I caught a cold or something this past weekend which gave me ample time to do nothing* but game. Take that chores!
Eternal Sonata is surprisingly great. It channels all of the good things about Final Fantasy 9 and gets rid of some of the bad: load times, Vaseline-smeared graphics, random battles. It is still burdened by some of the most overwrought prose one can imagine, but that is sort of endemic of the Japanese flavor of the genre. Seriously, what screenwriting class did these folks take that said it was okay to open with a voice over meditation on seasonal changes from a narrator?
But overall, it’s very enjoyable. The light/dark battle mechanic could have been absolutely terrible, but it was executed excellently. The characters really pop off the screen and while they satisfy a lot of the JRPG tropes, they aren’t overly annoying. The cutscenes still allow you to get a sandwich and take a nap during them (kidding), but at least they make more sense than the internally-inconsistent hand-waving kid-playing-with-action-figures of FFXII.
So if you’ve been avoiding it because of the average reviews, yet you like the genre, I highly suggest picking it up. I’m about eight hours in and I’ll probably try and finish it. Word of warning: the first two bosses are ridiculously hard until you understand the battle mechanic. It’s truly a trial by fire, but the game gets a lot easier after that.
*I did take a trip to the local evil game store to pick up a Cobalt Blue DS (They had a promotion where I could trade in my old `n busted Phat and get the new Cobalt for $80. Since the battery was weak on the Cobalt, this was a no-brainer. I also got my hands on Professor Layton and the Curious Village. I won’t spoil anything, but if you like solving puzzles, get your hands on this. It’s the early front-runner for Game of the Year, largely because it has no competition, but also on its own merits.
I’m trying to get shit together for my GDC trip this week, so I need to do two weeks of work in one, so I doubt I’ll be posting much this week unless I see something awesome I want to comment on. I know its a death knell for blogs to take a break, but this ain’t my day job.