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    Mar 5th, 2008 at 22:00:30     -    Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn (Wii)

    Gamelog #2

    GAMEPLAY:

    On my second segment, I managed to get past the second fight (after three attempts) and lost once on the third battle.

    The most significant gameplay feature I discovered this time was the item trading and weapons systems. As a character gains experience, they also gain a weapon level, which allows them to equip new weapons. By defeating certain enemies, one can acquire new weapons, but since there’s no shared inventory, a bow user might need to trade a sword he picked up to a sword user. The whole system is very realistic, and along with the fact that if a character dies they can’t be revived, the whole game seems very modern and plausible.

    The storyline also picked up, leading to some interesting conflicts. The main villain at this point is diabolical, killing civilians who stand in his way to capture the dawn brigade. As the young group continues onward in their journey, more people join them and battles have become more large scale and tactical.

    The strategy that this game requires is amazing. The player has to make almost no mistakes in order to protect every single member of their party, and multiple replays of each level are almost required. While I can see how this would be extremely frustrating to many, I find the realism extremely refreshing.

    The music has remained more or less the same, but still inspires greatness.

    DESIGN:

    From a design standpoint, this game (at a small first glance) appears to be remarkable. The storyline is done well, the characters fun and enjoyable but with a serious side, the battles intense and strategic, and the music entertaining and atmospheric. It takes the genre of tactical rpgs and expands on it, adding realism and difficulty.

    The one major fault I’ve seen with the design aspects of the game so far has been the AI. At some points, enemy units almost allow themselves to be killed easily, without positioning themselves in strategic ways. It’s unclear whether this was done to make the game easier or just an oversight, but at times it feels like the enemy is waiting for you to come kill them.

    Another issue is the difficulty. Having to repeat maps over and over again can really tire out a player, unless they enjoy the punishment. I can only imagine how upset you would be if you reach the boss of a level after a long and grueling battle only to move a unit one space too far and die, losing the game. The difficulty problem could be solved by making counterattacks less powerful- but by doing so battles become less strategic. As such, there is a trade off, and I believe the developers of this game made the right choice in sacrificing ease of play for strategy.

    The level design of each map is really interesting, as well. The first two battles take place in pretty interesting city terrain, and maneuvering through the battlefield creating choke-points and positioning ranged units in firing distance is fun. The third level is inside a manor, and the battle has a more cluttered feel, adding to the atmosphere.

    Overall, I thought the game so far has been a blast. The difficulty, strategy, music, and story all help to push this game to a new level of fun I haven’t experienced in a while.

    This entry has been edited 1 time. It was last edited on Mar 5th, 2008 at 22:02:22.

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    Mar 5th, 2008 at 22:00:13     -    Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn (Wii)

    Gamelog #1

    SUMMARY:

    Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn is a turn-based strategy game for the Nintendo Wii. Sequel to Path of Radiance, the game deals with the story of the dawn brigade. Known for its amazing difficulty and music, Fire Emblem games first gained notoriety with the inclusion of Marth and Roy in Super Smash Bros. Melee.

    GAMEPLAY:

    I’ve heard of the fire emblem games, but never had a chance to play them. As such, I was really excited to give this one a try.

    The game began with several cutscenes showing the fall of a castle and a large battle taking place. Not much has yet been explained, but watching the scene unfold was certainly exciting. After the battle, the story shifted over to Micaiah and a man escaping. Micaiah is evidently the leader of a group called the dawn brigade, and the soldiers have been ordered to capture her. She manages to escape to a nearby city, where the first battle of the game takes place.

    You begin with two units faced off against eight enemies. This tutorial stage doesn’t do much in the way of showing you how to play, but does offer a slow introduction to the battle system. I learned of different battle mechanics as I progressed, like the different between mage, ranged, and melee attackers, how to judge distances between enemies, and the counter-attack system. I managed to fight off most of the enemies until the boss caught me off guard and defeated my melee attacker, ending the game.

    On my second try at the battle, I once again got to the boss, but underestimated his counterattacking capabilities and lost a character again. It appears that the death of one character means an instant game over, so I can see why people say this game is so difficult.

    Because I am no stranger to tactical rpgs like this one, I could quickly understand the battle system. However, without much of a tutorial at all, I can see how players might get frustrated- especially with the fact that if one character dies it’s game over. That amount of realism in the game is actually pretty cool, though. If a character dies in this game, (it appears) there is no miraculous way to revive them. I wonder if, in some battles, your characters can die and you not lose, changing the final outcome of the storyline.

    One thing I noticed while playing was that the cinematic experience was exceptional. I loved the music and presentation of the storyline, and, despite not fully understanding what was taking place, I quickly became attached to the characters. Hopefully the game will attempt to enlighten me on the events of the past game, and I won’t be too confused as time goes on.

    I haven’t yet managed to beat the first level, but I believe I have a pretty good strategy to use for my third try. Now that I understand the combat system more, this should be easy.

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    Feb 21st, 2008 at 00:20:27     -    Gradius 3 (SNES)

    Gamelog Entry #2

    GAMEPLAY

    My second run-through saw little improvement in my skill over the first. I finally died in almost the same place I did the first run-through, despite my better knowledge of the power up system and enemy attack patterns.

    This time, I tried slowly building up my ship while protecting myself for as long as possible. This strategy seemed to work- at one point I was equipped with 3 wingmen and a ripple laser. It was really fun to destroy enemies this way, and really frustrating when I died. I was still relying on the massive destruction attack, but I found that using it would reset the powerups I had built up until then so I had to be more careful with my usage of it. The game definitely showed promise- it could easily reward skilled players and make you feel good when you managed to finally change your craft into a death machine.

    The enemy formations this time were mostly the same, but I learned some new things about how the game worked. For example, I found that, in most cases, destroying an entire wave of enemies almost guaranteed a powerup, so I had to maneuver my ship carefully so as to not miss any of the wave. If I ended up missing one or two enemy ships, I would focus my attention away from those enemies knowing I probably would not get rewarded with a powerup. Small little things like this in the game made it pretty fun, although still at times very challenging, almost to a point of cruelty.

    DESIGN

    From what I’ve witnessed, there are three main things that make a shmup. The first is the powerup system, and the ways you can increase your ship’s capabilities. Gradius 3 does a good job in this aspect, allowing for interesting combinations of powerups and careful strategical planning to ensure that you remain alive with as much power as possible. The second is the enemy formations and level design. Forcing a player to be in certain places at certain times and offering the powerup rewards in certain locations allow the designers to carefully manage where your ship will end up, and they can edit the attack patterns of the enemy ships using that principle. The third aspect of a shmup that I noticed here was, of course, the bosses. I never really had much difficulty with the bosses in this game, as I had unlimited bombs. However, I did, at times, allow the bosses to live and watch and see what types of attack patterns they had. The bosses look cool and unleash a variety of interesting attacks, always forcing you to move throughout the screen. I was disappointed with the lack of challenge, however.

    The atmosphere of the game, although basic, added to the fun that I experienced while playing it. I liked going through space and shooting enemies, and I really enjoyed the level design when I finally made it to the volcanoes in the third level. Maneuvering in-between erupting volcanoes while dodging enemies and shooting powerful weapons was definitely the high-point of my game experience. My only criticism with the atmosphere is the repetition- in the first few levels I played, most of them where the same, with slight color variations. The volcano section was able to stand out, and I’m sure as you progress further into the game the environments become even better.

    Perhaps the most frustrating aspect of the design, however, was the difficulty. Getting hit with one attack after carefully avoiding so many and having built up such a strong ship was aggravating and at times made me want to stop playing. Gradius 3 could have had an easier learning curve, allowing the player more room to master the controls and learn how to avoid enemies. I felt, however, that the more I played I really didn’t improve, and the sporadic movement of the ship that I was forced to make to avoid attacks got to be, at times, very tiring. The game seems better suited toward fans of the genre, with some prior experience preferred.

    Overall though, I thought this was an excellent game. I enjoyed the upbeat music and atmospheres, especially liked the powerup system, and enjoyed gaining new powers to kill enemies with. The difficulty was a slight put-off, but with more skill I’m sure the game will only improve.

    This entry has been edited 1 time. It was last edited on Feb 21st, 2008 at 00:21:04.

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    Feb 21st, 2008 at 00:20:05     -    Gradius 3 (SNES)

    Gamelog Entry #1

    SUMMARY

    For this gamelog, I chose to play Gradius 3 for the Super Nintendo. I’ve never really played shmups much, so this should be a fun experience.

    Gradius 3 is a side scrolling adventure in which you pilot your spaceship through waves of enemies and bosses. As you kill more enemies, you gain distinct new powerups, which you upgrade your ship’s firing and defensive capabilities.

    GAMEPLAY

    I began Gradius 3 with no knowledge of the controls or with shmups in general. However, it didn’t take too long to get into the game. I quickly learned the controls and picked up generally how the powerup system worked.

    The game begins with some pretty easy enemies, all coming at you with various attack patterns. The patterns allowed for easy shooting, and if you carefully positioned your ship in front of a wave of enemies, you were usually able to kill them all. The attacks were relatively easy to dodge, good for an introduction level for someone who never played. I soon learned that one hit would kill you, and I was worried I’d have to start over completely. Luckily, there was a checkpoint, and I continued on my way.

    The second part of the first level had me going into a cave and fighting enemies there. The fights were much harder at this point, and I died several times. As I messed around with the controls, I soon found out that you could launch an attack that would destroy everything instantly, and there was (seemingly) no limit to the amount of times you could do it. I used this new technique to easily clear the rest of the level, and wondered why something like that would be in the game. On my next play through, I’ll have to test and see if I accidentally set an option that did that.

    Aside from the infinite mass destruction attack, the powerup system was very interesting. As you collect powerups you become vulnerable to attacks, and several times I died trying to pick one up. The powerups accumulated in you like points, and you could spend them on different tiers of upgrades. The first tier was a simple speed up, later ones were various offensive skills. I really enjoyed the strategical aspect of the game that emerged from this- do I save my powerups for the really good attacks and possibly die trying to get there, or do I build up my ship first with cheap powerups like increased speed or the double attack and then slowly improve my ship’s power but with less chance of death? I found that I was more often saving up the powers, and it became frustrating when I was almost a really cool ability and died.

    The difficulty of the game also ramped up immensely as I progressed. With one hit deaths, I found it very hard to move forward. Luckily, as checkpoints kept showing up, I did progress.

    I really liked the way the developers situated the various enemies and the cool attack patterns they made. The bubble level was interesting and I felt good when I successfully destroyed a wave without dying myself. I managed to get to the third boss before finally losing all my continues. I can see that this game is not as beginner friendly as it could be, but I’m sure many fans of shmups like it better that way.

    For my next segment of play, I hope to learn more about the powerup system and see new and interesting enemy patterns.

    This entry has been edited 1 time. It was last edited on Feb 21st, 2008 at 00:21:28.

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    1Advance Wars: Days of Ruin (DS)Playing
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