Game Ramblings #8 – Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King

More Info from Square Enix

  • Genre:JRPG
  • Platform:PS2
  • Also Available On:Android, iOS, 3DS (Japan Only)


  • Full Story Completion
  • Roughly 75 hours

Dragon Quest 8 is really a classic of a very core RPG.  It has a simple turn based battle system, but a good story, entertaining characters, and decent voice acting, all in a bright and large overworld.  If someone was to point at a great example of what the core mechanics of any JRPG should start at, it would be this one.  While it hasn’t necessarily aged that gracefully in the last 10 years, it’s still a fine example of the type of JRPG that was coming out at the tail end of the PS2 era, and any fans of the genre would benefit from playing this one.

What I Liked

The gameplay overall is simple, but pretty fun.  The battle system is a standard turn-based affair.  There’s some entertaining moves, particularly Jessica who has an entire over the top sex appeal category of moves to distract enemies.  In addition, the characters can essentially save up turns to pump themselves up and do enhanced damage in subsequent moves.

Visually the game has also held up really well.  It’s similar to Wind Waker in the sense that the cel-shaded style really helped simplify the visuals of the original, but have ended up holding up a lot better than “realistic” attempts of that era.

What I Didn’t Like

Unfortunately also a stand-in of older JRPGs, there were some grindy segments of the game, particularly in the late game.  As I got to the last boss, I basically had to grind to a point where I had near-max gear, as well as three characters to revive.  Once I got the three revive, the final boss was fairly trivial, but until that point I couldn’t keep up with healing to save my life.  To some extent I expect it within the genre to have to grind, but this game felt a bit overboard.

What I Was Indifferent To

The largest side-quest thing I found was the monster arena, where special monsters you defeat in the world can battle out against each other.  There’s some good prizes to be had, but I honestly couldn’t be bothered to run around finding the strongest monsters and run back to fight them out.

There is also an alchemy system for gear and item production.  I used it a handful of times for gear, but without going to gamefaqs to come up with specific recipes it’s a lot of finding books in the world that give vague descriptions of recipes that may or may not be of any use.  Helpful for end-game gear, but really only if you know specifically what you’re trying to make.

Game Ramblings #7 – Omega Quintet

More info from Idea Factory

  • Genre: JRPG
  • Platform: PS4


  • Roughly 25 hours of story
  • All available side quests up to that point
  • Shelved in favor of other games, gameplay fun but repetitive

Omega Quintet can best be described as an idol JRPG.  Per the story, you are putting together a Japanese idol group in order to save the world (or at least the city you’re in), and fighting lots of monsters in doing so.  You hit all the JRPG/anime stereotypes, but the lighthearted story and interactions, and pretty solid game mechanics make this an overall solid experience for PS4 gamers looking for a new JRPG to fill that niche.

What I Liked

The battle system itself was pretty fun.  It takes the time/turn-based gameplay of a game like Final Fantasy 10, and adds some range and AoE mechanics that add a lot of depth.  Moves can be single target,  horizontal or vertical line AoE, or circular range AoE, so finding the right moves and right target to maximize full party damage adds some interesting quirks to the battle system.  In addition, the full party can engage in combo mechanics for particularly large damage.  On top of that there is a pretty nice elemental system for additional damage bonuses, with the addition of individual weapon types per-character that act as elements.  Overall the battle system takes some well established gameplay from other games, and adds a lot of potential depth possibilities to really round out the battle situations.

The characters and interactions between them are also fun.  For the most part the game doesn’t take itself very seriously, so a lot of the dialogue ends up being pretty light hearted.  However, for the type of slice-of-life in a post apocalyptic world that the game takes place in, it adds a very non-serious tone that I feel fit the game well.

What I Didn’t Like

Missable side quests bug me in most games.  In this case, the side quests are time limited, but not always in the most obvious way.  My tendency ended up being to crunch on side quests until I finished them all, while avoiding story triggers that I knew about.  In some cases, missing the side quests meant missing moves that aid overworld navigation and interaction, blocking some additional treasures that would otherwise be available in hidden spots.  It didn’t end up penalizing me particularly much, but I prefer games that allow side quests to be done at leisure, particularly when they can have long-term negative consequences in the game.

What I Was Indifferent To

Overall the individual zones were pretty average.  The world consists of a 2D world map, then a bunch of smaller 3D zones with more or less linear paths.  As the game progresses, different environmental interactions open up the areas a bit more, but the maps still tend towards being pretty compact, with usually 3-5 enemy types per environment.

Side quests also tended towards being just kill x monsters, collect y items, etc.  Overall they were simple objectives, but to some extent felt necessary for character growth to at least be grinding them out a bit.  They provided for the bulk of easy points for gear purchases and upgrades throughout the game, so doing side quests was beneficial enough to worry about keeping them completed, but didn’t add much to the experience.

Game Ramblings #6 – Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA F 2nd

More Info from Sega

  • Genre: Rhythm
  • Platform: Playstation Vita (Also available for PS3)


  • Full Completion Normal/Hard, all but 2 songs Extreme difficulty
  • Completion of all available song DLC at the time of playthrough

Project Diva is very obviously a game concentrated around the Japanese Vocaloid characters and music.  However, underneath the surface, there’s a really strong music rhythm game to be had.  There’s a large variety of content to run through, a nice range of difficulties, and a lot of side-activities for completionists to run through.  If you’re fine with the very much anime-styled experience to be had with this, it’s one of the better rhythm games I’ve seen on a a portable system of late.

What I Liked

Overall the rhythm gameplay was pretty well put together.  The core actions are all button presses, but there’s a mix of straight symbol/d-pad presses, combination symbol/d-pad at the same time (Ex: X + D-Pad down), as well as hold variants typical of the genre.  On the Vita, there is also screen swipes with the inclusion of the front touchscreen.  By the time I got into the extreme difficulty, I was playing a lot of thumb gymnastics trying to keep up with the pace of symbols coming in.  The nice thing about this is that the presses follow the music very closely, so growing familiarity with the songs increases the effectiveness of play throughs, even on top of simply getting better at recognizing the patterns coming in.

On top of that, there is a lot of flexibility in how the game is played, both cosmetically and functionally.  Song modifiers can be set before a song is played to increase the difficulty (Ex: random direction of symbols moving onto the screen), or to help clear tough songs (Ex: touch screen swipes can now be activated with the shoulder buttons).  This gives another nice layer of modification even on top of the set of difficulties available.  As a cosmetic incentive, the animated characters in each music video can be cosmetically changed, from simple things like hats, to completely different outfits.  This plays into some of the completionist goals, where certain unlockables can only be obtained by playing songs with specific conditions of all of the above.

Indifferent, but Neat

The completionist aspect moves beyond just cosmetic changes.  Each character can be interacted with within a customizable room, where you can give them gifts and interactable objects, growing relationships.  I didn’t see anything to this beyond a handful of trophies, but it adds another layer of something to do for completionists to chase after.

What I Didn’t Like

The touch screen swiping was pretty poor.  However, I chalk this up more to the system than to the game’s implementation.  Over time, the typical touch screen finger grime would build up, and I’d start missing swipe inputs.  Knowing about this to clean the screen before songs is fine, but hitting that tipping point mid-song tended to be frustrating as hell.

Extreme difficulty is also pretty appropriately named.  While most of it was pretty much tuned to the rhythm of the song, some of the later songs were very clearly chosen to be absurd.  Double press 16th notes wrapping around the button mapping felt next to impossible on the long travel, small buttons of the Vita.   I suspect the PS3 controller would have felt better with its easier button presses, but the later songs on Extreme often times felt unfair to try to get through.