Time to talk about games and stuff again
July 02, 2015

Since it's halfway through the year and I figure I better start taking the Alpha Marathon a bit more seriously if I want to complete it, a few of my games are basically getting played about once or twice a month so I don't lose track of fundamentals or my progress. Those are Eschalon Book 1, Etrian Odyssey Untold: Millennium Girl and Shin Megami Tensei IV.

For progress in those games, I worked on the main plot in Eschalon to get the amulet in the crypt and then moved to the forest I had been killing stuff in, where you get quested to kill the queen of an insect horde in order to find out what said amulet is all about. In EOU:MG, I've advanced to the 9th floor and have done all the Second Stratum sidequests I can possibly do to this point. In SMT IV, I reached L30 and am now doing the sidequests that I'm finally now not being told are too tough for my current level. Save-scummed the hell out of the one where you have to retrieve Osirus' coffin for Isis while dodging Set all the way through three levels of the Naruku dungeon before having a much easier time taking some woman over to beat down Asura (helped that I won the "weakness" roulette by having 3/4 characters with spells of its weak element).

I've finished Deus Ex: Human Revolution (review pending) and Magicians and Looters (haven't written it yet).

Of stuff I'm playing and my progress there in no particular order:

1. Venetica (360): I've gotten a little bit into it -- up to the area where you and two bickering doofuses are apparently going to get a boat to Venice. I've learned the secret to fighting: kite an enemy towards you and beat it down, running backwards if it looks like he/it will attack. The only guys that isn't perfect against seems to be the Derwish (good spelling, guys) Leaders, as they block more, roll more, attack more quickly coming out of both those moves and occasionally utilize a power attack, meaning I have to be a lot more patient and reflexive there. It's subpar/meh stuff, but in a goofy entertaining way.

2. Aphelion (360 indie): Just started this one last night and ran around a bit fighting stuff. For an indie RPG, this is great from an aesthetic standpoint. From a game standpoint, it's decent. Sci-fi themed, with skill trees and a "drop you into the setting to figure out what's going on in the world" story-telling style that I like. Main thing I don't like is how the game doesn't announce the gaining of levels with a big "LEVEL UP" presentation like every other RPG I've played. You have to pay attention after battles to your stats in order to see if you've gone up. Since each level means you get a point for the skill tree area, this is kind of questionable.

3. Xenoblade Chronicles (Wii): I'm hanging around Frontier Village, as my party went from 4 to 6 characters very quickly. Doing sidequests and all that right now, including picking up a few involving tough opponents from earlier. At L37, Reckless Godwin wasn't so tough, so it's time to see if the big spider-bug from Daksha Shrine goes down as easily, as I continue working on that Satori Marsh chain of sidequests.

4. Front Mission 3 (PS): Roughly halfway through Aliza's path (32 out of 59 fights done). I wish I hadn't taken like a 16-18 year hiatus between when I did Emma's path after initially buying this game and now, as it's kind of neat seeing how the two paths put you on the opposite side of allies and NPCs from each other. I can remember some of the main ones (like killing Dennis, who was an ally from almost the very beginning of Emma's), but there are so many of these minor characters I can barely recall.

5. Odin Sphere (PS2): Finished Chapter 3 of Gwendolyn's world. The ice mountain's "constant damage unless you brew and chug Warmth potions" thing was annoying, but this game seems to love its crafting mechanic, since it was super-easy to get poisoned in Chapter 2's forest. I'll focus a lot more on this after beating Front Mission 3.

6. Bravely Default (3DS): In Chapter 2. Got the Summoner and Ranger jobs and now am advancing the plot, which includes the utterly meaningless quest to take a mountain path to Sage Yulyena's house to get special clothes for a beauty pageant...only for Agnes to decide she didn't need to and would be happy just showing up to give a message for her Vestal buddy. Well, I guess that Land Turtle needed killed by someone, I guess...

7. Lufia 2 (SNES): Sadly, I'm nearing the end of my time with one of the 16-bit era's greatest RPGs. Just have to do the Gratze Dungeon, the Three Towers and the final boss rush. When I owned this game for the SNES, the internet wasn't really a thing, so I never figured out THE WORLD'S MOST DIFFICULT PUZZLE in the Chaed Volcano dungeon, so I cheated my way through it. Bonus: I must have grabbed the PAL rom or something because I actually got to see what the Dual Blade Shrine looks like, as opposed to a completely glitched screen.

8. Chrono Trigger (SNES): Another all-time favorite; I'm close to ready to rush House Magus after doing a bit of prelim work (you know, obtaining Frog and then taking Frog to get magic).

9. Holy Umbrella (SNES): I work a bit on this from time to time. It's a fairly tough platforming game with light RPG elements. Not bad, but nothing overly good about it, at least so far. Jack of all trades, master of none sort of thing.

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