Game Ramblings #15 – Odin Sphere: Leifthrasir

More Info from Atlus

  • Platform: PS4
  • Also Available on: PS3, Vita
  • Originally On: PS2
  • Genre: Action RPG, Platformer

The remakes continue, though in this case a remake of a much more niche title.  Following up on the Wii to Vita remake of Muramasa, Vanillaware and Atlus have now brought the even older PS2 title Odin Sphere to newer consoles.  The question then is whether this game is only for new players to the game, or will players of the original still enjoy the experience a second (or more…) time through.

The original release was great at the time, but suffered from some major performance issues on the PS2.  This is absolutely the first thing returning players are going to notice as an improvement.   Obviously the now 1080p redone visuals are fantastic, and Vanillaware’s art continues to not disappoint, but the framerate is significantly more stable than in its previous life.  There’s still a handful of spots where I noticed the framerate dip a bit, but it was never damaging to the experience, and certainly not to the level of the PS2 original.

For new players, this is definitely a great game to hop into Vanillaware’s games if you haven’t already.  The game takes place over five core books staring different main characters, and two wrap up books to complete the overarching story.  The five characters all have very different play styles, from close-range swords to mid-range chains up to crossbows, giving the 25+ hour experience a nice variety of different gameplay types.  The stories weave characters and locations together, and end with a split ending to wrap up, depending on how the player tackles the sixth book.

Combat takes place within arena-style side-scrolling rooms, typically containing between 4-10 enemies, as well as your occasional mid-boss or end-boss in each chapter.  Generally speaking, combat is extremely fast paced, more similar to fighting games than a typical RPG, with the player trying to do their best to string together high combo counts, and throwing various potions to apply ticking damage to enemies.  Overall, the skills available allow the player to customize their general attack rotation to fit their comfort level, adding a nice touch of depth to the system to bring it back in line with your more typical RPG games.

For returning players, it’s worth noting that there are two options, the Original Mode, which is simply the PS2 version with redone visuals.  There’s also the Leifthrasir mode, which includes additional areas, additional cutscenes, and a generally refined experience. As an example, here are the first few minutes of the Original vs Leifthrasir modes.  In general, I expect most returning players will enjoy the full remake variant, as it generally massages what was already a great experience into something more refined.

Then what’s the verdict on buying it?  Probably.  I suspect fans of fighting or action games will get more out of this than your typical RPG fan.  In general I never got to a point where I felt underleveled, so the fast-paced action is definitely more of the gameplay focus, with the RPG elements serving to enhance the gameplay, rather than being the core progression.  That said, fans of games with great art in general have a lot to love here, with the hand drawn visuals being even more stunning now in 1080p.  If it came down to a choice, I’d probably still play the Muramasa remake over this, but I don’t think you can really go wrong either way.

Game Ramblings #13 – MegaTagmension Blanc + Neptune vs. Zombies

More info from Idea Factory

  • Platform: Vita (PlayStation TV Compatible)
  • Genre: Action RPG

Blanc + Neptune as the long name implies, is an extension of the Hyperdimension Neptunia series, this time acting as a side story focused on Blanc.  The gameplay is similar to Vita and Steam release Hyperdimension Neptunia U: Action Unleashed.  I’d also played that one, so went in knowing roughly what to expect, but generally left entertained but disappointed as it felt like it hadn’t picked up on the promise of that title.

Let’s get this out of the way first.  Like the rest of the Neptunia series,  the girls are all powerful female forms of various game consoles and properties, and the setting absolutely makes fun of some known videogame tropes.  In this case, the girls are part of a high school movie club, and spend most of the game filming movies that poke fun at the Resident Evil series.  Like the rest of the series, the story is generally pretty non-serious, but absolutely entertaining.  Also like Neptunia U, the minute to minute gameplay is relatively fast paced, and generally entertaining combo-based action RPG gameplay.  So then, where do things go wrong?

Neptunia U at its core was a game out along the lines of the various Warriors titles, where individual levels would often result in killing hundreds or thousands of enemies as I went around completing the story and various side quests.  Far as I can recall, the most enemies I was tasked at killing in Blanc + Neptune was 80.  That right there exemplifies a lot of the problem I had with this game.  It took what worked in Neptunia U, and made it all shorter.  There was less story, less action, less side questing, less progression.  The core game was there, but felt like a step back in the series.  In the end it definitely felt that this was a side game focused on a side character, where the game just didn’t receive the attention that a core Neptunia title would receive.

So, was it worth playing?  Probably, though I’d probably recommend waiting on the price dropping some.  End of the day, these games have always been pretty mindless fun, and this was no different.  I was generally just left feeling like they could have done so much more, even if they just went in with the goal to match Neptunia U.