Sailing the Blue Skies since 2001.
Welcome to the revived Impressions section. Here Nester and I will plop down early thoughts on some of the games we're playing: What we like thus far, any problems we've had, and the overall vibe of the game. Hopefully these will help out in your purchase making (and also help me out with writing more Opinion pieces!), so enjoy.
Note: N = Nester, W = Wildcat.
Dragon Quest IV (DS, Square-Enix) - NEW!
W - This update to the NES original is certainly pleasing to the eyes and ears. A fresh graphical coat of paint combined with one of the best scores I've heard coming out of the DS hardware makes for a great A/V experience. The core gameplay is solid, too, infusing the original game with many of the more modern shortcuts featured in Dragon Quest VIII. So far, this is in strong contention for being one of the best RPG's I've played for the system, despite not being too deep into it yet (I'm near the end of Chapter 2). The translation, which seemed to be one of the general complaints of pro reviewers, doesn't faze me too much, personally. It works with this series (thanks to my exposure to DQVIII), and while it does take a bit to get used to, it does add some charm to the cliché village formula. More forthcoming.
Persona 4 (PS2, Atlus)
W Update - I'm very close to the end of this game, and what a wild rollercoaster! Unexpected plot swings and more incredible voice acting has pushed this into the stratosphere reserved for the best experiences in gaming I've managed to play yet. I am looking forward to finishing up the last bit of gameplay joy I have left and writing a full Opinion on this wonderful game in an upcoming update. ^_^
W - I really am awestruck at how much better Persona 4 is compared to P3. I mentioned in my Opinion on P3 that the game was amazing right until the end. Well, P4 has managed to completely crush P3 under its heel with its multitude of improvements. The game's Social Links system is back with bells on, taking the concept to much further heights. And this time, if you max out your girlfriend's link, you can still hang out with her! That is a massive plus in my book (Alas, if you max out, say, Yosuke, he'll just chat with you, which is a small bummer). Making the Social Links system pure joy this go-around is the extraordinary group of teenagers that you can hang out with. The cast in this game is just incredible. I thought P3 was great, but P4 takes it to the next level. Chie, Yosuke, Kanji, Rise and Yukiko are all phenomenally cast, and feel, act and talk like believable high school students. Their issues are grounded in reality, and make absolute sense to someone who was a teenager not all that long ago. I have to say that these designs are also a step above P3's. A new watermark for character designers, voice actors and translators to live up to, to be sure.
The dungeons have also been deeply overhauled, trimming some of the more unnecessary features (having to talk to your party members to equip their gear or ask for team healing, splitting the team apart to search out areas, finding key floors to warp out, streamlining the Persona fusion process), and allowing you to take full control over the entire party if you wish (which is a big help!). The dungeons are also much more diversified, with each area representing a character's inner turmoil instead of climbing up the same tower the entire game (which, now that I think back upon it, was really dull). Thus far my wife has entered 6 separate dungeons with their own unique motif and musical theme (she's ahead of me), and all of them are fun to wander through. The camera was lowered to be more behind-the-back, which takes a bit to get used to (especially when trying to time your sword swings to hit shadows), but that's my only nitpick with the whole experience, really. All and all, I am heavily considering this to be the best game I've played, and I can't really shower any more praise onto it than that.