So I’ve played through several Kingdom Hearts titles in the build up to III.
Birth By Sleep:
A solid outing that introduces the Shot Command function which was very satisfying to use. The idea of playing through three campaigns but exploring the same worlds, albeit with a different perspective, was pretty neat. The story here plays into the rest of the franchise and overall was a decent entry into the franchise. 3.5/5
Dream Drop Distance:
Most of this was just very dull, with only a few worlds standing out for me (Fantasia, Musketeers and Notre Dame). However, the onslaught of boss battles near the end of the game proved to be a combination of cheap attacks and no chance to manoeuvre. I basically spammed Balloonra for most of them since they were playing cheap so I thought to do the same.
The story itself also felt a bit weightless asides from the end. Probably the worst KH game in any of these collections, it’s merits are those worlds I mentioned and that’s pretty much it. 2.5/5
0.2: A Fragmentary Passage:
Short but sweet, this offered an insight into the graphical upgrade that the KH franchise has had, whilst offering a prologue to III. It’s nothing that groundbreaking though, hence the rating. 3/5
Probably never play that. It's become a bit like a lot of Japanese franchises with so many spin offs some of which are important, some aren't, and some don't get translated at all. I heard there's even a plot critical movie for KH!
I looked up the date for the original and it was early 2002. I was a fan of FF, so I wonder why I didn't get it. Either too busy playing GTA III, put of by it not being turn based or just not bothered about the Disney aspect.
Time for a recap of my completed games for 2019 so far!
Completed Game #01: Yakuza 0 [PlayStation 4]
I wanted to go through a title that has been in my backlog for quite some time and I went with Yakuza 0. I have played through a lot of the Yakuza games beforehand, with Yakuza 5 being my favourite of the bunch. I was concerned about going into Yakuza 0 with various expectations because many have said its their favourite (even though a lot of them never played the previous games) and I can say that Yakuza 0 is most certainly an excellent addition to the franchise.
What makes Yakuza 0 really good is the gameplay and also the story that plays out between both Kazuma Kiryu and Goro Majima. The game does start pretty messy with its odd pacing but once you get to Chapter 3 which begins Majima's story it gets much better. I did go through a fair amount of the substories and they were pretty entertaining in weird ways. The one that actually sunk up a bunch of my time was Kiryu's side-story involving the Real Estate, which I intentionally held off finishing because it is addictive but also time consuming to deal with.
Yakzua 0 is definitely worth picking up, though I do think Yakuza 5 is still the better game in terms of the side-stories with the characters. Yakuza 0 is definitely better in terms of combat and a little bit better on the story (5 was admittedly quite messy in places). I played around 45 or so hours with the campaign.
Completed Game #02: Yakuza Kiwami [PlayStation 4]
I immediately went straight into Kiwami considering its a shorter game. Kiwami is quite interesting to describe as the gameplay is actually quite tough to progress due to its style of combat, and the story has aged pretty well considering its a remake with added new scenes to explain one of the character's backgrounds. The Majima stuff that shows up honestly I was expecting to be more common throughout but he rarely shows up it seems. The XP system is the classic style which I honestly quite like and I prefer it over the money system Yakuza 0 had.
Kiwami is good fun and a nice remake if you don't have access to the original PlayStation 2 version. I spent around 14 hours playtime for the story.
Completed Game #03: Onimusha: Warlords [PlayStation 4]
Speaking of remakes, I really enjoyed having a go at this PlayStation 2 remaster of a cult classic Capcom game. Onimusha takes the classic Resident Evil background and camera angles combined with action, fantasy and samurai combat. The gameplay is pretty balanced in terms of difficulty and the combat is simple but satisfying in places. I played through the game with Japanese voices since I heard the English dub was campy (fun fact the Japanese voices version also comes with an uncut scene). One thing I will say is how surprisingly short the game is, it's only three hours long and I managed to get through the game without needing a guide for a majority of it. Also managed to get a fair amount of collectibles and upgraded the weapons/gems along the way.
For a remaster that not only looks pretty good and has a retail release of $19.99 I say give this game a shot because it's pretty fun.
Completed Game #04: Kingdom Hearts III [PlayStation 4]
I can't believe that I finally played the ending to the Dark Seeker saga for Kingdom Hearts. It has been a wild ride and now it's time to talk about what I think of this concluding game to a long and complex franchise. It is good, but not perfect.
Kingdom Hearts III is an interesting installment in various ways. The first is the gameplay which has changed a lot compared to the others and it is similar to what you may have experienced in the 0.2 segment in the HD 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue. In fact the whole idea of transforming keyblades is really cool and brings a lot of fun to the combat (plus you can even upgrade a keyblade's stats which is a surprise altogether). The second is the graphics which looked really good, especially the CG cutscenes. The Pirates world in my opinion looked fantastic and the recent Disney films like Frozen, Tangled and Big Hero 6 were also good-looking in terms of presentation. I also like the character designs for Sora & co. in this game more than the previous ones looking back. The third is the music, still strong as ever and the new Utada Hikaru songs are great.
Now let's talk about the worlds that were included in the game. Returning are Hercules, Pirates of the Caribbean and Winnie the Pooh. The Hercules world is the best of the bunch from its appearances in the previous games simply because it is not a simple tournament area this time around, you can actually experience the film's story a bit more than the usual. The Pirates world is an interesting experience but is pretty weak in terms of gameplay and pacing, whoever decided to add a fetch quest mid-way deserves a slap. The 100 Acre Wood world is also surprisingly super short which I guess is a good thing considering its not everyone's favourite over the years. Admittedly I did enjoy the mini-games for this one.
The new worlds are honestly hit or miss - their inclusion in the game are pretty neat though but some are pretty flawed. The strongest ones in my opinion were Tangled and Toy Story. Tangled is surprisingly fun to experience - I found the character interactions and story throughout to be pretty great while the combat was solid all the way, and Toy Story is just wonderful with the toy store offering a wide variety throughout so it doesn't feel messy (there's even a special tease you'll see that may look familiar if you don't pay attention to it, I'll explain in the spoilers below). Big Hero 6 is good but the main area feels empty so its hard to explain whether or not I like it. Frozen is pretty weak because it dragged out for way longer than it should and it concludes on a weak note. I didn't mind the Monsters Inc world but I honestly didn't like it that much, to me it felt more like an optional filler world more than anything.
The game's storyline is a weird mix in general. It starts out pretty well and as you go through each world it proceed smoothly but once you sort out the Disney worlds it begins to suffer from the same problems as Final Fantasy XV in which the pacing rapidly goes fast and ends in a bit of a mess. Granted it does fill in the gaps for a lot of things but I wish they expanded upon a couple aspects because it was underused - Kairi and Lea most notably. The final act was also pretty disappointing though there were some pretty big surprises in the mix. The ending, epilogue and secret ending are jaw-dropping lol.
Other gripes that I have with the game is that it is surprisingly short and easy. Now I did go through the game on standard difficulty, but the thing is that the previous games all had a fair amount of challenge on that mode. I got to the end of the game at Level 39 and I like to think that the transforming keyblades and the new triangle additions may have broken the game completely because it is over-powered.
Overall, Kingdom Hearts III was a fun game in general but it's not the best in the franchise unfortunately despite the fun combat and some interesting stuff that goes on. Kingdom Hearts II is still the best one in the franchise in my opinion but III does offer enough to keep fans excited for what comes next. Playtime for the story is surprising short at 25 hours.
Now I mentioned a special tease in the Toy Story world and I figured I'll go into depth about this. Before you start the world you'll witness a really cool cutscene that is basically a trailer for a game which Sora's character is based on for the 'world order'. This game is called Verum Rex and it's basically one massive reference to Final Fantasy Versus XIII from the characters to the costumes to the combat to pretty much everything. For those don't know Versus XIII was Nomura's other project alongside the Kingdom Hearts franchise before it got rehashed into Final Fantasy XV due to troubled production and game engine issues.
On another note, the secret ending. Now I just watched it online but apparently you can unlock it based on how many emblems you take photos for - 90 Easy, 60 Standard, 30 Proud. It features Sora and Riku in realistic cities from Japan. It's potentially implied that Sora ended up in the world of The World Ends With You and Riku ends up in the world of Verum Rex.
I'm probably going to take a break from gaming once again but I still have a hefty backlog to sort out.
My backlog so far:
Nintendo 3DS: Senran Kagura 2: Deep Crimson
Tales of the Abyss
Castlevania: Lords of Shadow
Dynasty Warriors: Gundam 2
El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron
Jak & Daxter: The Precursor Legacy
Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch
Persona 4 Arena Ultimax
Ratchet & Clank
Ratchet & Clank 2
Ratchet & Clank 3
Sengoku Basara: Samurai Heroes
Soul Calibur V
Tales of Xillia 2
Tears to Tiara II: Heir of the Overlord
White Knight Chronicles
White Knight Chronicles II
Akiba's Trip: Undead & Undressed
Dead or Alive 5 Last Round
Dead or Alive Xtreme 3 Fortune
Devil May Cry 4 Special Edition
Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth
Fate/Extella: The Umbral Star
Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster
Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age
Gal*Gun: Double Peace
GOD EATER Resurrection
GOD EATER 2 Rage Burst
Guilty Gear Xrd -REVELATOR-
.hack//G.U. Vol.1: Rebirth
.hack//G.U. Vol.2: Reminisce
.hack//G.U. Vol.3: Redemption
.hack//G.U. Vol.4: Reconnection
JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Eyes of Heaven
New Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony
Senran Kagura Burst Re:Newal
Senran Kagura Peach Beach Splash!
Shining Resonance: Refrain
Spyro the Dragon
Spyro the Dragon 2
Spyro the Dragon 3
Star Ocean V: Integrity and Faithlessness
Sword Art Online: Hollow Realization
Tales of Zestiria
Tokyo Xanadu eX+
Utawarerumono: Mask of Deception
Utawarerumono: Mask of Truth
Yakuza Kiwami 2
Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana
Zero Escape: Zero Time Dilemma
Hyperdevotion Noire: Goddess Black Heart
Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth 1
Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth 2
Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth 3
Hyperdimension Neptunia U: Action Unleashed
MegaTagmension Blanc + Neptune VS Zombies
Superdimension Neptune vs SEGA Hard Girls
Valkyrie Drive Bhikkhuni
The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky First Chapter
The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky Second Chapter
Ys Chronicles I
Ys Chronicles II
Completed Games Collection of 2019:
#01 | Yakuza 0 (PS4)
#02 | Yakuza Kiwami (PS4)
#03 | Onimusha: Warlords (PS4)
#04 | Kingdom Hearts III (PS4)
Black - PlayStation 3 / Blue - PlayStation 4 / Red - PlayStation Vita / Purple - Nintendo 3DS
Platinum Trophy Collection:
#01 | 2014 | PS3 - Saints Row: The Third (+ All DLC)
#02 | 2015 | PS3 - JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: All Star Battle
#03 | 2015 | PS3 - Hyperdimension Neptunia
#04 | 2015 | Vita - Dekamori Senran Kagura
#05 | 2015 | PS3 - Steins;Gate
#06 | 2015 | PS3 - NieR
#07 | 2015 | PS3 - No More Heroes: Heroes' Paradise
#08 | 2015 | PS3 - Asura's Wrath (DLC Trophies not acquired)
#09 | 2015 | PS3 - Saints Row IV (DLC Trophies not acquired)
#10 | 2015 | PS3 - The Darkness II
#11 | 2016 | PS3 - Hyperdimension Neptunia mk2
#12 | 2016 | PS3 - Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater HD
#13 | 2016 | Vita - Senran Kagura Shinovi Versus
#14 | 2016 | Vita - Gravity Rush (DLC Trophies not acquired)
#15 | 2016 | PS3 - Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory
#16 | 2016 | PS4 - Resogun
#17 | 2016 | Vita - Danganronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls
#18 | 2016 | PS4 - Game of Thrones: A Telltale Game
#19 | 2017 | Vita - Miracle Girls Festival
#20 | 2017 | PS4 - Senran Kagura Estival Versus
#21 | 2017 | PS4 - The Wolf Among Us
#22 | 2017 | PS4 - Final Fantasy XV (DLC Trophies not acquired)
#23 | 2017 | PS4 - Amplitude
#24 | 2017 | PS4 - Root Letter
#25 | 2017 | Vita - IA/VT -Colorful-
#26 | 2017 | Vita - Persona 4: Dancing All Night
#27 | 2017 | PS4 - Gravity Rush Remastered
#28 | 2017 | PS4 - NieR: Automata
#29 | 2017 | PS4 - The Silver Case HD
#30 | 2017 | PS4 - Steins;Gate 0
#31 | 2017 | PS3 - Under Defeat HD
#32 | 2017 | PS4 - Tales from the Borderlands
#33 | 2017 | PS3 - Dragon Ball Z Budokai HD Collection
#34 | 2017 | PS4 - Life is Strange
#35 | 2017 | PS4 - Sword Art Online: Lost Song
#36 | 2017 | PS4 - Crash Bandicoot HD
#37 | 2017 | PS4 - Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back HD
#38 | 2017 | PS4 - Crash Bandicoot 3: Warped HD
#39 | 2017 | PS4 - Final Fantasy Type-0 HD
#40 | 2018 | Vita - Corpse Party: Blood Drive
#41 | 2018 | PS4 - Persona 5
#42 | 2018 | PS4 - Zero Escape: The Nonary Games
#43 | 2018 | PS4 - Persona 4: Dancing All Night
#44 | 2018 | PS4 - Marvel's Spider-Man
My grand plan to clear off a load of my physical game collection in 2019 hasn't been very successful so far. I keep drifting around onto other games and just getting nowhere with them (or just back onto Smash).
But I'm currently playing Lego Marvel Super Heroes (the first one) and I'm 95.7% complete. The only problem is that most of what I still need to do are the races, which cause more despair than Monokuma could ever dream of.
After owning it for about three years since it was given to me as a gift (yes, yes, I'm an ungrateful b*stard) I finally played through Life is Strange. It is strange in fact that it took me so long to get around to playing it, since I actually got to play the game pre-release at an industry event the developers attended, and I liked what I saw a lot then.
And I love it even more now. What a fantastic exploration of people, as individuals and how they fit into a community. It subverted two-dimensional archetypes left, right and centre. Everybody in the game felt like a real person which is rare enough in any media, but it's also something where a game (especially a game that uses time-travel as a mechanic, in which you have time to explore and ask questions and understand) can really excel in a way traditional media can't. And weird things happened when I played it, not just in the game itself.
Major spoilers follow.
I got protective over fictional characters. The last time I felt as genuinely, angrily protective over a character as I did over Kate in Life is Strange was probably Mayu in Elfen Lied, and that was a lot easier because I had no say in what happened to her. I'm not a protective person by nature but there's something about genuinely nice, innocent people (which is probably why it's such a rare feeling since there aren't many of those in the first place) being subjected to really horrible sh*t that is in no way their fault that gives me this rare, weird feeling. I got so protective of Kate that my heart virtually stopped when I saw her on the roof, then when I couldn't seem to use my power I felt despondent because I was sure she was going to die, but when I got to the roof and started talking her down I felt good. Yes, I can do this, I'm sure I've helped her in every way I possibly could.
And then came the bloody bible passage question.
I genuinely put my head in my hands on my desk. It all came down to this. I hadn't paid attention. I thought I cared about Kate, but I hadn't cared enough to remember what was important to her. Touché game, you've perfectly emulated the feeling of being a sh*tty, fake, superficial friend. I sat there considering the decision for what must have been a good minute. I had just witnessed my powers acting up. I didn't know if I'd be able to take another shot at this...
And I still don't, because I got it right on the first guess and felt like one jammy mofo. But from that moment on, I paid better attention to absolutely everything. And the pay-off when I visited Kate in the hospital made even the small piece of coke that remains of my heart glow a little. But this was balanced out by making me feel like a really horrible human being in the very late game, when I was sent right back to the start and given the opportunity to stop Kate being bullied into her suicide attempt at all. And I didn't really want to do it, because if none of it ever happened it would mean losing that lovely friendship we'd built over the whole situation. Which ultimately boils down to me wanting Kate to suffer so I could be there to help her more than I wanted her not to suffer at all. Later, alternate universe Max even confronts you over the idea you were only doing what you did to make yourself popular - It was by no means specific to that one situation at all, but it still made me feel terribly ashamed.
I questioned and violated my own moral code. Early on, I realised there were basically two kinds of moral decisions - whether to prevent harm people do to one another, and whether to prevent harm people cause themselves. I decided that in-keeping with my real world beliefs, I would only prevent the former. But then people started doing things that I knew would have a negative impact on their own and other people's lives. I started to reason for them and alter their actions. You don't really want to do that you idiot, you're not considering the consequences. It still feels slightly wrong. But at the same time, I made them happier than they otherwise would have been. That definitely merits some philosophical soul searching.
Disliking video surveillance and authority in general, I signed the petition against CCTV and almost immediately made David the security guard my natural enemy and cut him no slack whatsoever, the puffed-up prick. I didn't particularly care if he was actually responsible for any of the dodginess we were investigating, I just wanted to take him down a peg. For doing this, the game made me feel progressively worse and worse. He was screwed up and had a chip on his shoulder yes, but life had screwed him up. He, like me, was only trying to protect the people he cared about in a way that made sense to him. I didn't really know David as a person, I didn't get it, and by the time I did it was too late and I'd already ruined his life. Yet he still came back to help me in the end. I didn't deserve David, and preventing him from killing Jefferson to make sure he wouldn't go to prison was pretty much all I could offer him in the end. Don't be so ready to judge people you don't know, point well taken, game.
I made a final decision I would not have anticipated making at all. I am not a utilitarian. I am exactly the kind of person who would sacrifice an entire town full of people for someone I really cared about. I'd probably do the killing myself. And yet... in the end I chose to sacrifice Chloe (a decision I note I share with exactly none of the four of my Steam friends who have played the game). I didn't do it because I wanted to (I didn't), I did it because it was what she wanted and the characters in this bloody game affected me that much. If you love somebody, let them go, as the saying goes - Chloe was willing to sacrifice herself to save the people she loved, and I wasn't going to be so selfish as to argue against her.
While I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have let Chloe die if she hadn't been okay with it, I would still have found it hard to say goodbye to the residents of Arcadia Bay. Which, sadly, is something I had to do anyway upon finishing the game. They were some of the best realised characters I have ever encountered in a game - All so bloody human, all shades of grey. Serious time and thought went into this game, not just creating a unique gameplay experience and excellent characters but a totally unique atmosphere (I haven't even mentioned the music, which is perfect. I didn't really know many of the artists, although I had to laugh when I heard Jose Gonzales - The album that track is taken from was one of two CDs in my former workplace that I could actually stand, so I've heard that particular song a few more times than I'd care to. It's still a nice tune). I don't think I've ever felt so simultaneously mellow and on edge, and it's set in the Pacific Northwest, which is pretty much my favourite place on Earth anyway. This game has made me both contentedly happy and intensely sad. To only turn back time and be eighteen again like Max and her friends, but to know that's an impossible fantasy, that's the real feeling I'm left with.
That's not to say certain niggles don't remain - I feel like there should probably have been more situations where you couldn't rewind time, where your decisions in the moment should have stuck permanently. Or perhaps it could have been limited to a certain amount of rewinding in each scene/chapter, but I get that wouldn't have worked with the game as-is (I would have been very, very dead in the Dark Room for how many attempts it took me to get out of there, the number of times poor David bought it before I noticed you could tell him to pick up the camera...). It would have been nice to have a final scene where I could have talked to all the characters and ascertained which bloody timeline I had actually ended up in, what had actually happened in it and what hadn't, and get some closure for everyone else (the fact that didn't happen was made more disappointing because I thought for sure it was being set up with the cutscene for Chloe's funeral). The final episode felt a little disjointed and like the things I did mattered a lot less. But overall, these criticisms are nothing. I loved this game to pieces, it was worth ageing in the cellar for a few years to break out just when I needed something damn fine.
I hate kingdom hearts 3. It might possibly the worst game... hah no sorry visual novel... I've ever played. Every single idea it has is god awful. I've had precisely zero minutes of fun and hours of tedious boredom. We waited years for this dreck?
I finished off Lego Marvel (finally!) - I considered jumping on one of my other Lego games, but I fancied a change.
So I started on Dragon Quest XI. I'm still in the early stages (only about two hours in so far), but I'm having a nice time with it so far. It's a very pleasant game with relatively simple battle/equipment/levelling systems compared to a lot of JRPGs, so it's been very easy to get into.
So after my enjoyment of the first game, Gaben smiled on me and allowed me to get Life is Strange 2 for £25 (after adding a couple of 40p DLCs to get £5 off purchases over £30) so I played through the currently available Episodes 1-2.
This one feels a lot more like interactive fiction than the first - An awful lot of time seems to be spent in cutscenes and dialogue between characters with no options at all. I'm also a bit disappointed with the comparative lack of depth in the NPCs, which was one of the first game's major strengths. Partly though, I suppose this can be put down to the fact that the main characters are on the road and don't spend long in each place - There's not a lot of time for them to get to know people. This is especially true of the first episode, where the two major characters you have interactions with are "racist hillbilly" and "liberal hipster" which after the first game's complex characters was a bit of a let down. With the two of them being such laughable stereotypes (the hillbilly literally says "build that wall" at one point and the hipster keeps calling you "my dude"). It's kinda hard to tell if this was meant as earnest political commentary or an attempt at satire, but either way it felt clumsy and a little bit cringe worthy.
One thing it is doing a very good job of though is not making the consequences of your actions obvious, either before or after the fact. It felt a bit like I was on a railroad (ha) while I was playing, but seeing all the potential outcomes at the end kinda floored me. At no point did it occur to me that some of the outcomes listed would even be possible. I would have liked to spend a bit more time with the characters the game crosses over with from the free to play Adventures of Captain Spirit which was an interlude between the two games (and I do wonder if it might pull me out of the story of the Diaz brothers to return to them in a future episode... or potentially Life is Strange 3, I guess) because Chris and his father are much more interesting characters that remind me of those from the first game. We'll see. Looking forward to playing the remaining episodes.
Oh, and the snow is gorgeous and along with the news it isn't helping subdue my wanderlust. And if they don't licence Up The Wolves for the final instalment I will be disappointed. And I kinda wanna go back and choose to draw a dick on Daniel's backpack to see if religious grandma has anything to say about it.
Completed Kingdom Hearts III (Playtime: 35:12:51.) This was a lot of fun, though the pacing of the game felt a bit odd, basically doing all the world with plot points here and there and then throwing the player headlong into the final stretch.
The worlds themselves varied in quality, but the size and scope of them was mostly welcome. I probably enjoyed The Caribbean and Toy Box the most, whilst Arrendele and San fransokyo sit at the bottom of the list.
Plot wise this felt like it tried to tie up loose ends but also leave things open for IV, which I suspect won’t be seen until III gets a Final Mix of sorts.
Despite some flaws this was quite a lot of fun, though it does need polishing in places as it doesn’t quite live up to II, though I’d rate it above I and the other titles in the series. 4/5