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    Mar 4th, 2008 at 20:26:48     -    Lost Odyssey (360)

    GAMEPLAY
    After playing another hour, I acquired another immortal and my first mortal party member. The mortal, Jansen is the first magic caster that you get in the game. With the introduction of magic, the offensive capabilities of my party greatly increased. One good thing about having mortals in the party is the ability to skill link. On their own, immortals cannot learn skills but when there is a mortal in the party, skills can be linked and learned by the mortals. This results in the immortals (usually) being vastly superior in fighting abilities than the mortals. The few exceptions are the fact that the characters are built to either be melee characters or casters so a caster would be vastly inferior at physical combat and vice versa. Once leaving the first city, I found myself on the world map. In Lost Odyssey, the world is shown in two ways. The majority of the time, you traverse the world through a list of destinations that you can choose. When ships are available, you can actually explore the world, though the possible destinations are somewhat limited to ports.

    As the game world became more fleshed out, I learned of the Magical Industrial Revolution that occurred in the world that resulted in a boost of magical technology. As such, everything is powered by magic.

    One part of Lost Odyssey I really enjoyed were the unique characters and their interactions with other people in the game world. For example, to contrast Kaim's serious demeaner, Jansen's constant complaints, sarcasm, and whitty remarks really add to the depth of the characters. The voice acting in Lost Odyssey is well done for the most part. A few characters annoyed me, but perhaps that is what they were meant to be portrayed.

    DESIGN
    Sakaguchi's decision to create an RPG that ignores many of the new elements that have been added to the genre (for better or for worse) was wise. Instead of focusing on groundbreaking ideas, he stuck with the formula created through the years that worked while adding a little flair to keep things fresh.

    The music, composed by Nobuo Uematsu of Final Fantasy fame, was beautifully done and complements the game perfectly. The atmospheric melodies played during unlocked memories are wonderfully moody and match the text perfectly.

    Mistwalker's decision to include multiple audio tracks (english, japanese, german and a few others) to such a cutscene heavy game was a welcome surprise. Although I have no use for the german or other european tracks, the ability to choose between english and japanese audio is a choice more games should allow. I have played many games in which the english voices were so horrible, that I would cringe everytime I was forced to listen to the characters, though this was not a case for Lost Odyssey.

    One unique design element in the battle system is the Guard Condition (GC) system. In battles, the characters in the party can be put into either the front row or the back row. Back row characters are protected from most attacks as long as the front row's GC bar is high. The GC level is determined by the total health of all front row characters. If all characters in the front row are in good condition, most attacks on the back row are buffered and reduced. This system adds some strategy to the fights because enemies use the GC system as well so if there is an enemy caster in the back row being protected by a few enemies in the front row, you must attack the front row to lower the GC and increase damage done to the back. The fact that GC does not come back during battles (unless specific skills are used) makes some boss fights very challenging.

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    Mar 4th, 2008 at 19:16:50     -    Lost Odyssey (360)

    SUMMARY
    Lost Odyssey is an RPG developed for the xbox 360 by Mistwalker and was produced by Hironobu Sakaguchi of Final Fantasy Fame. The story follows an immortal named Kaim as he struggles to reclaim his lost memories and to discover the truth of his immortality.

    GAMEPLAY
    The game begins on the Highlands of Wohl amidst an epic battle between the troops of Uhra and the troops of Khent. After the introductory cutscene, I was thrown right into a battle against numerous soldiers. The battle was fairly straightforward. Once the fight was over, another cutscene followed. In the first hour of the game I played, I noticed that the majority of my time was spent watching cutscenes. Despite being a fan of old school RPGs, I found myself itching for more action. After the action packed introduction, I found myself wandering around an unfamiliar city trying to continue the story. While running around, I stumbled upon one of my favorite parts of the game. I had unlocked part of the "Thousand Years Of Dreams." Kaim and the other immortals unlock memories during the course of the game, and they are presented simply but effectivly with text, accompanied by beautiful hand drawn images and subtle music cues. These dream sequences provide the game's most touching and heartfelt moments.

    Lost Odyssey's gameplay is a blast from the past. It utilizes a very traditional turned based battle system with a unique twist with the introduction of the ring system. This system is somewhat similar to other games such as Legend of Dragoon and the Shadow Hearts series in that it requires the player to have a good sense of timing. A well timed press (or release in the case of Lost Odyssey) of a button will result in increased damage. The rings are forged using various components found in chests, dropped by slain monsters, or purchased in shops. Rings can have a variety of different effects in battle. For example, some rings increase damage against certain elemental or monster types, or allow the character equipped to leech life from the enemy attacked. The ring system added a unique flair to the battle mechanics that make battles satisfying and interactive.

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    Feb 19th, 2008 at 16:08:51     -    Katamari Damacy (PS2)

    Entry #2
    GAMEPLAY

    As the game progresses, the gameplay does not change much but the stages get progressively larger. I have moved on from small items like pens paperclips and have started to pick up animals and cars. As the prince creates more and more planets, a parallel story involving the Hoshino family is shown through cutscenes that show the effects of the prince's efforts to restore the stars. It's interesting to see how each katamari rolled effects the lives of this family.

    In addition to the missions that require the prince to get the katamari to a target size, there are levels that require the prince to roll up a certain number of a particular item to create constellations. For example, one level requires the player to roll up a number of crabs to create the constellation Cancer. This offers a little more variety in gameplay but is still essentially the same thing, for better or for worse.

    There is also a very medeocre multiplayer mode that involves two players facing off against each other to create the bigger katamari. An interesting feature implemented in the game is the fact that if one player is leading the other player in katamari size by a substantial amount, he can roll up the other player and end the match. Although this may be entertaining for a few matches, it does not have the same flare that the single player missions have and quickly loses its entertainment value.

    DESIGN

    Katamari Damacy is one of the few games that developers have made that take a huge risk in creating something truly unique. Before katamari, there has not been a game that utilizes the concept of rolling a ball to pick up objects of increasing sizes. The developers found a way to make an event that sounds incredibly mundane and succeeded to create a fun and visually pleasing game.

    In addition to the unique gameplay of the game, Katamari also has a very distinct visual style. The game models are very simple and blocky and are cartoonish and lack details. This creates a style that stands out in a world of games emphasizing realistic graphics. With the relatively limited processing power available on the Playstation 2, this was an excellent choice and was implemented extremely well.

    Another part of this game that stood out to me was the unique soundtrack. It has a perfect blend of traditional video game music with heavy jazz and samba influences. The game has countless memorable audio tracks that are both catchy and easy on the ears.

    The level design in Katamari was also well thought out. Each level usually consists of various zones that are barricaded by an object that can only be bypassed and rolled when the katamari reaches a certain diameter. When that occurs, a new area, usually filled with larger items to roll, is available to the player. This method of using barricades also teaches the player the progression of items that a katamari is capable of rolling as the size increases.

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    Feb 19th, 2008 at 15:14:08     -    Katamari Damacy (PS2)

    gamelog entry #1

    SUMMARY

    Katamari Damacy is a quirky game about the prince of all cosmos, who must put the stars and galaxies back into the sky when they are destroyed. The player controls the prince as he rolls around a ball, called a katamari, and picks up objects in the game world to increase the size of the katamari. The size of objects that can be picked up depends on the overall diameter of the katamari and range from small items like paper clips to gigantic items such as islands, clouds and giant godzilla calibur monsters.

    GAMEPLAY

    When I first saw this game, I was weirded out by the entire concept of the game. As I began playing, the gameplay mechanics were simple and easy to understand and before I knew it, a couple hours had passed and I still wanted to play more. Despite the lack of varied goals in the game, the gameplay was addicting and entertaining. The controls made excellent use of the dual shock's analog sticks and allowed for rather intuitive control of the prince and his katamari.

    One thing that stood out in particular was the simple, yet ridiculous story. For example, the reason why the prince must remake all the stars in the sky is that his father, The King of All Cosmos, got drunk and accidentally destroyed the stars. In addition, most of the dialogue in the game consists of quirky instructions and responses from The King that state the target size of the katamari for each level. A lot of the charm and humor from the game is seen through the interactions with The King.

    This entry has been edited 1 time. It was last edited on Feb 19th, 2008 at 15:18:09.

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    1Devil May Cry 4 (360)Playing
    2Katamari Damacy (PS2)Finished playing
    3Lost Odyssey (360)Playing
    4Shadow of the Colossus (PS2)Finished playing
    5Super Smash Brothers Brawl (Wii)Finished playing
    6Team Fortress 2 (PC)Playing

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