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    Oct 19th, 2009 at 22:11:44     -    Demon's Souls (PS3)

    GAMEPLAY
    Demonís Souls definitely does not play around with the difficulty. I did not expect the game to get easier, but I also did not expect it to get harder. I have died a ridiculous amount of times and it is due to many things: insane bosses, smart enemies, my own stupidity, and long falls to my death. I am still not displeased with the game and I continue to play. I am, however, much more cautious when rounding corners and when approaching just about anything. I have now faced a couple of bosses and they were all very unique. All of them killed me at least once and I had to learn from my mistakes and try again. I have to commend the game makers for making all of the bosses seem very formidable and for designing them to be as challenging as they are. My mouth was agape as I saw that the second boss was the size of a tower. Literally.
    The online component of the game is interesting and well thought out. This surprised me because I do not consider RPGís to be multiplayer and the idea of mixing online into it kind of threw me off a bit. It is integrated into the gameplay in many ways including helpful hint messages, aiding in boss fights, and even player versus player fights. I have used all three methods and can say that they all flow very well with the game. The messages have been very helpful despite some of the ones that lie, which can be avoided due to the recommendation system. Basically, you can recommend hints that you found helpful and I do advise that players should trust hints that have many recommendations simply because some people enjoy lying. I won my first PvP fight (woot). It was nice fighting against a human player for a change.

    DESIGN
    One of the reasons that this game is considered so difficult by many is a huge turn-off to most is because there is such a heavy punishment system with little to no rewards other than self-satisfaction. The rewards are very scarce with the only major reward being souls that can be used to purchase goods. There is not a wide variety of equipment and that makes souls only worthwhile for leveling up and that is more of a necessity for life rather than a reward of staying alive. The punishment system is far superior. When the player dies they lose all of their souls and are turned into a soul. This means that the player is reduced to half of their maximum health and can no longer be aided by other players. This is a tad harsh and is somewhat off putting since in order to regain their body the player must defeat a boss monster, which is more difficult due to the lack of health. Basically, the only thing that keeps the player going is that the game is fun when youíre winning and is very satisfying when you win during a challenging portion. Otherwise it can be frustrating, especially if you continue to die at the same spot by the same enemy.
    The way I would describe the atmosphere surrounding the levels and the NPCís would be defeated and sorrowful. Most characters have given up hope about the land recovering and the tragic disarray that all of the levels are in show exactly why everyone feels that way. All of the levels are in the dark of night and display the once proud castles that have been decimated by the many demons that have come to inhabit them. It seems that this was designed to happen because the King let it happen and is no longer anywhere to be found. That is simply speculation on my part, but it shows that madness has stricken the world. I just noticed that there are no bright colors in the palette of the game aside from a few of the spells and glows.
    Honestly, this game has somewhat inspired me for my own game. I think that Iím going to have to focus on making the game harder and more challenging without making it impossible or frustrating. Therefore, I will try to improve upon the difficulty of Demonís Souls to make it fun without holding the playerís hand and making it too easy.

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    Oct 19th, 2009 at 22:11:07     -    Demon's Souls (PS3)

    SUMMARY

    Demonís Souls is an action RPG that tries to challenge the player with a high difficulty level as they explore a defeated world looking for a savior. Set in Medieval times, Demonís Souls has the player defeat many different demons and takes their souls to use as a currency for obtaining equipment and powering up.

    GAMEPLAY

    Demonís Souls opens up with an interesting cinematic that explains the background story and how the world is covered with fog and monsters and that many adventurers have tried conquering the mist only to die. The story was not exactly original. It sufficiently sets up the game to promote the gameplay, but it could have been done a little better. The only thing that could redeem the story would be a plot twist later on, which I assume is upcoming. Some of the characters are not very convincing with their tales and appear to be lying about the true nature of things. Another suspicious detail about them is that players can leave messages for other players to view throughout the gameworld and many of the main characters have messages near them calling them liars. I shall await the plot twist; hopefully it will not take long.
    The highlight of the game is definitely the battle system. Many of the enemies are difficult to defeat and there are tactics to be employed such as maintaining stamina while striking and defending and rolling. Overall, what I mainly enjoy about the battles is that I feel very much in control and when I die I do not feel as if the game cheated me. Every death feels like a failure on my part and I try to learn from my mistakes so that I do not die again. The main attraction to this game is that everything about it is difficult and that shows up in many of the enemies. Artificial Intelligence works very well for the most part in this game and many of the enemies and boss demons require effort to defeat. I have to admit that I have died many times and even though I am getting better I can see that I am going to continue dying many times.

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    Oct 5th, 2009 at 21:47:19     -    Chrono Trigger (DS)

    GAMEPLAY

    As the story progresses in Chrono Trigger there open up many possibilities for completing the game since the plot is not set linearly. Most games have to move in chronological order for them to make sense because that is simply the rules of the world that we inhabit. The time travel aspect of Chrono Trigger allows it to break that rule and gives the player control over what time periods are visited and how the story unfolds. There are also decisions during the game that affect the plotline for all of the different dimensions like the decision of killing Magus after the death of Crono. I personally liked Magus and decided to keep him around, but I have been told that the quests performed afterwards would change based on Magusí presence in the group.

    The battles also became interesting in the later parts of the game because not only did they get more powerful, but they also required different strategies. I generally refuse to grind for more level ups in role playing games and I also refused in Chrono Trigger and at first I assumed that my difficulty with bosses was because of a low level. However, I realized that it was because most bosses needed a strategy or a certain character in order for it to be easy. There was a battle where I foolishly believed that Ayla was useless because of her lack of magic only to realize that her physical abilities were better suited to the battle. I enjoy this type of strategy because it makes the battles into more than just hitting the same button over and over.

    DESIGN

    The game provides a good variety in the different types of worlds visited. Each time period is distinct from the others and range from a primitive world with cavemen to a desolate future inhabited by robots. The variety is unique because technically it is the same world, but during different times and there are pivotal events that sculpted the different geography in each era. There were times that I actually forgot the characters were not traveling across worlds and only through time. Characters from each era were representatives of that time period and each used a different color scheme or style from that era. Robo had a muted gold color scheme to represent the gloomy future and Frogís green skin and bright attire displays the flourishing of the natural world during his time period and how green everything was.

    The tone of the game is generally lighthearted, but definitely tries to portray how delicate our reality is and the power of our choices. The future that Robo lives in displays the tragedy can occur due to a cataclysm such as Lavos. The time paradox that occurs in the beginning of the game involving Marle losing her existence is also an interesting aspect of time travel that occurs due to free will and choice. Culturally, this game can be viewed as a comment on how we need to shape up and take care of our world because even the smallest thing can help or hurt.

    The conflict of Chrono Trigger is never boring despite the lethargic villain nestled underneath the Earthís crust. Every era has a conflict and in order to restore peace the protagonists must aid the people in that time period. My favorite aspect of the plot was Magus because he was an interesting villain that I eventually pitied. The characters blamed him for summoning Lavos and Frog wanted him dead to avenge the death of a fallen friend. Magus seemed like the main antagonist for much of the plot until it is revealed that he was simply a misguided boy who fell into a rift in time and was still bitter about the destruction of his entire race. Magus was an appropriate villain and after he was set aside the plot did not end because Lavos was a problem even though Magus was ousted. The characters were wrong in blaming Magus because Lavos was going to end the world anyway. I thought the use of these two villains was well done and kept me interested in the plot and made me want to hurry and view the ending.

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    Oct 5th, 2009 at 21:46:23     -    Chrono Trigger (DS)

    SUMMARY
    Chrono Trigger is role-playing game that focuses on time travel. The player controls the protagonist, Crono, as he tries to stop a girlís death due to a time paradox and must eventually go through time to fight an extraterrestrial parasite threatening to consume the planet from the inside out. The player can go through the chronological progression of the story any way that they would like and can even face Lavos shortly after he is formally introduced into the story if they so please(not advisable).

    GAMEPLAY
    Chrono Trigger begins interestingly with a bright and sunny opening to the plot. The story seems to balance a sense of humor with a serious conflict and keeps the atmosphere light despite the tragic events that occur. Time travel is an integral part of the story and part of what makes the story tragic is the inclusion of many bleak time periods that involve much despair and death. The second time period visited in the storyline is a future marred by the arrival of Lavos who destroyed the Earth during the same year that the protagonists happen to hail from. This gives the characters an emotional attachment to Lavos that I feared would not be present. Many games feature teenagers saving the world and I always doubt the characterís motives, but Chrono Trigger does a good job of giving the characters a mission and a desire to complete it.
    The battles are also a very interesting rendition of the active battle system made popular by the Final Fantasy series. The battles are turn based and the characters fill up an action meter and can attack once it is full. What Chrono Trigger does very well is allows for combo attacks among characters if both of their action meters are full. This makes a cool dynamic because it can make a huge difference based on which characters are in your party and whether or not they can combine to do attacks together.

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