Save Point – My Week in Gaming – 2/15/2020

Fatal Frame
Hey folks! Welcome to the weekend- even if some of us don’t really get a “weekend” per se thanks to work or other obligations we may not be as excited as we could be about.

Since I’m in the middle of a bunch of games and really haven’t had the chance to sit down and write about them formally, I thought it could be a time to implement a new feature just to chat about what I’ve been doing over the past week or so. I usually dabble in so many games and other media over seven days that it feels like a waste not to chat about it as it’s happening in some way.

Mixing, Matchmaking, and Murder

At any given moment, I tend to have at least one game going on my Switch for handheld and relaxing times throughout the house, two on my PC (one persistent or with friends and one for myself to play solo), and one or two on a console like my Playstation 4 or XBox One. There’s usually something retro thrown in there when I feel up to it, but my backlog has been begging me to give it attention lately, so between that and my consoles having just been hooked up in my new place, I’m pretty much at half-capacity right now.

CinderedShadows

I recently picked up the Fire Emblem: Three Houses DLC, Cindered Shadows, which had been advertised as an April release last I had known but got pushed up and released on February 13th. I’m only a couple of battles in, but I’m already enjoying the return to Garreg Mach and some of the new features and classes that have been brought in with the new House, the Ashen Wolves. Between that and coming to the end of the main story of Atelier Ayesha: The Alchemist of Dusk, my Switch has been working overtime- even if it’s just going back to games I’ve already beaten in some form.

On PC, I caught wind of a game called Song of Horror, an episodic horror game that I had barely heard of before I lunged into the trailers for it and bought the Season Pass so that I had all of the episodes once they released. At five episodes total (and the fifth coming out sometime in the next month), I’ve made my way through the first two and I”m still going pretty strong on the third. Between the quality of the game itself and the persistent nature of losing characters, I’ve got to say it’s been a tense one and I’m really enjoying it.

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So far as games I’m playing with other people, I’ve dipped my toe about knee-deep back into Dead by Daylight with some mixed results. They’ve added a few things since I had the chance to play it like challenges to unlock lore of the game and its world and some more playable survivors and killers, but I’m still pretty average at the game itself. It’s a ton of fun at all times for me, though. I’ve also picked up The Division 2 on sale for three dollars to play with my buddy and some others. I was a big fan of the previous one and I’m enjoying the second one, but it’s a bit too early to tell if it’ll stick around in my usual cycle of persistent games.

Backlogs Don’t Only Exist in Gaming, Y’know

So I’ll admit- I’m behind on writing reviews of some of the games I finished off in 2019. Some of them might fall to the wayside or may end up with some lighter coverage in an effort to give some finality to them, though the two I’ve got in my crosshairs right now are on seemingly-James-Bond-action-RPG Alpha Protocol and the NES classic Crystalis. Having just finished up Tokyo Mirage Sessions Encore #FE, I’d love to jot something down about that, too (though, spoiler alert, I recommend it for any fans the Persona or Fire Emblem series).

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As far as featured articles are concerned, I’ve got entries for both the Atelier Series Overview and the Fire Emblem Overview in the works to cover some of the spin-offs and newer games for Fire Emblem as well as the history of the Atelier titles. I’ve also been toying with a follow-up to the Where Did That Come From? series analyzing Zombies Ate My Neighbors and the immense amount of pop-culture references in it. There are a bunch of plates in the air, but I’m addressing them one at a time and they aren’t crashing to the floor, at least!

So What Else is Going On?

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In a couple of weeks, I’ll be attending PAX East with my good buddy, 76Trombones, and some of our other Twitter friends and I couldn’t be more excited. I’ve been researching some of the games that’ll be there, and I’m hoping to give more “up-to-the-minute” coverage compared to last year- though it will probably end up being some daily reviews and then one big overview at the end. I’ll also be taking another trip into the cosplay part of the convention due to the amount of fun I had with it last year. I extend to my friends and readers here, though, if there are any games you’re interested in hearing more about on display there, please feel free to let me know. Most likely, there will be a post in the next week or so about some of the games I’m looking forward to as well as larger titles of interest.

Over the past month or so, I’ve also been helping to contribute to a new feature over at The Well-Red Mage called Magipedia. By his own description, it’s meant to “discover the etymological, cultural, and mythological backgrounds of video game characters, places, and monsters”, and while there aren’t a ton of entries yet, the material that’s there is great and there are plenty more planned and coming out every week- including a couple from yours truly. If you dig analysis, game history, or general quick reads about the nouns of the video game universe, they’re worth a look!

Last but not least, I’ve been working on putting together a set-up to start streaming. Maybe recording videos. Possibly podcasting. I’m not entirely sure yet, so it’s going slowly while I feel out my computer equipment and software. I’ve had a few ideas about where to go with and how to go about it, but there will probably be more momentum there once PAX has come and gone.

So that’s my week in review and what I’ll be playing this weekend! What are you all up to? What are you looking forward to or working on that you’d like to share? Feel free to let me know in the comments (which have been dodgy as of late, so please forgive my slow replies there) or over on Twitter @The3rdPlayer.

Have a great week, folks!

Atelier Series Overview – Part 3 – The Mana Duology

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Nearly the entire
Atelier series is broken down into trilogies of games taking place in the same world with recurring characters and events. Only two of the series’ groupings were duologies: the Japan-only Gramnad Saga and the Mana Khemia games. Both of these pairs featured on the now-obsolete Playstation 2. Where the Gramnad Saga followed the naming conventions from previous titles with Atelier Judie and Atelier Violette, Mana Khemia took a step away from the usual trappings, at least externally.

Featuring the ninth and tenth games in the Atelier series, both games still exercise the mechanics of the series. Synthesis is still vital to progress throughout the games though there is a bit more emphasis on strategic combat through abilities rather than item-slinging. There are a couple of other adjustments that find their way into the formula of the series and stick, creating a foundation for the next generation of Atelier offerings to build off of and improve upon as the series grows.
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Atelier Series Overview – Part 2 – The Dusk Trilogy

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As a whole, the Dusk Trilogy of the Atelier series concerns the world of Dusk and its inhabitants.  The world itself seems to be dying in a number of ways- seas are drying up, lands are becoming barren, and there appear to be new dangers every day.  If this sounds dismal- it kind of is. The world of Dusk is probably the darkest of the Atelier worlds. The art direction and stories of this trilogy feel grittier, despite still dealing in a lot of anime-flavored tropes and styles.


On a personal note, this trilogy is my favorite of the Atelier series that I have gotten to experience.  As a horror and drama fan, this game appealed to my tastes in a strong way (despite nothing involved to actually be considered “horror”).  While I have my qualms with how it was handled overall, each entry felt strong in this trilogy and the mechanics were sound. The art direction- now in the hands of an artist named Hidari- also veers toward the more ethereal feeling that the games have been sticking with since.

While the Dusk trilogy is not quite as lauded as the Arland trilogy or as current as the Mysterious trilogy, it weaves an intriguing tale that stands apart from the usual fare of the series while retaining most of the elements that make the Atelier games so unique and engaging.
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Atelier Series Overview – Part 1 – The Arland Trilogy

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A Brief History of the Atelier Series


If you count yourself among those that find JRPGs interesting, you very well may have heard of the Atelier series.  Established in Japan with the original title, Atelier Marie: Alchemist of Salburg, the series has just recently reached its nineteenth entry with Atelier Lydie and Suelle: The Alchemists and the Mysterious Paintings.  While the early entries of the series didn’t make it over to US shores, the majority of the series has found localization in on our shores.

In 2005, Atelier Iris: Eternal Mana on the Playstation 2 was placed in the hands of NIS America and since then, each entry of the series on home consoles has been translated and made available across various regions.  While the gameplay and format have changed and evolved throughout the series, the central concept remains the same.

Playing as an ‘alchemist’- someone who engages in the practice of acquiring and combining items to create other items with the magical process of ‘alchemy’- you are faced with an objective that requires you to expand upon your abilities to be met.  As the game progresses, more recipes for items are unlocked, as well as locales to acquire items that are rarer or of better quality. Nearly all of the items your party will use are created through these items- healing items, offensive items, weapons, armor; all of it becomes the product of items that you collect throughout your adventure.  Each game has a different twist on this and later entries find deeper methods of alchemy to give the player more customization in their creations, but at its base, this concept is what the Atelier series revolves around.

Throughout this overview, I’ll be explaining each grouping of games in the Atelier series.  Much like the Fire Emblem overview I’ve been working on, there may be some glances of opinion and theory here and there, but for the most part, this is meant to be informational for those interested in learning about the Atelier series or possibly for those already familiar with the series who would like to take a trip down memory lane.

Whatever your reasons may be, I hope you enjoy this look at the Atelier series overall.  As usual, please be aware that I make an effort not to spoil anything plot related that you wouldn’t read within the packaging of the game, but there is the occasional slip so if you want to avoid spoilers, you’ve been warned that they may exist here however minor.  If you have any comments to add, questions to ask, or just want to discuss the games in each entry, feel free to leave a comment.

In this entry, I’ll be writing about the Arland trilogy, comprised of Atelier Rorona, Atelier Totori, and Atelier Meruru.  While not the first games to be localized, they appeared to be the first that many had heard of the series.  As some of the more easily obtainable entries to the series, they seem like the best jumping off point to explore the series from!
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Fire Emblem – An Overview – Part 5

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It’s been a while since I added to this overview, but Nintendo keeps adding to the Fire Emblem franchise- so eventually I knew I would have to expand on the original overview series I had started!

In this fifth entry to the Fire Emblem overview, I cover four games.

Okay, technically.  Three of the games are part of one narrative, covering the Fates trilogy with Conquest, Birthright, and Revelation.  The second entry  after the jump elucidates on Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia, which was not only a remake of one of my personal favorites in the series but was also my pick for top game of 2017.

With the Fire Emblem series growing in popularity outside of Japan (and a slew of spiritual sequels, spinoffs, and other iterations appearing in every corner of the gaming world), this overview will probably be perpetually growing as times allows- which works because I honestly adore the series and researching it has been immensely interesting.
If you’d like to go back to the beginning of the series overview and Famicom days, feel free to look into the first part of the overview here.  Otherwise, kick back and check out my bird’s eye view into the gears of the remaining 3DS entries of the Fire Emblem series!

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