Atelier Lydie & Suelle: Still going strong...

But for how long? As my run is clocking at 14 hours, I'm starting to feel the teeny-tiniest bit of grinding fatigue. This would be fine if L&S was heading towards its conclusion; but if my current Alchemy Rank (F, for the record) and the number of still unknown recipes are any indication, I've hardly cleared one quarter of the game. I'm not quite sure I can clock up 45 more hours just right now.

Of course, that sorry state of affairs is entirely my fault. I was the one who spent an uncanny amount of time clearing fetch quest after fetch quest instead of focusing on raising my Alchemy Rank; the game didn't force me to cruise the same two areas, forage the same materials and kill the same enemies for hours on end. You could say I dug my own grave there; and now that we're getting to the important stuff, I'm kinda out of gaming juice!

Or maybe it's just that I'm not in the mood for an alchemic RPG right now. Atelier games typically require a lot of planning and ressource management; and with my gaming time being in short supply these days, I cannot indulge in deep and productive alchemy bouts. Even though I love L&S to pieces, I always have this nagging feeling that I didn't accomplish enough at the end of a playing session; yet at the same time, that game is not simple and repetitive enough to put me in a sweet grinding trance — especially now that the number of objectives and recipes is increasing and the complexity of synthesis is being raised.

Yup, I have a total crush on Lydie ♥

So, I'm going to take a break and play something else during the next days; and we'll see if my thirst for all things Atelier is rekindled by that pause. At any rate, I already answered most of the questions I pondered in my last post. I'm not gonna purchase Atelier Sophie because the graphics look too dull and ugly, and I'm not gonna purchase Atelier Firis because it boasts an open world — and you know how much I hate those. Nelke is also a no-go because of its increased focus on management and lack of roaming freedom; which means that the only entry still on the fence is Atelier Lulua. On one hand, I love the graphics and Lulua's looks; on the other hand, I'm not thrilled by the link with the Arland subseries. Feel free to give me enlightened advice on all those games, dear fellow gamers; and see you soon with fresh gaming tidings!


Atelier Lydie & Suelle: My time has come

My time to enjoy Atelier games, that is.

Just like famous bands, long-running video game series evolve and go through phases, losing and earning fans along the way. The Atelier series has been through two such phases lately: first the Dusk subseries, which seems to be considered by Atelier veterans as the beginning of the end for the venerable series; and then the Mysterious subseries, which those same veterans seem to brand as a complete travesty of what Atelier games are supposed to stand for. Being the farther thing from an Atelier veteran myself, I'll wisely abstain from any judgement on the series' evolution; all I can say is that I kinda disliked the Arland games, loved Ayesha, and absolutely adore Lydie & Suelle.

L & S totally fits my early dreams of what an alchemic RPG should be like: tons and tons of foraging, no time limit whatsoever, adorkable characters and lovely little areas choke-full of materials. And those bright, vivid colours! Oh, what a pure eye-candy! I thought the land of Dusk in Ayesha was gorgeous, but it pales — in every sense of the word — when compared to the twin's dazzling homeland. As for alchemy, it has never been simpler, easy to figure out and intuitive to a noob like me. I so love the grid system, which makes things deliciously obvious and clear! Ayesha's Trait system always remained a bit of a mystery to me, even after two full playthroughs; on the other hand, I already have a good grip on the L&S grid after a mere 5 hours of play. Hooray!

For all intents and purposes, L&S is actually a regular RPG with some alchemy spread on top, whereas older Atelier games tended to be time management games sprinkled with RPG features. Alchemy is nearly treated as an afterthough in L&S: not only is the number of recipes really tiny, but they must be unlocked by doing things you naturally do in RPGs — such as fighting, crawling, foraging and the like. So far, my own run has been 90% crawling, foraging and questing and 10% alchemy; an unbalance that can be blamed partly on L&S' diminished focus on alchemy and massively on my uncanny passion for all things grinding and crawling. My only beefs with the game so far are minor ones that only serves to highlight how much I love doing what I do in L&S: there's just not enough room in the basket, and enemies don't respawn! Heck, I'd spend even impossibly more time roaming zones if that were the case.

Long story short, I love L&S like no other Atelier game before it, which totally puts me in the cohort of new fans that were brought into the fold by the Mysterious subseries — and, to a lesser extent, by the Dusk subseries. This raises interesting questions such as "Should I purchase the rest of the Mysterious entries despite the fact that they are digital-only games, which I hate?" and "Should I blindly purchase all Atelier games from now on, or remain vigilant and check them individually to make sure they fit me?" I'll ponder the answers in due time; for now, back to da grind!


Pokemon Sword&Shield: I need more time

Hello, dear fellow gamers! I promised to deliver my impressions on the new Pokemon pair soon, along with a run report; however, I don't feel like writing about Sword&Shield just yet. A lack of writing material is not to blame, given that I polished off my first Sword run a good week ago; but for some reason, I have trouble wrapping my head around those new games and my experience of it. I most definitely need a couple of extra runs to get a good grip on Sword&Shield, both gameplay-wise and feeling-wise; and since I'm not quite in a Poké-mood right now, I'm going to shelve my Galar impressions and first run report until further notice. But rest assured that my early feelings towards Gen 8 are unabashedly positive, dear fellow gamers; so positive, in fact, that I already have a number of solo runs lined up and just ordered the Official Sword&Shield Strategy Guide. Stay tuned for the upcoming Gen 8 goodness, and good gaming to you all! ^^


Switch Lite: My precious!

Let's get straight to the point: I hated the regular Switch, but I love the Switch Lite. Love, love, love it!

And why wouldn't I love it, when it solves nearly every single issue I had with its big sister? The Lite is mercifully lighter than the Regular, boasts longer battery life and better materials that don't gather finger grease and specks of dust, and doesn't heat up during playing sessions. It also sports a most welcome D-Pad and a screen whose size just hits the sweet spot: large enough to offer great immersion and be easy on the eyes, yet small enough to give that intimate, cosy, snuggly feeling I love to get from my handhelds.

And since I mention this... The Switch Lite also nicely takes care of my biggest beef with the Regular, namely that said Regular didn't feel like a portable console. The Lite, on the other hand, is a portable through and through. Not only is it hardly bigger than a Vita, but it boasts the compactness and solidity that are part and parcel of being a handheld. Goodbye drifting and connectivity issues, hello perennity and Switch collecting!

Because indeed, I'm very much going to collect for the Switch Lite. You didn't expect less from me, did you? ^__^ I know I somewhat sniffed at the Switch library two years ago; but that was then, and now my collecting instinct are waking up and dying for some new purchases — not to mention that the Switch library has become much meatier and more interesting in the meantime.

In a nutshell: if you're a handheld aficionado, I totally encourage you to get your paws on the Switch Lite. It's not just a smaller version of the Switch: it's an entirely different console, period. I wouldn't touch a Regular again even if you paid me; but I'll happily secure a couple of extra Lites, thank you very much. Now I'm curious to see if the Regular will remain the preferred option, or if the Lite will simply take over and become the new portable à la mode. Can TV connectivity, motion controls and bigger dimensions fight off what is virtually a perfect handheld? Let's wait and see!


Happy New Year! (Still alive and gaming!)

Hello, dear fellow gamers! Hope you had lovely holidays, full of sweet moments with your loved ones and delicious Christmas food. I had all of that myself, along with the most exquisite Christmas gift ever from my beloved sister: a brand-new Switch Lite, complete with Pokemon Sword&Shield and a matching case for good measure! I had to do justice to that perfect choice of her, obviously; and that's how I found myself tackling a Pokemon Sword run a couple of days ago. More on that later!

For now, here are my gaming plans for 2020. As you now, I was crazy busy these last months, which led to my longest blogging hiatus ever; and I'll keep being busy during the next months. Fortunately, I managed to arrange my frantic routine and free a little daily time for gaming and blogging. Hooray! Regarding the latter, I'll probably craft shorter and swifter posts this year, which may actually be a blessing in disguise given how ridiculously verbose I usually am. ^__^

As for gaming itself, the plan is simple: follow my trustworthy gaming instinct wherever it may lead me! I'm done with lofty resolutions such as 'clear all my Vita digital games', which I took last year and didn't even come close to fulfilling. I can also feel my collecting impulses stirring, which will sooner or later lead to a delicious shopping spree. For now, my Switch collection comprises six games: the four you can see on the picture below, plus Octopath Traveler and Labyrinth of Refrain, which I bought with my first Switch and was inspired enough not to sell along said Switch. (More like the buyer wasn't interested in snatching them, but nobody needs to know that :P)

Anyway, you can expect a quick rundown of my Switch Lite impressions quite soon, along with posts about Pokemon's home console debut (or not so much in my case; but I digress here). Stay tuned, and happy gaming year!