Today we tested out Ad-Hoc Party

Oh, and I beat Tigrex, I suppose.
I’m pretty sure I’ve moaned about that thing before, so I’m not going to add anything at the moment. Besides, it’s late and I want to play Rune Factory.

Impressions of Ad-Hoc Party and Monster Hunter Freedom Unite:
Mostly very-nicely done. I wasn’t expecting to see other hunters running around in the Gathering Hall, though I’m not sure WHAT I was expecting. Guild Card sharing wouldn’t work, for some reason; having dug around and found one or two posts with the same issue, I’ve changed the channel the PSP uses under Network Settings, and will see if it works better tomorrow.
So my friend and I ran around doing a few quests he needed to do; he wanted Kut-Ku Ears, so a Kut-Ku was located and turned into a pincushion.
We then tried Blue Kut-Ku – one of my quests – and both him and a random person who joined in got stepped on many times whilst I sniped from afar. It was more entertaining for me, but after that we decided normal Kut-Ku was probably best.
Then we tried Khezu; it lasted a little longer, as he got hit by one of the lightning balls and fainted, and the other random person was using a lightning-element longsword, but went down without too much trouble.

After that, Tigrex. Solo, naturally, since it was a village Urgent quest and I was feeling adequately-practiced with a bow again.
I… barely won. I detest the Tigrex’s habit of doubling in speed when it rages, and taking off two-thirds of my health with its charge no matter how slightly it clips me, and for having a hitbox that, after Tri, feels like Plesioth’s. I sincerely hope 3rd has hitboxes more like Tri’s. For once, time wasn’t an issue – it went down with ten minutes to spare – but the sheer damage it deals with just that one move, and its habit of homing in when you’re far enough away, and sometimes turning an unexpected third time…
Bleh. Somehow I doubt I’ll be running around in Tigrex armour any time soon.

I used a bow for that fight, but I want to try bowguns in Unite; I made one cheap one, but I don’t think I seriously tested them.

Anyway, after that and checking what upgrades beating Tigrex down unlocked for the farm – bug tree, and… nothing else – I went back to helping my friend take down Yian Kut-Ku, to relax.
To HELP me relax, I took along a hammer forged with the blood of Elder Dragons. The Yian Kut-Ku couldn’t have known what was hitting it. I… may need to bring something weaker, next time, though; half the time they died before the ears were broken. Oh, and several times my internet connection dropped me unceremoniously. Something or someone doesn’t like me doing anything online at night, annoyingly, but at least my entire connection wasn’t dropped.
On that note, I’ve still got a bunch of ruststones I need to sort out. I’ll deal with that tomorrow.

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Monster Hunter Tri’s Missing Weapons

So Monster hunter Tri is out. I got my copy.
…I haven’t been able to play it yet, but I have it. So I’ve been reading through the manual a couple of times, and confirming things with a friend who has been able to play.

Monster Hunter Tri ditched some of the weapon types from Monster Hunter Freedom Unite (and earlier games).
The weapon types available in Tri are:

  • Sword and Shield
  • Great Sword
  • Hammer
  • Lance
  • Switch Axe
  • Long Sword
  • Bowgun

For comparison, there were 11 types available in MHFU; Dual Swords, the Hunting Horn, the Gunlance and the Bow have been omitted, and Bowguns were split into Heavy and Light.

I can see where they were going. It’s annoying that my favourite weapon type vanished, but I spent time running around last night in MHFU using a Light Bowgun that I hastily threw together to kill Anteka; there wasn’t that much difference between using a Light Bowgun rather than a Bow. You can’t charge your shots and you need to spend time reloading after a given number of attacks, but the basic power of the ammo you’re using might be better than a bow would give you anyway, and you have more variability so long as you fill your inventory with more stacks of ammo.

There just wasn’t that much difference. Gunlances were lances, but with ranged elements. Hunting Horns were Hammers that could replicate a set of buffs from items. Dual Swords were Swords and Shields that dropped the ‘shield’ bit to attack faster, and copied part of the Long Sword’s ‘spirit gauge’ mechanic. Bowguns Light and Heavy were still both Bowguns, and if I’m reading the manual correctly – my friend hasn’t gotten around to testing those yet – now have their weight determined by both the frame and the parts used, rather than being fixed with minor modifications if you add a scope or long barrel.

The Switch Axe is a new type, though, pulling elements from both the Great Sword and what looks like the Dual Swords. Or the Long Sword. Or the Bow, based on the terminology, but I’m reasonably sure it’s not that.
The Switch Axe’s shtick seems to be that it can switch between modes; axe mode, and sword mode. The axe mode is for hitting things, and the sword mode is for using special moves or unleashing elemental fury or… something…
I’m not much for melee combat with edged weapons. Give me a good Hammer or Hunting Horn any day.

Still, it’s a new weapon type for this game. I wonder how many it’ll stick around for?

Miniview: Monster Hunter Freedom Unite

I love…
…being able to import a character from a MHF2 save file. Nice to be able to continue with that one, if I want.
…the new and improved Item Box. Instead of stacks limited to sizes you can carry, everything seems to stack to x99. You can still only carry, say, 10 Potions at a time, but all of a sudden there’s much more room for loot. You can also combine things within the item box, with all valid combinations automatically being highlighted, not just known ones. In most cases relating to items, you can now take or throw things directly into the box – when employed Felynes ask for items, or when dealing with the loot post-mission.
…the Felyne stuff. Comrades are very nice, aside from the unfortunate tendency to hit ME with the bombs more often than the monsters. Employed Felynes now throw up a menu when they ask for items, which suggests they’ll be asking for more than one type at once, eventually. Also, I swear the dismissal sequence didn’t look like that in MHF2.

I like…
…how this one has a proper manual. MHF2’s was more of a pamphlet than anything, with minimal information on things gameplay-related, and less on anything else. Unite’s manual explains things much better.
…that the bow now has a paint shot. That was a really strange omission, given bowguns could do it, and I was always better at hitting stuff with a bow than with something thrown.
…the random nice little touches all around the game; you’re told when your Guild Card is updated, you’re allowed to throw items won after a mission directly into the item box, you can now change your basic clothing along with your hairstyle… though you’re ever less likely to see it than hair.

I loathe…
…Kushala Daora, still. I can’t think of anything to do with MHFU specifically, though.
…oh, wait. I’ve got something; the acronym sounds slightly rude.

Verdict

Monster Hunter Freedom Unite is essentually MHF2+. There are a fair number of extra missions floating around, though right at the moment I can only access one, thanks to Kushala Daora. There’s some new music, the most obvious piece playing during Data Install – Unite’s improvement on F2’s pre-loading option. New weapons, too. Since Unite isn’t the cost of a full game by default, I think it’s a good purchase if you’re interested in the series, and a great point to start at if you’re new.

And another thing…

…upon reflection, De Ragan is almost as pitiable as a Basarios, when it comes to difficulty.
Yes. De Ragan, the obligatory dragon boss in Phantasy Star Universe, is almost as easy to beat as the Easiest Wyvern Ever. The only reason it isn’t easier is it has homing fireballs that you must rely on luck for dodging, and spades more health, making tapping it down with a lone Force an exercise in the durability of your digits more than anything. De Ragan moves and attacks so slowly that the only thing that ever hit me was the aforementioned homing fireballs, which are a little cheap.

In every other way, it’s more pitiable than a Basarios. Its model looks ugly, and its feet don’t actually line up with the floor. I also think it’s supposed to be coloured ‘realistically’, as it may not be infected by SEED, but… well, in that case, it’s naturally in possession of neon-green lines.

I suspect Monster Hunter Freedom 2 has broken ordinary bosses and models for me. Why can’t more games look nice?

Phantasy Star Portable: Initial Thoughts (PSP)

Immediately better than PSU, but only by virtue of two things; letting you make your own character, and actually being able to receive weapons and equipment as loot. I’m wandering around a free mission at the moment, having dodged the story mode (…bleh) in favour of practice, and I’ve already looted… uh… two swimming suits, in addition to a weapon.
Okay, so if that’s the extent of it, the problem isn’t really ‘fixed’, but it’s worlds better than inexplicable components and circuitboards. It seems closer to PSO’s loot, instead.

There seem to be no new assets, at least to start with. The mission I’m in is Clyez Linear Line, and it looks pretty much exactly the same as on the PC. Props for getting that working on the PSP, I suppose, but it would have been nice seeing something new.

Oh, on that note, I worked out another few reasons to enjoy Monster Hunter over PSU/PSP; reasons missions look better in that game than this. First, PSU’s missions, and all one of PSP’s missions I’ve seen thus far, take place in locations that look made of ‘corridors and rooms’, even in the areas that are supposed to be ‘wild’, !landscaped. PSO’s first area, and all of MHF2’s areas, look like they could be real places. It’s the difference between something that’s well-designed, and something that looks the last place you were in with different graphics. Though there are less areas to explore in Monster Hunter Freedom 2,
Furthermore, though both PSU and Monster Hunter have a small set of enemies – compared to any random proper online game, or any RPG – Monster Hunter’s creatures look much more alive than PSU’s creatures. Their AI makes them seem much more intelligent when attacking – they hop around to get into better positions, they try to attack where you’re going to go in addition to where you are, some flee whenever an apparent predator turns up, some just leave you alone, some mistakenly attack each other when you dodge in the right way, others deliberately attack each other… whilst PSU’s monsters never actually interact with each other and, with few exceptions, just tend to waddle towards you to attack. The exceptions, of course, just move faster or slower towards you. They all tend to have only a single attack or two, to boot. Not very interesting to fight, especially when you fight fifty of them in a single mission. MHF2 can afford to be more sparing since its enemies fight intelligently; if you have bad luck, you might get taken out by a group of three Genprey, but it’s hard to imagine losing to even twenty Pannon at once unless you put the PSP down, given they just waddle towards you and slap.
Finally, though it’s not actually in slowdown, Phantasy Star Portable certainly looks like it. Well, I’ve been playing Monster Hunter Freedom 2 lately; I spotted this in the shop today and picked it up. Right now I’m playing it for a break as I keep losing to Kushala Daora – it’s easy to dodge everything except its icebreath whilst flying. PSP just does not play anywhere near as smoothly as MHF2; it looks jerky, it doesn’t look as clear, it isn’t quite as responsive, and it’s slightly more difficult to judge distance and aim well with it. Ergo, it currently looks like it’s perpetually in lag. As I’m not liable to stop playing Monster hunter Freedom 2, this feeling is probably going to persist.
Amazing how they managed to simulate lag in a handheld game, isn’t it?

This game has mixed reviews on Metacritic, but I think I’m going to like it more than I did PSU, as it seems a little truer to PSO’s gameplay.
Don’t see why they just don’t rerelease PSO Eps. 1, 2 and 4 on the PSP, honestly.

Miniview: R-Type Tactics (PSP)

I love:
…the hex-based side-view battle system. I suppose it’s not greatly different from top-down hex-based systems, but certain things – such as fog-of-war, and weapon ranges – act quite differently from usual when encountering obstructions.
…the script. Though a lot of the plot is simply in the pre- and post-mission reports from… well, you, or your character, the commander of your forces… they’re very well-written.
…decoys. They’re fun. Good for scouting and good for detonating on enemy units.

I like:
…named pilots. Renameable pilots, actually. It’s R-Type – your units
are ships and your ships have pilots, much like any futuristic
squad-based strategy game. Pilots have skill and gradually gain in skill as you use them, and can pilot different types of units – captains pilot warships, squads pilot your smaller, more common units – collectively called Fighters, but there’s also a single unit called a Fighter, which is a bit confusing – and remotes handle any Forces you bring out.
…how they’ve kept to R-Type – and general side-scrolling shooter – elements; Fighters, for example – the ships you pilot in more mainstream R-Type games – can attach themselves to Forces, and gradually charge up their Wave Cannon over multiple turns. All your ships face and travel to the right to meet enemy forces – Bydo and other enemy units, such as human units in training exercises, travel left. I don’t know how this translates to versus mode; it’d be nice if the map were flipped and you always travelled right, no matter who you played.

I loathe:
…how the turn-change sequence spoils things. Imagine: orders to return to base have been cancelled, and you are instead ordered to take several units down to Mars, to retrieve research data from an abandoned research outpost. This is the first mission featuring fog-of-war, and it has a much larger map than the training exercises the previous missions were. So I don’t know what I’m going to be facing. Right up until I finish my first turn, at which point I’m told the Bydo Armada is making its moves.

Verdict:
I picked this up for cheap, preowned, but from the state of the game and materials, I’d say this is pretty close to good-as-new. Maybe someone bought it for a Christmas present, expecting a typical R-Type game? It even has information cards on previous games, still in a sealed bag.
Whoever took this back to Gamestation missed out on a good, unusual strategy game.
Ah, well. Their loss is my gain.