jp's Glory of Heracles (DS)
| [August 21, 2022 02:14:07 PM]
| Oh, one last thing - one of the characters (Leucos) starts the game as boy/man - though everyone can tell that she's a girl/woman. The reasons for the cross-dressing are made clear later in the story, and the "we can tell you're a girl" despite her insisting she's not were often brought up in the game and, more importantly, nobody really seems to make a big deal about it. At most they don't understand why Leucos is so adamant that she's a boy when she's clearly not. So, it's about bad acting/disguise and not about gender identity.
It just caught all my attention with the discussion surrounding trans people and so on, and I thought it was interesting that in this game it's not an identity issue, but about poor disguises. I don't think the game is about trans issues at all, but it does show how random games can include something like this without making a big deal of it.
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| [August 21, 2022 02:03:16 PM]
| I was definitely not expecting to play this all the way to the end - but here we are - I got there. I was curious to see where the story and characters were going and it was fun to look at my daughter (playing Hades) and say that we were both playing games that significantly used greek mythology, albeit in different ways.
In the end all the different Heracles' were explained, and it made sense enough as a fun story element, including a few sad and dramatic plot reveals and twists (the "big" Heracles was actually his younger brother Iphicles? and we then rescue/recover the real one - but Iphicles dies?).
Overall I liked the mini-games that you used to help boost your spells and skills for greater effect. There's enough of them that they don't get TOO old, but they also use the touch screen and, you're not obliged or required to use them either (it just means that fights might take a bit longer, but the mini-games take time - so maybe it's a wash in the end? I'm not too sure). The mini-games having different levels of difficulty (pegged mostly to the level of the spell) was also useful and I found that as I played longer and started to get more adventurous with different spell and skills that I enjoyed having to engage with a larger variety of the mini-games. Good stuff there, and also nicely DS-specific.
The final cut-scene was...nice, interesting - but sort of surprising when compared to the intro cut-scene. The intro is all full-anime animation, while the final is in-engine (for the game character stuff) but has a few semi-static scenes with really poor art. In this sense the anime aesthetic was clearly used to start everything off with a bang (perhaps also for a cool TV commercial?) and no one's really expecting people to finish the game (~35hrs for me) so why spend all that budget there? Strangely the game has a Newgame+ mode and a few more things to encourage replayability (there's a list of items with "????" for the weapons you haven't found and that sort of thing).
Overall? Glad I played it, not sure it's 35 hrs of premium entertainment, but I was intrigued by the story enough to continue and from a game design side, I did appreciate the combat system and the touch-screen minigames designed in support of it.
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| [July 15, 2022 07:34:28 PM]
| I'm about 15 hours in? I think I'm getting close to halfway...and, it's been a positive surprise. At this point in time I'm mostly used to playing DS games for a few hours and then moving on to something else, so clearly this has caught my attention more than I expected - and weirdly I'm curious to know how the story turns out.
The game is a Japanese RPG set in ancient/mythical Greece - you're a hero with amnesia - but you're actually Heracles! (at least that's what some fairy sprites tell you) and over the course of the game you run into other characters who join your party. They're all immortals - and that's why you join up - to find out why you're immortal and also to clear up who Heracles really is: you run into another character who also says he's Heracles, so there's some fun with that. There's even been mention of a 3rd Heracles wandering around!
The game is pretty linear with the next place to go usually pretty clear (sometimes even marked on the map with a flag) and the options for improvement are similarly low - it's a game in the style of "you always buy the next weapon because it's better" and the shops have few items so you just keep moving forward and updating as you can/want to.
Other than my enjoyment of the story - the game's combat system is probably the most interesting aspect. It's more complex and interesting than it seems, and in the beginning I was just letting the AI play on auto - and I'd still win, but it would take an additional turn or be a bit more inefficient than I expected.
Since the difficulty isn't that high, you can probably bust your way through the game just on auto - but I started selecting my own options and it's more interesting and fun (even if the difficulty is not making fights a challenge at all). The game has a bunch of systems that interact: there's regular attacks, magic, skills, and automatic skills (that are triggered automatically). The skills and magic are paid for from a shared pool of mana points. Characters go in a sort of initiative/speed order - it's pretty consistently the same - and you pick what they want to do. Enemies and characters are in each of two rows (front and back) and you can only melee if you're in the front row and you have an opponent also in the front. If you target an opponent that's already dead (crumpled sprite on the floor) you can Overkill - and doing so gives you some mana points back! (which is really nice!). If you're in the back row, you can't melee - but at the end of the turn you get a few MP back.
For magic there are 5 elements and spells cost mana but ALSO "suck" energy of that element from the environment. There's a number at the top for each element so you know how much there is - and if there isn't enough, you pay the difference in hit points (get wounded). It's a neat system that prevents you spamming a single good spell - and I've found I've had to mix things up just because of this. This limit also affects the monsters - so spell-heavy fights (and bosses especially) get more interesting because the mana amounts recover a little bit in between rounds.
Further, monsters have different resistances - some might take more damage from fire, but less from ice or electric. So, there's lots of things to consider in combat - my only moment is that the animations take too long and I only realized you could make them go faster in the settings menu. I wish I'd seen that option earlier.
Oh. The game also has random encounters you cannot see or avoid. Sigh.
All this being said, I'm having fun even if the system seems over designed for the challenge it offers (I don't recall if there was a difficulty setting at the beginning?). I've mostly ignored items and there's also crafting (for weapons) and improving weapons (adding spells and things).
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jp's Glory of Heracles (DS)
Current Status: Finished playing
GameLog started on: Friday 8 July, 2022
GameLog closed on: Sunday 21 August, 2022
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