Friday! Video games! Let’s talk!
Outside of the usual WoW shenanigans, I resubscribed to NJPW’s streaming service to watch ALL IN (and what a show that was!) and managed to finish my first game in two months, with Sega’s JRPG Shining Resonance Refrain. Mental illness fucking sucks, but hey, video games and good wrestling helps sometimes.
Shining Resonance was a solid 6/10 game with a good story, interesting characters, and fun combat, but it’s unfortunately bogged down by uninteresting and equally unrewarding side quests, limited environments and enemy designs, and far too much backtracking.
For starters, there’s only one town that serves as your central hub, which became a double-edged sword. You can interact with (and date) party members, pick up side quests, and level grind by way of repeatable dungeons accessed via a magic grimoire, as well as synthesize consumable items and personal upgrade gems. I was a bit bummed out at first because I was hoping the world would be a little more expansive than it was, but in the end it felt like a new town that my character began to think of as a home.
All of the explorable maps are small and mostly linear, connecting via corners and hallways much like Final Fantasy XII was. They’re all standard RPG fare, ranging from grasslands and forests to icy ruins and caverns, and stuffed with shiny crafting material gathering points and a small variety of enemy types. Said enemies level alongside the player for the most part, so entering a map for the 50th time 20 hours later greets you with the same models, merely given a different color palette.
The combat is super fun, though, and each character has their own play style and weapons to unlock and level up. It’s very similar to a Tales game where you can mash out standard combos and weave in powerful spells and abilities to expend your mana bar. Enemies can be “broken” with repeated attacks, which knocks them to the ground and makes them far more vulnerable to damage.
However… the game is incredibly easy and the “break” system can be cheesed all the way to the closing credits. To make matters easier, the main character (Yuma) has the soul of the Shining Dragon living within him, which allows the hero to transform into a powerful dragon mid-battle and wreak all sorts of havoc. Yuma stays in his dragon form as long as he has MP (which slowly drains in the process). As long as you’re well stocked on MP restoratives you can essentially go into dragon form every single battle and simply mash the attack button until a cutscene triggers.
Battles are made even easier by way of the game’s B.A.N.D. system. Attacking enemies fills up a special meter that can be spent on various “songs” that buff your party with helpful boons like additional damage output, immunity to status ailments and knockbacks, or increasing their defensive capabilities. The B.A.N.D. bar fills fast enough that it was regularly maxed out for every boss encounter. Using this in combination with Yuma’s dragon form usually ended up with a dead boss in under a minute, but some of the late-game stuff still provided a good challenge.
Despite the easy difficulty, Shining Resonance was definitely a fun way to spend 30 hours and I did end up really liking the entire cast and the tale of their adventure. The story is full of plot twists and new characters are introduced regularly enough that I was always encouraged to try out new party combinations.
If you’re into JRPGs and want something simple and fun during your next dry spell, maybe give Shining Resonance Refrain a shot if the price is right.
I picked up Dragon Quest XI and the Shenmue I & II collection, but with Xenoblade Chronicles 2: Torna ~ The Golden Country prequel story DLC releasing next Friday (the 14th — Jason is sad) I don’t want to jump into another RPG. I can only juggle two, so between Octopath and next week’s Torna DLC, I’ll be fully booked for a while. Man, I miss playing Xenoblade 2. I hated that game at first, but now it’s one of my favorite JRPGs of all time and my favorite game overall on the Switch.
Side-note: Torna’s new battle theme is GOOOOOOOD. Those Persona vibes are strong!
I definitely want to jump back into Xenoblade Chronicles 2 for a few hours just to knock the rust off, but otherwise I’ll be juggling Fire Pro Wrestling World, Under Night In-birth Exe: Late(st), and the recently released Final Fantasy XV Pocket Edition HD (which is currently on sale on PS4, down to $18 from $30 as a launch discount).
I need to squeeze in more online matches and finish off the story mode before reviewing Fire Pro Wrestling World, and I’d like to cap off UNIST’s 10-hour story mode to avoid losing the plot. The game is insanely fun to play and it’s shaping up to be one of my favorite 2D fighters in recent memory, but I hate leaving story modes unfinished in any game.
I’ve only played through the first chapter of Final Fantasy XV Pocket Edition HD so far, but it’s fun! I think it’s a bite-sized version of FFXV, with some cutscenes entirely transformed into this cutesy, chibi art style, while other aspects of the game are streamlined entirely.
For instance, you no longer rest to earn your pooled XP and Noctis can only equip certain weapon types (unless the latter changes later — right now I can only equip the Prince with swords, greatswords, and polearms and every gun or dagger I bought could only be equipped onto Prompto or Ignis, respectively). If you liked FFXV, this is a cool little way to revisit the game, but I’d highly recommend playing the more robust Royal Edition if this is your first time through.
What about you, folks? Any gaming plans this weekend?