Finished: Eternal Sonata

May 21st, 2008

Eternal Sonata is a weird one, in some ways a very typical JRPG, but with a wonderful score and brilliant art direction. The gameplay was solidly okay: the combat system was entertaining, the lack of random battles a definite plus, but the dungeons weren’t particularly inspired (although beautiful), and without maps a couple of them would have been exercises in tedium.

One aspect of the game that has received relatively little mention is the co-op mode, a feature I’d love to see become an RPG standard. While the primary player still dictates the flow of encounters, movement within the overworld, and equipment setup, there is an option to hand control of any of the three primary party members over to a second (or third) controller during combat. The additional player then controls every aspect of that character (including their part during Harmony Chains) whenever battle is entered. The system works well, and is a nice bonus for those of you that game with friends or a significant other beside you. Aside from Super Mario Galaxy, this is the first game I’ve seen with an asymmetrical co-op mode. It’s a welcome innovation, and I hope to see more.

Eternal Sonata also had what was probably the preachiest ending ever, taking both the story and player in unexpected directions. Still, solid nonetheless, and I do suggest staying through the credits for the kōan-filled short, The Shape of Life. Or just watch it on Youtube.

Final Grade: B

Finished: Cave Story

May 21st, 2008

I finished my playthrough of Cave Story on the PSP last week. The buzz on this game is justified, and it’s become my favorite 2D platformer to come out since the original Metroid. While I’m done with the game for now, there’s all sorts of secret bits for the completionists out there, including a hidden location, mystery items, and multiple endings (I received the standard ending). Play Cave Story!

Final Grade: A

Hrm.

May 20th, 2008

Again & Again.

May 20th, 2008
[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6kxDxLAjkO8]

Dennis Liu macs up “Again & Again,” by The Bird and the Bee.
Good stuff! [via local boy Josh Ellis over at TUAW]

Update: Here’s a followup interview with Dennis after the video kinda went nuts on the mac-centric parts of the internet.