Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories (GBA) – Initial Impresion (of sorts)

Ok, I know it’s older, though I did play it when it came out, though I got towards the end levels and started having major problems, mostly because I just kept spamming cards.  I don’t remember, in playing through it the one time, of being able to easily get more cash to buy more cards in order to create more powerful decks for beating tougher foes. (More on the gameplay in a bit).

So, on a whim after reading up on some Kingdom Hearts news, I decided to put it back in, and suddenly I figured out how you level grind in the game (you can “reinitialize” an open door and thus generate new foes and rewards, ad infinitium).

The game uses a weird collectable card game varient.  You have a deck but it’s in a fixed order and all visible to you though you can cycle  through to play the one you want.  All have a number on them indicating their rough power, but if a foe plays a card with a higher number, they cancel your attack (a Zero card can negate other attacks if played afterwards, however).  Cards including usual melee attacks as well as magic and healing.  You also get “friend” cards that randomly drop during battle.  When the deck’s empty, you can reload it though it’s longer to reload each time you do so. You can also stock three cards to possibly unleash a more powerful attack though you lose one of the cards for the rest of battle.  To some extent I wish the battle speed was just a bit slower, as it’s hard to be able to move about to dodge attacks and to select the cards you want at the speed that some characters move.

You can earn cards in battle, or buy from Moogles in a typical CCG fashion: completely random.  Thus, it pays to visit the Moogles ofter to get the best cards to fill your deck.  Your deck is limited by it’s overall power, so you can’t just stock it with the best you have, so there’s a bit of usual CCG strategy involved.  The worst part is that if you want to rearrange the deck, it’s just as easy to empty the deck out completely and refill it than to insert just one card at a specific spot.

Each world is a map of rooms; to get to a previously unexplored room (or even explored) you must supply special map cards for the door per the door requirements.  Some map cards generate save points or Moogle shops, others affect the random encounters in the room.  As noted above, if you didn’t try to regenerate these rooms, you’d be faced with a fixed number of enemies and would not be able to level grind, so it does help to know the trick of resetting a room.

It’s not a bad game, definitely a change of pace from usual RPGs, though does have a handful of flaws.  But, it does link the two other KH games, so we’ll see how far I get this time.

Super Paper Mario (Wii) – Mid-Game Thoughts (~50%)

Just completed the 4th world today, so I know I’m at 50% for the game.

First of all, this is a great game.  However…

I think this is a game that came with expectations, and while it’s meeting those in spades, there’s just something… different about the game.

It’s definitely not a pure platformer.  Those hoping for such will be disappointed.  There’s not a lot of challenging platforming elements in the form of jumps over bottomless pits, masses of foes, or the like.

It’s also not an RPG.  This isn’t “1000-yr door” either.

It truly is a .. “meeting” of both.  “Mix” isn’t the right word, as the resulting game is very hard to separate the line from platformer and RPG, and as such, I have a feeling people expecting one or the other are going to be disappointed, to some degree.  The resulting genre is still good, but basically has the problem of trying to be what seems to be a fast paced action game burdened with a lot of dialog-heavy scenes.  “1000-yr door” being more an RPG, worked fine as I expected that much.

If you can get over that, the game has some very nice mechanics.   The whole 2D/3D thing is both implemented well in terms of controls (basically which only use the remote as a classic NES controller with a few motion moves at times), and in terms of gameplay elements, with the need to switch dimension modes a lot to proceed.   Basically, if you think you’re stuck, you just switch to 3D and there’s usually a hint, at worst, of what to do next.  Mind you, a few areas are a bit mazelike, so switching back and forth to find the next place may take some time (4 worlds took me about 6 hrs, so you get an idea of that).  As you also can switch who you control in your party as well as what special power you get via companions called Pixls, there’s a lot of possible ways to approach some puzzles.  Of course, my biggest annoyance here is that you have to bring up the menu every time to switch, when it would have been nice to have at least one of these on a control if possible.

Dialog and other additions are pretty good (3rd world is a geek’s fantasy, for example), but again, it is very talk heavy for what’s really hard to call an RPG.

So it’s definitely a good game, but, I think it’s very different than I anticipated, and while I’m not disappointed, I know there were those hoping for a lot more platformer action than this game really allows.