Dragon Quest IX


So, it’s been a while since I got my teeth into a lengthy RPG on the DS – largely because I haven’t actually owned a DS for a couple of years. My recent acquisition, however, of a shiny new blue 3DS means that I have a huge backlog of JRPGs to catch up on. It seemed fitting that a Square Enix one was first.

Recently, most of my gaming time has been spent on either the brutal-tastic Dark Souls on the 360 or beta testing The Old Republic on the PC. It’s problematic doing this at the weekend due to both my boys nurturing an unhealthy Skyrim obsession – Matts on the PC and Tristan on the 360. So, handheld gaming is where it’s at.

So, while this is a game diary entry, I have to come clean and say that I’ve done nothing more than stick the cart in the 3DS. I will create a character today, and it will be a little girly called Bague (because it’s tradition, dontcha-know) but it’s likely to be tomorrow before I actually start playing. Here’s to the next hundred or so hours of slime-bashing!

Also (whispers) I should probably confess that this is my first Dragon Quest game!

Fallout 3 (360) & Final Fantasy (iPhone)

I haven’t done a game diary post in aaaaaaages – mostly because I’ve been so busy doing five-minutely status updates via facebook and twitter that there’s been little point. Well, hell – I do still play the occasional game, so I’m gonna make a point of putting the occasional update here, if only to justify having a co-located server hosting the site :)

So, Fallout 3. Thing is, I seem to have been playing this game (on and off) for years. Which probably isn’t an exaggeration. I mean, the game is HUGE and then there’s expansions on top of that. Despite being about level 10 and completing the Anchorage and Mothership add-ons, I’ve barely scratched the surface. In main quest terms, I’ve only just done the initial ‘slap the dish on top of the Washington Monument’ mission.

Long term Nelefans (and those who have had a wee nose through the past stories archives on this very site) will be aware that I like the Final Fantasy games A Lot(tm). I played through FF1 on the GBA a couple of years back, so why on earth am I doing it again on the iPhone? Because it’s lovely, that’s why. Graphically, it’s a straight port of the PSP version, but the touch controls are a joy to use. Not only that, but it can be nabbed from the app store for a couple of quid. Number 2 is there too. Anyhoo, I’ve only just started playing – formed a party, done a few random encounters, then I’m gonna head north to get my arse handed to me by the bad guy.

Metroid Prime (Wii)

Still plugging away at Prime. The game should have had these controls since the very beginning. I’ve only just ganked the boss guarding the morphball bomb (the sentry thing that shoots flames at the war wasp nest) and I took it down in a fraction of the time it took first time round on the cube – mostly because of the added ability to circle-straff while independently shooting other things.


Final Fantasy (iPhone)

This is the fourth platform I’ve played FF1 on – others being SNES, PS1 and GBA. I have to say, the iPhone version is easily the best. It seems to be a straight port of the very pretty PSP version but with the added advantage of well thought out touch controls. And it’s only a fiver – considerably less than I paid for the other versions.

‘hang on’, you cry. ‘why are you playing a game you’ve already completed?’

Because it’s awesome and it’s on my phone :)

So, gabled Garland and I’m heading north on a crystal hunt.

Paper Mario (Wii VC)

OK, so I sneaked a wee go while Tristan was playing Team Fortress 2. So, having woken up in a Goomba hut, I proceeded to go looking for Grampa Goomba, fell off a building, found a hammer in a bush, thumped some blocks, thumped more Goombas, then finally met the King Goomba and thumped him too. Then I saved.

Paper Mario (Wii VC)

So I’m attempting to finish some games that kinda fell by the wayside after The Great Falling Out Of ’09, and Paper Mario came top of the list. One thing I discovered along the way is that Wii Virtual Console purchases aren’t tied to your Nintendo account, they’re tied to the hardware. This means that, shiny new Wii or not, any VC purchases you’ve made need to be purchased again. Nintendo, bless them, did say that if your hardware dies at any time (even out of warranty) they’ll transfer all the purchases over for you. Seems a bit primitive for this day and age, but anyway – I digress.

So, I managed to play about 15 minutes of this last night, but that was just enough time to see that cad, Bowser, kidnapping Princess Peach – AGAIN! Honestly, the man / turtle / thing really needs to get a girlfriend.

Star Trek Online

Ok, so after spending a while playing World Of Walkcraft and watching it effectively kill the MMO, I was surprised at my interest being rekindled by the introduction of an MMO based in the Star Trek universe. So I gave it a go. I’ve only played for a few hours so far, but here’s my thoughts:

My character is currently a Lieutenant 4th Class of a little starship called the USS Enlightenment. Right there is where the game differs from all other MMOs. You have a character which you have to level up, equip, train and so on. So far so good. You also have to do the same for your ship and your bridge team. Each player in the system is in fact a little squad.  My ‘primary’ character is actually a Science Officer and I have (so far) two bridge crew – an Engineering Officer and a Tactical Officer.

Each officer type is subclassed, providing your standard ranged DPS, healers, debuffers, facemelters etc through the types of technology they’re skilled in. This largely applies to ground based combat. For space combat, different officer skills come into play – expertise in rapid power adjustment, ability to co-ordinate photon torpedo scatters, that kind of thing.

As a result of this, a ground mission involving multiple players can seem very large scale as each player is assisted by an away team comprising chosen members of their bridge crew and one or more security officers.

That’s the basic player / party mechanic, but what do you do? Well, let’s take a couple of random missions. I accepted two – firstly to do a routine patrol of four star systems and, secondly, to escort a Vulcan historian to a temple. So, I beam onto my little ship, request clearance, and warp to sector space. This puts my little ship on a digital representation of the whole sector of space, with lots of systems at different heights / depths above the galactic plane. You really get a feel for the vastness of the game universe at this point. Pull up a star map, and warp to the first location on my patrol.

Approaching the first location, I get a distress signal from a freighter and enter the system to help out. I find the freighter soon enough, crippled in an asteroid field and under attack from Orion Attack ships. I take care of the ships easily enough – by keeping broadside to them, I can hit with both front and rear phaser banks, taking down the shields rapidly. A couple of photon torpedoes later and they’re gone.

Scanning the freighter reveals that the crew are around but so are some Orion boarders. The ship is venting plasma and appears to have multiple leaks. So, I put together an away team and beam down to the ship. I’m taking my tactical guy to do damage, myself doing ranged DPS and my engineer doing buffs and explosives. Oh, and a couple of ill-fated red shirts.

In the freighter, it quickly becomes apparent that the crew are unconscious and the place is crawling with bad guys. I fight my way through them, shutting down a couple of plasma leaks on the way. Quick tricorder scan revealed that the warp core was about to go foom, so headed to egineering. Found the freighter captain there with a couple of guys trying to stabilise it. The captain asked me to get them clear of the warp core while he tried to stabilise and get them off the ship. So, fought my way through more beaming-in Orions with the crew in tow, collected as many survivors as possible and got clear of the ship before it went foom.

Sadly, once back on board the Enlightenment, an Orion battlecruiser had turned up. This ship is considerably bigger than I’m equipped to handle, so a quick call to Starfleet was required. Managed to hold them off for a few minutes by some clever shield powerboosting until the cavalry arrived in the form of a couple of Galaxy class starships and a few extra players. Bad guys defeated, crew rescued, time to move on to the next hop of the patrol.

A quick one, this – miners are on strike and a bit of diplomacy is needed. This one was a fun, talky, mission so I’m not gonna spoil it.

Back to the next patrol hop and it appears we have a major Klingon invasion going on in this system – there are half a dozen player ships in the area and a team is quickly formed. There’s a range of Klingon attack ship, Bird of Prey, and battle cruisers, and the fight is seriously tough. A few of the players, initially at least, seemed to be thinking in a ‘planar’ way, but once they got the hang of the 3D combat, the sky lit up like a Pink Floyd concert. Phasertastic!

And that’s all I’m gonna right for now cos I’m knackered!

Dragon Age: Origins (PC)

Dragon Age: OriginsOk, so it’s been a while since I’ve done any kind of game diary post but that’s largely because I haven’t been playing anything except Left4Dead and Counterstrike and I don’t think any of you really want to read a post that just says ‘BOOM! Headshot!’.

Then Dragon Age came along and, well, it’s a bit good. It’s been tagged as the spiritual successor to Baldur’s Gate and I can see where they got that idea. It’s party-based, full of things to gank, and heaving with numerous side-quests. It’s kinda like WoW but without the tedious grinding, irritating social aspects, and monthly subscription.

It is also brimming with truly epic events that make you feel like you’re involved in a much greater storyline. Oh, and it has zombies. Who ganked me last night. Girr!