Author Topic: Thoughts On the Game  (Read 1614 times)

Offline NinetyPercentSpiff

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Thoughts On the Game
« on: December 06, 2016, 08:19:32 AM »
I finally picked up the base game (I don't really want to try the expansion before it's translated), and decided to note down some thoughts now that it's over. I'll probably take a look at a bit of the postgame later, but until then, I'm curious about what your thoughts are. Did you struggle in the same ways? Am I doing something terribly wrong, or interpreting things incorrectly? Does the expansion fix any problems I mention? I wrote up a little bit on my team, too, but unless anyone is interested, I'll keep it to just thoughts on the game itself (you'll notice some references to things I never actually said, since I removed a hefty chunk of text that isn't terribly important).

Right from the start, the forced experience share played a huge role in shaping how I approached team building. For the unfamiliar, the experience share (specifically, post X and Y) provides the entire party with half of the experience gained from any defeated Pokemon, and full experience to any Pokemon that participated in the battle. This means that any experience gained is potentially multiplied up to 2.5 times if only one Pokemon participates, and is then distributed among the party. The result of this is an incredible overleveling issue, and the game becomes far too easy.

Fortunately, in X and Y, you can shut it off, but that isnít the case in Puppet Dance Performance. At first, I hoped the game would be balanced in consideration of this feature, only to quickly be proven incorrect as my puppets inflated several levels past their peers, especially the ones with quick leveling rates. I knew this would completely suck the fun out of the game for me, partly from the trivialized difficulty and partly from not using individual puppets as often, so I came up with the plan to switch between two teams to prevent overleveling. I was worried this would still result in the latter issue, but thankfully I still had fun with every puppet I used.

...Except, as you might have guessed from mentioning it a few times, the puppets that level up quickly. These puppets forced me to rotate them out faster than the others, with meant I never was able to use them in very many battles... In the end, as much as I tried, I couldnít fix all of the problems the experience share caused, and that forced puppets (Koyai and Boal) out of my party that I really, really wanted to use. I didnít mention this before, but Miniki also suffered from this fast leveling issue and being unable to participate in battle very much as a result, but her few experiences in battle were, at least, good ones.

Aside from how much I strongly disliked the forced experience share... The environments in Puppet Dance Performance were very, very bland. By the early midpoint of the game, the dungeons were becoming massive mazes... And absolutely nothing more. The map building technique, for every single map, had become the most basic maze structure (one main path splitting into a dead end), and nothing more, making exploring become increasingly tedious as the adventure went on and the mazes got bigger.

The main Pokemon series usually doesnít have this issue with maps because it includes puzzles and prizes to make exploring feel rewarding, making everything feel much less tedious than if the dungeons were nothing more than something to walk across. But other than a single sliding puzzle in an optional room, the rest of the dungeon locked until the postgame (so I havenít explored it yet), there are zero puzzles in Puppet Dance Performance. Because of that, the lack of prizes for exploring the countless dead ends was made much more noticeable. Far, far too many times have I explored a dead end and checked every rock, mushroom, or sapling, positive that one of them will hold a hidden item, only to be sourly disappointed. Briefly, one dungeon surprised me by hiding many bits of gold dust in the rocks at dead ends, and for a short time, exploring wasnít so dull. But that lasted for that dungeon only, and I ended up becoming so frustrated that I couldnít help but go straight through the last few dungeons. I didnít care about exploring dozens of dead ends and fighting horribly underleveled trainers (20-30 levels under their bosses) for three or four TMs and some healing items.

Even without using HMs (which Puppet Dance Performance does have, in the form of key items), the Pokemon puzzle designers have shown off puzzles requiring nothing more than walking, like sliding puzzles, breakable tile puzzles, and spin tile puzzles. Having a few of these spread around the dungeons and overworld, even without thinking of a unique puzzle, would have made the dungeons actually fun, and not such a tedious task of checking every corner. The maps also could have strongly benefited from a few areas that werenít just a series of corridors... Even outdoor areas felt terribly cramped because of how rivers and trees were used to make them into just more mazes.

Anyway... One last thing I disliked was the balancing of levels and strength. As I mentioned before, normal trainers ended up stuck at the 30 - 40 range from the late midgame until the end, when I, despite using two teams, grew from 40, 50, 60, and ended in the mid 70s after completing the final boss fights. The bosses of every area, however, usually outleveled me by at least five levels with their strongest, and the fights usually ended up in one of the bossí Pokemon KOing everything in my party in one hit until I found the one thing they couldnít KO, and either stalled it out with Leech Seed or Toxic or KOed it with something it was weak to. Almost every battle was all or nothing with the bosses: either they KO my Pokemon in one hit, or I KO theirs (or stall them out with Toxic/Leech Seed and revives and potions if nothing else).

Because of that, and the fact that I was still matching the bossí levels even after dividing the experience between two teams, makes the low trainer levels understandable: I would overlevel if they were higher, and the fights would be tediously difficult if they were higher. From completing the boss fights, it seems pretty clear that there is an awful unbalance between attack and defense on a mechanics level. My Minoriko in World Link was so amazing because even she could survive even super effective attacks from opponents ten to twenty levels higher, making her invaluable for enduring the poor level curve of Java, but Miniki here, despite being able to choose EV placement (World Linkís Minoriko had hers distributed randomly), still could not survive almost any super effective attacks, and even neutral ones were tough on her. Itís possible this unbalance stems from the wide variety of >90 BP moves, or under the hood damage calculations, but regardless, it is very, very clearly there.

I had much more fun in Alpha Sapphire and Silver, challenging the Elite Four and Red horribly underleveled (ten-fifteen under the champion and thirty under Red), since it forced me to use interesting tactics to overcome those challenges, instead of using my STAB and supereffective moves to sweep everything. I felt much less of that challenge in Puppet Dance Performance, since being forced to find the one doll that isnít KOed in one hit and taking the opponent out with that was much less fun. The battles were much more black and white, hitting unfun extremes despite my levels being much closer to the strongest (the highest enemy puppet was level eighty).

Considering all of that, is there anything I liked about the game? Obviously, the dislikes come to mind more. Yes, I did enjoy using some puppets in my party, and seeing them excel, but the experience share and unbalanced difficulty meant I could have felt that more from another game. Exploring the maps made me really, really hate Gensokyo by the end (Another World did that too, for different reasons... What a shame). Any neat location (...just Hellís core, now that I think about it) was ruined by being a bland maze with nothing interesting to see after arriving for the first time. Most Touhou characters appeared as nothing more than cameos for a brief fight, with the significant ones being nothing more than a boss fight so you can get a thing or go somewhere. Byakuren in particular forced you to fight every member of her crew and then her just so Suika could stop blocking the way to the final dungeon, and afterwards you were then assaulted by every ďrivalĒ (Marisa, Reimu, and Sanae) in very quick succession. Everything felt very arbitrary and forced, like you were being forced into a tour of a cardboard representation of Gensokyo by someone unfamiliar with the details.

...Oops, I just started talking about the flaws again. Well, the sprites did look really, really nice. All of them were super adorable. If I wasnít so frustrated with the tedious dungeons, I would have tried to catch all of them. The idea of limiting your earned money to selling items that drop from wild dolls and trainer battles was a nice way of making that more interesting, and made for a nice difficulty I appreciated in the early game when I had to be much more stingy with my items, which thankfully ended right when the dungeons got really tedious so I could fill my bag up with repels and pump my dolls full of potions and revives in the unfun boss fights. The Prismriverís house actually made for the only part of the game I was glad to have experienced, since... Now that I think about it, itís the only thing the game really did anything interesting with (and it wasnít made into a stupid maze). Exploring would have been so much more fun if there was more neat interactive stuff like that house...

The conclusion to the ďvillainĒ plot was also surprisingly neat and well implemented, reminding me a bit of how well Touhou Mother used its characters and their themes to make every participant feel important, unique, and building a really amazing new plot by the end. Of course, it shouldnít be surprising that thereís a ďbutĒ... The only interesting part to the ďvillainĒ plot was the ending, ignoring the forced cameo of another character afterwards. The build up to that never seemed significant or meaningful. The final villain showed up one single time before the final showdown, purely to bump into you, and none of the times the fairy grunts did anything in the rest of the story felt more meaningful than padding out certain sections of the game with lots of battles. If the plot was woven into the dungeons to break up the monotony of running through corridors, that could have been a much more painless, even enjoyable experience. If the final fight was more than stopping the fairies from being somewhere for no particular reason, with a feeling of an actual threat behind it, the ending could have been a bit more than, ďOh, huh, thatís kind of interesting, I guess.Ē So... I liked what was there, but it just makes me wish there was more of it so I didnít have to scrape the bottom of the barrel for mildly positive feelings.

EV mechanics were significantly streamlined. Every battle awards PP, which can be either used to learn new moves (they become available at certain levels) or assigned to certain stats, capping at 64 in a single stat, and 130 total. Normally I wouldnít mention anything this basic, but... Well, like I said in the last paragraph, Iím trying to find to find anything positive I can say about it. I really do like focusing on those, since it reminds me of those positive feelings when I get to be excited about something that amazed me, but unfortunately, this game really didnít have many of them. Itís a huge shame. The game seemed like it would be significantly more polished than the ROM hack Touhoumon games could be, and while, visually, it is (aside from how boring and featureless the maps look), every part of actually playing the game, from exploring, to team building, to reading dialogue, is terribly dull.

Spar

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Re: Thoughts On the Game
« Reply #1 on: December 06, 2016, 10:40:16 PM »
The expansion does mitigate some of the things you disliked.

Most of the dungeons are streamlined (I personally loved the massive mazes so that hurt my appreciation for the expansion, but it's impossible to make everyone happy), with very brief offshoots that almost always had an item to grab. There are a few new places such as access to the dreamworld and lunar capitol. The approach to the last boss also has two new regions between the Hakurei cave and Makai (One of which is super short, but gets expanded in the post game, and the other has some sliding puzzles, which I despise, but again you can't please everyone), so there's more to see.

The overleveling still happens (especially with low cost puppets), but thanks to the shortened dungeons it's not as pronounced and trying out all sorts of puppets can mitigate it further (If you're looking for a challenge catch each puppet and try to use each of them frequently without grinding). Defensive puppets are more viable with some changed mechanics, but super effective attacks will still badly injure them, and x4 damage is all but guaranteed to KO even the best defensive puppet.

The post game is littered with more stuff to do, so even people (like me) who don't play competitive anymore can still find something to do, while the main part of the game is short enough that you can come up with your own challenges to try an beat the game without the challenge becoming tedious (I've always felt that the Pokemon games were too long to have good replayability in regards to playthrough challenges, but I seem to be a minority on that account).

Offline Yukaris Glove

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Re: Thoughts On the Game
« Reply #2 on: March 31, 2017, 04:21:51 AM »
Wel, in my case, as fas as I've played the game, I really liked it a lot.

It's true that the "massive mazes" could have been better if they had puzzles on them, but I also enjoyed them because I'm such a perfectionist and didn't want to let anything out. And it's not true that you don't have rewards: the dungeons have plenty of important items like hold items and Skill Cards. I also found plenty of hidden items.

I didn't have any problem with the map design, on the contrary: I really enjoyed the "mazey" and enormous YŰkai Mountain. It's a big mountain, damn, it has to be big and "mazey"!

And what about all the things that got balanced or improved compared to the Pokemon games? The IVs, EVs, and "breeding" system is now MUCH less of a pain in the ass, and it's really fast to level up in the postgame so getting lots of cool puppets well trained is MUCH easier and rewarding than it is in Pokemon. Overpowered status ailments from Pokemon (Burn, Paralysis and Confusion) were also rebalanced.

Also, as fas as I can tell, every single puppet was designed to be at least useful in some way, all while being balanced. From their stat spread to their types, abilities and learnt moves. So I think even cost 80 puppets are interesting for their individual and particular positive traits. That's definitely not what happens with Pokemon.

My only complaint I actually agree with it's the forced experience share. If not for that the game would've been perfect for me. I'm really happy I bouth it!

Offline hamamah

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Re: Thoughts On the Game
« Reply #3 on: March 31, 2017, 01:18:46 PM »
the forced exp sharing did really make it slightly boring for me going against lvl 30-40s for all the time until a boss fight

or the hakurei cave which had 50-60 as leveling purpose i was really wishing they had made all the trainers at least 10 levels lower then my puppets or just like the hakurei cave it was really great because i was going against those 30-40 trainers without even caring about using a not effective skill

getting surprised by bosses being same level as my puppet if not higher + having maxed evs i guess? was stupid
remilia was a pain in the ass to get through

Offline Yukaris Glove

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Re: Thoughts On the Game
« Reply #4 on: March 31, 2017, 11:31:39 PM »
Ah yeah, I've read about Remilia being difficult for people. I personally didn't find her any more difficult than other bosses. I only ever used recovery items mid-battle at the beginning of the game, in the village, against the Puppet Liberation Front, and never again. And I didn't let any puppet get fainted so I could get more experience (I restarted when that happened, but only a few times). But it's also true that I made my team heavily thinking in type compatibility (even thought I picked Yukari, MamizŰ and Mima just because they're three of my favorites), and that all of my puppets had at least two A in their IVs and only one E at most.

Well, and I've also played Pokemon a lot, both in-game and competitively, I suppose.

EDIT: Ok. I'm in the postgame. Is there a way to find and fight Flandre and Koishi?
« Last Edit: April 01, 2017, 12:12:24 AM by Yukaris Glove »

Spar

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Re: Thoughts On the Game
« Reply #5 on: April 01, 2017, 11:19:00 AM »
I didn't have trouble with pretty much any of the bosses and I didn't bother using a team that had a good type spread or decent IVs. Remi was tricky because I didn't know what any of the items did (No translation when I beat her the first time), nor did I have any moves with no listed base power like tossing Field Protect on my Defense Nue, or Clearing Mist on Speed Youmu.

No, Flan and Koishi are unavailable as opponents in the base game. In the expansion the post game actually requires defeating Flandre for the first time before allowing you access to reincarnation. If Koishi can be fought in the expansion I haven't discovered where yet...