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This review contains spoilers
By now, Final Fantasy 2 is infamous for being arguably the worst mainline entry in the series, but I was curious, is it really that bad? Yes, yes it is.
It didn't take me long to feel this way since after about 10 minutes of grinding in the overworld, I went about 6 steps south of Altair and ran into high level enemies that killed me. That's my first, of many, issues with Final Fantasy 2. If you don't go exactly where the game wants you to, you'll stumble on late-game enemies that kill you, and you won't be able to flee from them either since levelling up Agility in this game is non-sensical. I hate the levelling up system in this game (or lack thereof). The Nature vs Nurture system of Final Fantasy 2 makes sense in concept, the more you do something, the better you are at it, and this works for some stats like Strength being tied to how many times you use the Attack command or the potency of your Magic spells being determined by how often you cast them. But to use this system optimally you have to do some really non-sensical things. Firstly, to get the most HP upgrades, you're best off taking of all your armor so you take more damage. If you want to increase Agility, you need to increase Evasion, to increase Evasion, you're best off defending while the enemies absolutely wail on you. If you want to level up the Life spell so characters are revived with more than 1 HP, the best thing to do is constantly kill and revive your party members like its I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream. Granted, none of this is ever necessary since the game is pretty easy all things considered (to the point of being mindless), but it just goes to show how poorly implemented this system is. Also, this system just does not work for magic spells, by the time you get spells like Holy, Flare and Ultima you're never using them because they're Level 1 while your other spells like Fire are level 10 and above.
The way stats are raised isn't even my main issue with the game, it's the dungeons. It's like they're designed to be as frustrating as humanly possible. This is because these dungeons are completely loaded with dead ends, or they have a treasure chest with a Monster-in-the-box, FF2 is the first to introduce them, yey... There's also an absolutely ungodly amount of trap rooms where you're thrown into the middle of the room, and these rooms have such a sky high encounter rate that you'll often fight 2 battles in these areas. These dungeons also drag on for about 4-10 floors and it's exhausting and the constant encounters everytime you take 5 steps drove me nuts. The dungeons are designed to drag on as long as possible to drain you of your MP so when you fight the boss at the end, you're Fucked, because the bosses have an absurd amount of physical defence so magic is the only real way to damage them. FF1 dungeons were basic but you never felt like the designers were going out of their way to piss you off like they do here.
Another thing I don't get is the temporary party members that assist you throughout your adventure. Minwu and Josef are useful, but Leila, Ricard and Gordon suck, they have no magic, die in record speed and you never want to use them because having them perform actions decreases the chance of your other characters levelling up. Leon also joins way too late for him to be useful.
The reason they're temporary is because most of them die. FF2s story is surprisingly depressing and it's the high point of the game for me. Right from the start you see the Empire wreaking havoc and that continues for the entire game as NPCs you once interacted with get killed by the Dreadnought and towns get completely destroyed to the point where you can't go to them anymore. It does wonders in establishing the Empire as a threat and some moments are genuinely gut-wrenching like when you inform Nelly about Josef's death. There's too many deaths for them all to hit hard though and the characters are all very basic, but the story is a huge step up from FF1 regardless. I also like Emperor Mattheus as a villain, you feel his presence for the entire game and him going to hell and overcoming Satan is hilariously badass, he's my favourite villain out of the ones from FF1-5. The music (atleast on the PSP) is pretty solid, with highlights for me being Magician's Tower and the Rebel Army Theme.
The PSP version also does a lot of things to improve on the original FF2. Grinding spells doesn't take forever, you don't have a limited inventory, spells aren't insanely expensive and improving one stat won't lower a different one in this version.
But even with the improvements, it doesn't salvage what I think is a pretty terrible game overall. I can appreciate FF2 for introducing a lot of series staples like being the first game to have Cid, Chocobos, the Ultima Spell, Phoenix Downs, enemies like Flans, Malboros, Behemoths, Bombs etc. Most importantly though, I admire the fact it set the precedent for other games to follow by having a standalone story that doesn't tie into the previous game. But appreciating and enjoying something are two different things, and I got almost no enjoyment from playing this.
I initially tried playing Yakuza 6 almost 2 years ago right after beating Yakuza 5 but I ended up dropping it since it felt very barebones. However, after taking a break from the series and eventually giving the game another shot, I can honestly say this is one of the stronger entries in the series.
A big part of that is thanks to the story. The story does start off pretty slow, since you find out about all the key players in chapter 2 only for them to get sidelined once Kiryu enters Onomichi, but once the story picks up near the end of chapter 5 it goes from strength to strength. 6s story shouldn't work on paper, it has 4 different factions all working at the same time and yet it's one of the most captivating plots in the series all thanks to it's characters. Despite being only 13 chapters long, every character gets their time to shine and finding out about each characters motivation and how they tie into the game's conspiracy kept me engaged since everyone here is written with some level of nuance. Also, you get to see a more desperate Kiryu as he goes to insane lengths to protect the people he's grown close to over the course of the series which was great to see after Y4 and 5 barely did anything with his character, This all culminates in what I consider to be the strongest climax in a Yakuza game. People say the final boss is disappointing, and while I can agree, I think everything surrounding that fight is so top-notch that it eclipses any issues I may have had. Also, the big reveal near the end of the game is insane, it manages to be so over-the-top ridiculous that it just becomes the coolest thing ever.
6 is the first game to utilize the dragon engine and it doesn't work well for combat. It is pretty janky compared to previous entries and doesn't feel as satisfying but it still looks cool and feels really cathartic and that's all I look for in Yakuza combat. But some things irk me, particularly the fact that available substories aren't marked on the map until you bump into them and some are pretty hard to find. Also, the fact that you have to level up your sprint before you can run without getting tired after like 5 steps is just a dumb design decision.
Where the dragon engine shines though, is in the graphics. The game looks absolutely beautiful, the attention to detail and the lighting are both phenomenal and I took a long amount of time simply walking through the streets of Kamurocho to take in the scenery, it's that good. Despite Kiryu being 48 in this game, he never looked better. It also helps the pre-rendered cutscenes transition seamlessly into gameplay or in-game cutscenes since it all looks consistently polished. Also, every single piece of dialogue in the game is voice-acted which is just awesome. However, I would take lesser graphics and less voice-acting in favour of more side-content.
I only clocked in 40 hours on Yakuza 6 and that's with me doing every substory, every clan creator mission and almost every one of those lame troublr missions that are somehow even less interesting than Tanimura's police scanner missions in Y4. In comparison, I put 55 hours into Y4 and 80 hours into Y5. It's a shame that Kiryu's final mainline game feels so short and lacks a lot of series staples like training with Komaki or a Colliseum of some kind.
With that said though, the game definitely goes for quality over quantity when it comes to side content. I adore so much of what's present in the game from chilling and making friends at the New Gaudi Bar to Spearfishing to forming a Baseball team, it's all great (aside from the Hostess club, that just takes forever). The Substories in particular might just be my favourite in the entire series. They strike a good balance of being funny like the Kabedon Prince, being heartwarming like Putting on a Brave Face and just being downright awesome like The Curse of Onomichi. My personal favourite substory being Sins of the Father. The Substories in this game put heavy emphasis on technology which I think is really neat since it shows how it's not just the world of Yakuza that is changing, but also the world at large.
In case I didn't make it clear enough, I really love this game. From the characters, to the story, to the graphics, it's all well done and the game works great as an ending to Kiryu's saga. As a Yakuza game though, the game did leave me wanting more but that's just because what's there is so fantastic.
This opus was made by Nintendo's Dream Team, after a Zelda II entrusted to neophytes: the transition to the SNES corresponds to a technical leap that allows the ideas of the original title to be surpassed for an even more intense adventure, which the passage between the two worlds allows with grace. The title codifies the dungeons and imposes graphical excellence on the franchise, in a memorable adventure.
Rogue Legacy 2
It's bigger and grander than its predecessor and yet I'm having less fun with this one than with the first.
This review contains spoilers
babysitting mini-games mixed with war propaganda
Really enjoyed this one. The new engine is met with some minor performance issues, but overall it was fine for me. I liked the seamless entering and exiting of interiors. Great side content in this one, fun mini-games. I liked the story a lot. Combat as usual in this series can get a bit repetitive and there's a lack of style changes, like is found in 0, but would later be brought back to this engine in the Judgment series. I really liked Onomichi too, it's my favorite non-Kamurocho city in these games. Coming after Y5, this is a tighter and far more focused experience, which I think works very well in contrast.
I don't like it as much as 0 or Judgment, but this is an excellent Yakuza title, and a satisfying end to the Kiryu era.
This is like the 90s version of Clubhouse Games and I remember it very fondly. The visuals were charming, the voices full of character, and it was a good way to play various tabletop games without a lot of set up, or even another person. At the time, there were very few better choices for activity packs I'm pretty sure.
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