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Could've done better, but eh
“I may not have the whip’s power, but I can still kick your ass!”

“Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin” for Nintendo DS.
This is a Metroidvania game, an action platformer with emphasis on Exploration. And it’s also an Action RPG, so expect some RPG elements.

The DS version is the only version of the game. Of course, there’s Emulation, and it won’t hurt as badly as Dawn of Sorrow, due to the lack of Touch Screen mechanics. But of course, the DS cartridge is the real way to play, if possible. Though there ARE touch Screen mechanics for one of the unlockable modes, so be forewarned.

Age Rating: T
-Blood
-Violence
-Suggestive Themes

Presentation:

The game looks good. Everything pops out, the attention to detail is nice, and the more lighthearted tone of the game (compared to other CV adventures) is portrayed nicely with more colors. And the Soundtrack is pretty nice, with quite a few catchy tunes (with a slightly lower emphasis on atmosphere), and the small bits of voice acting add some good stuff.

Story:

This takes place during World War II, and features 2 characters. Jonathan Morris, the son of John Morris from Castlevania: Bloodlines, and Charlotte Aulin, a gifted mage and friend to Jonathan. Dracula’s Castle has come back, and these 2 are out to find out why, and slay the dark forces that caused this premature appearance. A man named Brauner has taken over, and Death is trying to revive Dracula.

Joooooyyyyy!

Overall, the game’s story is simple, but it goes further into why the Morris clan is using the Vampire Killer, Jonathan trying to master it, as well as Brauner’s motivations. But in all honesty, this feels more lighthearted than most games in the series, thanks to how well Jonathan and Charlotte bounce off of each other. It’s almost like a Tales game, while not on the same scale.

Gameplay:

Okay, I have a lot to say, despite the combat being pretty simple.

Jonathan uses various Weapons, and Subweapons (which have masteries) with MP. And Charlotte charges spells (which have NO mastery) to use against different threats. You can switch between them, and use various abilities to solve Puzzles in the Castle.

Honestly, you feel REALLY fragile in this game for some reason. More than the likes of Dawn of Sorrow or even Order of Ecclesia (which would make sense if you were more fragile, due to Shanoa’s design). That and sometimes the game throws too many enemies at you once, and it comes off as more bullshit than fair difficulty.

Even then, the game is unbalanced in YOUR favor as well.
Charlotte’s spells are all you need, if you ask me. They’re too strong, and require no mastery. But playing with just those means you’re not getting mastery you might need for side quests, so it shoots itself in the ass.

Axes are broken as fuck. They’re slow, but they hit hard, and they hit TWICE in this game, as opposed to just once, like in Dawn of Sorrow.

And then there’s the new Dual Crushes. These are Super attacks that take MP, and have Cooldown on them. Besides maybe “Rush” for the final battle (it helps, trust me), you’ll only be needing “1,000 Blades”, because it does loads of damage for the whole game. And it’s not the only broken Dual Crush (just the most broken one).

I could go on and on, but Portrait is a fun game overall. It’s just that it’s got some BS, and has no concept of balance. It’s not as fun to play as the likes of Order of Ecclesia for me.


The castle has quite a bit of variety in this game. Not only do you have the main castle itself, but you also have Paintings with various worlds in them, like in Super Mario 64. It adds variety to the castle, and adds areas you wouldn’t normally expect in a Castlevania game. Though you get on the path to the True Ending (which is a PAIN IN THE ASS TO GET TO), those previous areas are given new coats of paint, new music, and are flipped upside down. This is probbaly implemented better here than in Symphony of the Night, but it’s not exactly New Areas. But they at least have enough identity to them to make them unique in their own rights.

Content:

It’ll take you around 10 hours to beat this game, I’d guess. But after you play the game with Jonathan and Charlotte, you can play in 3 other modes.

By beating the game, you unlock Richter mode (oh excuse me, “Richiter”), which gives you control over Richter Belmont and Maria Renard, which is similar to playing as Julius Belmont in Aria of Sorrow. There’s no story or side quests, so just beat the bosses and there ya go.

You can also play using the two Sisters, Stella and Loretta, which uses a Touch Screen & Stylus style of gameplay that you can use up to the fight with Brauner. It acts as a prequel to the adventure with Jonathan & Charlotte.

And then there’s Old Axe Armor mode… this one’s a doozy. It takes a lot of grinding on Jonathan mode to unlock (killing a bunch of Old Axe Armors). It allows you to play as an Old Axe Armor, similar to how with certain equipment, you could play as an Axe Armor in Symphony of the Night. This is likely the most challenging mode of them all, due to not being as fast, having a short attack range, and only having access to the Throwing Axe Subweapon.

Overall Thoughts:

The game has some issues, but I’d say it’s a good time. I’d recommend you start off with Symphony of the Night or Aria of Sorrow before this, but it’s still good overall. Just beware the lack of balance, as well as the bullshit. It’s good when it’s good, but when it’s bad, it’s pretty damn bad.
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Felt like I could've done better on this, but it's there
“Hollow ones cling to faith; Fanged ones honor power; Foolish sages protect a lie.”

Etrian Odyssey 4: Legends of the Titan, for the Nintendo 3DS

This is a Turn Based Dungeon Crawling RPG, made by ATLUS, only for the Nintendo 3DS.

There’s only one version of this game. I bet there’s emulators, but due to one of the series’ main mechanics, it’s normally easier to play with an actual DS/3DS system, as opposed to an emulator. You’ll want your Stylus.

Rated T for Teen
-Violence
-Suggestive Themes
-Alcohol/Drug Reference


STORY

Etrian Odyssey 4 takes place in Tharsis, a town of adventurers, who all want to learn the mysteries of this game’s Yggdrasil, which is actually far away from the town, as opposed to right beside it.

You create a guild of explorers, go on missions given to you by the Count, and encounter some mysterious figures, such as Whirlwind, who teaches you about Cartography, and the Medium, a human girl who can speak to Yggdrasil. And as I just mentioned, you also meet different races, that talk about the Medium, Yggdrasil, the “Titan’s Curse” (what is this, Percy Jackson?), and various other things to build the world.

In a similar vein as Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles, the story is mostly observed through the eyes of your guild, rather than being focused on your characters, since you make your own party. However, the game, in my opinion, succeeds at building an interesting world where you can see how the different races, the Medium, Yggdrasil, and even the work of explorers, are affecting each other.

It’s not the greatest world in gaming, for sure, but the characters you meet can be interesting, such as the Vessel known as Wufan, and/or entertaining, like the Berund Atelier’s main girl, Wynne. But as is the case with most Etrian games, while the story is definitely present, it is BY NO MEANS the main focus. That’s where the gameplay comes in.


PRESENTATION

I think the game looks pretty good. It’s nice and colorful, even if the areas look a bit unrealistic or somewhat blocky (which is important from a gameplay standpoint). The game doesn’t feel lifeless, and points out what needs pointed out. The portraits for characters are detailed and colorful as well, and the models for enemies animate nicely. Admittedly, it doesn’t really pop out to me as fantastic graphics, but the art style is enough for me…

…especially when the music is SO FREAKIN’ GOOD! This is the first game in the series with an instrumental soundtrack, and Yuzo Koshiro knew what he was doing with it like with the FM Synth used in the DS games. He used it to create atmospheric tracks for the various dungeons, and amazing battle themes. Hell, even arrangements of previous songs, like “The End of Raging Winds” are still amazing. Though admittedly, I’m not fond of the FOE theme in this game, or this game’s rendition of “Scatter About”. But those are a few not-so-good ones in a sea of great music.

The presentation, thanks to the art style and music, is still really good in my opinion. Though I should mention that the 3D isn’t fantastic, but it’s not horrible, like with the 3DS port of Tales of the Abyss.


COMBAT

This is a Turn Based RPG. So a lot of the basics are here. HP, TP, Equipment, levelling up, buffs & debuffs, weaknesses, all of that’s here. Though there are some differences worth mentioning.

First off, due to inspiration from earlier Tabletop RPGs and the like, there is a Skill Point system that allows you to level up Class Skills. You also have 3 tiers of skills: Novice, Veteran, Expert. Novice skills are always available, whereas Veteran Rank is Lv.20, and Expert is Lv.40.

There’s also Subclassing, which allows one class to use the skills of another. Certain skills (like Proficiency, Expertise, and Enlightenment) won’t be available in the Subclass, and you only have half of the skills’ max levels. But it’s still a great addition that they decided to keep from Etrian Odyssey 3.

The Ailment and Bind system is also intact. You have Status Ailments that do things like Poison and Curse, and 3 binds: Leg, Arm, and Head, that all restrict certain skills, and apply different debuffs if landed. They don’t always land, as per usual, though. Just note that one character or enemy can only have 1 AILMENT AND 3 BINDS ON AT ONCE, and you likely won’t even get all of that unless you try REALLY hard and burn some resources.


This game’s “Awesomeness Meter” is the Burst Gauge, a 5-Bar Super Meter that gives access to Burst Skills. The whole party can use the same Burst skills, and you have a limited amount of slots to put Burst Skills in for use in battle. These can REALLY help you out, and they’re fun and easy to use. For the most part.


EXPLORATION

What’s a Dungeon Crawler without Dungeon Crawling? Not this game, that’s what.

One of the series’ main gimmicks is using the touch screen to draw your own map. Some people won’t like this feature, but since you have to slow down in this game anyways, I find it to be a welcome addition that lets anyone make a map as they see fit.

This game, as opposed to previous games in the series, has an overworld with 4 Lands that you can explore via your Airship. This expands upon the Sea Sailing from Etrian Odyssey 3, streamlines it, and makes it more important to the game. And you can equip your airship with various equipment for finding more food (which is easy to find, thanks to the in-game models and the map), hidden treasure, or even flying into a tornado with no consequences, by the 3rd Land.

This series has normal battles presented as Random Encounters, but FOEs, or Field-On-Enemies, are also an EO staple. These are tough boss-like enemies that you can see on the map. They’re different, since you can see what monster is on the top screen, and the bottom screen shows you if you’re ready to fight them, based on the color of the icon’s aura.

Within each land are various Mini Dungeons, that consist of 1 floor, on a 3x3 Grid (with each square having a 5x5 grid inside of it). There’s also the main dungeons which have, for the most part, 3 floors, on a 7x5 grid. These are bigger and have more puzzles and stuff to find. I honestly really like how this game handles exploration and dungeons, since exploring the air helps you find mini dungeons, which can give you stuff that’s important for items to take on more dungeons.


OTHER

Enemies in this series only drop materials. They don’t drop money, but you can sell materials for money, which you can use for items and equipment. It’s a very active economy that you’ll need to take advantage of.

This game, unlike other EO games features 2 difficulties: Normal and Casual. Normal is basically EO’s standard difficulty (which is notoriously difficult), whereas Casual makes battles easier and sends you to Tharsis when you get wiped out, rather than giving you a game over. Just note that you don’t get your items back from that battle on Casual, so it can work you into a hole.

After the Main Game’s Final boss, you can go into the Post-Game, which when you beat 4 specific bosses, allows you to raise the level cap from 70, all the way up to 99.

The whole series has a fair bit of grinding for quite a few things, so be forewarned.


FINAL VERDICT

EO4’s a great game. I don’t know if it’s good for RPG Newcomers, but it’s a great start into the Etrian Odyssey series. I highly recommend it.

Best RPG ever? Not by any stretch of the imagination
Damn Good RPG? Yeah!
Best RPG on the 3DS? I think it's a strong contender.

I feel like I could've done better on this one. Might try to redo it sometime
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So, not a lot in games makes me tear up. Wanna hear something that DID, though?

THIS

The Violin in the Background, underneath the Guitar Melody, is beautiful. It's what made me tear up a bit.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RS6FPBwR58Q

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Just casually re-sharing this... Also, this FE game (While FE is already a type of RPG sub-genre) feels more like a typical RPG with a world map, and "White magic and black magic, with spells that you learn at certain levels."

So if you like this video and want to see more videos on FE gaiden, check out the playlist on my youtube channel!

Sorry I haven't been here much, guys. Twitter and other stuff keeps me busy.
Anyway, I want to ask for clarification on something.
So one day while I was on a trip earlier this summer (of 2016 for those reading this later), I played a copy I had of Fire Emblem Fates: Special Edition.
So I start up the game, that's supposed to combine BOTH versions from what I heard, and then I end up having SO MANY QUESTIONS.
First off, somehow Corrin's an adult already and he's already somehow decided he's against Nohr? WHAT?
Second, anything other than the default settings for Corrin seems to end up getting my ass kicked.
Someone explain this to me, I'm so confused!

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Simply sharing somme excellent stuff. ^^

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=giFzh8_Eh74

Anyone personally know any animators who are open to suggestions? (Or one suggestion) Because I have an Idea for an animation. It's a dumb Idea, but it involves Three characters from Fire Emblem Shadow Dragon and a certain song [By REO Speedwagon] that might be hard to get proper licensing with. I can edit this if anyone would like further explanation.

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HAAAAAIII SILICAAAAAAA

Valkyria Chronicles on PS4 just released today and I won't be getting until a few weeks after. I kindly ask that NOBODY should spoil the game for me as I will be playing it blind.

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I really miss this series. One of Disney's best original video game IPs.
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2016-05-04
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