Backlog Tale – Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age

I will start this post off by saying that I like Dragon Quest XI. I think as a JRPG, it does everything well to the point where I don’t have any personal flaws with it. The story is decent and honestly not one of my favorites to come out of this series. The characters however are some of my favorites from any game. It’s rare for me to enjoy every character in the ensemble, but Dragon Quest XI pulls it off to the point I enjoyed using all of them. With an early praise like that, you would think I would have nothing but good things to talk about this game. So why did I have such a hard time talking about this game? This is around my tenth attempt to write about this game; and every time I try to sit and write about it, my mind just draws a blank. I struggled to write about the good times that I had with the game and had very little negative thoughts about it. I understand why this game gets all the praise that it does, and I will admit that it is a solid JRPG that can easily be recommended. So why why why can’t I simply just talk about it? After the last attempt to write this, I finally came to an answer that most likely describes what I’m feeling. Dragon Quest XI is a comfort game. It does everything good that a JRPG should do, and it’s okay that it didn’t blow me away like other games have done before.


You are the Avatar. You were born to bring balance to the world and to stop evil. Unfortunately you were also born in Japan, so that makes you an anime protagonist instead. On the day of your birth, the anime antagonist was like “oh shit we can’t have this ruining my Bar Mitzvah” and decided to kill everyone that you knew and love; but not really since you were literarily less than 5 days old and couldn’t possibly remember anything. After pulling a baby Moses, you spend your childhood in the adaptive care of an old man and best mom out of any video game. After coming of age, you and your childhood friend Gemma climb a mountain to prove that you are real adults now and can do real adult things like read your grandpa’s chicken scratch handwriting to find out that you are adapted. Now it is up to you and your weird glow-in-the-evil tattoo to clear your name from being branded as the anime antagonist and travel through time (I think that’s what happens, that part in the story was never explained) to save the world and be the best Dragon Ball Z character ever created.

Confession Time

I played Dragon Quest XI on and off for the past three years. I started playing it a year after it came out. I played somewhat constantly up until you get to Gallopolis (about 5-6 hours in). Nine months later, I started Gondolia (the next story event) and went on another hiatus. Seven months later, I finished Gondolia and got the ship, but for some reason I put the game down again. TEN MONTHS LATER, I decided that I had put this game off for too long and was ready to commit myself to finishing it. No doubt school and other games that I wanted to play at the time had a part in this. The fact that a definitive version also came out while I was playing this also didn’t help (more on that later). So with that large gap in time that I had in the beginning of the game, something about the game must have not clicked with me to stay invested. Honestly, that wasn’t the case. Immediately when I started the game, I knew I was going to get hooked on it for a while, but my previous encounters with Dragon Quest games taught me that this may take me a while to finish. I was starting grad school at the time, so I was unsure of what my new time commitment to things was going to be like. Not to mention that I started playing at the beginning of 2019 and other games came along to distract my time. I made the subconscious decision to hold off on Dragon Quest XI until the time was right.

I’m glad I took the time to play this when I was ready, because I was able to enjoy myself. It took me about a month to get to the “end” and not once did I feel my normal burnout. If I play a game constant for a while, I normally tend to get burnt out after a while and try to head straight towards the ending. Towards the end, I was still having a good time and felt good about getting to the end of it. I haven’t felt that way about finishing a game in a while, so I’m glad that I still possess that emotion somewhere. As I write this, the feel good feelings are still there, and I want to find some excuse to return to the game to finish the post-game content as well as obtaining the platinum trophy.

The Game Itself

Was it just me, or did this game feel “easier” than other Dragon Quest games? My first Dragon Quest experience was Dragon Quest VIII on the PS2 and I remember that game being really difficult. Dragon Quest IX had its moments as well, but thanks to multiplayer and a younger brother who likes to grind, it didn’t feel as difficult as its predecessor. Battles in Dragon Quest XI were engaging, but I didn’t struggle with many fights. Since the battles were engaging, I didn’t run away from a single encounter I went into. Heck, I would go out of my way to fight almost everything that came my way. There is something about the flow of battle that never made it boring to fight each battle. I didn’t feel like I was over leveled or anything, but I think I have matured to the point where I know how to build my characters well and know what abilities to use during certain fights. I didn’t know until the final boss with the Lord of Shadows that if your first four characters die in battle, the other four will replace them and the battle will continue. That never happened to me in my entire playthrough and it shocked me when it happened. This is not me saying that fights are easy, it just means that I was so familiar with each character’s strengths and abilities that I was able to utilize them to the fullest in each fight. Something that I’m hardly aware of in most JRPGs.

The presentation of this game is one for the books. One thing that I love about the Dragon Quest franchise is that they go out their way to make each region unique with their environment and the dialect that each region uses (even though character designs are almost the same). This game is gorgeous! I’m not the biggest explorer in most games, but the world felt adventurous for me to explore. Some of the details on enemies thanks to glorious HD make them standout a bit more than the older games. Their animations in the overworld almost make them feel like they are a natural part of it, and the death animations are expressive as well. The world of Erdrea just feels like an adventurer’s realm full of secrets and exciting places to discover. Most RPGs don’t bring out the adventurous side of me, but that feeling never really left even during the final hours.

A Merry Band of Heroes

Onto the main cast. I know I said I liked every character that you can play as, but the one character that I felt the least for was the Luminary. At first, I didn’t like his design. There is nothing that sticks out with his design, so he just felt bland to me. Also in my playthrough, he was the only person who didn’t have a dedicated role. Jade and *Spoiler* were powerhouses in my team and I could effectively rely on them to handle most fights. I was reluctant on using Rab for a while, but when he becomes your only magic user and healer for a while, you soon realize that he is a great secondary magic user. Plus, he has some ridiculous abilities that make fights a breeze. Erik became a last resort character since he was fast and could evade a lot of attacks. Serena outclasses Rab as a healer, but I still preferred Rab since he could do other stuff as well besides just waiting to support. Even when *MAJOR STORY SPOILER HAPPENS* Serena just couldn’t catch up to the work I put in with Rab. Veronica stayed powerful no matter what and she still easily outclassed Rab when it came to magic. Sylvando is a wonderful support character with his multitarget abilities and sex appeal. If you don’t like Sylvando, then you just need to find some enjoyment out of life darling. That just leaves your character, the Luminary. Honestly not a lot going on except the his Zap magic which is very effective on most enemies and his Giga abilities that deal large amounts of damage. He is the McGuffin that keeps the game going, I just personally wish he was more interesting.

I Found A Complaint!

Okay I do have one major complaint that I would like to talk about and it is not about the game. This is about the developer of the game, Square Enix, and how annoying it handled the release of Dragon Quest XI S. So, I played the original game when it came out on PS4. Around the time that I put the game down for the second time, we got news that a Switch version of the game was coming out and it would be the definitive version of the game. I didn’t bother with it much since I had already started the PS4 version and I wasn’t about to start over just for extra content. What does annoy me is that Square originally said that they weren’t going to bring the definitive edition to PS4 or PC because “reasons” just for them to release a definitive version for PS4, PC, XBONE, and Stadia a year later because they were dumb and forgot that they liked money for a moment. What’s more, if you owned the original on PS4 or PC, you couldn’t transfer your data over for again “reasons.” This means that a slowpoke like myself couldn’t experience the “definitive” version of the game because I hadn’t finished the original and could not justify paying $60 to start a game over that I hadn’t finished yet. I know this is a first-world problem, but I’m a guy who likes to play the full experience of a game preferably the first time around. If I had finished the original at the time it came out, maybe I would have double dipped to play it all again. As of now, I would like to play the definitive version to see what big difference there is, but that won’t happen until years from now. It makes me second guess playing Dragon Quest XII when it comes out since now I have to worry if a better version of the game will be released a few years after the original.


I think I have talked all about what I wanted to say about this game. It was difficult thinking of anything to say about this game since at the end of the day it is a really good JRPG. There are plenty of other articles and reviews that talk about how amazing the game is and why you should play them. The real vibe I want to leave you guys with is that it is okay if an amazing game does not blow you away. Sometimes it is good for a game just to be cozy and comfortable in order for it to be a good game. I definitely want to return to the game at some point to finish the post-game and get all the achievements since I enjoyed it so much. If you came reading for a hot take or a convincing argument to play this after all this time, I’m sorry to say but I got nothing for ya. The game is good. Play it if you like JRPGs or going on adventures because it is worth it and then you can help me put better words into how I feel neutral about this game.

Game Stats (So many things so I just took screenshots):

Thanks for reading,


Backlog Tale – The World Ends With You: Final Remix


I remember when I first heard of The World Ends With You. It was this mobile RPG that was ported to the Nintendo DS on April 22, 2008. Published by Square Enix, this weird title utilized a hybrid combat system that required the use of the touch screen and D-pad to get through its challenges. At the time, I was interested in the titles that Square was releasing, but this game never grabbed my attention. It didn’t look like an interesting RPG to me at the time, and I opted out from checking it out for some other game that was probably crappy.

Thirteen years later, I am kicking younger me for not giving this game a chance. I feel like younger Danames would have really enjoyed The World Ends With You at that time of his life. The themes of friendship, change, and acceptance would have made the final years of high school go by with a little more optimistic outlook. Nevertheless, what I experienced from this title left me with a positive experience with the game’s enjoyable story that is full of twists and turns, and short playtime that manages to not waste your time with anything. This is my experience with The World Ends With You.


Hell looks like a mid-2000s Japanese metropolis. Neku Sakabura wakes up in the middle of the Shibuya Crosswalk and amazed that he hasn’t been run over or trampled to death at this point. Like a true anime protagonist, Neku has lost his memories and has no idea what is going on and why people seem to be ignoring him. The only thing that he has going for him is a message and a cool clock tattoo on his hand. Young Neku must learn the rules of this altered Shibuya to survive at the end of seven days. Throughout his journey, he meets people who reluctantly enter his new life and do the young people thing of becoming friends at the end.

The Reaper’s Game

I am going to go ahead and get my biggest complaint out of the way. They turned this DS game into a Wii game for the remaster. In an attempt to keep the original gameplay and feel of the game, the game can only be played with one joycon and by pointing and clicking at the screen. This will be an immediate turn-off for some people. As you can expect, some of the motion actions that you are require to do to activate pins will sometimes not work. This would happen to me constantly with pins where I had to click and drag objects into enemies. Despite clicking the item and trying to drag it, the game would not register it and I would have one less move at my disposal. One saving grace is the option to push a button to realign your pointer to the center of the screen. If you are not position exactly center to your monitor, pushing the realign button will make wherever your joycon is pointing to the new center point. Learning how to abuse this a little bit helped me during some fights as losing my pointer happened constantly. This will not however help you for one of the most annoying minigame that I have ever played in a video game.

Let the hate flow Neku

Fuck Tin Pin Slammer. Fuck the rules, fuck the mechanics, fuck the anime protagonist who wants to be the best Tin Pin Slammer, and fuck the bonus day at the end of the game that revolves around this broken, garbage game. I hate this minigame with a passion and congratulate those with the patience to deal with it. Tin Pin Slammer is a minigame where you take the pins in your collection and use them to knock your opponent’s pins off the table. You can use any pin in your inventory since each come with their own stats for Tin Pin. There are pins however specifically designed for Tin Pin Slammer, so you want to get those if you want to be better at the game. I would argue that that is all pointless since Tin Pin Fuck has terrible controls. This is still a motion control game, so in order to slam your pins, you need to hold a button down and use your joycon to flick your pin into your opponents. The issue obviously is that the joycon can’t register what a simple flick is or you just tossing your pin across the room. Most of my matches ended with my pin going over the edge when I’m just trying to position it. What makes things worse is that you can’t see the entire board; little alone your opponent’s pin until it is close enough to yours. I haven’t gotten to the Tin Pin Slammer part in the DS version, but I imagine that it was easier to control than the unresponsive motion on the Switch. I hated Tin Pin Slammer.

Trust Your Partner

Okay so I had my beef with the motion controls. What kept me engaged with the game? If I were to tell you that this has one of the best stories that modern Square Enix has made, would you believe me? What kept me playing each day in this game was to solve answers that the game was throwing at me. I like to believe that I can see a twist in a story very earlier since some writers like to make the evidence obvious from the get go. I got most of my guesses correct, but I was surprise when the narrative took a new turn that I didn’t predict. It’s simple hooks like this that keep me invested in games and find ways to tolerate difficult controls if the game is short enough to keep me invested.


At the end of the game, you come to realize that Neku is not the unexpected hero that the game builds him up for. It turns out, Neku is meant to be the villain and bring about the destruction of Shibuya. Some of the actions that Neku does during his three week tour help lead the world to it’s destruction. Neku is an unwilling pawn in the schemes of the Conductor; who happens to be Joshua.

Early in the game, you are taught to always trust your partner. This is difficult for Neku who sees the value of friendship worthless and more of a hassle than a good thing. This makes him a perfect pawn for the Conductor (Joshua) to use in his own Reaper’s Game with the Composer of the game, Megumi Kitaniji. If Megumi can erase Joshua’s proxy in the allocated time, he can save Shibuya. If Megumi fails, both he and Shibuya will be erased. Joshua chooses Neku for his bleak perspectives of the world and believes that he is incapable of change. Things go to plan, until Neku has to replay the Reaper’s Game in order to save Shiki’s soul. On the seventh day with Shiki, Neku begins to open up the idea of letting people into his life even if they are a stranger. It’s when he has to fight for someone else’s life do we see him more concern for others than himself. Even when he has to team up with Beat in the final week, he finds a way to get along with him and earn each other’s trust. This accumulates at the end where Neku has to make a final choice and it is something Joshua was not expecting.

At the end, Neku has to make the choice of killing Joshua to save Shibuya, or be killed. As much as Neku wants to kill Joshua for everything that he put him through, he can’t find himself to pull the trigger. He instead decides to trust Joshua’s final decision on rather to erase Shibuya or not. Joshua has no hesitations of killing Neku right then and there, but is impressed with Neku’s personal growth over the previous days. Joshua declares himself the loser and revives everyone who has died and restores Shibuya. All of this is heavily implied since the final scenes are Joshua shooting Neku, Neku waking up in the real Shibuya, and all the characters live a happy life together. It is cryptic storytelling, but unlike other Square Enix games (Kingdom Hearts), it is easy to understand the events that transpired. You have all the understanding you need to know all of the character’s motivations and the story wrapped up nicely for a 15-20 hour game. The game offers some explanations in secret reports that you can get in the post game, but they serve as extra explanations in case you are still confused about the story for some reason.

This is what I loved about the game. The characters, plot, and buildup were perfect to me. Every character had a purpose to the story and there isn’t anyone that I hated (maybe except that fucking Tin Pin Slammer kid). I was left wanting more which is rare for a game to make me want. Sure I could play to get all the secret reports, but that would mean I’m playing for the gameplay and not the story that I became invested in. I want a side story where you play as Beat during the second week while he was a reaper. I want to explore Shibuya with Yashiro and Kariya and learn more of their lives before becoming reapers. Hell, I’ll take a math educational game with Minaminoto where his stupid math puns are in full scale. The World Ends With You isn’t one of my favorite games in the gameplay department, but it nails personality and character development for me that I was not expecting at all.

Tell me you wouldn’t play a math game with him

It’s So Wonderful

With everything that I loved and hated about The World Ends With You, there is one thing that was a constant plus, the soundtrack. Takeharu Ishimoto did a fantastic job of combining different genres to match the ascetic of Shibuya in the mid-2000s. There are mixes of solemn tracks with high energy hip-hop that matches the tone of each given situation. My favorite tracks from the game would have to be Hybrid, Someday, Satisfy, and Owari-Hajimari. The entire soundtrack can be found on most streaming services if you want to give it a listen.

At the moment, I am slowly playing through the DS version of the game and comparing the original to the Switch version. Immediately I can already tell you that I have mix feelings about the gameplay. The touch controls work perfectly in the DS version (shocker), but I have a problem keeping up with the different things happening on each screen. You control the characters on the top and bottom screen separately and it can get annoying sometimes. Luckily, you can switch your partner to auto-play and they will take care of themselves. You miss out on building your sync gauge quicker, but it takes some of the pressure off. That’s not to say that I’m breezing through the DS version. I have gotten more game overs just in the first chapter than I did in my entire playthrough on the Switch version. This is mostly because I am not used to your partner having a separate health gauge that I have to keep my eye on. The game looks like you share on health bar, but that is not the case. Once one character’s health reaches zero, then you immediately lose the battle and have to start from the last place you saved until you unlock the “retry battle” option later on. It made me realize that despite having issues with the motion controls, at least I was able to win most of my battles. Also if the final boss and the partner mechanics annoy you like they annoyed me, then change the difficulty level (which you can do at anytime) to easy and mop the floor with him. The final battle is not hard at all if you change the difficulty to easy.

In my playthrough of The World Ends With You: Final Remix, accomplished the following:

  • 1 full playthrough
  • ESPer Rank: Supernatural (D) – I mostly stuck to pins that didn’t give me a headache using
  • Noise Report: 65 (61.9%, B) – Some noise you can only encounter by adjusting the difficulty, which I never went above Normal
  • Item Collection: 134 types (24.6%, D) – I didn’t utilize food effects enough to make getting some clothes worth the effort.
  • ESPer Points: 201 (E) – No idea what ESPer Points are or how to you get them
  • Pin Mastery 28 types (8.6%, E) – Again, I didn’t want to bother with pins that gave me a headache trying to activate.
  • Level When Finished: 30
  • Total Game Time: Around 20 hours

I would highly recommend the story to anyone, but hesitate playing the game if you are not a fan of motion controls. If you do want to watch the story, you can either find it online or watch the anime adaptation of the game. It sticks to the story of the game and is the easiest way to enjoy it without breaking your controller or monitor. I wish I had the motivation to go back and collect everything, but that would involve playing Tin Pin Slammer and I do not have the patience for that.

Backlog Tale – SaGa: Scarlet Grace – Ambitions

The SaGa series is one that I’ve been interested in getting into. I first attempted this series with Romancing SaGa on the PlayStation 2, but never finished it since I got lost. Then I attempted Romancing SaGa 2 when it was remastered back in 2017. I didn’t get far in that game either since the mechanics felt confusing for me at the time. Third time is the charm however and I was able to actually finish a SaGa game! SaGa: Scarlet Grace – Ambitions was one of the easiest SaGa games to get into, but also one of the hardest games that I have played.


This is all I got from the opening cutscene.

In the beginning, there were the twelve Celestials. These twelve decided who was cool enough to exist in this cool realm that they built and punished anyone who they didn’t like. One person they didn’t like was a scarlet star that was called the Firebringer. The Firebringer did something to betray the Celestials’ cool realm that they had going on and decided to banish him from the sky. He must have done something bad like mixing M&Ms, Recess’ Pieces, and Skittles all in one bowl and served it at a party or something. The Firebringer, not liking the idea of not partying in the heavens anymore, decided to grant man the gift of fire and force his way back into the heavens. Instead of doing something about it themselves, like all responsible deities, they decided to grant this one emperor’s bloodline the ability to defeat the Firebringer whenever he showed this spiky hair around. The emperor’s lineage was able to defeat the Firebringer six times before a future heir struck him down “permanently” on the seventh try. This shattered his body into scarlet shards, and peace fell over the realm; until it wasn’t. Humanity started to act like humanity and brought about the dark ages by worshiping Spirituals and Infernos that turned the world into a modern day Wednesday afternoon. The emperor’s bloodline came to a halt when he was assassinated with what the game calls a dagger but if you look at the cutscene that looks like a freaking jagged claymore. So now after all this time, the Firebringer plots his return to burn the heavens. It is up to YOU to stop him now; and when I say “You” I mean one of the four protagonist that you chose from after answering a Buzzfeed quiz.

The introduction is not that all important. You just need to know that shit is going down and it is the protagonist’s destiny to stop the Firebringer from returning. How that happens is all determined by the actions and choices that you make. For those who are new to SaGa games, each game follows the nonlinear, open world RPG mechanic where you are responsible for the story and adventure that you have. There have been games similar to this design that prove to be great experiences. What makes the SaGa games different, unique, and sometimes frustrating is how the game commits to your decisions and affect characters, items, and events that you can get if you miss out on it. The other good or annoying aspect of these games are the different character’s stories that you can play after finishing each of them. This can vary your playtime as the first playthrough could be longer than the next once you have the basic understanding of how the game works. SaGa games are not meant to be easy or hard, but they do challenge your understanding of how combat works, how to grow character’s skills, and your ability to save as often as possible.

I Can’t Tell If I’m Enjoying This Or Hating It

For my playthrough of SaGa: Scarlet Grace, I was given Urpina as my main character for this journey. Urpina is left in charge of watching her father’s kingdom as he goes off to war. While on patrol, she spots some shady characters hanging around and summon an Earth Inferno. After dealing with it, she gets word that he father is missing and brother has been kidnapped. Now it is up to her to track them down and stop the shady characters from summoning more Infernos around the world.

That is all I remember before I just stumbled around places to see what would happen. Thanks to the nonlinear nature of the game, I was free to chose how I would go about tackling the main story. This resulted in me missing out on some good characters and skills (like dual wielding) because I just didn’t know what was going to trigger what. To some this might sound exciting since each playthrough is its own experience that could be drastically different the next time. For someone like me who likes to do as much as possible and unlock as many options as I can, I felt like I missed out on a lot of things that may have made my playthrough more enjoyable. Its like finding a can opener that fits your inventory really well, but knowing you missed out on another can opener that has a bottle opener as well and can also shoot lightning. It is possible to unlock all characters and get most special items in one playthrough, but it requires a lot of research or trial and error that I did not have.

Combat was something that I struggled with the most at the beginning, but slowly turned into an expert towards the end. You are able to bring 5 characters into a battle and select a formation that works best for what you have. Formations are important since each one carries a specific buff for characters in key positions and determines the amount of Battle Points (BP) you have in battle. BP determines the techniques that each character can use with basic techs costing less BP and stronger techs costing more. Enemies follow the same logic as well, but you can’t see what their BP gauge is, so just know that they can’t spam their strongest attacks if fighting in a large group. If I haven’t lost you yet in the explanation of the battle system then get ready to get a migraine after these next parts.

Like an RPG, enemies (and you) have weaknesses that you can exploit. There are weapons that can go slash, poke, and bonk, but there are also spells that are hot, cold, or shocking (oh my!). Monsters come in a variety of classes and each carry their own weakness and immunities that you have to take into account. Beastman for example, have no weaknesses what so ever, so hit them with status aliments to help bring them down quicker. The main problem I have with this game’s approach to strengths and weaknesses if that most of them are weak to one weapon type, but will resist multiple types. It becomes less of a game of exploiting weaknesses and more of finding ways to outsmart and overpower with what you have. I constantly had to have a weakness chart on hand mostly to remember what enemy types resisted or were immune to.

Give that child a cannon. Children love cannons.

Ok. Time for the hardest curveball. There are no levels or traditional stat increases that characters get at the end of each battle. The only things characters improve during battles are their HP stat, weapon proficiency, and the rank of their techniques. The most important thing to remember about this game is that character’s improve in battle AND the equipment that they have equipped. Each character comes with stats that cannot be improved in battle or consumable items, but can be affected by their equipment. Each stat (like always) corresponds with how effective they will be with certain weapon types. If you have someone with a good acuity, you better give them a spear or bow to make the most out of them. Some characters come with great stats in one or multiple areas that will tell you what they are made for. Characters become stronger when they have more proficiency with weapons they are good with, so try only using two weapons per character. Technique rank goes up the more times you use that technique in battle. The only difference is magic which staff users have to absorb flux in order to level up that spell. You get a certain amount of flux depending on the difficulty and element of the battle; and the staff wielder has to be in the battle to obtain flux.

Each battle will tell you the elemental boost of the field (I am not going to explain that one since I ignored it), how difficult the battle(s) will be, tasks that you can do during battle to get extra rewards, and a silhouette of the enemies you will be facing. One of the best things about this game is that there are no random encounters, and the game does a good job of giving you a heads up before you enter a fight so you can accept or decline. Once you accept a battle, you will have time to change up your party and formation and leave the fight if you feel like you are not prepared. A reason you may want to back out of a fight is if party members are hurting. Each character has a Life Point counter that goes down each time they fall in battle. If that number reaches zero, that character cannot be used in battles until their LP is fully restored (LP restores when they are not taking part in battles (about 1LP per 2 battles)). This is where having rotating party members come in handy so you are not left with your weaker characters taking on the harder fights while your MVPs are resting.

You Know What. I’m Tired Of Talking About Mechanics

As you can tell, there are a lot of mechanics that go into this game. The sheer amount of things to take into consideration like using a ranged attack on an enemy that has ??? under their icon to quell them from interrupting or countering is something to look out for. Defeating an enemy in-between two of your characters can trigger a united attack and vise versa with enemies. The despair you get when you are trying to protect someone only for some bullshit to happen and causes you the fight. It is a lot of information to process at all times, and that is one of the best and worse things about this game. What I found enjoyable and what got me to play through the entire game is the combat. As frustrating as it is to learn things through trial and error, I always felt satisfied when I was able to take down a tough opponent. There were fights where I was down to my last character, but thanks to counterattacks, it was easy to take them out since I would keep countering them. When you are able to pull off a united attack three times in a row and finish a battle in the same turn, it just feels good. Those are the moments when I felt like I had somewhat mastered the battle system. I was able to think ahead in a lot of situations and find ways to keep all of my party members alive at the end thanks to my planning ahead. There are no recover items that you can use in battle and the two healing spells that I got were pointless since they costs a lot of BP for little effect. When I was able to start predicting the flow of the battle, that is when I was starting to have the most fun.

At this point you are probably asking what happened to the story? All I can say is nothing really. There are some good moments like if you are unable to save Urpina’s brother (like me) and character moments that I actually found entertaining. I was able to recruit this lady (names Lady) who had a giant crush on Urpina and she was like “let’s go my love!” Moments like this made me want to find new party members and never turn down anyone that wanted to come along (you also learn new formations by recruiting more people). I missed a lot of people in my playthrough, but the team I assembled got most of the job done even when I started to default to the same 8 people over and over.

Remember To Always Save

All things get boring at some point. Towards the end I was starting to get my fill, so I decided to stop doing side quest and head straight to the final boss (after I was told that I could). I felt confident in beating the Firebringer since my team felt tight. Little did I know, the Firebringer likes to fight with AOE attacks that wiped my party out in about three turns. I felt like this was going to be impossible without a guide to help me get pass his bullshit. After finding a guide (there are not a lot of guides out there for this game) I learned that not only was I fighting him at his full strength, but he had 7 more forms that I had to beat in succession. Luckily, my guide told me that I needed to finish destroying the scarlet shards in order to make the final boss easier to manage. So I loaded up a previous save and got to work. The last shard requires you to fight against one of your party members, Elysed (best Mage in game), and depending on your decision, you can either “save” her or leave and get a powerful weapon. I didn’t want to lose one of my best characters before the final fight. So I fought her, won the battle, and the following dialogue scene says that she was going to stay home and support Urpina from there.

Uh, no. I need you to come with me to finish this fight.

Upon reading the guide again, Elysed needs to be one of your top 15 characters in order for you to keep her. Something wasn’t right then since she was in most of all my fights ever since I got her. So I grinded some battles really quick, redid the fight, and the dialogue still said that she was going to stay at home. In bewilderment, I checked my roster to see if she wasn’t truly there, but there she was in my party! I don’t know if it is just a translation issue or what, but I wasted so much of my time trying not to lose her when I still had her all this time. To add salt to the wound, when I went back to fight the Firebringer, Sasha (the character that has been following you to destroy the scarlet shards) will join your party for the final fight (only if you destroy the other shards, plus Urpina’s ring) and then she becomes the most powerful mage in your party. I spent hours trying to keep my favorite mage, but ended up tossing her back in the toy box when I got my new BMF (Best Mage Forever). Thanks to her (and destroying all the shards), the Firebringer fight was piss easy and none of my characters died during each phase. So much for throwing the biggest barbecue in the heavens.

No! Not again! I just want to grill steaks!

My Recommendations

At the end of the day, I ended up enjoying this game more than I had the right to. It is not an easy game for beginners or people new to the series, but it is also the easiest game to get into the series. Other games in the series has permadeath if a party member’s LP reaches zero unlike this game. This game has no random encounters and gives the player as much preparations and chances to back out a fight if needed (you can’t flee battles, but you can load up the last autosave if a fight is too hard, which will be right before you accept the battle). Honestly, if someone wanted to try out the series I would suggest them to start with this one to get a base understanding of the series. However, I cannot recommend this game to anyone unless you are seriously interested in this game or the series. For $30 USD, I don’t feel comfortable recommending this game to you unless you feel like you are going to have a good time playing it. I enjoyed my time playing this game, but I have no desire to play through the other three character’s stories anytime soon*. You definitely get your money’s worth with the content and replay value, but if you don’t like overcoming certain limitations and strategic battles, then I would say save your money. If game rental stores were still around, I would definitely recommend borrowing it and trying it out for yourself and then determine if you want to continue. But seeing as this is only a digital game outside of Japan, you either have to enjoy it or be sad that you wasted money.

*Hello! Future Danames here to tell you that I recently started a second playthrough. You do have the option to carry over some techs and skills over to the next playthrough to make that process a bit easier. I am on Taria’s story now and she is kinda busted with her role ability and the spells she starts off with. I haven’t gone too far in her story since I have other games to finish, but I enjoy having this on the backside if I need a break from what I’m currently working on. Now if you excuse me, I’m off to do more future things like pay the future tax. You have to pay a tax for going back to the past in the future. It sucks.

Backlog Tale – Astral Chain

I finally got around to playing and finishing Astral Chain. This game was hyped up before and after its release as one of the best titles on the Nintendo Switch. Well, I’m two years late to the part and I was able to see the game to the end. What are my thoughts about it? Well….let’s get somethings out of the way first.


In a few years, the Earth is taken over by a red glitch in the system and monsters known as Chimeras start attacking the masses. To protect everyone, humankind borrowed a page out of the Bible and constructed an “ark” disguised as a large city to protect everyone. You play as rookie police officer Boy or Girl who have joined a special police task force called Neuron. You are assigned a Legion, humanity’s answer to gun control, by one Yoseph “completely not a evil scientist or anything” Calvert. While out on your first mission, you and your fellow Legion rangers are sent to red glitch world where your Legions experience a Persona 5 moment and break free from the shackles that bind them. Only you are able to keep your anime powers, but because it is the power of anime, your parental figure has to die. Now as humanity’s last defense against the Chimeras, you must defend the peace of the Ark and eliminate any conspiracies about what the government is hiding about the end of the world.

Let’s go ahead and get this out of the way. This is a really good game. From the moment you finish customizing your character, you are thrown into the action of this game and get a real sense of the setting. The Ark is a large metropolis that is dazzled by the cityscape enveloped in an everlasting night sky. The cyberpunk aesthetic never lets up as the entire game takes place in the city and the red digital world known as the Astral Plane. For those who like sci-fi settings, Astral Chain begs you to explore every area and envision what a futuristic city could look like one day.

The Legions that you obtain are well implemented and are balanced near perfect to fit the playstyle of your choice. The Sword Legion is great for basic combat and was my most reliable ally in most fights. The Arrow Legion is of course a great asset for long range combat, and if you want to jump off a cliff and feel miserable about your life, you can always use the Beast Legion. It wasn’t until I got the Axe Legion that I realized a barrier is one of the best abilities to have in this game. The Legions are also used for some great puzzle mechanics to get pass certain obstacles and enemy BS. You constantly have to tweak each of your Legions since you can never tell when one will be better suited for each situation.

Alongside the Legion discussion is the topic of combat. Combat in Astral Chain is fast-paced and beautiful. The way your character and the Legion work together during combos and enemy flanking, using the chain itself as a versatile tool is a smart decision, and switching between your three main weapons to deal with enemies more efficient never dulls the combat one bit. To date, this might be one of my favorite action combat system that PlatniumGames has done next to NieR: Automata. Even playing on Standard difficulty, none of the fights (minus the final boss which took three attempts) felt unfair or boring since the combat was the fun part of the game for me.

So with all of that, it is time to answer the question I was asking myself while playing Astral Chain.

Why did I find it so difficult to enjoy and finish this game?

When I first started playing this game, I was enjoying all of it. The highspeed bike sequence at the beginning set the tone for me as well as the battle on the bridge and getting control of the Sword Legion. It was fun while exploring HQ and completing side quest for the many interesting characters that needed your help (Marie is best character). Even exploring Harmony Square and cleaning up red glitch poop was fun. So why did it stop being fun?

These are all personal reasons for why my enjoyment started to fade, so please keep that in mind as I describe my flaws with the game.

The first flaw with me was the setting. I am already not the biggest fan of sci-fi elements, but there are occasions where a sci-fi setting can win me over and I can enjoy myself. The problem with Astral Chain is that its setting never changes from the two that it sticks with; the night city or the red particle world. Sure you may explore a different area like the rustic establishment of Zone 09, or the sleek interior of the UNION HQ, but at the end of the day, you are either in the city or the Astral Plane. As the game goes these areas change due to the destruction, but it is never a change of pace that gets me excited to explore the area. I need some different colors and areas to keep myself from becoming numb over repeating the same things over and over to keep me engaged. It took me by surprise at the end of the game when the sun came out that I realized that I had never seen this game with a warm light to it.

My second complaint comes from the controls. Maybe I’m just getting older and having to remember which button does what is catching up to me, but Astral Chain makes every single button important for something, and this can be frustrating at certain points. I can’t begin to rage how many times I would accidently bring up the camera (twice when fighting the final boss which yielded a good picture of it) when I was trying to switch weapons quickly. When you do bring up the camera, there are multiple button inputs that go with those controls that you have to stop and think for a moment which button is used to close the camera. This carries over to controlling your Legion, which have their own certain inputs to remember. ZL is used to summon your Legion. Pressing ZR twice will make your Legion attack automatically when targeting an enemy, but will also recall them if they are away from you. The L button activates the Legion’s ability and will lock you into the camera angle that is used for that ability. So in battle, make sure you press ZL and not L when summoning your Legion or you will lose sight of it. And then, in order to use a Legion’s battle ability, you have to hold ZL and then either X or Y to use it. If you let go without doing so, you will either change your Legion with the Y button or use an item with the X button. When you are taking your time with things, it is easy to remember this stuff, but when you are trying to keep the action going, then these simple mistakes happen frequently (or at least to me).

Another complaint I had was moving my Legion for certain things. If you wrap your chain around an enemy, you can bind them for a short time or knock them out completely. I don’t know if there is a problem with my depth perspective or I’m just really bad at controlling the camera, but there were numerous times where I would mess up simple action of making a circle around an enemy due to my field of view. This was very frustrating during the awful stealth sections of the game (why are there stealth sections in a fast-paced action game?) You can knock guards out by binding them which sounds easy. However, the game will prevent your Legion from moving in between gaps that you can absolutely get through, or the camera will adjust and show that your Legion got stuck on something that you couldn’t see. I hated the stealth sections and found them very out of place within the game.

And don’t get me started with the Beast Legion. All dogos are good, but the Beast Legion has to be the worst Legion out of the bunch. What’s bad about that is that you have to rely on it for a lot of things like tracking scents, running away from things trying to suck you in, and getting past platforms that disappear under your feet. The problem with the Beast Legion is how bad it controls with its jerky movement, unable to stop when needed, and unreliability to jump over gaps even though the instructions say that it can. I wish they spent more time working on the mechanics of the Beast Legion, but it was for sure the least used Legion that I had.

My only last nitpick of the game was the story. I liked how things were building up at the beginning with wondering what happened to your dad after he is left by himself in the Astral Plane. The game teases you that he could still be alive out there somewhere, but it is never resolved at the end. The theory is that his spirit lives on in the Axe Legion since you see his image at the end, but to me that signifies the last connection that you have with him. Things just feel exciting at the beginning, then slow down in the middle, and then picks back up around chapter 9. There are a ton of side quest to do in each chapter to help build the world and narrative, but by chapter 7 I was burnt out and just ready to see the conclusion of the main story. There were probably tons of things I missed in the later chapters if I did all of the side quest, but it wasn’t worth it to me at the end especially if I had to do one more gyro balancing quest.

Please don’t let my nitpicks discourage you from playing this game. I still think fundamentally, it is a great game with excellent combat, music, and design that is interesting to experience. Anytime I hear about this game from other people it is always in a positive way. There is a ton of replay value if you want to max out all of your Legions, earn the highest ranking for each mission and chapter, and unlock all the customization options available in the game. The game is short and could be beaten in a week, so the added content available once you finish the game is nice if you want to keep playing the game. As for me, I immediately took the game out of my system and placed it back on my shelf to maybe one day in our own red glitchy future, I may replay it once the bad taste is out of my mouth.

Thanks for reading,


Backlog Tale – It Takes Two

Its not often that I get to play and finish a new game within a month that it comes out, but Kat was really excited to play this with me. From the first trailer that was shown last year, it looked interesting and promising, but I wasn’t sure how much I would enjoy it. Not only did the game exceed my expectations, but so far it is one of my favorite games that I have played this year. Playing it couch co-op with my wife and streaming the entire game on her channel made the experience even better.


Welcome to the life of Cody and May Goodwin, a couple that is about to enter the next exciting moment of their lives; divorce! May is a hard working engineer who sends a lot of time working to provide for the family. Cody…does things I guess (I don’t remember what he does), but he spends time at home being a stay at home dad. They also have a daughter named Rose who is the only good character in this game. When the future divorcées tell their daughter that Christmas is going to be awkward this year, Rose summons the dark ones to help her parents become friends again. The devil that answers this call is The Book of Love by Dr. Hakim. Cody and May’s souls are transported into dolls that Rose made, and now the two have to co-op their way through challenges to get their bodies back and get that sweet divorce they are craving.

What I Enjoyed

The story setup is nice and the toy perspective works to the games favor. Each area that you visit is a place around the Goodwin home, but the perspectives are quickly changed to these dreamlike places that make for visually appealing levels. What was once a child’s room is now a magical kingdom where the toys live and ruled by the child’s favorite toy; or a tree that is in the middle of a war between squirrels and wasp where you have to take out a rouge operative who is imposing as the wasp’s queen. These imaginative worlds and scenarios is what kept us hooked on the game to see what crazy world and plot we would be encountering next. It is one of the highlights of the game.

The second highlight of the game is the gameplay. I am normally terrible at platforming games, and would probably rage if I kept messing something up. With the exception of one level, there were hardly any points where I felt frustrated with the gameplay. The game makes it clear that none of the stages can be done alone, and you will always need your partner’s help to clear obstacles. There are some actions that only your character can do, so no one person is left with feeling like they are doing the “difficult” job. To spice up this idea, every chapter throws a new gameplay mechanic that gives a new action to each character. In the first chapter, May is given a hammer to smash things and platform with, while Cody is given nails that he can toss to hold things in or help May get over gaps with her hammer. This feels like peak co-op gameplay since you have to rely on each other to get any progression done. When new elements are introduced, it is always fun to see how the game will incorporate each ability and how they are used together with your partner.

This doesn’t mean that you have to play nice with each other the entire game. You can always find ways to torture each other by messing up things on purpose just to get the other killed. There are also little competitive minigames that you can find throughout each level. These range from races, shooting galleries, button mashing, endurance games, skill games, etc. These are nice distractions to get any aggression out and show that there are things that the other might be better at than the other. It is the complete representation of the hard work that goes into a stable relationship. We each have things that we are good at individually, but are unable to get past roadblocks without the other’s help.

What I Didn’t Enjoy

Right of the bat, I hate Cody and May. I was interested in their characters at first and see how they would try to fix their relationship, but they argue back and forth with each other. I’m not saying that that’s not normal in any relationship, but the only times they agree with each other is when it comes to getting their bodies back so they can get the divorce. This is evident when they come to the conclusion that in order to get their bodies back, they have to come up with a way to make their daughter cry and her tears will reverse the spell. They are so narrow minded at the beginning of the game that they fail to see what horrible parents they are. There is one scene in particular that was completely upsetting that it actually made Kat cry and me looking up the number for Child Protective Services. I was onboard with the divorce after that scene.

Another thing that left a mixed taste in my mouth was the ending. After the last chapter of the game, I was sure there was going to be one last stage that showed the full potential of their teamwork, but that didn’t happen. They just share a kiss and then bam, they get their bodies back and the game is over. It definitely felt abrupt and loose ended. You don’t even get to see what happens to them at the end. I guess the developer wanted to leave it vague for you to decide what happens afterwards. If that is the case, I hope they still went with the divorce, but stayed as friends as to be there for Rose. Would that defeat the purpose of the entire plot of the game? Maybe if you see it that way, but it takes until the second half of the game for them to start relying heavily on one another to the point of remembering why they liked each other to begin with.

Also, **** that book!
I found him entertaining a little, but he creeped me out ever since he first appeared. I know he is the councilor in all of this, but he is an ass at points and believes his methods will always work. The only time I was on the divorce team was when they would argue with the book and call out his BS.

Other than that, I can’t recommend this game enough. It is one of the best co-op games that I have played in a long time, and one that Kat and I have actually finished. The game can only be played with another person, so the developers found ways to address this. Not only can you play the game either locally or online, but only one person needs a copy of the game in order to play online. That to me is a great deal for the amount of content and enjoyment you can get out of this game.

I will say that this game is highly recommended with mild replayability.

If you are looking for a co-op game that is heavy on the co-op portion of the game, then this is the title to play. The visual, gameplay, and little details are enough to keep you invested throughout the entire game. Minus achievement hunting (which is not hard to get them all as long as you are exploring) there isn’t much reasons to play after the credits roll unless you want to switch characters or speedrun the game. I can see replayability happening if you are playing it with someone different, but it is not the type of game you will be playing over and over again. It is great to experience, and I hope this post will peak your interest a bit to try it out.

Thanks for reading,