Goodbye, 3DS — Now Playing: Monster Hunter Stories; Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon

DSGamer wrote:
ClockworkHouse wrote:

Scratch that. I think I might throw in the towel on Fire Emblem Fates altogether. Echoes was great. Awakening was good. Fates is kinda poop.

It really is terrible.

The music is really good. That’s the only redeeming thing I can say about it. There wasn’t a single character I liked. The combat was okay, but the UI, weapons triangle(s) and middling store negated that.

I would give up on it. You’re not alone and there’s no revelation at the end, story wise. At the end you’re technically supposed to play the other two entire campaigns to get the whole story. It’s trash.

It’s literally a game that turned me off on the entire series. I changed my icon, dropped the games for a good year. It left a terrible taste in my mouth.

Between it and Fire Emblem Warriors I'm pretty much done with the series.

It's a shame, I loved the series.

LastSurprise wrote:

Clocky, where does your new avatar come from? I feel like I should recognize it, but I just can't put my finger on it.

It's someone's Peach + Chain Chomp art, but it looks so much like a monster from Persona that I couldn't resist.

garion333 wrote:

Between it and Fire Emblem Warriors I'm pretty much done with the series.

It's a shame, I loved the series.

As evidence of my terrible taste, I'll say that I really liked Fire Emblem Warriors. It's a lousy Fire Emblem game, for sure, but it's a fantastic Musou game.

ClockworkHouse wrote:
garion333 wrote:

Between it and Fire Emblem Warriors I'm pretty much done with the series.

It's a shame, I loved the series.

As evidence of my terrible taste, I'll say that I really liked Fire Emblem Warriors. It's a lousy Fire Emblem game, for sure, but it's a fantastic Musou game.

That's cool. Can't fault you for liking it. I found the strategy layer to be too basic and the character selection and weapons to be boring.

Really, it was the characters. I'm so sick of seeing all these Fates folks.

I agree with you there. I'm tired of the Fates cast, too, especially since I find their character designs alternately dull and trashy.

Anyone have any opinions on Puzzle & Dragons Z? I bought it years ago but never launched it.

I played the Mario edition half of the cart. It was fine, I don't think I kept it too long before trading though. It's a high quality mobile game on 3ds with no F2P crappiness.

ClockworkHouse wrote:

Scratch that. I think I might throw in the towel on Fire Emblem Fates altogether. Echoes was great. Awakening was good. Fates is kinda poop.

Oh, I should have listened to myself. I did end up finishing up Conquest, after all.

I am really glad that I played Fire Emblem Echoes before I played Fire Emblem Fates or else Fates would have been enough to put me off the franchise altogether. As it is, I'm cautiously optimistic that the upcoming Switch release, Three Houses, will learn from the mistakes in Fates like Echoes did.

I honestly can't think of much about Fates that I liked. I suppose I liked the broad strokes of the story in Conquest; it isn't often that you play a JRPG where you're on the wrong side and follow that through to the end. I thought that added an interesting element to the story, and it made for some moments where terrible things happen that you can't do anything to prevent.

Otherwise, the cast in Conquest was grating, and many of the specific story beats were trite and tired. The map design was interesting from a high-level view, but the actual execution of the encounter design was bad. The designers seem to have taken the pitch of Conquest as the "hard" game as an excuse to make every map a tedious slog of endlessly spawning enemies.

When they first announced the split release for Fates, I was one of the few people who defended it. I didn't (and still don't) see it as a cash grab, and I think the split narrative is an interesting concept. I certainly didn't feel like Conquest was only half a game; I think there's as much content or more as in Awakening.

That said, I think the split release was ultimately a very bad thing for the game as a whole, for precisely the reason I mentioned above: the designers seem to have taken the split releases as permission to indulge all of their own worst impulses with story, character, and encounter design. The maps in Conquest are not only hard but absurdly difficult to the point where they're not fun or interesting. Nohr being the "bad" kingdom gave the designers permission to build a cartoonishly evil cast of serial killers and abusers. There are a hojillion weapons and mechanics.

The balance—in story, in character, and in mechanics—that made Awakening and Echoes good is entirely absent from Fates. For all the concern that Nintendo was trying to sell people two scant halves of a game, the problem is the opposite: there's just too much. Too much of everything.

I'm glad to read this because I'm a fan of the GBA FE games and was planning to pick up all the 3DS ones eventually. So far I have Awakening but sounds like I can save my money on that trilogy.

If you play Awakening and loved it, begging for more waifu, then Fates is for you. Otherwise, it's horribly uneven and entirely too bloated. I also think the writing is horre do us, but ymmv.

I love Awakening and played a couple times.

But yeah I never could finish Fates. I think I finished Birthright but got bored halfway through Conquest. Can't even remember if I bought the 3rd part as it was supposed to be played last I guess.

The Alliance Alive is great.

It's weird, though. It's not the kind of game that I'll pop into the JRPG thread and wholeheartedly recommend, because I don't expect most players to like it even if they're a fan of the genre. However, I do expect that for the people who do like it that it'll end up as a personal favorite on the platform.

I'm into the back half of the game, past the completely absurd difficulty spike in the middle and into the wide open exploration of the world with a party that's just slightly overpowered. I just got the airship, if you know what I'm saying. And it's great; comfortable, familiar, unexpected, bizarre. It reminds me of the off-kilter JRPGs I played on PSOne that drew me to the genre in the first place.

My hope is to finish it this weekend or early next week. I'm on chapter 26 out of 40, but the chapters fly by, usually without any clear beginning or end. I'm not sure why they're there. But unless it tanks in the end or my warm fuzzies abruptly wear off, I'll probably call it one of my favorite JRPGs on the 3DS.

I'm a big fan of Saga Frontier 2 and I got the same kind of vibes reading about Alliance Alive. It's on my wishlist.

So I know I'm way late to Fire Emblem Fates, not that I intend to defend it. Conquest was the only one of the three I really enjoyed, and even then the inability to grind seemed to force you into save-scumming. It also seems strange to have child units with no grind available. I'd go back and replay Awakening and I've actually had the urge to go back and replay Echoes (though I believe that's still somewhere in Garion's possession ), but after having played Conquest, Birthright, and Revelation... I am done with that set of games for good.

My concern with three-houses is that, since Echoes was a spin-off game developed semi-parallel to Fates, Three Houses will make too many of the same mistakes. We'll have to see. I would definitely like to see the Turnwheel return, though. Much more so than child units.

I only have one question: didn't Fates change the weapon wheel to a color wheel? Wasn't it more something like Red beats Blue beats Green beats Red? So it was more what "color" your weapon's icon was rather than the weapon itself?

ccesarano wrote:

I only have one question: didn't Fates change the weapon wheel to a color wheel? Wasn't it more something like Red beats Blue beats Green beats Red? So it was more what "color" your weapon's icon was rather than the weapon itself?

It did, although for me personally, I found that made the problem worse. There are still something like eight classes of weapons, and with the color-coding system, they're not even necessarily cognitively related in any way (why should an axe and a bottle be treated the same?). I depended heavily on the outcome preview screen, and there were plenty of times when I'd get a warning about poor weapon compatibility when I had a 100% chance to deal lethal damage.

Which gets to the heart of my criticism about that implementation of the weapon triangle: it never seemed to make enough of a difference that I needed to care about it, but it was nonetheless an extra layer of cognitive work during each turn. It was brain busywork, really. The weapon triangle never gave me the impression that I won a fight I should have lost or lost a fight I should have won.

I really liked how Echoes pared that back. It removed the weapon triangle entirely and focused on a simple calculation of attack power versus defense and resistance, plus the "slayer" abilities like Armorslayer and Horseslayer and the like that do give a significant and obvious advantage. Going in, I thought that would make the game feel less strategic, but it ended up making it easier for me to understand what was happening and plan my moves without resorting to the preview window.

I still like the OG weapons triangle, but overall I agree. If they’re going to go with a color triangle in the future I’d rather they just removed it completely.

Once again, though, I’m not sure I care if I ever play another Fire Emblem game again if it’s like Fates.

As an aside, until you guys mentioned it just now I literally didn’t even notice the color triangle or whatever. I went by the prediction screen only. And I suppose at some point I memorized what characters were good against other characters. At that point it basically means the triangle is worthless, though.

At least with the original weapons triangle you could make choices around the simple triangle. Beef up an ax wielder in case you face a lance wielder. Stuff like that.

I find that fascinating since I found the color-triangle to be a good solution to all the weapons that fit outside of it. It was much easier for me to remember which color beat what than which weapon beat what, so I had the opposite experience you guys had.

At the same time, if we turn to Echoes, other vulnerabilities, such as flight being weak to bow and arrow, all felt more special and key to combat, so I wouldn't mind a return to that, either.

So ironically, as I've been playing through and talking about Fire Emblem Fates, I've also been playing through Stretchmo, which was likewise made by Intelligent Systems and released about a month after Fates.

Stretchmo is the sequel to Pushmo and Crashmo (Pullblox and Fallblox in other regions), both of which I loved, but it's not very good. It suffers from many of the same issues as Fates, weirdly enough, in that it layers on so many ideas and mechanics that the fun of Pushmo was lost.

I can't recommend it. Maybe there was just something in the water in their offices in 2015.

ccesarano wrote:

I find that fascinating since I found the color-triangle to be a good solution to all the weapons that fit outside of it. It was much easier for me to remember which color beat what than which weapon beat what, so I had the opposite experience you guys had.

At the same time, if we turn to Echoes, other vulnerabilities, such as flight being weak to bow and arrow, all felt more special and key to combat, so I wouldn't mind a return to that, either.

I literally didn’t even notice it.

Once again, though, I found the UI in Fates terrible. And all the weapons and classes caused me to give up on understanding the systems at a certain point.

I picked up a year (years?) old Etrian Odyssey Untold save. It's remarkable how easy it is to get back into that game and also how difficult. There's no story to remember, but what in the hell was my goal, again?

The Alliance Alive has one of the strangest late game quest lines that I've ever seen.

The last thing you need to do before you fight the Big Bad is talk to the one guy in the whole world who knows how to get you there. Naturally, he won't do this for free. He gives you two options: pay him an ungodly sum of money, or give him four treasures from four powerful enemies.

This is where it gets weird.

The ungodly sum of money happens to exactly match an amount of money you just got as a quest reward minutes before. So option A is easy: just give him the money you already have. You didn't even have time to get attached to it.

At the same time, if you opt to get the treasures, you can find the powerful enemies and just... ask for them. And they'll say yes! One will give it to you for free; one will let you borrow it until later in the game; one will only require that you rename your ship. Only one of the treasures has a remotely onerous cost: a 5% hit to your max HP and MP.

Oh, and if you collect the treasures and give them to the guy, he'll give them all right back.

For a quest line that looks challenging and tedious and frustrating, it's remarkably easy to just coast right on through it.

That's pretty funny. I'm not familiar with the game, is it the kind that regularly messes with the player's expectations?

That is pretty weird. Are the treasures worthwhile to the party, or are they just MacGuffins?

LastSurprise wrote:

That is pretty weird. Are the treasures worthwhile to the party, or are they just MacGuffins?

Ish? None of them are especially useful to me, but a lot of that has to do with my party composition.

Stevintendo wrote:

That's pretty funny. I'm not familiar with the game, is it the kind that regularly messes with the player's expectations?

I wouldn't say so. When I think of games that deliberately mess with player expectations, I think of things like Undertale that self-consciously and winkingly set up situations that are familiar and then let you know how they're being subverted. Alliance Alive isn't like that. It's just very individual; sometimes it does things like you'd expect, and sometimes it goes off in its own weird direction. More than subverting expectations, it simply doesn't seem beholden to them.

ClockworkHouse wrote:
Stevintendo wrote:

That's pretty funny. I'm not familiar with the game, is it the kind that regularly messes with the player's expectations?

I wouldn't say so. When I think of games that deliberately mess with player expectations, I think of things like Undertale that self-consciously and winkingly set up situations that are familiar and then let you know how they're being subverted. Alliance Alive isn't like that. It's just very individual; sometimes it does things like you'd expect, and sometimes it goes off in its own weird direction. More than subverting expectations, it simply doesn't seem beholden to them.

Undertale is exactly the game I was thinking of when I read your post. I guess that's pretty cool that the game's unique. The examples you gave are so random though.

I finished up The Alliance Alive! There's not much I can say about it that I haven't already said. It's not for everyone, but I found it charming, unique, and really engaging. As an added bonus, it's pretty short for a JRPG; I wrapped it with just under 35 hours on the clock.

Sounds like a must play! Your last anecdote was pretty funny too.

I had just written elsewhere that I was going to write about finishing Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks on the 3DS thread. Then I realized I've never posted on the 3DS thread, and it's actually been dormant for a few months. In my mind, Clocky's bucket-list thread was the 3DS thread.

Anyway, I'm here now, so I'll share my thoughts. On the one hand, Spirit Tracks gets a lot of things right about the traditional Zelda formula. The dungeons are well designed and some of the items are interesting, especially including the new Sand Wand. The bonus train stops have some really well-thought-out puzzles. On balance, I'm glad I played it.

On the other hand, there were a number of things about it that bothered me. First, I tend not to like the child-link side of the series (Wind Waker, Phantom Hourglass, and this one). The idea of the legendary hero as this great warrior who is also a child never sat well with me. Second, I found the story super boring; it almost might as well not have exited, and I was immediately less interested as soon as any cut scene began. Third, and most irritating, I didn't like the choice to make Phantom Hourglass and Spirit Tracks purely controlled by stylus. Neither of the games are terribly hard, so the stylus controls work fine -- most of the time. But every once in a while, you run into a section where greater precision is helpful, or where it would be really nice to be able to walk with one input and slash with another one.

The endgame felt like it really hit on that irritation about controls. In my fight against Malladus (why don't we just call him Ganon?), it took me the longest time to block his projectiles, especially where I needed to do the double-spin attack to catch them all. I could have made it through much more easily with a controller, and I don't love arbitrary difficulty through bad input design.

Oh well. On to the next one!

I liked the touch controls for the DS Zelda games, for the most part. I especially liked things like drawing the path of the boomerang. But I hated driving the ship and train around. I wouldn't mind revisiting the idea of a touch-driven Zelda game, but not those two.


Meanwhile, this thread is sitting a bit dormant not because I've given up but because the three games I'm playing (Etrian Untold; Xenoblade; Dragon Quest) are all looong games. Seems pointless to post every few days, "Yep. Still playing."