Soul Calibur II is the sort of game I used to love. Used to.
When I was in my teens, I was all about fighting games. I was one of those kids that had Street Fighter II, Super Street Fighter II and Street Fighter II Turbo on SNES. I played the heck out of the first two Mortal Kombat games as well.
Then, around 2010 or so, I REALLY got into fighting games again. It started with rekindling my love of Street Fighter II. I remember picking up the Turbo port on GBA and just being obsessed. It was long before I got wrapped up in the hype for Street Fighter IV (and again, bought three - or was it four? - versions of the damn game).
Then all bets were off. Me and some friends started doing fight nights online each week. We were playing everything. Mortal Kombat 9, Marvel Vs Capcom 3, Blazblue, Street Fighter X Tekken, King Of Fighters XIII, Dead Or Alive 4, Soul Calibur IV, and on and on.
During this era I was fairly into the Soul Calibur games. I mean, they weren't my top tier figthers (those were all Capcom games). But they were probably mid-tier. Right there with your Tekkens and so on. I liked Soul Calibur just fine. I mean, I must have because I had all of them up through SC5.
But in the years since, I've mellowed I guess. In my 20's and early 30's I was really into arcade games. Fighters and shmups were my go to. Now that I'm 40, I don't know. The one fighting game that I really feel compelled to go back to time and again is Smash Ultimate. Maybe I'm basic now? Maybe my taste has just become more refined, and I like the idea of focusing on the one I enjoy the most?
At any rate, tonight I revisited my dusty copy of Soul Calibur II on Gamecube. I remember back in like 2009 that I was pretty into this one. Not that the GCN was especially known for its fighting games. But this was a stand-out on the system. Each version of SC2 featured a different exclusive fighter. PS2 had um... someone from Tekken I think? I forget, and I'm too lazy to confirm. Xbox had Spawn, which is kind of cool. But GCN had Link and I think that makes it the clear winner among the ports.
Link makes sense, stylistically. He's got a sword and shield. It works.
Anyway, the positives first... this game still looks mostly great. I played it on GCN through HDMI and enabled the 16:9 resolution in the menu and, yeah it looks really good. I'm always pleasantly surprised when pre-HD games offer a 16:9 option. It's definitely appreciated anyway. The music in the SC series has always been solid as well.
Now onto gameplay. Look, the SC series is pretty good in that department. It's got some fairly technical sparring in 3D. To me, it's on par with the likes of your Tekkens and Virtua Fighters. It's probably GREAT if you want to spend the time. I just don't really have it in me to get good at these games anymore.
I was able to pretty reliably button-mash my way through most matches in arcade mode, and made up to the end boss pretty easily, but he wrecked me hard. The issue is that I don't really know what I'm doing. I kind of guess/remember that there's a horizontal slice, a vertical slice, a kick, and a block. I've got that. But I'm just no good at piecing it altogether in an ellegant way. So it's ugly to watch.
Like I said, this is the kind of game that I used to love. Now, I just can sort of appreciate it for what it is. For me now, fighting games are Smash > Street Fighter/Capcom stuff > Dead Or Alive if I'm in the mood for a 3D fighter. And that's about all the room I've got to get into fighters and learn (and retain) the moves enough to enjoy them. Which is okay, I think. I'm just not the same arcade dude I used to be.
There are some games that I like way more in theory than I do in execution. Games I WANT to like, but just don't for whatever reason. The more I look into the series, it seems that Assassin's Creed falls into this camp.
I first played Assassin's Creed III over a year ago. And what I enjoyed about it was completely ignoring the story and just walking around a Revolutionary War era Boston. That was neat. But the game itself? Eh. The missions didn't really excite me, neither did the story. The combat felt clunky. But running around on rooftops and climbing stuff? That was cool in a total sandbox kind of way. So all in all, the game proper lost my interest rather quickly.
I picked up Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag because I assumed it was a game about Henry Rollins' old band. No. I'm sorry. Played out jokes are played out. I bought it because I'm a sucker for the Wii U, and I had read through the HG101 book, Epopee about French game design and this was fresh in my mind.
Ugh. This game. I want to like it. I do. It's a vast open world game where you can man a ship and explore the oceans. I mean, I saw a whale breach the surface, so that was cool.
The problem is that in order to actually get the freedom to just ignore the story and go off into the ocean and do nothing/anything... it means I have to suffer through a big enough chunk of the story that I'm just tapping out.
The opening tutorial level thing where you have to make your way to Haiti felt like a chore. When I got there I was reminded of just how much I hate the combat in this games. It's so rough. Look, I"m not the biggest fan of open world games like this, but I am a fan of some. I LOVED Grand Theft Auto V, and really wish it was on Switch. I spent a ridiculous amount of time in that game just exploring and screwing around before I even bothered with the story, and then played through the story with glee. I also kind of loved Metal Gear Solid V, and really wish it was on Switch, although I'm terrible at that game.
I do wish that the Assassin's Creed games would click with me. I like the whole angle of it being based on real locations and using actual history as inspiration. I like the weird sci-fi angle of the games being memories or whatever inside of virtual reality, but...
At any rate, I've played Black Flag the last couple nights and all I can say is that I keep waiting for it to get good. But my time is limited. I don't have time to play through a story I'm not enjoying just waiting for the game to open up to me and let me have a good time. So I think that's it. I think I'm going to just finally admit that the Assassin's Creed games really aren't my thing, even if part of me wishes that they were.
I've been playing Sonic Racing Transfored (the name it SHOULD have gone under rather than it's actual and much clunkier title) for well over a week now. That's really saying something because frankly, most racing games are ones I'll play for a night or two as sort of gaming sorbet before moving onto something else. Don't get me wrong, Super Mario Kart (SNES) was a legit phenomenon for me and my friends back in the day, and my wife and I still to this day dabble in Mario Kart 8 and Double Dash, but again, that's usually for a single night of unwinding.
I hadn't played Sonic Racing Transformed since around the time of its release. I was a fan for sure. Heck, I'm pretty sure that I preferred the first Sonic Racing reboot to be honest. But I don't know, I went back to this one on Wii U this past week and kinda sorta thought it was fantastic.
There's a true sense of speed to the OMG level. The visuals are great. The tracks are long and well designed and change upon each lap. The roster is a thing of beauty for Sega fans. It's just a truly solid racing game.
The gimmick here is that it's not a pure kart racer, but rather you also switch between boats and aircrafts. It can be jarring at times, and honestly, I don't care for these sections quite as much as the karts. But it's at least unique. The boat stuff feels like you're suddenly thrown into Hydro Thunder or something. The flying... is fast, but kind of clunky to me at times. There's also the fact that the levels can get a little busy, making it confusing where to head at times when you're not familiar with a course.
That said, I'd still throw this one pretty high on my list of casual racing games. It's got a definite arcade vibe to it, and yet putting time in really pays off. After my week-plus of digging in, I had unlocked all the mirror tracks, learned how to drift like a champ, and found some shortcuts. Plus, I even messed around with the glorified quest mode, but gave up on it because after a while it can drag with repetition.
But as a purely simple and impressive racer a la Mario Kart, this is a solid recommendation. Certainly one that seems to be passing the test of time.
I don't know why I never played Yoshi's Island back in the day. I mean, Super Mario World is probably my favorite 2D platformer of all time. Probably? No. It must be! But for some reason, the sequel didn't interest me in 1995. I must have moved on to more 'mature' games by then, and the crayon colors and baby Mario must have scared me off.
But I did finally play it sometime in the late 2000's when I picked up the GBA port of the game. I remember being pleasantly surprised. But for some reason I didn't stick with it all that long. And I really haven't thought about the game since.
Luckily, Yoshi's Island found its way back to me via the Switch Online service. My daughter is three months now, and she seems to really like watching bright and colorful visuals. So as an alternative to cartoons, I fired up Yoshi's Island and put her little chair next to mine in the game room.
Well, the bright colors really did seem to comfort her. And me? I had a lot of fun playing the game as well. Visually, the game holds up incredibly. I mean, I'd much rather look at graphics like this in 2019 than say Donkey Kong Country or Mortal Kombat.
It also plays well. Yoshi feels like Yoshi, and the levels are interesting. But with that said, I feel like the game would have benefited from NOT having the Super Mario World 2 title. It should have just been called Yoshi's Island and considered a spin-off, because this doesn't feel like SMW2. It feels like its own thing. And having that comparison in my head kind of hurts it.
Let's be real - we've never gotten a follow up that can compete with Super Mario World. I suppose the closest is that you could call the New Super Mario Bros games spiritual successors. And while I LIKE all of those games to varying degrees, none of them are as perfect as Super Mario World.
But I digress. This is a super fun game. Although one that I need to turn the volume down on. As a new dad, there's a certain level of unneeded stress that comes from hearing a baby crying in a game. C'mon.
I'm currently kicking around in the second world, and having a solid time. Certainly I'd consider this BETTER than any of the NSMB games anyway. And I'll definitely say that Nintendo has done a great job with the SNES games on Switch Online. I feel like even in their first initial batch of games they've out shined the NES offerings.
The cliche when you have a baby or toddler in the house is that the days go slow, but they years go fast. I'm quickly learning that this cliche is true. Take Yoshi's Island as a good example. I very vividly remember firing this game up on NSO and playing through the first world while my daughter sat in her little bouncy chair next to me and watched the bright colors. At the time, she was only three months old. Now she's two years old. It's nuts.
The difference between a newborn and a toddler are vast. The cry is different for sure. Now we're into full on tantrums will full sentences thrown in. It's just crazy.
But I digress.
I was re-reading HG101's book on their 200 Greatest Games Of All Time for the umpteenth time and was reminded of Yoshi's Island. So I've been playing through it at a leisurely pace over the past couple nights.
I definitely respect Yoshi's Island. It's just beautiful to look at. It's got to me one of the most visually appealing SNES games period. I still play it with the sound off because frankly, I can't stand baby Mario's cry. But it's a solid game.
It doesn't REALLY feel like a sequel to Super Mario World, though. That game is pure perfection in my mind. And lately I wonder about my own fondness for platformers. I mean, I definitely like a lot of them, and I love a few. Super Mario World is the best. But there's so many I just don't get the appeal of - stuff like Donkey Kong Country, or Klonoa, or Rayman, or many other critically acclaimed games. So it's hard for me to put a finger on what it is that I do and don't like in a platformer. I only know that I do or don't like one.
But Yoshi's Island is a really good game. It's not NEARLY as good as Super Mario World, though. SMW is about legit platforming and this... I don't know. It's focus is so much more about navigating the levels. They're almost maze-like at times, which inches into Sonic 3 territory for me - and that's a game I hate. Luckily, I don't hate this one. Maybe it's because this one is more about puzzle solving, which again - I don't LOVE in a platformer, but it's been interesting and there are saving graces.
The boss battles are certainty interesting. I mean, I've fought a frog from inside its own belly before it pooped me out. I've pushed a boss off of a ledge, almost negating the boss battle altogether in a weird almost Monster Party kind of feeling.
That said, I don't like playing as Yoshi nearly as much as Mario. And let's be honest, this is Yoshi's game. Call it SMW2 all you want. This is really just the first game in the Yoshi series.
I don't love this game, but I like it a lot. I get why it's achieved a sort of cult status. I think it's fun, and interesting. I'm currently in World 4 (of 6) and still having a good time. Where it would rank on my list of Mario platormers (if we're letting it in because of the SMW2 title, that is), I don't know. Kind of medium-high? If we're just talking about 2D games then my top tier is Mario World, Mario Bros 2 and 3, and Mario Land. This falls below all of those, but it's definitely in the next tier, which is still definitely something good.
Okay, this is the other game I started this week as part of my what-the-hell-do-I-feel-like-playing uncertainty. Astral Chain is a game I picked up on a total whim. I'm not even sure why I was drawn to it. I'm not the biggest fan of Platinum Games to be honest. I did kind of enjoy Metal Gear Rising, but much of their output hasn't really appealed to me. I'm not crazy about these kind of insane 3D beat-em-up things. But...
Well, if a game LOOKS like Blade Runner or Akira, I'm probably gonna be interested in it. At least on some level. So yeah, I grabbed it.
I've put a couple of hours in, and it's kind of interesting. Kind of? I mean, it looks phenomenal. It has this crazy kind of painted look to it. And pretty incredible pixel-dust effects when things die. And the color pallet is gorgeous. The music is strong. It's just very visually and audibly appealing to me.
The gameplay is fun, but kind of shallow TO ME. And I say "to me" because I'm not super into these kinds of games. I've known people who are, and they totally get the deepness of the combat systems, and they care a lot about replaying levels to up their score. For me, it's not about that - I just want to play the story through.
So far, it's kind of a neat little futuristic tale of cyber-cops fighting alien threats. And I can't deny that the battles are impressive with a constant flow of varying bosses thrown at you. You have this kind of pet alien-robot thing on a chain and you control it and yourself at the same time. Definitely it's unique. I'm just not quite sure if it's for me... yet.
The biggest thing is that after a couple hours I'm starting to wonder if I like the IDEA of this game more than the game itself. I like the look, the music, the aesthetics, the setting... but do I like THE GAME? Do I enjoy playing it? I'm not actually sure. I guess we'll see if it beckons me back or not.
It's been a weird few weeks. I've had a tough time figuring out what I feel like playing after finishing the masterpiece that is Fire Emblem: Three Houses. I keep starting stuff and not quite feeling like THIS is what I want to play. And then I'll just dabble with Splatoon 2 or Tetris 99 to get some kind of gaming fix because I don't know.
Xenoblade Chronicles has been on my to-play list for a decade. I was fascinated by the Operation Rainfall project back in the day. And of the three original games in that campaign, this one seemed the coolest to me. It's been sitting in my collection unplayed for a while now. But I don't know, I never got around to it. I did play like 30 hours of Xenoblade Chronicles X a year or more ago, and loved it. So why don't I play the original already?
I don't know. But I fired it up this week, and...
I don't know.
It has kind of a charm to it, sure. I mean, it was released when the Wii was on its last legs. And even then, this was some low powered hardware, right? I mean, my goodness does the disc-drive CHUG while I'm playing this game. It drives my wife crazy. Me too, a little. But look at it - it looks good, sure. There's no denying that. But partly that's the art style. There's no way that this was competing with - what was a peer at the time? Final Fantasy XIII? I mean, say what you will about FFXIII - that game was gorgeous to look at.
Anyway, I played two-plus hours of XC and kind of fizzled out. Something just wasn't grabbing me. I can't put my finger on it. For one thing, it doesn't have the overwhelmingly sci-fi feel of XCX. That's something I guess. This looks like a kinda-sorta futuristic Final Fantasty XII to me or something.
Maybe/probably the bigger issue is the time demand of the whole thing. I played two hours and climbed through some caves and found a little mini-boss fight... it was these two floating disc things that kept shooting at my party. But they'd wipe us out in a few hits. I tried EVERY strategy I could think of to no avail. Finally I googled to find that recommended level here is 10, and we're at 6.
Suddenly all the time-suck of XCX came crashing back to me. I mean, I really liked that game, but it was DEMANDING as heck, and I barely scratched the surface in my 30 hours. So like, if I'm not sucked into this one in a couple of hours, do I intend to grind and dig into menus and put in another 28 or more? Not right now. I don't think so anyway.
I'm going to hang on to this one because I feel like it's an IMPORTANT game, and I feel like I COULD really get into it. Someday. But not now.
I actually played Renegade a couple of weeks ago, but forgot to write about it. So I'm doing that now.
When I was a kid, I absolutely loved Renegade. It's a gritty beat-em-up for NES. At the time, I knew nothing of its history. All I knew was that it was kind of like Double Dragon, but I don't know - crazier? I mean, there was dudes on motorcycles, and giant woman who could pick you up and bear-hug you, and some kind of burger joint, and all kinds of weirdness.
Of course many years later I'd learn the true story of Renegade. It's the first in the Kunio-kun series. A series that I've been a pretty big fan of over the years. Kunio-kun localized a lot of classics (well, cult classics) into games like River City Ransom and Nintendo World Cup and Super Dodge Ball. And the series has lived on over the years - sometimes only in Japan - but even just now we've gotten confirmation of a River City Girls SEQUEL, so obviously the series has its fans.
The other thing to keep in mind is the intermingled DNA that Double Dragon shares with Kunio-kun. To oversimplify it is to say that Double Dragon is a sister series that was made with Americans in mind, rather than just bastardize the Japanese games for localization.
Anyway, playing Renegade in 2021 is probably a tough proposition. It's certainly rough around the edges. And it wasn't all that refined to begin with. But man, I still have soft spot for it. It's not even close to the impressiveness of River City Ransom. Not even close! But yeah, I still think it's a totally underrated game from that era. Certainly I prefer it over Double Dragon. (I'm not sure about Double Dragon II, though).
I picked up the eShop edition on Switch by the way, which is nice in that it has some good options built in. Save states are nice, of course. And the ability to remap buttons means I could make the jump-kick a single button press rather than A + B. Good stuff.
Still, this is a simple and early beat-em-up and ultimately you'll spend a lot of time jump-kicking dudes over and over until they flicker off the screen. I couldn't beat it this time, I got up to that end section with the branching doors, and those big strong ladies kept bear-hugging me to death. They're tough to read, as they don't broadcast their moves all that obviously. But yeah, this game is still fun to me. I wouldn't revisit as often as River City, but I still can see what I liked about it so much as a kid.
When I was in my early 20's, I was fairly pretentious. And like many pretentious early 20 year olds, my favorite director was David Lynch. I'd have long LONG conversations about what Lost Highway or Mulholland Drive meant. But here's the thing, now that I'm 40 I'm pretty sure that even David Lynch wasn't sure what they meant. I mean, I still have my theories. And I'm sure he has his. But his movies weren't meant to have traditional plots and conflicts. They were meant to illicit a feeling. And finding the meaning in his films is akin to finding meaning a dream. Sure, you can find symbolism in them. But you can find symbolism in ANYTHING if you try hard enough.
A couple weeks ago I had fifteen minutes to kill before a haircut, so I stopped into Best Buy next door. I found a copy of Kentucky Route Zero sitting on the shelf for $35. Now, I know that the game was no longer available online in physical form, and that copies were going for $50+ on eBay, so it seemed like a good purchase. I wasn't really sure at the time if I was planning to play it or just hang on to it and keep it sealed for a while.
But after finishing Three Houses I've been a bit unsure of what to play next. And while I knew very little about Kentucky Route Zero, it was calling out to me for some reason. When I fired it up and played through the first chapter I was immediately reminded of the work of David Lynch. There's a story, but it's disjointed. The dialogue is weird. And here's the other thing - this game creeps me the F out even though there's nothing overtly scary happening. Kentucky Route Zero is all tone and atmosphere. And it's chilling me to the core.
So here's my dream journal...
I'm a truck driver trying to make a delivery but I can't find the address on my map. I stop at a gas station and ask the attendant for directions and he tells me I need to get to Route Zero but he doesn't know where that is. I can ask his friend Weaver, but I need to turn the power breaker on to get his computer up and running first. (Typical adventure game stuff).
I go in the basement and there's three people playing a board game in the dark. I shut the flashlight off and they disappear. I get the breaker on and find Weaver's address. Off I go.
I bring a TV to Weaver's house. She lives on a farm. There's a grave yard there. The TV doesn't work. There's people in the distance playing guitar. There's an old barn behind the farm that creeps me out and I don't know why. She sends me off to find Route Zero.
Weaver's directions bring me to a mine where I find someone named Shannon. Sometimes I'm me. Sometimes I'm Shannon. We do experiments on the mine's echoes. There's a cave-in and I injure my leg. We take a cart further into the mine until we find our way out.
Shannon is Weaver's cousin. We go back to her farm but Weaver's gone. Shannon fixes the TV. There's an old barn behind the farm that creeps me out and I don't know why.
I had too much to dream last night.
First I was Emily - a young girl in a museum with her friends. We were at an exhibit of a woman who had done all these huge pieces of art made out of technology. We listened to bits of tape that she had recorded over 15 years and spliced together. At one point, she and two friends were in a cave. They were hiding. They were scared. They said that men were angry, and coming back for them. Then she was driving down Route Zero, looking for a mailbox to mail the cassette tape back... somewhere.
Then I was an older woman, Lula. I received a rejection notice from some kind of design school. Architecture I think. I'm working a desk job. I have to approve or deny proposals to repurpose old buildings into new businesses.
Suddenly I'm "myself." Me and Sheila are out this archives building looking for directions. We meet with Lula. She sends us to a chapel to find some old records. We listen to a sermon. I black out. We need to find a doctor. My leg hurts.
We find that the doctor's house is gone. The whole neighborhood is gone. It's now a huge factory filled with tents and campers and a house boat. I get the feeling that this is some kind of community of people down on their luck, forced to live in this factory "town." We go out in the rain and meet Ezra who tells us the doctor is in the forest. He can take us there.
That's when a giant bird picks us up.
We wonder the forest forever. There's people singing in the woods in the distance. We find the doctor's house. Sheila and Ezra watch TV. The doctor puts me under. 5-4-3-2-1... I drift off. I don't remember anything else after that.
For as long as I can remember, I've been saying that I'm not really a fan of 3D platformers. And for just that long I've been saying that as much as I love 2D Mario games, I can't really get into the 3D ones. But here's the thing - Mario's the king of platformers. And some of those 3D games are really highly praised. So I can't help but wonder sometimes if I'm missing out on something. Ugh, my FOMO is so bad sometimes.
Speaking of FOMO, last year I bought that stupid Mario 3D All-Stars thing (I actually pre-ordered it) because I'm a total sucker. I mean, I don't like 3D Mario games, but I bought three of them for $50 because, why?
I revisited Super Mario 64 last year and found out that it was actually better than I gave it credit for. But I still gave up pretty quickly because I HATE the collecting stars by replaying levels thing. It feels like it's forcing you to drag out the game, rather than just play through each level like in a 2D Mario game. I also revisited Super Mario Sunshine, only to find that it has aged horribly. In fairness, I've heard that a patch has fixed the inverted controls issue I had. But still, I don't know that that would really fix the game for me.
The third game on the collection is Mario Galaxy - one I've never played. My friend Mike has told me numerous times that it's his favorite Mario game. People rave about it - fans and critics alike. Heck, I think it's the highest rated Wii game on Metacritic. So...
...here we are...
After an hour or so, I think I completely hate this game. Like. I think I hate it so much and for several reasons. I think I hate it beyond any repair. As much as I might fear missing out on something... I can't help but think that there's no way I could stick with this one and actually enjoy it.
NOW, real quick, let me say that the port to Switch is impressive. The way that the motion controls have been ported over is good stuff, and it works. But the game itself? Ugh. I think I loath it.
I'm sure YOU reader (as if anyone reads this) have played Mario Galaxy, but just in case... you play on these little spherical planets. And gravity is weird, but real. SO like sometimes you're playing and it feels like a normal 3D game, until you walk around the planet and you're upside down or whatever. It's extremely rare for a game to give me motion sickness (outside of VR) but this game made me feel sick FAST. I've tried to play it multiple times now and every time my brain goes wonky and my stomach feels off. I just can't seem to play this game and feel okay.
So that's a deal-breaker.
Beyond that, I TRIED to push through in little spurts JUST IN CASE this really is the best Mario game ever, but man... I beat the first real boss only to find that - guess what? I have to play through that same level again like two more times for stars to unlock the next level? Maybe I'm missing something but I don't think so.
I'm sorry, Mike. I'm sorry, Metacritic. Super Mario Galaxy is just not a game for me.
I've been really busy the past couple weeks, so I've not had time to write about, but I've been playing Fire Emblem: Three Houses with any downtime I've had. So much so that I managed to scroll the end credits tonight. This is after 27 hours with the game - and probably six of those were spent on just the last two battles which were insanely challenging, but uber satisfying.
The fact that I stuck with the game instead of walking away at the end there is a testament to how awesome Three Houses is. And I mean, maybe I should just cut to the chase here, but Three Houses is definitely the best Fire Emblem game I've ever played. Truth be told, it may have possibly dethroned XCOM 2 as my absolute favorite turn based strategy game. Maybe. Time will tell.
I've not played every Fire Emblem game. But I've played a good share of them over the years. Along with this one, I've played Awakening, Fates, and Shadow Dragon. Maybe others? I'm blanking. But I've definitely played all these in the past decade now. And one thing holds certain - with each Fire Emblem game I play, it gets cemented even further as one of my favorite Nintendo franchises of all time. People love to roll their eyes and pass off Nintendo as too safe or too kid-friendly or whatever. But my goodness, the FE games are hardcore games. I would hope those people know what they're missing.
Everything about Three Houses is fantastic. Those anime cut scenes? The story. The dialogue. I mean, obviously I'm not even talking about the most important thing: it's impeccable game play. But yeah. Three Houses rules. The missions are just so incredibly crafted. And the freedom between missions - be it exploring/recruiting, or lecturing to level up your team, or resting to rebuilt stats... it all just works so well. Never does a moment feel wasted. And though no choice feels WRONG, you do find yourself agonizing about how to spend your time both on the battlefield and off.
Oh, and this story was epic. I mean it takes place over so many years. And goddesses were involved. Whole kingdoms rise and fall. Childhood friends become bitter rivals. Honest to goodness wars echo war games of school. It's... just all so impressive.
I played totally blind, as I didn't want any spoilers. As a result, I ended up on the Blue Lions route, and - well, no spoilers - but it was an intense 22 chapters. But dudes, I LOVED every single minute of this game. Like I said those last two missions cost me a lot of time and trial and error, but when I finally figured out a rock solid strategy, I felt like a total genius.
This game is the highest of the high recommendations for me.