Operation Backlog Completion 2024
Jun 282019

Have you ever started a series where even though you’ve only played one, you already know you want them all?

That’s how I felt after finishing Yakuza 0, a game that took me completely by surprise last year by becoming one of my favorites. So after taking a break to not burn out on the formula, I moved on and played the first game’s remake, Yakuza Kiwami.

Unlike 0, which had two playable characters, Kiwami follows Kiryu as the sole main protagonist. After serving time in prison for a crime he didn’t commit, Kiryu comes back to find that many things have changed, and he soon finds himself caught up in a mystery surrounding a little girl named Haruka and 10 billion missing yen.

The story isn’t quite as intense and epic as in 0, but it’s still a good story in its own right. It has a sense of mystery to it (although it felt strangely like an action movie by the end) and once again I fell in love with the characters.

Once again, there are plenty of substories (side quests) and mini-games. The substories disappointed me a little, especially since a lot of them were just variations on someone trying to scam Kiryu, but some of the others have shout-outs and nods to substories I remembered from Yakuza 0. It has many of the same mini-games as well, some even improved what was found in 0 (most notably MesuKing, which takes the broken Catfight mini-game and makes it much more playable).

Similar to how it worked in the prequel, you’ll get into random battles around the city, fight enemies in an action combat system using four different combat styles and/or weapons, and earn experience (yen is separate from experience this time) to increase your stats and learn new skills.

Yakuza Kiwami also has a new feature called Majima Everywhere, in which Majima can pop up… well, everywhere… and make you fight him. This was one of the shining highlights of the game.

While it can get annoying to fight Majima so often, especially when you’re trying to do something, there were so many strange and hilarious moments tied to the Majima Everywhere storyline, I loved it. There were times when I’d think about how I didn’t like Kiwami as much, but then Majima would do something so absurd it was pure joy. It took me a while to get used to his personality compared to how he acted in 0, but now that I have, I’m tempted to say I might like this Majima better.

With only one main character and a simpler story, Yakuza Kiwami took me about 45 hours to finish. It might not have been as amazing as Yakuza 0, but it’s still a pretty awesome game with exciting moments and fun characters.

Next up for me is Judgment, but I’m looking forward to continuing the main Yakuza series as well. Have you played Yakuza Kiwami?

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Jun 262019

I’ve been interested in Astral Chain from PlatinumGames since it was announced, but the gameplay during this year’s Nintendo Treehouse segment of E3 is what really sold me on the game.

Astral Chain looks fantastic, and it’s just a little over two months away. And now, thanks to a new interview translated here by Nintendo Everything, we know there might be even more Astral Chain to look forward to.

According to the game’s director, Takahisa Taura, Astral Chain will not have DLC, but they hope to make it into a trilogy:

Currently, there are no plans to publish extra content for Astral Chain. That is different for the game’s story. We’re making the game as a trilogy, and this is the first part of that trilogy. If this game sells well, we might see how the story of the series continues.”

It sounds as though they’ve written Astral Chain with a trilogy in mind. Hopefully that means the first game’s story still stands on its own, since they could never end up making the next two.

Update: It turns out the statement in the interview was a mistranslation; they did not plan it as a trilogy, but rather are thinking about ways they could expand it into a trilogy.

Nevertheless, it’s exciting to know that if Astral Chain does well, they want to make not just one, but two sequels.

Astral Chain will be out on August 30 for the Nintendo Switch. Are you planning to pick it up?

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Jun 242019

Last week, I finished playing Battle Chasers: Nightwar.

We first talked about Battle Chasers: Nightwar a couple years ago as one of five upcoming turn-based RPGs to look forward to. At the time, I was interested in the game despite being a little wary of the randomized dungeons.

I knew nothing about the Battle Chasers universe going into the game, but it stands on its own well enough. It begins with the main characters being shot down over an isolated island, which leads to figure out just what is behind the sinister activity on the island.

It isn’t story-heavy, but that didn’t bother me a lot. The story is fine and accomplishes its goal, and there are some optional conversations between characters when you stay at the inn that gave it a nice touch. I liked the characters, and unlike in a lot of story-light games where the characters end up feeling bland, their optional interactions helped highlight their personalities. There’s also a lot of lore in each dungeon that helps flesh out the world.

Now, the randomization was the one thing I was wary about going into it, and it was my major frustration with the game.

Dungeons aren’t entirely random, but the placement of rooms and items in them is randomized when you reset the dungeon. This means if you go through a given dungeon twice, you’ll probably encounter many of the same things, but in different spots.

It leads to some annoying designs, like teleporters being found in rooms right next to each other, but the part that really bothered me is that the lore placement is also randomized. Each dungeon has a number of lore pieces to find, and I wanted to read them all. Due to the randomization, however, sometimes I’d find the same piece multiple times in the same run or go through a dungeon three times before I found what I was missing.

Repeating the dungeons to get all the lore and level up felt a bit like filler, and I would have preferred more optional “exploration areas” and side quests in its place.

Overall, however, Battle Chasers: Nightwar is a lot of fun. It has a good turn-based combat system, and you get points to set “perks” for each character. You can change these perks anytime out of combat, which makes it fun to change your perks for different strategies or as more powerful perks become available. And despite the repetition, the general gameplay loop of clearing out dungeons before returning to town and opening up the next segment of the map is enjoyable.

It also has a friendly approach to encounters. Not only do enemies appear on the map, but they won’t respawn until you rest at the inn. Dungeons, meanwhile, stay as you left them until you either clear them or tell them to reset. If you leave a dungeon partway through to rest at the inn, all the monsters you defeated will still be gone when you return.

The world map disappointed me a little bit at first, since you really just follow set paths instead of freely wandering across the map, but I got used to it. It still has secrets to discover and reasons to explore.

So while the randomization can lead to some frustration and it isn’t heavily story-driven, Battle Chasers: Nightwar is still a fun addition to the turn-based RPG genre. It ends with a sequel hook, and if that means another game is coming, I’d definitely be interested in playing it.

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