Game Review: Return to Popolocrois

Well, I’ve never been to Popolocrois before, but this game Return to Popolocrois: A Story of Seasons Fairytale has been impressing me from the minute I started playing!

This game was a little treat I bought for myself while holiday shopping. I bought it ‘used’ from GameFly using member coupons, so it only cost me $6! Not too shabby, not to mention that ‘used’ is a status that doesn’t really matter with 3DS cartridges, so it’s basically a brand new game for cheeeeap! Awesome.

Anyway, if you’ve been following my blog for a long time, you’ll know I’ve been a fan of Harvest Moon games for several years. It’s my kind of game, low key collection and simulation – great for “escapist” gamers like me! However, sometimes HM games (and the new Story of Seasons title, which is the newest iteration from XSEED games) can get a little… bland. The most action you normally can get in a farming game is the mining dungeon crawl. However, Return to Popolocrois fixes this with a new twist!

In Return to Popolocrois, you are a young prince who has been sent to a world that has been taken over by an evil Dark Lord, while the prince’s home kingdom is now at risk of being the Dark Lord’s latest victim. Prince Pietro must now save BOTH kingdoms because it is the right thing to do! And of course, what is deeply affected by the Dark Lord’s evil ways? Farmlands, of course! How can the people survive if their farmland is not able to grow crops? (And there we have our tie-in to the Story of Seasons background lol!) In order to save the farming lands, we must work with the local fairies, battle evil enemies, and explore dungeons to clear out the Dark Lord’s hold on the land. Then you can use this freshly cleared land to plant crops!

What’s great about this game is that the farming is much easier than in SoS or older HM titles. The crops won’t wilt, and the game will even give you notifications on when the crops need to be watered or harvested. Same goes for farm animals (available later in the game) who won’t die but simply get hungry if you forget about them. There aren’t any fancy ‘maker’ machines (so far) in RTP – yes I’m going w/that abbreviation lol – but you can Synthesize different crops and other items to create cooked dishes, new weapons, etc. The only thing I really miss is the seed maker. At least at the point I am in the game, the only way to get seeds for crops is to buy them, earn them, or receive them in an item drop after defeating enemies in the right region.

If farming isn’t really your thing, you can do the bare minimum to get by. But if you don’t like farming, what are you doing playing an XSEED game lol? Anyway, the battle system is pretty fun. You can move around the battle field, similar to “Fire Emblem” games. The battles look and feel very similar to the game “My Fantasy Life.” You can level up your characters, purchase or synthesize new armor and weapons, and each character has special skills. These skills have elemental powers, and if certain characters are playing in the same team, there are also Partner Skills that can be unlocked. If that wasn’t cool enough, in the game settings you can adjust the frequency of the random battles, so if you want to grind and level up you can change the number of enemy encounters to high! (Or if you want to just run through an area without being bombarded, change it to low and/or use a special item to ward off these enemies.)

Fans of the Story of Seasons/Harvest Moon franchise will also be happy to learn that you can also have a significant other (kinda) in this game. Prince Pietro is only 13 after all, and won’t be getting married anytime soon. But he does have little ‘girlfriends’ across all of the in-game regions, and you can visit them and give them gifts. The game even gives you a notification if one of them is missing you! Cute!

So far I’ve really been enjoying the game. The only thing that makes me nervous is that since this was a used game, the cartridge I received already had a completed save file. And that completed game save file only had 53 hours played in total. This tells me that the game is fairly quick to beat, and possibly doesn’t have much post game. I haven’t completed the game yet myself, so maybe this person wasn’t a hardcore farmer. (I can’t say for sure, because I refuse to play that game file and see spoilers lol!) Once I finish the game, maybe I’ll report back. But to play it safe, if you’re interested in trying out this game, I recommend buying it used like I did. I think the game is SERIOUSLY fun and if you like cute farming games with some fun action and battles, definitely give this game a try!

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Disney’s Magical Game

Pretty much all of my other games can just kiss me goodbye for the next few weeks, because I’ve found the ultimate game for me!!

Disney’s Magical World is everything I’d hoped it would be and more.  It’s like a combination of all of my favorite types of games, from Animal Crossing to Harvest Moon, with a touch of Diner Dash/Cake Mania, plus a little third-person action/adventure element too… all set in the Disney world, of course!

I fell in love with this game immediately.  I enjoy collection games where you have to seek out and collect as many items as you can, and that’s what this game has in spades.  Every area of the in-game world has special themed collectables, which you use to create new dishes for your Cafe, or to assemble new clothing sets, and craft themed furniture items too!

When I discovered that the 100 Acre Wood was the area where you can farm, I was so excited!  I love Winnie the Pooh so much.  After I planted some crops, I noticed that Pooh, Piglet, Rabbit, etc. would come over and help me water the crops and pull weeds!  How freakin’ cute is that???

So far I’ve unlocked areas for the following Disney themes: Cinderella, Winnie the Pooh, Alice in Wonderland and Aladdin.  (Note that I’ve only been playing the game for like 4 days lol!)  I literally cannot stop playing this game.  I’ve heard some criticism on the “grind” but I don’t even notice.  I love collecting everything, and as you play further in the game certain collectables become extremely easy to obtain and it all becomes second nature.  The action/adventure aspect is so much fun because you can craft new clothing that gives you better defense, and you can increase your offense by upgrading your magic wand.  It’s so cool!

I love being able to customize my Mii by wearing different outfits.  You can put together your own look by wearing different Disney themed hats, shirts, pants and shoes.  On top of that, you can unlock costumes, Quest outfits and formal wear.  I’ve already completed the Cinderella gown, so I get to run around dressed up in a fancy ball gown!  It’s adorable.

Honestly, I could go on all day about how much I love this game.  I hope I don’t beat it too quickly.  All I can think about as I write this is how much I want to play the game.  I’m obsessed.

There are two criticisms that I have of this game.  First of all, there is no Wi-Fi (aside from DLC) for online multiplayer.  Secondly, while there is free DLC, there is also paid DLC.  As of now there’s only like $5 worth of DLC you can buy, but I can see that easily adding up over time as they release new themes.  I’m a sucker for this stuff so I might be in trouble lol!

Holy Awesome Games!!

If you haven’t seen the latest Nintendo Direct, or rather, the Smash Bros. Direct from 4/8/14… well you are missing out.  The half hour long presentation has taken the Nintendo community by storm!  New game footage and details have been revealed about the upcoming Smash Bros. games for Nintendo Wii U and Nintendo 3DS.

There is just TOO much to hype about in the upcoming Smash games!!  So many new Pokemon playable characters, the Animal Crossing Villager character, new stages, new Final Destination stage options, new game modes for the 3DS version… and the graphics for the Wii U version are just so fantastic, I can’t get over it!  If you haven’t checked out the Nintendo Direct, watch it here.  Even if you’ve never played Smash Bros. before, now is the time to get into this franchise.

Can I just say that I totally LOVE Sakurai??  His hair is awesome!  He clearly is a huge Pokemon fan, has a hilarious sense of humor, and definitely represents what I consider to be “my generation” of gamers.  Is it bad that I secretly wish Sakurai would host all future Nintendo Direct videos?  😛

The bad news is that we have to wait.  Super Smash Bros. 3DS won’t be released until this summer.  The Wii U version is slated to be released this WINTER (holiday season no doubt) so we have a while before that new challenger will approach.  Not to mention we don’t have any actual concrete release dates.  I hate that!  My main worry is that the Wii U version will eventually be pushed back to 2015.  Fingers crossed that the developers stay on schedule.  Super Smash Bros. is going to be huge for StreetPass communities, and I can’t wait!!  So what am I supposed to do until then?

Good news!  Lots of cool games are coming out in the coming weeks and months.  Tomorrow, April 11th is the release date for Disney Magical World, which I’m sure many of my readers are psyched about!  If you haven’t heard of it, it’s kind of like a cross between Disney Infinity and Animal Crossing, with a touch of Harvest Moon.  You’re in the Disney world, and you get to interact with the Disney characters in a similar way to how Animal Crossing works.  From what I understand, it follows the daily calendar.  But you also get to gather items and collect things, which you use to craft OTHER things, which is why I say it’s also kind of like Harvest Moon.  Plus there’s some action/battling and you also run a cafe.  Everything I like!  If you want to learn more, check out this trailer:

Lots of cool games are coming out in May as well.  Namely, the awesome new Kirby Triple Deluxe and Mario Golf are both slated to be released early May.  At the end of May comes Mario Kart 8 for Wii U, which also looks to be AMAZING.  Sweet HD graphics on Rainbow Road?  Yes please!!

So hopefully all of those new games will tide us over until the release of Smash on 3DS later this summer.  I know I barely have time to play the games I have… I bought Yoshi’s New Island recently and have barely had a chance to play it because I’m still backlogged!  I was rushing to beat Pokemon X before the PVGC, but now that the big competition is over I can put Pokemon down for a minute.  What I really want to do is finish Zero Escape: Virtue’s Last Reward which I had rented from GameFly.  I’m like half way through it so that’s my goal.

And if you are wondering… I have NO idea how I am going to manage 3 ACNL towns as well as Disney Magical World.  I haven’t even played ACNL in over a week, I’m sad to say.  There are just not enough hours in the day!  I’m hoping I will make some time to play games this weekend, even though I will be in Boston for PAX East.

But what can I say?  I have a ton of awesome games to play so I really can’t complain can I?  😀

 

Confusion Story

I’ve been a fan of Natsume games for a few years now.  For a while there was really only one game franchise I was interested in: Harvest Moon!  I’ve blogged about my various HM games plenty of times in the past.  I find them to be a lot of fun!  So when I saw Natsume’s huge booth at E3 last June, I was ecstatic to see which new games were coming out!

Hometown Story is the latest 3DS title from Natsume (aside from Rune Factory 4.  I dunno, I never got into Rune Factory.  Maybe I should?) and it looked extremely cute from the game demo I played at E3.  In fact, Hometown Story’s characters were designed by an animator who works on Pokemon games, so I knew I was going to like the art style before I even touched the game.  I think that’s how most people felt.  Until they started PLAYING the game, that is!

Unfortunately, Hometown Story lacks direction.  It lacks any sort of explanation at all.  The game manual does little to explain the facets of the game.  There is absolutely no walkthrough or guide to speak of.  I joined a Hometown Story group on Facebook and found that everyone else is suffering from the same problem.  In Hometown Story, you’re on your own… quite literally.

In Hometown Story, you don’t grow veggies, chop trees, catch bugs and fish… all you need to do is stand in your shop and sell things.  When you run out of things to sell, you wait for a vendor merchant to come into your shop (2PM in-game) and he’ll sell you more things.  If you’re lucky, you might stumble upon some wild edibles if you spare some time to walk around town, but they are hard to find.

The game is basically like a cross between the bazaar aspect of Harvest Moon: Grand Bazaar and the shop-running aspects of games like Cake Mania and Diner Dash.  Only, in all of those games, your daily tasks are pretty transparent.  In Hometown Story, what you do is up to you.  However, there are quests that you must complete to further yourself along in the story.  Unfortunately, there is no in-game list of tasks, so if you didn’t take notes on the quest when it happened, you are pretty much out of luck.  Because not only will you have to go blindly to find out who wants to buy some particular item, but you can’t even consult an online guide walkthrough… because it doesn’t exist.  GameFAQs has nothing.  Fogu doesn’t cover this game because it’s not a Harvest Moon game (that was kinda smart of them).  There’s no Prima guide to buy in stores.

Another issue I have with this game is it’s complete lack of connectivity features.  There’s no WIFI, no SpotPass, no StreetPass.  You can’t have friends or visit other people’s shops.  Like I said before, in Hometown Story, you are on your own.

Despite all of these issues, part of me refuses to give up on this game.  I’ve only played about a week in-game so far, and it’s not been what I’d expected.  The online group that I joined doesn’t give me much hope that I’ll ever figure out what’s going on in this game.  I figure I should play through at least a month in game and see if my luck changes.  But I won’t keep my hopes up.  This might be a trade in.  😦

3DS Game Overload!

As my local area continues to recover from the devastation brought on by Superstorm Sandy (many homes are only now FINALLY getting power turned on… 2 weeks after the storm!) I’ve been using videogames as an ‘escape’ from the harsh reality all around me.  Luckily for me, several new awesome 3DS games were released recently.  I’ve been attempting to play them all equally but it’s just not happening.  But anyway, here’s what I’ve been playing lately:

  • Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask – Everyone’s favorite puzzle solving professor is at it again!  I’ve played an earlier title in this series (though I forget which one) and enjoyed it, so I was looking forward to trying out the new 3DS game.  As expected, the 3D graphics are really cool, it makes the environment you have to search much more real.  There are new searching functions, like ZOOMING which open up the search area even more.  Let’s not forget the PUZZLES too!  Just as challenging as ever, the puzzles take on a wide variety of themes and use logic and math to solve.  The storyline is very interesting too, it takes place in both present day and Layton’s past, revealing new sides to the often dull and no-nonsense professor’s personality.  I don’t know if this was a feature in the older games, but there are really fun side-quest mini games in this new title, including training a cute bunny, operating a robot and being an assistant in a shop.  There’s also 365 new puzzles that can be downloaded for free (once per day) and who doesn’t like FREE DLC?  Overall it’s a great title and I highly recommend it to anyone who “likes to break a mental sweat.”
  • Harvest Moon: A New Beginning – The long awaited newest installment of the Harvest Moon franchise is finally here!  HM:ANB has a lot to live up to, as the previous title (Tale of Two Towns) had an excellent storyline and great new controls to make gameplay easier.  ANB so far isn’t quite the same; the start of the game is extremely slow, and your town is basically a ghost town at the start.  Without the weekly Cooking Festival, it is hard to build friendships with the townies early on, but if you stick with the game the rewards start coming out at the end of Spring Year 1.  The biggest upgrade to the game would have to be the CUSTOMIZATION!  You can move just about any aspect of your farm to wherever you want.  And instead of paying Gannon thousands of dollars to build a shed on your homestead, you are given access to a studio where you can build these add-ons yourself, if you have the necessary materials and tools.  I’ve only barely begun to unlock all the blueprints to build custom objects for my farm and the surrounding town.  Another pitfall I’ve discovered so far is the lack of pets.  I miss my pets!  Now, I don’t know if they just haven’t been unlocked yet, but I sure don’t enjoy pushing my big fat cow out of the barn every morning!  Luckily I did just get a blueprint to create a cow bell, which will hopefully make matters slightly easier.  But I want a doggy!!  Don’t get me wrong, this game is awesome, it’s just kind of slow to start.  For die-hard HM’ers, this is no big deal.  I think I’ll start blogging more about this game, just because Vella has been doing that and it seems fun hehe!
  • Paper Mario: Sticker Star – I’ve been a big fan of the Paper Mario franchise since the original title was released for the N64.  I always loved the art style and the RPG battle format.  The new 3D title does not disappoint, the 3D graphics look SO COOL!  So far the storyline is really interesting, and since everything is made of stickers, there are a lot of hidden areas and secrets to discover by peeling away the scenery.  The only thing I can complain about so far in this game is the fact that you have to battle using stickers.  No more FP for moves, instead you can only use moves that you have in your sticker book.  Each sticker is one attack move, and once you use it, it’s gone!  So you are constantly stressing about finding the right stickers and managing the stickers you have.  While I might be complaining because it’s different from the older games, I do admit the change of battle style does keep things interesting and it’s fun when you find a cool rare sticker!  So I’m not really complaining, but it is an adjustment.  I also like how the game incorporates a little more of the Super Mario feel in the world map.  In previous games it was just a linear map, you go from Point A to Point B.  In Sticker Star you have more options on where to go and what order you want to work toward completion, with a map that more closely resembles one you’d find in a Super Mario game.  I really do love this game, it is an excellent mix of the classic Paper Mario and new innovative game play ideas.

I’d highly recommend any of these three games.  Professor Layton is definitely for a more mature crowd, the brain-busting puzzles and eloquently written storyline are definitely more appealing to adults than kids.  (Though I’m sure there’s plenty of smart kids out there who enjoy the game!)  Harvest Moon takes on new challenges, but with it’s slow start and unique gameplay style, I admit it’s better suited for the seasoned HM player.  Not sure a player new to the Harvest Moon series would have the patience to stick it out a whole month with no action, two crops and one cow.  But if you’re willing to wait, it’s turning out to be a fantastic game!  Paper Mario, as I’m sure is no surprise, is a great game for gamers of all ages and level of gaming experience.  It’s just an amazing title for the 3DS and has been well worth the wait.

In addition to all this, I’m also trying to finish up Pokemon Black 2, and at the same time starting up Pokemon White 2.  In Black 2 I’m attempting to beat the Battle Tower in Black City (I just unlocked Area 10 but it’s really hard and I’m scared to try the final level!!) and JDubz and I finally beat the Multi-Battle Subway.  My Pokemon White 2 I’ve only just started up, and so I’m slowly but surely making my way through that game.  Phew!  There just aren’t enough hours in the day to play all these games!

Speaking of not having enough time to play everything, the problem is going to increase even MORE next Sunday.  Why is that?  Well, silly, that’s because the Wii U is being launched on November 18th!  JDubz and I preordered our Black Wii U bundles through Best Buy.  Not our first choice, but with the preorders being so limited, we took what we could find.  However, since Best Buy has a reputation for taking preorders and then not having enough product to actually fulfill said preorders, we plan on going REALLY early and waiting for hours for the store to open.  We are NOT missing out on the launch of this new console!  Even if that means freezing our butts off!  So of course I’ll keep you all posted on how that turns out.  We’re just glad we didn’t end up preordering through the GameStop in JDubz’s town, since that store was completely flooded and to this day has still not re-opened.

So, have you been playing any of the games I’d mentioned?  Are you getting a Wii U at launch too?  Let me know what you’re playing in the comments!

Before I go, I have to plug my friend Vella’s blog because she is fortunate enough to have a basic understanding of Japanese and has a JP 3DS console.  This means she also is lucky enough to have a copy of Animal Crossing 3DS (New Leaf) and has been blogging diligently about all the new features and characters she’s been discovering in her new AC town.  I’m so jealous!  Please check out her blog for a sneak peek at all the awesomeness that comes with the newest Animal Crossing installment!  I’m still waiting for a US release date for this game.  It looks SOOOO AMAZING.  Can’t wait!  For now, let’s all live vicariously through Vella’s blog!

A Harvest Moon Wedding!

Everyone who reads my blog knows that I love Pokémon and Animal Crossing.  But did you know that I have yet another video game franchise obsession?  It’s true, and the game is Harvest Moon.

I’ve been playing different titles in the Harvest Moon franchise for a few years now, sampling the different versions of the game as they come out.  So far, my favorite Harvest Moon game is HM: Sunshine Islands.  Currently I’m playing Harvest Moon: Tale of Two Towns (or HM:ToTT for short).  The only reason I’m not listing HM:ToTT as my favorite game is because there are some glitches and lagging problems in the 3DS title.  Cuz otherwise, it’s a kickass game and I’ve been pretty addicted the past couple of weeks.

HM games tend to evolve over time, like many awesome games do.  A few years back, if you played HM:DS Cute, you could lose thousands of dollars and hours of hard work if your chicken coop was demolished in a typhoon.  In the newer games, thankfully, your coops, barns and sheds are a part your farm from the start, and have stable foundations that don’t get destroyed in a storm.

You could argue that this makes the newer games easier and unrealistic (I’m sure a typhoon could very well tear apart a chicken coop in real life) but it also makes players less likely to abandon their game and give up on their harvesting life.  And I’m sure the latter is more important to game developers right??  Another change that comes with HM:ToTT in terms of game dynamics is the fact that if you play as a female character, you can actually trigger a ‘reverse proposal’ with your beau.  “What am I talking about?” you might ask.  Well, in every previous HM title, if you wanted to get married, you had to buy a blue feather (for 10,000 bucks!) and present it to your potential spouse when they were at high enough friendship… and you had to do this whether you were playing as a male or female character.  I’m guessing some female players complained that it would be nice if your in-game beau would propose to YOU, since that’s predominantly the social norm.  So a reverse proposal is when your beau asks you to marry HIM, instead of the other way around.

So last week, wedding bells were ringing on my HM:ToTT farm!  My character, Glux, finally got her beau, Kana, to pop the question!  I took a lot of photos of the proposal but I won’t post it all here…  instead, here’s Kana’s proposal written verbatim:

Kana’s Proposal

This blue feather…  You know what the deal is with this?  It means I wanna be with you forever.  You put up with me blabbing about Hayate and my dad and stuff all the time, yeah?  But it’s like… How can I say this…?  Along the way…  I…  fell in love with you.  Once I realized that, the thought of you being with another guy bummed me out.  I’ve been moping about it ever since, but…  That’s not my style, y’know?  So here and now I’m gonna bust out and say it.  Glux, I’m in love with you.  Will you marry me?

[I responded “Yes!”]

Yeah!!  I am TOTALLY STOKED!

You can tell by the dialog why I liked this character the most.  He talks like a surfer dude or something, and it’s really funny and different from the other guys, whose dialog is pretty bland.  So the wedding was set for a week later in-game.  We met all of our friends up at the top of the mountain for a lovely ceremony.

Harvest Moon Wedding

The wedding was officiated by the priest of the Bluebell church, named Nathan.  (Yep, he’s the same priest from older games.)  I thought it was kinda strange that the wedding wasn’t held in the nice church.  It has stained glass windows and it’s very pretty.  Hm..  maybe Kana is buddhist or something lol!  I just thought that it was weird… like, why else would they even make a church in the game…?  But I digress.  (Btw I have a lot more photos of the wedding on my Flickr page.)

So now Kana has moved into my character’s farm house and they have a nice new king size bed.  I won’t be doing the house upgrade (which allows you to start the baby-making process lol) for a while, because there are so many farm upgrades I need to do first.  I still can’t make butter or cheese!  And I need a flour mill!!  PRIORITIES!!!

That’s my HM news for now!  I’ll post another blog about HM when I reach another in-game milestone.

In other news, over the weekend was the 2012 Spring Friendly Tournament in Pokémon Black and White.  Unfortunately I didn’t put any time or thought into my team, so my performance was pretty dismal in the competition.  I only did five battles, and my record was 1-4.  Hey, at least I won one battle!

Things to be excited about in the upcoming months:

  • The E3 Expo is June 5-7!
  • Pokémon Conquest comes to the U.S. in June
  • Pokémon B&W2 comes out in Japan in June (I’ll be getting it!  I’m not missing out on any more cool Japanese WIFI Event Pokémon dammit!)
  • New Super Mario Bros. 2 comes out in the U.S. in August

New “About Me” Page

Hm… what is it about me?  What do people want to know about the Gluxbox?

I’m not entirely sure.  But most blogs and websites have an About Me page and I figured it was time for the Glux Blog to have one as well.  Of course I didn’t know what to write…  it’s always kind of awkward to write a mini autobiography.  What kinds of things do random people want to know about me?  I don’t know.

If you’re not actually on my site right now (damn you, email lurkers!  lol jk) then you don’t see the new link at the top of the page.  So here’s a direct link to my “Who is GLUXBOX?” page.  Even if you already know me, please take a minute to check out this new page.  If you can think of something about me that I’ve completely overlooked, or want to ask me a question, please feel free to comment your suggestions and inquiries!

I had intended to write a post about all the amazing presents I got for my birthday, but that kinda came and went, and it seems kinda silly to post something like that now.  I posted a list of my awesome presents on Facebook, so if you need to know, then you should be following my FB Page!  🙂

Unfortunately I don’t have time today to post everything I wanted to write.  Instead I will tease you with some upcoming blog topics:

  • Spirit Camera 3D Review
  • Harvest Moon:  My Wedding Day
  • Pokemon HG/SS Revisited
  • uDraw!!
  • And much much more, blah blah blah, etc!  😀