Video Game Review: Lost Sphear

Details: Played on the Nintendo Switch. howlongtobeat.com says that most playthroughs take about thirty-four hours. More information can be found at https://lostsphear.square-enix-games.com/home/

Score: 6.4/10

Lost Sphear is the follow up game to the mostly successful I Am Setsuna. The goal of both games were to recreate the feeling of old fashioned Japanese role playing games.

The biggest issue I have with this game is that the game was boring until about halfway through. Keep in mind that the game averages to about thirty-four hours per playthrough, so to get to the interesting part, you’d have to get through about seventeen hours of boring stuff just to get to some stuff that isn’t that boring. It’s a big ask for a player and I’m not sure it’s worth it.

Lost Sphear takes place in a fantasy world of magic and monsters. You play a young boy named Kanata. When people in the world start disappearing and becoming “lost,” Kanata must now use his new found power to restore them and tackle a threat that seeks to destroy the world.

It’s a deliberately generic role playing game story that mimics the basic story structure of most Final Fantasy games. As said above, my biggest issue with this game is that the story is mundane until about seventeen hours into it. That’s a lot to ask of players to deal with before the game gets good. Even when the story gets good, it merely becomes tolerable from when it was intolerable. By the end of the game, I did find myself enjoying what was happening, but not enjoying half of the game was a lot for me to deal with.

Gameplay is a lot like I Am Setsuna, but with improvements. It was as if they listened to all the complaints fans had with I Am Setsuna and then published a patch which addressed them all. It’s not big changes, but many small changes which improve the experience overall.

Other than these small improvements, the gameplay is almost identical to I Am Setsuna. You explore a world map with smaller areas that you can further explore littered throughout the world. Enemies exist throughout the world and if you walk into them, you start a battle. The battle system uses the well known active time battle system. All this means is that each character in the battle has a bar that fills in real time. When the bar is filled, you get to take an action. An action can be attacking, casting spells, using items, etc. All characters have health bars and the goal of battles is to whittle down an enemy’s health bar before they whittle yours down.

This is all standard stuff. Again, this game seeks to emulate old Japanese role playing games. There are a number of new systems though that worth discussing.

First is the Vulcosuits. Basically, during a battle, you can morph into a mech robot that increases your power and gives you some new abilities. The problem with these Vulcosuits is that they don’t really become useful until much later in the game when you have more artifacts.

Artifacts are places on the world map that you can restore with Kanata’s power. Each artifact gives you a passive ability, like improving the duration of Vulcosuits, increasing damage providing a minimap in the top left corner. Many of the artifacts later in the game improve the use of Vulcosuits and without these artifacts, the Vulcosuits are mostly useless time wasters.

Altogether, the gameplay in this game is unoriginal, but satsifactory.

The visuals in the game are its weakest aspect. The game looks like it was designed for smart phones, from the menu’s to the layout of the world. It is not a pretty game and lacks much of the art direction that made I Am Setsuna so appealing. Lost Sphear looks cheaper. In a role playing game, presentation is everything and the presentation here isn’t great.

The music is fine. There’s not voice acting other than random quips made during battle. Also, all the quips are in Japanese since they didn’t bother recording English versions.

Overall, this game isn’t great. It isn’t terrible either. However, I do not recommend this game because it wasted so much of my time before becoming tolerably interesting. This game just isn’t worth the time.

Video Game Review: Bravely Default

Details: Played on the 3DS. Finished playing through the game in about fifty-six hours, though a substantial amount of that time was spent idle. More information can be found at https://www.nintendo.com/games/detail/bravely-default-3ds/

Score: 6.5/10

Bravely Default started out as an enjoyable bit of role playing game comfort food. Unfortunately, the game gets real boring and real repetitive about halfway through, draining a lot of my enjoyment. Minor spoilers ahead.

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Video Game Review: Paper Mario

Details: Originally released for the Nintendo 64 in 2000. It was subsequently released on the Wii U Virtual Console. Beat the game in about twenty-two hours. Official site in the UK is https://www.nintendo.co.uk/Games/Nintendo-64/Paper-Mario-269624.html#media_player_overlay_1016559

Score: 6.4/10

Many of Nintendo’s games can be considered classics that withstand the test of time. Paper Mario is not one of those games. It isn’t a bad game, it’s just that the visuals and gameplay are dated and kind of boring.

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Video Game Review: Final Fantasy Tactics

Details: Originally released in 1997 for the Playstation. It was subsequently released on the Playstation Portable, iOS and Android systems with additional content and with “The War of the Lions” added to the name. This is a review for the original Playstation version. Beat the game in about twenty-seven hours, though that does not include the number of times I died and had to reload an older save file. My actual time to beat this game is probably double that. Official site is http://dlgames.square-enix.com/fft/en/

Score: 7.4/10

Other than five minutes of XCOM: Enemy Unknown, I’ve never played a tactical, turn based role playing game before. Final Fantasy Tactics is the first such game I’ve played of this genre. It’s considered by many as one of the best games of all time. Decades after its first release, I’ve finally got a chance to play it and, despite my many game overs, I really enjoyed the game.

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Video Game Review: Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door

Details: Released in 2004 for the Nintendo GameCube. I don’t think it’s been released for any subsequent console or on the virtual console so the only place to play it is on the GameCube. Played the game for around forty-two hours. More information can be found at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paper_Mario:_The_Thousand-Year_Door and http://www.metacritic.com/game/gamecube/paper-mario-the-thousand-year-door

Score: 8.2/10

Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door is a surprisingly funny, charming game despite coming out over a decade ago. It is visually simple, but the writing and satire here is top notch.

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