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Tycho / on Wed, Sep 8 2004 at 4:30 am

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Undisclosed Propensities, Part 1

You might be wondering how we can turn this into a storyline.  I guess you’ll just have to wait and see.  We have a lot to discuss, so let’s move forward.

  • It has become clear to me that unless I am the one to do it, Phantom Brave will never be described on this website.  This is because Gabriel is locked in a torrid affair with the software in question.

    Distinct from Nippon Ichi’s other tactical marvels, Disgaea and La Pucelle, there is no grid system.  This differentiates it from virtually all tactical games of this type, and I know that my friend Jason over at eToychest found this somewhat cumbersome.  Enemies and characters can get very cozy with one another on the game map and you do have to make sense of it sometimes.  It’s probably my Warhammer experience, but I guess I’m just used to a pile of miniatures in the middle of the table. 

    The primary way the gameplay itself is distinguished - though, to be sure, this is only one of many - is that your main character, Marona, acts as a sort of conduit for restless spirits.  You can create characters of any class currently available to you whenever you are at your “headquarters,” name them, and bring them into battle.  When the combat map comes up, you’ll note that it is littered with things that would be decor in any other game - flowers, weeds, trees, etcetera.  Phantoms can’t just pop into reality and start fighting guys, they need to be bound into a physical object.  Okay, now, I’m going to go into the ramifications of this.  Pay close attention. 

    When bound into an object, the properties of the object itself confer certain advantages or disadvantages - a rock, for example, is slower but had good armor.  Flowers boost intellect, perfect for witches.  In some cases, these objects “project” increased defense, attack power, or other properties to other objects.  Anything bound into the receiving object keeps those bonuses for as long as the original object remains on the map.  I’m not done.  Phantoms only last so long, and this span is determined by their class - soldiers stick around for a really long time, magic users and priests less so.  When a phantom bound into an object phases out from the battlefield, they take with them whatever they were bound in back to base.  Understand this:  any object, any object in the game, can be used as a weapon - driftwood, a starfish, whatever - and they each have an entire series of custom attacks that you gain access to as the weapon itself levels up through use.  We aren’t finished yet.  Between battles, these objects and characters you have can generate money or mana while you are out adventuring.  The Dungeon Monk class can create random dungeons - for a fee.  The Merchant, who has cool abilities in his own right, also acts as a store.  The Blacksmith class can unlock more powerful weapon abilities.  The Fusionist class can combine classes and items into hybrid characters.   

    Know now that I haven’t scratched the surface of the game.  Now you can understand why Gabriel might be incommunicado.

  • Tribes: Vengeance, as you now know, is pretty Goddamn good once you find a server that can handle all the occupants - I find Irrational’s take on it very enjoyable, as I said before.  In terms of placing in in the greater Tribes continuum, the fact that they have made it a prequel is instructive.  Indeed, I would say that there is a linear progression from raw speed to a more deliberate experience in this amended trilogy.  That said, I continue to miss the coordination that the laser targeter and command screen allowed - even the most rudimentary squadding functionality would be an improvement.  I haven’t seen the full map roster, so maybe they’ve already dealt with it - but a few floating bases wouldn’t hurt me none.
  • Burnout 3 hits today, and even when gazing on a month like this - hung heavy with bulging games - it might still come out on top for me.  If you’ve been playing that demo they had on OPM, and a lot of you have because it’s a topic that comes up a lot, you know as well as I do that they have discovered some brilliant new action genre in which “racing” and “cars” are just useful, universal metaphors.  It even has Team Racing modes, that elusive bandersnatch my spirit has yearned for.  Grab some shit you aren’t playing anymore and get it on the cheap, but here’s a game whose value might actually be commensurate with its price.
  • I did not properly recognize it here in the post, but before the Red Vs Blue guys left they bought me a bottle of The Balvenie Portwood, aged 21 years.  This is a gift so generous that it is virtually an insult, and I think of the gift I sent back as a salvo.  This is the sort of thing you drink from wide-mouthed tumbler or a platinum goblet, something you can put your nose in.  I broke down yesterday and mixed it with sweet and sour, which is an act of foul barbarism.  In terms of faux pas, this ranks very near pouring A.1. on the Hope Diamond - it is debauchery, dark and hilbilian. 

    (CW)TB out.

    some folks never seen a bear at all

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