Category: Video Games

Alola begins anew

Alola begins anew

It may only be a year after we were first introduced to the Alola region in Pokémon Sun and Moon… But as a self-proclaimed hardcore Pokémon fanatic, I simply couldn’t resist going out to get the next addition to the series on day one.

I’ll admit, it does help that my Mom agreed to help pay off half the cost as sort of an early holiday gift. I was going to do it anyway, though.

Plus, it also helps that Thanksgiving Break has officially started for me, so I have a whole week to start pouring into some Pokémon when I’m not doing whatever assignments I have.

Or when I’m not writing blog posts like this. I still owe myself one for the three stories I published the week before we left, so hopefully I won’t get too sucked into the game.

That being said, this  post is going to be short and sweet because, frankly, I’m really excited to get into Ultra Moon. Because Mega Noivern for life. Also because Alyson is going to play Ultra Sun given she prefers Solgaleo, as evidenced by her McDonald’s Happy Meal toy from the other day:

I can appreciate the glowing eyes, though Rowlet is still my baby boy so I couldn’t resist not getting him, as you can see in the featured image at the top of this post.

I know the games are going to be fairly different than the originals from all of the pre-release trailers, so now I’m going to see just how different they are, and by extension whether they’re more worth going after than the originals.

To be completely honest, one of the big aspects that might sway that decision for me is how much time and effort the Rainbow Rocket team gets. Seriously Game Freak, you better have added in the original theme songs for each villain team boss or I’m going to be so disappointed in you.

Anyway, all that said, I’m going to go play some Pokémon now. Probably expect a few comparison-type posts in the near future as I work through Ultra Moon, or at least expect a team recap by the end of my journey. I still have to decide who I’m going to use after all, since I’m not going to go with the same squad as I used my first go-around.

Those guys are special to my Moon playthrough. I couldn’t just recreate them.

It does make my job harder since there’s a lot of options that are my favorites now excluded… But I’ll figure it out. Probably going to start with Popplio this time around, I think. Because I’m not sure what other Water-type I would want to use if not Wishiwashi, and because… Well, come on.

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How freakin adorable, right? Right.

Sorry Litten, you’ll get your time in the spotlight soon enough. There’s just some other Fire-types I want to give a whirl this time around.

Okay, for real this time, I’ll catch you all later. If you got US&UM like me, let me know what you think about the games! I’d love to hear your thoughts somewhere on the internet.

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Farfetched? More like… Umm… Lute’s in Fire Emblem Heroes, everyone

Farfetched? More like… Umm… Lute’s in Fire Emblem Heroes, everyone

If anything, this post will have taught me that title puns can be hard.

Knowing that a Feh Channel update was scheduled last night, I’ve been saving up some orbs for a little while. While that’s slowed down my efforts to get a witch Nowi, I figured there was a good chance he announcements made during the update would be worthwhile.

Sometimes, a gamer’s intuition is spot-on.

If you want to check out the Channel update, I’m putting it up above here. Personally I haven’t had a ton of time to dissect it because I’ve been busy doing Daily Titan stuff (as you’ll see later this afternoon more than likely), but I know there’s tons and tons of interesting goodies coming in the near future.

One of those goodies happens to be relevant today, however. So that’s what we’re going to be chatting about today.

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Apparently, Intelligent Systems is keeping on the idea of “Brave Heroes” based on community preference at the inception of Fire Emblem Heroes. Frankly, I think it’s a welcome idea… Even if my favorite character has still yet to show up.

One day, Neimi. One day.

This time around, they’re taunting me too. Taunting my by including one of the best characters from the Sacred Stones that aren’t Neimi – Or, technically two of the best characters, but one will be coming later.

  • LuteProdigy
    • Alright let’s break this down really quick. Lute. Is. Amazing. From what my reddit-browsing friends have told me, Lute is really beloved and popular, which is a sentiment I tend to think I embody quite eagerly as well. She’s one of the best characters in Sacred Stones for both her battle skills and her personality, which is well-known for being equal parts cocky and quirky due to her early life living as a magical prodigy in an isolated forest village alongside her highly pious friend (and husband in all of my play throughs of the game) Artur. In Heroes, she comes with a new Weirding Tome that grants +3 speed and has a speed ploy effect. Beyond that she can rally Attack and Resistance on an ally, she has a natural HP and Resistance boost and she comes with a Resistance Ploy as well. Arguably she has the worst skills of the new heroes… But hey, sentimentality means a lot for me here.
    • Also did I mention she’s probably the only character who has a single word title? It’s pretty hilarious.
  • MiaLady of Blade
    • When the Radiance games hit Heroes a little whole ago I talked about how I have very little experience with them outside of Ike in Super Smash Bros. That hasn’t changed, so Mia isn’t really in my wheelhouse of understanding. I do really like her art in this game though, so she certainly has that going for her. She’s a mercenary (because who isn’t from these games apparently) who takes multiple sides to pay off her debts and eagerly spars with Ike whenever she has the opportunity. In Heroes she comes with a Resolute Blade that grants her +3 attack while boosting special attacks by 10 points, Luna as a special attack to be boosted, a skill called flashing blade that adds a cooldown charge to special attacks when she has higher speed and vantage. Good old reliable vantage. Can’t complain too much here, honestly.
  • DorcasSerene Warrior
    • The Blazing Blade follows the same pattern of experience for me as the Radiance titles. In other words, I have no experience playing the Blazing Blade, though I have played as Roy in Smash Bros. Amazing how that seems to tie together, huh? That said, I have next to no experience with Dorcas either. Lute gets all the love this time around, sorry man. In my research I see that Dorcas is good friends with Bartre, commonly the butt of jokes for being a useless but frequent pull when summoning. Good sign.  He does also love his family greatly and does everything to protect them though… So I guess things balance out somewhere along the way. In Heroes, he comes with a Stout Tomahawk that grants ranged counterattacks, Draconic Aura to boost attack, an ability called Fierce Stance that boosts his attack by 6 when attacked, Quick Riposte to make automatic follow-up attacks when damaged and Infantry Pulse to lower his special cooldown when he has higher health. All and all a pretty solid looking set, honestly. He seems like a great axe user, even if I don’t much care for him as a character.

Once again, the story behind the Paralogue for these Heroes doesn’t do too much to catch my interest… Besides involving Lute, of course. That said, this story-based section should go fairly quickly.

Fingers crossed.


As usual, three missions that provide nine orbs all together are here in this Paralogue – with an extra three through missions, of course.

Normally I wouldn’t say too much about the menu screen. But… Well, what can I say. I’m a bit upset that Lute isn’t on the photo for the mission listing. Or on the bonus daily items listing for that matter.

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Why guys? Why does Lute get the short end of the stick?

Anyway, I digress.

This Paralogue follows the Order of Heroes as they return to protect the same land that was under attack back when the first Brave Heroes were arriving on the scene. When they arrive, they first find Mia and Lute… Well, doing their things.

Good ol’ cocky Lute. Gotta love her.

Once the two of them are beaten into the ground, you move on to the second map, which has a nice surprise waiting within:

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Joshua returns from the Sacred Stones, bringing with him a classic gambling addiction. He’s an absolutely wonderful and fun character in his original game who has a lot of depth, so I’m glad to see he’s getting some time in the limelight again. He’s also the originator of my love for Swordmaster units. Have you seen the critical animation for Swordmasters in Sacred Stones?

It’s incredible. ’nuff said.

As a matter of fact, he’s going to get more time in the limelight soon, as it seems a new Tempest Trial is on the way (presumably Sacred Stones themed <3) where he’s going to be the reward character. Plus, his title proclaims him to be the “Tempest King.” An odd choice for his original game canon, but not all that odd if you consider he’s going to have an important role in the story of Fire Emblem Heroes.

I’m really looking forward to seeing what they do with him, in fact!

Unfortunately, for now he doesn’t get much more than a cameo. A wonderful, snarky little cameo. Then, once he’s gone, the rest of the story goes on without much interruption… Or excitement, unfortunately. Right up until the end when you free everyone from their contracts.

If this focus didn’t have heroes I care about from my favorite Fire Emblem game, I feel like it would frankly be a little underwhelming. Seriously they picked great characters to represent Sacred Stones.

Even if they didn’t pick the best one.

Come on Intelligent Systems, you better make things right one of these days. I’m still holding out for the best archer.


I still find myself questioning the decision to call this banner the “farfetched heroes” banner. I understand to a certain extent that they’re all quirky characters who seem to have personalities that bounce off of one another, but I still don’t know why that particular title was chosen.

I’m not going to complain too much about it, however, because I’m still hoping to pull Lute sometime soon.

Oh that’s right, I mentioned saving orbs earlier for this right? Well… I saved up about 40 orbs. Didn’t get a Lute. Didn’t get anything in fact, which is why I kind of skipped out on talking about it.

Please game… I won’t give you shit for skipping out on Neimi anymore. Just love me again. I promise to keep feeding you the orbs you crave.

Alright, when I start giving weird ultimatums to a video game, it’s definitely time to go to bed.

Like I said before, I’ll likely be posting again tonight about two articles I’ve published in the paper, and otherwise I’ll likely be busy writing yet another article for the paper. Because there’s never any rest.

Except for Thanksgiving week next week, which will be a godsend. Plus, it will probably give me the opportunity to do a deeper dive into the Feh Channel update, which I’ll really have to do sooner or later.

Until then, tell me what you think of these new heroes in the comments below! Are you as excited about Lute as I am? Or has Mia caught your eye? Or Dorcas for that matter, can’t leave the big, strong man out of things.

Okay for real, time for bed. Catch you all next time.

New Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon Information: Snuggling with death

New Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon Information: Snuggling with death

As we come down to the wire, just a week away from the release of the games facilitating our second romp into the Alola region, I can’t help but reflect a little on the fact that I’ve probably missed out on talking about the build-up trailers more often than not. It’s a shame given how much I absolutely enjoyed talking about everything leading up to the first game, but I guess I can once again blame the somewhat hectic semester I’ve had.

However, I’m not going to let that fact stop me now. I’m ready to talk some Pokémon, because if anything is going to get me to talk about the games again… It would be this Pokémon in particular.

Normally I would hide this under a non-spoiler read more line… But this trailer isn’t so much that it’s worth being considered a spoiler, in my opinion. It’s just one Z-Move being given to a Pokémon we already knew existed.

It just so happens that this Pokémon is arguably my favorite Alola monster, as I’m sure some of you must remember from all of my posts oh so long ago.

As a real quick aside, even finding this old post was a little strangely nostalgic to a year ago when my Sun and Moon hype was super real. Is it possible to be nostalgic for something only a little more than a year ago? Perhaps in the age of the internet, I suppose. But either way, I still remember seeing Mimikyu for the first time while wandering the campus of El Camino College, where I was taking abnormal psychology course and relentlessly playing Pokémon GO.

Good times.

When Sun and Moon actually came, Mimikyu turned out to be far better than the cute little gimmick it presented itself as in all the promotional materials, and my little Charlotte demolished many a Hydreigon in her heyday. I still love her… But I probably won’t be using her in my run of the Ultra sequels. Typically when I replay the third game in a region, I’ll use a totally different team. That way I can get experience with a wider variety of the available Pokémon in that region, come to care about them more and all that.

I haven’t quite decided who my new team is going to be beside the fact that I’ll probably pick Popplio as a starter. Simply because I can’t think of a water type I would use if I’m not using Wishiwashi.

But that’s another story for another post. Here we’re all set to talk about Mimikyu’s new Z-Move, the reason why even if I don’t use her in the story I’ll definitely continue to use her in online play:

Let’s Snuggle Forever

I’ll admit, it’s a… Less than enticing name for an attack. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll happily snuggle with Mimikyu any time, but I don’t really envision that being the attack I would suggest using against an enemy.

Luckily, the move itself surpasses whatever lousy naming convention it might have gotten. Full of love for its trainer, Mimikyu takes its Play Rough (presumably – given the Fairy-type Z-Move pose and sound effects of the inevitable attack) to the next level by mixing in its spooky capabilities to sneak around and catch an opponent off-guard. When the enemy Pokémon least expects it, the cloth-covered monster leaps out of the treetops and envelops that poor soul, trapping it in a more intensely unseen attack before spitting it out and shooting it off into the distance.

On the one hand, this attack is very cute. It captures both the cute Fairy side of Mimikyu desperate for attention and love by the way it slips out from behind its trainers legs, but it also captures the unclear reality-warping Ghost side of Mimikyu that can sneak around and cause immense damage with the creature under the sheet.

On the other hand, I can’t help but get somewhat deeply contemplative about this attack due to the aforementioned reality-warping sensibilities Mimikyu carries. In Sun and Moon, Acerola’s trial is based entirely around chasing Totem Mimikyu through an abandoned minimart, where everything concludes in a strange back room full of Pikachu-themed posters and a battle with the powerful ghost.

When that fight is over, Acerola reveals that there is no back room to the mart, and says she feels a chill before walking off. One of the best things about the moment is seeing Mimikyu in the background walking behind the building as your character doesn’t seem to notice. However, even at the time something didn’t sit totally well with me about it.

Just how much power does Mimikyu have?

Was it Mimikyu alone that was able to create the physical illusions of some kind of pocket dimension while also being able to appear seemingly everywhere at will? Or did the other spirits – the Gastly and Gengar living in the abandoned building – lend their support in creating such a spooky environment?

The new Z-Move doesn’t necessarily help clarify this, if anything it just makes it more interesting to consider. Not even just when seeing that Mimikyu’s outfit expands exponentially to take in a target as big as a Tyranitar.

The literal implication of the attack is that Mimikyu’s true form under the cloth is able to release more of its true power when having an opponent trapped alongside it. But there’s a less literal implication too. If Mimikyu is able to create its own pocket dimension for your fight in the abandoned minimart, is it also able to trap the Pokémon it pulls into its cloth into some kind of a pocket dimension? Or, at least, is it able to trap the opposing Pokémon in a mental prison of sorts, letting it imagine its been sucked into a world of endless darkness, only for another creature to come and knock its lights out repeatedly.

Perhaps it’s just me romanticizing Mimikyu too much, but I like to imagine this attack is less an overpowered Play Rough and more something akin to the relentless time-bending mental torture of Itachi Uchiha’s Tsukuyomi attack from Naruto.

That’s about as geeky an anime reference as I’ve made here on this blog I think, but the point still stands. It’s the kind of thing I like to imagine Mimikyu is capable of.

Again this wound up being a much longer discussion of something quite short than I had intended, but I just really like the underlying suggestion of Let’s Snuggle Forever. Plus, I’m personally ready to snuggle with Mimikyu forever in a week when the game’s come out, so I suppose that’s part of what led to this being so much rambling.

I would still love to hear what you all think of this Z-Move, or honestly anything at all Pokémon-related as we make our way into Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon release week. Let me know in the comments below!

Spooky Scary Summonings

Spooky Scary Summonings

As we quickly approach Halloween, a number of things come to mind for me. Firstly, I can’t help but think about how fast October passed by this year. Honestly it’s just felt like a blink since the Oct. 1 and it’s ridiculous. However, I suppose I can’t complain excessively about that, because I’m also in a place where I’m remembering that Halloween is, frankly, one of my favorite holidays. Perhaps my favorite holiday really.

I always love how the stereotypical aesthetics of Fall mix so brilliantly with the scary and kooky sides of Halloween (Even if we really don’t get that ‘stereotypical’ Fall in California. It was 107 degrees in Fullerton last week, no joke). I love the movies, artwork and other media that characterize the season so wonderfully, everything from Nightmare Before Christmas to – this year – Stranger Things Season 2. Which as of this writing I haven’t finished so I better not see any spoilers around the comments here.

He says knowing all he would do is invite spoilers.

I love candy, I love costumes and have plenty of good memories with both going way, way back to the days when I dressed as Buzz Lightyear in elementary school. Or maybe even preschool? Not totally sure actually, but either way the feeling remains.

Yet, with all this positivity, an unfortunate other fact still comes to mind… The fact that I really don’t have a Halloween. This year, Halloween is Milo day at Cal State Fullerton, and that’s been our life on the Daily Titan for the last few months.

Milo day, or alternatively Miloween as we’ve been calling it around the newsroom. Or Halloqueen as I believe I saw him refer to it as at one point, though I don’t remember where. But a rose by any other name and all that.

Instead of having a fun, costume-filled Halloween, I’ll be all fancy in the press box with reporters from the L.A. Times and other big newspapers hoping our school doesn’t burn down – but prepared to cover it if it does. Though I can’t complain about the opportunity by any means, and I’ll be grateful to the College Republicans club for letting me join that V.I.P. experience, I will admit there’s something that feels empty about the whole thing. Perhaps some element of childhood’s loss in the face of real world responsibilities if I’m looking to be poetic about it.

Though more realistically I think I’m just starting to worry more and more about it as we approach the day of, something I wasn’t really doing a couple months ago when we were just building up to things.

But hey, even if my personal Halloween won’t be very Halloween-y, at least I can live vicariously though other means.

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That’s right, you thought I was going to be strangely existential and sappy for this entire post? No way man, I’m here to talk about some Fire Emblem Heroes Halloween goodness. At least partially as a way to cut that sappy existentialism…

I’ll be totally honest up front with this one, I’m not exactly feeling the whole usual shebang I go through with each update to this game. Partially because of the whole Milo build-up, I’ve been pretty exhausted lately. There’s a few things I’ve been meaning to post about on here, like a story I got published last week and a little mathematical romp I took through Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Links, but I haven’t gotten around to either of them.

I didn’t want to skip out on this banner entirely however, since I really love Halloween. So instead I just think I’m going to pass on the professionalism this time around but still go ahead with talking about this.

I’ll just take the opportunity to gush about all of the wonderful things this banner brings, and I’ll leave it at that. Because there’s seriously a lot to gush about when you consider –

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Just look at this Sakura like GOD damn she’s got an adorable costume. For real she was always my favorite amongst Corrin’s siblings across both Birthright and Conquest, and the fact that she got this really great costume was part of what made me really excited for this banner.

Plus, she has amazing potential as a mage killer with a weapon that deals super effective damage to all colored mages and a sky high resistance stat. She’s great, I love her, and I’m no doubt going to be spending lots of orbs to get her in my collection if I have to.

Those cat ears man, they really maximize the adorability factor. They even bounce around during battle and… Man, it’s just too good.

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But then we also have the boy Jakob here. I’ll be honest, Jakob is arguably my absolute least favorite character from Fates. His son is great, but getting him through any sort of relationship to end up with Dwyer is a bit of a nightmare because his chemistry with everyone is just… Really bad. I don’t even actually remember who I paired him up with in my run of Revelations, that’s how bad.

His regular Heroes counterpart sort of made up for that since I actually use my 5 star Jakob somewhat regularly… But that counterpart doesn’t even hold a candle to this one.

This guy is basically Frankenstein wielding a bow that has a string made of pure lightning that has heavy armor while being weighed down by golden balls and chains. Just the design alone is bananas, but combine that with the fact that he’s our first armored archer and he gets distinction for being unique as well.

Oh, and he’s also the first Halloween hero I summoned:

That also helps my appreciation for him. Damn he’s looking good.

Also, his quotes are just wonderful. A few of my favorites include:

  • “Believe you me, monsters are not half as ghastly as… People.”
  • “I would gladly serve treats to my liege, Corrin. But to children? The nerve.”

Talk about all sorts of gems hidden away.

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Oh but wait, what’s this? Another armored unit? And this one is an armored mage? That’s crazy!

What’s this again? It’s Henry? The super fun sadistic crow-toting mage from Awakening who’s an absolutely perfect candidate for anything Halloween? Fantastic!

One more time? What did you say? He’s a vampire too? A vampire that carries his coffin around like a shield that shoots out ghosts? Well slap me silly and call me Sally, that’s an A+ character right there.

Wait wait, what’s that? You say there’s someone even better on this special summoning banner? Well you must me joking, how could it possibly get better than Henr-

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Oh. Oh I see.

Nowi here, while undoubtedly being somewhat creepy Loli bait as usual, is still actually incredible. For one… Well, look at her. In the least creepy way imaginable, Nowi dressed up like a witch with the big mage hat is one of the cutest things ever.

She also has a spell book that shoots out ectoplasmic cats to attack enemies. Which is a negligible design detail and all, but it’s still amazing and continues to maximize the adorable meter.

Oh, also, while we’re on the subject of good design from Henry, have I mentioned the fact that Nowi is a pegasus knight? But instead of riding a pegasus she rides on a broomstick. A broomstick. Because she’s a witch. It’s low key absolutely genius character design, and I want her.

Especially since the flying mage archetype will make a perfect addition to my flying units team. Just… Uhh… Don’t pay too much attention to the picture of her in the summoning banner image. Because it kind of makes it hard to advocate for something when it depicts a young-looking girl with a strangely suggestive closeup of a broom between her legs. Just saying, might want to chill there Intelligent Systems.

I’m still going after her of course, but still.

The characters aren’t even the only things that are wonderful about this banner, though.

Seriously look at these level designs:

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I don’t have all that much to say about the Paralogue itself, since it just boils down to the Order of Heroes enjoying the Harvest Festival with dressed up heroes all hoping to win a year’s supply of pumpkins.

Which makes sense… I suppose? Not that I’ve been able to figure out how you can keep pumpkins fresh for a whole year.

But that’s besides the point because look at all the spook. Just glowing jack-o’-lanterns and spooky gothic architecture everywhere. It’s amazing.

Have I mentioned I really love Halloween? Because I do.

That’s not even all though, because the artwork for the battle backgrounds is somehow even better!

Just… Just look at how pretty this is. I can’t even say anything more than the fact that I love how pretty it all is. I’m genuinely at a loss for words right now, I’m living out all of my Halloween in these levels right now it feels like.

Though part of that could also be me being exhausted, like I mentioned before…

In fact, I might as well cut things off here. Everything I’ve gushed about is all that the game has added in, so there isn’t anything more to say honestly. I’m just going to let everyone look at and appreciate the wonderful artwork in this game, because seriously the artwork is one thing that keeps me coming back for more.

That and the rush of dopamine that I’m sure comes with each newly collected orb and summoned hero. Gambling is a scary, scary thing. Luckily I’ve found an outlet for that sin that’s less… Destructive than it could be.

Okay, but for real it’s definitely time for bed. I need some rest if I’m going to be ready for Milo coming very, very soon. Perhaps I’ll try to catch up on those posts I missed after I’m a little more relaxed and freed from my inhibitions after his visit.

Until then, I also did intend this to be a test of a potentially shorter way to make Fire Emblem Heroes posts. Or at least, more shortly produced posts. Since somehow this still wound up being 1,700 words or so. If you enjoy this format better than usual, let me know in the comments below!

I might not be used to the more informal free-flowing thought process this comes with, but I’m sure I can get used to it if it’s popular.

Trials of the Holy War

Trials of the Holy War

The time for Tempest Trials has come once again in Fire Emblem Heroes. Unlike the last go around, I wouldn’t say I’m needlessly exhausted and upset with the event. Perhaps the set of mini trials in between the main installments really were what did it for me. Who knows.

Whatever the reason was, I’m not expecting to take an angry spin on this one like last time. However… Part of that might be because I don’t have all that much to say about these Trials in the first place.

All things considered, beyond the different underlying motivations of the characters and the unlockable elements involved, the actual playtime involved has simply become somewhat monotonous and same-y. Not all that much to say about it overall.

So let’s just address some of the basics of what makes these Trials different than what we had in the past.


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The theme for this set of Tempest Trials is Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War. Like I said when we got new heroes from this older title, I have very little experience with anyone involved outside of whatever research I’ve done.

Granted that research has improved my attachment to a few of them and informed me enough to understand where the characters are coming from in the “plot” of these Trials, but still. I’m generally left without any comments on maps or music or anything of that nature like I would usually have.

I do think its worth mentioning that I’ve gotten my hands on both the characters I was really looking for out of the three added the other day:

They both came rather easy so I didn’t have to waste too many orbs, which was sweet.

If anything that means I can focus on the summoning banner for the Tempest Trials if I want… Though I’m sort of in the same boat as the general public in thinking that the whole approach taken here is a bit duplicitous.

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Rather than having this new character, Ayra, show up in a Grand Hero Battle or something along those lines, the developers at Intelligent System have put her in a totally separate summoning banner than the other Genealogy heroes. One that’s running at the same time as the other banner.

Plus, she’s a red unit in the same focus as another red unit, Eldigan. So the chances of getting her are cut, and if you want to even attempt to get there you have to deal with pulling time away from the other banner with Sigurd, Deirdre and Tailtiu.

It is a pretty lousy, orb-draining thing to do, arguably a strong attempt to force players to spend money on the game… But to be fair, I’m not sure Ayra is that worth getting in the first place outside of how cute she is. So I might not try too hard to go after her.

Possibly duplicitous practices aside, let’s talk about the Trials themselves.

The “plot” this time around boils down to Lucina encouraging Seliph to tackle the Tempest to protect Julia, as you can see above, while he has the chance to meet with his parents Sigurd and Deirdre so they can help him fight. Time and space shredding excuses around canonical timeline barriers abound.

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The main bonus allies are the four new heroes from Genealogy featured in the two summoning banners I talked about earlier.

Luckily, Sigurd fits my most powerful cavalry-based team remarkably well, so I immediately have a great advantage walking in. I’ve already swept through entire runs with just one team alone thanks to that team, and it’s an amazing feeling for sure.

The secondary bonus allies are Eldigan and his sister, who came in some time ago, Arvis from the current Grand Hero Battle, and Arden, one of the main rewards from these Trials.

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By rising in the ranks high enough, you can also earn three Sacred Seals from these trials:

  • Brash Assault: Unit automatically follows-up when attacking a foe that can Counter if they have less than 30 percent health.
  • Attack Smoke: Inflicts -3 Attack on all foes within 2 spaces of a selected attack target.
  • Guidance: Allows infantry and armored units to move to an ally with this seal that’s within two spaces and has full health.

It’s also worth noting that some of the rewards on certain tiers are Sacred Coins, which is something we were promised back in the update when we got the ability to upgrade our Sacred Seals. Pretty cool to see that coming to fruition.

My horse-based team makes this run of the Trials quite easy for me, like I mentioned before. I made it to the final map pretty quickly in fact, only to find that Julia is the main villain taking over… Whatever castle this is:

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Honestly this fight is pretty easy too, compared to most of the others in the past. She’s certainly no insane powerhouse like Hector or the Black Knight, that’s for sure.

I will say, even if the fight isn’t all that difficult, the scenery of the map you fight on does make it pretty worth to get there.

Seriously, these backgrounds are super pretty. Just saying.


Well, that’s all I have to say about this run of the Tempest Trials. Remarkable I know, considering I haven’t even hit 900 words. I’m amazed I was able to be this… Somewhat concise with all of this.

Some of that might honestly be because I’m starting to run out of things to say about these after so long. Honestly, after going after the few things that are new, there isn’t that much else to dig into. Perhaps from here on out that means I might not write so much for Tempest Trials, if I even write anything at all. Who knows.

We’ll see as time goes on I suppose.

In my empty attempt at trying to push for audience engagement this time around, how’s this for a question. What do you think of the fact that Intelligent Systems put out a second summoning banner just about a week after the first one to force players to split their time and resources for summoning? While it’s not necessarily that new remembering the double summoning banners for Fire Emblem Echoes back when the game was first coming out, this time around things just feel a bit more scummy to me.

Is that impression just in my own head though? Or do you agree?

Let me know in the comments below, and until next time I’ll be off doing work and likely stressing over the upcoming visit of Milo Yiannopoulos at CSUF. Because yeah, that’s happening soon. Time sure has flown this semester.

Fire Emblem Heroes: Genealogy of the characters I don’t know

Fire Emblem Heroes: Genealogy of the characters I don’t know

I think the title of this one basically says all that needs to be said.

Hey everybody, welcome to another long-winded Fire Emblem Heroes update post here on Jason’s blog. Normally I’d start off this kind of post with a whimsical affirmation that things definitely won’t be as relentlessly wordy as before… But considering how many times that particular mindset has backfired in hindsight, I’m just going to skip over all that and go straight into the meat of things.

That cool with all of you? I sure hope so, because when I’m typing this I’m literally the only person that can answer that question.

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Today’s update brings us heroes from Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War. As a Japanese-exclusive title in any official release, I haven’t personally played the game in any capacity, since I don’t tend to play with emulators all that often. Hell, I haven’t even seen any let’s plays of this game floating around in any of my usual Youtube channels.

Because of that, I have no experience with any of the characters in the game and no personal connections whatsoever. The best I could figure just from the initial teaser video was that two of the characters seemed to be related to two heroes we already have in the mobile game, but even then they’re units I’ve never used.

So that was a load of help.

As there’s only three of them, at least it makes it easier on me to do some basic research so I can pull together these small character bios like I enjoy to do.

  • TailtiuThunder Noble
    • A noble from the House Friege, where the greatly abused powerhouse Reinhardt and his sister Olwen also hail, Tailtiu is a bubbly girl known for her protective personality and strong thunder magic. Really that’s about all the wiki expands upon for the most part, aside from a horrifically tragic part of her life where she endures torture and depression to protect her young children, only to die from said depression and torture. Yeah, that’s one of the most definitive portions of her story arc. I’m actually getting sad and emotional over this character I don’t know at all because of it, too. I suppose if nothing else that encourages me to go after her when I start summoning on this banner, despite the fact that her initial build is a little ‘meh’ just looking at the list. Blarblade is always great for accumulating extra damage with more stat buffs, but otherwise everything else is basic stat-related stuff: +2 attack and resistance, rallying +3 speed and resistance on an ally and grinding +3 speed to nearby allies during combat. If nothing else, seems like she’ll be helpful in letting her teammates attack twice more often.
  • DeirdreLady of the Forest
    • Deirdre is a women from the Spirit Forest with the holy blood of the dragon Naga and a curiosity for the outside world after an isolated upbringing. She comes to marry Sigurd, with whom she conceives Seliph, and after her husband’s death she begets Julia and Julius with a man named Arvis. Her weapon, Divine Naga, stands out much like her daughter Julia’s as a green tome effective against dragons that also nullifies stat bonuses from certain skills during combat. With the popularity of teams themed around things like cavalry units, this is a pretty useful weapon to have around. She also comes with the somewhat situational Ardent Sacrifice, Quick Riposte to make automatic follow-ups and Speed Ploy to lower the speed of units in cardinal directions with lower resistance than she has.
  • SigurdHoly Knight
    • Apparently the protagonist for the first generation story in Genealogy of the Holy War, Sigurd is a mounted lord that uses swords and lances. He has quite literally a billion relatives, though the most notable ones here for this description are his wife Deirdre and son Seliph, who has to clear his father’s name after he’s killed and labeled a traitor. Sigurd uses the legendary Divine Tyrfing, a sword that grants him +3 resistance and makes it so he receives half damage from every first magic attack used against him. Like the Brave Heroes Lyn and Ike, he also comes with four extra skills rather than three: His special skill is Miracle, which lets him survive a lethal attack, he has Close Defense to give him +6 defense and resistance when attacked by a close range weapon, he has Speed Smoke to inflict -7 speed on enemies within 2 spaces of each attack he deals and finally he has a new ability called Crusader’s Ward that reduces damage from the second attack onward by 80 percent if attacked from two spaces away. From what I understand, word is going around that Sigurd could be a perfect anti-meta unit by essentially nullifying most damage from magic attacks all together… And I can’t argue that this sounds pretty overpowered. I’ll look forward to seeing it in action.

One thing I’ve come to find from researching these three is that Genealogy apparently had an absurdly huge cast of characters that intertwined in a billion different ways. I’ll be honest, for this being such an older game in the series, I’m pretty impressed. It apparently featured a multi-generational split story system, which is something I believed was a more recent phenomenon.

Even if 99 percent of what I read also suggested that this entire game is just a deep dive into depressing character arcs… I’m still impressed.

Frankly, reading about Tailtiu made me really, REALLY feel for her character, and it makes me want to summon and use her in combat. On top of that, Sigurd does seem like he’ll shake things up quite aggressively and Deirdre could be pretty fun with that special Divine Naga tome. All three seem pretty worth summoning, so I’ll probably work at getting at least one of them now that I’m done torturing myself trying to summon Performance Arts Olivia.


Editor’s Note: 

For context: I got to about a 4.75 percent chance of finding a 5 star in the Performance Arts summoning focus banner, and during the first round of summoning that I didn’t have a colorless orb to choose from, Inigo broke my streak of trying to find his mother Olivia.

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Don’t get me wrong, I love Inigo so I’m not that mad… But it did suck that all of that effort to aim for one unit wound up getting blown away in an instant.


Editor’s Note Part 2: 

So this wasn’t quite what I was expecting, but I’m going to have to put another aside here because… Well…

Turns out my decision to stop summoning on the Performance banner was actually a good idea.

Seriously this was not at all what I expected to happen, but I drew Sigurd on my second orb – with the first orb being a freebie to begin with. It’s quite possibly the quickest, luckiest unit grab I’ve ever gotten, and luckily it seems to be with the guy who will probably be the most powerful of the bunch.

I’m going to take it as a good sign and keep summoning for a while to hopefully get Tailtiu. Wish me luck!


As far as additional story goes with these new characters, most of the underlying stuff is par for the course. Three Paralogue levels, three difficulty settings and some extra missions to give players a total of 12 orbs to obtain.

When you get into the actual story itself, it seems as though Intelligent Systems is using this Paralogue to begin building up to whatever large-scale event they have coming down the line. Though… At first things certainly don’t seem that way.

The arc begins with Veronica commanding an armored knight, Arden, to come fight alongside our main man Sigurd.

Once you make it through the fight, Arden is let go and gears quickly shift over to round 2, where there’s more of a surprise visitor making an appearance.

That’s right, the evil shapeshifting trickster god Loki, who some time ago decided to masquerade as Anna for some reason, is taking more of a front line approach by helping Veronica command units to go to battle.

Though, by commanding them, I suppose I should say blackmailing them.

Yeah… There tends to be a pretty big dichotomy between some units happily helping the bad guys while others need to be forced in some way. Like promising to send them home only if they fight and win. Which is pretty scummy, let’s be honest.

But anyway, after battling against Ayra and Tailtiu, you move on to the final encounter. Before getting there however, things once again shift pretty dramatically into a much more suddenly emotional bit of character development.

This game was already playing the “villains aren’t actually so bad because things are going on beyond their control” card by developing Prince Bruno/Zacharias’ backstory as much as it has been the last few story missions, but it’s easy to tell that we’re really banking on the sympathy to hit hard this time around given how Veronica sounds more like a confused child than ever before.

Oh, and there’s the whole evil trickster god influence underlying everything as well, but we’ll actually get into that in a minute.

First things first, Veronica is somewhat consoled by Deirdre, who seems to share the same pain as one with divine blood.

While things are perhaps being laid on a little thick for my tastes, I can always appreciate taking that humanizing approach to a character who seemed so utterly ruthless at one point or another. Though I will credit my boy Seth from Sacred Stones for getting that train rolling, because I’m sure he deserves is.

Once the final fight is out of the way, you’re once again treated to what is essentially a ‘congratulations’ screen as Sigurd and Deirdre thank you for freeing them from the contract and letting them go off to be happy together forever. So on and so forth. Nothing we’ve never seen before, honestly.

But then there’s something like a post-credits scene hinting at more to come:

Whatever the developers have been building up to for some time now, it seems we’re finally getting to a point where all of these plot threads are going to reveal what they’ve been leading up to. Loki appears to quite literally be opening the way to Asgard, looking to bring an army to the world of Askr to destroy it. Or just to destroy everything. Who knows, really.

The whole thing is frankly a hell of a lot more like an actual Marvel end credit scene than I think anyone was intending, but you won’t see me complaining.

I’m honestly really looking forward to seeing whatever comes out of this, and it makes me glad that I didn’t succumb to that slump I was feeling a few weeks back that almost had me drop the game for a while.

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Once again, my lack of experience with the original game doesn’t give me much to talk about as far as remembering what locales these little maps are mimicking or even having some sort of a nostalgia trip over the music. On top of that, I’d argue these maps were some of the easiest to blow through and earn all the available orbs in my recent memory.

But I did want to bring up the maps as a separate idea because I thought it was  interesting that, once again, a few of the maps introduce us to more characters we’re going to see become relevant in the near future:

As these two are not a part of the summoning focus, that begs the question of whether we’re going to see them show up in some sort of a Grand Hero Battle, or whether we should be expecting a new Tempest Trials sometime soon with a Genealogy theme.

I suppose only time will tell… But if I were a betting man, I’d vote for the latter.


Well, that should do it for now I think, seems as though I’ve bled this particular topic thread dry. And this time I came in at… Approximately 2,000 words.

Perhaps jinxing myself at the beginning of the post wasn’t the problem. Perhaps I’m just pathetic and compulsively write too much about everything. Hell, I wrote a 900 word story about the Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga remake for my school paper just today, and that’s just a drop in the bucket compared to the extended version I’m planning on posting around here soon.

But I digress, since obviously going off on small rambling fits like this is exactly how I get to be this long-winded in the first place. Hopefully you all enjoyed my thoughts and observations no matter how long they were!

Do you have a favorite hero in this summoning focus? Have you had the opportunity to play Genealogy of the Holy War? Is it worth putting in some effort to find and either play or watch? Let me know in the comments below!

Fire Emblem Heroes Version 1.8: Forging with Dragons

Fire Emblem Heroes Version 1.8: Forging with Dragons

Luckily for my sudden onset of insomnia tonight, it seems I have a new distraction to mull over beyond Superstar Saga. And writing overly long diatribes about Superstar Saga that I’m going to have to cut down to a more manageable form for a general newspaper audience.

Seriously, Sarah, if you wind up reading this… I’m sorry that I might wind up being more of a pain than I’m worth for the next couple of days with that review article.

But this isn’t the place for pre-emptive apologies. That can come at the end of this post. As the title suggests, we’ve got some Fire Emblem to discuss.

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This morning, Intelligent Systems has graced the world with an update to Fire Emblem Heroes, bringing us into the 1.8 version of the game. Thankfully, there isn’t a hell of a lot to this big update like there was with the last few, so I hopefully won’t be hating myself when I have to get up later.

The major addition with this update is a little feature we’ve been waiting on for quite some time: Seal Forging.

Now, for those of you who are uninitiated in the unending and relentless cult of Fire Emblem Heroes, Sacred Seals are items you can equip to your units that allow them to utilize a fourth passive skill on top of the “A,” “B” and “C” level skills they can be summoned with or inherit.

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These Sacred Seals can make a number of new possibilities open up for unit building and team composition overall. A few of my personal favorite examples include giving a unit like Reinhardt the “Quickened Pulse” seal that allows his special attack to pop off more often or giving a unit like Eirika a seal like “Fortify Resistance” so she can passively buff an additional stat for her allies at the start of a turn.

We’ve had a number of means of unlocking these Sacred Seals in the past, most notably through special Sacred Seal missions that cycle through on occasion, as rewards for completing Squad Assault challenges and as tier rewards during Tempest Trials:

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“Distant Defense” was a particularly good one out of the Tempest Trials category, as was “Quickened Pulse.”

The issue many players have had with these seals is that most have been stuck at a basic level 1 status, with no sign of additional level 2 or 3 variants being released anytime soon.

Enter: Seal Forging.

Though to allow Seal Forging to enter the conversation, we do have to take a step back. You don’t just get the ability to forge Sacred Seals right away, after all.

Thus, enter a new Intermission mission that players can unlock after they defeat Chapter 13 in the main story of the game.

 

Strangely enough this Intermission is the first of its kind and seems somewhat out of place as a result of being only one mission with no additional associated quests. The developers do make this strange addition make sense in the context of the story’s plot, however.

If you don’t remember what happened last time in the ongoing Fire Emblem Heroes saga, you can see me ramble about it in my post about the Crimean heroes some time back. If that’s a ‘too long, didn’t read’ kind of situation for you, then here’s the basics:

The Order of Heroes’ old ally Zacharias turns out to be their new enemy Prince Bruno, who fights against them because his bloodline makes him have an insatiable bloodlust because of something something evil dragon magic, so on and so forth in that classic Fire Emblem flavor. However, he revealed at that point that he still cares about his friends in the Order, and wants to help them help him so he can be friends with them again.

That’s the brief blurb about it, anyway.

This Intermission kicks off just about directly after that happened, when Anna leads the team to an ancient ruin called the Eternal Sanctum after Zacharias told her they could unlock more of their power there.

 

You go, you conquer, and at the end of the mission the team finds instructions for the Seal Forging ritual, which the team takes back home and unlocks for the player’s future use.

Really it’s as simple as that, even though I made it much more wordy than it had to be.

Once you unlock the option to forge Sacred Seals, you gain two abilities: Creation and Enhancement.

 

These options do exactly what you’d expect just off the names alone.

  • Creation mode: As the name suggests, allows a player to create a brand new Sacred seal that they do not already have. Currently there are only a few options with the “Spur” skills and brand new “Deflect” skills, with the latter being more expensive than the prior to create.
  • Enhancement mode: Again, as the name suggests, allows a player to boost the power of an enumerated Sacred Seal they already own. With this, “Breath of Life 1” can grow to eventually become “Breath of Life 3,” providing all the benefits of a third level skill as an add-on to a hero.

Both of these abilities take Sacred Coins, an item you receive as rewards for getting good rankings in the Arena Assault mode. Before now these items were completely useless and just taking up space, so I’m glad they can now be used for something.

Though, because I never took them seriously, I never actually spent a lot of effort earning them… So looks like I’ll have to take Arena Assault mode a bit more seriously from here on out. They are also adding them as rewards in other places like quests and through Tempest Trials from here on out, so that’s definitely a plus!

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Remember this image, it’s going to be relevant again later in this post.

That’s really about all there is to say about Sacred Seal forging at this point. All and all I’d say it’s a quite welcomed addition as a means of making units more powerful for both casual and Arena play. Plus, it fills in some knowledge gaps as far as letting us know what certain things do that previously had no purpose, so it’s satisfying in that regard.

Yet, I wouldn’t argue I’m personally blown away by this part of the update. It’s definitely nice, but I’m not enough of an Arena junkie to feel like I’ll get an exorbitant amount of use out of the system outside of an underlying drive to collect everything.

I can probably blame Pokémon for that one now that I’m thinking about it… But that’s another story.


Seal forging isn’t the only thing that was added in Version 1.8. It was certainly the biggest thing that was added, but there are a number of more minor aesthetic and mechanical adjustments that are actually wonderful additions in terms of making the entire user experience with Fire Emblem Heroes more smooth.

There are three other changes that the game felt were important enough to spell out in more detail as a part of this update, so I figure I’ll break them down the same way.

Changing Teams

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Now this is a change I can get behind. When playing Fire Emblem Heroes, I’m a huge culprit of the ‘look at a mission, then change teams up to fit said mission’ phenomenon. If that is, in fact, a phenomenon most players encounter.

Either way, the inconvenience of this issue is now a thing of the past. Instead of having to jump through seemingly 20 different pages to go from the entrance of a mission to the team editing screen, you can now go to team editing right away thanks to an extra button just at the bottom of the confirmation screen.

As you’ll see again with the other two things here, this change is all about convenience for the player, as just the fact that it was added at all leads me to believe other players had just as much to groan about as I did in regards to how long it took to get to the editing teams menu.

So good on you for listening to that bellyaching and turning it into constructive criticism, Intelligent Systems. I certainly know I appreciate the change.

Quick Questing

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See, I told you this particular image would be relevant again.

Much like going to the team editing screen from a battle confirmation screen was a pain, so was going from a battle confirmation screen to the menu showing off whatever quests and missions you had available. If you were trying to accomplish a mission with a certain goal on a certain level, flipping through those screens was almost a necessity.

Luckily, thanks to Version 1.8’s push for convenience, that problem is also a thing of the past.

Now when you’re looking at missions you can go directly to wherever that mission is relevant for. Need to beat the Training Tower’s Tenth Stratum another six times? Well, here’s a button to go straight there. Plus, it works in reverse, which means you can go from the battle confirmation screen to the quests and missions tab and vice versa. Way cool.

However, I think my favorite part of this change is that it also added these:

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Markers showing off which options include mission-specific things you can complete is honestly incredible. It again removes the need to flip between two pages to pick up on the information you need, but in a much more streamlined way.

I would probably argue this addition is my favorite part of this entire update, just because it’s exactly the sort of thing I’ve been internally asking for since the day the game came out.

Easy Auto-Battle

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The option is actually here in the bottom right-hand corner (^^^), in case you missed it.

With this one, what you see is what you get. Now there’s a more convenient button available (if you turn it on in your settings menu) to turn auto-battling on and off. During a game mode where you have to fight multiple teams in succession, this also keeps it on across multiple battles.

Simple convenience is the name of the game here, folks. Not too much to say, but the effort to improve the user experience is cool to see seeping through every inch of this game as time goes on.

Beyond those three, a number of other things were done that I figure are best left up to the concise words bestowed by in-game text:

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  • I haven’t played a lot with character supports beyond doing it for some stat buffs between my calvary units as a test run, but I guess it’s nice to see a more concise list of the benefits it provides right from the Support Rank icon. Don’t have much to say beyond that, however.
  • Voting Gauntlets don’t happen that often, and an aesthetic change as small as darkening out the members of a team you have selected other than the one that will appear in the Gauntlet is definitely more of an unnoticeable change unless you’ve been playing this game as long as I have. While I did notice this before even reading it in the change log, I’ll say pretty bluntly that it doesn’t change my life much at all.
  • Seeing every item you collect when using the “Accept All” option is a change that is arguably negligible enough to not have to be there at all, but I will admit there is something nice about getting a complete breakdown of what you’ll be earning should you be accepting items strewn across multiple mission and quest lines.
  • Gotta love bug fixes.

While that’s everything new with Version 1.8, I also figured it would be worth bringing up the new Voting Gauntlet that started today, if for no other reason than to look back at this when it’s over and lament whatever choices I’ve made in the here and now.

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The theme for this gauntlet is “The Blood of Dragons,” which pits Manakete against Manakete in a battle of the ancient bloodlines.

Not much has changed with this version in regards to the Voting Gauntlet system, other than the fact that supposedly adjustments were made in determining which army is stronger or weaker (which I really hope isn’t an actual fix considering what a meme it has become amongst my friends to send pictures of billion or trillion point differences in scores that read in-game as being the “same” as one another).

Though mechanically things are the same, there are some different rewards this time around for putting in the time to play:

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Take three – Possibly my most prominently used photo in any post ever just from this one alone.

Like I mentioned before in the Sacred Seals forging portion, now Sacred Coins have been added as rewards for completing Gauntlet-related quests. Between those and orbs, there are a growing number of incentives to participate as time goes on.

Personally, I’ll be participating on the side of young Tiki. She was one of my first five star units ever summoned, so there’s sentimental value there, and I also happen to adore her unrequited love for Marth in the canon of the games in which she appears.

I’m a sucker for that sort of thing, okay? Sue me.

If Tiki fails I’ll probably jump on the Nowi train since I get the feeling she has a strong chance of winning… But that’s a bridge we’ll have to cross when we get there. For now, I’ll just keep focused on supporting my girl as far as she’ll go.


Well, that about does it for another unnecessarily huge Fire Emblem Heroes post.

Seriously this was another relatively small update that I managed to turn into a 2,200 word post. How I do that is beyond me, but I sure hope that it clears out whatever issues I have backed up in my psyche in one way or another.

If you stuck with me so far, then thank you. As a reward, I’ll treat you with this: My favorite picture out of Mario & Luigi Superstar Saga so far.

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Nothing like a good old game of Donkey Kong to really bring the world together.

It’s either this one or blowing up the fat skeleton in the shipwrecked S.S. Chuckola, but that also requires some extra explanation to truly appreciate the fatso jokes, so… Yeah. For another time.

Like I mentioned at the beginning of this post, I’m actually working on an article for the Daily Titan reviewing the Superstar Saga remake, so expect to see that by the end of the week. In fact, I have far more to say about the game than I’ll ever be allowed to publish, even if it’s probably going online-only, so expect to see an unabridged version of that review here on the blog not too long after.

Until then, let me know what you think of Sacred Seal forging and the other small changes from this update in the comments below!

If nothing else, I know messing with some of this stuff is going to be a wonderful distraction from having to study for my statistics exam this week. Seriously not looking forward to that.

Reunited and it feels so good

Reunited and it feels so good

After a long week of dealing in hard news, it feels nice to finally make it to the weekend.

It feels even nicer to make it to the weekend when that weekend happens to hold the ever-tantalizing promise of a brand new video game!

The remake of Mario & Luigi Superstar Saga came out today and boy have I been waiting in absolutely impatient anticipation for it. The original game came out almost 14 years ago, and I would argue it easily makes it into my top five favorite games of all time.

No joke, I’ve probably played through Superstar Saga completely a couple dozen times, or at least enough so that I can’t really keep track. It’s one of those games that’s not only a great time, but also always brings me right back to being a youngin’ before life started to get all full of responsibilities and junk.

Oh, and when I say it brings me back, I mean that pretty literally. I have very specific memories of standing by a wall in the yard/playground area of Birney Elementary School fighting the Queen Bean boss with some of my school friends on my Gameboy Micro. We’re talking real deep cuts here.

Ironically I also remember a very similar situation with a game that also got a fairly recent 3DS remake, Pokémon Sapphire. I distinctly remember being in that same general area with my friends, raising a Silcoon in Petalburg Woods (for some reason) while some sort of an elementary school band concert was going on. 

But I suppose that’s a story for another time. Cause I’m in Mario land now.

To be completely honest, this post isn’t even all that accurate, it might technically be misleading from the way I’ve been setting it up. I actually got this game a couple hours ago, but I’ve been so enthralled getting back into it that I forgot to finish writing this. 

Oops.

I’ve been meaning to write a post about the new Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon trailer from yesterday too, since it actually introduces us to a hell of a lot of information that makes me excited for the game… And I’ve also been meaning to study for this Statistics test I have next week… And I’ve been meaning to work on some editing for the Daily Titan to get us ahead for our special financial issue… But I guess we’ll just have to see how well balancing that all goes.

Long story short, Pokémon might unfortunately be the element that falls to the wayside, and if it is just know you can blame not knowing my opinions on an expansive Ultra Space on how much I’m playing Superstar Saga.

Having spent as much time on the remake as I have already, I can confidently say that I’m already forming a solid opinion about it, which is good because I promised our Lifestyle editor that I would be writing her a review for the game.

As a first impression blurb here before I start to put those thoughts more concretely onto paper, I’d say that the game is extremely faithful to the original game in many ways, such as the storyline and comedy that goes along with it, though just about everything graphically and in the sound design has been overhauled to… Mixed effect. Some of it is spot on, but some of it kind of misses the mark for me.

Oh, and there are a good amount of mechanical changes and improvements that sort of feel the same way. A lot of things seem more streamlined and easier to control as a result, but other things arguably feel more cumbersome, which I would almost unfortunately argue brings the issues of being so faithful to an older game to light.

Of course, I am only in the first area of the game outside of the tutorial zone, Stardust Fields, so perhaps my opinions will change as I get exposed to more and more of what’s going on. Either way, I know I’m already having a great time playing, and in a sense that almost makes all of my criticisms more the nit-pickings of an overly obsessive fan rather than anything truly damning.

I guess look forward to next week when I hopefully get that concise review put together. I’ll be working on trying not to kill my editor with an abundance of unnecessary detail… Though like I said, after last week, I’m relishing the opportunity to write something fun. 

So who knows. Only time will tell. Until then, you’ll know where to find me.

Continuing to have fury.

A song of Awakening and Fates

A song of Awakening and Fates

My last post about Fire Emblem Heroes was pretty negative honestly. I talked all about how tired I felt I was getting seeing things like Tempest Trials show up over and over, burning me out more each time without a substantial break in between.

However… This new banner of special heroes brought me right back from the brink of despair.

I’m not even overemphasizing things that much. Two nights ago when the trailer dropped showing off these four new units, I watched the video at least five times while sitting in the newsroom, waiting for corrections to come back on front page. I was excited to see who was added, I liked the look they were going for and I REALLY liked the music that went with the trailer – though I’ll get more into that later.

Hell, I was so excited about these heroes that even in the midst of a super exciting update to Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Links with a billion giveaways to celebrate the launch of a GX-themed world, I still found myself thinking about Fire Emblem. Waiting impatiently for the update.

Now that it’s here, was it worth the wait?

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Though everyone was expecting some sort of a Halloween-themed update to coincide with the beginning of October, instead we got a summoning banner themed around dancing and singing, featuring characters who do those things from Fire Emblem Awakening and Fire Emblem Fates. Namely:

  • AzuraLady of Ballads
    • Dressed like she is during her special musical number in the Conquest route of Fates, Azura’s performer ensemble is an interesting departure from the norm in that she comes as an axe-wielder rather than a lance-wielder… Though she generally serves the same niche as her original counterpart. Her special axe Udor (with some weird accent over the ‘o’ that I can’t even start to imagine how to recreate) makes it so anyone she sings for also gains +3 to every stat. Frankly, that’s a crazy buff. She also comes with Triangle Adept to help take out other lances and a passive buff to ally resistance stats during combat, but I would argue the special axe overshadows everything else.
  • InigoIndigo Dancer
    • Clearly somewhat over his stage fright, Inigo is here in his pre-Laslow standing. Rather than coming in as a mercenary like we might expect, however, he’s fully embraced his dancing spirit and… Is a green mage. I’ll be honest, the green mage thing threw me off when I first saw it, but his Dancer’s Ring has the Breath of Life skill built in, so it’s pretty cool. I can’t complain about it, at least. He can also dance for allies and provide them +4 speed if he does, with a turn start buff to attack for adjacent allies as well.
  • OliviaFestival Dancer
    • Inigo’s mother Olivia is also making an appearance, wearing an outfit that’s as revealing as ever but comes with a super nice dark color scheme – I think it’s really nice, at least. Instead of bringing a sword for protection, she carries a weapon called the Dancer’s Fan: A colorless dagger that has a Breath of Life skill built in similar to Inigo’s weapon while also causing a -7 defense and resistance affliction to opponents. Seriously, if you like Inigo’s weapon, this one is above and beyond that, even if it trades off some power and has a physical rather than a magical attribute. She also grants +4 attack with her dance and has Distant Defense, a skill which adds defense and resistance during combat if she’s attacked from afar – something you’ll likely see often with a dagger weapon.
  • ShigureDark Sky Singer
    • Azura’s son Shigure makes his first appearance in Fire Emblem Heroes, but comes in as a blue tome mage rather than a lance-wielding pegasus knight as he is in Fates. Though Shigure was admittedly never really my favorite child unit, it’s nice to see him appear, and the outfit he has to match Azura’s is quite pretty in its own right. His weapon, the Dancer’s Score, is essentially a blue version of Inigo’s Dancer’s Ring. On top of that, he grants +4 to a unit’s defense and resistance stats when he sings for them… Though his final skill only provides SP buffs to other blue tome users on your team. Probably useful for training, but not at all for combat.

From a purely mechanical standing, I love how each of these units come with skills that give their singing or dancing extra utility. I haven’t used a unit with an ability that lets units take a second turn, so the idea of finally getting the chance to do so with whatever extra benefits are brought about is exciting.

Though I also have to say that I think my favorite thing about the specific selection of characters for this banner is the fact that they went with a sweet Mother/Son dynamic with the singing and dancing duets. They do address it somewhat in the story for the paralogue, but just as an idea I think it’s a great little connection that I wouldn’t have thought to pull together until I saw it.

Plus, Inigo and Shigure are both technically brand new characters if you don’t count Laslow. They’re child characters too, which gives me some more hope of seeing some of my other favorite child characters from Awakening and Fates in the future.

Given my excitement for these heroes appearing, I prepared myself for the inevitable orb binge. Things have been storing up for a while, since I got everyone I wanted out of the Crimean Heroes banner a few weeks ago in fact, so that extra buffer finally had its chance to be useful.

It became a little event for me in fact, and as you can see from all of these summon pictures:

 

It was a big bust in the end. Up around 80 orbs more or less down the drain without anything to show for it. I didn’t quite blow everything as you can obviously see from the last image in the set above, but I’m generally not a fan of summoning when I have less than 20 orbs on-hand at least. That way I’m not screwed over if I happen to get five colored summoning choices I want to take on at once.

So, in the unfortunate melancholy of my failure to summon any of the performance heroes, I decided to jump over and see the paralogue for this special banner.

Even from the very beginning, this particular bit of story doesn’t go out of it’s way to distinguish itself as anything beyond filler for the sake of introducing cool alternate costumed characters.

There’s a bit of a joking air at the start as Anna sings Azura’s song, Lost in Thoughts All Alone (more or less the theme song of Fire Emblem Fates as a whole, for that matter). However, not much time is devoted to that before things go right down to business:

Get going you do, and as a result you find yourself in the grand canal-flooded opera house in Cyrkensia from Fire Emblem Fates, arguably one of the game’s most significant and popular locations.

Each of the three maps has you fighting at a different location within the Opera House, which frankly does make sense considering the sheer size of the place in the original game:

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Image courtesy of gamerguides.com

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The actual fights on the maps aren’t particularly challenging in my opinion, though having to deal with 2 to 4 units that can all sing or dance to allow their partner a second opportunity to act is a bit of a pain for sure.

Arguably the biggest boon to these maps are how they look. Not only are things inherently interesting considering the special character outfits, but the setting makes for an aesthetically beautiful set piece both in and out of the battle screen.

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Little in-game Azura singing her heart out. Gotta love it.

However, no matter how nice these maps look and how much I enjoy the characters talking within them, in my opinion there is at least one majorly glaring issue with the new content.

Why is there no special music for the special banner about the performing arts?

That whole thing seems counterintuitive to me, honestly. As a matter of fact, I might even go so far as to say the lack of special music is a rather huge detriment to the update as a whole. It took away quite a bit of my initial hype to hear old music show up again for the three battles in the Opera House.

The idea is especially poignant because a really dope song was already used in the announcement trailer that doesn’t get any play here in Heroes proper. It’s honestly perfect, and I was listening to this video over-and-over for parts of the day leading in just so I could keep hearing the remix.

Don’t want to dwell too much on that however, as music issues aside there isn’t a lot of substance to go over in the story itself either. Each of the three maps starts with a small introduction to the characters that are going to be the focus in that fight, as you’d probably expect.

The first map has Inigo and Azura running into one another, with Inigo having to break away from his desire to hit on such a beautiful lady so they can stop you.

Why are they stopping you? Well… They think you’re intruding on the sanctity of the stage they’re performing on? I guess?

The motivations are a little weirdly specific this time around, I’ll be honest. Though props to the reference of Azura knowing Laslow, who is Inigo taking on a different name at some point the future.

The second map features Olivia and Shigure in a different part of the Opera House, more or less encountering your team under the same mysterious pretense that Azura and Inigo did.

Then finally, the third map features the two groups coming together to fight, dividing into Mother/Son combos of dancers and singers.

Interestingly enough, this part of the paralogue was the most interesting to me because it takes a small detour to delve into lore and character building for this dark-cloaked Azura.

It’s just interesting to me that they decide to talk about the implications of the story in Fates, messing with time by having Shigure appear to be from some canonical timeline that Azura has disappeared in while this special Azura is apparently from some other continuity. I suppose if it’s a subject they can mess with anywhere, Heroes is a good place to do so considering it’s predicated on the idea of drawing characters out from various timelines and dimensions or what have you, but it still seems to be a complicated thing to add just in the middle of another thing going on.

It’s also a little unbalanced in my head to see Inigo and Olivia have a happy little reunion while Shigure and Azura’s interactions are more seeped in sadness and angst… But at the same time that probably fits the characters we’re looking at pretty well. So who am I to complain?

Beyond that side note about Azura, however, there isn’t much else to talk about in regards to story. After you beat the four performers, they acknowledge they were wrong and offer to help you if you summon them later… But it just ends there. No extra banter from the Order of Heroes characters or anything. Just a one-and-done sort of deal.

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Whether it was “kind” to come in and beat everyone up until they came to their senses is an argument we’ve yet to have extensively, but it’s a nice sentiment to end on either way.

The romp through Cyrkensia may have been overall uneventful, more of a filler ark like I said before, and the lack of special music continues to baffle me… But in the end it serves it’s overall purpose well.

That purpose being offering opportunity to earn extra orbs.

I decided to use those extra orbs I earned from the story missions for one last attempt at summoning. An attempt that had…

Very unexpected results. But certainly not results I’m interested in complaining about.

Got me a special Azura, baby!

With this special Azura comes a special personal distinction in that I’ve never had a good dancing/singing unit before to support my team with double action turns. Now I do, and although I’ve been finding that Azura might be a little too much of a glass cannon for my tastes, I’m still excited to make good use of her.

… Though I also won’t stop trying to get some of the others over the next month. Grinding the Tempest Trials out to the end will net me some extra chances to summon, and in particular I’m looking out for Olivia at this point. A good colorless is something that’s far more widely applicable.

But I digress, since beggars can’t be choosers and all that.

After all, it’s time for me to go get some more orbs and get my GX on. Don’t know whether I want to write a post about the GX world coming since I’ve already basically blown through all the first-time impressions… But I suppose if you’re interested in seeing that, let me know in the comments below.

In fact, if you have any opinions on the performing arts heroes, let me know that in the comments too!

Ike’s Tempest Trials: Too par for the course?

Ike’s Tempest Trials: Too par for the course?

After a week of being checked out in terms of blogging, I have to say it feels like a nice little personal accomplishment to have something video game-y around here two days in a row. Sure it’s pretty general Pokémon news followed by yet another Tempest Trials post, but just getting myself to do it is nice.

Though, as the title of this one suggests, I’m actually not expecting to write all that much for this one. It’ll probably be more of a short “here’s what’s going down” post without a lot of fluff because there isn’t too much fluff to add. These trials aren’t unique for being miniature, there’s no new mechanics being implemented or tweaks to the formula or anything of that nature. No, this time, it just seems like Intelligent Systems have hit a consistent stride in putting these out.

So much so that I frankly almost dread the perceived time sink undergoing these trials may become moreso than I’m interested in seeing how they play out. It’s an odd bit of existentialism for a game that I enjoy, but it’s something I’m probably going to have to work out on my own so I won’t bore the world with those details here.

Instead, let’s get right in and see what’s new this time around.



Editor’s Note: I’m coming back here to say I thought this would be short before it wound up being 2,000 words or so. For anyone I may have even momentarily misled, I hope you accept my sincere apologies.



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Coming about a week or two after the Blazing Blade-themed Tempest Trials Mini is a brand new set of trials based in the world of Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance and Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn. Besides this new world of emphasis, however, Moment of Fate doesn’t provide too much that’s novel in its own right, as I mentioned before.

That much is evident right when you enter the Tempest icon and get an introductory scene where Masked Lucina joins the Greil Mercenaries to help them save their world much like she has with a number of other groups thus far.

As usual, I do appreciate the continued world building we get following a single character in her drive to stop the Tempest, as I’m sure that wide-spread narriative is eventually going to culminate in an ambitious “save the universe” push through either a final Trial or more in-game story missions.

In this case, however, the tying narriative feels… Underwhelming. The six panels I presented above are essentially all the story you get before getting dropped straight into things. It’s simple and it works, but at this point perhaps the formulaic nature is starting to get a little stale.

Though I will concede that it’s interesting how Lucina continues to come in with preemptive knowledge on just who the chief antagonist of the Trials will be:

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The detail might be small and easy to brush aside, but I would honestly be interested in seeing some sort of a backstory at some point showcasing whether Lucina always has advanced knowledge because she knows more than she lets on about the villains behind the Tempest in some intense conspiracy or because she does some extensive recon before meeting up with your allies in the fight.

Or, I guess arguably the most logical answer given her canonical character is that she knows everything because she’s from the future. But even that could make an interesting twist on the whole affair, letting us see her learning about the aftermath in an area ruined by a Tempest before she goes back to save that area in the past.

Just some food for thought.

Once you’re past the underwhelming nitty-gritty of the story behind these Trials, everything continues to be business as usual.

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In a small-scale interesting twist, the Bonus allies have been reversed this time around. Rather than having the heroes you can summon on the Tempest Trials-themed banner serve as the +40% bonus heroes, they sit down in the +20% instead. Aside from Ike, who of course gets to be at the top of the pack. Joining Ike instead this time around are the three summoning banner focus heroes from Crimea that got released on September 15.

That twist luckily comes in my favor, as I’ve had a good string of pulls in Heroes since these three were put in the game:

My Elincia-led Pegasus squad finally gets its time to shine.

That said, the battle system itself is the same. Get through X number of battles based on the difficulty you choose, where each team you use is worn down in every battle and you only have access to a certain number of teams also based on your difficulty.

Enemy units still keep their damage and unit loses when your team loses, and though that’s quite an old change at this point, I’ll never stop praising the developers for implementing that.

At the end of a run you come face-to-face with the Black Knight, just as Lucina warned at the beginning of everything:

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I don’t have any personal experience with the special map you fight him in because I haven’t played the games these characters come from, but I do enjoy the grand throne room look. It’s dope.

Unlike the Black Knight, who is actually a huge pain in the ass.

In my post about the Crimean heroes, I talked about the Black Knight appearing in the newest story missions. At the time I mentioned his skills seemed pretty broken, the kind of thing that would make him a wonderful unit to use on an heavy Armor-based team. I still stand by that, but the flip side is true in that he becomes that much harder to fight when he’s a good unit.

Take a look at this:

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Reinhardt is arguably one of the best units in Fire Emblem Heroes. Particularly on a team of cavaliers, he’s well renowned in the game’s meta for being a unit that one-shots practically any unit through a combination of his high power, mobility and special multi-attack tome. I think he’s the only unit besides Hector who had consistently been considered S+ tier among fan rankings with or without skill investment.

Yet even with a team specially built to support him, my Reinhardt wasn’t able to kill the Black Knight even after activating a high damage-boosting special move. That’s pretty crazy.

Of course I was personally able to beat him after whittling the guy down, but I did have to use another team to do the job. It’s a pain to have to deal with the extra steps, somewhat adding to the monotony of taking on these battles over-and-over, but thanks to a collection of good teams I have at least racking up points overall isn’t a problem for me like it once was.

In the end it all becomes worth it, as what would racking up points be without rewards to collect for the hard work?

This time around the character reward is none other then our buddy the Black Knight himself:

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That’s right, beat the guy down enough and he’ll eventually submit to your command. There’s something poetic to that I suppose, and it adds some levity to the idea of having to take on his challenge repeatedly.

The other token Sacred Seal rewards are a bit more hit-and-miss this time around, however. The first two are a +1 Resistance boost and Fortify Defense to benefit adjacent allies at the start of each turn. Nothing particularly special.

The third Sacred Seal is Panic Ploy at 40,000 points, which is actually well worth the effort. Panic Ploy makes it so every unit in all spaces across cardinal directions that have 5 less health than the equipped unit start a turn with stat buffs becoming stat reductions instead. It’s a rare ability on units you can summon, so having the ability to choose someone to put it on via a Seal is actually really nice.

Oh, and let’s not forget the small mountain of Orbs, feathers and crystals you can pile up while making your way through the reward tiers. Those are always nice.


Beyond that, there’s honestly nothing new to say regarding these Tempest Trials. There could be something interesting in the post-game cutscene with Masked Lucina moving on to her next challenge, but I don’t have the precognitive abilities to tell what that’s going to be two weeks from now, so this is just about the end of the road. Now we’re off on a journey to slog through the battles to make those reward tiers over the next two weeks.

If you hadn’t noticed, this post has honestly been a little more clinical and negative than usual, with lots of talk about slogging through repetitive battles. I’ve certainly noticed it. That could just be because I’m a little tired and in a weird mental place lately, but realistically it occurs to me now that perhaps the close proximity to our last Tempest Trials Mini has led to a preemptive downfall of this one in my mind.

Don’t get me wrong, I will literally never complain about the rewards we get for participating in these events, but my personal play style tends to encourage going after as many of those rewards as possible to hoard those suckers for a rainy day. Since the second Tempest Trials, I’ve always hit the top tier of rewards so suckle every last Orb from Intelligent System’s only occasionally benevolent teat.

Because of that, I think I’ve developed a habit of burning myself out on Heroes whenever a Trials period comes along. The two weeks that have Trials every month or so are the only times I use Stamina Potions, as I have so many of those that I can consistently slam them out, mindlessly battle in one hand until my energy is gone and repeat to rack up as many points as possible in as condensed a period as possible.

Perhaps that means the fault is in my own hands for feeling exhausted about these Trials before they begin. I know what I’m getting myself into and I know I just went through it, so I’m just not in the right frame of mind to do it again.

But that argument in itself implies a deeper root issue. Did the Miniature Trials throw off my Heroes Circadian Rhythm, as it were? Did having a small version of this same event in the middle of the usual refractory period we get extend some underlying exhaustion I’ve yet to come to terms with?

Perhaps. That certainly seems like a logical argument.

At the same time, however, I’m not sure I can argue whether this is an inherently good or a bad thing. Obviously the developers wouldn’t intend to burn out their players, so I’m sure it’s not some conspiracy against me personally. It’s just something I have to come to confront in my own overly-complex logical approaches to what should honestly be a mindless experience.

That said, I will argue that perhaps it’s time for something new to come around in Heroes to freshen things up a little more. Because if we start to continue a frequent schedule of Trials and Miniature Trials, I’m not sure I’ll be able to keep latched on for very long.


Existential reflections on this game out of the way, I will actually leave well enough alone and end things here. It’s about time I get some sleep before I continue to ramble way past what’s necessary, and I’m sure everyone’s tired of hearing me talk for a long time about small things the last couple days.

So, as usual I’ll leave with a question for the audience. For those of you who play Fire Emblem Heroes too: Am I just mindlessly rambling about things that are in my own head? Or does this particular Trials run seem more exhaustive and underwhelming than usual? Is there anything else you’d like to see come around to shake things up?

Let me know in the comments down below!