What am I playing now?
September 23, 2021

To open with thrilling emulation-related stuff. Let's see. My Mac upgraded its OS a ways back and that meant all my old emulators no longer worked. So I dusted off an old laptop with an older OS and that worked well until that one crapped out. So, I looked up what was available on the newer Mac and found OpenEmu. Which works great. And gives me access to some stuff that I previously couldn't via other emulators, such as the Turbo CD. Which means I'll likely be running through the shooters on that system at some point.

But first, I beat Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow because that one had left me frustrated due to a weird emulator glitch. With the former Mac GBA emulator, there wasn't great compatibility, but you'd often have to play a little ways before finding that out. For example, with both Final Fantasy Tactics Advance and Mega Man Battle Network 3, the game would run until the first battle. And with this one, it would run perfectly for the opening third or more of the game. Until you reached the Headhunter boss, at which point the first head would float to her head, float past it and float off the screen. So the fight wouldn't trigger and you'd be stuck in her room due to how the doors lock when it's boss time. So it was cool to, like, finally get past that point and actually beat the game. It's short, but the best of the GBA's Symphony of the Night clones. A bit tougher than that game due to a couple bosses, in particular Death and Julius. Had to grind a fair bit to beat Death, since I was too lazy to buy a bunch of potions.

Now, I'm working through the Super Famicom's Star Ocean, as part of my ongoing attempt to be a completionist for way too many series for any sane person to even remotely understand. It's decent. It's no Second Story, but no other Star Ocean is, so there's that. Up to the Parj Temple, where I'm partway through it.

Also been playing various Genesis stuff. Decap Attack is a very average platformer that just sort of exists in that "it's not bad, but it's not particularly good" zone and Phantasy Star III is one of those weird RPGs that's super-tough at the beginning because you're undermanned and only one character can heal. Then I made it to the second generation with a main guy who can heal, as well as Mieu, and I've just been cruising through things. As per the norm with this series, things are just so much more fun when you use online maps to find your way through dungeons instead of muddling along all those corridors and rooms that look the exact same using nothing but guesswork and intuition.

Getting closer to the end of Avernum 2: Crystal Souls on Steam. As in, I've very little to do other than working towards the completion of the three main quests (recover and return the three crystal souls, destroy the Empire's portal, kill the wizard Garzahd). In fact, I'm doing about the last other thing, which is the return to the Vahnatai lands in order to kill everything that I wasn't strong enough to kill during the mandated early-game visit there. Which, admittedly, will be a bit of work, dealing with a number of dungeons.

On the PS4, I just finished Okami HD. It was fun to play that game again. It would have been more fun if there was a new mode added for this version that replaced Issun with a sidekick who isn't the world's most annoying being. Basically like being saddled with a hyperactive child whose only desire is to be the center of attention at all time, while also being this annoying helper, openly solving some puzzles if you don't instantly figure it out on your own, while also criticizing you every time you make a mistake performing a brush stroke. On the positive side, I love about everything about the Ninetails arc and there are some really enjoyable boss fights and dungeons in this game. Maybe didn't need to fight Orochi three different times (two in the final hours of the game), but that's a minor complaint.

My next disc in the machine: Nioh. Because I'm a sucker for the Souls formula and after doing a game based on Japanese mythology, why not do another based on it? I'm like totally far into this one right now. As in the very first shrine in the intro dungeon, Tower of London. Two observations: 1. From his appearance, it's nice to be controlling Witcher 3 era Geralt of Rivia's separated-at-birth twin. 2. While I've read there are a few differences between this and a Souls game as far as gameplay goes, you couldn't guess that from those opening moments. Looking forward to diving further into this one.

On PS Now, I'm working through Tales of Zestiria and Atelier Rorona. With the former, I'm doing the elemental trials. It's a decent game with a million battle options that all can be distilled down to "hit the hell out of them buttons in all sorts of combinations". Everything's competent and all and the character interactions are fun, so it at least ranks a bit above average. I'm still early into the latter (1/2 to 2/3 of the way through the first mission's three-month deadline). I've fulfilled the terms of that mission, so I get to use the rest of my time to fulfill as many missions as possible, while also making more of those main quest items to get more stars. With how the focus of this game is solely about making stuff to keep the shop afloat, it's different from what I usually play. Which is good. I had stagnated on JRPGs for a good while and, as a result, I've found that the ones that do the best at keeping my interest are at least "different". Whether it be an original battle system or a more open-world vibe or whatever, I just like stuff where it doesn't feel like I've played it a few dozen times.

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dagoss dagoss - September 23, 2021 (04:18 PM)
I replayed Aria of Sorrow earlier this year after playing Dawn of Sorrow and Portrait of Ruin, and I was surprised how well Aria stacked up against the later DS entries. Except in music--the tinny speaker on the GBA SP is really hard to go back to.

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