VLR is still probably #1 for me. ZTD I'm not sure where I'd place with 999. For the story, I think 999 is probably above ZTD but if factoring in the gameplay, ZTD is above. They're all so great though.
Enjoying this a bunch, but I been very busy and only get to play an hour a day or so. Only thing is the lack of direction as to how everything unfolds. But the fragment system does make sense with how this escape game was designed.
Over the last few years, I've pre-ordered several 3DS games from Best Buy (people keep giving me gift cards there *shrug*). 2 of the last 3 trips to pick-up said pre-order resulted in the nice employee sheepishly telling me that they had zero (+1 to the "zero" count in this thread) copies of the game in the store, but that they could order one and deliver it to my house. The third time it looked like they didn't have a copy but they found one hidden in some mysterious box in the back room. Fine. No harm done. Just the further adventures of a second class, read: Nintendo, gamer. I've gotten the hint that Nintendo fans have to pre-order 3rd party games in order to guarantee being able to buy them in brick and mortar stores.
But, as listeners of the podcast will know, I somehow got completely confused about the release date of this game that I have been EAGERLY awaiting. Somehow I thought it was coming out towards the end of July and not the end of June. So, today I went to a Gamestop hoping to find a copy. I was pretty much expecting them to tell me that they had sold through their pre-orders. But, I was hoping they could point me to the one store in town that usually has a random copy or at least order me one from the website and ship it to my abode.
Sure enough, they had sold through their 3 pre-orders and not ordered any more copies. They checked the other stores in the area and they all had the same result. They had fulfilled 2 or 3 pre-orders each and then not carried any more. Hence, the entire city was devoid of any copies. They apparently could not even order the game through the website. For some reason it was not letting them. This game was simply not available beyond pre-order through Gamestop.
What really got my goat was the Gamestop manager then telling me "this is why Nintendo fans have to pre-order their games. Cuz Nintendo sucks." Ouch. Like, ouch, dude. Harsh. He then did the requisite Gamestop move of asking if I was interested in anything else. He opened with "do you have a PS4 or XBox One?" When I said no he gave me a look like "well I can't help you if you refuse to help yourself."
So, I took leave of the store and went to a Best Buy. They also had no copies, and were unable to order any from the warehouse -- something they admitted was unusual for games. I walked next door to Target. The employee in their electronics section was not very concerned with my plight. She looked up the game in her little book and said condescendingly "that game isn't out yet. It comes out on December 31st." She clearly was not aware that placeholder dates are a thing and that her book was out of date.
In the end, I had to order the game off of Amazon like some kind of hip, young person. That's fine. But, Nintendo has a problem when this is the state of their 3rd party software at retail. Admittedly, it's a niche game. But, the severity of this particular experience and the frequency of similar experiences illustrates a problem. I'm sure many of you know what I'm talking about and can feel my pain.
I mean, is it so much to ask for a game to be available on store shelves? I'm not asking rhetorically. How many sales are lost simply because people who don't watch the internet like a hawk will literally never know games like this exist? As I said, I was VERY eagerly awaiting this game and even I messed up the release date!
To be fair, this game is INCREDIBLY niche. The publisher did not ship any more physical copies than those that were pre-ordered. Period. This particular release is a unique situation. If it helps at all, when I went to my GameStop to grab my pre-order, the guy in front of me in line tried to buy the Vita version - without a pre-order. Needless to say, he was unable to buy what he wanted because the store only got as many copies as were pre-ordered. And that is true even for a Sony system. So...it's not just a Nintendo issue.
At least, in this case.
Sorry to hear the GameStop employee you dealt with was a dip. The stores around me all have cool people working for them (that are down with Nintendo) so it's a little disheartening to hear when that's not true in other locations.
I hope you at least reminded the employee that Nintendo actually has the best-selling, most popular system on the market right now. So they clearly don't "suck."
I have a pretty bad batting average with GameStop, so I try to avoid going there as much as possible nowadays. I've heard the "you gotta preorder everything" spiel way too much by now, (with a few "Nintendo sucks" thrown in there) and I think it's highly likely that their whole preordering "model" is a big reason physical copies for some games are so hard to find these days.
ZTD is a pretty niche game but I managed to get lucky with it. I snagged the one and only copy at a much more respectful local game store here in Baton Rouge called GameWare. Otherwise I probably would've just gone to Amazon (after checking the usual Best Buys and Wal-Marts) before getting another earful by some anti-Nintendo GameStop jerk clerk. Amazon is kinda frustrating since you have to wait for it to come in though.
You're absolutely right. This game was a unique case and I do recall hearing that now that you mention it. I fell victim to being primed by previous experiences and that dude's 'tude. He was a rude dude with a 'tude. And not in the cool 90s way.
Yea, normally I would not go to GameStop, but I was on a tight schedule and in the area for another errand, so.... =) GameWare sounds pretty cool. We have some really good retro chains up here but they don't carry the newest stuff. I'm not sure we have a brick and mortar alternative for new games. =\ Sad that.
This game is already getting under my skin and filling me with dread. Like with 999, I even started dreaming about it while half-awake this morning. That's...good, I think!
What is not good to me is the presentation. In fact, it's really bothering me and I'm afraid it might be a major hindrance to the game and its storytelling. The animation and lip-synching are so rough that it's taking me out of the experience. The voice acting seems to be a bit weaker than VLR's as well, although that may be related to the awkward timing of the dialogue with the animation (long pauses between some phrases, etc, while VLR kept things moving).
I'm just really disappointed that they opted for this more "cinematic" approach. With the past games' Phoenix Wright style, it followed that law of exaggeration where your mind could fill in the blanks and it still worked (similar to why 16-bit RPGs often have a lot more character/emotion than later ones). Now it feels like I'm deep into the uncanny valley with the DreamCast-quality cutscenes.
Anyone else having this problem?
That said, the foreboding 999 feeling is there in full force, especially going in knowing that this'll be a bloodbath (which is oddly enhancing the unease of everything).
I didn't have the same problem but definitely still agree with everything you pointed out. I just figure that even with the bad animation, the dialogue is still there either way so I just don't pay much attention to the 90s video game animation. Seriously, it reminds me of like classic Resident Evil with how choppy everything moves haha. It is kind of weird that they opted for this with the limited budget that they probably had due to the game almost never having happened.
Put in a couple more hours. The puzzle rooms have been pretty good so far, puzzling and a bit stymying, but doable with some persistence. I miss the Gold Files from VLR though--is there anything like that this time around? Some of the presentational issues aren't bothering me as much--namely when there's a lot of action (like when two characters get really paranoid and try to off each other).
That said, I still really miss the visual novel approach. I like controlling the "flow" of dialogue, and while I can pause here, it's kind of odd, like pausing a movie. I just vastly prefer the pacing of being able to tick through the dialogue myself; I think it also contributes to some of the weaker voice-acting this time around. I theorize that the actors had to squeeze their lines into particularly lengths of time (anime-style) to work with the cutscenes' camera.
I don't know what to think about the character designs. I liked the creativity of the prior games'. ZTD kinda makes Sigma and Junpei more bland-looking, and the newcomers--Carlos and Eric especially--just sort of look like regular people in shirts and pants. The girls fare slightly better (I'm digging Phi's new look), but the cast is weirdly uninteresting-looking to me this time around. Q is the lone exception, I quite like his design. But I'm missing visually-striking characters like Clover, Snake, 9th Man, K and Dio.
Also, Eric has made an awful impression on me so far. What a whiny, milquetoast, slow-witted, whiny, jealous, whiny character. There were some characters I loved to hate in past games (VLR BIG SPOILERS) such as that oh-so-punchable d-bag, Dio, but Eric is the kind of guy you...well, hate to hate. Maybe he'll grow on me but I've found nothing redeeming about him so far.
Early impressions have me favoring Phi, Q, Diana and the bodacious old terrier Gab.
Despite my complaints, I'm pretty hooked. The flowchart is confusing so far and deaths feel less "permanent" in each game of this series, but they kinda try to compensate for that lack of actual choice-making by ramping up the intensity and violence. No one feels safe, and you'll often end up with grisly results for the characters if you're not careful. So far, I've seen two characters attack each other with a chainsaw and axe, that infamous original piece of art where a character has to fire a possibly-loaded gun at another character's head in order to save a third character, and a diabolically disturbing puzzle element utilizing the dismembered parts of someone you later find out was dead. The series is really embracing its Saw-ness, and while it's kinda gratuitous, it's effective in making me tense as heck throughout.