What I'm Playing - No. 44
Welcome back to another weekly wrap-up of the games I’ve been playing over the past week!
There are some late game plot arc and final boss spoilers for Valkyria Chronicles in this one but I believe I’ve kept it free of the most surprising spoiler moments. Still though, if you intend to play Valkyria Chronicles for yourself someday and don’t want anything spoiled, skip the Valkyria Chronicles section!
Click a title to skip to that section. Games contained within this post:
- Valkyria Chronicles (PC)
- Disney Classic Games: Aladdin and The Lion King (Switch)
- Ring Fit Adventure (Switch)
Valkyria Chronicles (PC)
I finished Valkyria Chronicles, and my overall reaction is this: what a game! It was such an emotional ride through the latter half of the game, and the writing just had me saying “wow” time after time.
I’ll outline the general path to the end of the game, but I’m going to avoid the moments that really surprised me to avoid spoiling everything. If you haven’t played Valkyria Chronicles yet, and are still reading this, just know that I’ve left out some of the best moments in the writing and story (throughout my past write-ups as well), because I think those moments are best experienced firsthand.
Once I reached the final chapter, I figured out how to go back and play through the optional Report chapters I’d purchased from Castlefront Street at the Headquarters. I decided to go back and play them all. Better late than never, right? It was interesting to see where each one fit in the story, as they’re positioned between the chapter pages where they fit. I’m so glad I went back and played them all, because they add a nice bit of backstory and personality to the characters.
Most of the optional reports center around a specific character. Like the main story chapters, they generally have a few cutscenes and a battle to fight. These battles were really cool! Most of them had you use very small squads and had unique victory conditions. One has Welkin, Largo, and a unit of your choice stealthily navigating on foot through a town at night to take out some Imperials blocking a trade route. Again, I’m so glad I went back and played these, because they give more life to the characters of Squad 7. Beating them also unlocks a unique Potential for that character! And if I hadn’t played them, I would have never known about Largo’s obsession with vegetables, and that would have been a crying shame.
Anyway, aside from the optional Reports, I obviously continued and completed the main story as well. First Squad 7 faced off against Selvaria. She fought without using her powers as a Valkyria this time. Wielding a powerful machine gun, she was still very much a threat, even without her superhuman powers. My infantry had to dodge her barrage of bullets lest they be torn to shreds. Between a combination of the Edelweiss’s smoke rounds and timing my units movement until Selvaria had to reload, eventually victory was mine!
The Imperial Prince himself then lead a gargantuan tank, the Marmota, against the Gallian capital. Despite Squad 7 doing everything in their power to stop it, they were unable to take it down before it reached the capital!
Fighting their way to reach the capital and take down the Marmota, they first had to face off against the enemy general Jaeger. He showed up much earlier in one of the main missions in the same tank, and at that point we just had to avoid him. Now Squad 7 had no choice but to take him down, and it’s pretty satisfying to reach that point since it really puts your units growth in strength over the course of the game into perspective. Plus, this takes place at the same location as Squad 7’s first real mission, and I really like the symmetry that gives their journey.
At the outskirts of the capital, it was time to take down the Marmota. There were many enemy reinforcements during this mission, as well as a lot of gatling and anti-tank turrets lining the Marmota itself. I dealt with this by using the All Units Defend order, making it easier for them to survive the onslaught of gatling turret bullets. Then all I had to do was get a few Lancers to climb the ladders by the turrets and deliver some explosives to their weak points, and the turrets were no more. It was smooth sailing after that.
With the Marmota disarmed, Squad 7 boarded it to take down its captain: Maximilian. As the final boss, Maximilian is using artificial Valkyrian weapons to give himself the power of a Valkyria. Luckily, his artificial invulnerability was easy to byass. I just directed my soldiers to take down the towers powering his weapons. Once he was vulnerable, I pelted him with mortars from the Edelweiss, resupplied it with an Engineer, and repeated the process. After a few turns, he was defeated just like every enemy before him.
After Maximilian’s defeat, the entire Marmota begins to explode. Welkin and Alicia get separated from the rest of the squad, and Welkin orders them to get themselves to safety. Things aren’t looking too good for the two stranded members of Squad 7. At the last moment, their friend from the R&D department, an engineer named Leon, flies in on a plane he finally finished building. Welkin and Alicia jump and land safely on the back of the plane, and the trio fly off towards Randgriz to reunite with the rest of their squad.
The credits start to roll soon after. It was such a beautiful way to end things, with the plane flying off into distant skies. Cutscenes from the journey play during the credits as a few nice instrumental tracks accompany them. You’re also shown all the soldiers you had recruited during your playthrough, and whether they’re alive or dead. I’m happy to report that I had no deaths!
There are also character epilogues during the credits sequence. I love this kind of thing in every game I’ve played that has them. With the war over, everyone returns to a peaceful life, and lives happily ever after. Welkin fulfills his dream of wanting to be a teacher, and Alicia fulfills her dream of wanting to be a baker. And of course, the two of them got married, and in the final scene you see them walking off with their daughter to bake bread as a family. It’s such a sweet ending scene, I love it!
So that’s it for Valkyria Chronicles. There are a few other games in the series: 2 sequels on the PSP, although Valkyria Chronicles 3 only released in Japan (but there’s a fan-made English translation patch!), and Valkyria Chronicles 4, which is for Switch/PS4/Xbox One/PC. I’m definitely going to play more of the series someday! The gameplay, story, and world of Valkyria Chronicles really impressed me, and I’m looking forward to when I next return to the world of Europa for more turn-based warfare!
Disney Classic Games: Aladdin and The Lion King (Switch)
PatronusLight and I had heard about this compilation a while back, and it finally came out this week, releasing on PS4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch.
It contains the Sega Genesis versions of Aladdin and The Lion King. Additionally, it contains the Game Boy and Super Game Boy versions of both games, though these versions are considerably more stripped down due to the less powerful hardware. The SNES version of The Lion King is also included, although the graphics and sound are the only real difference. Gameplay remains basically identical between the two.
The games are being emulated, which is expected since that’s far easier than porting the games to run on PS4/Switch/Xbox One natively. The emulation itself is great in my opinion, but I’ve never been one to really notice small accuracy differences or disparities in sound reproduction from the original hardware. With the games running via emulation, the developers also included some emulation niceties: rewinding and save states. Or, save state, I should say. You can only have one save per game. This initially struck me as odd since there are rarely such strict limitations in open source emulators, but I think what they were going for is to keep it simple. Simple enough that a child could easily understand how to create and load a save, without needing them to navigate through a menu full of several save states. I’ll give the devs the benefit of the doubt there.
Rewinding in these games is a godsend, especially in The Lion King. The Lion King is known for being a very difficult retro game. Some of the platforming required is deceptively precise, and there’s an infamous monkey puzzle in the second level. As a kid, I could never make it past the second level. Well, with the help of the rewind feature saving me from numerous deaths, and my big adult brain, I was able to make it past that level, and that was a pretty awesome feeling!
One thing that’s a little odd is that the SNES version of Aladdin isn’t present here. Unlike with The Lion King, the SNES version of Aladdin is an entirely different game from the Genesis version. It was developed by Capcom, and that could be the reason why it’s absent? Capcom might not want to license the game code or something, I’m not sure. But to make up for this absence, there’s an early demo build of the Genesis Aladdin included as well, and that’s an interesting bit of history.
Oh, one last funny thing, the words Nintendo, Sega, and Game Boy are strangely avoided when referring to the game versions. They’re referred to as S Console version or N Console version, and Handheld version or Handheld Color version. I’m not sure why this is, but it’s pretty amusing.
Besides the games themselves, there’s also a ton of content in the “Museum” for each game. Lots of video interviews with the developers of the games, and artwork from the games and movies.
There’s also a basic achievement system, which makes sense since the other platforms this released on, PS4 and Xbox One, both have online achievements. The Switch…doesn’t, but the achievements can still be viewed and unlocked locally, which is neat. They just won’t sync to any sort of online profile like on the other platforms. The achievements are pretty straightforward. Basically just playing and beating the games on different difficulty levels and playing all the versions of them will get you 100% of the achievements. But, I’m guessing doing so would be far from easy since one of the 3 Lion King achievements is to beat the game on the hardest difficulty. I would need a lot of rewind power to do that.
Playing these classic Disney games has been fun. I owned a version of The Lion King as a kid, although I can’t remember if it was for SNES or Genesis, so that’s been really nostalgic for me. PatronusLight owned Genesis Aladdin, so seeing that game again is super nostalgic for her. All in all, it’s a fun game to pick up and play, and I think it will be nice to have it on the Switch to play in handheld mode occasionally. We haven’t tried that yet though!
Ring Fit Adventure (Switch)
PatronusLight and I also picked up Ring Fit Adventure this week! It comes with a new peripheral: the Ring-Con. And a leg strap but that’s less exciting. The right joy-con slides into the Ring-Con and you hold it like it’s a Wii steering wheel, and the left joy-con slides the leg strap which gets strapped around your left thigh, and then you’re ready to enter the Ring Fit world!
Ring Fit Adventure is a fitness RPG. You do exercises to explore a fantasy world and fight monsters, gaining experience and leveling up as you do. That’s great for me, because I love video games, especially RPGs, but don’t like exercising. Nintendo has found a way to trick me into exercising, and like it!
Seriously, Adventure mode, the main mode of the game, is legitimately fun. It’s not just a gimmick. Fighting enemies in turn-based battles, choosing attacks, and defeating said enemies is addicting. It’s just like other RPGs in that regard. The RPG mechanics are simple, with your character only having Attack, Defense, and HP stats, but that’s fine with me. The full breadth of RPG staples are here though: attacks that damage multiple enemies in battle, towns with NPCs and stores, equipment to buy and increase your stats…they’re all here!
As an RPG, Adventure mode has a story as well. After creating your character, you appear in the world of Ring Fit, and find a strange ring. It speaks to you, asking you to set it free, so you do. Turns out that was a bad move. You release Dragaux, a super buff dragon of darkness, and he starts radiating his evil across the world, creating monsters like a typical RPG baddie.
As Dragaux flies away, you hear a different voice. It’s the ring that Dragaux was trapped in, but now it has a face and is talking and looking at you. The ring’s name is, creatively, Ring. Ring asks for your help to defeat Dragaux, and with the two of you working together you gain access to great Fit Power, which makes your hair fiery. With that, you’re ready to play/exercise!
You’re then dropped into the first world map. Each world is split up into a few levels and ends with a boss battle. A level has you jog in place to make your character run through the world, additionally squeezing and pulling the Ring-Con to shoot blasts of air and suck up coins and other items alongside the path. You’ll also encounter enemies along the path and fight those. These sections are on-rails; you can’t direct your character where to go, they follow a preset path and simply move forward. That’s fine though, having to explore freely by jogging and pointing or turning the Ring-Con probably wouldn’t be a frustration-free control scheme anyway.
The game just makes me smile and laugh. It’s so funny how a lot of the world is fitness-related. You run past dumbbells and other fitness gear as you explore, and some of the enemies themselves resemble weights. It’s not at all subtle and I love it!
Of course, it’s not all about having fun. One of the main goals of a fitness game is to get fit. I won’t know exactly how effective Ring Fit is at that until I’ve been playing it longer, and fitness isn’t just about exercise but also diet and other factors, but I can at least say at this point that Adventure mode is a workout. You can adjust the difficulty to fit your exercise needs and current fitness level, and I picked a difficulty I thought I could handle. Well, I can handle it, but by the end of a session in Adventure mode, I am dripping with sweat. So, I think Ring Fit Adventure does its job as a fitness device quite well so far!
Now, I most likely won’t write about Ring Fit Adventure in future What I’m Playing posts. The story isn’t going to win any awards (at least not so far), and I’ve already covered the gist of the mechanics in this post. The mechanics seem like they’ll expand a bit as you progress. Even this week, a sort of “super effective moves” or “enemy weakness” system in battle based on color coded enemies matching up with the colors of your attacks was introduced once I reached a certain point in the story. But unless the new mechanics radically change the gameplay, I don’t think I’ll feel the need to write about them. I intend to keep playing Ring Fit Adventure, and I really want to make it a habit and get it into my daily routine. But you shouldn’t expect to see more write-ups on it here!