Tag Archives: progression

Mana Khemia 2: Fall of Alchemy – Making the Grade

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For most people, a “good” RPG consists of some combination of a compelling story, solid combat mechanics and satisfying progression.

Many RPGs have stuck with the conventional “experience and levels” system over the years, simply because that is a proven progression mechanic that works well, offers continual rewards for continued play and tangible improvements in your characters over time.

Mana Khemia: Alchemists of Al-Revis did something a little different, where character combat effectiveness was directly tied to your engagement with the game’s core alchemy system. And its sequel Mana Khemia 2: Fall of Alchemy follows suit — but rather than simply rehashing the previous game’s mechanics, it adds an interesting new twist. Let’s take a closer look!

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Mana Khemia: Alchemists of Al-Revis – A Learning Experience

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Turn-based, menu-driven RPGs for computer and console — particularly the latter — are, for the most part, well past being simple adaptations of tabletop gaming rules.

The freedom afforded them by the digital medium means that they can get highly creative and abstract with all of their core mechanics without being limited by physical components, complexity of calculations or even any sort of rational plausibility. This not only applies to combat mechanics, as we saw in the previous part of this feature, but also to character progression.

While past Atelier games kept things relatively conventional in this regard, following the “experience points and levels” system, Mana Khemia: Alchemists of Al-Revis features a very distinct way of powering up your characters that fits in very well with its core themes and other mechanics. So let’s take a closer look at that today.

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Phantasy Star Online 2: Day 1 As an ARKS Operative

Well, after an inordinately long wait — about eight years, to be exact — Phantasy Star Online 2 has finally arrived, for both Xbox One and PC players… and possibly with other platforms to follow.

To say that English speakers have been eagerly awaiting this game is something of an understatement. The Dreamcast original, being one of the original breakout successes in online gaming — and many players’ first experience with cooperative, social online gaming — is a widely beloved game, so in the eight years since Phantasy Star Online 2 released in Japan, people have been finding increasingly creative ways to get their fix, with particularly dedicated fans even going so far as to provide translation patches.

Now, none of those workarounds and fiddly tweaks are needed; everyone can just play Phantasy Star Online 2 as they please. So I thought it would probably be a good idea to jump in on the PC launch day and have a go. Read on to find out how that all went.

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Atelier Iris 3: Grand Phantasm – Bursting Into Battle

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As we’ve seen so far, each game in the Atelier Iris series reinvents its core mechanics quite significantly from its predecessor; this was a rather experimental period for Gust.

In this article, we’re going to take a specific look at the combat and progression mechanics in Atelier Iris 3: Grand Phantasm, including the elements carried across from prior installments and some all-new considerations for this specific title.

Strap on your Mushroom Armour, rev up your Pyre Blade and get ready to fight — we’re going in. Watch out for the Punis!

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Final Fantasy Marathon: OHKO – Final Fantasy II #10

One of the issues people have with Final Fantasy II is that its progression system can make it a little tricky to determine what “level” you are.

This means it can be quite easy to go into a new situation either woefully underpowered or vastly overpowered — though let’s be honest about this, the latter option has always been part of the fun of role-playing games, hasn’t it?

At this point, an encounter in Leviathan’s stomach on the way to track down the Ultima Tome would seem to confirm that yes, indeed, we have taken the latter option. Oh well. No turning back now!

Atelier Iris: Eternal Mana – The Craft of Combat

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Now we’ve explored how Atelier Iris handles the series’ core concept of using alchemy and other crafting techniques to create items, it’s time to look at the other aspects of the game.

While all of the previous Atelier games featured strong RPG-style elements such as combat and exploration, for the most part — fourth game Atelier Judie was an exception to a certain extent — these were expressed in the abstract, with the emphasis being placed firmly on the main character and their workshop. That’s where the name came from, after all.

Atelier Iris: Eternal Mana seemingly saw the series take a bit of a sidestep into more traditional RPG territory. But there are a lot of things about it that make it stand out from what you might traditionally think of as a turn-based, menu-driven console RPG. So that’s what we’re going to look at in the next couple of articles.

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Final Fantasy Marathon: How To Train Your Wizard – Final Fantasy II #3

Four-figure magic damage against Rank 2 enemies? It’s more likely than you think!

Yes, after suffering an embarrassing defeat in Kashuan Keep, I decide to take a bit of time to train up Maria as a specialised black mage. The results are very pleasing indeed. Very pleasing, indeed. I think we’ve established a suitable progression strategy for the rest of the game now…

We may not make a ton of story progress in today’s episode, but it’s a solid exploration of how Final Fantasy II’s much-maligned progression systems work. And a reminder that anyone interested in the SaGa series should check this one out — since Final Fantasy II is essentially the proto-SaGa.

The MoeGamer 2019 Awards: The “That Was Unexpected” Award

The MoeGamer Awards are a series of “alternative” awards I’ve devised in collaboration with the community to celebrate the sorts of things that never get celebrated in end-of-year roundups! Find out more here — and feel free to leave a suggestion on that post if you have any good ideas!

One of my favourite things about deviating significantly from what can be considered “mainstream tastes” is that you have a vastly increased chance of accidentally stumbling across absolutely wonderful experiences that you promptly want to tell everyone about.

Today’s award, suggested by Kharne83, celebrates one of these games from this year. A game that I initially didn’t really feel anything about… until I played it. And I was absolutely hooked. And I think you should partake, too.

After all, news of these games is best spread by word of mouth — because heaven knows press and marketing alike are inevitably terrible about letting people know they exist!

And the winner is…

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Pokémon Sword and Shield: Living a Trainer’s Life

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When the original Pokémon games were announced, I didn’t initially realise that they were RPGs — at least partly because I wasn’t overly familiar with how RPGs worked myself at the time.

Nowadays, of course, I know much better. But “RPG” is such a broad term, particularly when you throw its tabletop counterpart into the mix. There are lots of different ways you can approach the idea of an “RPG” from a mechanical perspective, and lots of different games over the years — including Pokémon — have experimented with the formula.

Pokémon Sword and Shield are, of course, no exception. Let’s take a closer look at the game’s mechanical components and contemplate how these games approach the idea of you “role-playing” as a Pokémon Trainer.

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Final Fantasy Marathon: The Party Leader Has Registered You for Duty – Final Fantasy I #19

At this point, we’re ready to go and beat Final Fantasy I! But we’re not going to do that just yet… not when there are endgame dungeons to challenge!

Today we begin with a return to the Earthgift Shrine, which we paid a somewhat premature visit to back in episode 9, and manage to squeeze in two whole runs to take down both Cerberus and Echidna.

This is just the beginning of endgame Final Fantasy… so strap in for a bit of an endurance run!