Disgaea 1 Complete the 15th Anniversary Special Edition from NIS

Disgaea 1 Complete

Oh, Final Fantasy lets you get to level 99?¬† How cute ūüôā

I love Sony PlayStation.  I remember walking into a Harvey Norman and buying the original PlayStation.  Growing up console wise, I went the Sega Master System route, skipped the Mega Drive, then had an original Game Boy for my 16th birthday followed by an Atari Lynx about a year later.  And they were my gaming consoles up until 1996, walking into Harvey Norman and buying the original PlayStation.

One of the big reasons for going PlayStation was the new breed of JRPGs that was coming.¬† It’s usually quicker to say to people I wanted to play Final Fantasy 7 after missing all the NES versions, but that’s not true.¬† No, I bought a PlayStation for Suikoden.

Suikoden has a huge story with many layers to it.  The story was a mixture of standard fantasy elements with family drama and political intrigue.

Collectibles weren’t just limited to items and special weapons like so many games before it.¬† There are 108 stars of destiny in Suikoden, and initially,¬†people thought this was items or weapons.¬† Nope.

The 108 stars of destiny are the recruitable characters you can find for your army.  You can build a central base, and impact the world as you play.  It even included permadeath.

Suikoden Combat
It looks simple now, but the depth of this game rivals many adventures today

While games like Final Fantasy are great and deserve their praise, they are a completely different experience from what people thought of as video role-playing games.

Now elements of play such as permadeath were not new for NES players because of games like Fire Emblem.  But in the west and here in Australia, these amazing games were not something that was easily obtained.  But this was changing.  While there were plenty of Japan only exclusives, Sony was pushing their game publishers to introduce games to the West to distinguish themselves even more as the only console to own.

Another little game came out on PlayStation in 97 that introduced me to an entirely new type of RPG.  Known as Tactical RPGs, my first introduction to this kind of game is something you may have heard of РFinal Fantasy Tactics.

In 2003, some friends living in Japan told me about this awesome new tactical RPG they were playing on PS2 –¬†Makai Senki Disugaia.¬†¬†I had never heard about it, and at the time I was jumping from location to location, and I couldn’t nab a copy.

It might have helped if I looked for translated Atlus release РDisgaea: Hour of Darkness.  An adventure of sorts took place through the Netherworld, but compared to the games I was used to playing the story is fairly light.

You play as Laharl, son of the Overlord of Netherworld.¬† Your ‘loyal’ vassal¬†Etna has been trying to wake you for 2 years and informs you of your father’s death.

Disgaea Hour of Darkness Opening
Those weapons littered around are not playthings. They are what Etna was trying to wake you with though...

So Laharl in true demon fashion decides to go show the Netherworld who is boss and claim his throne.  On the way, he meets an Angel trainee would be assassin and Heroes of Earth and a plot that threatens all three realms.

The story is full of tongue in cheek humour and an old school portrait conversation style, with a ridiculous end of chapter summary voiced by one of the main characters.

It all sounded great, but I didn’t get to play it until 2008 on my PSP when NIS released Disgaea: Afternoon of Darkness.

Afternoon of Darkness was a remastered version for the portable system, and my first chance to really sink my teeth in the series.¬† I knew there was some new boss battles and a new ‘Etna Mode’, but I really didn’t know much of what was happening so I got to play it with fresh eyes.

And I played it.  And played it.  And played it.

Disgaea Afternoon of Darkness Combat
While a small graphical upgrade was made (mainly to take advantage of the PSP widescreen), being able to play this turn based tactical game on a portable console is THE way to play Disgaea

I thought I was playing a game like Final Fantasy Tactics.  Turn-based tactical combat around a set battleground, with heavy RPG elements.

Basically, I was simultaneously correct and wrong.

On the surface what I thought was true.¬† I could do a chapter and even replay old ones to grind stats and increase my characters levels.¬† Combat was interesting with changes to combat each battle.¬† Positioning was always very important, both for that character’s chances and being able to chain multiple attacks with your party.¬† But this was only the tip of the iceberg in the depth that Disgaea has on offer.

I had already been conditioned to capping level at 99, and damage at 9,999 points of damage.

Well, NIS think that’s a bit easy mode.¬† You can build your characters through level grinding massively hard boss battles after finishing the game to level 9,999.

Yes, it’s over 9000.¬† Damage limits are insanely huge.¬† I have done hits with a single character of over 100,000,000, and then you can combo and multiply that damage.

Disgaea Afternoon of Darkness Dark Assembly
The Dark Assembly was a unique and nightmare mechanic.

And it’s not just the insane post-game content and crazy stats.¬† If you want new characters, roles and special powers you need to build favour with the Dark Assembly.

The Dark Assembly is a collection of random high-level demons that vote on what you want to do.  Want stronger items in the stores?  Want enemies to be harder to help you grind your levels?  Just want a bunch of money?  All of these things and more can be bought before the Assembly, where they will vote.

Pass, and you get your wish!  Fail, and you can choose to accept the decision, or simply attack the Assembly and force your point of view.

The other major time sink is the Item World.  So in games, you are used to buying or finding stronger weapons as you progress, and this happens in Disgaea.

But in Disgaea, you can also enter that item and increase its strength by defeating 100 levels within the item.  Each level you clear increases the items stats, until in the end you face the Item God.

Defeat the God, and your item will be the strongest version of that item you can have.  But the Item God will also possibly drop a stronger item, which you can enter and strengthen again and again and again.

If you enjoy tactical RPGs and/or JRPGs, there is a really good chance you have already heard of Disgaea.¬† But if you haven’t, hopefully, this information will tempt you into having a look.

And the timing is perfect because come October the Disgaea 1 Complete 15th Anniversary Edition is coming to PS4 and the Switch!

It is every bit of content ever produced for Disgaea 1, with the graphics revamped and polished to an absolute shine.

As much as I love my PlayStations, grab this on the Switch.  Much like Octopath Traveler, the pickup and put down never-ending nature of the Disgaea series makes it a natural for portable play, but it looks great even on the big screen in docked mode.

If the idea of putting 100+ hours into a game doesn’t sound like fun to you, then it would probably be best to stay clear.¬† The story mode can be completed with minimal grind and mucking about with complicated mechanics, but there are many better gaming experiences for you out there for your dollar.

But if you like the idea of spending almost 100 hours levelling up one item just to see what’s at the end, then Disgaea was made for you ūüôā

Until next time,

JohnHQLD

Pandemic is turning 10 years old! Time for the anniversary edition

Pandemic 10th Anniversary Special Edition

It’s always fun watching the world get infected

Pandemic.¬† Arguably one of the best cooperative gateway games around.¬† I can’t believe it’s only been 10 years since it hit the market.¬† I have probably only been playing it for around 6 years, but I know it’s one of my most played games.

I started playing Pandemic before I started recording plays (and I still only do that half-heartedly), but I know I have played the base Pandemic over 100 times.¬† The amount of people I have taught Pandemic to is also likely close to the triple digits.¬† It’s just a great game.

It’s not a perfect game.¬† Pandemic has its faults.¬† But Pandemic is a game that I can pull out and easily 80{dfca638b9dbdbc1caf156b9b6679a983a965572ca56a786c9cf360ad3783820c} of the time find people enthusiastic for a game.

Becuase of this and current marketing trends, Z-Man have announced the Pandemic 10-year anniversary edition.

There are some really nice touches, such as the coming in an early20th-century style first aid kit metal tin.  The game also goes back to its first edition printing wooden cubes, but now with screen printed pictures of the virus in question.

But if you preorder, the biggest bonus of all is instead of meeples, you get prepainted miniatures of the characters.

Pandemic 10th Anniversary Painted Minis
The most visible change to the base game - minis!

The miniatures look fantastic and will answer what some people have been asking for in Pandemic for years.¬† In a well-timed¬†how do you do, I just got my Kickstarted Viral Outbreak miniatures a couple of weeks ago.¬† I don’t regret buying them and I am looking forward to painting them, but yeah the timing was just right to make me say “Really?”.

I haven’t been able to see the board yet, but the components on display definitely have that vintage feel to them.¬† And not just the first edition wooden cubes, but the cards themselves have all been given a retheme.¬† The Anniversary¬†Edition is a definite gift idea for any Pandemic collectors you know.

Because I have all of the second edition expansions (as well as spin-off¬†games), I can’t see myself buying a copy.¬† I just don’t think I need another copy of the base game.

And I think this is a good thing because the preorder price on the Z-Man store is the tidy sum of USD$99.95.  If there was word on expansions getting a similar treatment, or the game had the expansions included, maybe I would think about it.

Pandemic 10th Anniversary Cards and Virus
A vintage feel is definitely what is being put out there with the Anniversary edition

This inability to expand a special edition is my only regret buying the 10th Anniversary Ticket to Ride.¬† It’s beautiful and fun and I love playing it, but I need to buy the base game again before being able to take advantage of a lot of the expansions available, and Pandemic will suffer more from this.

It’s a wonderful homage and I am really happy that Z-Man is releasing this.¬† The components involved and pre-painted mini’s to me justify the high asking price.¬† But as the miniatures are a preorder bonus, you will need to get in quick, otherwise you will just have a very expensive version of Pandemic.

Until next time,

JohnHQLD
Pandemic 10th Anniversary Characters
Pandemic Legacy style 'ID' cards are included, but they also get that retro feel treatment.

Cosmic Encounter 42nd Anniversary Edition is coming

Cosmic Encounter 42 Anniversary Edition Box Art

The game that causes more feuds than Monopoly

Cosmic Encounter is one of those games I love because it proves structured chaos can be fun.¬† It’s a game¬†I describe as a bluffing/cooperative/deck building/betrayal game, with bonus jank.¬† Each player selects a race with a superpower specifically designed to break the base rules of the game.¬† From there, it’s a race to be the player(s) to colonize five worlds outside your own system.¬† So simple!

Apparently, the first edition was released in 1977, making the game only a couple of years younger than I am!¬† In this age of Cult of the New, that does make me feel very old.¬† Also wouldn’t this make the 42 anniversary next year?

Cosmic Encounter is a game that people either love or hate.  It is a game that surprises me constantly because it thrives on the same mechanics as Steve Jacksons Munchkin.  It is a game of take that, deal breaking, and rules that make no sense.

Yet most Munchkin players I know don’t like Cosmic Encounter, and Cosmic Encounter players don’t like Munchkin.¬† I play and enjoy both, but I am very careful who I play Munchkin with from past experience.¬† I will try and pull everyone into a game of Cosmic Encounter.

Cosmic Encounter 42 Anniversary Edition Components
All the same game, with a new twist. See through space ships!
Cosmic Encounter 42 Anniversary Edition Sample Races
The races of Cosmic Encounter. With 50 in the base game, variety is not this games problem.

The rules themselves really are simple and straightforward – it’s the races that bring the chaotic elements.¬† Don’t want anyone to come with you as you attack the winning planet?¬† Too bad, my race lets me join no matter what you say.

Oh, you don’t mind losing because it will cost me a heap of ships?¬† Well, my ability is my ships don’t get blown up, they just go back to my home system.

And you think I am weak because I am a pacifist?  Well if I want to negotiate and you attack, I automatically win.

Yes, you read those correctly Рyou can negotiate, and you can team up and joint win.  Each game, as long as you choose different races, is all but guaranteed to be a different experience.

And I won’t sugarcoat it – this does sometimes mean one player has a super ability is completely overpowered.¬† It’s rare, but it happens.¬† If a new player is unlucky enough to be in a game with an experienced player and a runaway ability, it can sour them.¬† But generally, because everyone has game-breaking abilities, I find it best to get players of similar experience together and let them have fun that way.

A new addition to the Cosmic Encounter 42nd Anniversary Edition is the Cosmic Combo cards.  At the moment not too much is known about how they work, but from the Fantasy Flight website:

“These carefully assembled cards offer a list of alien species with a brief description of their powers to create themed matchups and explore different types of games.”

My thinking is these are pre-grouped races for more balanced gameplay meant to help against the runaway powers random configuration sometimes give you and is a great addition for new players.

Cosmic Encounter 42 Anniversary Edition Cosmic Combo Cards
I belive the Cosmic Combo cards will be randomly selected and tell players the race choices.

The Cosmic Encounter 42nd Anniversary Edition is set to become the new standard game, essentially a fourth edition release.

As I already have all current Third Edition releases and expansions, the Cosmic Combo’s aren’t enough of a deal to get me to start buying everything again.¬† But if you have been thinking about Cosmic Encounter, or know someone that has been, this is a great idea.

Possible Christmas present maybe?  Fantasy Flight thinks so with a third-quarter 2018 release!

To see the full announcement on Fantasy Flights website, click here.

Until next time,

JohnHQLD

25 years on, I’m finally getting a linking book! Myst 25th Anniversary Edition now on Kickstarter

Myst Cover

This seems to be the week for nostalgia and retro!  Yesterday had me reminiscing about one of my formative tabletop games.  Today, a true landmark video game collection is being put together for Kickstarter.  The original developers Cyan has worked for years to bring the entire Myst collection together for a 25th-anniversary edition.

It’s hard to explain to people of today just how technically amazing Myst was.¬† At the time, I just wondered at its beauty and enjoyed its complexity.¬† Today I can look back with older eyes and see just what a journey Myst made.

Heads up – if you don’t want a history lesson, check out the Kickstarter here!

Today in this web-connected world, having a hotspot or clickable area on an image is just how things work.¬† But back in the late 80’s, this kind of tech was still in its infancy and worked on local computers only.¬† One of the pioneering applications for getting images and text to work together like this was Hypercard on the Macintosh.

Information was held in card stacks, with each card holding dedicated information.  On these cards, users could enter data, images and clickable prompts.  Developers could then trigger scripts or actions depending on what the user clicked on or entered.

HyperCard in a lot of ways became the template for how the modern internet should work – just switch cards for HTML pages.¬† It also became one of the first non-developer graphical languages thanks to it’s ease of use and massive support base.

HyperCard Welcome Screen
Yes folks, this little welcome screen started the template for the modern web

Two brothers, Rand and Robyn Miller, used the easy to learn (well, for the time) system and started Cyan Inc, developing kids adventure games.¬† Their first game, The Manhole, would probably be laughed at by modern gamers.¬† Many people today look at ‘basic’ flash games on the web, and The Manhole is very comparable to this style of game.

There is one huge difference though.¬† The Manhole, and indeed almost all games based on HyperCard style languages, was written and done more than a decade before Flash was around.¬† A lot of HyperCard concepts can actually be seen in Flash, including the scripting languages and trigger events.¬† It’s this ‘done before it was done’ aspect that makes games like this great to look back on.

Jump forward a couple of years, and advancements in HyperCard allowed Cyan to make improvements in their game.  One of the biggest improvements was the addition to add animations to be run over static backgrounds, giving the games a massive bump in appearance.  The worlds began to move, and you could see where something scuttled off to or a door opening slightly.

While still black and white graphics, the popularity of these games began to grow exponentially.¬† Being able to ‘move’ in a virtual world and interact with it, compared to text-based adventures such as Zork, were catching on with a wider audience.¬† There were mixes such as the Kings Quest games from Sierra, but while you could move a character on the screen, commands were still entered via keyboard.

Then in the early 90’s, Full Motion Video (FMV) games started to gain popularity.¬† The Command and Conquer series used FMV to progress story elements.¬† The 7th Guest took this one step further and allowed you to solve an adventure with FMV actors.

Then this came on TV.

Yes, the creators of The Manhole had upgraded their style – just a little bit.

This was a game fully in a virtual world, that you could explore freely from the first person perspective.¬† Non-linear routes and out of the box thinking puzzles made Myst a major talking point for years.¬† It’s popularity along with The 7th Guest fuelled CR-ROM adoption on modern PCs.

Yes, that’s right – CR-ROM was at one point like VR today, with people trying to push the tech and justify the investment.¬† Myst helped a lot with that decision.

Myst’s sequel, Riven, was bigger in every respect.¬† Better images, more involved puzzles, and an even greater talking point among fans.

The world of Riven was huge, and it was one of the first games I really lost myself in.

There were three more sequels, but due to a variety of reasons, I never played any more of the Myst series.

Well, until a few months from now.  Cyan has managed to pull back all of the licensing and are now running a Kickstarter to enable everyone to experience the entire Myst series.

And not just the original games – the revamped graphically improved versions at that ūüôā

There is another catch for me though.

If you back at the physical media tier (The Bookmaker, about AU$130 + shipping), you can get the DVDs in a specially made book that holds all of the disks.¬† While a nice touch, I do agree this tier isn’t for everyone, and it is much cheaper to go the digital-only versions of all the games, but it is great for collectors and fans.

Except they went one better.

Myst Book Box
Secreted in it's pages, the entire Myst series

A major part of the game is the Myst Linking Books.  These books show information, views, act as portals Рthey are almost the game in some ways.

And at the Maintainer tier, the Myst Book Box is upgraded to include an LCD screen showing various video from the game, with possible other goodies as well as teased by the project.

Now, I know the book is essentially the same with a window on it, but hey I am a fan and this is something that will make me smile for a long, long time ūüėÄ

Myst Collectors Linking Book
Yes, it holds the DVDs. But it also shows you the world of Myst, just like in the game

This project is both a great example of a labour of love and fan service, and I am loving that it exists.

If you love games like The Witness and The Room series, see where they all started.  You will thank me later.

Until next time,

JohnHQLD

Oh, just as a final note – this game isn’t in the Myst series proper, but shows just how popular Myst was.

A total parody, the game Pyst came out in 1996 and shows the effect on the island of Myst after millions of people had walked around messing with everything.

It was totally tongue in cheek, and was also a lot of fun to play ūüôā

A disturbance in the force…

Star Wars RPG 30th Box Art

I have played many RPG systems over the years, but the D&D Red Box still holds a special place in my heart. Even today it’s an iconic product.

These days I am playing a Star Wars RPG campaign as my pen and paper experience. On the whole, I am enjoying the system, but I am not exactly playing the original version of the rules.

What do these two things have in common? It looks like Fantasy Flight is looking at combining Star Wars 30th and the Red Box experience in one with the Anniversary Edition!

This may end up being a nostalgia purchase for me having never picked up the original rules and the idea puts a smile on my face. And you never know when a couple of sourcebooks like this can come in handy!

Star Wars RPG 30th Box Art
A pen and paper classic for the best Star Wars movie to date. Yes, I said it.
Star Wars RPG Smuggler
Remember - don't let anyone tell you the odds
Star Wars RPG Bounty Hunter
How many people are going to play a Fett? It happened before!
Star Wars RPG Alien Force Sensitive
The options are wide open for you here

Until next time,

JohnHQLD