52 Weeks of Gaming: Week 7 (2/11-2/17): Direct, Demos, and Demons

I was right; there was a Nintendo Direct this week, and there were a lot of games and demos released that I was interested in playing. Maybe sometime down the line, I will post my notes I jotted down for this Direct. Considering that I played 7 different games this week, I am going to change the format for this entry to organize my thoughts.

VVVVVV: At the beginning of the week, I decided to tackle one of my games on my backlog that I felt I could finish in a day or two. VVVVVV is a game that I had interest in for several years, since I thought it looked like an interesting puzzle-platforming game. It has been sitting in my Switch library since October, when I bought it when it was on sale. I was surprised how short it was to complete the game, clocking in at almost four hours. Considering that I spent an hour and a half on one of the challenges to collect a Trinket, the game can probably be finished in less than three hours.

I liked the Metroid-vania aspect of the game, being open world to travel to the areas where you need to look for the crew members. The puzzles were clever and simple, with a few exceptions of challenging rooms. I really like the gameplay concept and wished that there was more to the game. Overall, it’s a solid indie title that I would recommend only if the price of the game is $5 or less.

Tetris 99: Having one of the classic puzzle games (Tetris) and combining it with the more popular gaming genres today (Battle Royale) is genius. I played this game an hour each day since it was released on Wednesday. There is a lot of strategy with who you target during the game, whether you aim for the player that is about to be KO’d, the players that are attacking you, or the player that has the most badges. Each match doesn’t take that long to complete and there isn’t a lot of downtime between matches, which is a perfect combination for players to get addicted to play multiple rounds per session. My only complaint of the game is that there is no in-game tutorial whatsoever, so it took me a while to understand what each kind of target was or what badges do. This surprisingly is one of my favorite games I’ve played this year so far.

Daemon X Machina Prototype Missions: Surprisingly, the game feels fun to play. There is a lot of customization and upgrade options for the mech, including changing the color scheme of the mech and adding additional weapons than the two primary ones. It took me a while to get used to the controls, but it felt dynamic once I got hang of things. However, I had one problem with the demo. For some weapons, the visual feedback when you attack with them were not satisfying. When I used the assault rifle, my attacks visually looked like they were not making a dent on the enemies. Even though the demo didn’t convince me enough for me to pre-order the game, I was left satisfied enough to eventually pick up the game close to release.

Yoshi’s Crafted World (Demo): What stood out to me the most in this demo was the level design. Not only do you have to pay attention to what is in front and behind you, there are also important things in the foreground and background like red coins and flowers. Throwing eggs in the background and foreground felt more natural than I thought it would feel, since I was used to how you threw eggs in previous Yoshi games.

There is a lot of replay value for each stage with the Poochy missions and finding objects for NPCs (like 5 cows in the demo stage). With the Poochy missions being a flipped version of the stage, it felt like I was playing a whole new stage. Considering that I spent 20 minutes doing everything I could do in the one stage, I could see myself spending a lot of time playing the full version. This demo did enough to convince me to get the game at some point.

Final Fantasy IX: This was one of the games that I was looking forward to playing this year, with all the praise it has gotten from a lot of RPG fans. I was surprised that it was announced that it was going to be released after the Direct this past Wednesday, since I though VII was going to come first. Either way, I am glad that I’m finally able to play IX.

            After playing 3 hours of the game, I’m hooked! All the characters in the game have realistic and relatable personalities, which made me attached to all of them. I enjoy Vivi’s character the most, since he has a shy personality and goes through an identity crisis after learning that he might be a doll. I also like Steiner because he is the type of guy who takes his job way too seriously and is vulnerable to becoming the comic relief of the party. I could talk about all of the characters, but I can talk about them some other time.

            The gameplay is like classic Square RPGs with the ATB system, which is how I prefer to play turn-based RPGs. The way characters learn skills and techniques is by obtaining them by using and wearing specific equipment. Since this is like how characters learn skills in Tales of Vesperia, my opinion on this mechanic is the same; I like that each piece of armor and weapons have more importance than in other games.

            The one worry I had upon starting the game was that the visually style would look outdated, but that wasn’t the case. Each 3D model has been upscaled, while the backgrounds are still blurry. I can’t wait to continue playing this game after I finish Tales of Vesperia.

SEGA AGES Phantasy Star: Although I only played a few minutes of the game, I was impressed of what Sega did to improve the game. One of my problems with Phantasy Star IV was that most items, moves, and status effects were abbreviated, and I had no idea what each meant. When you pause the game in this version, there is a helpful list that explains every abbreviation in the game. There is a map function that helps you navigate through dungeons, which was a problem in the original game. Since I have a lot on my plate at the moment, I will return to this game at some point.

Tales of Vesperia: Definitive Edition: Like I have said about the game in the last few weeks, the game’s story keeps on getting interesting the more I play it. With everything getting out of control in the world and Estelle still captured by Alexei, the stakes have gotten higher. This is why I enjoy this game; the story never slows down from the beginning, making me want to keep playing.

I enjoyed the puzzle in the Heracles dungeon since it was a change of pace compared to the other dungeons in the game. However, the puzzle itself was confusing because I didn’t know what was breakable so it took me a lot longer to get through the dungeon than I should have.

            Karol and Raven’s character development hit a high point during my playthrough this week. The party found out that Raven was Captain Schwann and worked for Alexei. Raven’s purpose was for him to properly die because he died 10 years before during the Great War but was saved by Alexei by implanting a blastia in him to keep him alive. My only problem with the scene where it seemed like Raven sacrificed himself to save the party was that Raven came back a few minutes later. That is too short of time to make his ‘sacrifice’ feel significant. I also enjoyed that Karol overcame his cowardice and decided to save the party when everyone else was compromised. Throughout the game, he always wanted to be brave but ended up running away from dangerous situations. It is a satisfying outcome of his character development.

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