Operation Backlog Completion 2024
Jul 302021
 

Yesterday was the big day: the reveal of Tales of Arise’s skits.

Early on, some people worried Arise wouldn’t have skits at all, but skits are in – with a new format.

Traditional Tales skits have used 2D portraits of the characters’ faces, with their expressions changing and the portraits moving around or otherwise changing as the conversation progresses.

In Arise, they instead use the characters’ 3D models, but not like a regular scene. Instead, it almost resembles a comic book, with new panels appearing for each part of the skit.

It’s an interesting result reminiscent of some of the scenes in Scarlet Nexus (at least from what I saw in the demo), and I’m not sure how I feel about it. On one hand, it lets costumes and attachments appear and should allow for more expressive scenes. On the other hand, it looks very different and lacks the simplicity of the old skits.

I can’t exactly find the words to explain what feels off about the new skits to me, but I hope they win me over when I actually see them in action.

According to the official description, published here by Gematsu, the skits will show your current location in the game, as well as the time of day.

Meanwhile, the “Lifestyle Features” trailer shows off several other new mechanics as well.

Cooking and fishing are both highlighted, along with some sort of farming system that looks like you’ll manage livestock to get more ingredients for cooking. I’m not sure how that will work out – maybe the party eventually has a home base, like in Tales of Berseria.

Setting up camp to cook and talk to party members also seems like a big feature, as well.

Tales of Arise will be out on September 10, less than two months away! Meanwhile, the next few months are now packed with even more games I’m looking forward to, so it’s going to be a busy time indeed.

How do you feel about the new skit format for Tales of Arise and the other activities shown here?

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Jul 282021
 

It’s been two years since I beat A Realm Reborn, and yesterday I also finished the first Final Fantasy XIV expansion, Heavensward (which is now included in the free trial).

Heavensward gets a lot of praise from fans, and the quests building up to it after A Realm Reborn started out slow but then reached levels of suspense where I couldn’t wait to see what would happen next.

(In between A Realm Reborn and Heavensward, I also met Hildibrand, a character at the center of the funniest quests I’ve seen in the game so far. That was definitely a highlight.)

And of course, Heavensward is set in Ishgard, the land of holy knights and dragons, so how could I not be interested?

I enjoyed the plot of Heavensward much more than the plot of A Realm Reborn, and it felt like there were less times where I had to run back and forth on busywork quests instead of actually advancing the story. It also gave me a new favorite Final Fantasy XIV character and some pretty exciting moments!

While I wouldn’t rank it up there with my favorite Final Fantasy games like some people do, it was still really good, and my enjoyment of the story might have been hindered slightly by how long it took me to complete.

(I’ll try not to drag out the other expansions quite as much.)

I’ve stuck with my same class through my entire playthrough so far, but in Heavensward I finally improved my own gameplay by switching over to gamepad controls, which I found to be more intuitive for combat. Making a few small changes like that also helped me enjoy the game much more.

Meanwhile, there have been plenty of entertaining seasonal events and other optional parts of the game that I enjoyed quite a bit. Most recently, I did a special event quest at the Gold Saucer that makes you investigate a crime without any quest markers, so you have to search for the information you need to piece together the correct answer.

I intended to take a break from serious Final Fantasy XIV playing after finishing Heavensward, but it ended on a note guaranteed to drive me forward to see what happens in the patches!

And so for the foreseeable future, it looks like my Final Fantasy XIV adventure will continue! Here’s hoping for exciting stories ahead!

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Jul 262021
 

Sure, it’s not February, but I decided to move on to another otome after all.

I picked up Sweet Fuse: At Your Side amidst the concerns about the PSP/Vita/PS3 stores shutting down. I’d first heard about this visual novel years ago, while researching visual novels with unusual premises for a freelance assignment.

Sweet Fuse stars Saki Inafune, a young woman attending the opening ceremony of a video game theme park designed by her uncle, Keiji Inafune (yes, that one).

The opening ceremony is disrupted by a man in a pig costume who introduces himself as Count Hogstein, takes the park staff hostage, and threatens to blow up the entire park unless 7 people play his “games” over the next 7 days.

Saki volunteers for the game in order to save her uncle, while the other six participants are chosen by Hogstein. Together, they must try to overcome the deadly games he’s set up based on the park’s attractions.

Each attraction is based on a different video game genre, which was pretty entertaining.

The first three chapters make up the common route. Some of your choices are important to surviving the games, while others build your affection with one of the possible romance options. After the common route, the story branches based on which character you’ve grown the closest to.

I liked pretty much all of the characters. A few stood out much more than others, but it was interesting to see all of their stories and how the events in the latter half of the game changed depending on whose route I was on. There are some notable age gaps, which added some awkwardness, but the writing handled it well enough.

It is a bit weird that the main character is Keiji Inafune’s fictional niece, though. Every time she’d get a message from Uncle Keiji, where he’d offer some inspiring and motivational words of advice, it always felt surreal since he’s a real person.

Now, there’s also an overarching mystery about Hogstein’s motivations, and one problem is that while each route delves into the mystery from a different angle, some contain far more information than others. So my first route was accidentally the one that explained almost the entire mystery, leaving me with points in later routes where I was impatiently waiting for them to figure out something I already knew.

I enjoyed the mystery overall, though, and it all came together nicely once I played the final route.

In addition to regular choices, sometimes you have the option to just get mad. If a character does something particularly unfair, you get a special choice where Saki can blow up and shout at them. This is almost always the right choice and is pretty entertaining.

Saki also has “explosive insights,” a game mechanic where you choose from a list of key words in order to reach the correct solution to your current situation (although as far as I could tell, you always have to pick three, even if you know which is the right one).

Overall, I enjoyed Sweet Fuse and would recommend it to anyone who enjoys otome visual novels or death game mysteries. Digital PSP games still can be bought and played on a Vita, so it’s not completely out of reach yet despite the scarcity of physical copies, but it would be nice to see this one get re-released someday…

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