Natural Doctrine sucks
January 10, 2015

I'm beginning to dislike NIS.

No, I don't harbor the "I'm swearing off future Disgaea games" kind of contempt for them. It's more like, "I'm done expecting greatness from you anymore." Natural Doctrine is yet another nail in their coffin for me.

Honestly, I could tell I wasn't going to like this title much when I started it. The tutorial did a horrible job of explaining the game's link system, which allows you to use multiple units during a character's turn, given that you've met certain conditions. Troop placement also plays a factor in the combat system. If you place two warriors next to each other and have them attack the same foe, they'll gain a completely combat unrelated bonus. Tossing other characters into the mix in various places also bestows a slew of advantages that make absolutely no sense. How does arranging my combatants in a delta formation increase critical chance and damage percentage? I suppose the rationale behind it isn't supposed to make sense, but it muddles things regardless.

Now that I've gotten the boring descriptive part of the game out of the way, I can rant about two missions in particular that made me want to punch out a mime (honestly, anyone wearing face paint would do).

The second mission pitted me against a slew of goblins and subtracted one of my characters because he had to stand on a pressure plate. Thinking that nothing could go wrong, I rushed in and began chopping up gobbies left and right, at the cost of Geoff's (the protagonist) safety. He crawled out of the altercation with mere slivers left on his health bar remaining and I only had one character at the time who could use a potion. Not "potions," but a single potion. There are no consumable items in Natural Doctrine, just abilities made to simulate them. Crappy thing was I already used it... I had Geoff stand to the back while my two remaining girls, Vasily and Anka, kicked goblin ass all over the cave. I eventually came to a point in the dungeon that initiates a cutscene in which some carapaced creatures begin feasting on a dead goblin, revising the objective to "leave the flippin' cave before you become monster chow."

...and then the game proceeded to move the injured Geoff to the front line, right in front of the damn monsters.

Regardless of my efforts, Geoff caught a face full of acid spit and died. If even a single character perishes in Natural Doctrine, it's game over. God, I hate S-RPGs that use such a stringent rule. Besides, doesn't moving Geoff away from the place I left him kind of negate my strategy? What's the point of playing a tactical game if it's just going to blatantly piss on my tactic?

I did eventually restart the mission and succeeded, after having the game hose me time and again in a variety ways. During one attempt, Vasily was one space away from victory and the game wouldn't frickn' let her move that one space! I was, again, out of potions, and all I could do with her was guard and hope for the best.

Acid spit.


Restart from checkpoint.

Screw you, Natural Doctrine!

Today, I bumped into yet another irritating situation, and I've only advanced two more missions since completing the above stage. This time I was protecting some pompous jackass (named Nebula) who was outrunning knights. The hell of it was that he was halfway across the may from my entourage and his would-be killers were right behind him. As you can imagine, I couldn't let this dude die or it was curtains. So I didn't waste a single turn and devoted all of my efforts to getting to Nebula and fighting off his pursuers.

Long story short, they had him on the ground bleeding before I could even get close. Multiple times.

No matter what I did, Nebula kept dying. None of my characters had access to buffs of any kind, and I couldn't throw a potion far enough to reach him. Finally, out of despair, I began trying anything in order to win. It turned out that I had to have Geoff "defend" instead of "end turn."

Seriously. How could anyone have known to use such an unrelated ability to gain an extra turn more quickly? The sad thing is that the rest of the battle was standard fare where S-RPGs are concerned. I pretty much mopped up the floor with the remaining troops.

I've yet to be wowed by Natural Doctrine. It speaks volumes when I pray for meh missions, knowing that the only alternative is to struggle through some unexpected or overly severe constraint. It's as if this game is just itching to laugh at your failure. Again, I echo: Screw you, Natural Doctrine. Screw you very much.

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zigfried zigfried - January 10, 2015 (07:31 PM)
This game bombed hard in Japan -- boulder fallen into the ocean hard. Between that and knowing who originally published it (Kadokawa) I'm not surprised to hear that it's pretty bad.
honestgamer honestgamer - January 10, 2015 (10:16 PM)
Basically, NIS America did a good job of finding the talented indie houses producing stuff in Japan, and then other companies have struck up publishing deals with them.

Koei Tecmo bought Gust, which is responsible for the Atelier and Tornelico games, which were some of the best stuff NIS America localized in the early days. Idea Factory was responsible for a lot of the memorable stuff from that era, and now is publishing its own stuff here (with a lot of PR people leaving NIS America to represent the new company). Aksys seems to have gotten cozy with Spike Chunsoft, which was the third big contributor... which leaves NIS America to publish mostly stuff Nippon Ichi Software developed in Japan--which is almost always good or great--and then whatever table scraps remain (and not a lot of worthwhile stuff does).

On top of all of that, Nippon Ichi Software in Japan has apparently said that if Disgaea 5 does poorly--or doesn't do well enough--that could leave the future of the studio in question. So yes, these are not good times for the company. I hope things get better soon.
espiga espiga - January 11, 2015 (12:23 AM)
Serves them right for trying to censor everything they publish. It reeks of NES and SNES era Nintendo.(Though certainly not to that extent)
JoeTheDestroyer JoeTheDestroyer - January 11, 2015 (08:57 AM)
Zig- I completely forgot to mention them. I haven't had the honor of experiencing many of their published works, both in terms of gaming and written stuff, but I've only heard them name associated with pain. I liked some of their movies from way back, though.

Jason- That's depressing. I keep hoping for NIS to make a comeback, and maybe that's why I keep buying/accepting review copies of their games. However, I always turn out disappointed. IIRC, last time it was Legasista I played, and while I think it's a much better game than its spiritual predecessor, it was still a disappointment.

Espiga- Yeah, I find censoring games released in the US these days to be nonsensical, especially when you consider the number of titles here in the States that have pretty harsh material anyway. I still have painful memories of playing the GBA version of Tales of Phantasia and the scene where they "eat too much."
honestgamer honestgamer - January 11, 2015 (10:18 AM)
NIS America censors much less aggressively than any other publisher that springs readily to mind, so I'm not sure it's quite fair to say their current woes are some sort of reward for that. They leave in a lot of risque content...
zigfried zigfried - January 11, 2015 (11:41 AM)
Kadokawa was once considered the "EA" of light novels and anime -- so it's natural that they'll produce some crap, but they've also released a lot of really awesome stuff. Unfortunately, their games have been almost universally bad.

As for the censoring bit, NISA is hardly a paragon for preserving original content.
JoeTheDestroyer JoeTheDestroyer - January 12, 2015 (11:55 AM)
I also failed to mention that whoever designed this game had a hard-on for goblins. Oh, so many goblins...

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