I’m going to recommend a game to DS owners. It’s not your typical strategy RPG.
Have you had your fill of elves and child-like anime?
Do you like turn-based games?
Do you like NPCs that act like characters?
Do you want a strategy game that’s focused on a squad, not on gathering resources and creating buildings?
Then put on that Ace of Bass or The Jesus & Mary Chain CD, and play some Jagged Alliance on the DS.
The graphics from the 1994 DOS game appear to be tweaked, not overhauled. With no previews, we’re flying blind into this DS port, but we probably know what to expect–a very fun game. The graphics might be difficult for some to get past, and it’s possible that the lack of a grid could cause issues, as it did in Warhammer for the DS. But the core gameplay of the game is solid. It wasn’t a hit of the 90s, but did well enough to bring a sequel.
You have to hire a squad of mercenaries, which is the RPG element of the game. You can purchase weapon upgrades and develop your mercs’ skills. The combat is turn-based, much like that in Fallout and Fallout 2.
But what makes Jagged Alliance different and so enjoyable are the personalities. You see, those mercernaries have personalities, and some don’t get along with others. You can have some even quit or go rogue on you in the middle of combat. So, another aspect of the game is managing these personalities. You might even spend as much time managing your team as fighting the enemy.
It’s not a game for everyone. I tried it when it came out and didn’t like it at first, but in time, I thoroughly enjoyed. If you don’t have a DS, then consider getting it from gog. [or the sequels ja2 and unfinished business--Jagged Alliance 2 is the best of the series].
Trying to relax in the face of impending deadlines at work and feeling way too behind, I spent some of the Thanksgiving days off getting in some time with a couple of new games. Come December 19 at 7pm, I’m going to begin marathon sessions with these 2 new games, as well as Fable 2. Both are RPGs that are quirky and not your traditional RPG in many ways. Both emphasize fun, have large replay value, and should be approached on their own terms. Besides, who needs dark and brooding for the holidays?
After picking up Chrono Trigger DS last Tuesday before the holidays, I got in a couple of hours with the game. I never played the original, but I was expecting a silly little RPG that is fun. And it is. I can’t help but think of Philip K. Dick as I play the game because, like Dick’s stories, the writing itself, the expressions and the style, is often awkward and unpolished, but the idea of the story is greater than the writing. And, like Dick’s characters, the Chrono characters are often stilted and simplistic, yet there is something memorable about them, something that keeps you interested in them. What really got me was how earlier scenes, actions, and characters in the game were used in the trial scene as evidence of both guilt and innocence. It seemed like a very fresh element, even though the original game was released 13 years ago, the kind of thing that made me think, ‘wow, that was cool.’ Needless to say, this little RPG has pushed aside Fallout 3 for my game time for the holidays.
I have some extra points on goozex, and all the games I have requested have very long waits. So, I decided to try Dokapon Kingdom. I looked at it as a simplified multiplayer RPG that I could play with the kids, replacing the very tired Mario Party 8. When it arrived in the mail, I took a couple of hours to play the solo story mode, and I quickly realized that my assumptions about the game were wrong because Dokapon Kingdom has far depth than I expected. The battles themselves are not complicated [at least, initially] and have some variety, but it’s the board game aspect that really adds to the RPG elements.
I’m reminded of some of the excellent [often German] board games that introduce a certain amount of randomness that doesn’t overwhelm or dictate the game but rather provides opportunities to develop strategies for winning. Along those lines of dynamic play, you are also encouraged to change jobs/classes, either to deal with your opponents or to unlock more jobs.
The goal centers around getting the most gold, but there are many ways of doing that–completing quests, stealing from other players or from NPCs, investing in your towns. When I read how one player used a disguise to look like another player’s avatar and then stole from a merchant, leaving the other player getting blamed for the crime, I was hooked on learning more about the game. I also have found that you can play evil or good, like in most RPGs, but these paths are not overtly part of the game but part of your play style.
The game would great for LAN parties, particularly playing with experienced gamers. I’ve played just a little with the kids, but I think the game works well for them, too. While I understand some of the criticisms of the game, I think it’s much better than the 71 average score on metacritic. It’s a game that could be easy to dismiss as slow and superficial, but if you read stories from people who play it and approach it for what it is rather than it isn’t [as in, a traditional multiplayer RPG], I think you’ll find a great little game.