Play Time 4h 49m
Special Items 22/34
Play Time 4h 49m
Special Items 22/34
This game has been on the backburner for quite a while. It’s one of the last PSP games I hadn’t played yet so this was cool to knock out. Mixing the classic RPG setup with some Sci-Fi is always fun. The game has a good story and the fact that all of your partners are basically optional is pretty interesting. Apparently the game has over 80 variations of endings depending on how you use your team which is also cool. The game gets pretty difficult towards the end and there’s even a trick you can do to make the final boss even more difficult. You must be a master of the game to even attempt that I would imagine because otherwise that sounds pretty crazy. I was in the mid 80s for my level when I beat the game and while the last two bosses were quite easy thanks to this, taking down some of the earlier Wisemen was brutal with how they would petrify each member.
The game starts off with Claude and his father working on a spaceship. Claude has always wanted to follow in his Dad’s footsteps by becoming a pilot himself one day but unfortunately this isn’t to be. On one of their expeditions he gets a little too close to an artifact and is teleported to a primitive planet on another star system. He now has no way of getting back home. He decides to pretend he is around there. Claude meets a girl named Rena who explains that he is likely the fabled Hero of Light here to save them all. Calamity is approaching after all. More and more monsters have been appearing in the land and nobody is able to stand up to them. Well, Claude will do his best to help out until the crew can find him but does he even want to go back now?
The monsters are the main plot for most of the game but then towards the end we get a full villain group known as the Ten Wise Men. These guys are interesting because the game is definitely trying to go for something with their names here. You’ve got Zadkiel, Lucifer, Michael, and Gabriel all on the same team. Effectively the Angels and Demons have all decided to team up to destroy the universe. Why? Well, to be honest while usually I’d say I couldn’t tell you for spoiler reasons, they don’t really have any reason in particular. They want to either rule the universe or destroy it just because they can. They make for a pretty fun group I have to say. Their inclusion was a little last second but it definitely did help to increase the stakes here. I also tend to like villain groups in general.
As for the main characters, Claude is decent but not quite as good as the average RPG main character. He gets really jealous whenever Rena talks to her old friend Diaz which can get a little iffy. This often makes Claude act rather petty around her which isn’t a good look. I also think he should have come clean with the group about being from another star system a lot earlier in the game. It would have helped a lot particularly since he knew that the aliens were using high tech items as well. A little heads up could have gone a long way to saving more lives.
The death count in this game is absolutely massive. The villains just have more abilities and tech than the heroes so stopping them is really a difficult task. In any head to head confrontation you can really assume that the heroes are about to get wrecked. There are quite a number of fights in the game that you have to lose in order to progress the story. It’s a fun concept for sure but the only dicey thing is you may end up wasting a lot of potions and revives in this fight since you think you have a shot here.
Star Ocean ends rather abruptly without much of an after-ending so don’t expect a lot of closure for the characters. In particular I was expecting one of the old characters to show up again but I guess their premonition that they would never see him again was correct. You get the feeling that this game was left rather open ended for a sequel at some point. You could end the series with this game and it still works but there is definitely enough material for that third game. It’s definitely a satisfying story. I liked the way things turned out and the end of the game got to give Claude a good rage mode so he was more intense at the climax than he was for most of the game. You like to see it because he needed some more intensity the whole time.
As for Rena, she’s a solid heroine. Rena has her own story in the game and I’m sure that would give her even more backstory and personality like exploring her scenes with Diaz and all. She does well and keeps up with Claude the whole time. They have their share of disagreements but Rena is always reasonable about the whole thing. She’s a fun character to have around and has more of a presence than the other characters. Due to the optional nature of the rest of the party they don’t appear in any of the animated cutscenes. Even in the text ones their characters can be interchangeable. For example, I lost one fight with the Wisemen a lot to I had to keep seeing the cutscene over and over again and the side characters would take turns on who would talk to him but with the same dialogue each time. It was pretty interesting to see.
The best of the side characters would definitely be the travelling thief though. Her backstory got more time to shine than the others and since she was with the team near the beginning we at least got to see a lot of her. Some of the guys near the end came in rather late to the point where I intentionally left one of the kids back at base since he would just slow us down. I did like the rival Diaz quite a lot though. His skill with the sword was really impressive. Even by the end it’s hard to say if Claude had truly surpassed him or not. The tournament was a nice little event to show the gap in their abilities.
Not surprisingly the graphics here are really good. The fact that there are cutscenes which are completely animated at different points in the game was also very impressive. You definitely don’t see that every day I can tell you that much. The in game graphics are also on point. Not totally graphics related but I do think the game could have made the animations a little shorter though. Whenever the characters use a super attack there is a long unskippable cutscene that draws out the battles just a bit. Considering that you are going to need to grind out a lot of battles this can add up quite a lot.
As for the soundtrack, that was pretty good. It’s not quite at Tales of tier where each game has a super standout track but it still works out pretty well. There’s a lot of depth to the game so in addition to the 25-30 hours it takes to beat the game you’ve got a ton of replay value. You can beat the game again as Rena or work to get all of the other endings. It’ll definitely take a lot of time to do this so this game will last you an extremely long amount of time. It’s part of why RPGs tend to be some of the best games, you’ll almost always be very attached to what is going on by the end.
Overall, Star Ocean: Second Evolution is a great game. The plot is excellent and the characters are fun to root for. The anime cutscenes help to make this game feel high budget and the whole climax with the Ten Wise Men showing up was really good and kept a high energy approach the whole time. I liked the way you could allocate your abilities into skills as you leveled up since it made you have to decide on what to upgrade first. Strategy plays a huge role in this game. Star Ocean the series is off to a good start so I look forward to checking out more games in the series at some point. Either way if you have a PSP then I highly recommend picking this game up.
Play Time 16h 21m
Puzzles Solved 79
Total Score 2957
It’s time to look at the next Excitebike game. This one is actually very similar to the original to the point where you could basically call it an enhanced remake. It gives you the classic mode like in the original but you also have the new vs option. It’s a pretty fun addition since you can finally have a true 1 vs 1 battle against someone else. That’s basically the only big new feature though so we’ll have to see if it’s enough to keep you playing for long. If you already played the original a lot then I doubt you would stick around here, but otherwise this is the game you’d want to start with. The gameplay is still pretty fun and the game has a reasonable amount of content so ultimately I would say that this helps take the game pretty far if you ask me.
The gameplay is that of a 2D racer. It’s almost overhead style but not completely from that view. The idea is to make it to the end of the stage within the timeframe in order to break records and win. You keep on doing this as you go through all of the races. You can also do the vs mode of course where the only objective is to stay ahead of the other racer. It’s a pretty fun game and it’s always fun to try and knock the opponents off of their bikes by going in front of them. Honestly it seems like landing a hit here would be pretty much fatal as there would be no way for the other racer to make up the distance at that point. From there their only hope would be for you to make a mistake. In that sense I suppose the game could be a little more balanced but it certainly does help the stakes.
The graphics are just as good as in the original title. The bikes all look pretty solid and the level designs are good as well. The game is able to keep up with your speed at all times. I do find that 2D racers like this can be a bit rough since you don’t really see the obstacles ahead of time and have to completely rely on your reflexes. It is an interesting option though and while 3D racers are my favorite I’m always game for trying these out as well. The soundtrack is less memorable though to the point where I can’t really remember any tunes. It’s a shame but that definitely doesn’t hurt the score, it just doesn’t help it.
In terms of replay value all I can really say is that you can keep on racing and try to beat your own records. Up to a point that’ll be fun but there are only so many different methods you can try. There are no shortcuts in the levels or anything like that so once you are good at consistently dodging the obstacles that are present I fear that you will plateu quite quickly. The replay value here just won’t last you for very long in the end so this is the kind of game you pick up for a day or a weekend. It’ll be fun during that period though which is important.
Overall, Vs. Excitebike is basically the original game but with an extra feature so by default I would recommend this one a little higher. It’s pretty interesting that the NES Online has both. I really wouldn’t have expected that so it’s a pretty nice surprise. If you like racing games then you owe it to yourself to try it out. This is one of the original racers after all and spawned a bunch of spinoffs. My favorite game in the franchise is definitely Excitetrucks. I remember playing that in the very early days of the Wii and it was a really nice way to start off the console.
No stats this time!
PS3 Trophies 8/51
Angry Birds Classic
Angry Birds Seasons
Angry Birds Rio
Well, unfortunately this is the kind of game that has no stats. Out of the 8 levels, I did complete 5 of them though and died in the 6th so that’s sort of a stat. If only this game has a Continue feature. Even if it took some arcade points away I would have liked to have gotten to the ending firsthand. Ah well, I guess this game was as tough as it looks.
It’s time to look at an old GBA game that decided it would be a good idea to get rid of the continue option. It tries to go for a very authentic arcade feel as you have to try and go through the whole game with one shot of lives. Granted, it does autosave your progress so if you die on level 6 with and used up 2 lives in the attempt, that’s how you’ll spawn. Ideally you will get so good at the game that eventually you would clear the game and reach the ending. That would be impressive because I can assure you that this game is no walk in the park. It will take quick reaction times and a whole lot of heart.
The plot is rather vague and you only get about 3 cutscenes in the whole game. It seems that alien machines are trying to destroy the worlds and you have to stop them. Fortunately that won’t be too much of an issue for our hot shot pilot Rick. He is willing to risk his life to save his planet and that’s what it takes to be a real hero. You have to appreciate the guy’s passion through and through. Still, it’s as cookie cutter a plot as you can get so you will be playing this game for the gameplay.
It’s a traditional 2D shooter. You are always in the air and the screen is constantly moving so you can’t take your time. On the other hand, this also means you can’t go too fast as you wait for the screen to catch up. The only time it will typically stop is for a boss fight. Then you maneuver as you please to dodge the attacks. There is usually a good amount of room so you don’t have to worry about bumping into things. The average level is around 5-7 minutes long and there are 8 levels total. The game will last you about an hour if you’re a whiz at the gameplay and a little longer if you die a lot. It’s not a long time, but you don’t expect much more length out of this genre.
You have your primary weapon which is a typical energy gun, but you will pick up a bunch of other weapons along the way. Rockets, Energy Balls, etc. When you get hit by an enemy you lose one of your 4 health points along with your current weapons. You can stock up to 3 weapons I believe so choose them carefully. You will likely think that some weapons are better than others so if you see an enemy drop a bad one sometimes it is best to just leave it. You also get bombs which wipe the screen of weak enemies and weaken the tough ones. Your 3 bombs are refilled whenever you get a health item so quickly spam them before making contact with it. I also recommend stocking up on lives during the earlier part of the game since you will need them for the end.
Another thing to watch out for is the ceiling. The game’s lighting can be quite deceptive so it’s possible to be ramming into a cliff and not know it. You’ll quickly be tipped off as you take damage and die though. I think the visual effect is intentional because the cliffs shouldn’t camouflage so well. That’s just mean to the player if you ask me. The gameplay is quite sound all things considered though. I enjoyed playing through the game. It’s the kind of title that I wouldn’t stick around to try and complete without being able to use a continue, but still a good arcade title nonetheless. I probably would give it a try at one of the ole machines.
There isn’t much replay value as you can probably expect. After all, Story Mode is the only thing to do and it’s simply an hour. Fortunately I got this game for about a dollar so that’s a good bargain. I did think that the soundtrack was far better than I had ever expected it to be. The fast paced rock theme really gets you into the levels. The visuals are on point as well and on a technical level the game even looks worthy of the DS. I’d say that they spared no expense here. While there are no bonus features, you can’t say that the developers didn’t treat this game with a whole lot of care and grace.
Overall, Phalanx is a fun shooter. It is not the best in the market nor will it ever be, but it doesn’t make any real mistakes. It is a fun experience for however long it lasts you and I’d recommend picking it up if the price is right. It’s not a game I will forget very soon even if it was one of the shortest games I’ve played in ages. If it ever gets a big sequel/remake I would be interested in seeing how they enhance the plot. Adding in a continue feature would also help the game considerably.