Phoenix Wright:Duel Destinies

The Phoenix Wright series is one of my favorite of all time. It really drew me in with the cast of characters, the story for each game, and game play. The series has had three games on the DS based around Phoenix Wright being a defence attorney and defending an interesting cast of characters. He was always accompanied by Maya Fey and her cousin Pearl Fey to help in his investigations. Dick Gumshoe was the key detective in the first three games, each one held a different prosecutor. Following the Phoenix Wright trials they created a game following Miles Edgeworth and Dick Gumshoe. Followed by this was Apollo Justice and this finally leads to Phoenix Wright Duel Destinies!

Duel Destinies involves characters from both Apollo Justice and the Phoenix Wright games. It introduces a new band of characters as well including a new detective: Detective Bobby Fulbright, a new side kick for Phoenix and Apollo named Athena, and new prosecution: Simon Blackquill. I like how this game brings in the old and blends it really well with the new, that is a feature of the game that has always been done very well.

The game takes place roughly a year after the events of Apollo Justice, the legal system has entered a dark era, filled with false charges and fabricated evidence. The Wright Anything Agency has been busy with Phoenix Wright getting back in the swing of being a Defense Attorney, he takes aboard Athena Cykes, who specializes in analytical psychology, and of course they are joined by Apollo. When going through the story you are basically trying to find the truth in all the cases and stop this dark era of the law from taking over the court system.

The flow of the game pretty much follows the flow of the previous games. You’ll see an intro to the case  and then you will go into Phoenix and company enjoying a peaceful time out then suddenly getting thrown into the case.

You get to do investigation and then afterwards head to court and present your case to defend your client. I really liked how they kept Phoenix Wright’s ability with the Psych Locks and Apollo’s Bracelet ability. A new ability in the game is Athena’s emotion lock system. You analyze the account of the witness at certain times when something deeper is hidden. You have to pick out which emotion either does not belong, seems to be the more dominate one, or an emotion that should be there that is not there presently.

I enjoyed the cast of characters in the game, though I was a bit sad to not see Detective Gumshoe. I felt that he really made the series have it’s funny moments. Fulbright was okay but not able to replace Gumshoe and live up to his funny moments. Blackquill was an okay character, I found him to be annoying at times. It was pretty fun though when you knew you had him outwitted with something and he just looked so angry. Loved those moments! You got to see a lot of old faces as well such as Edgeworth and Gavin. I enjoyed how they brought the old faces in to keep showing you how everyone’s relationship has been growing over the missed time.

The DLC that came with the game I feel was a great addition to the story. It covers the time of Phoenix after he got his badge back with his first big case. His client for this case was defending an Orca Whale. I will say that whale was adorable. I loved the whole pirate theme as well, probably one of the best cases the series has had.

If you are a fan of this series I highly recommend playing this. It was a great installment and has kept true to the Phoenix Wright gameplay.

10/10

RPG Maker Game Reviews

Some brief reviews about some interesting and not so interesting RPG Maker games.

Eternal Eden:

I ran across this game while searching around on the web for a decent RPG Maker game that was not as quick as some of the ones I have played, but still quick enough to getthrough at a decent pace. The story takes off the theme of Adam and Eve of not eating the fruit. These three children live in paradise, everything is given to them. They live a life with no worries and stay forever young. The one rule that they must follow is…don’t eat the forbidden fruit. Sadly like Adam and Eve, these kids gave in and got thrown into a parallel world filled with darkness and poverty. Your mission is to put the world back to the way things were.

The music and graphics were very RPG Maker style, I believe everything was used from the RPG

Maker system and nothing personally created besides the story and programming. Not to say that it’s bad or anything, but when you play a  lot of RPG Maker games you tend to notice the same music used over and over. Gets a little tiring after a while, but you get use to it since trying to make your own graphics and music requires a lot of time.

I felt the story was very well-played out, it did keep me interested in it. I liked the ability to travel back and forth between the dark world and the new Eden world. The only thing I found to be a tad disappointing was the battles. I felt they were way to easy, and wish they had more of a challenge to them. The only challenging battles were the ones when doing the side quest of going around finding the different monsters for the monster hunter. Hopefully they up the monsters in the second game, but we’ll see when that comes out. Other than that it is an enjoyable game that Blossomsoft has put together.

7/10

Secroma:

This was a very quick game, not one of my favorites since I felt it could have gone on or had more to it.  From what I gathered of the game from playing is you are a ninja…or a person in training. You go through a training simulation and have to hide and outwit the mafia looking guys when going through. It was a little tricky in a few places but it didn’t take long to figure out the trick behind it. It was very short but could have turned into an interesting game if the creator wanted it to. The music I did like and the graphics were well RPG Maker Graphics.

6/10

The Mirror Lied:

This game I am not entirely sure the point of it but it was interesting non the less. It’s an abstract sort of game where you play as a faceless girl in a world of a quiet mansion. The synopsis the site provides is as follows…

A birdie flew across the roof yesterday.
He said he’ll fly over again today.

But he landed on water.

Hi birdie.

Are you here yet?

Tick, tock,

Tick, tock.

Bam.

Gotcha.

I will say the music was amazing for this game. It’s done from the creators who did To The Moon. So if you’re looking for something to just fiddle around with you can try this out.

7/10

When the Bell Tolls:

This is a game done during the Halloween Event on rpgmaker.net; and it was an okay game. I did enjoy it minus a few bugs here and there, but for the time they had to make it and get it out for the event, I feel the creator did pretty well. Story is about a woman traveling home and suddenly her carriage stops. She finds herself lost in a cursed forest haunted by ghosts. As she looks around the place she runs into a man and together they go to destroy the curse of the forest by going to ring the Bell.

The game does have a few puzzles in it which I think were okay. There were a few puzzles that were either too simple or you were just lost on what you had to actually accomplish. Music again nothing special since it’s a quick game creation, and story was not amazing but enjoyable where I was not bored to tears.  It took me about 20 minutes to run through it. The creator has fixed a few things since when I downloaded it to try. So it might not be so buggy anymore as it was for me.

7/10

The Final Sin:

This was a really short game…I think one of the shortest games ever. I feel that the creator can do more with it but again it was an entry for the Halloween Event on rpgmaker.net so they only had so much time to work on it. Story is about a burnt out detective who has gone down the potty like most burnt out detectives seem to do in stories. He has a dream of a gorgeous purple land of peace and serenity but some evil presence keeps messing it up. He receives a call after an earthquake hits to go and visit a strange person.

I liked the concept of the story and I loved how they used the newer RPG Maker textiles. Music was pretty decent too since it was also a newer version from RPG Maker as well.  The game takes about 10 minutes to play and then it’s over. I wish the creator was able to have more time to work on it for the event. Hopefully they remake it or just decide to add to the existing game to make it into more. I would really love to see what else can happen in it.

8/10

Blank Slate:

I did not get very far into this game but from what I did play it was an interesting concept for a story. You basically wake up and you need to travel through a land called the White Zone. You complete various puzzles, need to run away from monster like things, and I have no idea why you must do this. You don’t really know what you’re looking for till the end I suppose. Some of the puzzles were frustrating and took awhile to get past. Not that I don’t mind hard puzzles but some were just annoyingly hard.

There are a couple of bugs still in the game but that it to be expected when the creator worked on this for a contest and completed it in 36 hours and it was only him working on it. Only so much one person can do. That is the reason why I stopped playing though. I was in the middle of a puzzle and then all of a sudden I jumped into a white space and I could not jump back out. I didn’t feel like restarting from the save point again so I just turned it off. It is a cool concept for a game, but it just was not my cup of tea.

5/10

Rust and Blood: 

Another RPG Maker game (obviously) done for the Halloween Event on rpgmaker.net and this one was really fun to play. You are a person who was searching for the tree of Eden but ended up in some other world when you went to look for it. You are a shadow figure in this world and you need to survive and keep on searching for the tree. I found it neat that you had to find food to sustain yourself in order to run faster and keep on moving in order to get away from the monsters. You also needed to be back into your shack by a certain time before the really scary monsters came out.

It was not very hard were to figure out where to go next but there were times I was a bit lost in where I needed to proceed to. I did not complete this game yet, still working my way through it. Love what I have played so far though. Just remember poor management of time and food will hurt you in this game, so you need to think about how to get through things before proceeding too far. Make sure you are stocked up inventory wise if you want to venture far. Otherwise you will die really fast.

9/10

Dark Mirror: 

Another horror based game for the Halloween Event, was based on Bloody Mary. It was pretty predictable as to what was going to be happening in the game. Yet the game was still a decent play through. It was about a group of girls who were having a slumber party and they decide to play Bloody Mary. Well Mary appears and just starts killing, your job is to run around and find your friends before they die and survive.

The really liked how the game was a narrative based game but it still had the aspects of running around hiding and run away from the enemies. A downfall from this game was that the running was very slow, even the enemies ran slow.

6/10

Dark Orphanage:

Well…I have no idea what to say about this game, other than it’s terrible. The grammar/narration for the game was terrible and made no sense. I actually don’t think this game was finished at all because after I got to a part of the game I couldn’t do anything but move around. So just avoid this one.

1/10

Ellipsus: 

This game was interesting in concept, but sadly the developer did not take it to where it could have gone. Again this was another entry in the Halloween Contest, so they didn’t have much time. There is a timer at the corner and you need to beat the timer to get
out of the house. You are allowed to run through the people so that’s not a bug in the game. Although I did get stuck and could not proceed when I got to a certain spot as my character was glued.

I don’t quite understand what the game was ment to be about, but the developer stated that it is a moody psychological thriller. It focuses on  game techniques rather than cinematic ones. So what I gather is you are playing out a scene throughout the game.  It’s about a 5 minute game so you can play it if you want. I found it to fall quite short.

3/10

Ghost House: 

An average game that is an okay play through. This game is about two girls who go to an old house that is haunted. They figure hey lets figure out what is wrong and how we can fix this. It did have a unique concept to it by being able to see the flash backs to how the character ghosts they were saving were like in their previous life and why they are cursed.  I also give kudos to the creator  for doing his own artwork for the character portraits in the game.

The story was not fabulous but it was an okay story. There are a few bugs but I felt this was well done for the Halloween event contest.  It was a short play through but I felt keeping it short better than long was a good choice for this game. I felt if they dragged it out then it would be something I would have eventually lost interest in.

5/10

Girls Graveyard:

I did not play much of this game because I kept getting caught by the ghosts. You are a girl you runs around and collects candy, but you need to watch out since the undead are chasing after you while you go after candy. It felt like a Pac-Man game there you are collecting and avoiding be caught. The only thing I wish the creator did was enable faster moving in the game. I felt like it was very easy for the monsters to catch me at times.

5/10

Halloween Bash: 

A game about a little girl who gets into an accident and comes back as a ghost in a Halloween land. She meets up with a Vampire and some magic guy. A Vampire chick invites you to her house for a party and turns out it was taken over by monsters. Your party of three must then fight every monster in every room in order to move onto the next area of rooms.

It was very easy to grasp the concept of how to play the game and I found it to be quite enjoyable. I really liked the whole old school 8-bit theme going on. I appreciate when someone who makes an RPG Maker game used different graphics than what RPG Maker offers the user to use. I say give this game a whirl if you’re looking for something quirky and fun.

7/10

Town of Illustive:

The game creator put into the description that there will be more episodes created for this game, so I am only able to go over the first episode as the others are none existent at the moment. It is about a group of kids going to explore a town and each group splits up. Your group goes into the mansion and you must find the secret of the mysterious ghost haunting it.

I found the story to be very predictable as you play you figure pretty much everything out. Your party members can die off and I don’t think you can save them at all. This is something I was different where your actions affect who lives and who dies. There were a few sentence issues with how they were typed out but it was not something that got annoying as it wasn’t often you saw it. I am hoping the second episode comes out soon as I would like to see where the rest of the story will be going.

7/10

The Victim:

Another Halloween event game, this one was about a girl who you can decide her stats in the beginning of the game. The stats do help her out in different parts throughout the story and make her react differently at certain points. I was in a way a bit confused with the whole point of the story. All I really gathered from it was you come home, clean up, go to sleep, something happens, you’re in a different world (seems like the underworld).

It was an okay play through, not very memorable though. I was expecting a bit more out of it but I did enjoy getting to change how that character can act and be good at different situations.

5/10

Teenage Costume Squad:

I loved this game, it was I believe the most RPG style out of all the Halloween event games I played. The game is about a group of teenagers who are going to collect their Halloween costumes but end up in a different world. They have to go through dungeons and other stages to collect their costume pieces instead.

The last boss I will say was a pain in the butt and I was unable to defeat him. I kept dying and I felt after the 20th death I was kinda done. I really did like having to collect all the costume parts and having to defeat enemies to get to certain chests. I found the concept awesome and I couldn’t really find anything to change. Well except maybe how much of a pain the last boss is.

9/10

The God of Crawling Eyes:

A very well made game that I have played in a long time from RPG Maker. Which I have not played many so I don’t have much to compare it on. The story was very well done and I really enjoyed that there were four endings to the game. The game was about a boy who could not see color. Which the game is all black and white, so I appreciatethey made it literally through the eyes of the protagonist. The only color in the game you will see if red for the blood.

One thing I thought was a nice incentive to get all the endings was the different items/abilities you get after playing through each time. I also really enjoyed that

10/10

Subject:

I really liked this game, it was a visual novel based game that had an interesting story. You are a subject in a testing facility and you must go through different rooms and decide what you want to do. In each room you decided on what you wanted to do based off of sight, hearing, taste, touch, and smell. It was very suspenseful where I wanted to know what was going to happen.

There are eight endings for the game and I thought each one was interesting. There was some that you either went crazy, you died, or broke free. I really liked the graphics too for the game too, it had your generic graphics that you see in many visual novel based RPG Maker games, but there was the artists own work in a few spots which I thought was a nice touch. I really recommend this if you are looking for something suspenseful to play.

8/10

Lost in the Woods:

A very quickly developed game that due to the fact it was rushed made it an eh game. The story was…okay but it was very typical monsters attack a village people need to run away sort of story. Giant spiders are in the woods while you’re camping and your camping party is all “Get to the car!!!” So it was okay but not fabulous, not something a highly recommend.

3/10

Game Series: Suikoden

Alrighty! It has been awhile, sorry for the long leave of absence again. I recently moved and with the holidays and work things just went kind of crazy and I had no time for much of anything. On another note if my reviews look different each time, I am still trying to find my style of writing them as I have not quite found a way I like to write them.

Last week however I decided to pick up a classic game, Suikoden. I beat it in a record time of 17 hours and some minutes this time around instead of the 20+ hours before. Almost made it to the same level, I was just about 500 exp short of being 60 again. Anyways some brief history on the game before we dive into my thoughts and what the game is about.

History: This series was created by Yoshitaka Murayama, he was looking to create a game that was going to be able to rival with Final Fantasy. I feel he did very well, though the first game was originally going to be the Suikoden 2 story,  he felt he didn’t have enough experience as a writer yet and so he made Suikoden 1. The game series is loosely based off the classic Chinese novel Shui Hu Zhuan, which in Japanese phonetically is read as Suikoden (hence the name). Each game in the series centers around themes of politics, corruption, revolution, mystic crystals known as True Runes, and the 108 Stars of Destiny. The series mainly all flows in the same world with continuing overlapping histories. In some of the games you even see characters from others.  There are only two games that do not flow in the same world as the others: Tierkreis and Tsumugareshi Hyakunen no Toki.

If you want to chronologically play the games correctly you would start with Suikoden IV which is 143 years before Suikoden V and 150 years before Suikoden. Next would be Suikoden V and this takes place 6 years before Suikoden. Next we have Suikoden which is 3 years before Suikoden 2. Then obviously next is Suikoden 2 taking place 15 years before Suikoden 3, which is also the final game then. There is also a side line for Suikoden IV as Suikoden Tactics takes place during that game. Suikogaiden Vols 1&2 take place during Suikoden 2, sadly these were never released into the US.

Geography: Some useful information to sort of  understand where all the games are taking place since they are within the same world, it’s best to understand because it helps you grasp what happened over the political history of the games and there honestly is a lot of political changes that happen throughout the games so I’ll just go over it quickly. Suikoden, Suikoden 2, and Suikoden 3 take place on the Northern Continent which is composed of several regions.

Suikoden takes place in the Scarlet Moon Empire (southeastern coast and includes mostly the Toran region) The Scarlet Moon Empire later gets replaced with the Toran Republic.

Suikoden 2 is set in the Dunan region north of the Toran Republic and includes the Highland Kingdom in the east and the Jowston City-States in the west.  Later are the Dunan Unification War, the City-States and the Highland becomes the Dunan Republic and in the Tinto region to the west decided to remain independent from the Republic.

Suikoden 3 takes place north of Tinto are the Grasslands with go from the center of the Northern Continent to a small portion of the west coast. There are 6 class in the grasslands: the Lizard, Duck, Karaya, Chisha, Safir, and the Alma Kinan. West of the grasslands is the Zexen Confederacy. North of these lands is the Knightdom of Camaro and the Nameless Lands.

Other major areas in the Northern continent are Kooluk and Kanakan. Kooluk was originally the Kooluk empire in Suikoden IV and is dissolved in Suikoden Tactics to become independent settlements instead. So this would be taking up the southern edge of the continent. Kanakan is off the eastern coast of Toran. To the south of the Northern Continent is the ocean and several islands. These are known as the Island Nations which is during Suikoden IV

South of the Island Nations is the Southern Continent which is a landmass composed of three countries: the Queendom of Falena, and its neighbours, the theocracy of Nagarea in the southwest and the New Armes Kingdom in the southeast; this is the setting area for Suikoden V.

West of the northern and southern continents and the island nations is the western continent. Here there is not much about the land since it’s never mentioned in any of the games.

Finally you have the Sindar race who are the true owners of the Rune scattered all over the world. The Sindar race and the Runes are a reoccurring theme throughout the entirety of the series.

Suikoden 1 Map

Plot: The Hero (name him whatever you want) is the son of the Great General, Teo McDohl. Teo gets called away to fight in the northern lands thus leaving his son under the watch of family friends Gremio, Cleo, Pahn, and Ted. The hero of the story and his guardians start doing jobs for the Imperial army since the hero wants to eventually join. As you complete these missions he comes to realize that there is corruption within the empire and the people of the land are unhappy.

During a mission something happens where Ted is called out due to the mysterious power he used. Due to certain events Ted hands over the power to the hero, the Rune of Life and Death or the Soul Eater, one of the 27 True Runes that govern the world. The Rune is ruthlessly hunted for by corrupt officials, thus making the hero and companions leave the city of Gregminster.

After fleeing the hero gets sheltered by a rebel organization, which later the Imperial forces found and attacked, leaves the hero and group to seek out a man who was a former strategist of the Imperial army. The hero then slowly builds an army known as the Liberation army working to unite the rebel factions throughout the Scarlet Moon Empire and become large and powerful enough to bring down the Empire.

Gameplay: Suikoden is a traditional role-playing game with little added bonuses thrown into the mix. During the game the player may recruit a total of 108 new characters to join his army. Not all the characters are playable characters, but they do bring their own flare into your army.

I love the battle system they have for the game, I know it is similar to others out there but for some reason I like it a lot more so than others. You have a  six man team where your placement matters. Characters are either short, medium, or long-range. Short range you prefer to have in the front row and they tend to be able to handle hits pretty well due to the amount of HP they typically have. Medium range either front or back row, although I am not sure if it honestly affects their fighting ability. They always seemed to do the same amount of damage either time so either line is fine, some have higher hit points than others. Long range are always best suited for the back since they have the weakest defence and not so hot on the HP side. There was also something that certain characters can do together too was Unite. This allowed the character pair or however many in the unite to do a full attack on one or more enemies. It deals more damage but it could also leave characters unbalanced which I explain a little further down.

The weapon system was also something different that was highly enjoyable, you don’t need to buy new weapons you just upgrade them at a blacksmith. Yes this actually does it very pricey BUT the trick to it is to not spend so much money on it right away with every new character you get. What I typically do is see who I use the most in battle and then upgrade them a little bit, then by the end of the game I have my main team picked out (which I have down by heart since I always use the same team), go money farming and then just upgrade them to max if you please. Max level for a weapon I believe is level 15 or 16, but money cost is about 70k. Another interesting feature is that you can attach rune fragments to weapons to give them special abilities. I typically always attach a lightning rune to the hero to give him a boost in attack. The Water rune heals you by 5 hit points, and then you can also attach earth or wind. I  am not very clear on what they do since they have an effect on enemies that you can’t see. Also depending on how many rune fragments you have attached grows in the effect it does. So two Water Runes will heal you 10hp instead. 

Suikoden is best known for the Runes aspect of the game, this basically takes place of your Magic. Runes can be attached and detach to characters, but not all of them. Some characters come with specific runes for them that cannot be removed or if found cannot be placed on others at times, for example Soul Eatter is something only the hero can have or Junpos Trickster rune. Each rune does a different ability, you have your elemental magic runes or you have more of a physical attack rune or a rune that adds a bonus to you/party. Some runes though also have a backfire effect on the user rendering then unusable for a turn. If this happens the user drops in Defense by 50% so always watch out for them. If you have an elemental rune then you have the ability to use 4 different spells each with an allotted number of usage. So again you have a Water Rune attached and you have a level 1 spell called Kindness Drops and you see a number next to it saying 4. This means you can use it 4 times before you can no longer use it. So you really have to be careful in battles when using them because once you’re out of a spell, it’s done. In order to return the spell allocations you have to rest at an inn as there is no item to bring them back.

There are two other battle systems in the game: War battles and Duels. Duels and War battles are like a rock, paper, scissor sort of strategy. The War battles have four groups: Charge, Bow, Magic, and Other. Charge beats Bow, Bow beats Magic, Magic beats Charge. Other has free special commands for you to use such as thieves/ninjas to gather intel on the enemy so you know what attack they are doing next, or boost attacks.  Duels are one on one battles with a major person in the game typically after a War battle; and they have to be won otherwise you lose and game over. Always save before a battle! Duels have three commands: Attack, Defend, Special Attack. Attack beats defend, Defend beats Special, and Special beats Attack. You have to decide what the enemy is going to do by the text they say to you during the battle. Sometimes it can be very hard to tell what will come next.

Feelings on the game: In my Breath of Fire review I know I had a few more sections than in here but I figured to try something a little different since this game and BoF differ big time.

This game seriously packs a bunch of emotions into a great story. You experience everything from betrayal, friendship, war, loss and sadness, happiness, anger, etc. It was something I did not expect when I first played through the game. What I mean is that this game at times I found to be very depressing due to all the loss that the main hero goes through, “where is the happiness?!” is always what ran through my mind. The second game to ever make me shed tears of someone passing was this game. Granted it wasn’t as cinematic  as Final Fantasy VII death scene was but you could imagine what was happening to the man dying and the hero unable to help. But what a great story this game brings to gamers. It was wonderful experience to play through and I just can not get enough of this game.

The graphics were amazing for a PS game at the time and they appeared to be really smooth. It was a style I really enjoyed and I am glad they carried it over into the second game as well. I had one issue with the graphics, though was not in the graphics itself, but with the artwork of the character portraits. Some of them looked awesome but others seemed….blah. I wish they had more of a consistency with it but I am just glad it was improved upon later in the series.

The music was phenomenal; it really brought a lot to the game in ways of helping bring out the emotions that were happening in each moment. When sad events happened the a beautiful melody started off really slow and calm and got more instrumental and intense along the way and then it brings it back down.  The sad theme is my favorite which is why I brought up that particular one.

The game play was something unique to experience and easy to grasp onto. I had an issue sometimes walking through a dungeon or town you can easily get caught on corners or walls that were weirdly shaped and when you tried to wiggle out it was more of your character spazing out to get out of the spot. It did not happen often though, only when there was a space between weird shaped walls. This sometimes happened on the world map also when going around trees. You could hold up but your character with kind of do his own thing if there’s a spot he can squeeze in and just go forward and back.

Plot wise that I did at times have an issue with was that the game tried to have two plots going on at once. It was hard to tell what they wanted to make the main one and which one the secondary one at times. I feel though that they wanted to make the Liberation War the main point of the story and you gathering the forces and charging into the Empire and keep the fact that you had people after your Rune in the background. They kept it too much in the background I feel because there was random moments when someone would be all “I want your rune!” and you kinda go oh yeah they are after me for that too. It was too hidden at times and wish they brought it more forward to let others see this is also a part of the game as well.  Also some of the character recruits were a bit random, but then again some of them are going to be like that in all the games. Yet some of the really random ones come very weak and low-level. This is why I tend to not deal with them and tend to deal with people who have helped me through the main story and use them more in my party. I suppose I wish they made them seem more relevant even if they weren’t.

Something else to do in the game is gambling. I tend to not do much of this unless I had to recruit someone because I found the game tended to not let me win a lot. Bad luck for me.

If you are a lover of RPGs this is a game to play.

Score: 9/10

Crafting: Flip Flop Wreath

My mom and I were in Michaels Craft Store one day since I needed some art supplies. We noticed this wreath hanging up above the register and it was a flip-flop wreath. With my mom being obsessed with anything shoe related because she collects them we were contemplating buying it. This contemplation was not very long as we saw the price and was thinking how could that thing be $60?!

I decided to make my own for her because I could make it not only cheaper, but to the specific way she wants it. I made my wreath for about $27, it really all depends on what type of supplies you buy for it.

Materials:

Flip-Flops – Any number depending on how big or small you want the wreath. The size of the flip-flop should also depend on how big you want it. I got side 12/13 kids size from Old Navy since they have the nice price for their flip-flops of get 2 for $10. Again any flip flop with do.

Hot Glue + Hot Glue Gun (works the best)

Flowers – Any type and any number

Hook/Wire – you can either make your own hook or buy a hook for it.

Wreath Back – These are typically circular and you can find them near the flower items in Wal-Mart/Michaels

Other Materials:

Ribbon, lettering, whatever else you would want to put on it.

Steps to make the wreath:

1. Glue the Flip Flops where you want on the wreath, I would personally place them first without glue to see how you would like them to go.

2. After all the flip flops are glued you can then cut parts of the fake flower stems but leave a little bit at the end. Just enough for you to stick it into the wreath back, this way you don’t have to glue them in, only if they are falling out I would then put a little glue on the flower end and re-stick it back in.

3. If you are using Hot Glue, you can proceed right to this step. If not I recommend that you wait for the glue to dry a bit before doing this next step. Depending on what type of hook you are using, if it’s a door hook you don;t need to do this. If you are making a wire hook, I would first stick it in the top of the wreath. After that pull it out and put a lot of hot glue in the hole, then replace the wire back in the hole. After placing it back in use to the hot glue gun to place glue around the wire hook to help keep it in place. Let this dry before placing it on the nail or another hook. I would wait about 15 minutes just to be on the safe side and make sure everything is all safe and secure.

4. Hang it up on your door and you’re done!

Game Series: Breath of Fire – First Installment

I know I wrote something about this on another blog I write for: Beyond the Gamer but I figured heck I’ll make it the first addition to my new post Game Series. I figured what I would do for this series is actually write a detailed review of sorts on the games as I beat them. Since I am challenging myself to play through each series I write about. I may not beat all the games quickly or right after the other, but I will try my best!

We will begin with the very first Breath of Fire game, the first in the series. I recently beat this game about a month ago and I will say this game no matter how many times I play it, I never get bored with it. I know the game like the back of my hand even when I don’t play it for years. I still always manage to remember what I need, where I need to go, where all the treasures are, etc.

It is a memorable classic for me since it was one of the first games I had received for my Super Nintendo. At first I was unable to get very far in it being only about 7. At that age I was not fully accustomed to RPGs, but I loved them. I would try my best to get through it, unfortunately I would usually get stuck. Instead I was more into watching others play the RPGs that were given to me, since I couldn’t beat it myself I figured why not watch my Father play through them! It was so much fun watching him go through and read the dialogue to me, give me updates on where he was in the game when I wasn’t around to watch him play it. It was the best growing up with that. About 4 years ago my father passed away, so usually any game I had watched him play is a classic to me. Hence why it will always be one of my most memorable games.

Lets go over some history of the first installment of them game now! Breath of Fire is a role-playing game that was developed by Capcom. It was first released in Japan in April 1993, later then came to North America in August 1994 by Square Soft. Square Soft handled the title’s English localization and promotion. This was one of Capcom’s first traditional RPGs. In 2001 the game was re-released for the Game Boy Advance and it came with a new save feature and minor graphical enhancements.

Plot: Breath of Fire is set in a fantasy world and follows the journey of a boy names Ryu. He is one of the last surviving members of an ancient race with the ability to transform into dragons. He embarks on a journey to rescue his sister and stop the Dark Dragons. Along the way he meets other warriors who share his quest and join him to put a stop to the Dark Dragons evil plans.

Gameplay: The game is a traditional role-playing game with 2D character sprites and a top-down perspective. Players travel through a variety of environments from towns to dungeons filled with traps and monsters. To advance in the story, the player must take part in story-based scenarios that require them to enter a variety of areas and interact with non-player character involved in the plot.

During the game the playable characters each have their own distinct ability in and out of battles. These abilities allow you to interact with the game world, solve puzzles, navigate environments easily, or destroy your foes. An active group consists of up to four members at a time, they can be switched out for reserve members in or out of battle.

Battle takes place out on the world map and in dungeons, along with other hostile areas. Encounters are random and they typically occur after a few steps are taken. When in a battle it is turn based where the player inputs commands for each character at the start of each round. You also have the option of letting your characters do auto battle which you can cancel for the next round to input commands instead. The order of battle takes place based off of the characters/enemies agility rating. HP is indicated for playable characters as a numeric value while enemies have a health bar that changes color the lower the HP gets. Typically when the bar gets down to the end the enemy dies, this is unless you are facing a boss character. They have a second wind where you do not see the HP after you finish off the bar. The next numeric value you see is AP (Ability Points), which is needed for spells. You cannot however see the enemies AP so you never know how much they have. When all enemies are defeated all players get experience points towards leveling up to get stronger and get new spells.

Progress can be saved in one of the three slots that the game cartridge has. They can be accessed by dragon statues at certain points, mostly in towns or in certain dungeons. This is the only way to save your game, so make sure to visit one before powering down the system. The dragons in towns are typically located in these dome buildings with a Dragon face on them.

Characters: Here I will go over the different characters in the game, their part in the story and their abilities.

  • Ryu (main character) – He is one of the last surviving members of the Light Dragon Clan by their enemy the Dark Dragon Clan. When his sister Sara is captured, Ryu travels the world searching for her. Along his journey he gathers the power of the Dragons, this allows him to transform into a Dragon form during battle. He has no outside ability sadly, but I feel his dragon powers more than make up for it.
  • Nina (Princess of Windia) – Nina is part of a race that can transform into large birds. She is on a mission to save her father from the Dark Wizards curse. She eventually joins Ryu on his journey to help him find his sister and stop the Dark Dragons. She is mainly your white mage in the game with her healing/holy magic.  Her outside ability is none other than turning into a bird on the world map to help transport your party to hard to reach areas and just travel the land much faster.
  • Bo (Wolf-Man) – Bo is part of a wolf tribe, he was captured by the Dark Dragons when he went to rescue the chief from the neighboring town. He too joins Ryu on his journey. He has the ability to travel through the woods/forests on the world map in order to get to the hard to reach places in them. He also has the ability to shoot his bow and arrows at animals wandering the world map in order to get items from them. He has a mix of healing and attack spells but he does not get any new abilities other than what he starts out with.
  • Karn (Greatest Theif) – Karn you meet when you travel through Krypt, he is on his way to learn how to become the greatest thief of all time. He has the ability to unlock doors/treasure chests long with removing/detecting traps. For battle he can transform into different forms by fusing with two or more party members (Bo, Ox, Gobi). What is unique is you can keep these abilities forms outside of battle as well.
  • Gobi (Fish Merchant) – Gobi is a fish man who is on a mission to become a great merchant. He has the ability to turn into a big fish while in the ocean to travel your party around quicker in the water. Battle wise he does not have many spells.
  • Ox (Blacksmith) – Ox is a mix of human and Ox. His town was captured by the Dark Dragons and him being one of the few people to escape seeks help in getting them freed. He has healing magic for battle but his main feature is his strength. He has the ability to punch down broken looking walls in towns/dungeons.
  • Mogu (Mole) – Mogu is from a race of mole people. He is having an inner battle with himself while being forced to remain in a dream, when he over comes it he joins your party. Mogu has the ability to dig in the dirt on the over world and other than that he really has no other special abilities.
  • Bleu (Immortal Sorceress) – Bleu is one of my favorite characters in the game. She is part snake and human, who is living in an ancient city in a deep slumber. In order to get this sleeping princess to join your party you are forced to wake her up in order to receive her help.   She has very strong attack magic and is one of the fastest characters to level up.
  • Zog (Emperor) – Being a NPC, he is the leader of the Dark Dragons that seeks to take over the world by gaining the power of the Goddess Tyr.
  • Tyr (Goddess) – She was sealed away by the Light Dragons using the six Goddess Keys that have been scattered across the world.
  • Jade (General) – This is Zogs right hand man, he is also in command of his four devas: Court, Mote, Cerl, and Goda.

Feelings on the Game: As I have mentioned in the beginning I really love this game. It may be a very easy RPG to get through but I feel it still is able to deliver a good story and memorable characters. The music was in my opinion at the time one of the best soundtracks I have heard for a SNES game and graphics were of course amazing since I am a HUGE 16-Bit era fan. I can play this game over and over and over, not in a row mind you but I am happy to let it sit for a while before picking it up again. I have as well the GBA version of the game, even though it is identical to the SNES gameplay and story wise I am happy that I can play a simple game while I got on vacation or something. It’s just one of those games you cannot get tired of.

Overall Rating: 10/10

Must Watch Anime List

Not sure how many people out there know of a site called myanimelist.net, but it’s a great site for keeping track of your manga and anime that you read and watch. It’s something that I certainly use all the time and it does help keep track of everything. There is a feature on there where you can rate the anime or manga so you know how much you actually liked it on a scale of one (worst) to ten (best). I hardly give anything a ten but I decided to go back and take a look at just how many I have given the best rank and found a total of 28 titles. I decided to put my ranked 10 animes into a must watch list because they are just that amazing to watch.

Name: Mawaru Penguindrum (24 episodes)
Genre: Comedy, Mystery, Drama, Psychological
Summary: Once you make a decision, does the universe conspire to make it happen? Is destiny a matter of chance, a matter of choice or the complex outcome of thousands of warring strands of fate? All twins Kanba and Shoma know is that when their terminally ill sister Himari collapses at the aquarium, her death is somehow temporarily reversed by the penguin hat that she had asked for. It’s a provisional resurrection, however, and it comes at a price: to keep Himari alive they need to find the mysterious Penguin Drum. In order to do that, they must first find the links to a complex interlocking chain of riddles that has wrapped around their entire existence, and unravel the knots that tie them to a mystifying diary and a baffling string of strangers and semi-acquaintances who all have their own secrets, agendas and “survival strategies.” And in order for Himari to live, someone else’s chosen destiny will have to change. It’s a story of love, fate, life, death… and Penguins!

Why you should watch: This was a very interesting anime to watch and I will say at times I was a little lost at what was going on. The story though and characters kept me drawn in and I had to know what was going to happen next. It certainly was funny to watch how each of the main characters had their own penguins with them and the antics they pull. I typically don’t watch animes like this often, but it was such an intriguing concept for the story and what they had to do, it was different. Granted there could be similarities to other animes but I felt it was a different story and new concept that it was different from most animes I have seen.

Name: Another (12 Episodes)
Genre: Mystery, Horror, School, Thriller
Summary: 26 years ago, in a third-year classroom of a middle school, there was a student named Misaki. As an honors student who was also good at sports, she was popular with her classmates. When she suddenly died, her classmates decided to carry on as if she was still alive until graduation. Then, in the spring of 1998, a boy named Sakakibara Kouichi transfers to the class, and he grows suspicious of the fearful atmosphere in that classroom. In particular, there is a beautiful, aloof girl named Mei Misaki who wears an eyepatch and is always alone drawing pictures.

Why you should watch:This was a very mind twisting story and  it knew how to hook me. It keeps you guessing about who this girl Mei is and why is the class so crazy all the time. Since they keep up the tradition from of the extra person in the classroom you start to wonder who is the extra person who does not belong. Though it was only 12 episodes I thought that this was an anime that did not leave any questions at the end and everything was answered. It left a good feeling after finishing it instead of that feeling of wishing there was more answered.

Name: Kuroko no Basket (24 Episodes)
Genre: Comedy, School, Shounen, Sports
Summary: Kuroko’s Basketball The Teiko Middle School Basketball Team, the class that produced three perfect seasons in a row, with five once-in-a-generation players, called “The miracle generation”. There was another player who all of them respected… A legendary 6th player. An up-and-coming power player, Taiga Kagami, is just back from America. When he comes to Seirin High School, he meets the super-ordinary boy, Tetsuya Kuroko. Kagami is shocked to find that Kuroko isn’t good at basketball, in fact, he’s bad! And he’s so plain that he’s impossible to see. But Kuroko’s plainness lets him pass the ball around without the other team noticing him, and he’s none other than the sixth member of the Miracle Generation. Kuroko makes a pact with Kagami to defeat the other members of the Miracle Generation, who have all played basketball at other schools. A battle of light (Kagami) and shadow (Kuroko) begins!

Why you should watch: Sports animes are not much of something I like to sit down and watch all the time, but this one just seemed different from the rest. It’s fast paced and I just loved how the characters in this anime played the game of basketball. The “special” abilities that each of the characters have I think is what hooked me in to be thinking wow this is awesome! It has funny moments and I felt like they evened out the action and the story progression. I am looking forward to the second season coming out in the Fall, cannot wait to see more of how they grow as a team and as individual players.

Name: Romeo X Juliet (24 Episodes)
Genre: Drama, Romance, Fantasy
Summary: In the floating continent of Neo Verona, the Montague family seized control and murdered every member of the Capulet family with the exception of Capulet’s daughter, Juliet Fiammata Asto Capulet. 14 years later, Juliet and the remnants of Capulet’s retainers live hidden from the iron fist of the Montague family. Juliet has long forgotten the murder of her family or her identity, and cross dresses as Odin and the town’s hero of justice, “Red Whirlwind”. A sudden escape in her daily escapades leads her to meet Romeo Candorebanto Montague, the kind son of the tyrannical Montague. Destiny has been set as these two individuals soon to be “star-crossed lovers” are cruelly toyed with by fate in the midst of war. Loosely based on the play by William Shakespeare.

Why you should watch: Romeo X Juliet is one of my favorite Shakespeare plays of all times. This is the same story essentially, but it also had some other story elements added/changed to it and takes it into a fantasy twist as well. I really loved how they changed the story to show that Juliet was a vigilante in the beginning and how she meets Romeo in her disguise instead of at the party. If you love a tragic romance this is for you.

Name: Valkyria Chronicles (26 Episodes)
Genre: Action, Romance, Military
Summary: Valkyria Chronicles is set in a fictitious continent reminiscent of 1930s Europe. The continent, called Europa, is divided into two main powers: The Imperial Empire, a monarchy in the east, and the alliance of democracies called the Federation in the west. In this world, there is a very important resource called ragnite; its uses range from fueling weapons of war to use in medical treatments. Since ragnite is such an important resource, the Federation and the Empire are constantly at war with each other for it.

The story takes place in the neutral country of Gallia, known for its bountiful reserves of ragnite, when the Empire decides to invade and seize the ragnite for themselves. The story follows Welkin, the son of a former war hero; Isara, Welkin’s Darcsen adoptive sister; and Alicia, a member of the Bruhl town watch, as they fight the Imperials in the ragtag Gallian militia group, Squad 7.

Squad 7 fights to regain their homes and livelihoods with Welkin as the squad leader and commander of the Edelweiss tank; Alicia as a scout; Isara as the pilot of the Edelweiss, and a variety of colorful individuals.

Why you should watch: This was a really great anime, it is based on the video game for the PS3. The story was really well done and the character design was great. Each character had a memorable personality and it was hard to forget what each person did to contribute to the squad. Again, I am not a big military anime watcher either, but I wanted to see why so many people were saying this is a great anime to watch and I certainly was able to see it. I loved the story and everything about it. I can’t wait to finish playing the game now to see if there are differences or not.

Name: Fairy Tail (175 Episodes)
Genre: Action, Adventure, Comedy, Fantasy, Magic, Shounen
Summary: Set in an imaginary world, the Earth Land, there exists a Mage Guild called “Fairy Tail”. Fairy Tail is stationed in the town Magnolia, residing in the Kingdom of Fiore, and is currently governed by Makarov, Guild’s master.

Lucy Heartfilia, a 17-year-old girl, wishes to become a full-fledged mage and join one of the most prestigious Mage Guilds in the world, Fairy Tail.

One day, out of pure coincidence, she meets Natsu Dragneel, a boy who is transportation-sick, but very cheerful in nature. However, the thing she does not know is that Natsu is the closest connection to Fairy Tail, as he is a Mage in Fairy Tail.

Why you should watch: I will start with I know they will be continuing this anime, they have to. They leave it off at such a critical moment in the arc! Anyways I really liked this anime. It was hilarious, great cast of characters, short filler moments, action packed, and great story. The one key thing I will point out of why I love this so much more than other typical long anime series is that there was very little filler. They moved rather fast to the next arc and I really liked that. It kept me interested in the anime to continue watching it. If you like a really funny and action filled anime with wizards and lots of magic…this is right up your ally.

Some other notable animes:
Hanasaku Iroha ~Blossoms for Tomorrow~
Code Geass
Gurren Lagann
Black Lagoon
Black Cat
Full Metal Panic? Fumoffu
FLCL
Ouran High School Host Club
Nana
Death Note
07-Ghost
Puella Magi Madoka Magica
Fate/ stay night
Fate/Zero

Note: All summaries taken from www.myanimelist.net

Hotel Dusk Room 215 Review (Nintendo DS game)

Last week I was in the mood to play a different type of game rather than the typical game I usually play. While sifting through my games I found my Hotel Dusk Room 215 copy and though “Hm have no played this one yet”. I heard amazing comments about this game and since I am a fan of Trace Memory and detective sleuthing games, I figured this was my different game to play. Hotel Dusk is not a hard game to play but it can be a little tricky at times. I had a fair share of moments where I was lost in what I needed to do and searched over everything more than once till I found what I needed.

The story for the game I found to be very interesting. Initially I thought that the player would focus only on one story which would be the main character Kevin Hyde. The game certainly cleared that up for me right away. There are multiple mysteries that are revolved around the Hotel Dusk. Each person staying there during the time Kevin is there were brought there for their reasons. Now you being the curious man you are in the game need to figure it all out. This was one of my favorite things about the game, that being every character had a tie to something you were looking into that related to the person you are trying to find. I thought that was really interesting. Ultimately you do find out the information you need about the person you were looking for at the end.

Hotel Dusk had a unique way of playing the game. Instead of your typical top to bottom play, you played the game like you were holding a book. It makes you feel like you’re playing a book instead of reading it.  The top screen (on the left) showed the visuals of what your character was looking at. So say in the bottom (right screen) you were looking at the outline of a desk then the left screen would show you all the colorful images. Unlike the right screen which shows you as a red dot and and arrow showing which was you’re facing. It also shows the outlines of everything in the room and it’s also where your search and other buttons are. Other characters in the game were blue dots, as an fyi. Also the puzzles were not too complicated to figure out but some of them were a little bit harder to figure out than others.

The art work I thought was really interesting. I loved the fact that the characters where mostly black and white (color in certain parts) and had the sketchy look to them. It really made me feel like I was in an old detective movie! Even the music added to the effect of it as well. At certain times it gives you this feel of being an old school detective. Even though your character use to be one he’s a salesman now. The music however does not make him seem like a salesman when he wants answers though.

Another aspect of the game I liked was the characters personalities. Each one was completely different it really added to each conversation Kevin has with them. Some people he was all down to the nitty gritty demanding answers; while others such as the child Melissa he was a little softer with. I just liked how you could feel the difference in conversation with each person.

I highly recommend this game. It was something I was always interested in playing and a friend of mine, Tami, told me how awesome it was since she played through it. So I am glad to have purchased it and finally got around to beating it!

Score: 10/10