Let’s Take a Closer Look at the Persona 5: Take Your Heart Premium Edition on PS4

After a handful of delays, Persona 5 is finally available here in North America. As a big fan of all things Shin Megami Tensei, naturally I gravitated toward the bulkier Take Your Heart Premium Edition with all of its delicious physical goodies.

Let’s take a look at what’s inside this towering block of cardboard, shall we? Continue reading

It’s the Freakin’ Weekend! So What are You Playing?

As if 2016 couldn’t possibly get any worse, after having lost my father back in May, we just had to put our family’s 12-year old Rottweiler to sleep after a 5 month battle with a combination of cancer and a slipped disc. Rest in peace, buddy.

Since then, my girlfriend and I have migrated our belongings and are now sharing the house with my mother. It feels like a family again, which is bittersweet given the circumstances. We have three cats, which now, in turn, have a house to wander around in instead of a studio apartment, so it’s not all bad news. Having them around seems to be helping my mom cope with having her entire world turned upside down in the span of six months. Animals are, indeed, magnificent creatures.

I’ve been fairly busy with the mini-move and I have a few exams this week, but hopefully I’ll find a little time to get some much needed gaming therapy in.

Continue reading

Persona 5 Looks Beautifully Insane in Today’s New Trailer

Persona 5 is officially scheduled to launch in Japan on September 15th, for both PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4 consoles. Up until now though, we haven’t seen much in the way of actual gameplay.

The above trailer changes all that, as it’s roughly four minutes of vibrant cut-scenes, overworld exploration, and some really awesome combat segments. And here I didn’t think it was possible to be any more excited for its eventual release here in the west. I love Persona, and I need this in my life so, so bad.

With a Japanese release set for so late in the year, I wouldn’t expect to see Persona 5 anytime until early 2017.

What did you think of the trailer? Any thoughts or concerns about the JRPG’s direction thus far?

PlayStation Weekly Deals for 4/19-4/25

Much like Xbox, PlayStation owners are treated to a new batch of sales every Tuesday. This week’s deals focus on the Grand Theft Auto series, but there’s a bit more to bite on to if you’re in to platformers and Persona’s fighting game spin-offs.

For the full three-page spread of discounts, check out the official list at the PlayStation store.

Notable deals include:

  • Grand Theft Auto V & Megalodon Shark Cash Card bundle (PS4) – $67.99 (from $135.99)
  • Grand Theft Auto V & Megalodon Shark Cash Card bundle (PS3) – $48.95 (from $135.99)
  • Grand Theft Auto V (PS4) – $38.88 (from $59.99)
  • Grand Theft Auto V (PS3) – $25.79 (from $59.99)
  • Grand Theft Auto: PS Vita Collection – $17.49 (from $34.99)
  • Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy (GTA III, Vice City, San Andreas – PS4) – $17.49 (from $34.99)
  • Grand Theft Auto IV: The Complete Edition (PS3) – $14.99 (from $29.99)
  • Persona 4 Arena: Ultimax ULTIMATE Edition (PS3) – $49.99 (from $99.99)
  • Persona 4 Arena (PS3) – $9.99 (from $29.99)
  • Persona 4 Arena Ultimax (PS3) – $14.79 (from $39.99)
  • Persona 4 Golden (PS Vita) – $9.89 (from $29.99)
  • Shovel Knight (cross-buy w/ PS3, PS4, Vita) – $10.04 (from $14.99) *discount expires 4/21
  • The Deadly Tower of Monsters (PS4) – $10.49 (from $14.99) *discount expires 5/3
  • KOI: Game and Theme bundle (PS4) – $5.99 (from $9.99)
  • Shantae: Risky’s Revenge – Director’s Cut (PS4) – $4.99 (from $9.99)
  • Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse (PS4) – $14.99 (from $19.99) *discount expires 5/3
  • Sonic Adventure (PS3) – $2.99 (from $4.99)
  • Sonic Adventure 2 (PS3) – $4.99 (from $9.99)

Along with the list above, there’s a handful of Sega classics on sale for PS3, including Toe-Jam & Earl, Crazy Taxi, Daytona USA, and a pair of House of the Dead games. There’s also a few different variations of the Grand Theft Auto sale, just in case you’re interested in buying the games separately.

If you own a Vita and don’t have Persona 4 Golden, you’re missing out on one of the best games available for it. Shovel Knight isn’t on much of a discount (since it’s already worth its full price), but it’s easily one of the finest 2D platformers of all time. The fact that it’s cross-buy is also a huge selling point, especially if you’re like me and prefer your platformers on the go with the Vita. I hear great things about the Shantae games, but I’ve never gotten around to them. Might be a good time to fix that, with Pirate’s Curse releasing on PS4 today with a 25% launch discount.

See anything interesting?

Finals are Over, So Let’s Get Down to Business

cooldude

It’s been a grueling two weeks, but yesterday marked my last college final exam of the semester. Somehow I didn’t manage to sleep for two straight days, like I intended. Funny how that sounded so easy on paper just a few days ago.

Before me stands roughly one month of free time until the Spring semester begins on January 11th, and I’d like to spend some of it unwinding with video games and doing some writing.

I recently finished Undertale’s true pacifist playthrough, which was incredible, and I’d really like to review it while it’s fresh in my mind. I also intend on reviewing Rocket League, but if I do it’ll be over at What’s Your Tag?

There’s still a handful of 2015 games in my backlog that I’d like to get to, like Axiom Verge, Ori and the Blind Forest, and Tales from the Borderlands, but I’m still plugging my way through Persona Q and Dragon Quest V on 3DS. All of these holiday digital sales also took me for a ride (que Marvel vs. Capcom 2 character select theme), so I suppose you could add Cibele, Her Story, Downwell, Grow Home, and the recent PS4 port of Final Fantasy VII to the list too.

So yeah, gaming and stuff. I really could just crawl back in to bed and fall asleep. Maybe GameFest 2015 can resume after a nap? A two day long nap. Surrounded by purring cats. Surrou—– zzZ… zzZ… zzZ…

Apparently I Like Drawing Maps

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I know I’m a year late to the party, but I started playing Persona Q earlier today and came to the conclusion that (like the title states) I actually enjoy drawing my own dungeon maps. Apparently the Etrain series was on to something that I totally missed out on by avoiding them like the plague.

Shin Megami Tensei is an entire universe of games that I’ve been intrigued by for a while, but I passed on Persona Q last year for.. whatever reason. I just so happened to be in the market for a 3DS case when I noticed Amazon was selling the Wild Card edition of Persona Q at half price–which includes a 3DS zip case, a deck of tarot cards, a saucy art book, and the soundtrack. You could say fate brought us together (or something).

I also had no idea that Persona Q was a mash-up between the characters of Persona (3 & 4) and the dungeon crawling, map drawing, FOE fighting, punishing nature of Etrain. But hey, I’m familiar with at least half of the source material, so I’m not totally oblivious.

Jumping in to to the game, I chose the Persona 4 hero and endured an hour’s worth of dialogue before getting my feet wet. The first-person dungeon crawling took me back to Persona: Revelations on PSX, navigating each floor tile-by-tile to the clickety clack of my heroes footsteps. The difference, however, is that I had to use the bottom screen to draw my own map, rather than watching it fill in automatically.

“Ah fuck,” I said. Along with the series’ notoriously frequent random encounters, I figured having to pause every few seconds to sketch the perimeter would be a time consuming chore that I had no interest in doing. Drawing a map. That doesn’t even sound fun.

personaqmapgamefaqs

A map drawing from Gamefaqs.com

So I tip-toed my way through the first dungeon, You in Wonderland–an Alice in Wonderland themed hell with hidden passageways, clocks, and extremely powerful card monsters patrolling about. I’d walk down a hallway, trace its outline on the grid, and drag-and-drop icons for things like treasure chests, item locations, or doorways. Since the overpowered giant cards had specific patrol routes, I’d also color the floor tiles red so I could remember their location on a return trip later on.

I was actually having fun.

When I reached the end of the first floor, I was rewarded with a treasure chest.. that I couldn’t open. The reason? I hadn’t filled in 100% of the floor’s map. This is generally where I’d groan and say “fuck it, I don’t need it”, but I could just refer to the map I’d been drawing and see exactly where I forgot to explore. Self fistbump.

I was actually proud of myself for being so thorough, notating all of the time-saving hidden passages that dulled the sting of backtracking. When I left the dungeon to sell unwanted items and replenish my health, I knew exactly how to get back to floor 2 without hassle.

And that battle music. THAT BATTLE MUSIC!

I’m clearly enjoying myself; that goes without saying, but the features I’m digging the most aren’t from my beloved Persona series. They’re from a series of games that I’ve neglected since day one.

I’m sorry, Etrain Odyssey. You’ve made me a believer, although I hear your games are soul crushingly difficult. I promise I’ll start paying attention to you, baby. Hell, Etrain Odyssey Untold: The Millennium Girl is on sale this week for $10 on the 3DS eShop.

If I only weren’t juggling Persona Q and Dragon Quest V: Hand of the Heavenly Bride. I’d buy you. I’d buy you so good.

NOW PLAYING: Tales of the Abyss (PS2) & Shin Megami Tensei: Persona (PSP)

Since finishing up the majority of what Dragon’s Dogma has to offer, I needed a break before heading in to NG+. RPGs have always been my favorite genre and my back catalog of unbeaten games is ridiculous, so I figured what the hell, I’ll dive in to one and see what happens.

My first choice (which has been at the top of my list for months) was the original Disgaea, but much to my dismay there are a small handful of PS2 games that are not supported by component cables on a majority of HDTVs. Like ICO, La Pucelle: Tactics and Phantom Brave for the PS2, Disgaea runs at a weird resolution (240p, I think?) which most HDTVs do not recognize. It actually works fine on our gaming TV but the girlfriend is currently 50+ hours in to Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning and asking her to stop so I can play Disgaea would most likely end in a fatal stabbing whilst I slumber. We have a spare TV, so I hooked up the PS2 with our component cables and tucked my tail between my legs as I walked back to our gaming shelf to search for an alternative.

I found a used copy of Tales of the Abyss for PS2 at the local Gamestop months ago for about $15 and it’s sat on my shelf ever since. I read a few reviews, watched some video reviews and saw this game on more than a few top PS2 RPG lists, so I figured it would be a solid choice. I haven’t really been exposed to the Tales series since the original Tales of Destiny for the PSone (despite owning a majority of them) and I didn’t even play that one too much, so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect.

Anyway, I popped in the game, watched the anime intro and settled in to my comfy gaming chair for a night of random battles, level grinding and typical JRPG tropes. For a JRPG, the voice acting is actually pretty solid outside of a few purposefully comedic characters (Dist, Anise and Mieu) but constantly breaking the spoken dialogue for text-filled conversations between my party members started to get a little annoying. That is, until I realized that a majority of character interaction was done this way and it was really the only way to see what everyone was thinking. Now I actually look forward to them on a constant basis.

At first the plot made absolutely no sense and 10 hours in to Abyss it still doesn’t. Fonists, Scorers, Orders.. what the fuck, am I playing Quidditch? Once Abyss moves along and Luke (the main protagonist) is thrown out in to the real world for the first time since his (typical JRPG) amnesia/kidnapping, I started to realize that the game is supposed to be confusing because everyone else in the world knows exactly what’s going on. You, the player, are playing the role of Luke, the amnesiac aristocratic dickhead, so it only makes sense that both of you don’t understand a damn thing about what everyone else is referring to half the time. He learns slowly as do we and I really dig that about Abyss so far.

Combat can go from simple button mashing to crushing boss fights where you barely scrape away within an inch of your life. I like the combination of 2D and 3D movements and how simplistically difficult it is to master chaining artes together, side-stepping magic attacks and knowing when to go balls deep in a boss or when to swipe once or twice and back off.

Right now Luke is still a whiny bitch who treats everyone like shit and I just wish he’d man up and pursue Tear because I like tomboy characters. Guy, on the other hand, is completely making the game for me right now with his gynophobia that comes and goes in comedic spurts. I actually like all of the characters for what they are, but after 2 hours of hearing Luke tell Mieu to shut up or whining about wanting to go back home, I have to take a break before I punt my kitten across the room.. and I love my kitten.

So that’s where SMT: Persona comes in. SMT is probably my favorite RPG series of all time, spanning across Persona, Digital Devil Saga, Devil Survivor, Nocturne, Strange Journey, etc. I loved the original Persona: Revelations for the PSone with its masochistic difficulty, completely original storyline and its abandonment of anything familiar in the way of locales. I was just an ignorant teenager when it released way back when so I was unaware that North America was missing the Snow Queen questline and Mark wasn’t supposed to be black. I was just happy to be playing another RPG.

The original Japanese Mark, left, and the Americanized ridiculous looking Mark from the NA release of Persona: Revelations (PSX), right.

I didn’t buy my PSP until 2010 but my first purchase was the SMT: Persona collectors edition. It was a no brainer. I couldn’t wait to jump back in to the realm of Persona, con demons out of spell cards and suffer through the SEBEC building with only four characters to recruit Reiji.. so why in the hell did I wait until 2012 to actually start playing it? I hate handheld systems. That’s why. Even my most favorite RPG series couldn’t suck me in to playing a handheld when the luxury of a next-gen console is sitting in my bedroom. Sure, I’ve played my fair share of handheld games, but I’ve never invested more than 20-30 hours in to any of them (Pokemon Red and Pokemon Heartgold). I don’t take road trips where I’m not the driver, I didn’t want to sit in my car and play one during my lunch breaks at work and the only time I brought my PSP with me on a plane, it died after playing Crisis Core for 15 minutes because I forgot to charge it before I left.

So with my dilemma being that Abyss requires a break every so often and not being able to play my PSP for extended periods of time, playing both games was actually the perfect alchemy concoction I could come up with.. and it’s actually working. I’m 10 hours in to both games and loving it. I usually start with Abyss and when Luke makes me want to burn my laundry I save, turn it off and play Persona until my earphones make the insides of my ears melt away or I can’t take the mass amount of random battles anymore. Each one makes the other so much more tolerable! In Persona, I don’t have to deal with Luke being a whiny bitch and in Abyss I don’t have to suffer through random battles every five steps. It’s nice!

Holy crap, this is a long post. Sorry I didn’t warn you about the wall of text. Sorry I also didn’t warn you that this post, in all honesty, is pretty pointless. While I’m on the subject though, has anyone out there played either of these two games? What did you think? Which PS2 RPGs were your favorites that you might have recommended instead?