Fiesta Update #3: The ???? Edition

Last time on The Adventures Of Team Blue Mage, we reenacted Fahrenheit 451. I think it’s okay if it’s clearly self-defense, though. The rules on these kinds of things are pretty unclear at times.

I cleared out Jachol Cave even though I can’t use any of the treasures there. It just seemed like the right thing to do. I do finally get to pick up the Ranger crystal, so now Bartz can have a stylish green hat and an AoE heal if RNGesus is on my side. (As we’ll see later, he was once.)

Embarrassing moment. I forgot where to go next, so my Black Chocobo and I pretty much flew around the world, flying to Istory and picking up Ramuh for no reason and then flying to Lix and getting a Bard song I can’t use. Fortunately, I remembered to go back to the Library. Unfortunately, I then have to cross the desert.

This is the easiest part of the desert.

A recurring theme for this update will be long dungeons filled with way too many random encounters. Everything in this dungeon dies horribly to Aqua Breath, including the Sandworm, so all I really need to worry about is dealing with these awful sand conveyer belts. And way too many random battles that provide no meaningful challenge whatsoever.

I don't remember anything about this fight. I don't even remember his name.
I don’t remember anything about this fight. I don’t even remember his name.

I finally have an airship! Too bad I’ve already went everywhere that’s worth going to! I pick up the Adamantite, fight a completely unmemorable battle against a turtle, and then get ready to fly up to the Ronka Ruins.

The Rocket Launchers and Flame Throwers are more obnoxious than I remember, but I learn Missile from the Launchers and that helps me wear them down before my lack of reliable healing becomes a problem. I beat Soul Cannon pretty much entirely by luck. I was able to kill off the Launchers with L5 Death before they could hit Lenna or Faris with The Missile Of Rapid Aging(tm) and then Bartz got Nightingale multiple times in a row, which pretty much nullified Wave Cannon. Lenna and Faris attacked repeatedly with Thundara-Blade and Galuf, well, he pretty much did nothing.

Ugh.
Ugh.

My reward for beating Soul Cannon is getting to explore another long dungeon filled with way too many random encounters. And to be taunted with White Wind when I have no way to confuse or control the Enchanted Fans. There are invisible walkways in this dungeon, which is a cute touch. At least you can tell where they are by the lack of grass at the edges of the floor. Finally, we confront King Tycoon and Archaeavis. Big Bird isn’t actually as bad as I remember, thanks to my impressive damage output. RNGesus didn’t see fit to bless me with multiple Nightingales this time around, but ???? deals so much damage with Lenna and Faris’ high max HP that he falls pretty quick before he can hurt me too much. To make up for Galuf’s lack of participation against Soul Cannon, I let him get the finishing blow with L5 Death.

On the next episode of The Adventures Of Team Blue Mage, someone becomes a Dragoon. And some other things happen, too.

 

Fiesta Update #2

Or, How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Embrace The Glass.

Since my last update, I learned of an important change to Vampire from the GBA version. In the GBA version, Vampire deals damage equal to your missing HP, heals you for that amount, and works on any enemy. Yes, a full heal plus damage for only 3 MP. In the iOS version, though, Vampire deals damage equal to half of your missing HP, heals you for that amount, and is programmed to fail on bosses and certain other “heavy” enemies. On one hand, yeah, it probably needed a bit of a nerf. But on the other hand, this team now has very little sustainability against bosses or other “heavy” enemies. A lot of fights in this update get real dicey because of this. On a positive note, with ??? and Spellblade I hit pretty damn hard.

GarulaSo, when we last heard from Team Blue Mage, we were climbing up Walse Tower in order to watch helplessly as the Water Crystal gets destroyed. Apparently, we’re not that good of a superhero team. I totally forget to get Pond’s Chorus on the way up, so I struggle a bit against Garula. I do manage to blind him with Flash after 5 tries (totally justifying my decision to use a precious Ether), and by putting everyone in the back and sucking him dry with Nerfpire, he falls. This will be the last boss fight in a while that doesn’t get dicey. As you can see from the tweet, I got Mystic Knight as my Water job, and as I’m an equal-opportunity employer, I immediately give Faris and Lenna the job.

I'm an equal-opportunity kind of guy.
I’m an equal-opportunity kind of guy.

Next, we head to Karnak and I pick up my next significant offensive spell, the questionably-named ????, from the Wild Nakks in the forest. After a little misunderstanding in Karnak, I’m thrown in jail, and after meeting Cid (who is required by law to appear in every Final Fantasy game), I get the wonderful opportunity to travel to the Fire-Powered Ship. Oh goody.

The Fire-Powered Ship has an annoyingly high encounter rate and you frequently get thrust into additional battles with Motor Traps after you finish a fight. The only benefit from the Traps is that you get Self-Destruct from them if you hit them with a lightning attack. I’m not sure when I’d actually use Self-Destruct, but it feels kinda good to have it. I don’t know why. Just in case, I guess.

Liquid Flame
The inspiring tale of what you can do when you can afford to buy a lot of Frost Rods.

The boss here is Liquid Flame, and he’s rough for this party because of Blaze, which hits everyone for pretty good damage, and as I mentioned before, I can’t use Vampire to heal up. So I take the wimpy way out and break two Frost Rods on him. I’m not proud. Okay, I am. Okay, I’m not. But I really am.

My healing options are now Vampire, which won’t work on bosses, and hoping I get Nightingale. Fantastico. Anyway, the escape from Karnak Castle is fun with a virtual D-pad. And by “fun”, I mean “awful”. I do manage to pick up Aera from Gigas and Death Claw from IronClaw and escape with two minutes remaining.

So now that the wall is destroyed, I head down south to the Library of the Ancients. I get everyone to level 16 and leave Faris at 15 so I can pick up L5 Death, and I break yet another Frost Rod on the Dhorme Chimera so I can pick up Aqua Breath, further increasing my impressive glass cannon-ness. Ifrit sucks hard, and I win pretty much by luck. I managed to Silence him with Spellblade early in the fight and from there Bartz and Lenna whittle him down with Blizzara Spellblade while Galuf pretty much sits there and throws Potions that do practically nothing. Way to go, old man. Byblos, on the other hand, eats a Death Claw and then dies horribly.

Next time, we finally get my Fire job!

FFV Title Screen

The Fiesta Begins!

Four Job Fiesta has begun, and I get Blue Mage for my first job. At least I can equip (and therefore, break) rods, which should help later. After I get my job crystal, I’m greeted with what I can only describe as superhero costumes.

Team Blue Mage
Team Blue Mage, ready to go!

(Incidentally, I find the sprites in the iOS version to be vaguely irritating in a way that I can’t quite put my finger on.) I pick up Goblin Punch and Aero (after a couple of close calls) in the Wind Shrine and then backtrack to the Pirates’ Hideout to get Vampire. Goblin Punch essentially replaces my Attack command for the first few hours of the game and Vampire allows me to save money on Potions.

I must have been the same level as Karlabos, because Goblin Punch hit for about 260 damage, three-shotting him. After that comes the first major test, the Ship’s Graveyard, and since I forgot to look at what was coming up, I’ve got 2 Potions and a long dungeon full of monsters that I can’t use Vampire on. Maybe I should, like, prepare or something, I don’t know. Luckily, I can two-shot each enemy group using Aero, and as long as I select targets fast enough (which isn’t easy, even on an iPhone 6 Plus), I manage to keep my team relatively healthy.

Siren
A close call, but Siren falls.

Siren hurts me bad, especially because I’ve only got Aero and not enough Antidotes. Fortunately, Faris manages to live long enough to kill her with Aero. (By the way, Vampire didn’t work on Siren, even when she was “normal”. iOS bug or did I just forget that part?)

I pick up the Ice Rod in Carwen, but I’m going to wait until I get my other jobs before I decide where I need to use it. The North Mountain is fairly uneventful, although trying to maneuver around the poisonous flowers is kind of dicey with a virtual joystick. I get Flash from a Headstone, using up a precious Ether in the process, which pretty much trivializes Magissa and Forza.

On the next episode of Steve & The Vaguely Irritating Superheroes, I climb up Walse Tower and get my second job. Stay tuned!

iOS Week in Review: The Four Job Fiesta Edition

I’m going to be doing Four Job Fiesta this year, even though I haven’t played Final Fantasy V in about 8 years. This has the potential to get dicey, but the iOS version was on sale this week, and hey, what’s the worst that could happen? Wish me luck!

Fallout Shelter

It was a stroke of good fortune that the Shenmue 3 Kickstarter and stomach-turning things like The Last Guardian and the Final Fantasy VII remake were also announced at E3, because otherwise the sheer audacity of announcing a mobile game during E3 probably would have caused the complete annihilation of the gaming world forever.

Brand-name recognition (and the resulting appeal to non-mobile gamers) probably contributed a lot to the success of this game so far, as the game really isn’t anything special and it’s nothing that mobile veterans haven’t seen before.

I think the biggest issue with the game is that it starts strong and quickly sputters out. You start out with a good number of caps and lots of dwellers, and you’ll probably get a few more caps from the lunchboxes you can earn by completing randomly-assigned challenges, but it eventually peters out. Once that happens, you need some luck to get your engine going again because the only reliable way to get more caps (and therefore, more rooms) is to send your dwellers out to explore the Wasteland, which has three issues:

  • It’s dangerous if they don’t have any gear, which again comes back to the lunchboxes.
  • It takes way too long to gather enough caps to build one room and then you have to wait for them to return.
  • Every dweller you have out in the Wasteland is one fewer dweller to actually work the Vault, generating the power, food, and water you need to keep the Vault going.

Because of this, and the fact that you don’t use resources while you aren’t playing, and the fact that you can’t really play the game in any meaningful way anyway, your best bet is a very hands-off approach to managing the Vault: check in every few hours, collect your resources, and then leave them be.

Card Crawl

Card Crawl isn’t technically a new game, but it did have a significant content update and a big sale this week, and since I didn’t play it when it was new, I figured it could still count for this week. This is a fun little dungeon crawler played with a standard deck of playing cards, with each suit representing monsters, equipment, coins, or potions. Cards are dealt four at a time, with new cards being dealt when one card remains on the table. You have three slots to hold cards, your two hands and a backpack, and once a card has been placed in one of your hand slots, you can’t use that slot again until you use the card. Because of this, it’s important to plan ahead, as you may be forced to discard useful cards or take damage if you can’t clear your hands.

Discarding cards isn’t always the worst thing, though, as discarding equipment and potions gives you coins equal to their value. The more coins you bank during a game, the higher your score, which creates an intriguing dynamic: You need to use equipment and potions to stay alive, but you’re also trying to get high scores by throwing away useful items. Coins can also be banked between games to purchase special ability cards which have powerful effects such as temporarily returning cards to the bottom of the deck, dealing damage equal to the life you’ve lost, and causing creatures to attack each other.

While Card Crawl doesn’t have a lot of depth to it, the nature of the game makes it a fun little time-waster in between “serious” gaming.

Xenowerk

While Xenowerk doesn’t bring anything new to the genre, it’s still a fun twin-stick shooter. What more could you want? I mean, besides more words about the game itself.

iOS Week in Review: The Downgrade Edition

If the Witcher 3 downgrade has you bummed, pick up your iOS device instead. None of these games have had any graphical downgrades, nor have any of these developers ever misled you about the graphical fidelity of their games.

Ire: Blood Memory

Ire is the game you would get if you combined the aesthetics and the combat of the Souls series with the endless farming of Monster Hunter. Your attacks feel nice and weighty; it’s just too bad that some of the weightiness leaked out into the interface. The game does a poor job acknowledging button presses, which can lead to a lot of moments where you can’t be too sure if the game has froze up or if the connection to the server is lagging.

Actually, now that I think about it, there’s a lot of similarities with Monster Hunter. You’ve got a 5-minute time limit for each of your quests, and they all revolve around taking down a tough monster. The game also uses the same skill system as Monster Hunter, where each piece of equipment allots a certain number of skill, and if the combined skill points of all your equipment, including your accessories, reaches a certain number, that skill activates. As I mentioned earlier, though, the most striking similarity with Monster Hunter is that you’ll be running these 5-minute quests a million times to get the right number of parts to upgrade your equipment.

There are IAPs, but I can’t figure out exactly why. You can’t use them to buy anything useful such as the parts you’ll need to upgrade your gear, so I guess the only reason to spend money on the game is if you really want to support the developer. And since they’ve never lied to you about the graphical fidelity of their game, maybe you should consider it.

Dragon Blaze

Gamevil knows their audience.
Get used to this sight.

Upon booting up the game, this is what you’re greeted with. Gamevil clearly knows their audience.

Dragon Blaze is actually kind of short on actual gameplay: enemies and allies autonomously (as the game puts it) attack and use their skills, and all you can really do is tap to select a character, use a skill, then wait for that skill to come off cooldown so you can tap it again.

Instead, the meat of the game is the metagame: collecting allies, equipping said allies, enhancing said allies and said equipment. It scratches a weird kind of itch, and the nature of the game means you can play it effectively even when you’ve only got a few minutes. Or if you’re only using 10% of your brain.

While the game does feature some creepy sexualization of young-looking girls, at least Gamevil had the good sense not to lie to you about the graphical fidelity of said young-looking girls.

Fearless Fantasy

RTFFT
RTFFT

Do you like QTE battling? No? Okay.

Knights of Pen & Paper II also released this week, but I was too busy playing Dragon Blaze and The Witcher 3 (while crying my eyes out over the downgrade, natch) to give it a proper try. Maybe next week.

Time To Lose More Geek Cred

In case you still thought I had any geek cred remaining, well, this should just about completely torpedo that:

I never, never, got the fascination with Summer Glau.

(I think this is mostly because I also never, never, got the fascination with Firefly, either. But that’s a subject for a different time.)

It comes off as massively creepy sometimes, mostly because I can never figure out if these people like Summer Glau or if they like River Tam. I can (kind of) see where there’d be some physical attraction, but you could never have any kind of connection with River beyond the sex. Just so many levels of wrong there.

On the other hand, with Summer, you’ve got yet another one-note sort-of-attractive actress who gets a pass because she’s “geeky like me”, and the gravy train always quickly runs out for those actresses. Summer’s not appearing much because nobody really wants or needs another Rei Ayanami expy cluttering up their movie. And instead of supporting her, geeks immediately dropped her broke ass and latched onto Zooey Deschanel. (To her credit, though, she did (500) Days of Summer and showed that she had some range beyond Manic Pixie Dream Girl. Still no excuse.)

So geeks: Once you’ve dumped Zooey for the next “awkward” one-note actress to come along, think about what you did to poor River Tam.

Big Week For iOS

Hearthstone for iPhone was the most noteworthy (and most anticipated) release of the week, but there were a couple more big releases for iOS as well. (Final Fantasy: Record Keeper was another noteworthy release from earlier this month, but unfortunately, that game was awful.) So get ready to burn your battery, because there’s a lot to play this month.

Implosion: Never Lose Hope

The developer, Rayark Inc., describes this game as “bringing the AAA console gaming experience to mobile devices”. I’m not sure when the AAA console gaming experience began to involve poor grammar skills, but at least they hit everything else on the nose: a lot of talking about “first-class voice acting” and “orchestral scores masterfully mixed by Grammy Award winner and “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy engineer, John Kurlander”, not a lot of talking about the gameplay.

Fortunately, the game manages to hit a good majority of the AAA gameplay as well. It’s a relatively mindless hack-and-slash, with some timing-based combos mixed in. You can temporarily switch to a ranged weapon by sliding the attack button, and there are special attacks you can activate when you’ve built up your gauge by using regular attacks. The game tries to add replay value by including special challenges to earn badges, such as not using ranged attacks, never getting hit, or not using your special attacks.

Despite this, the game is actually pretty entertaining. The controls are responsive and the game does look and sound pretty nice, especially if you’re lucky enough to have an iPhone 6 Plus. Ten bucks is a lot to ask in the mobile space, but it’s still worth a try.

Mortal Kombat X

More like Mortal Kombat Why, amirite?

Seriously, though, this is pretty much Mortal Kombat combined with P&D’s collecting aspects. The controls are pretty simple: tap to attack, hold with two fingers to block, swipe to activate combo finishers, perform various QTEs to activate special attacks.

It works as a game, and it does seem like Warner Bros. is going to support the game with new content and special events. It’s just, why?

Hearthstone

I was impressed with how Blizzard managed to work the UI onto a phone’s screen, although I’m lucky enough to own an iPhone 6 Plus. It would be doable on a regular iPhone 6, but it could get ugly on an iPhone 5 or earlier.

Since I never played Hearthstone until now, I can’t really comment on how the UI feels compared to a tablet, nor can I really comment on how the game itself is played. If you want free wins: cottontail#1998.