or returning to it, however, you want to look at it. Suppose that is what happens when I take a summer off to vegetate after a semester of Chinese murdering me.

So, how about that Lost Odyssey. I went ahead and started playing it again, picked up my save file where I left off and was instantly reminded that I still never had figured out the combat system all the way. The problem therein might be the lack of a tutorial. A lot of games, and I mean a lot, have it worked in that the first fight or two of the game they kinda walk you through it. In Mass Effect for instance the first fight is really just a point and shoot, the second fight they tell you about the skill menu and how to issue commands to party members and change weapons, etc. Lost Odyssey actually starts with you in combat basically and doesn't tell you what the heck you are doing. Added to that we bought the game used so I don't even have a manual to fall back on which sorta adds to the frustration. Apparently there's a target reticle that you have to hold the right trigger to get an overlay to zoom in on, and then you have to snap release the trigger as it tightens in on the target point. Hold too long and you get just as bad a result as if you didn't bother pulling the trigger, which as far as I can tell costs you about 10% of your damage potential per attack. So once you figure out that particular hoop, if you time it just right to get a perfect you actually do 10% more than normal, so technically the bad result is actually 20% below prime damage. Get this though, even should you get a perfect, by some arcane reasoning the game can, and will, decide that you miss. Even more annoying still, it might let the enemy counterattack, something that as far as I can tell, you don't get to do ever. So perfect, as far as combat goes, is quite a bit less than what it sounds like actually.

Kaim, the protagonist, still really doesn't do anything for me. He's got a neat design, and he has great potential as an angsty immortal protagonist that is struggling to remember his past, instead though I just want to punch him in the nutsack. Out of the three people in my party he has the lamest voice actor, sounding more like some loser at an emo club rather than someone with any actual sorrow over his lost life. Added to this is the fact that his boss is an evil mccrazypants global domination guy, and Kaim knows he is, I really don't feel like he is all that likable of a person.

But wait the supporting cast might be good. Well I did say we have three characters so far in the group. Seth, another immortal, seems to do a lot of eves dropping and making meaningful glances at Kaim, she also, at least claims to be amnesiatic. Apparently it comes with being an immortal. I suspect she actually knows a lot more about Kaim's past than she is letting on. Jansen is the only mortal in the group, quite the fly in the ointment actually as he is working for the same boss as Kaim, but he is there to make sure the immortals stay amnesiatic, actually given a magical mcguffin that he is to use in the event that they start to remember things. Jansen is a likable enough comedic character that actually doesn't go ahead and zot either of them with the memory stealing bead and instead uses it to trick a guard into releasing the party from a jail cell on a boat.

Game play, it's a turn based rpg, so nothing really fancy goes on. Annoyingly in the first five hours of gameplay you get assaulted with not only a dungeon where you have to screw around with moving boxes, but also a highly annoying dodge the security patrol or have to start over dungeon. Two things that can really ruin a game experience in close succession to each other isn't a good way to win a player over, especially when I have more than 3 discs left of the game.

Character design is sorta interesting on the three characters I have, on some of the npc's I've met though it is downright scary. I have a new rule. Japan, you have lost the right to design female nobles that use magic in your games. Too often do women spellcasters seem to get stuck in cleavage revealing outfits with miniskirts and thigh high boots. It is definitely going too far when royals are still dressed at best in what might be swimwear, but what really looks like, as Karon put it, "So what, they had to go grab her from her job as a dominatrix to act queenly and she just tossed a half cape on across her shoulders?" Come on Japan, women wear clothes. Repeat after me "Women wear clothes." Maybe if you repeat that for a few months while beating your head against the wall we'll let you design women characters again. For now, sublet all projects that need it to the Canadians or some other rather prudish people so we get female characters that aren't falling out of their costumes.

The plot really isn't doing much yet, as you're stuck playing an amnesiac working for an evil proto-dictator. Graphically it is a really pretty game, but looks aren't everything and I'm really hoping it picks up soon.

Therein lies one of the biggest problems I have with the game I think. See it has this thousand years of dreams thing going on where periodically Kaim gets back a memory. Yet despite the impressive graphics and also despite the fact that most of the voice actors are pretty good all of the memories are presented as pages of text you have to read through. Pages of very poorly translated text that I really think lost a lot of there weight because of how they get stuck in at odd intervals and break up the flow of the game proper. Maybe if they actually were done as cut scenes, maybe if they only cropped up when the character rests at an inn or gets knocked out, as a few do, but when you get one while walking down a street for no good reason, it starts getting frustrating. Add to it that they generally aren't short, they average 12 or so screens of text, most of which is block paragraphs, and I really stop caring after a while. I get it, Kaim angsts. He angsts now, he angsted then, he's gonna angst later, stop making me read this drivel with him angsting. Can't he have a happy memory or two? Even the Vampire Hunter D books aren't this morose and he freaking has to deal with being immortal, murdering his own kind, and never actually being thanked by the people he is helping. I've started skipping the damn memory story things because I really don't care and that is just sad. I'm only six hours in and I have completely written off the main character. I even gave Cloud longer than that.

On table top gaming I decided to give 4th edition d&d another stab. I looked through the phb two and found a lot of it pretty good actually, but here's my problem and it is the same problem I had last year with 4th ed. We had 8 years of 2nd edition uninterrupted. 8 years with a working system that played well. Sure THAC0 was a little weird to explain, but you got used to it. In the past 8 years we have had 3 core rule updates. 3rd edition, the much vaunted improvement of 3.5 and 4th. 3.5 annoyed me with its glut of ancillary books that fleshed out classes and overwhelmed players with more feats and and prestige classes. It also annoyed me because it was a system where you really had to plan your character backwards. You needed to know what prestige class you were going for in seven levels and plan your character out ahead of time to get there. Part of the supposed reason for 3 and 4th ed was to clean house of all the weird rules supplements and streamline things, but you know what, 2nd really didn't have that many rules supplements, it had story supplements. It had one book for each class and one for each of the primary races. More to the point they were reasonably priced books. Now you get a barrage of $30 hard backs, some of which don't even break 200 pages. Seriously, you want me to pay $30 for 160 pages in hardback? If you soft-backed it you could easily drop the price $10 and yet you gouge me. And so here we are again, a year into 4th, they're on a phb 2 a monster manual 2, probably a dmg 2 is coming also (they did it in 3.5). Rebuilding the glut of books that people have to buy in record time. Wasn't the point of pen and paper rpg's that they were supposed to be kinda cheap compared to miniature games or ccgs. What happened here? Oh right, first it was bought out by Pokemon, then by Hasbro, great, way to fuck people over by not understanding the market that you're selling to.
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