Psychotic Reviews: Nier

Leave a comment

There’s something about the RPGs of the 7th Generation of home consoles that really does not sit well with me. Considering all three of the major systems I can name the RPGs I’ve seen as truly breathtaking and majestic recreations of the wonder and amazement I felt as a child on one hand.

One hand.

Now keep in mind that I still have yet to play quite a few of the RPGs released in this generation as it comes to a close. Out of the ones I have played so far only three of them have really stood out above the rest as not only great games, but telling a great story on top of it; Valkyria Chronicles, Xenoblade, and The Last Story. The list gets longer if I’m counting games I played on PC, and I’m not.

One of my favorite wallpapers.

I’ve been a bit jaded yes, I admit it. Anyway, I’ve finally decided to sit down and play some of the games that I currently own but have yet to play, and I started with Nier. I feel like I’ve been missing out by not playing this game sooner.

Call it timing if you will, when I first started playing Nier and I got past the introduction and really started to play the game it just felt like everything I wanted in a modern RPG. The protagonist is not some naive, asexual, teenage, pretty boy swordsman. Nier is a middle aged father taking care of his daughter who has been sticken by a fatal illness with no known cure.

So right from the start Nier has swerved to avoid the overdone and burnt to a crisp coming of age tale, but it does not completely avoid cliches, just downplays them and does not make them the focus of the story, at least at first. The voice acting and direction is highly competent, Jamieson Price providing the English voice of Nier, and Liam O’Brien starring as Grimoire Weiss. The two make for quite a dynamic duo.

Grimoire Weiss unlocks magical abilities, which will be key!

The story is progressed through various events, sometimes you just have to talk to somebody. Each arc of the story is finished up by clearing a dungeon and defeating the boss. Nier really has a lot of gameplay systems, the combat is in real time and huge combos can be made as long as the player avoids taking damage and being knocked down. The companion AI is pretty dumb as well, its executed well in combat, but your allies don’t even run as fast as Nier so they’re always teleporting next to you and not moving until they teleport again.

Outside of the main story Nier has a lot of extras to dive deeply into, the first one the player is introduced to being the Quests that random villagers will want you to do for them. The quests are not overwhelming like they can be in Xenoblade, and a lot of them involve farming items, fetching, delivering, or finding somebody or something. But there are enough that involve humanity, its nature, and errors that just makes for great entertainment at times, and invokes empathy at others.


Interlaced with questing is fishing, which can be leveled up through a quest chain through an old man on the pier, and then done purely for profit. Fishing feels a bit awkward at first and took me some getting used to, but it really is simple. You watch your rod, ignore the nibbles, hit it on the big bite, and pull back and from side to side to reel it in. Nier has a terrible cast though, you end up catching huge sharks with the fishing line two feet off the pier.

At home Nier has more than just his little daughter to visit, after a couple early quests you will have a garden to tend to. Seeds are cheap to buy and even early yields can net Nier over 20,000 gold while only spending ~1,000 for seeds. All you have to do is water them at each stage of growth, even the fertilizer the game offers is totally optional.

One other way to spend your money in Nier is to level up your weapons at the little shack in the Junk Heap. You unlock this option after beating the second dungeon, and even get your first upgrade for free! There really aren’t many weapons in the game so you will have to upgrade them at some point, and spend time farming the materials for it as well.

You can upgrade your spells and weapons even further with magic words that you find in random boxes you break and from enemies you kill. The effects of these can be combined for a mix and match of effects. But, you can only have two words on any spell or weapon and there are only a few that are really useful in all situations.

Did you forget that Kaine has an ass?

Nier has its technical problems and those keep it just shy out of that Holy Trinity I mentioned at the top. The story is polished and different enough to keep me intrigued through a playthrough. The narrative flows in a competent manner with nice pacing. The voice acting is done by highly trained professionals with a long list of works. All in all, I would say that Square Enix did good publishing this game, if only they had actually marketed it or bribed some reviewers to get the aggregate scores fluffed up it may have sold well enough to localize Nier Replicant.


PSP Farewell Part 2 of 2


Last week I took a look at PSP re-releases and remakes. This week its all about the original or new games made specifically to show off the PSP’s power and place in the handheld world. But first I did forget to mention a rather great re-release that slipped my mind despite it being one of my primary hunting targets.

Tactics Ogre: Let us Cling Together

This is a remake of the Playstation port of the original Super Famicom release. Let us Cling Together was originally developed by Quest before they were bought out by Square. The director of the game, Yasumi Matsuno, has quite the history. Almost right after finishing this game he left Quest and joined Square before the buyout, going on to direct Final Fantasy Tactics, Vagrant Story, FF Tactics Advance, and FFXII before going freelance and joining modern RPG powerhouse Level-5.

Now onto what everybody is really waiting for, the new stuff!

The early life of the PSP was virtually a wasteland of uninteresting games or botched PS2 ports. But there was one bright spot that helped to lift opinions and outlook about the system while many were ready to write the system off as just another one that Nintendo crushed beneath their mighty thumb.


Sure it is a spinoff of the incredible Jak & Daxter trilogy that is not made by the original development team. But this is a worthy title to anybody’s PSP collection, its a wonderful little 3D platformer with cartoony graphics. Really that’s what Sony’s 2nd party developers did best during this time. It is quite fun and actually has a decent camera, unlike many other platformers for the system. Odd that one of the first managed to do it correctly.

Monster Hunter Freedom, Freedom Unite, Freedom 2, and Portable 3rd

This is it. For the Japanese gamers this is the series that made the PSP a must own system. The first Monster Hunter came out on the PS2, and Capcom decided to continue the series in handheld form and managed to find a yen river that flows directly into their headquarters. Now the gameplay is stylized yet has some essence of realism. You can find meat on monsters, eating it raw heals some health, but cooking it heals more! And cooking is based on timing and not automatic. Crafting is quite deep in the series as well, but to describe it all would take the rest of this post!

Freedom and Freedom Unite can be found in the US quite easily, but if you absolutely crave more Monster Hunter and need Portable 3rd for PSP you will be forced to import it from Japan. A PS3 HD version does exist as well, again only for Japan; but that’s not going to stop an importer from playing it on their region free US console!

Space Invaders Extreme

A true blast from the past! This is a re-imagining of the classic arcade series for its 30th anniversary in 2008. It is multiplatform so go ahead and grab a DS copy if you wish but in my opinion, the PSP version is superior. Mostly because the UMD is capable of holding a higher quality of sound and the PSP screen is of a higher quality, showcasing wonderful and colorful background graphics. The game is quite a trip, and a sequel was released in 2009 as a DS exclusive. If you are an old school Taito fan then you should rejoice with these releases, the first is one of the best games Taito has released in years. The sequel was developed by Project Just and not Taito, so obviously they just weren’t cut out to make a game for the PSP.

Metal Gear Portable Ops, Peace Walker, and AC!D series

Metal Gear received a lot of love on the PSP, including 2 sequels to fan favorite Snake Eater. The first games to release for the system were the two AC!D games. They are much different than anything fans would have expected for the series to go down, Collectible Card Games. Yes, the virtual CCG has infected the Metal Gear series. If you’ve played any CCG before you can get the hang of the AC!D games quite easily.

Now Portable Ops and Peace Walker star our old pal Naked Snake (now with the Big Boss codename) and are set in the rain forests of South and Central America respectively. Portable Ops is a hybrid of the classic MGS stealth/action gameplay, but incorporates squad based elements and strategic maneuvering. The player directly controls one squadmate, so instead of just dishing out orders like Ghost Recon, you play the role of consciousness hopping god.

Thankfully this was taken out in Peace Walker in lieu of true co-op gameplay. That’s right, now you have mission based progression that you can play with somebody online! Unfortunately neither Portable Ops nor Peace Walker live up to the greatness of Snake Eater, but they make great additions to your PSP library! If you’re more into home consoles then Peace Walker is available on the Metal Gear HD Collection along with Sons of Liberty and Snake Eater, and benefits from the control given with a 2nd analog stick.

This is all we have time for this week. I may revisit this in the future or start up another feature as each console is replaced with a successor. If you want me to sift through the shovelware in the DS library or talk more about the PSP, or any other system that I own, then feel free to comment with suggestions!

PSP Farewell Part 1 of 2

Leave a comment

With the recent release of Sony’s new Vita there are many out there who are ditching their PSP and the many games and UMDs available for the once lukewarm selling system. So while many are saying farewell to their PSP and personal library I am saying ‘Hello!’ to the world of Sony handhelds. Why is that? I only recently picked up a PSP and a handful of cheap games the same night, only about a month ago. So here are some reasons why another collector should be saying ‘Hello’ to this system as well!

First point: Timing

There is no better time to set your sights on a new system than shortly after it is deemed obsolete and the general public has a shiny new toy that is trending to talk about. Because everybody is offloading their PSP and games in lieu of the Vita’s ability to download some games then it means the market is being flooded with fresh, new titles that will hopefully soon make it to everybody’s favorite haunts. This means prices are dropping for all but the most coveted and sought after titles. From here on out, we will be talking about some of the big marks for a collector of physical media and why the PSP should not be ignored.

Second Point: Imports

The PSP is region free, just like its brothers the PS3 and Vita, so there are many reasons an importer will find this system friendly. I am just entering the realm of importing, and I am also a fan of the Suikoden series, so the system already offers me at least one personal title to pursue as I fill in the rest of the small holes in my own personal collection of that series.

Genso Suikoden I & II

Genso Suikoden: Tsumugareshi Hyakunen no Toki

There are a few other reasons for the import friendly RPG fan to be excited about the PSP library. For example a remake of Breath of Fire III was released in Japan and the EU, so it is perfectly friendly for any BoF fan that only speaks English to go after the EU version of the game. Other options include Sega’s Shining Hearts, Valkyria Chronicles III, Falcom’s Zwei!, Namco’s Tales of Eternia and the quirky Nendoroid Generation. If you know what a Nendoroid is then you should have an idea of what to expect. There are also quite a few options for the fan of the good old Shoot ’em Up, with Taito’s Dariusburst topping my list of desires. A remake of R-Type is available from Japan and Europe’s PSN to add to the list,

A vast majority of import options are based on the most popular anime in the Land of the Rising Sun, and as such can be just what you expect, or maybe even worse than that.

Valkyria Chronicles 3


Third Point: Remakes/Re-releases

Right here is where the PSP library will shine for any fan of Japanese developed, console RPGs, and where I will have a hard time even starting the list!

Atlus starts with an A so I might as well mention that Personas 1-2 were completely remade, graphics and sound were upgraded to make use of the PSP’s superior capabilities. Persona 2: Innocent Sin was also released for the very first time in English on this system! I’m proud to say the collector’s edition of that game was one of the first ones I grabbed. Eternal Punishment is currently in the works from Atlus, no word yet on if it will come across the Pacific. Both 1 and Innocent Sin had soundtrack’s released in a collector’s edition for North America. Persona 3 was also ported, however it is more recent and the upgrades were given to the combat system to make it function like Persona 4’s, but story was cut out that was in the PS2’s FES edition. Where’s Persona 4 you ask? Well its being re-released on the Vita, so this trend looks like it will continue, at least from Atlus. Outside of Persona the great Atlus also re-released the cult-favorite Game Boy Advance title Riviera: The Promised Land.

Capcom has the aforementioned Breath of Fire III re-release to check out if you wish to import a copy from Europe.

Falcom remade and re-released Ys 1 and 2 in a collection called Ys I and II Chronicles. I can say with experience that these are some fun games to play if you just want to run around and grind mindlessly. Button free combat, Peter Molyneux must be completely jealous that Falcom did that in 1987! The collector’s edition came with a soundtrack and this is one series that certainly deserves it! More Falcom re-releases include entries in The Legend of Heroes series. I personally have not grabbed any of these yet, but Trails in the Sky has been tempting me.

Game Arts also threw their hat into the RPG remake ring by releasing Lunar: Silver Star Harmony. If you have been wanting to experience the first Lunar but do not want to shell out a pretty penny for either the Sega CD or PS1 release then I would go for this one!

And last but not least (maybe for their newer games) for the RPG side Square Enix. As you can expect I am going to be mentioning a series that has Final and/or Fantasy in its title. Sure enough Square re-released Final Fantasy 1, 2, and 4! Their release of 4 for PSP also includes the various spin offs that have been increasing in number for the past few years.

Before I lose all of your attention I will mention some re-released arcade games that came to the system. SNK’s Metal Slug Anthology piles 7 classic run and gun games onto a single UMD. And Konami’s Gradius Collection crams 5 classic shmups onto one UMD as well. Natsume brought Harvest Moon to the system with a re-release of the PS1 classic Back to Nature. On this system it is known as Harvest Moon: Boy & Girl.

Next Week I will return with a focus on titles built specifically for the PSP. No remakes, imports, or remade imports in Part 2!

%d bloggers like this: