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.

Castlevanie Double Pack (Harmony of Dissonance and Aria of Sorrow) (GBA) – Review

Castlevania Double Pack CoverThe Castlevania series has been a series which has undergone a number of versions over the years, each with slight changes to the last. The last series in the series has worked on merging the Metroid exploration aspect with the fundamental whip-wielding action of the Belmont clan to provide a rather good type of game that works well on portable system. Two early portable Castlevanias, “Harmony of Dissonance” and “Aria of Sorrow”, the latter which is the prequel to the DS title “Dawn of Sorrow”, were recently released for the GBA as a double pack, offering little change from their earlier GBA incarnations beyond the classic Castlevania gameplay. Neither title may be the best of the series, but it’s interesting to come back to play these versions after completing “Portrait of Ruin” and prior to playing through “Dawn of Sorrow”.

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Final Fantasy IV Advance (GBA) – ~16hr

So after getting my butt kicked enough times in FF3 for the DS, and with FF5 Advanced in the wings, I took a step back and worked a bit more on FF4 Advanced, and have basically just escaped from the Underworld.

It’s interesting to compare how tough some dungeons are in that you start aching for mana for your white mage and your black mage to deal with flans that otherwise would take an infinite amount of time to kill off, and that there’s no save points until you get right before the boss.  I mean, I know some of the same aspects come in with latter Final Fantasy games, but I never remember being desparately aching for mana to be able to cast even weak healing or elemental spells.  And since ether recovery doesn’t come easily (where I am so far), it’s rather interesting that you really have to learn to conserve mana – sure, you could Blizzara all the foes at once, but it’s cheaper on mana to do a Blizzard one at a time on them, at the cost of having your front-line fighters take more damage.  Again, I never recall having to think about these things with the latter FF games.

However, hopefully these lessons will help when I go back to FF3 since I think those same aspects can help me last a bit longer there.