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Rambling Through The Midnight Oil

I don't know what I was thinking drinking a ton of cola at 8pm.  Here it is, 12:30am on a Sunday morning, and I'm wide awake.  I've got to be up for work at 7am by Monday!  Stupid!  Guess I'll be hitting the sack early the night before and resign myself to a lot of tossing and turning - it's a method that has worked in the past.  As for now, I'm too wired to sleep, so I'll write write a blog entry and feign productivity.
Not to reblog callously, be sure to visit
ILoveKnives DeviantArt page if you
like this picture.

Contrary to the wishes at the bottom of a couple entries ago, it does not look like I will be buying any hard drives any time soon.  Fortunately, it seems my broken hard drive is indeed under warranty - expires a couple months from now, in fact - and, thus far Seagate has been rather good about honoring warranties on broken hard drives.  (I imagine those early Barracudas turned out to be a bit of a shortfall for the company.)  Provided everything goes according to plan, I will at least be able to rebuild my RAID1, which is a good thing considering I do not trust this model of hard drive at all - not surprising considering I had Barracudas fail on me 3-4 times in the past!

I hope that goes well, because a medical bill will immediately take a quarter of my next paycheck, but I believe I will be able to afford a 32 GB SDHC card, which can currently be had for around $20-$30.  This will end up replacing my Nintendo 3DS XL's current 4GB card with one 8 times larger.  Why do I need so much space?  Well, it's mostly because I think that I really prefer having my games and applications always installed on my 3DS XL without needing to swap game cards.  Of course, if my new SDHC card fails on me, I could ultimately end up getting punished for putting all my eggs in one basket like that...

Oh well, the current plan is to rent from GameFly any game I'm not certain about getting, and buy from the eStore any game I decide I want to keep (and this has the added benefit of guaranteed Club Nintendo points, which are good for prestige and trading in for free games and even Nintendo fan merch).  Since it impressed me so much already, I think Etrian Odyssey 4 will be one of my first purchases.

As fate would have it, my second eStore purchase ended up being Farming Simulator 3D.  This game has been ported to nearly any modern platform you can think of!  The main driving factors of my purchase was that it was worth 30 Club Nintendo points for a $10 purchase (normally you can expect about 50 points per $30) I already had $10 worth of money on my Club Nintendo account so it didn't cost me anything more than I had already spent, and I saw some Let's Play footage of the game and realized it's not a half-bad concept if I am going for something novel (because there's not a whole lot of games about driving around in farm equipment)!
That's right, even though I returned my GameFly rental of Harvest Moon: A New Beginning early for being too boring, I apparently have no issue with driving tractors or combine harvesters back and forth across fields an untold number of times.  How can I justify that?  Well, how about:
  • Driving a vehicle in perfectly straight lines across a field is a little more challenging and interactive than pushing a button 32 times to water the plants.  
  • Content is more frontloaded here: you start off with a tractor, combine harvester, a tractor attachment to cultivate fields, a tractor attachment to seed fields, and a tractor attachment to move around resources.  That's a fair amount to do right off!
  • Content unlocks quicker.  In very little time at all, you have made enough money to buy other attachments, such as ones that water plants (increasing crop yield) or buy a second tractor.
  • This game makes good use of the 3D mode by having a zoomable, freely rotatable camera.  Depending how far you have zoomed out, your vehicles may look more like adorable little farm equipment models, and that suits me just fine.
  • You can automate out the monotony of going back and forth across the field immediately by hiring a hireling and letting this autopilot do the work. This increases the fun factor exponentially by allowing multiple vehicles to be in motion at once.
Yet, maybe Farming Simulator 3D proves that it was a good idea for Harvest Moon: A New Beginning to stagger its content release so severely because there does not seem to be a whole lot of longevity it.
  • There is no town to rebuild, no potential spouses to woo, no animals to raise (though you can collect hay bales), nor other such staples of the Harvest Moon series.
  • The only long term goal in Farming Simulator 3D seems to be to make money in order to purchase more fields and farming equipment.  
    • Buying up all the fields makes no practical sense because you can only work so many at once before your crops end up rotting because you can't harvest them in time (if hirelings could move cargo this would not be a problem, but they can't).  
    • The farming equipment is fun to use the first few times, even educational to see how work is done on a modern form, but then the novelty wears off and I find myself rolling my eyes at having to cultivate, seed, water, and harvest a field for the umpteenth time.
Still, for $10,  I really can't complain.  Surely it would not be too hard to get 20 hours of entertainment out of the game, which puts the price at about my sweet point for entertainment.  Maybe, some time after I've already bored of this game, I will see it on my 3DS, think to myself, "Oh, I remember that game about using farm equipment, maybe I should give it another spin?" and there's another return on my entertainment investment.  (Sounds like something somebody could say about any game... but not really: there's some games I'd rather leave played out and buried forever.)

On a final note for this blog entry, I played the demo for the next game to come out for the 3DS, Project X ZoneWow, what a weird game, but that weirdness certainly makes it interesting.  It plays like a cross between three kinds of games: a top-down strategy war game like Advance Wars, a isometric strategy squad-based combat game like Disgaea, and I guess sort of a beat em up like Street Fighter... well, not really, but almost.  How does that all fit together?  Somewhat like this:
  • You start out in a turn-based strategy game where you and the enemy take turns moving all your units.
  • Like in Disgaea, your units will be able to assist each other if they are near other friendly units before they attack enemy units.
  • Like in Advance Wars, you go to a separate screen to see attacks play out, the result of which being that the attacked unit loses hitpoints and may eventually be destroyed.
  • Like in Street Fighter, combat is actually a fighting game where your characters execute combos against the enemies... I say it's not really like Street Fighter because actually you are just initiating a number of moves off of a combo list, the characters do most of the work and you just watch, seems you can get off about 3-5 of those moves before you run out of time in the attack phase.  I don't entirely know what the point is to using different move types is, or what tactical advantage there is to initiating one kind of move over another, but I imagine there is one.
Yet, this weird mixture of gameplay is not the weirdest thing about it.  No, the weirdest part is that nearly all the characters (the enemies and the protagonists you control) in the game have been pulled from games by Namco Bandi Games, Capcom, and SegaDid I mention Project X Zone has roleplaying elements, and these characters all have dialogue that they use as they interact with each other in a cross-dimensional adventure?

There are characters from Resident Evil, Devil May Cry, Darkstalkers, Street Fighter, Mega Man, Dead Rising, Valkyria Chronicles, Sakura Wars, Virtua Fighter, Shining Force EXA, Resonance of Fate, Tales of Vesperia, Tekkne, .hack, Xenosaga, God Eater, Endless Frontier, Namco x Capcom (this game's prequel) Ghosts'n Goblins, Cyberbots, Rival Schools, Space Channel 5, Dynamite Cop, Zombie Revenge, Fighting Vipers, Super Robot Wars, Yumeria, and more here.  (Ugh, I'm not going to bother linking each game to its wikipedia page - Google them if you want more information on any particular title from that list.)
Do you not recognize some of those games?  Neither do I!  I'm a pretty big gaming nerd, I have heard of about 80% the games that list (and played at least one game from the series in about 60% of that list) but I suspect that a few of those games were never even released outside of Japan.  It's really an interesting experience seeing Ulala from Space Channel 5 summoned as a "support character," to show up and kick some ass while some characters from some other game are being controlled directly from you on the foreground.  It's also quite confusing and disorienting when I have some characters from some game I never played mugging the camera and making characteristic dialogue comments that I have no idea are remotely canon to their original games.

When all is said and done, I am glad Project X Zone is getting a release in my country because it should turn out to be a highly unique and interesting game that plays mostly like a console strategy game but with massive twist and a ton of personality.  My only concern is whether or not the gameplay is all that meaningful, because it is possible that they might have dropped the ball and made the strategy weak and button mashy, as I certainly could not figure out where it was in the demo I played... but maybe this is just because the demo skipped important tutorial stages.  If they managed to make the combat actually have the depth of Advance Wars despite having such graphics-porn fueled combat, this game could be awesome.
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