Operation Backlog Completion 2017

Oct 182017
 

I’ve been skeptical about Pokémon Ultra Sun and Moon.

Not only have I yet to finish regular Pokémon Moon (I mentioned this back in August and still haven’t gone back to it), but it disappointed me that Ultra Sun and Moon aren’t sequels.

The latest story trailer, however, made me genuinely excited about these games.

That trailer is way too epic for a Pokémon game. Between the music, the content, and the bold declaration that “This isn’t the Alola you thought you knew,” it really caught my attention.

It reminded me of when I first started Pokémon White and saw the intro. My immediate reaction was to check that I really was playing Pokémon and not some other JRPG, because it seemed so cool and out of place in a series that typically had basic plots.

And if the Pokémon Ultra Sun and Moon story trailer wasn’t enough, a recent interview revealed that the stories diverge early on, there is an additional post-game episode, the changes are even greater than those in Emerald and Platinum, and the overall scenario is about twice as long as that of Sun and Moon.

I was skeptical of these games because they aren’t sequels, but that sounds like a lot of added story content.

In short, the story trailer for Pokémon Ultra Sun and Moon won me over, and now I’m interested in these games. The only question is if I should finish Moon first.

What did you think of the new trailer? Are you excited for Pokémon Ultra Sun and Moon?

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Sep 292017
 

In Wednesday’s discussion of upcoming turn-based RPGs, I named Square Enix’s Switch-exclusive Project Octopath Traveler as one of the RPGs I’m most looking forward to. Let’s talk about it a little more.

With an art style the developers are calling “HD-2D” (don’t ask me), its look reminds me a lot of classic Final Fantasy games. And while it doesn’t seem to have a world map, favoring connected areas instead, it definitely has a traditional feel.

Project Octopath Traveler has 8 protagonists, each of whom has their own special skill. The demo lets you play as two of these characters. Primrose can “allure” characters to follow her and fight alongside her in battle, while Olberic can challenge characters to a duel.

Since I’d watched a significant portion of Primrose’s part of the demo before I downloaded it myself, I decided to start with Olberic.

Olberic’s story has a slower start, but it’s still interesting, and I enjoyed what I saw of Primrose’s story. I’m not entirely sure how useful Olberic’s skill will be (although one duel solved a side quest), but I had fun fighting NPCs when I wasn’t following the story or exploring.

The combat seems fun. At first it felt like enemies had way too much HP, but then I realized how to effectively use its systems. When you attack an enemy with an attack it’s weak to, its shield gauge lowers. When the gauge reaches 0, you “break” the enemy, lowering their defense and making them unable to attack.

On each turn, you also gain one Boost Point. You can have up to five at a time and use up to three at a time to increase your number of attacks or the power of a particular skill. With the right combinations, you can deal a ton of damage. It feels like an improved, somewhat streamlined version of the Brave system in Bravely Default, with the tedious parts taken away.

Now, back when I played the demo for Bravely Default, I enjoyed it, only to end up disliking the full game. The main difference is that the Bravely Default demo focused on gameplay (and I was so nostalgic for traditional RPGs, that was enough to win me over). Here, I’m already interested in the characters and their stories, and I hope all 8 protagonists end up united in an exciting story.

What are your thoughts on the Project Octopath Traveler demo? What do you expect from the full game’s story?

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Sep 272017
 

Near the end of 2015, amid claims that turn-based combat in RPGs was dead, we looked at 5 upcoming turn-based RPGs

All of those games are now out, except for Dragon Quest XI, so let’s take a look at five more upcoming RPGs to keep in mind if you still love turn-based combat.

5. Dragon Quest XI

We’re getting this one out of the way early because I technically included it on the previous list, along with two other Dragon Quest titles. Back then, localization was still in doubt, but now we can look forward to Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age in 2018.

Dragon Quest XI has two distinct styles depending on whether you get the PS4 version or the 3DS version, and the 3DS version also lets you go for an even more old-school look, but no matter which version you get, it’s a turn-based JRPG with a traditional style.

Dragon Quest shows no sign of leaving its roots behind, and fans are happy for that.

4. Battle Chasers: Nightwar

Due out next week on October 3 (except for the Switch version, which is coming later), Battle Chasers: Nightwar is a game based on the Battle Chasers comic series and inspired by classic JRPGs.

I have no familiarity with the Battle Chasers series, but Nightwar looks pretty cool. The only thing I’m uncertain about is that it has randomly-generated dungeons, but previews of the game have suggested it does an excellent job with the classic JRPG formula.

3. Lost Sphear

When I finished I Am Setsuna, I was disappointed with the ending… but eager to see Tokyo RPG Factory have another chance. Lost Sphear will be out on January 23, and everything about it looks like exactly what I hoped for: a game styled after classic JRPGs, but with improvements over I Am Setsuna when it comes to the world and ATB combat system.

It remains to be seen if the story, which deals with characters restoring the world around them through the power of Memory, will be satisfying, but I have high hopes for Lost Sphear.

2. Project Octopath Traveler

I was skeptical of Project Octopath Traveler when it was first announced, because it’s being handled by the team behind Bravely Default. To some people, that’s fantastic news (and yes, I did have Bravely Second on my previous list of top upcoming RPGs), but when I tried to play Bravely Default, I couldn’t get invested in the story and characters at all.

However, the demo for Project Octopath Traveler available from the Switch eShop convinced me that maybe I was too hasty in my judgment. It looks beautiful and reminds me of older Final Fantasy games, and the story and dialogue so far seems a major step up from Bravely Default.

Project Octopath Traveler will be out in 2018, and I’m looking forward to it.

1. Trails of Cold Steel III

Finally, while I’m still all the way back with The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky (First Chapter), the Trails series has already caught my attention as one I’ll enjoy.

Trails of Cold Steel III will be the newest entry in the series, and it’s due out tomorrow in Japan. No news has been announced yet about it’s Western release, but it seems a given that it will be localized. It won’t be the end of the Trails series, either. According to the developer, Trails of Cold Steel III will bring the overall Trails story to just over 60% complete.

They’ve taken steps to streamline combat, but it’s still turn-based. If it lives up to the standard set by previous games in the series, it is definitely one to be excited for.

Conclusion

Dragon Quest XI, Battle Chasers, Lost Sphear, Project Octopath Traveler, and Trails of Cold Steel III are five of the turn-based RPGs I’m looking forward to the most.

Of course, these are only five of many. Last time, I left off some of the games I ended up enjoying the most, like World of Final Fantasy and Persona 5, so I might have overlooked something wonderful again. What turn-based RPGs are you looking forward to?

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