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Tengai Makyou: Daiyon no Mokushiroku (Far East of Eden: The Apocalypse IV)

Tengai Makyo: The Apocalypse IV is the latest installment of the extremely popular Far East of Eden series (also known as Tengai Makyo) which spans from the Super Famicom (TM Zero), to the PC engine (TM Ziria, TM Manjimaru and TM Gaiden ~ Kabuki Klash) and the Sega Saturn (TM The Apocalypse IV). The Tengai Makyo series has a tradition of stunning cinematic, solid game-play and its own original style of humor. The Apocalypse IV continues the tradition.

The Apocalypse IV is actually based on the writings of a fictional author called “P.H. Chada” who chronicles an over-the-top, bizarre and downright crazy version of 19th century America. This game is as historically and politically incorrect as you can get and it makes for an original and entertaining setting for an RPG. The Apocalypse IV is also one of the darker RPGs ever made, dealing with topics such as The Book of Revelations and Satanism. That, combined with the insane setting gave this title little chance of making it stateside (sadly).

The story of Apocalypse IV follows the story of a young Demon Hunter named Rizing and his quest to rid America of the plague of demonic evil that infects it more and more each day. Along the way Rizing will encounter memorable allies, insane, ominous villains and other characters that seem to be the product of smoking reefer and paint-chips. The Apocalypse IV’s cast is incredible, from the colorful and deep main characters to the villains who range from hilarious to satanic. I enjoyed TA IV’s story from start to end and it had some very memorable moments that I won’t mention to risk spoiling the surprise for people who haven’t played it yet. The story is also pretty easy to follow even if you don’t understand Japanese (I know about 3 words of Japanese, heh) and combined with a game guide found at gamefaqs.com you’ll be all set.

The battle system in The Apocalypse IV is pretty traditional and basic in its scope, mirroring the battle system found in the Phantasy Star series with a few alterations. For instance, the time of day affects your enemies’ strength and your whole party uses one MP pool. You are also able to pull off combination attacks ala PS 4 and Chrono Trigger. As you progress in the story you receive more techniques and you earn new magic spells from various Indian chiefs spread throughout America. The game-play offers nothing groundbreaking, but it provides a solid and fun experience.

The Apocalypse IV is a 2D lover’s dream, from the incredible anime to the colorful towns/battles, this is definitely one of the finer looking 2D RPGs on the market. The anime FMV in this game is amazing and pushes the Saturn to the limit. There is little to no pixilation to be found. Not only is the quality of the anime compression amazing but the art is great as well. Once you see the opening sequence with Rizing ice surfing through the Alaskan tundra you will know that you’re in for an anime experience that few games can compare with. The battle scenes are played out in interactive first-person anime scenes, think Phantasy Star with 100 times the animation and effects. The town and dungeon graphics are your basic 2D style but the attention to detail is very impressive, it may not be in the same league as some of the newer 2D RPGs detail-wise but it gets the job done.

The Apocalypse IV’s soundtrack is solid and has some of the best Saturn PCM I have ever heard. In fact the music played during the anime scenes is incredible. Toshiyuki Sasagawa’s score combines techno, rock and atmospheric tracks for a unique and above average soundtrack that fits the game perfectly.

The voice acting in this game is high quality and there are over 20 different voice actors used. This is usually a given in RED co. games since they take pride in top of the line voice acting.

If you are looking for an original and fun RPG to eat up your time look no further. Tengai Makyo: TA IV’s original story, memorable characters, colorful graphics, great music, low language barrier and solid game-play make it a good buy for Saturn importers. Lets hope we see Tengai Makyo on the Dreamcast in the near future.

Albert Odyssey – Sega Saturn

Albert Odyssey: LoE was released in 1997 to hungry US Saturn owners who would take any RPG that was thrown there way. Even though Albert Odyssey LoE wasn’t what you would call an “epic” or “classic” RPG, it did have enough substance and Working Designs humor to make it a worthwhile purchase to Saturn owners who were desperately starving for an RPG that they didn’t have to import.

The story of Albert Odyssey: LoE is not what you would call “developed” or “original” but it still is a somewhat enjoyable quest even if it goes through a library of cliches along the way. AO:LoE stars the a generic hero named Pike who sets out on a quest to eventually save the world. Sure the plot is basically generic and cliche but Working Designs’ translation makes the plot much more enjoyable thanks to the added humor and well written dialogue. Some may say that the humor goes to far at some points and at times it does but it is still a lot better than the horribly translated RPGs that some US publishers crap out nowadays.

AO:LoE has one big fault, the battles. There is nothing wrong with the actual turn-based battle system but it’s the loading times in the battles that make them so horribly boring and slow-paced. Each command takes an eternity to pull off and it completely took all of the fun out of the battles. I still cant believe that the loading times in the battles were actually worse in the Japanese version of this game. I’m not one that usually complains about loading times but this is ridiculous. AO: LoE is also not that difficult and you wont spend much time planning strategy against most bosses. If you can stand the horrendous load times then you should enjoy the 25 – 35 hours of game-play in AO:LoE.

I really liked the graphics in AO:LoE, the graphics were in the traditional 2D style but they were vividly colorful and very detailed. However, the over-world was done in full 3D and reminds looks exactly like the over-world in Tales of Destiny. Albert Odyessy LoE is one of the best looking 2D rpgs, even to this day.

Albert Odyssey: LoE has a solid soundtrack with its fair share of great tracks. The quality of the music is very high since most of the tracks were done in red-book audio that is playable via a CD player. The soundtrack may not be as well composed as Xenogears or Lunar 2 but it is still a solid soundtrack nonetheless.

Overall, Albert Odyssey: LoE would be just an average RPG if it wasnt for the great translation by Working Designs. Sadly the horrible loading times in the battles brings this game down a lot and the cliched plot may bore some people. Its a solid RPG to add to your collection but I wouldn’t suggest going nuts to track it down.

Tokimeki Memorial – Sega Saturn

Tokimeki Memorial – forever with you (aka TokiMemo) is a dating simulation game published by Konami of Japan for the Sega Saturn. It was what basically spawned the Dating Sim Genre in Japan, and gained massive popularity in Japan, not only TokiMemo, but the Dating Sim Genre itself. And if you haven’t guessed already the overall premise of the game is to date beautiful Anime girls, and no they don’t take their clothes off for you, or get raped by large tentacles. Sorry, you wont find any hardcore hentai here.

You play as a teenage boy in Kirameki high school and your main objective is … well, to get a date, of course! One of the characters, Shiori, is the girl of your dreams, but if things don’t go well with her, you can always go for one of her twelve friends! In TokiMemo your attributes are measured similar to those in an RPG game, with stats for science, arts, athletics, stress, humanity, knowledge, etc. if, for example you spend too much time playing sports, your studying stats will decrease and all of the girls will think you’re a dunce. The key to success is to keep your popularity high without getting a “bad rep” amongst the girls. A girl’s feelings toward you can be gauged by her expression when she faces you. She can either be sad, indifferent, happy or just plain “sparkling”! With help and advice from your buddy, Yoshio, you strive to reach your ultimate goal: Love.

The game play of TokiMemo as you might of already guessed, could be quite challenging, due to the language barrier, and although the game is entirely in Japanese (for the most part) it does remain quite easy to play, just not follow along with the dialogue. And most of the time it’s just point and click type playing, you simply access menus and what not. But something that made TokiMemo so much fun is all of the Mini games, that were thrown in along the way. For instance, during certain parts of the year they have you partake in the Annual School Athletic Meeting. And that ranging from activity’s like the 100m dash, 3 Legged Race and a quite challenging event where you balance a ball, on a tennis racket. Something else I found hilarious along the way, is that when certain events take place, it will trigger a fight, which is basically a huge Final Fantasy Spoof, got to love getting the chance to beat up on the school bully! And finally, something else that is added for enjoyment is a really fun over top shooter, that you can get by attending the Computer class long enough. So as you can see, the game doesn’t entirely remain a simple point and click game.

The graphics in TokiMemo are very well drawn Anime styled pictures, and pallets. Although the anime sequence does remain to look a bit grainy on the Saturn it’s really nothing to complain about. You will not find any revolutionary 3D graphics displayed, it all remains in a classic 2D form, which moves very smoothly on the Saturn. I really enjoy the chibi style in Animations, and add’s that classic Anime feel to the game, which I for one enjoy.

The sound and voice acting for TokiMemo, couldn’t have been better! even if you don’t understand a word of Japanese, just listen to the emotion and true vocal composites which were displayed in TokiMemo, at times, you might catch yourself off guard and really think you are talking to one of the girls. The music, was arranged superbly, if you let the game sit idle for a moment in the beginning you will be treated with a really catchy song, which was an A+ on my list, as well as a Video to include with. The in-game music, are definitely rpg influenced scores, which in all actuality go quite well with the pace of the game. I can’t really complain here.

And now for the cash crop of the game, the Entertainment! yes, this is where the game scored the mother load. I myself only know a few simple Japanese phrases, and don’t know a single piece Kanji, but this game still stands as one of the most fun and addictive games, I have played yet. The idea of dating girls, and building up your character on the popularity chain is just too much fun to pass up. Although often times, you will be kicking yourself, wondering what the heck is going on, it still remains very fun throughout the whole game.

Overall, I would highly suggest this game to anyone who fancy’s themselves in Anime, or Simulations. I can guarantee once you get started, you will not be able to put the controller down. The only gripe I can clearly point is the huge Language barrier, so if you think loads of Kanji, and Japanese dialogue will effect your gameplay, then stear clear of this title.

Groove on Fight – Sega Saturn

I actually came across this game by accident but I am very glad that I was able to snag up one of the more original and cool 2D Fighters ever to grace Saturn. Atlus’s Groove on Fight is not your basic 2D fighter since it uses a tag-team style of fighting which enables you to alternate characters on the fly making for some great combinations and frantic battles. Fans of Marvel vs Capcom will have hours of fun with the huge special attacks that take up half of the screen. You get 10 characters to choose from at the beginning of the game along with characters you can unlock, and this is without a doubt one of the most unique cast of characters that I have ever come across, don’t get me wrong, there are some basic style characters in GoF but two elderly woman tied together is anything but normal.

The graphics in Groove on Fight take advantage of the Saturn’s 4 Meg RAM cart which enables GoF to have fluid character animation and cool special effects. Dont expect graphics on the level of Marvel vs Capcom but GoF’s graphics shouldn’t disappoint you at all. My only gripe with the Graphics are the somewhat stale backgrounds which could have been improved since this game does use the 4MEG cart.

The sound in this game is a mixed bag, the music is very good, ranging from Gothic tunes to rock, not to mention being red-book audio. The battle sound effects are average but could have been clearer. The character taunts seem like there coming off a Genesis rather than a Saturn, but this shouldn’t really bother anyone.

The length of this game for 1 Player is rather short (like most fighters) but the style of the game makes it perfect for 2 players. GoF is a cool game to break out when your just hanging out with your friends. Pulling off a 20 hit combo in the comfort of your own home, a fighter fans dream come true.

Overall this is a very worthwhile purchase for 2D fighter fans thanks to the above average gameplay, graphics and style. You can find Groove on Fight at most import stores that still carry Saturn games, like buyrite1.com and ncsx.com. Lets hope we see Groove on Fight 2 soon.

League of Children

I am using bold text items throughout this
If you look through this blog you will find plenty of posts about video games, a hobby and interest I have had for as long as I can remember. It started with the NES and developed into Genesis and then on and on after that. All of that being said, I have a tendency to get into games, as of late mainly pc games. One of those games being a MOBA (multiplayer online battle arena), League of Legends.  This post has little to do with the game design, mechanics etc. but more to do with the environment and community.

human beings
As with any online games, you’re not alone in this world, you share it with other human beings. With this variable, you will more than likely clash with some personality’s and get along just fine with others. But one of the things about competitive games, is an attraction from ego’s and hot heads, a short number this game has not.

pointless history
When I first started playing League of Legends, I would only play “bot games” (a game where you and human players fight against computer players), this nearly eliminated the verbal diarrhea, although in this it was mostly people complaining about “kill steals”. Overall a semi-peaceful environment. After a 100 or more bot games, you begin to develop a learning curve and these games get boring to play. At the time I never really started playing against many human players, I found the experience to be a little overwhelming and just quit playing the game completely. I cannot say for sure the date when I started playing and when I had a hiatus, but it’s been several years, no doubt.

pointless history pt. 2
It wasn’t until late last year that I installed the game again, and jumped head first into what I call “human games”. I had a group of friends I grew up with who play as well, and we would play regularly after work during the week. It was a lot of fun, but I was far from having any idea of what I was doing. But it was a helluva good time. Of course throughout this experience I started to see more and more angry and hostile players bitching about other people. I am the type of person who knows and understands that I suck at the game, I have no idea what I am doing for the most part. But I know the only way to get better is through practice and playing. That being said, I would take a lot of what these other players would say to heart. I did consider quitting playing the game all together. But like I said, I knew I was relatively new and I wouldn’t get anywhere without practice.

learning the game
Let’s fast forward to present day, and I have now easily over 1000’s of matches and have only ranked as high as bronze 2 in this game (this game has a ranking system, bronze, silver, gold, platinum, diamond and challenger), it’s pitiful but I am slowly learning the nature and behavior of how this all plays out in the game itself. To me this game has many different aspects to take into consideration while trying to get wins and be a better overall player. The first and most crucial and elementary thing to learn is a champion. Learn its skills, its weaknesses, what equipment is good, runes and masteries, the list goes on and on. The next thing is learning objectives, taking out towers, “farming” (killing minions), and finally killing the bosses in the map (dragon and baron/rift herald). Throughout the playing process you will no doubt learn the layout of the map and that is also a crucial part of playing. Once I got my head around this, and started exclusively playing one champion I started to feel like I was getting a little better. Though I am a below average player.

assholes and idiots
Learning the game was probably the easiest part of the whole process of getting into this. The hardest and most difficult area to deal with, is the player base. Getting into a game and seeing yourself doing ok, and then out of nowhere somebody will spout out of their mouth something like, “you fucking idiot! what are you doing?!”. This will instantly tilt me a little, and then again it will reverberate and echo throughout the match. The next thing I know, I cannot focus on playing but instead am focused on this person talking about god knows what. And I see this countless times over. We will being doing well in the game, and then somebody has to complain about somebody else on the team, and then like clockwork we start losing towers or we will start getting pecked off left and right.

the mute button
This is where I learned the utopia of this game, a kind of holy grail. That being the mute button, yes you have the option to mute particular players, or mute everyone all together. Though this will not guarantee victory, it will at least give you an opportunity to focus on the game better. This does come with a kind of blindfold from players who are genuinely trying to see your team succeed, but the game does have pings (An indicator to be in a specific spot, or to let teammates know an enemy is out of position and could be wandering to potential attack, there also indications of assistance and danger to stay back), you can mute these as well. All very helpful, but when used simply to attract attention, they become useless and more of an annoyance than anything else.

kills killing and killing yourself
One thing about egos and competitive play, is that you get people who get into these games and there one priority and goal is to get kills. They could literally care less about anything else other than kills. This is great and probably one of the most crucial parts about a victory screen. But when you get more concerned about kills, you begin to make mistakes and die a lot yourself. A good strategy is to play it safe and focus on objectives. Through this process you will no doubt get yourself some kills, but will also help yourself and team actually win.

I still suck
Some things I am still trying to learn and develop is CS (creep score, more or less killing the minions that group into your lane), utilizing active skills within items, faster item buying and overall layout of shop, wards and warding in general, faster reaction and screen movement (especially during combat), skills and auto attacking, what I might call combos. There is an endless amount of things that I cannot even begin to process in my brain. The pros all have the ability to move around and perform quickly without flinching. I am not one of those players.

I still, still suck
Overall the game is fun, and it does give me the enjoyment I got from playing games like Starcraft, Age of Empires, Quake 3 Arena and Counter Strike. It has a certain attractive simplicity about it, but also a hugely complexity. To me not quite as complex as a game like Starcraft or as fast paced and daunting as Quake 3 Arena, but it incorporates aspects over many different genres of games.

Well I hope this was semi helpful to new players, and might encourage you to keep playing. My only goal out of this game is to maybe get silver, and then gold and so on. Right now I feel like I am placed well. That’s the beauty of this game, you will always play with people in your own skill level. Although a whole other can of worms, is smurf accounts, and the detriment that have to your games.