Feature: Playthroughs Revisited, Vol. I

Hello and welcome to The Day Tonight‘s Autumn 2020 playthrough–a chance for newer readers to participate in site-wide playthroughs from early in the life of The Day Tonight, and a chance for older readers to return to games that have not had a site-wide playthrough in many years. Three previous site-wide playthroughs have been selected from our vaults: Final Fantasy IX (June 2009), Valkyria Chronicles (December 2009), and Xenogears (December 2010).

Below, we have a brief explanation about each of the three site-wide playthroughs that we are revisiting. Each one concludes with links to the original discussion threads. We’ll be selecting a few classic comments each week to read on the podcast, along with some of the comments from our own playthrough of these three titles. Please comment below with your progress, thoughts, and reflections on any or all of the games we have selected.


Final Fantasy IX

The first site-wide playthrough at The Day Tonight took place during the Summer of 2009, four months after the opening of the site. Dubbed “The Summer of IX”, no one expected the ‘site-wide playthrough feature’ to become a piece of recurring content. Instead, the playthrough came out of a staff discussion about how the game would be ten years old in just a year’s time (i.e., in 2010), and that it deserved a playthrough more frequently than once-per-decade: everyone agreed that it was an excellent game, and so formed a desire amongst the staff to replay it together. Once the decision was made to include readers as well, the ‘site-wide playthrough’ was created.

The FFIX playthrough was conducted entirely with original media: the PSOne classics version of Final Fantasy IX would not be released until June of 2010, the following year. And, in fact, there was little reason to expect that a PSOne classics would be forthcoming at all. When the playthrough went live, there were no Square Enix games on PSN in North America. However, on 2 June 2009, two days after the launch of the playthrough, Square Enix released Final Fantasy VII as a PSOne classic in North America (this caused some exasperation amongst staff members who had just elected to play FFIX). Over the next several years, Square Enix would come to release many of their classic titles on Sony’s service, updating them, now and then, to ensure eventual support on the PSP and PS Vita. But this playthrough predated all of those technological developments, and it is hard to imagine a retro playthrough now in which all of the participants would be doing so using original release discs.

Final Fantasy IX is currently available on PS1/PS2/PS3 (PS1 CDs), PS3/PSP/PSV (PSOne Classics), PS4/XBO/Switch (Digital), and PC/Mobile (Digital). A Nintendo Switch physical release in Asia (with multilanguage support) is scheduled for 4 December 2020.

Old site-wide playthroughs were broken into multiple posts. Read the Final Fantasy IX original posts and comment threads here: Disc 1, Disc 2, Disc 3, Disc 4.

Valkyria Chronicles

After the site-wide playthrough of Final Fantasy IX was completed, the staff of The Day Tonight were keen to put the recent PSOne Classics release of Final Fantasy VII to the test: the first Square Enix game released on the service in North America, had it been announced somewhat earlier, it might well have been the first game chosen for a playthrough. The site-wide playthrough of that game, in Autumn 2009, was followed by a Winter playthrough–and the first from a series other than Final Fantasy.

Seeking to depart slightly from the turn-based JRPG games of the first two selections, staff members chose Sega’s Valkyria Chronicles, a game which had been released in North America about a year earlier, in Winter of 2008. The game was, by then, widely available, and already subjected to discounted pricing which made it readily affordable for owners of the PlayStation 3, the only version of the game available during the playthrough.

Valkyria Chronicles is currently available on PS3 (PS3 Blu-ray), PS4 (PS4 Blu-ray/Digital), Switch (Digital), and PC (Digital).

Old site-wide playthroughs were broken into multiple posts. Read the Valkyria Chronicles original posts and comment threads here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4.

Xenogears

In Winter 2010, a year after the Valkyria Chronicles playthrough, and a few months after the PSOne Classics release of Final Fantasy IX, Caspius declared a playthrough of a game that had never been released in ‘PAL’ regions. That game was Xenogears, a game that had represented a new IP from Square Enix at its release in 1998, but which was then sold to Namco Bandai for use in the PlayStation 2 Xenosaga series.

At the time of the playthrough, only the original PS1 discs had been released, and then only in Japan and North America, thereby limiting the ability of readers to participate in playing one of Caspius’ favourite JRPGs. Caspius promised, in true Fritz Fraundorf fashion, a forthcoming review (still-unreleased) to help illuminate the game for those who could not play it. But, in what was, even in 2010, already becoming sadly typical at The Day Tonight, the timing of the playthrough was such that, shortly after its conclusion, the hard-to-find title was made more cheaply and widely available as a PSOne Classic, in February 2011.

Xenogears is currently available on PS1/PS2/PS3 (PS1 CDs in N.America) and PS3/PSP/PSV (PSOne Classics in N.America).

Read the Xenogears original posts and comment threads here: Stand Tall and Shake the Heavens.


This is a new style of site-wide playthrough, and we encourage readers to play one, some, or all of the games included in our revisitation of classic The Day Tonight content. In particular, we urge you to read the comments posted during the original playthroughs: do you agree with the original comments? Is your approach to video games different from those of our readers who posted their views a decade ago? If you commented on those original posts, has your opinion changed? Please let us know your thoughts in the comment thread below!

The aim in this playthrough is to as much of these game as possible in about three months, ending in February. Instead of milestones, we encourage you to play at your own pace–but please keep us updated about your thoughts and progress as you play these three games. That will help to sustain our discussion, and will let us know when it is time to close our site playthrough.

Please join in with us and comment about your experience! The playthrough time frame is intended to allow anyone and everyone to participate, regardless of speed of play or familiarity with the games. Comment and tell your friends!

146 comments

  1. I am playing through FF9 because I have long considered it one of my favorite games ever and it has been around a decade since I last played through. It has my favorite video game soundtrack and the music has been a highlight so far. I got it on the switch because I heard it had a speed up feature which I thought would solve the slow battles problem. Alas, It is too fast to really be all that usable when moving around so if you want to use it you have to constantly turn it on and off.

    I have gotten to Lindblum. The opening section is, as always, fantastic as noted in the old comment thread. That said, the section between the evil forest and boarding the ship to Lindblum is my least favorite portion of the game. The battles are at their most basic and getting through the boring village with sleepy music is not fun for me. It should all be uphill from here though.

  2. I think mine will also be 9. I’m currently in the 3rd playthrough. I’ve have twice tried to finish it, but I lose interest right at the end. Currently this is the first of the 3 games i have to complete a playthrough of every Final Fantasy Title. A process I started when the GBA releases were out. I also played the side titles like Dirge of Cerberus and Crisis Core. The last two games are X-2 and 15. I’m leaving the worst games for last. I glad the site is having a replaythrough of these titles. Hopefully I can finish 9. My time has been woefully short lately

  3. Don’t expect a playthrough of X-2 or XV any time soon! 😆

  4. @LC11: I totally agree about the slowness of the sequence between the escape from Alexandria and arrival in Lindblum. The Ice Cavern and Dali just don’t have enough going on to maintain interest. I think the Black Waltzes were probably added during development for that very reason (note that they are the only thing like that in the entire game)–anything to spice up what is admittedly a somewhat plodding section of gameplay.

    I also agree about the speed function. Very useful for battle (most of the time), but it makes the game too fast when outside. There really needed to be speed settings, like there are in other remakes–I’m thinking of 12 in particular, where there was an option for 2X, and an option for 4X. The former was good for most things, and the latter for really long grindfights like Yiazmat.

  5. I am playing Valkyria Chronicles (original PS3 disc), which ensures that all three titles are represented.

  6. Very surprised about the Ice Cavern and Dali sentiments!

    I can understand Ice Cavern complaints more. I personally like it for pacing. I makes their time together feel like an adventure and gives an opportunity to find out more about the four of them as characters (more like the three of them. No real Vivi work done in the Cavern). But Dali is maybe one of my favourite sections in the game! I find the character development to be crucial and engaging, understated as it may be. From Dagger’s attempts to fit in to Zidane learning how to relate to a girl he actually finds himself caring about to the way that Steiner interacts with the kid at the item shop and the self-assured old coot? Chef’s kiss!

    I love the intrigue of Dali, with most of the adults missing and the remaining ones acting very suspicious. I also think that the Black Waltzes make sense as an extension of Zorn and Thorn’s behaviour as an extension of Brahne’s behaviour. Greedy and malicious but from a distance, always looking for others to do their dirty work when they can. And Zorn and Thorn get Dagger’s Eidolons soon enough after to not need more assassins.

    When I replay it (which is a lot more rare these days), it’s – funnily enough – right after first arriving in Lindblum when I want to speed the game up a bit. Although Lindblum proper is a delight, all the castle stuff and the Festival of the Hunt doesn’t hold up to repeat playings the way most of the game does for me.

    Anyway, it’s interesting because I always just assumed that people loved Ice Cavern/Dali as much as I do. (It’s one my brother’s favourite sections as well, so that probably contributes to my misconception).

    Fully agreed about the speed options. There’s something about the mobile version (which is the basis for all the most recent console versions) that just bugs me. I can’t put my finger on it, but if I wasn’t so spoiled by the speed-up option (as clunky as it is), and if my PSP Go charger wasn’t busted, I’d be tempted to just replay the classic version.

  7. Didn’t the Ps1 version have some frame rate problems. I seem to remember during battles there was. I like the “newer versions”. The backgrounds need work though

  8. @Tactics – I remember any frame rate problems being negligible, but that easily could be chalked up to being used to them at that time. The backgrounds definitely feel more blurry against the res’d-up character models.

    Reading those old threads, it’s funny to see how hard I missed the metaphor that Caspius was all over. Of course Terra and Gaia mirror Kuja and Zidane with one attempting to consume the other, believing he can’t live while the other exists.

    As if to drive my earlier observation home, every single version of FF9 I have was saved just before the Festival of the Hunt, so clearly I’ll need to push through it on one system or another to join in the fun properly.

  9. Sorry for the double post, but now that I’m playing again, it’s so bittersweet to be reminded at how artful the PSX Final Fantasy games were. Final Fantasy XII has some really good scene and voice directing and solid character work, but it’s really been since VII, VIII, and IX that Final Fantasy cutscenes made emotional story-telling choices. Dagger singing for Zidane and cutting away to the rest of the characters and what they’re feeling and thinking while she sings is the example that made me think of this and I can’t really think of post-PSX examples that do this. (Of course future Final Fantasy games have scenes with characters feeling and expressing emotion, but I’m struggling to think of times when this was displayed artfully in the story-telling itself like IX and VII and even VIII do so well).

  10. I’m a few chapters into Valkyria, and one of the pleasures is its music. I thought it was very Hitoshi Sakimoto-ish, and I just read that it is him! He has such an instantly recognizable style. This soundtrack is not quite as good as Final Fantasy Tactics/XII, but still memorable and fits the game well.

  11. It has begun!!!!

    Started playing Final Fantasy IX as soon as I woke on Friday. I’m up to Ice Cavern now and it’s such an enjoyable game. The music is lovely and I really like how if you grind you work on learning skills, not just levels.

    I’m of half a mind to try to complete all three games. I have never played Valkyria Chronicles and I there’s someone who want me to play Xenogears badly xD We will see how it goes :D

  12. I would love to play all 3, Winter. I just don’t have the time. FF9 can be completed in a week if you work at it. Xenogears is long. Valkeria I imagine a week or 2. I think you can do it.

  13. @TacticsJack: You’ve mentioned the length of Xenogears before, but it’s comparable to FF9–what used to be called a ’40-hour JRPG’ but which now takes people about 60-70 hours for some reason. My last save file from the previous playthrough is about 50 hours, which includes a lot of time where the game was idling, and takes into account that I was 100% completing the game.

    My last PS9 FF9 save file is shorter, at around 41 hours, but I wasn’t trying to 100% complete it, and it is a marginally shorter game.

    The idea that Xenogears is some sort of massive slog simply isn’t true. And if you look at the ‘rankings’ of the people who claim that it is, you’ll find that they say that games like FF8 and FF9 are even longer! Zero credibility: ‘FF7 – 60 hours.’ I mean, come on, it didn’t even take me that long to beat Ruby and Emerald weapons on the original PS1, let alone finish the game! And yet even these people put Xenogears only a bit above it in length.

    The lesson: people who say that Xenogears is ‘really long!’ usually think that about all PS1 JRPGs. It is comparable to them in length.

  14. It’s not that’s its any longer than any other game. I love it up to the next town then I lose interest, both times I played it. I know it’s a great game. I’m sure it would take the place of Ultima exodus on that list I posted the other day. If I finish FF9 in the next month, I’ll try for Xenogears, so I can knock both off my backlog that’s well 20 years old. I’ll get VC on Switch since thats what I’m playing mostly right now.

  15. Ah no that’s not how I play games and I’m slow lol. I have always many rpgs ongoing at once. I spend always longer, often double the amount the average gamer spends.

    FFIX a month would be good. Valkyria Chronicles and Xenogears I will probably do both at the same time. I might not complete all, but it would be fun.

  16. I know you can do it if you put your mind to it! Go for all three!

    One thing I will say about Xenogears is that it really is a ‘3D’ game world. Tht is quite different from many of the other big PS1 RPGs in which dungeons/towns were essentially interconnected 2D screens on which the player’s 3D rendered sprites moved, sometimes occluded or zooming in/out to give the appearance of moving in and out of distance or behind objects.

    In Xenogears, the dungeons and locations are rotatable 3D environments with no maps, which can make it a very confusing game to navigate, adding a lot of time to the game if one doesn’t have a good head for directions. There’s a whole Z-axis to consider, and lots of multiple paths, dead-ends, switchbacks, etc.

    I found the first forest a bit confusing the first time, and the desert cave seemed impossible to navigate. But now, I am so used to that kind of environment that both seem really very small and simplistic.

  17. I think my FFIX file was 70 hours. Even FFIV were 67 hours. I’m dreadfully slow.

  18. Yup the first hours of Xenogears were definitely not easy in terms of navigation. I can get lost anywhere. When raiding WoW, my guild members took turns picking me up from where I was lost. This is after weeks of raiding the same place. If I fight an enemy and gets turned around chances are I loose my sense of where I am in a room or dungeon. A guide would probably be a good idea if not too expensive.

    Will probably start Valkyria Chronicles when I get home from my sister on Tuesday. Well Wednesday really.

  19. I appreciate the alternative view on Dali. I guess for me it’s just too many character scenes in a row with nothing to break it up a little.

    I just reached Pinnacle Rocks. Nine was my first Final Fantasy so it was fun when I replayed the game after playing a bit of FF2 to realize the story you put together is from that game. I always remembered the festival of the hunt fondly but this time I exhausted the fights with 4 minutes remaining and was just running around trying to find the big monster for a while. I found it and won but It was just okay this time.

    One thing I have realized so far is I really love how distinctive and memorable every city and town is in this game. Cleyra was really cool with it’s unique design/location and you really get a sense of how differently the Burmecian and Cleyran cultures evolved. Another location I am looking forward to is the Black Mage Village. The events that go on there are perhaps the thing that sticks the most out in my mind when I think about FF9 and its themes about facing your mortality.

  20. I grinded a bit last night. I had a chance to stay home. I’m about to pick up Amarat/Eiko. I’ll decided to slowly let everyone catch up to me. All the characters have thier skills maxed out so it’s about time to move on

  21. Sadly, I haven’t had any chance to play any videogames at all. My laptop display broke on Sunday (the repair team damaged the display when they were fixing the keyboard last month), so I’ve been scrambling to set up my (very) old laptop to use whilst the new one is being repaired.

    Hoping to play LOTS of Xenogears later this week and next week, which is Thanksgiving holiday. I would like to complete the entire game, but that will depend on how cooperative my boys are!

  22. I bit the bullet went Digital with FFIX on Switch. Im pretty sure FFIX will get a NA psychial release

  23. I started up FFIX on my PS3 today. I love the game enough to start over, though I see I have not one but TWO saves at levels 63-65. And I am using an actual PS1 disc in there, mind you – even though I am the proud owner of a digital copy, which is already on the PS3. I feel that the disc looks sharper, and I am a sucker for razor-sharp pixels. Pixels sharp enough to damage my vision even further than sharp fingernails already have.

  24. But…they’re the same! Stop putting your fingers in your eyes!

  25. I can’t stop digging my fingernails deeply into my eyes for some reason. Maybe it was my son. I can’t recall. My corneas cry out in mortal pain, but they are still at nearly 60%, so I am going to go ahead and declare the disc version to be better.

  26. After I got from my post-surgery checkup, I played Xenogears for a bit. Mostly the RPS game, which is a good way to lose money in the first few minutes of the game!

  27. Gotten up to Lindblum now ^^ It’s a bit too big for my liking, but it’s only the featival left I think. Can’t wait to get out in the wide world again.

    I also played the first mission thing in Valkyria Chronicles this morning too. Really loving the art style, I didn’t expect that.

    Really loving this idea of doing the old ones and multiple at a time!

  28. Played the first three chapters of Valkyria Chronicles today on Switch and BOY did they cut a lot of the voicework. All of the cutscene episodes are intact, but there’s not much voice outside of that, unlike the PS3/PS4 version in which nearly everything was voiced.

    I particularly miss the drill sergeant voice acting, which I always thought was good in a R. Lee Ermey sort of way.

  29. Most of the PS1 games didnt have voice work. Just look at FFIX. Almost all of the cutscenes were great without it. Black Waltz 3 with the Black Mage Dolls comes to mind. No voice work was needed

  30. Okay? But Valkyria Chronicles isn’t a PS1 game. It’s a PS3 game, and unlike e.g. FFIX, it was designed, from the beginning, with voice work intended. Apples and oranges, Jack.

    In VC, when I clear or start a battle and there is nothing but the quiet, nondescript music where Welkin would normally be cheering me on, it’s very jarring–especially at the end of battle, because the little cutscene where he praises the player has no fanfare or anything (it would have overwhelmed the voice work). His voice is meant to carry the moment, and with that absent the whole thing is instead very anticlimactic.

    If this had been a game where there was no expectation of voice work, the post-battle scene and others would have been written much differently so that the music would likely have a far more prominent role.

    PS1 games like FFIX work without voice because they were designed without any expectation of voice work. Music and text are designed and intended to play the dominant role in establishing the scene. That’s not necessarily the case for games that came later where the developers had the expectation of voice work, and planned their scenes (writing, music, characterisation, etc.) accordingly.

  31. What I’m saying is my enjoyment of a game isnt dependant on voice work. Any game previous than the ps2 didnt have it. VC is digital right? So its not cart size. Why cut it then? VA contracts? Who knows.

  32. Yes, and games previous to the PS2 were designed not to have voicework, so of course you don’t miss anything by them not having it. The point is that we’re talking about a game that was designed to have voicework, and then a large amount of that was removed without the game being modified to take the change into account. It’s a very different circumstance.

    It is digital, so it is presumably more about download size than cart size: Switch ‘base’ storage is small, some people have slow internet or low bandwidth caps, etc. etc. Virtually the entire game was voiced except for some repetitive snippets of text, so cutting everything except for the story episodes probably saved them a few hundred meg up to a gig, I’d guess. Personally, I think it should have been included as a DLC add-on for those who wanted it, like they did with the Japanese voice acting in VC4, but perhaps that would have posed some kind of technical challenge such that they didn’t think it would affect sales.

    And honestly they’re probably right: people who don’t know will just think that the game is a little underdelivered in parts. It’s only going to be people who have played the original/remaster that will know *why* it feels like it is underdelivered.

  33. I would have been one of those if you didn’t comment. It’s cool, I know I’ll enjoy it if I get too it.

  34. When you get to it, remember this thread and DON’T BLAME THE GAME, BLAME THE PORT!

    (But it’s otherwise a very good port.)

  35. I think I said before I dont think I missed much by not owning a PS3,4,5. It will eventially come to other systems.

  36. The games that I still own for PS3/4 are mostly cross-platform with XBox now (although they were timed Sony exclusives by and large on release). FF7 Remake remains PS4 exclusive, but there’s almost certainly going to be an XBox version of that once the one-year-exclusivity period expires.

    Of the PS3 and PS4, I actually think that the (sadly, maligned) PS3 is the more useful because it gives one access to the full array of PSOne Classics. Note, however, that so does the PSVita. And, launch PS3s are backwards compatible with the PS2 (all PS3s have PS1 backwards compatibility). So, it’s really quite a good system in that it gives you three generations of Sony accessibility, and a blu-ray drive, in one convenient internet-ready package.

    By ditching PS1/2/3 support, the PS4 ends up being a much less useful console in the long term. And, with the PS5 supporting PS4 games, there really won’t be much of a reason for anyone to own a PS4 down the road. When we eventually get a PS5 (probably when FFXVI comes out), it will replace the PS4, so there will be a launch PS3 and a PS5 hooked up to the main TV in the den.

    Also, off topic, but I kind of expected us to see a remaster of FFXIII/-2/-3 on PS4, and I’m a little surprised that never happened. Maybe they learned their lesson after both XIII and XV that having creepy, obsessive game directors is a bad idea, and they should ditch both properties and move on to something with some actual appeal. Having said that, look forward to them announcing TRILOGY OF FF XIII on PS5.

  37. Starting with IX myself and seeing how much time I might have to return to the others. As IX is one of my all-time favorite games, returning to it is always a delight. I haven’t yet played the Steam version and it’s nice to see slightly polished graphics and the like. As of right now I’ve made it as far as Burmecia. Hoping to make some more progress towards “disc 2” tonight!

  38. Actually that’s an interesting point: playing the Switch version a few months ago, I still mentally divided the game into ‘discs’. There’s probably a designed aspect to the pacing based around disc-based limitations of that sort–i.e. it was important to end a ‘disc’ climactically, so those major moments occur at points where the disc change would be necessary from a technical data standpoint, but which are otherwise entirely arbitrary.

  39. I am also mentally still separating it into disks. Which is why I am going to mention that I just completed disk two. On the topic of graphics, I am enjoying the touched up graphics in the switch version. I’m seeing details that I didn’t see or were hard to make out in the old versions and the ability to zoom in on the switch enhances that.

  40. Thanks for mentioning the Switch port of VC, Caspius. I was wondering if I should have gone for that version instead; now I’m glad I stayed with my old PS3 copy. On Chapter 5 now and enjoying it.

    I’m spending most of my time figuring out in-battle strategies, sometimes retrying rounds with another approach, instead of so much time on how I’d set up each character’s skill tree or abilities. There’s just enough story for each chapter, and most of the time is spent on gameplay. It’s a well put-together game.

  41. Lol 13 hours into FFIX and have yet to enter Gizamaluke’s Grotto. It’s way to fun doing sidestuff and building characters in FFIX. And I haven’t even begun playing Hot and Cold yet xD

    Finished up prologue and began chapter 1 of VC today too. Misunderstood the way to go and died on the battle, but hopefully I can do it on next try. Really loving that game too.

  42. I don’t want to spoil anything, but the 15 December release of Collection of SaGa will not go unnoticed. 😉

  43. I bet Winter is hating that Collection of Saga too right now. Theres what I like to call a sister podcast to TDT, both Winter and I listen too. One of the playthroughs was FFL which by now was impossible to aquire. I had to swedishbox it since I couldnt find a single copy localy.

    Progress is I just left Alexandria, and I shortened playtime during the feast of the Hunt by just dying right off the bat. I never liked that part of the game

  44. I played through FFL earlier this year–beginning to end not once but TWICE in a single day. It’s VERY short (especially if, like me, you’ve beaten it uncountable numbers of times). When I was a kid, I played it over and over on many long car trips!

  45. I’m sure I played it way back when but most of those GB games were forgettable with the exception of Metroid 2 and Links Awakening. That playthrough of FFL was alright. It didn’t wow me like RS MINSTREL Song did. That game was my jump on point to the series even though I owned Saga Frontier and Unlimited Saga before i owned RSMS

  46. SaGa 1 may be solid but rather bare-bones, but SaGa 2 is a significant advancement and there are things about SaGa 3 that remain positively modern. They’re not forgettable at all (which is why they remain so hard to find despite being published twice!)

  47. At the time I wasnt excited about them, i think my GB titles were metriod2, links awakening, the marioland games and tetris. I’m hard pressed to remember anymore. Its also been 30 years memory is kinda fuzzy

  48. Those are generally the most important ones, but the best RPGs on the classic GB were the three SaGa games with an honourable mention to Seiken Densetsu (Final Fantasy Adventure). I played a lot of Final Fantasy and it was brilliant having a gameboy version of it (we didn’t know they were not FF games at the time).

    Nintendo Power did a strategy guide for Game Boy games which had a section in the back that teased “Final Fantasy Legend II” with a couple of screenshots as ‘Coming Soon’. I drove my local FuncoLand crazy calling them every month to ask if they knew when it would be in (they did not know). In the event, it took YEARS before Final Fantasy Legend II came out. Instead, Final Fantasy Adventure came out first, and I bought that expecting that it was Final Fantasy Legend II and that the name had been changed. I was extremely disappointed when I realised that it was not FFL2 at all.

    But when FFL2 came out, it was entirely worth the wait. And being longer than FFL1, it kept me busy for the entire four-hour-trip to our cabin every weekend, unlike FFL1 which I usually had to play once on the way out and once on the way back.

  49. Getting back on Topic I haven’t had a single problem with the Switch version of FFIX. I think its going to be my preferred version from now on. Ill probly buy all the current cart versions of 7-12 for Switch, since I’m happy with it.

    All I ask SE please release the remaining Matsuno games on Switch so it will make it the GOAT console for me. I know you watch this site

  50. The balance of time spent in FF9 is a lot more tilted in the direction of story/character scenes than I remembered. I’m usually like the balance of story vs game-play to be heavy on the game-play side but the characters and story are so likeable and charming that I don’t mind at all.

    I played through the fan translated DS remake of SaGa 2 a few years ago and it was pretty enjoyable. The third one kept crashing on me though so the best option might be playing the original on the switch.

  51. SaGa 3 is one of the few DS games that don’t work on a hacked 3DS, so I’m not surprised to read that some other emulators won’t run it properly (although OpenEmu runs it without issues). SquareEnix has always had an ‘I did it my way’ developer approach of going well outside of what the software/hardware are supposed to do together, and it has caused emulator problems for some of their games even years later.

    In any case, the DS remake of SaGa 3 greatly overcomplicates the gameplay, and not really to any sort of particularly good result. The Wonderswan Colour remake of SaGa 1 was the right way to do things: bugs fixed, presentation updated but not changed. Even the fairly modest SaGa 2 DS gameplay modifications slowed that game down too much for me to enjoy it as much as the (excellent) original. But what they did with SaGa 3 DS was genuinely wacky and, after messing around in it for a few hours, I threw in the towel. The original was better–one of the reasons I’m looking forward to replaying it on Switch!

  52. @Jack:

    The Switch versions of 7-12 have been excellent; I’ve played through most of them now and have really appreciated them, with only very minor quibbles here and there which are far outweighed by the convenience and updates. I heartily recommend getting them, especially FFXII which on the Switch is updated *beyond* what the previous updates available elsewhere, and importantly so (it adds the ability to change job class, which is excellent).

  53. So excited for SaGa!! Always of course. I have FFL I and II on game boy and the japanese versions for game boy just because they are pretty xD

    I really liked SaGa I when we played through it. I have started SaGa II and it seems even better.

    Entered the grotto at last in FFIX late last night. Finished up getting the blue mage abilities.

    Reached chapter three in Valkyria Chronicles now this morning too. I’m finding it very difficult strategy wise, but the story is good and the art style is beautiful.

  54. The opening of Xenogears is just masterfully done. So much detailed plot design purely to set up the central character conflicts.

    I’ll be talking a lot about this in our next podcast!

  55. I meant to post this last night, and I forgot–so I’ll post it now!

    I’m up to Nisan in Xenogears. One thing this game desperately needs is a map. But, it was early days. This is a fully-rotatable, fully-3D (including Z-axis location design!) JRPG… and it’s on the PS1! That’s rather incredible by itself, which is setting aside that it has fully-voiced anime cutscenes, not one but TWO distinct but interconnected battle systems, a large cast, a simply phenomenal soundtrack, and a story which is not merely well-written but which shows all the hallmarks of brilliant attention to detail in pacing and execution.

    About nine years ago, this game experienced a renaissance of attention when it was released on PSN as a PSOne classic in North America. I discovered this by doing some searches for information on the RPS minigame statistics. Virtually every thread coincides with that PSN re-release. This suggests to me that those releases of classic games were actually very important indeed for connecting new audiences to classic games–far more important than I thought at the time, in fact. I generally assumed that the majority of purchases were from people who had already played the game (they were released on PSN without any advertising, after all), but it seems as though many people played the game only for the first time when that PSN release came out.

    This means that the timely re-release of classic games is VITAL for bringing new audiences to those forms; AND that the audiences will come even with very minimal advertising/fanfare.

    Now, those details on the RPS statistics. There were a lot of rumours going around that the RPS guy has a pattern (he doesn’t) or that he never chooses to pick the same signal that he used on the previous round if he lost (also not true; he did this to me many times), and that he would not repeat signs (again, he does). And so on and so forth. So, I found a thread where someone decompiled the code for the game, and for your edification, here it is:

    [0..32767] means a random number between 0 and 32767 inclusive.

    First, your opponent calculates what he’ll pick:

    RPS_ID = [0..32767] * 3 / 32768
    (round down)

    RPS_ID is now either 0(Rock), 1(Scissors) or 2(Paper)

    Here are each probabilities:
    10923 / 32768 to get 0
    10924 / 32768 to get 1
    10921 / 32768 to get 2

    RPS_ID will be calculated before you even get to pick your choice.

    After your opponent loses the first round and you play again… well… nothing happens. The game is 100% random throughout all five rounds.
    (meaning that the exact same algorithm is used every round, whether you tie or not)

    This yields a 1-in-32 (or 3.125%) chance to win five games in a row (since each round has a 50% chance to win and a 50% chance to lose; a tie simply restarts the round).

    Hopefully this will be helpful to those out there who are interested in getting all three badges: RPS, H&S, and Tag!

    Note that although the badges are missable, the reward for getting all three can be bought a short while after the reward is available, so there’s not vitally necessary reason to get all three badges unless one wants the reward a bit earlier (and for free).

  56. Reached chapter four in Valkyria Chronicles! Loving it! I was relieved unlocking the ability to grind and did the skirmish I unlocked a few times before doing chapter three.

    Hoping to get through Burmecia today and hopefully enter disc 2.

  57. @Winter: Lots of love for FFIX and VC, but none for Xenogears!? 😢

    If you’re on Disc 2 already, you might finish before Christmas!

  58. I have Xenogears on ps1 and vita and dont have access to either right now

    I’m at the same point as I was on XB1. I’m on the outer continent

  59. @TacticsJack: Progress. Only a few more continents and then an entire world to go!

  60. I love the Atomos cutscene its so cool. So many people died

  61. One thing that I always notice about that cutscene is that, if you look closely in the final moments of Atomos’ presence, you can see little people whirling through the air on their way into its mouth (you can tell by their flailing limbs). And then, it vanishes, and what happens? They all plummet down, falling with all of the other rubble that didn’t make it. Horrible!

  62. I was planning to finish IX before starting Xenogears, but I think I might start it soon after all. Making good progress on IX and VC.

  63. You’re going too fast–the only way to slow you down is to add more games!

  64. All I imagine is the announcer from the Hinderberg disaster. “It burst into flame and it’s falling…. this is terrible, this is one of the worst catastrophes in the world…. oh, the humanity.”

  65. I beat FF9. The disk 3/4 section was my favorite because the battles and the dungeons were more involved and interesting. Dungeons like Ipsen’s (upside-down) Castle where weaker weapons are stronger and the Desert Palace where solving the puzzles that give you items actually affects how hard the boss is going to be. The battles through this section are more involved because you access to lots of abilities and can mostly choose your party. I made a point to use Quina this run because they are the only character I had never included in my main party and they were alright. Through blue magic they are versatile and can mostly fill the slot for whatever you need at that moment in the battles. I also got to see the full ending in game for the first time instead of on YouTube. My copy on the Playstation hard locked every-time during the ending cut-scene which was unfortunate. The game was better than I remember it being, mainly because I forgot how enjoyable disk three was.

  66. CONGRATULATIONS LC11! You win our first GOLD STAR of the playthrough! ⭐️

    (Everyone else, your previous stars are reset!)

    Quina’s Blue Magic is pretty strong, especially in the early game when you can really make things easy with Mighty Guard.

    I really like Disc 3/4 myself. After Brahne’s death, when the game fixates on Kuja, I find that things become more involved and interesting. Brahne is a fine character, but because of how she is being manipulated, she is quite two-dimensional as a villain. Kuja’s motivations are shadowy and complicated, and the connexion with Garland is revealed at just the right speed.

    My one complaint about the end of FFIX is the final final boss which, in true JRPG fashion, is just a “surprise! here’s the real boss!” Like Zidane, I also thought, “Who the hell are you?” which is amusing for a few minutes, but then feels a bit weak and anticlimactic. The final scenes, however, are really good, and Zidane’s sudden appearance at the very end always brings a tear to my eye. I’m glad you enjoyed it.

  67. I’m into Chapter 7 now, working at a pace of about a chapter a day, 3 days a week. It really is more like an open-ended puzzle than other tactics games like Disgaea and Fire Emblem, which have vastly different gameplay. Like on the Chapter 6 map, it really helped to have the two snipers on the hilltop taking out multiple enemies so that the faster scouts can rush through at the end. That’s obviously what they intended, as it also gives to help to get through to the final base within a round or two. I’m finding the guns I get from taking out the hidden special enemies on a map aren’t as good as what I already have. They do have more strength, but far less range, and I’d rather keep a far distance and take enemies out along the way.

    Coming from playing games with mostly fantasy settings, I like the anime-WWII setting as something that’s more realistic, but not too realistic. At Ch. 7 the story is just starting to open up to the dastardly empire resurrecting and ancient, unstoppable technology thing, and it makes me wish Sega made a Nausicaä Of The Valley Of The Wind game using the same engine.

    I agree with Bup and someone named Lusipurr in the original playthrough comments that Alicia is best girl. I’m starting to notice a pattern of using her to run up way ahead of the rest of the squad to blow up the enemy base and capture it to end the map. I’m using Wendy the Shocktrooper and Marina the Sniper a lot too.

    Can you help me with something though? I’ve been using all my EXP to raise unit levels, and so haven’t learned any orders from the Old Gentlemen yet. Are there any particular useful ones I should look out for? Likewise, I mostly spend my ducats or whatever on weapons for my soldiers, and maybe some defense upgrades for the Wieselend tank, but is it worth putting a lot more into the tank? If the old man who talks to me in the graveyard took money instead of experience, I’d be a lot quicker to give it to him.

  68. My Party has alwas been Zidane, Vivi, Garnet, and Quina. It covers all the bases. Thief/ war, Black Mage, Whm/Smn, Blue Mage

  69. Regarding my earlier comments about missing voice acting in Valkyria Chronicles…

    I was playing the game on my Switch today and fired up a skirmish. The introductory VA was there! So then I went into headquarters, and all the VA was present there as well!

    I’m not sure if what I experienced before was a bug or some kind of glitch, but now all the VA from the original seems to be present in the port. Huzzah!

  70. I have finally made it to the third disc. I spent most of last night digging up maps and collecting treasures, I think I am about as far as I can go on that. I forgot how much I enjoyed the treasure hunting mini game. It is nice to have a permanent party finally without having to switch back and forth all the time. The end is in sight!

  71. Many years ago, before the game even hit PSOne classics, I did a 100% run (except for the stupid jump rope thing) of FFIX, and the Chocographs were easily–no contest!–the worst part. Choco is extremely inaccurate with his beak, the time constraints are tight, and you don’t even necessarily get a useful chocograph/piece every time. I cannot tell you how many times I would be at max WARRRRRRK!?!?!?!? for 10-15 seconds, tapping chocobo right and left and trying to get it and then running out of time. INFURIATING.

    And then, I did it all AGAIN on the Vita when the PSOne Classic version came out! 😱

    When the PS4 updated version came out, I realised one could speed up the game without losing time. At a stroke, Chocograph hunting became loads of fun and very addictive. Instead of dealing with a slow, fiddly Choco, I had a fast (but still fiddly) Choco, and the game became seeing whether I could get to the point where Mog would say, “Enough! You’ll bankrupt me!” Chocograph hunting still took time, but not nearly as much, and now it wasn’t infuriating–just fun.

    I cannot tell you how relieved I was when I saw that the speed-up feature had not changed with regard to Chocographs in the Switch version. So I was perfectly happy to do it all again!

  72. I tried to listen for the missing voices Caspius and I couldn’t understand where there were supposed to be. Maybe a bug?

    Finally reached chapter five! The chapter four battle took me a few tries and a few skirmishes.

    Also reached Gargan Roo in FFIX. Continuing now before I go to sleep ^^

  73. I’m assuming it was a bug. I have a suspicion about what caused it but haven’t had time to test it yet–but I will do so before the podcast! If so, it will be mostly Nintendo, not Sega’s, fault.

  74. The People in Alexandia cant catch a break. Airship destroys a good portion of the town, then Invinicable. I’m sad.

  75. Today was Thanksgiving prep.! I also rewired our home network and did some remodeling work on the house. But I still had time for a bit of Xenogears!

    I visited the Church in Nisan (beautiful in its way even now, and absolutely gobsmacking at launch), worked out a plan to retake Aveh, and got through Fei’s solo section on the cliffs. Tomorrow, time permitting, I’ll finish this ‘section’ of the game!

    Happy Thanksgiving!

  76. Well, thanks in part to Caspius’ convincing argument, and also a decent $10 download price, I’ve started VC over on Switch after leaving it on PS3 at Chapter 7. On Chapter 4 now over two nights’ play time, and knowing better how the game is supposed to work does help.

  77. I aquired the airship. The theme music is 2nd behind FF6. I should be finished with the game in a day or 2. Ill move on to VC then

  78. I’m looking to play FFIX for the first title. I’ve played it only once before and unfortunately don’t have much nostalgia for it. I played it long after its original release. I’ll play on switch as I picked up a digital copy on sale previously.
    I’m still disappointed Xenogears has never come out in Europe. I’ll play it one day…
    Also I apologise I kept meaning to join the Earthbound play through as it’s another classic I’ve never played. I kept up with the podcast but my time wasn’t conducive to playing many games and I slowly saw the playthrough disappear into the horizon…

  79. I was the same. It has never clicked for me. I’ve played along with every playthrough since Vagrant Story. I struggled with RS2 and Earthbound. Xenoblade and Vagrant Story were the ones I finished within the playthrough. I think Ill finish FF9 this weekend. I should be spooling up FF10/X2 and VC next week. Xenogears, I have no clue how ill play that the Ps2 is boxed up and Vita is on its deathbed. 2 out of 3 wont be bad

  80. Played quite a bit of Xenogears this evening, got all the way through the prison district in Kislev, including the sewers and arena fights, and then completed the central area ducts. Saved just before the string of boss battles that are next. Tomorrow…!

  81. One game down! As much as I love Final Fantasy IX, I forgot how rushed the end of the story feels beginning at disc 3. The story around Kuja has a lot of mystery until things start being revealed and then EVERYTHING is unloaded all at once, and Zidane has to act pretty out of character. There isn’t really a lot of buildup of him feeling like he doesn’t have a family or doesn’t belong but as soon as he finds his real home he immediately turns on all his comrades in a way that doesn’t fit how he acted previously. As with many Final Fantasy games, the final form of the boss was also disappointing to some degree. Mostly because it comes right out of nowhere and the logic for why you have to fight it makes no sense at all. All of these gripes do not detract from the quality of the game as a whole, but they are gripes I had forgotten about completely since last I played the game. Still! I enjoyed the chocobo stuff and actually took the time to finish it, I skipped frog collecting completely because I didn’t use Quina unless I had to, and overall the sense of adventure that is in this game is very high, and very nice. Up to the last half of the game everything feels like a fun adventure and the character development is quite good for the characters I actually care about (basically everyone but Amarant has at least some development that makes sense). If I have time I think I will do Xenogears next, as it’s been even longer since I played that and I hardly remember any of the story so most of it should feel relatively new!

  82. I think its because it hits Zidane all at once. That hes a prototype, that Kuja is his “brother”, that Garland made them to be destroyers. He begins to despair that he will have to do what Garland says he will. Its his friends that bring him back. Its that upbringing with his Tantalus bros, even though they are scoundrels they have hearts of gold. Its nature vs nurture. Kujas jealousy of Zidane is what makes Kujas undoing possible

  83. I started Xenogears on the psp and am up to the underground sand cavern boss. I played the game once 15 years ago and don’t remember much except some of the bigger twists and that I really like Bart at the time. I played up to somewhere in disk two and then stopped last time.

    I like everything so far except the inexact platforming and the gear battles which seem a lot slower than normal battles and more pay to win. I just learned about things like deathblows, combos and that new engines give more attack by looking it up on the internet. I assume somewhere in the portion I played these things were explained either by npcs or the old man and I just missed/skipped it?

  84. @LC11 Haha! Many years ago, video games used to come with something called an ‘instruction manual’. That information is found there. The PSP official file from PSN should have a digital copy of the instruction manual that you can look at.

    The instruction manual in this case also has some extra information for the beginning of the game: a list of early deathblow skills, and weirdly some deathblow skills for Citan that he doesn’t get until he has a sword much later in the game. There is also a table of early equipment both for characters and for gears, and some other basic information as well.

    Sadly it is entirely in black/white, as many manuals were on the PS1 to save money. :(

  85. I need to finish up playing for the night, but I’m currently on the Thames and Elly has just returned from being abducted.

    I am…
    A man…
    Of the sea!

  86. Okay, done for now! It’s 0200, and I’m off to Ethos headquarters!

  87. Hey Fei, why don’t you check in on Alice? I’m sure she’d like the company!

    If Timothy tried any harder to get cucked by Fei he would offer to prep him himself!

    I think the deep lore of Xenogears is that Timothy was trying to induct Fei into some sort of weird poly relationship…

  88. Since I finished FFIX last night, I thought about Vivi alot. Did he die? I remember my friend telling me did 20 years ago. I remember her being sad about it, since he was her favorite character. I like to think hes alive but dying, thats why hes not there. I think its that memory-racial consciousnes that was mentioned towards the end. He didnt have to be there his “sons” were.
    Theres a blogpost outthere that discusses this. Its a intresting read

  89. Week is coming to an end. I’m well into disc 2 in FFIX now and Chapter five in Valkyria Chronicles. Hoping to finish that chapter tomorrow, but I have failed the mission multiple times now.

    Also began Xenogears, but will play it just a bit here and there until done with one of the others I think.

  90. I don’t think there’s any reason to think that Vivi is dead, as such. In fact, quite the contrary: Puck, encountering Vivi’s son, seems to think that it is Vivi himself. That would be highly unusual if Vivi were dead (and Puck would certainly know about such a major event, given how well-informed he is). Moreover, the ending of the game happens only “a short time later”, and the story indicates that Vivi has a much longer life span than the other Black Mages. Since they are mostly still ‘functioning’ at the end of the game, it stands to reason that Vivi won’t expire for a long while yet.

    Stars have been awarded to all of our game-completors so far. Remember to join the Discord chat, too, so that you can get your gold-star if you complete a game!

  91. I’ve made it to Shevat today! Just in time for the end of the Thanksgiving holiday. I’m hoping I’ll be able to find time to play more XG before the end of term.

  92. I’m back up to Chapter 7 on Switch, where I left off on PS3 last week. It also loads so ridiculously faster than on PS3 too.

    I’m learning about the unlocked negative Potentials now; i.e. for Susie, who I otherwise like as a character. If only I hadn’t have her kill a trooper and then capture a base. Also, it’s absolutely worth doing skirmishes a few times to build class Exp, in case you’re getting stuck.

  93. I should have mentioned that Shevat is my favourite location in Xenogears. It has a really strong ‘Zeal’ feeling to it, not only in terms of the story (it’s such a strong parallel, right down to the three Wise Men), but also because of its highly evocative music.

    Playing XG, I have been getting really strong Chrono Trigger vibes at times–understandable, to be sure, but something I’ve never noticed as much as I am noticing it now.

    @Tanzenmatt: I really, really hate unlocking ‘negative’ potentials. I’ve heard the arguments for it (“It’s like you’re learning about their frailties!” “It’s battlefield trauma!” etc.) and they are terrible. From a gameplay perspective, it replaces ‘development’ with ‘punishment’ as a return on time spent, which is antithetical to good game design, full stop!

  94. I’ve weighed the possibilities, and decides to go with the couple negative potentials I’ve accrued and dropping them from my squad. There’s potentials you get for some characters which far outweigh the alternative of not getting any for anybody. I don’t buy those arguments either, but I did read that in VC4 you can find ways to get rid of them.

  95. I’ve finally played a bit more FFIX, after downloading the Monster Hunter World Iceborne expansion at the start of the week I’ve been fairly addicted to that again. So I’ve made myself play a bit in more into the very opening of FFIX. I explored the opening areas of Alexandria and there is some magic to this era of RPGs and towns. Even though I don’t have nostalgia for the game I’m really liking seeing the detail they have put into the world and NPCs

  96. I think I’m onto my 4th restart now, there are a lot of missable items in this game. I don’t usually try and get everything but I’m quite determined this time. Tried the jump rope game and urgh… No. Do I need to do that to get that key item? Or are there easier ways?

    Eventually I’ll get bored of trying to be a perfectionist and just play through for the story.

    I’m loving how smooth the graphics and UI are on switch.

  97. I did the same Berserk. I’ve played the game through to the very end to the last area. Three times infact, so I know whats needed. I finished it in less than 2 weeks. I loved the ending though. It was worth waiting 20 years to see.

  98. I’m in the sewers in Xenogears now. I am enjoying it for the most part so far. That said, I wish it wasn’t so separated into ‘blocks’ because having to go through tons of story scenes between battle sections drags a little for me. I am enjoying the story, I just wish there were more battle/dungeon breaks.

  99. Slow week. Not much progress in FFIX and Valkyria Chronicles have been punishing. It’s definitely not suited to my playstyle, I wish there was an easy mode. But I try to push on because the graphics, characters, story and gameplay other than difficulty is amazing! Love the music too!
    Not far into Xenogears yet, still in opening town.

  100. I had a little time this evening and got to Solaris in Xenogears–the last ‘completed’ section of the game and the end of Disc 1.

    I had forgotten just how affecting and brilliant this game’s storyline is. It really is one the best games SquareSoft ever made, and it’s such a shame they shipped it in an unfinished form. They should revisit it now and complete the project, and then rerelease it as a Director’s Cut or something. It would do VERY well.

  101. I finally managed to impress all 100 nobles, found all the Knights of Pluto and got my first game crash. Right in front of the Moogle where I could save…
    Think I’ll take a break from FFIX. Frustrating as I am enjoying it, and only lost roughly an hour, but because it’s a bit early in the game, I’m worried there’ll be crashes later on in the game. Anyone else get any crashes?

  102. @Berserk: I 100% completed the game (except for jump-rope) back in October without any crashes.

    There’s no need to continually restart in order to do the things you are mentioning. The rewards from them are just money and items that you get elsewhere in the game anyway.

  103. Managed a few more minutes of Xenogears tonight and completed Krelian’s lab. Now the whole cast is reunited once again!

  104. Making a lot more progress this week! Think I will finish disc 2 this week.

    In Valkyria Chronicles I’m still in chapter 6 and doing skirmishes to level up the team to see if it helps.

    No further in Xenogears, but it’s Wednesday so I will see if I can get a little in.

  105. I’m not. I’m at Mt Gagazet on FF10. I should be done next week. I’m moving on to VC and FFX2 at the same time. I’ll try to finish up with Xenogears. I need to finish up moving stuff over before I start Xenogears. I’ve been busy.

  106. I’ve reaches Chapter 10 in Valkyria today, some of these missions are pretty easy when you know what to do. The thing is playing it more as a puzzle game than as other tactics RPG, but within that is having to restart missions and within missions multiple times (which is like 20x shorter load time on Switch than PS3). So, you figure out you needed soldiers here or there at this point, you really needed these classes, etc.

    I’ve been doing all skirmishes at least once on Easy and Normal, and the first 2 a few times more when I needed just a little extra EXP to get a level up on a class. Considering this and I’ve been getting A or B rank on each story mission, the classes are all at level 9 now.

    The only slight fairness I can give the learned negative Potentials is that a lot of characters will start with 1 or 2 negatives, then learn a positive, or else it’s vice-versa and balances out. However, this is still outweighed by the fact that it dissuades you from using a character you like, and that some are absolutely crippling. A sniper learning he doesn’t want to go to high places isn’t nearly as bad as a scout who won’t shoot anybody at all.

  107. @TanzenMatt: I think I may have mentioned the ‘puzzle game’ approach on the podcast at one point, but the VC games really do feel that they are set up that way. There is a particular ‘correct’ way to complete most of the stages and get the highest possible rating, and everything else is just varying degrees of ‘meh’. And, as you say, once you know the right way to do it, it’s generally very easy. Levels and upgrades matter, of course, but the most important thing is knowing what classes to use and what to do with them in the individual map.

    In some ways, VC is a game that seems almost designed for walkthrough culture. I remember my last playthrough, there were some maps where what one had to do to get a max rating ended up being totally unintuitive and unrealistic. So it is unlikely one would ever figure it out by just thinking of the game in typical ‘war game’ or ‘tactical rpg’ or ‘fps’ ways. It’s really more about ‘logistically, here’s the way to finish the level in one turn by using this cool trick!’

  108. You did mention it on a podcast and it helped my approach away from thinking “like Fire Emblem with guns and free movement.” It’s also what keeps me from playing for a couple days at a time, because I know each chapter is going to take a couple hours of experimenting instead of much progress, but I do have fun as I figure it out.

    If it were more about the strength of your squad instead of the strategy, then you’d have a lot of maps where you do the same kinds of actions but with different surroundings. That could still make a good game within the setting, but the way it is gives it more unique gameplay.

  109. I reached Disc 2 on Xenogears today. I had forgotten just how quickly the game switches from JRPG to Visual Novel. The moment the Grahf fight ends at the end of Disc 1, it is like a switch is flicked and suddenly everything changes!

  110. I just entered Babel Tower on Xenogears. Hopefully it isn’t as miserable as I remember it being and I don’t fall too often because a random battle started in the middle of a jump.

    I was enjoying the game through the end of the Nortune section but I have been loving everything after. I really love how unique the Thames is with the music and characters making it even better. I am looking forward to the much hyped Shevat.

  111. I didn’t have any problems with Babel this time around and it seemed a LOT shorter than I remember. Of course, at the end of Disc 2 there are some quite long climbing sections, which are worse, but on the whole it was not bad.

    One trick that I employed this time was to get into a battle BEFORE I needed to do any jump. The game has a sort of ‘minimum cooldown’ on random battles, so as long as you do a random battle and then immediately do your jump, you won’t get attacked mid-jump. Helpful to know!

  112. I’m definitely finishing up disc 2 of FFIX tomorrow! Almost there! It’s so good! The cutscenes are stunning.

    Not really made much progress in Xenogears this week. It’s going to be a slow game to go through for me I think. The way the map works confuse me a lot and I end up going the opposite way than intended after many battles. But that’s okay. I’m enjoying it and not speeding through.

    Haven’t played much of Valkyria Chronicles.

    I’m thinking maybe maybe I could finish IX before Christmas. Hmm. 🤔 37 hours now.

  113. Ill check my time later but I think it was around 40 hours when I finished FFIX. I got lucky towards the end. Those final run of bosses are hard. I grinded more than I have in previous runs of the game. That was why I quit previous times before. I dont like hitting my head against a wall just to lose then start over. I’m at Zarnarand on FF10, so Im moving onto VC next week

  114. Thanks Caspius, I didn’t run into anything similar since then in terms of crashes. I might be wrong but I think there’s some kind of autosave mechanic because I didn’t lose as much progress as I thought I might.
    I’m up to the Ice Cavern now and starting to get into the game again. It’s so nicely written in terms of script and cutscenes. It’s nicely paced and actually coherent, compared to FFVIII which I guess came before it. One thing I think this one is a step back on, is tutorials. The first ATE based tutorial comes a bit too late. By that time you’ve already figured things out already I would say.
    I’m really liking the ability learning system again. I can see myself putting a lot of grinding in

  115. @Berserk: Yes, the remaster has an autosave feature. If I recall correctly, the main menu for the game has options both for ‘load’ (from a save file) and continue (from autosave). You can use which ever is most convenient for your circumstance–sometimes you may want to go back to your last save, and at other times you might want to go back to the last autosave, the mechanics for which I have forgotten, but it was something like any time you enter or exit the world map, win a battle, and things like that.

  116. I’m about to enter Solaris on Xenogears.

    I didn’t have that much trouble with Babel. The only thing is I missed the last jump in the second section and fell below the obvious screen split in the middle which reset every single fixed battle there.

    I really loved Shevat, I wanted to explore and talk to people because the location was so interesting. I didn’t really see the similarities to Chrono Trigger before but I’m seeing them more now in this section of the game. I am not looking forward to the sitting in chairs reading slow scrolling text section but I’m sure the story will continue to be of high enough quality to make it worth it.

  117. I am to the over-world in disk two and can challenge the final dungeon when I want to.

    Solaris was fantastically twisted and the first half of disk two wasn’t that bad with an alright story to action ratio. Then the second half I just went through was just a visual novel with the occasional boss that was almost impossible to lose to unless you tried. That said, the story-line is pretty great and captivating so it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. It was definitely worth trudging through the worst parts of the game like Kislev to get to the much better parts of the game.

  118. I’m on chaper 5 on Valkeria Chronicles. Cool game so far. The tank mission gave me some trouble. I’m sure lost the map 5 times before I beat it.
    I like how its in my favorite genre but its so different. I’ll play the rest at some point. I’m a fan.

  119. I beat Xenogears. The (real) final boss was pretty challenging even with all the overpowered gear equipment I bought from Big Joe. I failed the first time after trying to kill all the mini-bosses first so the second time I just challenged it straight and barely won. I like that it ends with a cheesy ballad just like Symphony of the Night. That said, it wasn’t nearly as bad as SotN’s ending song. I clocked in around 61 hours but I just left the game running multiple times so the real time is probably lower.

  120. I took a break from Xenogears to beat SaGa 1 and 2, and I’m going to try and rush through SaGa 3 before getting back to XG! I’m still where I was before, before a set of bosses after the Eldridge. Soon!

  121. i’m midway through chapter 13 of Valkyria Chronicles, but taking a break to refresh my palate with some Final Fantasy IX (just got to Lindblum) and VII (just left Midgar). VC is more fun to play like once a week than four or five times a week, especially as the battles get more drawn-out.

  122. Can’t believe I missed the update before the recording AGAIN!! Days blurred together during Christmas!!

    Had a break over Christmas to play on the new Lite I got, but back at it now grinding at Oilivert (?). Want to get a couple abilities and it was a handy spot with the moogle.

  123. @Winter I still can’t believe you own five(!!!!!!) Nintendo Switch consoles!

  124. Heh yeah. I have actually «only» bought two myself, but not sure if that actually makes it better 😅 I just really love colored handhelds 🙈

  125. I should have bought a Switch Lite. I play it mostly handheld.

    Stuck on Chapter 6 on VC. I haven’t had the will to plug away at it. I got some serious real life issues right now, so unless its just a few runs with FFX2 creator creator. I dont have time for long drawn out battles that I’ll have to drop a at moments notice

  126. @TacticsJack: If you were to buy a Lite and your controller began to drift, as it eventually would, you’d have to send the entire console to Nintendo in order to get it fixed. And you’d not be able ever to play it on a TV (where games run with much better graphics). All you’d get in exchange is a smaller screen and system–not a good deal, by my reckoning.

  127. I know have the mixed color joyjons. I bought some grey ones on sale this month. I wish there are was a polished black version. I like the psp/vita cases, go figure

  128. I had grey ones at launch, but replaced them with purple(L) and green(R) about a year ago or so.

    You can modify your joycons if you fancy some fiddly tweaking. There are tutorials online and you can buy all sorts of crazy external shells from third parties. But if you do that, the in-system graphic for the controller will no longer match up with your Joy-Con appearance and, of course, you void the warranty.

  129. I looked into it. I might do some of that, since I’m semi-retired now.

  130. I’m at chapter 9 on Valkyria Chronicles. I started playing two weeks ago but reached the giant tank chapter I remember hating and decided to put it off until the new year. I never finished the game when I first played it because I felt there were too many annoying gimmick chapters and wanted the class change system from VC2 which I had played before this one. The balance is a little weird also. The scouts can move so far in this one and the shocktroopers feel like they have almost no movement. This is definitely my least favorite VC game from a game-play and mission design perspective. It is the first game though so I guess that can be a little expected.

  131. Scouts in VC are ridiculous in some ways. Looking at an FAQ on how to get max rating on maps, the predominant strategy for many maps involves heavy use of scouts to just run through things. Later games balanced the classes better.

    I’m still cross that we never got an official release of VC3, but maybe on Switch one day…

  132. I use shocktroppers more than scouts. The chp. 6 map the desert one had me stumped for weeks. There isn’t much leeway thinking outside the box is there? I remember some Advance Wars maps were like this. You could get a foothold and it was like throwing your head against the wall. I’m on c7 but I’ve think I lost the will to continue. I’ll try again this weekend

  133. In later VC games there was a bit more openness about scenario design. But no, in the original, there really isn’t much room to “think outside of the box”. That’s why I say that it is more like a puzzle game: there is one particular strategy they expect you to use in order to conplete each map. It may be possible to do it in some other way, but it will usually be very difficult if you deviate from what they want you to do.

  134. Well, shucks. I’m a think outside the box kinda guy. No wonder I’m struggling with it. It’s ok I like it. I can usualy run through these games with no problem. I’ll keep plugging away.

  135. I’m on Chapter 13 on VC. The order you get for leveling scouts to 12 is pretty broken. It halves damage from interception fire and with it I was able to beat the last two story battles in 2 turns and 1 turn. I guess I will have to play 13 as intended because you can’t deploy your tank until you capture the middle camp. I really enjoyed the battle where you are trying to destroy the train, particularly the elevator dynamics in that map.

    The furthest I had played into the game before this was the second battle in chapter 8. The worst stretch of the game in my opinion is the desert map followed by the giant tank and then the stealth map. Everything after those chapters has been enjoyable.

  136. The desert map sucks. Its way too big. I was banging my head up against the wall trying to get past it. I started to play FFX2 just to refresh my head. I went back and finished it but now on the giant tank. Rinse, repeat. I started playing Disgaea 1 to take my mind off it

  137. I beat Valkyria Chronicles. The most annoying.hard mission in the end game was the final Selvaria fight where she ducks for almost every shot. At one point ducking allowed her to avoid damage from a grenade that I threw directly under her, which was pretty funny for me. I ended up shooting at her with Alicia from behind so she would turn around and the snipers at the starting point could shoot the back of her head. With high level orders like penetration, neutralize, and resupply the ending missions were easy enough. Although, I can’t imagine how hard they would be if you weren’t abusing orders for max benefit. I really enjoyed the endgame a lot because the extra orders gave more strategic options compared to the early game. I’m glad this play-through gave me a reason to revisit the game because all the best content, in my opinion, starts right after where I had previously stopped playing.

  138. I never used the orders. Well……..now I know what my problem was. I try again this weekend.

  139. Orders are insane, and if you use them heavily, the game becomes MUCH easier. Also, after the stupid giant tank and desert missions, the game improves markedly. I think that’s a common place where people get bogged down!

  140. I’m in Chapter 16 of VC now. I think if the playthrough lasts another couple weeks then I may slide in by the end.

  141. I’m at chapter 10. I made a good run, considering real life issues and getting distracted by FFX/FFX2 and Disgaea 1

  142. I’m getting really distracted as well Tactics Jack! I’ve been on a few weeks of Monster Hunter addiction, finishing the story in MHW Iceborne and MHGU.
    Going back to my FFIX save I’m at Gizmaluke Grotto and I’ve been looking into the features that the remastered version adds. I’m convinced there’s a way I can abuse the bit of grass up the vine from the Moogle House fighting those dragons, either stealing items and running or grinding slightly against them. The best I could come up was the speed increase and the 9999 damage option to grind some early levels out against the dragons. I tried some options but eventually felt like it was cheating and took the levels from one of those battles and progressed on. My highest character is lv26 now. And I don’t think from now on that I’ll use any of the other combat options other than the speed up feature.
    Loving the game but it is a lot of new stuff I’ve not tried before in my previous playthroughs. I’m taking my time, even learning about the minigames like Chocobo Hot and Cold.

    I might manage to finish the game up by February but quite doubt it, I’m still early on and coming up to the 10hr mark.

    It’s also been surreal listening to the podcast and that I commented on some of the original playthroughs. I might not comment much but I have listened to the podcast and followed the site for something like 13-15 years now! I can’t quite remember dates; I have a terrible memory so don’t quote me on that! Keep up the good work!

  143. I’ve finished about six games since the playthrough started, but none of them are playthrough games! :(

    I finished all three Collection of SaGa games, Final Fantasy X, I completely completed 100% of absolutely everything in PKMN Shield, and completed Portal 2. Of those, the only thing that wasn’t a replay was PKMN Shield, but that was expansion content rather than main game content. Oh, and I replayed through a variety of short games with my son: Blaster Master, Mega Man, Mario etc. But I tend not to count those, or even remember them.

    For the playthrough, I got up to Chapter 5 on Valkyria, up to the final dungeon on Xenogears, and I didn’t play FFIX (because I completed a 100% replaythrough of that in September). I suppose I can take credit for FFIX, but I wanted to finish Xenogears and I got distracted. I’m disappointed because I don’t know if I’ll be finishing it now. Maybe at the end of term, because we don’t have a Spring Break this year. But New PKMN Snap comes out the day that the term ends, so…

    Of course, participating is the main thing and I’m glad I (almost) completed Xenogears again! That’s a game that deserves far better than to disappear into history.

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