Never have I had a game make me go "the honeymoon is over" in quite the way this did. No, wait. Exactly one other has, and I'll reference it in this post.

Anyone who's known me any length knows I have a massive thirst for a solid, crunchy - but not too crunchy - turn-based strategy game. The trick is I'm also astoundingly picky about them. XCOM, even in its most softball of difficulties, drives me to hair-pulling frustration because I'm not fucking psychic. Fire Emblem and bores me because its characters are meant to be unique but are also as boring as any generic mooks in any tactics game ever. Disgaea focuses too much on the grind, Advance Wars puts too much emphasis on being able to churn out your units Starcraft style, and so on and so forth.

So I suppose it would really be easier to say "I have a massive thirst for the Genesis era Shining Force series". A few other franchises have scratched the itch almost as well - Atlus's Devil Survivor games, the Final Fantasy Tactics series, occasionally Tactics Ogre. Disgaea manages it if I don't fall into minmaxer hell. With that in mind, pretty much like everyone in my friends list recommended Chroma Squad to me, even though my sole experience with sentai stuff is explicitly being a pre-teen when Power Rangers came out originally.

When I first got it, I kind of rolled my eyes at the financial management aspect of it - great, I'd have to play Television Executive Simulator in order to get to the actual good game - and wandered off. On a lark, I went back to it.

And for a while, I was pleased with it. Being able to customize a team (right down to the transformation and mecha-summoning catchphrases) leads to that kind of immature glee you can only get with a twisted sort of imagination - the script was very much improved, I feel, by my teenagers with attitude screaming out "ORIGINAL CHARACTER, DO NOT STEAL" in order to turn into spandex crimefighters, and calling out "Punch it until it dies!" when they needed the giant robot to, well, punch something until it dies. The combat was a little fiddly but crunchy enough that things had a definite flow to them and it was easy to intuit when to press ahead and when to fall back. Even the "executive simulator" portions had charm, what with being able to answer fan emails and get replies about how you helped these fictional textboxes. It had the right amount of self-referential funy to have a charm to it, like, it really shows that the writers adore the genre they're homaging enough to poke fun at it every chance they get.

Then - I'm not sure when exactly, but somewhere in the last chapter or two - things started to drag. I was playing on the medium difficulty, but as I've been told that the easy difficulty is meant to be something you could fumble blindfolded through, I assume the difficulty spike is not equivalent in all difficulties.

Either way, the longer the stages took, the more I saw the flaws in the game.

Stages were either vastly too big (and filled with enemies that would plink at you from a distance in relative safety) or oppressively small (and you'd get ganged up on by 500 things).

The equipment crafting system is RNG from beginning to end - you have to use random drops, that you can also buy random booster-pack-esque boxes of, in order to get equipment with random bonuses that you may not be able to use anyway. Or you could pay five times the price for wholly mediocre storebought equipment.

The leaning on the fourth wall officially got tiresome when NPCs (named after Kickstarter backers) started declaring how glad they were to have backed a Kickstarter.

The hit chances in mecha battles are wildly weighted against you - a 95% hit chance is actually more like 70%, and heaven help you if you risk going down past 50%.

The whole thing is programmed in Unity, meaning that it would hang on my potato of a computer at exactly the worst times - generally when I needed to make an input on the mecha battles to avoid taking a Hefty Boatload of Damage.

Tokusatsu-themed jokes turned into fighting bootleg versions of Barney and the badger from that flash animation.

Literally every enemy that is brought into a battle has to walk in, one at a time, meaning almost every battle is preceded by five minutes of waiting by endgame.

The final mission violently swung back and forth between "cakewalk" and "frustratingly unfeasible" practically every other turn, culminating in a finale that was, in fact, literally unloseable. (Not that I minded that at that point.)

Suddenly, things stopped being fun by the end. I've only ever felt that quick of a turnaround before once, and that was when I tried LPing Final Fantasy Tactics A2 and finally got a good look at it, warts and all.

Just like FFTA2, Chroma Squad has a lot of work put into it, and is absolutely enjoyable if you're the kind of person who can accept that the game wants you to play it a certain way. Unlike FFTA2, Chroma Squad was made with definite love, and its flaws are more a product of slightly lopsided game balance than the game simply refusing to allow for experimentation. I appreciate that it tried, but I'm gonna be hesitant to go back to it.

I might like it better if I was the kind of person who was okay with XCOM. I'd probably like it better if every single one-shot NPC wasn't a Kickstarter backer who insisted on telling you their life story for the single mission they appeared in. I'd definitely like it better if I knew more than just Power Rangers.
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xyzzysqrl: A moogle sqrlhead! (Default)

From: [personal profile] xyzzysqrl


Huh.
The Kickstarter thing is becoming a Problem in a few games. Pillars of Eternity, for example, has kickstarter NPCs in every town with hilariously cruddy backstories that you can mindread from them. You quickly learn to avoid anyone with a gold banner around their name like the plague.

...I still like FFTA2 more than any of the other Tactics style games though.
kjorteo: Sad Bulbasaur portrait from Pokémon Mystery Dungeon. (Bulbasaur: Sad)

From: [personal profile] kjorteo


And as long as you don't try to grind or get auction house weapons or any other tricks to get more skills sooner because you really want late game jobs (Master Monk, etc.) Otherwise, you will run out of any equipment in the entire world that teaches anything you don't already know, which gives you an (in my case) insurmountable case of "I could keep playing but why" as there are suddenly like three chapters' worth of battles to slog through for basically no reward until anything new becomes available and all that AP can start being for something again.

It's almost like the strategy RPG version of that glitch in Oblivion where console-hacking to gain levels doesn't actually give you the toward-next-level credit to go alongside it. (So, like, if you normally have to earn ten increases to gain a level, but you just give yourself another level, now you're stuck there until you earn twenty increases and catch up again.)
kjorteo: Screenshot of a grumpy-looking Skarmory from a Pokémon anime special. (Skarmory: Hmph.)

From: [personal profile] kjorteo


You'll have to explain what's so odious about Brightmoon Tor since I never even made it that far; I just hit the "welp I guess I'm out of weapons and there's no longer any point to fighting" mark and stopped playing somewhere around unlocking the auction house/Master Monks/Seeq units (my memory sort of blurs those all together.)

But as someone who really loved and is used to the original FFT, yes, I shall always strongly loathe the system of "you can only learn Fire 2 by having this particular staff equipped, and also this staff doesn't exist in any obtainable way until chapter four."
xyzzysqrl: (RUN AWAY)

From: [personal profile] xyzzysqrl


i like the part where you hit monsters with swords
kjorteo: Portrait of Marcus Noble, a wolf character from my novel, looking equal parts exhausted and nervous. (Afflicted: Marcus)

From: [personal profile] kjorteo


Personally, Tactics Ogre is my biggest strategy RPG jam, followed closely by Vandal Hearts 2 and the first Final Fantasy Tactics, but that's mostly because of the mood and setting. Apparently I have a thing for Yasuni Mitsuno Game of Thrones stories. (Yes I know VH2 is not a Yasuni Mitsuno story but it may as well be.) Like you, I can also sort of handle Disgaea (or at least I really liked the main story portion of Hour of Darkness way back in the day) if I don't fall into minmax hell but it just gets way too much if you do. Probably my least favorite ones I've ever tried are Luminous Arc and Kartia (uugghhh to both.)

I should maybe try restarting Arc the Lad 2 one of these days. I remember I got kind a ways into it and really liked it so far, but then other games happened and it fell through the cracks. I am told this is because AtL2 is like nine thousand hours long, but then again I'm into Tactics Ogre.
kjorteo: Screenshot from Werewolf: The Last Warrior, of the titular Werewolf next to a sign that says "Don't Knock". (Don't Knock)

From: [personal profile] kjorteo


All I remember about Luminous Arc was that it started as a painfully obvious heavy-handed "you are part of this witch-hunting unit that's hunting and persecuting all the witches but wait, is it possible maybe the witches aren't bad and your unit is wrong???" thing and then suddenly turned into a literal harem anime. Like, I met the big group of witches and there's an actual introduction montage of here's the tsundere one, here's the moe one, here's the perky hyper cutesy one who's "eighteen" in Japanese years, etc. and that was about when I'd seen enough. I still have an entire Excel sheet I downloaded for the "imbueing" system back when I thought I was actually going to play this game and wanted to actually try for good equipment and stuff, but I nope'd out of that along the same time as the entire rest of the game.

Also, "Suddenly demons hijack your plot" is literally every Ogre Battle game including the ones Yasumi Matsuno didn't do, but at least in his strategy games they tend to wait until the Game of Thronesy stuff plays out anyway. Is the actual endboss of Tactics Ogre('s main story; I haven't yet done CODA) some seriously out of nowhere bullshit compared to the entire rest of the game? Absolutely. But I can't call it unsatisfying because you do tie up and take care of the actual plot you've been given at several points along the way (at Barnicia, at Heim, every Dark Knight battle even within the Hanging Gardens.) You're not really dealing with the demons instead of the Game of Thrones stuff you've been led to believe you were dealing with; the people you chased into the Hanging Gardens who are the entire reason you're there are still there (they're the penultimate battle.) Getting mad at the "oops you didn't quite get there in time to stop them from summoning the demon so I guess now you have to deal with him too" sequence is like getting mad at the "oops now you have to escape the lair as it collapses" sequence in any other game. It's just there. Definitely not saying it adds to the experience but it didn't detract, at least in my opinion.

Then again, maybe I'm just biased because I'm kind of proud of myself for how I outsmarted the clone party battle.
Edited Date: 2017-06-01 03:42 am (UTC)
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