January Gaming Postcard: Phantom Transistor Shovel Chronicles

Introducing a semi-regular roundup of what I’ve been playing for the past month, and any random impressions or thoughts that I can’t be bothered to write a full article for!

Shovel Knight – Yatch Club Games – WiiU

More than just a lazy Mega Man knock-off, a very worthy marriage of old school design sensibilities and fairer modern practices. Also, as finale where you work with the damsel you’re rescuing to bring down the final boss together? Fantastic stuff.

Valkyria Chronicles 3 – Sega – PSP

About 40% of the way through this one. Really should have played it sooner! I thought the reduction of scale and squad size for the move to portable would restrict the gameplay, when actually it makes it more challenging and strategic. No longer can I rely on my lazy ‘snake’ tactic of two side by side tanks with the entire squad following behind.

As a result, the first encounter with the giant dreadnought tank is one of the most intense and challenging I’ve encountered in the series so far, betting a lot on individual units to seize and hold dangerous positions.

Plus the option to hook up with the tsundere rocket launcher girl instead of the generic perky JRPG heroine? Most unexpected and welcome!

Transistor – Supergiant Games – PC

Finally got round to this one, although for some reason it wouldn’t run on my ok PC, so I had to play it windowed on my less-than-ok PC, which took away some of the magic. The usual potent Supergiant atmosphere, with a battle system that is mostly versatile and empowering, but occasionally repetitive.

Metal Gear Solid V – Kojima Productions – PS4

Decided to skip Peace Walker for the time being as I just didn’t see myself having the time or patience for both this year. Liking what little I’ve played so far. The open world isn’t too open, the mechanics are tight and the design encouraging. And the Kojima crazy is definitely still strong.

Plus, any game which features, and brings more notice to, one of my all time favourite guilty pleasures of emotional 80s music gets bonus points from me:

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Relapsing into Valkyria Chronicles

It’s no secret that the original Valkyria Chronicles was my favourite game of the last console generation, so the announcement today that it is finally getting a full console sequel after 8 years against all odds is bloody exciting. Plus there’s a remaster of the original coming for everyone who missed it last time around (or for people like me to buy AGAIN just to access the demo for the new instalment).

But weirdly, I’ve never played either of the portable sequels. Time to change this.

Admittedly things aren’t set in stone that the new Valkyria will be any good. A lot likely to feel different due to changing character designer for the first time, and some are wary what appears to be a more period setting (well, more so than last time around), but time will tell, and I’m actually quite open to things being mixed up a bit.

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You see the original was such a wonderfully complete piece of work that it left very little scope for conventional sequels. The war was over, beloved characters had been lost and everyone who remained was changed forever by it. It would be rude to just throw together another war right afterwards.

As such, when the first sequel came out for the PSP it took the form of a scaled down, tropey high school oriented game about students in a military academy dealing with a regional uprising. So I never got round to playing it. High school adventures didn’t feel like the most rewarding sequel to the emotional journey of the previous Gallian conflict.

Shame on me, for by not buying it I contributed to the underwhelming sales which kept the third instalment from getting a western release. Doubly so that 3 is supposed to be almost as good as the original, telling an interesting side story set during the original conflict of the first game.

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I’ve owned a Japanese copy of 3 for over a year now, putting it off until I had time to play it, in no rush due to there being no further instalments to catch up in time for…

This changes tonight. My PSP is dusted off. The English fan translation is patched in. I’m good to go…

Although I am finally getting Fallout 4 in 2 days so chances are it’ll get sidelined a little!

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