23/02/2022

Tales of the Abyss: See you, so long, goodbye, hooray

 


Tales of the Abyss: a name that, even years after the facts, rouses powerful emotions in my gamer’s heart. Not only was it my first Tales game, but it was also my first JRPG in the modern sense of the word. Make yourself comfortable and bring out the popcorn, dear fellow gamers: for this is the story of my tempestuous relationship with a game I’ll gladly part with now.

 


I played TotA during the summer 2013, a couple of months before launching That Extra Level!. That was roughly nine years ago; and yet, I remember everything with vivid clarity. The red vintage armchair in which I lounged while playing, the TV shows I listened to on my computer sitting on the coffee table next to me, the summer light filtering through the blinds, the whole atmosphere and feel of the 35 hours I spent on TotA

 


One word perfectly sums up my experience with that game: obsession. My feelings for TotA were beyond such trivial things as love and hate although I did feel both in turns. I felt compelled to play it by a force greater than my gaming instinct; it fascinated me and revulsed me all at once, and yet I couldn’t stop. I cannot think of another game that awoke such powerful and conflicting feelings in my gamer’s heart and I’m glad there is no other, honestly.

 


Why did TotA make such an impact? I could try to pinpoint a number of reasons. First, this was my first encounter with an RPG in which the narrative and the characters were so paramount i.e. a modern JRPG. I’ll be honest: I don’t even like the cast of TotA, and yet they wormed their way into my mind and stayed with me weeks after I finished the game. I was not ready for this: I came from a place where heroes were mute lone rangers and gameplay reigned supreme. But the TotA crew… Man, they were not mere RPG characters; they were friggin’ anime characters. Their woes and inner conflicts were all over the place, and you couldn’t escape them even if you wanted to. (SPOILERS!) Luke behaving like a spoilt kid to hide his destroyed psyche, Tear displaying some maturity beyond her years yet being a sensitive and shy young woman at heart, Guy concealing his murderous intents behind over-the-top optimism and cheerfulness and warming up to Luke in earnest, Jade being cool and caustic yet genuinely caring about his younger charges, Natalia being deeply dependable and duty-oriented despite her petulancy… (End of SPOILERS) Gosh, I still remember all this, and I don’t even want to!

 


And then you had the gameplay. Look, I’ll bare my heart here: TotA is one of my worst RPG gameplay experiences. My memories are kinda hazy; but I still remember dark labyrinthine dungeons full of tedious puzzles, a stealth mission in a defile that sucked dry my will to live and nearly made me (rage)quit, a ridiculously convoluted fighting system whose full mastery always seemed to elude me, a lot of backtracking, interminable trips between locations, and a general feeling of not enjoying myself. And yet, I couldn’t drop that darn game: as tedious as its gameplay was, it was also new and fresh, something I had never experienced before. Not only that, but I was still in the early stages of my Second Coming of Gaming: you could have thrown the worst RPG ever at me, and I’d probably have lapped it up anyway. Oh, and let’s not forget that I was coming out of literal years of videogame deprivation, and that dropping a game was simply unthinkable at the time. 

 

Why, I didn't remember decking up my team in bathing suits. Naughty, naughty me!

And there you have it, dear fellow gamers: my own private Tales of the Abyss story. I don’t think I’ll ever quite understand why I played that game to the bitter end, or fully grasp the depth and complexity of my feelings towards it. But I know one thing for sure: I don’t ever wanna play it again, and to the pawn shop it’s headed! Somehow, I feel better after writing this; I guess I needed to spill my guts about TotA, once and for all. I’ll see you soon with more gaming goodness, dear fellow gamers; in the meantime, take care and have fun!  

 

15/02/2022

The New Classics: The Contenders, a.k.a. The List

 

After I’ve revealed the rejects, it’s time to list the games that will be put to the New Classics test! Not only will this list refresh my memory and give me a good overview of the job, but it will also allow for an interesting bit of gaming interaction. Here’s the plan, dear fellow gamers: should you spot in my list a game you’re curious about, just let me know and I’ll play it. This should spice things up, and make the whole endeavour stimulating for all of us. ^^

Here's a quick recap of the New Classics modus operandi: I play each game for two hours at most. Based on the fact that my favourite games have always been games I loved immediately, this should allow me to separate the wheat from the chaff with great efficiency. (For the interested, the full description of the New Classics project can be read here.)


Before I move on to the list, here are a couple of points I wanna mention:

 

— VNs and puzzle games won’t be a priority during the New Classics phase, because of their inherent low replay value. I’ll list them for informative purposes, and probably use them as breathers when the RPG overload becomes too much to bear.

— The few Japanese games I own will be kept aside for now; I’ll get to them once I’m done with the Westerners.

— Digital games won’t be listed. Not only is most of my remaining digital library made of Kemco games, which I love as a rule, but digital games cannot be pawned anyway. So I might as well keep them, and play them if/when I feel like it.

— I’ll link the games’ names to their respective post as I progress; so this list can be used as an entry point into the upcoming jungle of New Classics reviews.

— In case similar versions of a game exist on more than one system, I’ll only list the version I own (or plan to play in case I own several). Like, Atelier Firis is available on both the Vita and the Switch; but I own the Switch version, so this is the one I’ll roll with. On the other hand, if we’re dealing with remakes or different versions, I’ll list all the versions and try them all.

— Last but not least, I’ll keep the games sorted by alphabetical order and by series; and if a game’s name starts with “the”, I’ll ignore that and take the following word into account. And now, on with the show!

 

 

Switch:

 

  • Abyss of the Sacrifice
  • Aria Chronicle
  • Atelier Firis: The Alchemist and the Mysterious Journey DX
  • Atelier Lulua: The Scion of Arland
  • Atelier Ryza: Ever Darkness & The Secret Hideout
  • Atelier Ryza 2: Lost Legends & The Secret Fairy
  • Astria Ascending
  • Azure Lane: Crosswave
  • Bayonetta 2
  • Battle Axe
  • Bladed Fury
  • Blue Reflection: Second Light
  • Bravely Default II
  • Brigandine
  • Bustafellows
  • Cadence of Hyrule: Crypt of the NecroDancer
  • Caladrius Blaze
  • Caligula Effect: Overdose
  • Catherine: Full Body
  • Children of Morta
  • Cogen: Sword of Rewind
  • Cross Code
  • Darksiders Genesis
  • Dark Souls Remastered
  • Death End re;Quest
  • Death Mark
  • Diablo III: Eternal Collection
  • Disgaea 5 Complete
  • Dragon Quest
  • Dragon Quest II: Luminaries of the Legendary Line
  • Dragon Quest III: The Seeds of Salvation
  • Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age
  • Dragon Star Varnir
  • Dusk Diver
  • Fairy Fencer F: Advent Dark Force
  • Fate/Extella Link
  • Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age
  • Fire Emblem: Three Houses
  • Forward to the Sky
  • Great Ace Attorney Chronicles
  • Grisaia: Phantom Trigger 01 to 05
  • Grisaia Trilogy
  • Gun Gun Pixies
  • Hades
  • House in Fata Morgana
  • Hyper Light Drifter
  • Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity
  • I am Setsuna
  • If my Heart had Wings
  • Island
  • KILL la KILL – IF
  • Kitaria Fables
  • Kowloon High-school Chronicle
  • Langrisser I&II
  • Legend of Mana
  • Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening
  • Little Dragons Café
  • Märchen Forest: Mylne and the Forest Gift
  • Mary Skelter Finale
  • Megadimension Neptunia VII
  • Moero Crystal H
  • Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin
  • Moonlighter
  • Nexomon: Extinction
  • Nights of Azure 2: Bride of the New Moon
  • Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch
  • Ni no Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom
  • Okami HD
  • Olympia Soirée
  • Omega Labyrinth Life
  • Oninaki
  • Pawarumi
  • Persona 5 Strikers
  • Poison Control
  • Pokemon Legends: Arceus
  • Princess Guide
  • Psyvariar Delta
  • Re:ZERO: The Prophecy of the Throne
  • Root Film
  • RPG Maker MV
  • Rune Factory 4 Special
  • Sakuna: Of Rice and Ruin
  • Savior of Sapphire Wings
  • Shantae: Half-Genie Hero
  • Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne HD Remaster
  • Sonic Mania Plus
  • Sonic Team Racing
  • Soul Nomad & The World Eaters
  • Spirit Hunter: NG
  • Stardew Valley
  • Steam Prison
  • Streets of Rage 4
  • Super Neptunia RPG
  • Tales of Vesperia: Definitive Edition
  • Trails of Cold Steel III
  • Trails of Cold Steel IV
  • Trials of Mana
  • Under Night In-Birth Exe:Late [cl-r]
  • Vambrace: Cold Soul
  • VA-11 Hall-A: Cyberpunk Bartender Action
  • WILL: A Wonderful World
  • Wing of Darkness
  • WitchSpring3 [Re:Fine]: The Story of Eirudy
  • Xenoblade Chronicles Definitive Edition
  • Xenoblade Chronicles 2: Torna – The Golden Country
  • Ys IX: Monstrum Nox
  • Yume Utsutsu Re:Master
  • YU-NO: A Girl who Chants Love at the Bound of this World
  • Zengeon

 

 
 

Vita:

 

  • Aegis of Earth: Protovonus Assault
  • Ar Nosurge Plus
  • Astro Aqua Kitty
  • Atelier Escha & Logy Plus: Alchemists of the Dusk Sky
  • Atelier Shallie Plus: Alchemists of the Dusk Sea
  • A.W.: Phoenix Festa
  • BlazBlue: Chrono Phantasma Extend
  • Blazblue: Continuum Shift Extend
  • Bullet Girls Phantasia
  • Child of Light
  • Cosmic Star Heroine
  • Danganronpa 2
  • Danganronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls
  • Deception IV: Blood Ties
  • Defender’s Quest
  • Demon Gaze II
  • Digimon Story: Cybersleuth
  • Disgaea 3: Absence of Detention
  • Disgaea 4: A Promise Revisited
  • Dragon’s Crown
  • Dragon Fantasy: The Black Tome of Ice
  • Drive Girls
  • Dungeon Hunter Alliance
  • Exist Archive – The Other Side of the Sky
  • Final Fantasy X-2
  • Fate/Extella: The Umbral Star
  • Gal*Gun: Double Peace
  • God Wars: Future Past
  • Grand Kingdom
  • Gravity Rush
  • Hyperdevotion Noire: Goddess Black Heart
  • Hyperdimension Neptunia: Producing Perfection
  • Hyperdimension Neptunia U: Action Unleashed
  • Lost Dimension
  • Mary Skelter: Nightmares
  • Megatagmention Blanc + Neptune vs Zombies
  • MeiQ: Labyrinth of Death
  • Mind Zero
  • Minecraft
  • Muramasa Rebirth
  • Muv-Luv
  • Muv-Luv Alternative
  • Mystery Chronicles: One Way Heroics
  • Natural Doctrine
  • New Little King’s Story
  • Odin Sphere
  • Operation Abyss: New Tokyo Legacy
  • Operation Babel: New Tokyo Legacy
  • Persona 4 Golden
  • Punch Line
  • Ragnarok Odyssey Ace
  • Rainbow Skies
  • Root Double: Before Crime After Days Extend Edition
  • Root Letter
  • Senran Kagura: Estival Versus
  • Senran Kagura: Shinovi Versus
  • Shiren the Wanderer: The Tower of Fortune and the Dice of Fate
  • Soul Sacrifice
  • Stranger of Sword City
  • Summon Night 6: Lost Borders
  • Superdimension Neptune vs Sega Hard Girls
  • Sword Art Online: Hollow Realization
  • Sword Art Online: Lost Song
  • Tokyo Tatoo Girls
  • Tokyo Twilight Ghost Hunters
  • Tokyo Xanadu
  • Trillion: God of Destruction
  • Toukiden: The Age of Demons
  • Trails of Cold Steel
  • Trails of Cold Steel II
  • Utawarerumono: Mask of Truth
  • World of Final Fantasy
  • Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana
  • Ys: Memories of Celceta
  • Ys Origins
  • Zero Time Dilemma

 

  

3DS:

 

  • Alliance Alive
  • Bravely Second: End Layer
  • Culdcept Revolt
  • Dragon Quest VII: Fragments of the Forgotten Past
  • Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King
  • Etrian Mystery Dungeon
  • Etrian Odyssey Untold: The Millenium Girl
  • Etrian Odyssey Untold 2: The Fafnir Knight
  • Etrian Odyssey 4: Legends of the Titan
  • Etrian Odyssey V: Beyond the Myth
  • Etrian Odyssey Nexus
  • Fire Emblem Fates
  • Fire Emblem Warriors
  • Hatsune Miku: Project Mirai DX
  • Heroes of Ruin
  • Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dreamdrop Distance
  • Langrisser: Re:Incarnation Tensei
  • Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds
  • Harvest Moon 3D: A New Beginning
  • Harvest Moon 3D: The Tale of Two Towns
  • Monster Hunter Generations
  • Monster Hunter Stories
  • New Style Boutique
  • New Style Boutique 2: Fashion Forward
  • New Style Boutique 3: Styling Star
  • Persona Q2: New Cinema Labyrinth
  • Pokemon Super Mystery Dungeon
  • Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy
  • Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask
  • Project X Zone
  • Radiant Historia! Perfect Chronology
  • Senran Kagura 2: Deep Crimson
  • Shin Megami Tensei IV
  • Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse
  • Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor – Overclocked
  • Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor 2 – Record Breaker
  • Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Summoner – Soul Hackers
  • Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey Redux
  • Story of Seasons
  • Story of Seasons: Trio of Towns
  • Super Pokemon Rumble
  • Virtue’s Last Reward

 

 
PSP:

 

  • Aedis Eclipse: Generation of Chaos
  • Blazing Souls Accelate
  • Blade Dancer
  • Brave Story
  • Breath of Fire III
  • Castlevania: The Dracula X Chronicles
  • Class of Heroes 2
  • Crimson Gem Saga
  • Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII
  • Disgaea: Afternoon of Darkness
  • Disgaea 2: Dark Hero Days
  • Dissidia Final Fantasy
  • Dissidia 012 Final Fantasy
  • Dragoneer’s Aria
  • Fate/Extra
  • Final Fantasy IV: The Complete Collection
  • Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions
  • Generation of Chaos
  • Growlanser: Wayfarer of Time
  • Gungnir
  • Gurumin
  • Half Minute Hero
  • Innocent Life
  • Jeanne D’Arc
  • Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep
  • Knights in the Nightmare
  • Legend of Heroes: A Tear of Vermillion
  • Legend of Heroes II: Prophecy of the Moonlight Witch
  • Legend of Heroes III: Song of the Ocean
  • Lunar: Silver Star Harmony
  • Mana Khemia: Student Alliance
  • Phantasy Star Portable
  • Phantasy Star Portable 2
  • Popolocrois
  • Ragnarok Tactics
  • Samurai Warriors: State of War
  • Shepherd’s Crossing
  • Shin Megami Tensei: Persona
  • Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 2 – Innocent Sin
  • Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3 Portable
  • Spectral Souls: Resurrection of the Ethereal Empires
  • Star Ocean: First Departure
  • Star Ocean: Second Evolution
  • Summon Night 5
  • Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together
  • Tales of Eternia
  • Tales of the World: Radiant Mythology
  • Ultimate Ghost’n Goblins
  • Valkyrie Profile: Lenneth
  • Warriors Orochi
  • Wild Arms XF
  • Yggdra Union: We’ll Never Fight Alone
  • Ys: The Ark of Napishtim
  • Ys: The Oath in Felghana
  • Ys Seven
  • Z.H.P: Unlosing Ranger VS Darkdeath Evilman

 

 

DS:

 

  • 999: Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors
  • Anno 1701
  • Another Code: Two Memories
  • Atelier Annie: Alchemist of Sera Island
  • Away: Shuffle Dungeon
  • Black Sigil: Blade of the Exiled
  • Bleach: The Blade of Fate
  • Blue Dragon Plus
  • Blue Dragon: Awakened Shadow
  • Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia
  • Chocolatier
  • Chrono Trigger
  • Civilization Revolution
  • Contact
  • Cookie Shop
  • Dark Spire
  • Deep Labyrinth
  • Dragon Quest IV: Chapters of the Chosen
  • Dragon Quest VI: Realms of Reverie / Revelation
  • Dragon Quest Monster Joker 2
  • Dungeon Maker
  • Eledees: The Adventures of Kai and Zero
  • Etrian Odyssey 2: Heroes of Lagaard
  • Etrian Odyssey III: The Drowned City
  • Final Fantasy III
  • Final Fantasy IV
  • Final Fantasy XII: Revenant Wings
  • Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Echoes of Time
  • Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Rings of Fate
  • Final Fantasy Tactics A2: Grimoire of the Rift
  • Final Fantasy: The Four Heroes of Light
  • Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon
  • Flower, Sun and Rain
  • From the Abyss
  • Geometry Wars: Galaxies
  • Golden Sun: Dark Dawn
  • Heroes of Mana
  • Hotel Dusk: Room 215
  • Inazuma Eleven 2: FireStorm
  • Infinite Space
  • Izuna: The Legend of the Ninja
  • Izuna 2: The Unemployed Ninja Returns
  • Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days
  • Kingdom Hearts: Re:coded
  • Knights in the Nightmare
  • Last Window: The Secret of Cape West
  • Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass
  • Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks
  • Lock’s Quest
  • Lost in Blue 2
  • Lufia: Curse of the Sinistrals
  • Lunar Genesis (a.k.a. Lunar: Dragon Song)
  • Lunar Knights
  • Lux-Pain
  • Magical Starsign
  • Might & Magic: Clash of Heroes
  • My World My Way
  • Nanostray
  • Nanostray 2
  • Nostalgia
  • Okamiden
  • Orcs & Elves
  • Phantasy Star 0
  • Pokemon Conquest
  • Pokemon Ranger
  • Pokemon Rangers: Guardian Signs
  • Pokemon Ranger: Shadows of Almia
  • Professor Layton and the Curious Village
  • Professor Layton and the Lost Future
  • Professor Layton and Pandora’s Box
  • Professor Layton and the Spectre’s Call
  • Radiant Historia
  • Ragnarok DS
  • Rondo of Swords
  • Rooms: The Main Building
  • Rune Factory
  • Rune Factory 2
  • Rune Factory 3
  • Sands of Destruction
  • Secret Files: Tunguska
  • Secret Files 2: Puritas Cordis
  • Shepherd’s Crossing 2
  • Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey
  • Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor
  • Solatorobo: Red the Hunter
  • Spectral Force Genesis
  • Steal Princess
  • Summon Night: Twin Age
  • Tao’s Adventure: Curse of the Demon Seal
  • Time Hollow
  • Trauma Center: Under the Knife
  • Trauma Center: Under the Knife 2
  • Valkyrie Profile: Covenant of the Plume
  • Viva Pinata: Pocket Paradise
  • World Ends With You
  • Youda Legend: The Golden Bird of Paradise

 


Game Boy Advance:

 

  • Advance Wars
  • Advance Wars 2: Black Hole Rising
  • Breath of Fire
  • Breath of Fire 2
  • Final Fantasy V Advance
  • Final Fantasy VI Advance
  • Fire Emblem
  • Fire Emblem: Swords of Seals
  • Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones
  • Golden Sun: The Lost Age
  • Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories
  • Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap
  • Lufia: The Ruins of Lore
  • Sigma Star Saga
  • Shining Force: Resurrection of the Dark Dragon
  • Shining Soul II
  • Sonic Advance
  • Sonic Advance 2
  • Sonic Advance 3
  • Summon Night: Swordcraft Story
  • Summon Night: Swordcraft Story 2
  • Tactics Ogre: The Knight of Lodis
 

Game Boy:

 

  • Dragon Warrior I&II
  • Dragon Warrior III
  • Final Fantasy Adventure
  • Final Fantasy Legend III
  • Azure Dreams
  • Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages
  • Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons

 

 

Putting this list together was really interesting. I encountered games I didn’t even remember owning, while other instantly brought in a mass of sweet memories and a strong desire to play them. I’ll play them all no matter what, don’t worry; but this goes to show that my collection formed in a pretty haphazard way over the years. Some entries were highly anticipated, while others were merely the result of me desperately wanting to buy something anything. I’m also quite surprised that I ended up purchasing full series spinoffs et al. before even trying a single instalment to see if it was my thing case in point, Kingdom Hearts (which I have yet to play) and Final Fantasy (which I dislike overall). This was the result of my immense greed and lust for games, and I can vaguely remember that it made perfect sense at the time; but it is not something I could see myself doing nowadays case in point, the Yokai Watch Averted Binge. Well, live and play and learn and pass it on if it doesn’t tickle your gaming fancy.

 

But what about the Switch games that will be released in 2022 and beyond, you may ask? Yeah, about that… I may claim that I won’t get my greedy paws on a single new game until I’m done with the New Classic phase; but such a claim would be hilariously unrealistic, and we all know it. Knowing that every new game will have to pass the New Classic test to remain in my collection anyway, here’s what I’ve decided: I’ll buy all the games my gaming instinct claims, and add them to the list on the fly. Just in case you’re wondering, the List (with capital L from now on) currently comprises 404 games a super-stylish number, but one that probably won’t stay put for long.

 

For the posts themselves, I’m going to use a fixed layout, with no intro or outro. Each post will comprise three parts:

 

  • The Backstory, where I’ll present how I got the game as well as any interesting trivia about it;
  • The Game, where I’ll expand on my impressions of, well, the game;
  • The Verdict, where I’ll reveal if the game is granted a spot in my precious collection.

 

That’s pretty much all, dear fellow gamers. We’re in for a thrilling ride for sure, and I hope you’ll enjoy it as much as me! And remember: if a game featured on The List tickles your fancy, just let me know and I'll play it ^^.