Thursday, 28 May 2009

2001 Nights

Just finished reading the manga 2001 Nights, by Yukinobu Hoshino.  It was really good, although I don't completely know what happened in it.  The series is a combination of short stories all happening within a timeline of a few hundred years.  The stories are sometimes related to each other, but there are a few one shots in it as well.

Its a sci-fi manga, telling the exploits of humanity in the Space Age.  Many of the stories revolve around colonizing other planets, often with catastrophic problems.  There are a lot lot weird concepts that are kind of hard to grasp, such as anti-matter planets, warp drives powered by black holes, and even a living planet.  Some of the stories really make you think about what could be out there.  

One thing to note:  while there were life on some of the planets, there weren't any extraterrestrial intelligent life.  There were mostly just different types of plants (some carnivorous) and primitive life forms like lizards, fish and birds.  Though also important to know, man was not able to explore beyond the Milky Way in the course of the manga.

Its kind of hard to write a review on it, since its not just one story.  All I can really say is that I really can't recommend this for everyone, but if you are a sci-fi buff, this will probably be right up your alley.  

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Suikoden Tactics

Warning:  This entry may have spoilers.  Read at your own risk.

I bought Suikoden Tactics quite awhile ago.  I'm not a big console game player, so it can take me awhile to get to a game or to finish a game.  Also since I never played any of the Suikoden games I was a little leery about playing it, in case it does follow the series plot.  I'm not sure if it does, but I wanted to play a tactical game so I popped it in the PS2.  

I must admit, I was about to turn the game right off.  It seemed that from the first battle the main character was an annoying little kid.  Fortunately I decided that maybe this was a "prologue" and the kid would grow up or something.  Well that was not too far from the truth.  As soon as the first "battle" is over, a group of characters come on, and another battle begins, and the story follows these new characters, and then the "few years later" comes up.  And the stupid annoying kid is completely forgotten thus far.

The gameplay is more or less what you expect from a tactical RPG, albeit a few odd features.  For one, the elemental spirits that travel around.  They are technically enemies and you can kill them.  But if you leave them alone, they will float around the battle field and anywhere they float over will have its element changed to the element of the spirit.  Now elemental terrain is a bit weird and I haven't completely figured it out yet.  But basically, each character has a innate element.  If you stand on a spot that is your element, you will get healed, and your defense/attack increases.  However if you stand in the opposite element, you will get hurt, and your defense/attack probably decreases (not sure about that, I tend to make sure I don't stand in the opposite elements). 

There are also team attacks.  In order to learn a team attack the characters have to have "Good Will" towards each other.  Sometimes in battle if you have two character next to each other, there will be a Talk command.  Using Talk will take the characters turn, but it will increase their Good Will and perhaps teach a team attack.  Team attacks are incredibly powerful and can take out the strongest of enemies.  It also splits any experience gained.

I personally like the characters so far, although Kyril, the protagonist, is a bit gullible, and too trusting.  For instance:  after a battle we go back to town and a pirate is yelling at us to hand over the rune cannon.  It just so happens that this pirate was one of the pirates that helped Kyril's father 3 years earlier.  Not to mention the fact that the pirate were not particularly helping so much as fighting the same enemy.  But anyways, once Kyril recognizes the pirate, the pirates says he remembers Kyril as well, and says lets go to the pirate hideout.  Kyril agrees.  Well it does so happen that the pirates are in fact good guys, but the way it all happened wasn't all that convincing.  Its like "Hey since we're sort of acquaintances, lets go to our pirate hideout, even though I was aggressively yelling at you a few seconds ago!"

Another instance was upon taking a job from a "rune cannon expert."  First off he's a pretty boy, so in my book, he's not to be trusted.  And his job involves going into an abandoned house and into the basement which leads to a cave.  Now that doesn't sound suspicious to me at all.  Thankfully another character feels the same way.  The job was not a trick or anything, but Kyril's all "sure we'll do it!" 

The other character are cool though.  And so far of the characters I've used, I haven't found a crappy character, everyone kicks ass.  

So far, minus Kyril's ever-trustingness, the only down side is permanent death.  Fortunately, permanent death only happens on certain characters.  If the character is crucial to the plot of the game, if they "die" they just "withdraw" from battle.  Unfortunately, one of my best fighters is a non-story character.  She also has pretty crappy magic defense and gets horribly maimed if magic is casted on her.  Thankfully you can restart battles in the middle of the battle.  

Rita is one of the character that can permanently die.  She starts at level one.  The first battle I put her in, she dies instantly.  Instead of the text "Rita has withdrawn" I read "Rita has died" which kind of freaked me out a bit.  I finished the battle without any problems, and go to the character screen and see she is missing from the party.  Well, that sucks.  Reload.  At that point of the game there are no random battles, so there's really no way to level Rita up.  So I bring her into the battle and leave her on the sidelines away from enemies.  When there's only one enemy left I make her attack my own party to get exp.  Now that Rita has caught up with the other characters she's one of the best fighters I have so far.  

So far I'm really enjoying the game.  The story is somewhat lacking, but I never really played tactical games for the plot.  I'm looking forward to finishing this game, but I'm trying to savor it as well.  Lets hope it stays as fun as it is now.