Monday, December 31, 2012

Tactical Insights 2012 Awards

Let's look at some of the best tactics games released this year. No big surprises this year. It was a pretty good year overall for tactics games. The indie scene on iOS/Android and PC is thriving while consoles continue to decline in importance.

3DS/DS Winner: Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor 2

Devil Survivor 2 was released last year in Japan and this year in North America. With the DS winding down and the 3DS just heating up, there wasn't much competition for quality 3DS/DS tactics games this year. Devil Survivor 2 managed to be the best tactics game on the 3DS/DS two years in a row. Devil Survivor 2 is a solid tactics game with a unique battle system, plenty of customization and interesting bosses. Check out my review if you haven't yet.

While I haven't played Fire Emblem: Awakening for 3DS, I don't like what I've heard of it. It's more of an open world RPG with endless stat grinding, heavy game imbalance, and dating simulation. I'll see what it's like when it's released in NA next year (thanks 3DS region lock), but I highly doubt I'll like it as much as Fire Emblem: Heroes of Light and Shadow.

PSP Winner: Gungnir

Gungnir is another Sting tactics game, following the Union series (Yggdra Union being the only one released in NA). The battle system is speed based and isometric 3D with height mechanics, similar to FFT or TO. However unlike FFT or TO it's a fairly hardcore and demanding tactics game with several complex and unusual systems, good game balance, rank mechanics, and a skill based scoring system.

Scoring systems and complex mechanics tend to send your average RPG player running away screaming, so it's no surprise it got a lackluster reception. Even though there's a beginner mode and you can grind, the mechanics are probably baffling to your average RPGer. I've lost count of the number of times I've read people complaining that the scoring system discouraged them from hanging around a map opening every treasure chest. That's the point of the scoring system - to encourage you to make strategic choices. Of course you can still do game over grinding, but level ups mean very little and your score will suffer if you grind, as it should. In any case, I enjoyed it.

PSP Runner Up: 2nd Super Robot Wars Z Saisei-hen

More Super Robot Wars, what a surprise! While this SRW is very easy, it's still pretty fun. I was able to enjoy it doing a no upgrade run with low turn counts. Its game mechanics are not as in depth, balanced, skill based, or polished as Gungnir, but few tactics games are.

PC Winner: XCOM: Enemy Unknown

XCOM: Enemy Unknown is a solid tactics game that brings a much simplified version of the original X-Com to modern day gaming. While I think it's a good game, I also think it has been overhyped by people who turn a blind eye to other good and/or challenging PC tactics games out there, let alone other console tactics games.  I've written a detailed review that you can find here if you want my detailed opinion.

Honestly after beating the game on Classic Ironman and Impossible I haven't gone back to it - it just doesn't have the longevity the original had. The added DLC missions have not motivated me to play the campaign again to experience them. It would have been nice if they were also available as stand alone missions.

PC Runner Up: Battle Academy: Operation Sealion

Battle Academy is one of my favorite PC tactics games, right next to Panzer General, Panzer Corps, and Elven Legacy. Operation Sealion is another great campaign that is more challenging than previous ones, tasking you with defending a World War 2 Britian against a theoretical German invasion. Panzer Corps - Afrika Corps expansion also looks good although I haven't gotten into it yet.

PS3/360/Wii Winner: 2nd Super Robot Wars OG

Aside from some moe games from Systemsoft, home consoles continue to get almost no tactics game attention. The one exception this year was 2nd Super Robot Wars OG, the first SRW game in 720p resolution. It easily has the best 2D animations of any tactics game.

While it leans on the easy side and has a couple of filler stages, the last couple stages aren't quite a cakewalk. 2nd SRW has more depth than usual with the twin system where you pair two units together into a group. There's lots of room for tweaking and optimizing a party setup.  Turn counts are protected against game over grinding, and when you combine turn counts with the ex-hard difficulty mode you might find some challenge. SRW is still mostly about giant robots violently smacking eachother around, but it's a fun game.

iOS Winner: Hero Academy

Hero Academy sets the standard for asynchronous multiplayer PvP tactics games, which have become all the rage on mobile devices these days. It has fast paced combat, pretty good UI, and makes money selling character packs rather than heavy handed microtransactions. Hero Academy is also available for PC on Steam.

iOS Runner Up: Battle Academy for iPad

Battle Academy for iPad is a bit pricey at $19.99 on the app store, but you won't find a better full fledged tactics game experience on your iPad. I don't own an iPad but if you do you should pick this game up despite the price. I mean you paid $600 for a tablet already, right?

That's it for 2012. Thanks for reading.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Advance Wars 3DS doesn't exist!

Advance Wars 3DS is a popular Google search term people use when arriving here at Tactical Insights, but unfortunately there's no sign of a new Advance Wars game on the horizon.

The latest Advance Wars game titled Days of Ruin was made grittier and edgier and published in NA first. Unfortunately it seems it didn't sell as well as Nintendo expected. Nintendo ended up cancelling the planned Japanese release of Days of Ruin despite already being fully translated in Japanese.

Do I think Nintendo will eventually try to revive the Wars franchise? It's possible. Maybe they'll go for nostalgia and bring back the first Advance Wars cast with a similar cartoony art style and simpler mechanics. The original Advance Wars was the most revered and inspirational of the series, so maybe they can bring something like that back.

Until then, you still probably haven't managed to S rank the original Advance Campaign, so get on it!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Dec 2012 News

We're nearing the end of the year, and that means it's soon time for the second Tactical Insights 2012 awards. There aren't any big surprise wins this year. Consoles see so few quality tactics games that the ones that are published tend to be shoe-ins. The most competitive platform for tactics games tends to be iOS or Android, although it's mostly indie games battling it out.

I suppose the biggest surprise of 2012 is that Skulls of the Shogun still isn't out yet, but they're probably being held back by some kind of publishing related matter. Next year for sure, right?

I've been playing 2nd Super Robot Wars OG (PS3) pretty heavily. I've finished the game once and I'm doing a second run on the ex-hard difficulty mode. It's a pretty easy game for the most part, but still fun enough. The 2D animations are the best I've seen of any tactics game. Check out my video playthrough log on Youtube.

Fire Emblem: Awakening (3DS) will be released in NA on Feb 4, 2013, complete with the same DLC that was released in Japan. Awakening is more of a FE: Sacred Stones style game with a world map, free battles, endless stat grinding, broken game balance, etc. There's also fanservice and dating simulation (yuck). Not really my sort of thing.

Super Robot Wars UX (3DS) will be released in Japan on March 14, 2013. I had figured the 3DS would be the next platform to get a SRW game. SRW UX will have the puzzle robo feature which are scenarios with particular solutions that you're expected to figure out. Check out some screenshots and a trailer at Saint-ism. Saint-ism is a good site for SRW and other mecha news. Official SRW UX site here.

Strat Tech has been updated with a new "Special" difficulty mode. In this mode the enemy gets to take its turn first before you do when you start a level, and they also get more energy to perform abilities and attacks. There are also new upgrade stations where you can upgrade your units energy, although like Advance Wars no units carry over between stages.

Also check out the newly released Perspective and Mastery, two very creative and in depth action puzzle games that are far better designed than the usual indie stuff you see lying around app stores and indie bundles. They do have easy modes available so don't worry about being overwhelmed.

New DLC for Panzer Corps: Panzer Corps Grand Campaign '44 West. If you're a diehard grognard you know Slitherine and Matrix Games publishes the best hardcore PC tactics games out there. Screw all those bright colors and kiddie console games!

Some links posted by Rui Castro on his facebook TBS page:

Telepath Tactics demo and kickstarter.

Just Tactics client now available.

War of Sonria, a PSP Minis tactics game. Apparently only available on the European PSN.

Eador, Masters of the Broken World. A Heroes of Might and Magic style tactics game.

Partia: The Broken Lineage. A straight up Fire Emblem clone for iOS.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Nov 2012 News #2

Big fan translation news. Fire Emblem: Heroes of Light and Shadow (DS) now has a complete English translation patch available. It's one of the best FEs and I highly recommend it.

The Valkyria Chronicles 3 (PSP) translation team have released some great progress screenshots. I'm guessing the patch will be released sometime in 2013.

2nd Super Robot Wars OG for PS3 got a score of 35/40 on Famitsu. Check out some translated details here. There will be more trailers before the 11/29 release. No details on whether there's a very hard difficulty mode available yet.

Check out Rui Castro's Facebook Tactics game group for some more tactics game news and info.

Some new iOS tactics games to check out:

Solarian Tactics. Looks very much like Hero Academy. I'm sure it has its differences, but it's hard to tell from the short trailer.

Battle Dungeon. It's a cross between a tactics game and a dungeon crawler. Looks interesting!

Cthulhu World Combat. Described as inspired by Advance Wars with some tweaks, and based on the mythology of H.P. Lovecraft. It currently has $24k out of its $300k kickstarter goal, so I doubt it's going to make its funding. Maybe they'll find an investor and make the game anyway?

Some new PC tactics games to check out:

Telepath Tactics. It has 6 player multiplayer, a single player campaign, and a nice map editor with modding support.

Just Tactics. Multiplayer focused tactics game with effect cards, reaction shots, and other neat features.

Battle Academy 2: Eastern Front is now in development. Slitherine Games has set up a forum where you can post your suggestions and feedback.

Finally, Slitherine Games is holding a holiday sale. Battle Academy, Field of Glory, and Panzer Corps can be had for $19.99 each. All good tactics games, although I'd recommend Battle Academy if I had to choose one.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Ragnarok Tactics Impressions

I bought Ragnarok Tactics on the PSN for $25 (it's available on both the PSP and Vita). Not a bad price for a new release. It's your standard Final Fantasy Tactics/Tactics Ogre style SRPG with classes, skills, a branching plot line, lots of grinding and party building, etc. Combat seems more balanced than FFT/TO, but it's not very difficult to me. Overall it seems like a plain FFT/TO SRPG clone that isn't going to set the world on fire.

Combat speed is very slow as you can't skip any attack or skill animations, some of which take 5+ seconds. I wish I was kidding. The UI is similarly slow and unresponsive. Party management takes far too long due to delays between menus and UI lag (even with a data install). A single free battle can take up to 30 min just due to the slow combat speed and sluggish UI. It's too bad the combat speed and UI are so poor, as the combat itself seems decent. I just don't have the patience for such games anymore.

Apparently I'm not the only one who thinks so, according to this thread.

"I know it's already been said but the battle pacing is just so slow. I wouldn't recommend it to someone unless they're really into SRPGs and Ragnarok Online."

"thats my only issue atm really, combat feels slow because its bogged down by too many animations"

"The default striking animation and subsequent popups are slow as **** and I just can't see myself playing through this."

What's interesting to me is that I feel that FFT/TO also have slow combat speed and some UI issues. So why are people criticizing Ragnarok Tactics for its slow combat speed, while FFT/TO tends to get a free pass? I asked that very question.

"No. Maybe FFT, but I've never experienced "slowness" in TO."

"FFT, yes that's why I have a hard time getting into it when I first started. I'm gonna parroted Sephi that TO never really felt slow to me."

So apparently FFT is slow, but TO isn't, even though I lost count of the times I had to sit through a 5 second animation as a unit in TO used an item or skill, or cast a spell. Strange how these guys think. If you're looking for more info or discussion about Ragnarok Tactics, check the gamefaqs board.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Nov 2012 News #1

Hi all, time for some more tactics game news. The big news of the past few days has been Julian Gollop (creator of X-Com) announcing a sequel to one of his early tactics games called Chaos. Chaos is like an early version of multiplayer iOS titles like Hero Academy, except more complicated. You can check out Julian Gollop's twitter, or check out his blog with lots of details on the forthcoming Chaos sequel.

Turn based cover shooters seem to be appearing all over the place lately. Jagged Alliance Online is apparently out of testing. It's a microtransaction based browser game, but it's running on the 3D Unity browser plugin so it looks pretty good. Unlike the recent Jagged Alliance remakes, JA Online stays true to the original turn based games, complete with time units or action points. Similar to other free to play tactics games, you can theoretically unlock anything for free, it will just take you aeons of grinding repetitive missions to do it.

You can now download a lite version of Battle Academy for iOS, which is iOS speak for "extended demo".

I've been checking out this semi-tactics game Fallen Enchantress. It's more of a Heroes of Might and Magic style game where you spend most of your time walking around on an overworld map. Tactical fights are limited to small maps against a couple enemies. It seems like a pretty good strategy game, though. Thanks to Dehimos for pointing it out in an earlier comment.

Review of Panzer Corps: Afrika Corps.

Ragnarok Tactics English Launch Trailer. Ragnarok Tactics for PSP is available now.

First English trailer of Fire Emblem: Awakening.

Disgaea D2 screens and trailer.

2nd Super Robot Wars OG preview trailer #4. More extreme shouting and more lasers flying everywhere - what else could it be?

2nd Super Robot Wars OG scenario 1 teaser trailer. As you know I play tactics games for their combat and mechanics, and that's what I base my opinions on. I don't understand much or any of the plot of Japanese games. With that in mind, I was disappointed by this first scenario compared to 2nd SRW Z Hakai-hen and Saisei-hen's opening scenarios and Z2-2's prologue. I'm still looking forward to playing it, I just think they have done better and should have done better gameplay wise.

Unfortunately it's difficult to find a place to safely express a gameplay focused opinion on Super Robot Wars, as a lot of people play it for the plot/characters, and some of the more fanatical fanboys will attack anyone with even a slightly a negative or differing opinion. You would think this is a normal, respectable opinion, but you know how ridiculous internet fanboys can be.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Super Robot Wars Z2-1 final scenario

Want to take a look at Super Robot Wars? Sure you do. Take a look at this video of the final scenario of 2nd SRW Z Hakai-hen for the PSP. I've included a bit of text in the description to help explain what's going on. Much of SRW's strategy revolves around seishins (spirit commands) that have various effects from buffs to heals to debuffs.

The first scenario objective is to destroy the two SW and SE flying bosses and the battleship to the north. My units are in position with the right parts equipped to make sure they can start attacking their targets right away. I get them down to about 1/2 health on turn 1, then try to evade/defend during enemy phase. On turn 2 I finish them off and trigger the final boss Gaioh (lv 99). To weaken the boss I use exhaust, analyze, and a 2 unit surround bonus. I then use Zero buffed Shin Getter with lots of hope/enable/supply to repeatedly attack Gaioh. Gaioh has an attack that halves a units stats so I need to keep flash/alert up as well. I end the scenario with a few hope/enable to spare, but not much!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Windows 8 impressions. The start menu is still better.

Windows 8 has launched, and I've been meaning to reply to the many claims around the net that the start menu is outdated and inferior and the start screen is a better replacement, and that anyone who doesn't agree is an idiot or a Luddite. I'm sorry, but that's BS. The start screen should be okay for your average Windows user, but the start menu is still more efficient and contains more features for accessing, organizing, and managing shortcuts. The start screen leaves Windows power users out in the cold.

On accessibility and organizing. There are no sub folders on the start screen or ways to tag or label programs. You can throw them into groups and give the group a name, but groups are highly limited in customization. There is no way to rearrange groups alphabetically or any way to resize the grid dimensions of a group. It's easier to launch programs by keyboard on the start menu. The start screen covers the entire screen, while the start menu is obviously much less obtrusive.

You have to dig through a dual desktop/metro program's settings to make sure it launches in desktop mode from the start screen, otherwise it will launch as a metro app. And if the program doesn't have a setting, like the current version of Chrome? You're screwed - it will always launch as a metro app from the start screen.

I know which one I'd rather use.
 Things get really hairy when it comes to managing shortcuts. There is no context menu access from the start screen or apps list. Right clicking a shortcut gets you an extremely limited number of options. You have to go to the ironically named "C:\Users\x\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu" folder to do any management or creation of shortcuts that the apps list uses. Almost any shortcut management you can think of can be done directly inside the start menu itself, while managing start screen shortcuts is cumbersome and complex. This is a serious issue for power users that need context menu access to manage and organize their shortcuts.

They couldn't be bothered to rename the folder from Start Menu to Start Screen, I suppose.
The "apps list" will end up being even more of a mess than the start menu as it's more difficult to find an unpinned shortcut in a flat apps list than it is in an alphabetized list of folders in the start menu. Since you can't directly organize the apps list, it will eventually become a huge mess just like an unmanaged start menu. Two layers of shortcuts (the apps list and the start screen) is a bandaid on the problem of shortcuts accumulating as you install new programs. Hiding the mess and not letting the user manage it only makes things worse. I want to be able to manage the apps list such as renaming, creating, and deleting shortcuts just like I can on the start menu.

If you install a new program that doesn't auto-pin itself to the start screen, you will need to go digging through the apps list to find it. Good luck if you forgot the name of a shortcut you wanted to pin. Power users that want to properly manage their shortcuts will have to perform double duty, both making sure that the "...Windows\Start Menu" folder isn't a mess and making sure their start screen is organized and pinned.

Good luck managing or even finding your shortcuts with the apps list.

As for the start screen showing you news, messages, e-mails, weather, and other live feeds or info? Windows already has that, they're called gadgets. Oh wait, MS gutted that feature as well. I'd also like to note that you can search from the start menu just like the start screen, it's not a new feature.

Now the start menu is obviously not perfect. One of its main issues is that you need to move the mouse to the corner/edge of the screen to reach your programs. A good solution would be to allow the start menu to activate from the position of the mouse cursor, much like a context menu. There is a launcher program called SyMenu that functions in this manner, appearing at the position of the mouse cursor, although it isn't very user friendly.

In my opinion MS gutted the start menu to force people to get familiar with its tablet interface, while coming up with a chorus of flimsy excuses that a lot of ignorant article writers on tech sites are parroting without question. I've seen many sanctimonious dismissals that don't address any of the points I've made, while offering up condescension and insults.

Finally, there are issues with Windows 8 itself. The charms bar is more or less useless to desktop users, same with the other mouse edge shortcuts - of course you can't turn any of it off. Advanced Appearance Settings and Aero transparency have both disappeared. The restart/shutdown commands and other commonly accessed start menu commands are ridiculous to access via the mouse. If you're running Win 8 and want the start menu back, I recommend Classic Shell. There are also programs out there that will let you boot directly to desktop and remove all of the edge shortcuts like the charms bar.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Quick Frontline Tactics impressions..

Frontline Tactics is now out on Steam. I gave it a couple hours, which is pretty generous for a free to play game. It's a mostly bare bones turn based tactical cover shooter. Turn based cover shooters are getting a semi-revival with the release of Battle Academy, the new X-Com and the many X-Com clones. The underlying combat mechanics of FT are solid, but there are interface and design issues that hamper what should be a simple but effective turn based cover shooter.

It's obvious the interface was designed for the iPad and ported to PC with very limited keyboard support. I'd like to have more keyboard support, especially for the 'speedup' button that accelerates combat animations.

Frontline Tactics suffers from more "hide the info" syndrome that almost always backfires on the developer. You usually can't tell which enemy is who on the turn order list, even if you click on their names in the turn order list. HP values are totally hidden, which leads to enemies with 1-2 HP left even though the entirety of the health indicator was flashing, misleading me into thinking that they should have died.

You can't see anybody's sight range or any kind of 'fog of war' indicator, so it's very difficult to tell who can see who. It's very hard to see what parts of the terrain are cover, or which parts of the terrain block line of sight/fire.

Those are the least of FT's problems, though. As a free to play game, FT gives you access to very few initial maps, gear, and soldiers. Every time you win 5 battles, you unlock prizes like access to new maps, new game modes, extra soldier slots, or funds. This ridiculously slow pace, combined with the tiny amount of initially unlocked maps, means you'll be playing the same set of maps over and over dozens of times to unlock new stuff. It quickly turns into a bland and boring grind where all I was doing was mowing down endless waves of soldiers trying to unlock the next map or whatever. You can't even spend real money to unlock things faster! I thought that was the point of a free to play game?

You'll also need to grind for funds to improve your soldiers gear and abilities, although you can spend real money on funds. It's a double edged sword, though - enemies will improve their arsenal right along with you. Once you bring a new soldier with an assault rifle, sniper rifle, etc., enemies will start bringing the same weapons. Once you bring a soldier with body armor, they get body armor. This can escalate quickly to the point where if you choose your upgrades poorly, enemies will start to far outmatch your squad.

Some of the game modes are very imbalanced. Survival is pretty much impossible to win until you have a substantially sized squad decked out with body armor, medics, and defensive abilities, otherwise they'll get cut down before you can even give them orders to do anything. It was kind of sad taking my 3 man squad into a survival mission and watching two of them die before I could issue any orders at all. And no, the last guy didn't survive the 20 turns required to win the mission.

Combine the two factors of scaling enemies and lopsided game modes and it's possible to reach a point in the game where every mission is extremely difficult or impossible to complete. You can avoid this by carefully choosing which modes to unlock and which gear to bring, but I would hardly call it a balanced game. Or you can pony up real money to get around the roadblock. I was smart enough to not run into this problem after noticing early on that the enemy's gear improves with mine, but I can see it happening to plenty of hapless players.

But even if you avoid those pitfalls, the game itself is monotonous. In 7 hours of mowing down enemies I was barely using any different strats than the start of the game. I would have liked to earn more points for finishing a mission more quickly, in addition to having all soldiers alive. Give it a try if you want, but expect to get bored quickly even if you get the hang of it. I haven't tried the multiplayer but maybe it's more entertaining than the base game. Although you're going to have to play single player or spend money regardless to get funds to improve your soldiers.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Oct 2012 News (X-Com?!)

It's been a very X-Com month. I've put about 80 hours into X-Com: Enemy Unknown and wrote a review for There are a few nitpicky technical mistakes I made in there, but my points still stand.

New X-Com DLC announced. 3 new missions with "new mechanics" and a recruitable "hero soldier". No word on mod support yet, hopefully Firaxis gets it done for PC gamers.

Hey look at all these X-Com clones. They're multiplying!

Frontline Tactics trailer. Frontline Tactics is a PC/Mac/iOS turn based cover shooter with a modern military theme. Amazingly, instead of shooting aliens with plasma guns, you shoot other people with real life military weapons.

Check out Rui Castro's twitter for some extra tactics game news.

A new Disgaea game called Disgaea D2 has been announced. It's arriving on PS3 on 3/20/2013 in Japan. You can expect a NA localization at some point in the future. I don't expect it to diverge much from the rest of the series. Nippon Ichi also confirmed that Disgaea 5 is still in development.

Fire Emblem: Awakening is coming to Europe on Q2 2013, presumably ahead of NA.

More Panzer Corps DLC available.

Rainbow Moon port announced for Vita.

Translation patch for 2nd Super Robot Wars Z Saisei-hen.

New 2nd Super Robot Wars OG (PS3) screenshots.

4 myths overheard about X-Com

I've heard quite a lot of misinformed statements around the internet with the launch of X-Com: Enemy Unknown. Here are 4 myths I'd like to address:

1. The tactics genre is dead or dying. X-Com is reviving the genre!

The genre has been going strong for years for anyone interested in tactics games for their mechanics and strategic play, not the size of their graphics budget or how many sales charts they top. There are more appealing tactics games being released each year than I can manage to play. And I surely hope not every tactics game in the future plays like X-Com: Enemy Unknown. While it's a decent cover shooter with an interesting strategic layer, its tactical combat lacks depth and variety and is hampered by bugs and control issues.

2. X-Com is a relatively fast paced and responsive game.

See Fire Emblem, Advance Wars, SRW, Front Mission, Elven Legacy, Battle Academy, and many other other tactics games with responsive controls and the ability to speed up or skip combat animations. Most missions on X-Com EU classic/impossible difficulty involve camping behind cover trying to pull one enemy group at a time or slowly inching forward along the edge of a map or building. I often spent more time camping or inching around the map than engaging in combat. Does that sound fast paced or action packed to you?

3. The X-Com controller is faster/more efficient than the mouse/keyboard.

It's a fact that the mouse/kb controls allow a player to input commands more quickly and efficiently. If you can't manage to move 6 units from point A to B faster with the mouse/kb than with the sluggish, inertia-laden analog dot that literally crawls along the ground, you're doing something wrong. I've never had any issue using the mouse to control grenade and rocket trajectories, either. That's not to say that the mouse controls are perfect. The mouse struggles with UFO interiors that have overlapping height layers, but still manages to come out ahead by far.

4. Using saves on a non-ironman run is "cheating".

If the game code allows it, it's not cheating. If someone doesn't check ironman mode at the start of the game, they're free to make and reload from as many saves as they like. Ironman mode was developed specifically to prevent save game reloads - use it and enjoy. What is cheating is playing on ironman mode while making "backup saves" outside of the game, or force quitting before the game autosaves. And don't think I haven't seen you doing it!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Sept 2012 News #2

The Tokyo Games Show has come and gone. No new tactics games were announced, but we got some new trailers and footage.

Project X Zone gameplay footage:

2nd Super Robot Wars OG footage:

2nd Super Robot Wars OG Preview trailer.

SD Gundam G Generation Overworld trailer.

Super Robot Wars Z2 Hakai-hen translation patch. This patch covers menus, names, item/skill descriptions, etc. but no dialogue.

Energy Breaker translation patch. Energy Breaker is a SFC/SNES tactics game. It looks pretty advanced for its age.

I don't consider The Banner Saga a traditional SRPG. It's more of a heroes of might and magic style RPG. But read this preview anyway and check it out.

X-Com: Enemy Unknown PC demo on Steam. I've played through the demo. Seems like a decent turn based cover shooter, but nothing I got excited over. Control flow, responsiveness, and camera could use some work - seems like a bit of a freshman effort. Thank god you can turn the nauseating action camera shots off. There doesn't seem to be any reward for clearing missions quickly, so expect to see a lot of players turtling.

The base UI is lacking in controls and uninformative - it will be difficult to manage during a campaign. They went for flashiness instead of functionality with the base UI and it shows.

Based on the demo, X-Com: Enemy Unknown has been overhyped. It seems like a decent tactics game, not the second coming. I'm not seeing anything particularly exciting or original or engaging about X-Com: Enemy Unknown relative to the 100+ other tactics games I've played. Seems like a pared down arcade style cover shooter meant to appeal to mainstream tastes, overhyped by X-Com fans who don't seem to realize or care that other tactics games exist. Maybe this demo will temper the hype a bit.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Sept 2012 News

Hi all, not a lot going on this month. The Tokyo Games Show is this week and we'll probably get some news there. I'll post in a couple days if anything shows up.

Skulls of the Shogun is still on track for an October release this year for Xbox Live Arcade and Windows 8.

As usual there are a lot of X-Com: Enemy Unknown developer interviews and playthrough impressions. I'm sure I didn't get everything out there, this is just a sampling. Interviews at Destructiod, and Rock Paper Scissors. Gameplay walkthrough on Youtube. You can now preorder X-Com: Enemy Unknown on Steam as well.

Great Big War Game is now available on PC/Steam. It's a port of the iOS game with some extras added. I'm not sure if it's worth the $9.99 price hike but if you like wargame-lite Advance Wars style games it's worth checking out.

One more PC indie tactics game released: War of the Human Tanks. Apparently this is a Japanese doujinsoft game translated to English. I've never heard of it before.

Mecho Wars: Desert Ashes is coming to PC, Mac, iOS, and Android. It's just as much an Advance Wars wargame-lite as the first Mecho Wars.

Here's an iOS wargame I wasn't aware of called Civil War: 1863. According to kotaku it's "More Advance Wars than grognard".

Legends of War, the PSP tactics game that plays very much like Valkyria Chronicles, is coming to PC. Release date "coming soon".

New Project X Zone trailer.

New G Gen Overworld trailer.
Rumors of Project X Zone's localization. Apparently they're looking at how the game sells in Japan first. Maybe it would sell more if the 3DS were region free? Just saying.

Check out this Valkyria Chronicles 3 translation project. I'm pretty sure I mentioned it before. It's not dead and looks like they're making good progress.

A complete Fire Emblem 9 Japanese to English patch was released last month. This is cool because FE9 Japanese version has the extra Mania difficulty mode, so now you can play it in English.

I finished my second SRW Z2-2 playthrough. Once again if you want to check it out here's the youtube playlist. I'm still working on editing and uploading the second playthrough videos.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

August 2012 News #1

Hi all, some big tactics game news hit late last month and early this month, so let's get to it.

More X-Com: Enemy Unknown news. Firaxis is adding multiplayer to the game in the form of humans vs alien battles. I called multiplayer a few months ago but it was kind of a no brainer that they'd add it. In my experience, most single player tactics games with multiplayer "tacked on" tend to be imbalanced and ignored. Only fully dedicated multiplayer tactics games like Hero Academy tend to do well in that regard. They also announced a shooting mini-game called "Interceptor mode" to simulate the UFO hunting of the original game. Being a big budget game with lots of nostalgia behind it, X-Com: Enemy Unknown continues to get coverage on the big gaming blogs and sites like Eurogamer and Gameinformer. Here's another dev interview at, and another at Joystiq. The devs seem to love making the publicity rounds.

More details on differences between the PC and console versions of X-Com. I'm glad they're taking the extra effort to make the PC version better adapted to the mouse and keyboard controls along with modding support. I'm tired of the consoleitis infecting most PC games, Skyrim and Mass Effect 3 being the most recent examples I'm aware of. Some PC console ports are so featureless they don't even let you reconfigure buttons or turn off mouse acceleration.

Panzer Corps: Afrika Korps is out now. It can be played standalone or as an expansion to Panzer Corps. Panzer Corps also got a 1.10 update recently that adds smarter AI and enhanced campaign and scripting capabilities for the map editor. In a developer interview,  Alex Shargin reconfirmed that Panzer Corps will be released on Mac and iOS in the future, along with cross platform multiplayer support. Check out the Afrika Korps release trailer below along with some new screenshots.

Frontline Tactics was announced at Gamescom for Mac, PC, and iOS. It's a military squad based tactics game. According to the developer Thomas Lund posting on the TouchArcade forums, "Game is turn based modern warfare. Take Call of Duty and put it into a TBS setting - mix in some RPG elements, configurability, various weapon and skill trees and voila." And who doesn't like turn based cover shooters.

Hero Academy is now out on Steam. While it's free to play with ads on iOS, you'll have to pay $5 to play it on PC. The big gimmick remains the addition of the Team Fortress 2 cast as a playable faction. Speaking of Robot Entertainment, I've been having a bit of fun with Orcs Must Die 1 and 2. It's a fun tower defense/TPS hybrid, and even crazier in co-op mode with a friend. Check out the Hero Academy release trailer below.

New Mechwarrior Tactics screenshots.

More Fire Emblem: Awakening DLC incoming. There are supposedly "high difficulty maps", although what that means in the context of balance destroying, game breaking DLC is anyone's guess. The last I heard players were clearing the most difficult mode in under 5 hours by using broken DLC characters and classes - just like I predicted months ago. Here's an interesting video showing some of the development tools used to make Fire Emblem: Awakening. Unfortunately it's mostly animations and modeling, not any sort of scripting, unit placement, etc. Maybe they do it all in notepad.exe?

The release date for 2nd Super Robot Wars OG for PS3 is Nov 29, 2012. Namco-Bandai released two new trailers to go with the release date announcement, one of which is below. New gameplay details: There will be 4 pilot combination attacks, and pilots will be able to attack multiple nearby enemies with a "chain lightning" style attack that does diminishing amounts of damage. In related news, check out these new SD Gundam G Generation Overworld screenshots .. and don't laugh at the engrish!

A nearly full translation of Tear Ring Saga for the Playstation has been released. Tear Ring Saga is very similar to Fire Emblem due to the fact that Shouzou Kaga worked on the game, who was the original creator of the Fire Emblem franchise. I played through it a while ago in Japanese and it's a solid if unremarkable Fire Emblem-like tactics game.

In more translation news, Front Mission 2 now has a nearly full translation. The same group that translated Front Mission 5 has done another great translation job. I keep hearing that Front Mission 2 is some kind of difficult game, which I heartily disagree with. It might be more difficult than the easily broken FM3, but if you know how to build decent custom wanzers, it's not particularly taxing. It's also sad to note that the Front Mission franchise is more or less definitively dead, with most of the staff gone from Square-Enix. You can find a semi-eulogy on the same Front Mission 5 translation team blog.

Reviews of two iOS games: Great Big War Game and Spectral Souls.

That's all for now.. certainly a lively genre, right?

Saturday, July 21, 2012

July 2012 News

How's everyone enjoying their summer? Plenty of tactics game news this month. In fact, this blog post covers 14 different tactics games in the news this month. Don't listen to anyone who says the genre's dead!

Here are some reviews of the recently released Rainbow Moon for PS3 from Strategy Informer and Eurogamer. These sites are less likely to have newbies reviewing tactics games and thus less likely to give relatively simple games like Rainbow Moon awestruck raves. I haven't given it a try, but it seems a bit grindy and more of an exploration and dungeon crawl game than a traditional tactics game. Seems like a good beginners game.

More coverage of X-Com: Enemy Unknown. Here's another interview with one of the lead developers. Still hoping for the promised PC enhanced interface and "modability" mentioned earlier. Speaking of X-Com, here's some footage of Star Command, another iOS game trying to capture the glory days of X-Com (or at least X-Com nostalgia).

More previews of Skulls of the Shogun. This preview at Eurogamer is pretty good. I think Skulls will catch on with competitive players who like fast arcade style strategy action similar to Hero Academy or Frozen Synapse.

Speaking of Hero Academy, it's coming to PC and Steam on August 8, 2012 with the original fantasy cast replaced with the cast from Team Fortress 2. If anything, this tie-in will lead to a huge boost in sales by Team Fortress 2 hat collectors. I'm not sure but you'll probably be able to play as the original fantasy cast as well. Asynchronous multiplayer tactics games seem to be really catching on in the iOS market and it looks like that dominance is extending to the PC indie game scene very soon with Hero Academy PC and Skulls of the Shogun, not to mention all of Slitherine Games' more hardcore offerings.

Some various iOS reviews from Pocket Arcade, Touch Arcade, and Armchair General. Legion of the Damned, Outwitters, Battle Academy for iPad, and Aliens vs Humans.

Afrika Korps, the sequel/expansion to Panzer Corps, has a new trailer and release date - July 31, 2012 for the PC. If you like realistic, difficult, and complicated tactical wargames for manly grognards, look no further.

Lots of SD Gundam G Generation Overworld screenshots (1) (2) and a new trailer below. If you like SD Gundams smacking eachother around on a tactical grid, it doesn't get better than this. Look for it on 9/27/2012 for the PSP.

Project X Zone's release draws ever closer - it's arriving on 10/11/2012 for the region locked 3DS. I mention region lock because I still don't have a Japanese 3DS and I likely won't until there are quite a few import games worth playing on it. Here are some screenshots in addition to the below trailer.

The Tokyo Games Show is coming soon on 9/20/2012. Look forward to at least a little bit of tactics game news from the show. I'm thinking we'll see some Super Robot Wars news for sure, especially details on the upcoming 2nd OG for PS3, which is notable for being the first SRW game in 720p resolution.

Namco Bandai will be publishing Summon Night 5 for the PSP, release date TBA. Summon Night is a long running Japanese only SRPG series. It tends to be on the easier/grindy side of tactics games, and the cast is mostly children or teenagers, so it will probably catch on with the Disgaea/FFT/TO crowd. Or at least it would if it were ever localized. The developer of Summon Night 5 is Felistella, which is made up of former Flight Plan staff that worked on previous Summon Night games. Namco Bandai will also be re-publishing/porting Summon Night 1-4 on the PSP/Vita as downloadable titles, presumably to drum up new interest in the series. An official site for Summon Night 5 will open on 7/30/2012.

The sky is blue, grass is green, and Nippon Ichi is working on Disgaea 5, or planning on it. Not very surprising news, but we've got confirmation that they are working on it. I'm betting the max level will be so high, you'll need to express it in exponential notation.

Last but not least, here's a Frozen Synapse for iPad preview trailer:

On to gaming in science (some articles may be a few months old):

Robot Hand Beats You At Rock, Paper, Scissors 100% of the Time
Brain scans of people playing poker.
A computer that learns the rules of a game by watching you play.
Algorithm beats jigsaw-solving record.
Game of go: A complex network.
'Game-powered machine learning' opens door to Google for music.
In the brain, winning is everywhere.

On to what I've been up to:

Not a whole lot. I'm about midway through the Gungnir Nightmare *** playthrough. I've mostly lost interest as I get bored either spamming the RNG for safe ragnaroks or trying to get burn/poison to proc on a high HP boss. I'll probably pick up my Z2-2 2nd playthrough soon. Feel free to share what you've been playing, your tactics experiences, how much the recent Steam Sale owned your wallet, or how much you hate that I owned you on that one message board that one time.

I'd like to get a title image for Tactical Insights so if anyone would like to volunteer (or be paid a bit via paypal), please contact me.

Friday, June 22, 2012

June 2012 News #2


Rainbow Moon, the PS3 downloadable SRPG, will be available on July 10 in NA. According to this article, random encounters are optional, and the enemy AI might be smarter than usual. I'm still wondering what the ranking tab on the official web site is for. It might just be one of those nonsensical rankings that tell you how much time a player has invested in a game and little else. On the other hand, the Rainbow Moon developers did create Soldner X which is a decent shoot em up, so maybe some of that will carry over.
Fire Emblem: Awakening for 3DS is arriving in NA sometime in 2013 with DLC separate. No, they're not putting it on the cart for NA gamers.

Namco-Bandai has announced SD Gundam G Generation Overworld for PSP. It features lots of Gundam series and some new gameplay features. Official site here.

Another day, another X-Com: Enemy Unknown developer interview. Notable quote: "We love the idea of a cover-based system, using flanking, line of sight, angles on the enemies, that's more of the decision being made, as opposed to [different shot types]."

New details on Tales of the World Tactics Union. PSP/Vita port anyone?

New Project X Zone trailer from the recent Nintendo Direct. Once again, this game promises to be more about the battle mini-games than the tactical combat.

The developers of Legends of War: Patton's Campaign for PSP are apparently partnering with Slitherine Games to publish a retail and digital port/remake to PC, PS3, X360, and Vita. That seems like a pretty ambitious publishing move and I wouldn't be surprised if it went digital only and cut some of the systems. Pocket Tactics reported back in April that Field of Glory is getting an iPad/Android port and Battle Academy is getting an Android port, in addition to Panzer Corps for iPad.

Great Big War Game, the iOS sequel to Great Little War Game has a new trailer. Release date in "very early July".

Valkyria Chronicles 3 translation project. Nothing released yet, but it looks promising.

New Frozen Synapse for iPad trailer. Not surprisingly, it looks a lot like the PC version.

Kadokawa Games announced a PSP SRPG called Horizon on the Middle of Nowhere Portable. It looks like a low budget/low quality fanservice game, so don't expect much attention to be paid to it.

My review of Dragon's Dogma is up on

I've finished Gungnir and I thought it was a good tactics game with enough variety for most player skill levels. It's fast paced, balanced, strategic, not too RNG heavy, and has lots of variety. The UI could use some improvement, but I think it holds up pretty well even for advanced players. If you like grinding and easy difficulty, you can play on Basic difficulty and do some grinding to raise your stats, or if you like a challenge, try Nightmare mode and aim for a high score/rank. Most impressively to me, most of the game mechanics and strategic depth works well together and there's little or nothing that sticks out to me as meaningless or "tacked on".

I've noticed a lot of hits to Tactical Insights searching for Gungnir. Here are some links if you're interested:

Gungnir guide on Gamefaqs. This is a fairly well done guide that explains most of the mechanics and has some useful info.

Gamefaqs Gungnir forum.You'll find tons of useful info and advice here.

Looking for the digital version of the Gungnir instruction manual? Find it here.

Gungnir walkthrough on youtube.

I'll have a review of Gungnir up on soon.

Friday, June 15, 2012

June 2012 News and Commentary

Some interesting Skulls of the Shogun news. The PC version will only be available on Windows 8. I'll be writing a new preview soon.

More game coverage of X-Com: Enemy Unknown. It's all over gaming coverage sites.

Aksys Games officially announces their localization of Ragnarok Tactics. You can preorder Ragnarok Tactics at for $30. I'm liking the discount prices on these localized PSP tactics games.

Auro: A turn-based, cross-platform tactics game on Kickstarter

Pocket Tactics review of iOS tactics game Warlords Classic HD. I just discovered Pocket Tactics recently and it's a good resource for all manner of portable strategy games, not just on the tactical level.

TouchArcade review of iOS tactics game LostStar Tactics.

I've revamped the recommended tactics game list with new screenshots, links, and commentary. I still have to do the import section, add more to the iOS section, and add more links, but it's looking a lot better now. I noticed it was the 2nd most frequently visited page on Tactical Insights next to the main list of tactics games, so I figured I'd give it a bit more attention. Take a look and give me your suggestions and thoughts.

Interestingly, one of the top google search queries leading to for the past few months has been "advance wars 3ds". Unfortunately, reports were that Advance Wars: Days of Ruin did not do well in NA, and it was cancelled in Japan despite being already translated in Japanese. While Advance Wars 3DS is a possibility, I wouldn't hold my breath.

I'm now playing through Gungnir. It's about what I expected - somewhat obtuse game mechanics and above average difficulty even on the easiest mode. The lack of free battles and mid-battle saves will be a sore point for most casual gamers. I'm enjoying it, but it's definitely one of those niche tactics games that won't garner widespread acclaim. I'll be writing a review of Gungnir for Speaking of which, if you like my reviews, check out the review for Trials Evolution.

I've held that the popularity and message board activity about a game is somewhat proportional to its sales. Of course, those with illogical axes to grind disagreed with me, but it turns out there's plenty of proof that I'm right. In this study, movie sales were directly proportional to the amount of relevant internet discussion and activity. This was one of the reasons I claimed Gungnir wouldn't sell as well as the forthcoming Growlanser for PSP which was announced for localization around the same time. It makes logical sense to me.

My second Super Robot Wars Z2-2 playthrough is currently on hold. Hopefully I won't forget everything about the game by the time I come back to it.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

E3 2012 News

At E3 2012 we got more information on X-Com: Enemy Unknown. It's shaping up to be a decent tactics game, playing like a turn based cover shooter (think Operation Darkness or Front Mission). I like how each enemy type has its own unique AI and abilities, and the destructible environments are cool. I've given the devs some flak for some statements during interviews, but the game itself is looking decent to good. Here's some recent playthrough impressions from Game Informer. Of note, you can turn off the camera close ups (thank god) and the UI is reportedly fast paced and well designed (we'll see about that).

Fire Emblem 3DS announced for NA localization. Confirmation from the official Nintendo of America twitter.

Ragnarok: The Imperial Princess of Light and Dark for PSP is being localized by Aksys Games under the name Ragnarok Tactics. Pretty unexpected, but the game does play a lot like Tactics Ogre, so I suppose it's not a huge shock.

With E3 basically over, I'll go over some of the games I saw that I liked, aside from the obvious ones just mentioned: X-Com: Enemy Unknown, Ragnarok Tactics, and Fire Emblem 3DS. I'm not sure where all the E3 hate is coming from, because I don't see how any hardcore gamer could be upset with a list like this.

Arma III/DayZ: DayZ is a realistic survival mod with permadeath, PvP, and zombies. There's no point to the game other than survive and see what kind of situations you run into - maybe a bit like real life?

The Last of Us: Very cool looking survival game with lots of dynamic events during combat.

Watch Dogs: Open world sandbox game that features hacking everything from smart phones to city lights, cars, and trains. And of course, shooting people.

Metal Gear Rising Revengeance: Excellent 3D action game similar to Bayonetta, Devil May Cry, and Ninja Gaiden 1&2. Should be everything the awful Ninja Gaiden 3 wasn't.

Rayman Legends: Sequel/remake to one of the best 2D platformers in recent memory. I probably won't play it though as I have no plans to buy a Wii U.

Hokuto Musou 2: Totally corny but awesome 3D brawler set in the post-apocalyptic martial arts world of Hokuto no Ken. This will definitely be a guilty pleasure.

Did I miss anything? Let me know!

Finally, there are a few tactics game sales this weekend: Battle Academy from Slitherine Games is on sale for $19.99, and the Elven Legacy Collection is on sale on Steam for $7.49. I still highly recommend Elven Legacy to experienced tactics game players.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

May 2012 News #2

Xcom: Enemy Unknown for consoles and PC is launching on Oct 9, 2012. Now all we're missing is the announcement of PvP and always connected DRM (you know it's coming). Here's a preview from bit-tech. And from Eurogamer.

I hope the modding feature is still in the PC version of Xcom: Enemy Unknown, because that usually leads to creative and interesting player created content. Except those "realism" mods (gotta love the fallacious appeal to realism in a video game) where both player and enemy units die in one hit, not because it's balanced or fun to most people, but because "realism".

More details on the Xcom: Enemy Unknown "ant farm". This seems like a water cooler idea that should have been left out of the game had saner heads prevailed. It looks hideous and confusing. An overhead perspective or a simple menu is far more effective and easier to visually process.

New E3 2012 trailer for Skulls of the Shogun.

New Project X Zone screenshots. So why is it that every humanoid unit model looks like a stiff and awkward wooden doll? Could they possibly make it look any more bland and boring? I'm seeing a lot of grunts here so you'd better love that fighting mini game as you'll probably be doing it just as much as in Namco X Capcom. As a side note, the speculation that Monolith Software was the developer of Project X Zone turned out to be correct.

There's a new dojinsoft game for PC out called Fantasy Maiden Wars. Normally I don't cover smallish PC games like this, but this is one of the bigger name releases, especially since it got picked up by sites like Kotaku Japan.

Tales of the World Tactics was announced for Android phones (in Japan). I'm pretty sure this is a port of the Tales Tactics game that is already out for Japanese cell phones. In any case, unless you live in Japan there's almost no chance you'll get to play this, as it's based on subscription fees and microtransactions.

New Gungnir for PSP screenshots. I'm still looking forward to this game. It's one of the first English console tactics games in a while to have a difficulty mode with a high challenge level.

New Rainbow Moon screenshots.

Pure Chess is out for PS3 and Vita. I rarely cover chess video games because there's so many of them, but I suppose it wouldn't hurt this once. And who here doesn't love chess? With the chess theme in mind, IBM celebrates the 15th anniversary of Deep Blue beating Garry Kasparov.

Something I missed last month. A port of Panzer Corps is headed for iOS. Panzer Corps is a WW2 tactics game for PC. There are also new demos of Panzer Corps and Battle Academy available.

2nd Super Robot Wars Original Generation for PS3 now has a release date of Winter 2012 in (where else?) Japan. Theoretically this SRW doesn't have the licensing issues that most SRW games have, so there is a slightly higher chance of a localization, depending if Namco-Bandai wants to take the gamble. We've also got a bunch of new screenshots up at Famitsu, including some battle map and interface shots. It looks like the partner system and equippable weapons are returning features.

Speaking of Super Robot Wars, I finally finished my 2nd SRW Z Saisei-hen playthrough/challenge run. It took so long because I played through most of the different route splits. You can check out the playthrough video playlist here. The full challenge conditions are included in the playlist description if you're interested in reading them.

Like most SRWs I've played, the late and end game plays much differently from the early and mid game. The early and mid game is mostly concerned with tanking, counterattacking, and using support attack/defend, while the late game shifts to a focus on MAP attacks, support seishins like Enable, Hope, and Supply, and high damage attacks to take down powerful bosses.

I like the change of pace as you've already played the last 45 or so scenarios doing the same tank/counterattack/support strategy, so there's little to be gained by making the player go through more of the same. Adding some additional depth and variety can provide additional challenge to the player beyond what they've already proven they're capable of accomplishing. Anyway, it's your chance to see me play a tactics game and possibly point out my mistakes or comment on my strategies or how I play, etc.

That's all for this month.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

May 2012 News and Commentary

First trailer of Mechwarrior Tactics. Like many new western developed tactics games, Mechwarrior Tactics uses a WEGO or simultaneous turn system where both the player and enemy execute their actions on the same phase.

Nintendo of America registered the domain name While this might raise some localization hopes, and I'm fairly confident it will be localized, keep in mind they typically register domain names of all of their games to prevent squatting. They've had for years. From what I'm reading, there is some DLC in FE: Awakening that might break the game's balance. No big surprise there.

First trailer of Project X Zone. New screenshots. You can see what the battle system will be like. No appearance of the overhead grid, which is typical for trailers. Why hide the strategic side of the game, huh? It shows a lack of confidence. A lot of posters seem to think the art style is second rate. Hopefully the game play isn't as well.

Previews of Pokemon Conquest. Preview #2. The previewers seemed underwhelmed by the game's simplicity and lack of difficulty.

New trailer of Rainbow Moon, the PSN tactics game. It looks good, but I don't think the 3 player deployment limit preserves much of the tactics feel we're used to in the genre. It looks more like a dungeon crawler with a few extra units to control.

Love Kickstarter? Hate Kickstarter? The official developers of Battle Chess have started a 30 day kickstarter to raise $100,000 for a robust multiplayer mode. Unfortunately a few days into the fundraiser and things aren't looking so hot - only $7300 raised. At least nobody will be charged if it doesn't meet the $100,000 goal.

Ghostlight announced that they're publishing Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor 2 in Europe. Good news for the EU as they tend to miss out on tactics games.

That's all the news I've got for now.. on to what I've been up to.

I've been playing through 2nd Super Robot Wars Z Saisei-hen (or Z2-2) and recording my progress. Most of these are first attempts with quicksave failures cut out. It's actually a challenge run with the terms listed in the Youtube playlist description (link above). So if you ever wanted to check out my actual playing chops and potentially laugh at how much of a noob I am at tactics games, by all means take a look! It's a decent SRW, but I think there are far too many grunt enemies and the enemy turns take far too long. But I'm not a very patient gamer when it comes to waiting for my turn.

I'm excited to talk more about Skulls of the Shogun but I'm going to have to wait until E3 to reveal more about it. It's a fantastic fast paced arcade style tactics game that I think might garner itself a small but loyal competitive community.

My brother's tactics game, Strat Tech, was released a few weeks ago. We ended up making a lot of changes since that last demo build I linked to. I convinced him that each turn took too many commands and actions and it was bogging the player down. So we reduced the unit count and did some adjustments to movement and action point values. I think the game turned out pretty well and you should give the demo a try if you want an arcade style tactics game with lots of balanced classes and abilities that isn't bogged down in progression and stat growth systems and grinding.

While you're at it you can check out his other arcade style games that are all balanced and skill based with interesting rule sets and mechanics, and sometimes quite a bit of fun if you like that style of game. Probably the most accessible games are XOP and Twin Reaper, as they're mostly standard shoot em up games. But if you want to tie your brain in knots and love puzzles, go for the Brain Bundle or Sphere Shift.

And that's all I've got for now.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

April 2012 News and Commentary #2

Capcom, Sega, and Namco Bandai are pooling their IP in a tactics game crossover called Project X Zone for the 3DS. The developer is very likely to be Monolith Soft, who previously created the PS2 crossover tactics game Namco x Capcom.Namco X Capcom suffered from extremely long battles because the player had to play a mini-game for each encounter on the grid, and levels often included dozens of low level enemies.

Monolith Soft also worked on Super Robot Taisen OG Saga: Exceed. If you've played Super Robot Taisen OG Saga, you can expect the fighting mini-games in Project X Zone to play a lot like that. I'm surprised they didn't get one of their main Super Robot Wars teams to work on Project X Zone, but hopefully the devs have learned from their mistakes. Here are some screenshots and a dev interview. And one more time, the 3DS region lock sucks ass.

Fire Emblem: Awakening is out now. A few impressions are trickling in but nothing earth shattering yet. I personally think it's a bad direction to take the series with all the RPG elements and dating sim/marriage/making kids stuff. As expected, it's very similar to FE: Sacred Stones. It'll probably sell more, but they're giving up on some things that made FE stand out. I'd be surprised if there was a scoring system at all.

Other news:

X-Com Dev interview.
Another X-Com interview. Not really interested in picking out the nonsensical statements by the devs this time around.

New trailer for Skulls of the Shogun. Look forward to a new preview as E3 approaches.

New trailer for Pokemon Conquest (aka Pokemon x Nobunaga).

Gundam is invading Android phones with SD Gundam G Generation Mobile for Android. I really dislike cell phone games as you need to live in the right location with the right carrier and have an active cell phone plan just to play most of them.