Operation Backlog Completion 2024
Sep 302020

This morning, I beat Atelier Ryza: Ever Darkness & the Secret Hideout.

(I played the Switch version because I wanted to play it handheld, although I finally gave up on finding a reasonable price for the physical Switch copy and bought it during an eShop sale.)

Ryza is considered an excellent introduction to the Atelier series, and in a lot of ways I felt like I was trying the series out… even though this isn’t actually my first Atelier game. I played Atelier Firis, which I reviewed for MonsterVine. I wasn’t too captivated by it except for the alchemy system, largely because the time limit for the first part of the game stressed me out. That put me off the whole series for a while, but since Ryza has no time limit, I decided to return.

That turned out to be a great idea.

Atelier Ryza is really fun. The main character, a girl named Ryza, is bored by life in her quiet island community and dreams of going on adventures. When she and her friends meet an alchemist, she discovers she has a talent for alchemy as well and begins pursuing that while exploring the mainland.

The characters and story never became too compelling, but it had some cute moments. More importantly, the gameplay was fun enough that I didn’t mind not being hooked by the plot.

Alchemy requires materials, which you gather using a variety of tools and then bring back to your atelier to craft items. Many recipes have new recipes that can be unlocked from them, so it created a fun gameplay loop of gathering everything in sight, crafting items, unlocking new items that in turn can unlock even more items, and then repeating the progress (with some story progression thrown in to reach new areas and new materials).

Combat took a bit of getting used to. It’s still in the broad category I’d consider “turn-based,” as it uses an ATB system and you pick your moves from a menu. However, it’s a really fast ATB system, and at first it was a bit overwhelming.

Once I adjusted to it, though, I liked it. I would have enjoyed it more with a traditional turn-based or ATB system, but it has a lot of fun features like performing specific actions requested by a character to trigger their follow-up attack. It’s a strange blend, though, to have such a fast-paced combat system in a game that is otherwise pretty laid-back and relaxing.

Overall I enjoyed my time with Atelier Ryza quite a bit and I’m looking forward to the sequel.

It’s also been brought to my attention that most Atelier games with time limits only pass time when you choose to perform an action, rather than the way Firis handled it, so that makes me cautiously interested in trying one of them sometime. Atelier Ryza reintroduced me to the series, and the only question left is which Atelier game I should try next.

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Sep 282020

Final Fantasy XVI wasn’t featured at TGS, but we did get a tiny handful of new details.

First, there is reason to believe Final Fantasy XVI might be rated M.

Emails sent out by Square Enix about Final Fantasy XVI in PAL regions display an age rating of PEGI 18.

(The email sent in North America just says “rating pending,” but a PEGI 18 rating would most likely mean an M rating from the ESRB.)

This is a provisional rating, so it doesn’t necessarily mean the final game will be rated M. If it is, though, it would be the only M-rated Final Fantasy game besides Type-0.

Now some people are jumping in joy that we’re “finally” getting an M-rated Final Fantasy, as if a higher rating is a sign of higher quality, which I disagree with. Other people are already mad that it will be edgy for the sake of edginess, which I don’t agree with either. People did wonder if certain parts of the Final Fantasy VII Remake (such as the trail of blood scene) were changed because the original couldn’t be done in realistic graphics while still keeping a T rating, so that might explain that.

Personally, I have mixed feelings. I’d certainly play it if it’s rated M, but it doesn’t feel necessary (and the number of people praising it as meaning the series has finally grown up is off-putting). On the other hand, we know from games like Dual Destinies that sometimes an M rating comes from unclear reasons.

Moving on from the provisional rating, there was a Final Fantasy XIV panel at TGS during which Yoshi-P commented briefly on Final Fantasy XVI.

He didn’t say much, but explained that the trailer used in-game footage rather than prerendered scenes to avoid “See you in 2035!” jokes from America (which they got anyway, by the way) and that the graphics aren’t finalized yet. He also confirmed that a Final Fantasy XVI teaser website will open up in October.

The website will only feature information about the world and characters, while the big information reveal is coming in 2021, but that still means we’ll know more about Final Fantasy XVI next month!

How do you feel about Final Fantasy XVI’s potential M rating, and what do you hope to learn from the teaser website?

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Sep 252020

Yesterday was Square Enix’s “We Have a Decent Amount of New Info” Nier presentation at TGS, and one thing I was looking forward to was finally getting to see more of the upcoming Nier remaster/remake.

NieR Replicant ver.1.22474487139… received a new trailer and indeed a decent amount of new information, including a release date. It will be out on April 22 in Japan and April 23 in the west, for PS4, Xbox One, and PC.

The west got different cover art, but it’s reversible if you like the Japanese cover art better.

They also announced an awesome-looking limited “White Snow Edition” that comes with a grimoire pin set, seven script books, a two-disc soundtrack, and a steelbook case, and I was about to pre-order it when I noticed it costs $159.99. I’m not sure I want it that much.

Anyway, we also got to see some of the combat for the first time.

It looks great. My impression from what they showed is that it’s pretty much the same combat as in the original, but faster and smoother. It looks like it will be a lot of fun to play.

In short, I’m excited for Nier Replicant even though I just played the original last year.

They also touched on the upcoming mobile game Nier Re[in]carnation, and yes, it’s coming to the west! While there aren’t many details yet, a global release for the mobile game has been confirmed. I’m not crazy about mobile games, but I want to at least give it a try.

TGS is getting into full swing now, so we should have more exciting news ahead. (I had brief excitement over apparent confirmation of a new Yakuza game being announced, only for that to now be denied as a misunderstanding.) What do you think about the Nier Replicant gameplay/

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