but feel sorry for Josh who just misses his sisters

Yeah Hannah running into a snowstorm wasn't the best decision but we all do stupid things when in love. Plus the prank was way too cruel. I thought it was a neat little detail that Wendigo Hannah recognises Josh and maybe even Mike

It's definitely not to everyone's taste, but I enjoyed it much more then I would the David Cage games that play in a similar way but more po faced rather then the pulpy horror of Until Dawn.

Also the opening title song was pretty neat!

Not to mention it's always nice to see behind the scenes videos... I wish more games did that.

"Well that was fun. Horrible, but fun!" Fargus The Jester - Pandemonium (After a summoning a monster that destroyed his home town)

"Words don't make changes. Wounds do." Agent Black - Iconoclasts

crimsontadpoles

@KratosMD Nice to see that you enjoyed Until Dawn. The bit which you felt was unfair for the survival of a character also caught me out. I felt that the story was a bit slow at the start and that the characters start off annoying, but once the game gets going it all becomes truly excellent. Character development is very well done in this game.

Foxy-Goddess-Scotchy

Jade Cocoon: Story of the Tamamayu (Which is Jade Cocoon: Story of the Jade Cocoon apparently in english) For PS1 (Though I used my PS3 to play it).

I played Jade Cocoon for about twenty five hours. Beating the Main Story and played a bit of the Endless Corridor. I spent a bunch of that overall time monster collecting and merging.

So... Grant us, the Beasts of Knowledge, the power to touch the spirit and enjoy this review.


A Little Background

Jade Cocoon: Story of the Tamamayu is a monster collecting and battling RPG.

The game was made by a small Japanese developer called Genki (Who ended up developing Katamari Forever among other games) and was published by Crave (Not the Kelloggs cereal) in the west.

Katsuya Kondō who helped do the character designs for Kiki's Delivery Service and I Can Hear the Sea did the character designs in this so there's a definite studio Ghibli look about the character artwork and the opening cutscene!

Apparently in the west not many Studio Ghibli films had come across at this point in time so for some people this may've been their first exposure to this style. It definitely was for me!

Jade Cocoon tells the story of a renamble silent protagonist (Though we'll stick with the default name Levant from here on in) who lives in the village of Syrus.

A strange dream occurs the night of a festival to appease lost souls which involves a mysterious figure whom looks like he has a bag on his head (But it's an owl mask... Probably)

Untitled

He mocks Levant and tells him how he'll never be a Cocoon master and that his father, Riketz (Also known as The Lion of Parel & Syrus' last Cocoon master), was a coward whom ran away. There's a curbstomp batlle against the Dream man's "Minion" with Levant losing and more mocking before waking up.

The following day Levant is with his friends, Mahbu (a Nagi girl whom can use magic) & Kelmar the Blacksmith's son along with Lui whom is the watchtower keeper.

There's a strange sound from the nearby forest and the village is suddenly attacked by the Onibubu, the Locusts of the Apocalypse.

Garai, Mahbu's guardian, manages to use her magic to prevent Levant and co (along with some of the villagers) from falling into a deep sleep via the Onibubu and the powder they disperse.

A meeting is called by the cheftain of the village and before you know it Levant & Mahbu are wed, Levant getting the title of Cocoon Master and is tasked with finding the Calabas herb, a legendary plant that is able to wake people from the Onibubu and is to venture into the Beetle, Dragonfly, Spider and Moth forests to find it and save the village...


What I like

The English Voice Acting

It's kinda strange, eapecially from a PS1 game that came out in 1999 (USA) or 2000 (PAL) that this isn't mentioned elsewhere but for the time it has a rather high quality bit of voice acting. This might be helped thanks to the game's rather short length and unlike most JRPG's there's not reams upon reams of dialogue (It's nearly all voiced though) but it's quite well done for the majority.

Mahbu (Voiced by Michelle Ruff in one of her first roles), Garai, Poto and the prophet Gi are all pretty good and especially with Gi (He's kinda a narrator I guess between the chapters) there's a certain... authenticity about it and it feels quite natural.

There's no localisational changes to it as far as I could tell, no inserted jokes or references or anything like that. It's just weird in how good it is when they were all kinda crummy from this generation barring Metal Gear Solid's.

Probably Lui's is the worst but he's supposed to be the annoying, bratty kid and he's only in two or three scenes.


The mature plot

Now obviously I don't mean this in the typical grim dark MATURE kinda way it's usually used in.

While you can perfectly play this without paying too much attention other then battling and merging monsters (or Divine Beasts) there's a neat number of themes at play here with the duty and honour Levant is bound to in protecting the village.

The villagers and the adherence to tradition and the march of progress with Jibara getting Levant to seal the Divine Tree which causes things to completely go south being obviously tied to enviromentalism.

Not to mention the cruelty of man told through Poto's stories and the trials of Fire, Air and Earth with Levant overcoming and defeating the darkness in the other characters hearts.

There is a minor quibble though. MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD.

Riketz. He doesn't actually do anything wrong other then try to make it so that his wife, Phio, and all other Nagi women don't have to endure the horrible cursed brandings (from purifying the cocoons the divine beasts are sealed in the Nagi women get painful markings that get worse and worse) but because he tries to purify a cocoon himself he's cursed for all eternity and supposedly tainted and gone mad (yet he seems rather reasonable) & earns Elhrim's/God's wrath who causes the Onibubu (Essentially the apocalypse) to attack Syrus and made Riketz into the Chosen One of Darkness.

I think the Cursed Brandings are considered a punishment by Elhrim for a woman having fallen for Kikinak? Or maybe it's because the Nagi are only part magical/Divine that they can't fully purify it and take it into themselves?

Elhrim in general is kind of a jerk making Kikinak, Mamon and all the other Divine Spirits fall from grace just because Kikinak fell in love with a human. Only thing that's justified in the whole game really is Jibara trying to seal him. Elhrim's that one kid if something doesn't go his way then he won't let you play with his toys anymore. He honestly sucks.

At least Garai as the reincarnation of the goddess Azura (the spinner of souls) doesn't do her duty out of spite. Well... maybe spite Jibara a little who's in the process of sacrificing her but it's not as petty as Elhrim at least.


The Soundtrack

It's pretty decent and unique. The past week I've found myself humming the rather tranquil Syrus theme every now and again. There being a number of wind instruments (particularly the flute) used in the soundtrack as the core which makes it stand out from the more traditional strings or full orchestra you'll usually hear as the base of a soundtrack (Not the most gifted in musically terms but hopefully it comes across enough what I'm saying)

In fact you could say the whole game has a rather unique tone and feel to it. The soundtrack definitely adding to that.


The Merging and Battle Mechanics...

So there's four Elements your Divine Beasts/Minions can be.

Water, Fire, Air & Earth.

Water putting out Fire, Fire burning away the Air, Air scattering the Earth and Earth blocking out Water.

Of course you can merge them too in varying proportions to get a mixture of elements. Whether you want a beast that's all elements or 87.5% Air and 12.5% Fire. It's up to you and what you'd like to do with the proportions adding to how much elemental damage they take and deal depending.

The merged minion will take on the shape or body the first and the colors of the second. So... you can end up making monstrosities depending on the amount of merges you do.

Battling is a relatively simple turn based battling system. Enjoyable with you comanding one beast at a time (You can take three with you in total) being able to switch to Levant as well for attacking or capturing beasts.

There's 5 areas of Horns, Fangs, Claws, Tail and Feet that your special attacks can be tied to and you can only have one attack applied to each area.

So if you're merging a fire and water and they both have horn attacks... then you'll lose one of them. There's also modifiers like + critical or +accuracy that you can get to the skill areas at a cost of more mana being used.

Magic has unlimted spell slots on the other hand which is rather nice but if you don't have any percentage of the corrisponding element then the spell will disappear.


What I don't like

... Though there could be more skills (Or at least more on monsters). Plus Levant is kinda useless in battle

There's quite a few beasts in the game. And while there are a number of skills they're very awkward to shift around and if have a particular beast you like the look of you'll never encounter most of them again Especially after you seal the divine tree and everyone turns to stone. Once you head into the moth forest you can't go back to the other forests and the monsters you get from this point on aren't as good

Plus while Levant can attack and is used to capture Divine Beasts... He's not that useful to use in battle. The weapons and armour you can buy help out only a little in making him more feasible to use.


The lack of side quests

Whilst there is the (seemingly) endless Eternal Corridor after you finish the game (That's ridiculously hard) there's almost no other content you can take part in aside from fighting Kikinak a few extra times and catching more divine beasts as you progress.

That's it.

Not even like give this person some healing herbs or raise this beast to this level. There could've been something but it does mean there's no lagging in the main plot either.


Controls

For some reason Levant has tank controls in the overworld. Really only a minor quibble but it's a bit weird for a game like this.


Additional points

  • There's a glitch in the English versions where if you don't purify your cocoons before you turn the game off then they'll lose all the skills they had. Apparently it can be quite useful for merging but best to look that up yourself.
  • There's some content (Only one or two beasts) that's tied to the pocketstation peripheral and only works on the PAL version (Besides the Japanese version of course) apparently. They're exceedingly rare.
  • Theres also two special beasts you can make via merging specfic monsters in a very specific order. I don't know how you're supposed to work it out though
  • Monster designs aren't the greatest.

Ultimately Jade Cocoon is a diamond in the rough. There's some flaws to it, but there's a great bite sized JRPG here. Only problem is it being relatively difficult to find

8 is the score I'd give it were I rating it professionally.

Though for sentimental reasons I'd probably boost it to 9 for myself.


It's up @Ralizah

Edited on by Foxy-Goddess-Scotchy

"Well that was fun. Horrible, but fun!" Fargus The Jester - Pandemonium (After a summoning a monster that destroyed his home town)

"Words don't make changes. Wounds do." Agent Black - Iconoclasts

Ralizah

@Foxy-Goddess-Scotchy
What's up with Studio Ghibli and Playstation-exclusive games centered around monster collecting?

Good review. The vibe of this game always screamed Nausicaä to me. I distinctly remember it having (at the time) really gorgeous, high-poly character models. I'd forgotten about the full voice acting, though, which is, yes, extremely impressive given the age of this game. Even on the PS2, video game voice acting was still in its Wild West period.

Minion fusing sounds a bit more complex than I remember. I was probably a bit too clay-headed back when I was 11 or whatever to really grok the more involved aspects of the game, though.

Your comments on Levant and my experience with the human forms in DDS make me appreciative of games that exclude the squishy human element entirely in battles, like the Pokemon/Digimon games I've played.

Sounds like I absolutely need to revisit this on my PS1. It's ridiculous how many good-to-great JRPGs there are on that system, both in terms of blockbusters and hidden gems.

Playing depressing games alone in my cold, dark room <3

PSN: Ralizah

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