It took a lot longer than I expected in the end though, which was pretty frustrating. I think I probably spent 4 hours just grinding at the end in order to have a chance at the final battles. Even after all this, I took me three attempts before I was able to beat the final end boss! (I kept on losing during the 3rd battle after defeating the White Witch (1st and 2nd stage))
Overall I've been super impressed and I'm surprised that, at least in my mind, the game hasn't received more accolades. Perhaps I'm just remembering?
While it has many "flaws" (for my personal taste) the art direction is superb and the combat system had much more depth than I was expecting - I really enjoyed trying out different spells and tactics during the different boss battles and I had a definite sense of "learning" and "getting better" at the game. The final bits were especially challenging for me since a 1/2 second of distraction could easily lead to a TPK. This is not something I'm used to in RPGs and especially not so in Japanese RPGs. TPKs in a boss battle, sure - but not from your regular random encounters as you move around the world.
Once I beat the game I did a little bit of pottering about to see if there were a few other fun things I wanted to take a look at. So, I wandered into the Casino! (manned by the undead) I wonder if someone has written a paper or something about why Casinos are so prevalent in JRPGs. They're definitely super common in Dragon Quest games - but, now that I think about it, perhaps I'm biased? (are Casinos in JRPGs a common trope?)
Due to other academic work (on goals in games), I also noticed something (I find) extra interesting about Ni No Kuni. So, there's a character called Horace who's a ghost and each time you visit a new city you can find him, talk to him, he asks you a riddle/question, you answer, and then he gives you some new spell(s). What's interesting is that you have to type in the answers to his questions/riddles! It's a really "old" mode of interaction that you don't see in modern videogames. The exceptions are those where you type in your character name - but as a regular part of gameplay, it's pretty rare nowadays! So, cool? (and some of the answers were pretty long!)
During the course of the game you get spells, stories, and information that are all part of a Wizard's book - it's the main place where the game's lore is stored. And the book is beautiful! I wonder/wish they'd publish it as an actual book? Or, if there was a TRPG version of Ni No Kuni - that would be the sourcebook in a 2-book slipcase edition?
I recall really enjoying the Game Cube game and feeling proud because it was hard and I got to the end. (I'd have to read my old gamelogs from then to see if this was true...as I type this I don't even know if they exist).
The game remains stylish in the visuals, but pared down of course. The action moves pretty fast and I've had fun so far BUT I have a hard time telling what's going on and I'm worried about the introduction of all the special abilities. I'm not sure I'll be able to keep up with them (more buttons and combinations to remember).
One of the powers is pretty neat though I have trouble getting it to work consistently - you can tap and swipe (left or right) the screen to get the top/bottom halves to be misaligned for in-game effects/objectives. So, if the bottom half has a fire hydrant, when you slide the bottom of the screen it loses the "cap" and water sprays and you can then use the water spray to put out fires on another part of the screen. Or, you can slide the top half of the screen to open up access to an area otherwise closed off. It's pretty neat!
Bad news is that there are some areas I have a REALLY hard time getting to. These are usually higher up and require the double-jump. I don't know if it's my bad eyesight or if they're tricky in terms of getting into the right position. But, it was pretty annoying to be honest.
We'll see how long I play, but for now I'm pretty impressed and enjoyed "refreshing" my memory on the GC game. (was there a sequel? perhaps"?)
I hadn't played since April so I decided to pick this up just to see where things were at. So, I'm trying to get stuff going on a new island that doesn't have enough fertility, but it has a "watering hole" and I'm supposed to build something there. But, there was no option for that type of building/structure...and I have no idea how to build the thing I'm being asked to build.
Couldn't find any info online either.
So I gave up. Sigh.
THAT being said, there are quite a few things I thought were interesting about the game:
a. I enjoyed the "advisor" who would let you know when something was wrong and what you needed to do to fix it.
b. I easily lost track of my production and resources. I think that problem is that it's easy to build a lot of stuff, but it takes time for things to get rolling. It's interesting how this does NOT happen to me in boardgames - mostly because of the limits on actions AND the turn-based side of things. It's easier for me to notice when things produce and so on. Here it's a lot less transparent.
c. I enjoyed buying random "contracts" to go get looted/treasure resources. And, sailing around to avoid the pirates was an interesting action element to an otherwise "turn-based" feeling game... I wonder if they added this to give players something to do while they wait for their economy to build up (e.g. get to X resources so I can build the next thing).
d. The road building system is super cool. You basically get two end points and then located them where you want them. It's pretty intuitive and you get layouts that align with what you want. The interface for this was pretty slick IMO.
e. I enjoyed how the campaign slowly opened up - with new options being added and things being introduced slowly.
This entry has been edited 1 time. It was last edited on Jun 29th, 2020 at 17:01:41.
Battletech - the original miniatures strategy game is something that I never really got into. It seemed interesting - but quite fiddly. However, a close friend of mine was really into it but I don't think we ever played more than once or twice. And this was 20+ years ago? All of this to say that the Battletech universe has always been sort of on my periphery - I know a little bit, but I know more about it. I've read some novels, briefly played some of the videogames (Mechwarrior) and was always curious to try the TRPG despite not making any efforts to buy any of the books or to find a group to play with.
Cue a few weeks ago when a friends group of mine got all excited about the "latest" (it's not the latest, but it's pretty recent) Battletech game. I'd been pinging them for a while, but no one seemed interesting. This time, however, it was on sale on Steam and, apparently within a few minutes they were all excited and hooked. I was decidedly less warm about it, I don't need ANOTHER game on my steamlist. And it was definitely cheap but not "almost free" cheap. So, I passed.
Over the next few weeks my friends all started playing and sharing stories and pics via our shared whatsapp channel. And now the FOMO set in hard. Really hard. But, the game was no longer on sale. More days passed, more pics. More FOMO. But, I did find the game on sale on GOG (or was it Humble?). Anyways, I'm now IN.
The game really scratches an itch - it feels really cool, and deep, and there is so much going on. It's been fun to slowly learn how to play, and to start messing around. I haven't made much progress to be honest - but when I do play I'm pretty sucked in. It's everything I imagined played the miniature game should be - including bad die rolls/results, but with all the number-crunching fiddlyness ironed out. And then some - there's pilot progression and skills, there's interstellar travel, repairs, pilots getting wounded, and the threat of never having enough money to make ends meet. The campaign (so far) does deal with some of these - e.g. making the money grubbing less critical, but it's still pretty tight and scrappy. Which I've enjoyed.
Am I any good at the game? I don't know. I still feel like it's hard to figure out which mechs to field - other than bigger/tougher is better. I want the small, fast, light ones to be useful - but so far it's been a bad idea. Oh, while I'm not playing on any sort of super tough difficulty setting I have decided to NOT save scum. So, I'll save the game to continue later, but not to "try again" to get a better result. THis means that I've had setbacks - a killed pilot and trashed mechs that took forever to repair.
But, it's been worth it. Funny thing is I mentioned it to ANOTHER friend, and how he's sucked in bad.