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by Ethos

Birth By Sleep: The First 8 hours

Monday, September 13th, 2010

I know Birth By Sleep Week is all but over, and that we’ve already given you our thoughts in the form of the “IM”pressions you see below. (Aren’t those things brilliant? I think they’re brilliant.) But regardless, I felt the need to give the week a bit of a send-off in the form of some good, old-fashioned written impressions. I’d hoped to have the game nearly finished/reviewed at this point, but, ah… that didn’t really happen, for a variety of reasons.

As I believe I mentioned in the IMpressions, Birth By Sleep is the first “full” Kingdom Hearts game I’ve played since Kingdom Hearts II. That Chain of Memories remake for the PS2 was little more than a bunch of cobbled KH1 environments, and even what I played of Dumb Name felt little more than supplementary.  And it’s been four years since Kingdom Hearts II. That’s a long time; a cruelly long time, in fact. So, while Birth By Sleep may not be the big, flashy PS3 relaunch of the series that we’re all still dreaming of, it’s still something that, as Kingdom Hearts fans, we can truly sink our teeth into. And that, alone, makes it worth the price of admission.

Birth By Sleep continues the trend of making us absorb dialog we should normally hate, and care about plotlines that would bore us if they were in any other game. How? The older I get, the less sense it makes, to be honest. But for some reason, in the eight hours I’ve spent with Birth By Sleep, I’ve grown care more about the events and characters than I have with any other RPG since Persona 4. It, for example, beats the living fuck out of Final Fantasy XIII – Disney characters and all.

But then again, I can’t totally discredit the merits of Birth By Sleep, and write it all off to an inexplicable charm. This shit is interesting, simply put. Seeing the history behind the Keyblade and its wielders is just plain interesting. Visiting Radiant Garden before it became Hollow Bastion, with the knowledge that it’s all gonna go to shit, is just a cool feeling. Kinda like the Star Wars prequels, but better. Kingdom Hearts may be a simple story of good versus evil – light versus darkness – but man, does it ever pull off this age-old concept well. Why? Because it doesn’t really try to do much more than that. It’s something to respect, frankly.

But of course, it wouldn’t be Kingdom Hearts without plenty of Heartless to bash around. Eight hours in, I think Birth By Sleep might just have the best combat in the series. Finally, a good balance between button-mashing and strategy has been found. This is instantly evident by the fact that you’ll probably actually die in Birth By Sleep. I have, at least. Multiple times. Boss battles are tough. Y’know, the way they should be. In Kingdom Hearts II, I don’t recall ever dying. And if I did, I doubt I did anything more than mash buttons harder the second time around. In Birth By Sleep, you’ll find yourself challenged to not only mash the X button like a crazy person, but to make sure you’re using defensive commands such as block and dodge, and ensuring you have a proper deck of commands for a given situation. If you don’t, you just might die. Also, I’m a huge fan of new additions such as Combat Stances and D-Links. Combat Stances are essentially what they sound like; for example, if you chain enough Fire-type attacks together, you’ll adopt a stance that grants firepower to all your attacks. It also makes you quite a bit faster and more powerful. It’s essentially the same as the different forms that Sora could take in Kingdom Hearts II. Unfortunately, none of them involve using dual-keyblades. Which kinda sucks. Dual keyblades are badass.

While this hardly needs to be said, Birth By Sleep is quite the looker; with the obligatory “for a PSP game” caveat. But, in perfect honesty, this game looks just as good as Kingdom Hearts II did – just on a smaller screen. The game does seem to suffer from a bit of slowdown when ridiculous numbers of enemies are on-screen, but this is relatively rare, and hardly an annoyance. If Squeenix knows how to do anything right (and this game proves that they can still do several things right) it’s make a pretty game.

I just wish there were Gummi Ship sequences. Where did they go? Just cruising around the map from an isometric view isn’t the same. At all. Oh yeah, and I wish Terra’s voice actor didn’t perpetually sound like he just woke up from a 27-year nap.

Other than that, as a Kingdom Hearts fan, it’s hard for me to complain much about Birth By Sleep. I wish I could review it for you, but suffice to say, I’ve been enjoying the hell out of it for the last few days. If you’re a fan of the series, you absolutely will as well.

And with that, we bid our farewells to the week. ‘Till next time,


Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep IMpressions – Outtakes

Monday, September 13th, 2010

Here’s the rest!

Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep IMpressions – Gameplay

Sunday, September 12th, 2010

As promised, more IMpressions! These aren’t the last either.

Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep IMpressions – Story

Saturday, September 11th, 2010

Finally got around to these. More coming.


Thursday, September 9th, 2010

I’m still here! I have Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep and I’ve played about an hour into it. I’m playing as Terra first because he interests me the least and it bugs me that a dude is named Terra. Riddles and I are going to get you some IMpressions about it because hopefully he’s found a way to play it as well. Until then I’m off to work.

Oh right! I played some Professor Layton: Unwound Future too at an event and got an early copy. However, with all the Kingdom Hearts and girlfriending, I doubt I’ll get a review out for release date. So I’ll just be giving random impressions about it here and there. Any of you playing Birth by Sleep yet?

Update: Riddles has found a way to play! IMpressions sometime this week!

Welcome to Birth By Sleep Week

Tuesday, September 7th, 2010

I would have had the new banner up last night, but I decided to get drunk instead. Why? I’m not entirely sure. It just seemed like a good idea at the time. It might have been because I had to work on Labor Day, which didn’t sit well with me. It would have been slightly ameliorated  had my favorite waitress been there, but she wasn’t. So, I was denied even the simple pleasure of eye candy and awkward conversation.

Now that we’ve delved a little too deeply into my personal life/screwed up psyche, let me welcome you to Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep Week! I know you’ve all been looking forward to this one. I know I have.

Which makes it all the more embarrassing that this week is set-and-ready to be a total bust. Why?

1) Square Enix decided not to release Birth By Sleep over PSN, meaning that poor Ethos and his trendy, UMD-less PSP are shit out of luck, unless he can manage to swipe a friend’s PSP for the week.

2) Just a few weeks ago, I gave my PSP-2000 to my brother as payment of a rather large debt I owed him. (Product of the Unemployed Time, if you recall that.) So. I have no PSP. However, seeing that it’s still in the family and my brother intends to buy Birth By Sleep, I should be able to spend some time with the game. Hopefully.

So, yeah. Um. Just bear with us, I suppose. And, if any of you are lucky enough to have a copy of the game, please, let your thoughts on it be known below.

Hey! Look! Listen! will be up either tonight or tomorrow, so I’ll see you then.


Scatter Storming. Issue #038

Saturday, September 4th, 2010

YOU HEARD IT STRAIGHT FROM THE BITCH’S MOUTH, FOLKS! The asshole misses me! Scatter Storming goes away for half a month, and Riddles is already in tears. If any of you even half-follow the site, you’ll know that my girlfriend finally moved into town this week, so my time has understandably been focused on that section of my life before she starts school and I have to go back to the reality of writing for my website and doing other things with my life. So let’s scatter some storms, shall we?

I got Ys 7 -
Because why the hell not. Well, I’m broke, so that’s a good reason, but I had enough money on my PSN account to get it, so I went for it. Because of the aforementioned attention to my lover, I haven’t played it too much, but it’s actually kinda fun. The beginning was slower than I wanted it to be, but I think that’s because I was anxious to try out this action RPG series for the first time.

People tend to agree that the game doesn’t look very good, and while technically I agree, so far it has been a rather whimsical and magical universe. The character models and textures are nothing impressive, but I like the atmosphere. Anyway, positive impressions so far.

I got Windows 7 -
Well, I downloaded it and I’m trying to install it. The upgrade attempt didn’t go so well, so I’m thinking about backing everything up and starting a clean install. I’m sick of Vista, although one certain event set this decision in motion.

FFXIV Beta -
I preordered the game, so I’m very interested in this open beta, but the client just insta-crashes whenever I try to open it. I blame Vista. My impressions of the beta would be here if it wasn’t fucking up. So stay posted for that. While I’m on the topic of downloading a bunch of shit.

Goddamn Birth By Sleep -
It is deservedly Birth By Sleep Week next week. I’m very excited for the title. But for whatever idiotic reason, the game will not be released on the PSN. I’m aware that the PSP Go was dead out of the gate (the thing never should have cost that ridiculous price), but the 4 Go owners (myself included) aren’t the only ones who can download PSP games off the PSN. It just doesn’t make any sense.

So, to combat their stupid move and to bring you all proper impressions next week, I’m going to borrow Andogo’s PSP and steal that bugger. I’d gladly pay for it if I was able to, but sadly I can only purchase the UMD, and I have no interest in that. I’m sick of physical media. Switching discs and carts seems so archaic to me now. I know a lot of you like looking at your collection and breathing a happy sigh, but you’re all old men to me.

Old men with walkers, who wheeze about the good old days while shouting racist remarks and talking about how the airplane ruined good character because kids used to have to swim across the Atlantic to get to school every day.

Metroid: Other M -
To get back to Riddles, since this is his issue, he was right about one thing. I did want to write a few editorials about Metroid: Other M this week. Hopefully I’ll be able to at least bring you guys a Soapbox tomorrow.

That’s it! This Oliver Issue appropriately rarely focused itself on him. I’m going to go try to get Windows 7 to work. If I delete everything, then fuck me twice and call me Suzanne. Later, cretins!

News Roundup #007 – September 27, 2009: “Shooting The Shit”

Sunday, September 27th, 2009

News was so disappointing this week that Riddlethos decided to dedicate the Roundup to ragging on TGS 2009. There are no headlines, no megatons, and Riddles and Ethos don’t even know they’re officially rounding up until half way through the conversation!

Still, this casual conversation is a great read as the lack of news starts to visibly tear away at the young nerds’ happiness and sanity.

Click here to enjoy!