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    Sacred Stones

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  1. I love Hidari's works for Atelier, so I'm incredibly satisfied with the graphics that we've seen thus far. Definitely going to hold off on commenting on character designs until we see more of them, but I do think that Celica looks fantastic. I'm also pretty pleased that the portraits aren't so zoomed in anymore, especially since the newer 3DS systems have larger screens.
  2. Like other buildings, there are three promotions, and the level of the onsen dictates how many characters will be in the bath. (Level one will have one, level two will have two...) Entering for a second time after encountering another character -- or other characters -- will show Kamui bathing alone. There aren't actually any benefits of using it (i.e. support points or temporary stat bonuses), and the characters seem to be randomly generated. I went to check for the sake of answering you properly, and I got two characters with A supports and one with a C, for example. I'm not sure what the likelihood of seeing characters of the same gender versus another are, but as F!Kamui I've only ever walked in on males. (Granted, I only checked around five or so times...) The dialogue changes depending on your character's gender and whether they are married to the other character in the onsen or not. Translations of the married quotes can be found here.
  3. You have to manually select the battles, so you can postpone them until the very end, if you want. There's absolutely no rush to do them, though because the levels of the enemies are fixed, if you're desperate for experience, you should probably do them early on. They'll unlock after clearing: Chapter 8 Chapter 17 Chapter 26 ...on any of the three paths.
  4. Fairly certain you're referring to Defensive Battles (防衛戦) that occur in your My Castle. You get three total per game (Entitled "防衛戦1", 2, and 3) regardless of which path you play. They are unlocked with story progression and will not reappear once you have completed them. You will not get any more. Just those three. Unlike My Castle battles against other players (These are against generic enemies.), you will receive experience during them in Nohr, too. The limitless skirmishes that appear in Hoshido are Encounter Battles (遭遇戦) and can be found (or purchased) in maps that you've already beaten. These aren't in Nohr at all.
  5. Likewise here. Once I started approaching endgame, I just assumed any and all attacks would hit me. One of my units had a double attack with a 90% rate and missed both times; I was completely baffled. The best luck I've had was when a unit landed five crits in a row with a 27% rate immediately after their recruit.
  6. Sakura is the one held hostage, as she and Yukimura surrendered. Hinoka and her subordinates are urged to flee before Garon orders their executions. She returns at the end with Sakura for the sake of keeping peace, as she is now to be Hoshido's queen. Otherwise, two fights just about sums it up. Her final boss quote was pretty, at least.With that said, I agree wholeheartedly that the older sisters deserved more attention than they were given. Takumi had three/four subplots in the Hoshido route alone; they could have assigned Hinoka at least one of them instead. Despite specifically keeping an eye out for her, she hardly ever spoke once the aforementioned younger brother joined in chapter 10. From then on, she became completely invisible and only popped up every five or so chapters, like for the first battle against Camilla and then Ryouma's return. Even her one line against the final boss was lumped in with the rest of the surviving party members. I like having eight siblings, but they weren't handled fairly.
  7. Aren't Soleil and Shara both in the third path, which would mean that Kamui could very much be married to a girl at the time of those supports? Or is Soleil absent for some reason? I would have marked it off as "Kamui gets embarrassed by public displays of affection in general.", but her supports with Lazwald are much calmer.At least F!Kamui's supports are leagues better than the male ones. That could have transitioned smoothly into an S support. Kamui finally attempting to woo Soleil, the latter being confused for a while until she catches on... Oh well.
  8. Could be worse. Could be Tales of Zestiria. Most of the lower reviews -- although even 4 star reviews mention it -- understandably criticise the pricing and necessity of the third path. A few point out that it is too much of a dating sim game for their tastes, which detracts from the actual SRPG elements, while others found the plot boring/too similar to Awakening. It's not much different from the concerns seen here.
  9. I'm still suffering from both "new game hype" and "disappointment born from failed expectations", so my overview is subject to change. Positives: Strategically, I found If/Fates to be much better. The AI was more impressive, and the maps were fun overall; I enjoyed them quite a bit. The new attack/defense stances require more planning and make the pairing system less broken. Graphically, the portraits were more expressive, while the personalized battle animations were an equally wonderful touch; you could get an understanding of their personality from them. Tattered and dirtied clothing upon defeat were equally nifty. There were pictures in cutscene that allowed the portrayal of certain events to be sharper than the battle models would allow. Musically, the compositions were gorgeous. A few of the songs stood out to me in particular, namely the title screen. I fell for Renka's voice, but as that'll be altered in English, it probably isn't a deciding factor for most. My personal OST preference is probably If > Awakening >>>> everything else. Like Awakening, supports are too difficult to judge as a whole, since some were very good, while others left me feeling unsatisfied or disgusted (mostly S supports; rather, especially S supports). Certain topics were addressed more carefully this time, and I found many of them to be more insightful because of how closely related everyone already is with each other. I really, really liked the royal families interacting amongst each other and their retainers, for example. Sibling interactions were cute. (Edit: Actually, I think I might have liked them more than Awakening's for the most part; thus, moved it to positives. Some of them reference other supports, while some reference the actual plot. Those were nice additions.) Neutral/Debatable: I loved limitless levels in Awakening -- they granted you a chance to restart a character if you wind up not liking how you built them -- so the new seals (parallel, in particular) require a bit of getting used to. However, for the same reason, you're required to plan your game out more carefully... which, when used efficiently, can be much less time consuming. I'll probably grow to like it once I figure it out. It depends on the player. It'll take me a few more playthroughs to formulate a solid opinion. I liked both games' characters, for the most part, so no real comparison here. Some of them pleasantly surprised me, while others weren't worthy of my time. If I tried ranking both of the games' casts, it'd probably be mixed. Negatives: The Nohr story was aggravating; there were too many questionable decisions that made me want to scream. It was less generic than Awakening, certainly, but I feel like the older title had significantly better pacing and didn't contain nearly as many filler chapters -- Nohr had far too many of those; at least half of them were pointless in the grand scheme of things. I haven't played Hoshido yet, nor the third path and thus cannot provide a decent opinion. Apparently the latter fills in some gaps which might aid its favour. I don't think you have to buy both Nohr and Hoshido to get a grasp on the complete plot, but you'd probably have to play one of them on top of the third. Basing on text dumps/videos, one of the Hoshido plot twists is... Ugh. Ultimately, I found Awakening to be superior in this regard. For now, at least. Both were "okay" to me, but the pacing... That definitely hindered If. Awakening wins this one. Kamui was extremely frustrating. I didn't like Chrom either -- or most protagonists, for that matter. Their customisation options were better than Robin, but that's about it.
  10. CDJapan: Regular Limited HMV: Regular Limited I always import from these two sites without any issues. Both ship internationally and can be navigated in English.
  11. Rather than a proper review, this will likely read as a rant, as I loved the story they promised us and was heavily disappointed by how falsely advertised it was. The maps were fun, and the characters quickly grew on me, but the plot was underwhelming. The plan Aqua proposed was so terrible. I'm still really peeved Kamui agreed to go along with it, especially because it goes against everything they were working for up until that moment. How does "I want to settle this war with minimal losses." become "Let's conquer an entire kingdom just to get my dad to sit on a chair and prove a point to my siblings."? They don't object at all? They couldn't have even attempted to discuss it with their siblings beforehand, even if unsuccessful? It was jarring. It's not even like the siblings are completely blind to Garon's wrongdoings -- they all express their disagreement and decide to help behind the scenes -- but then it... goes nowhere. The dancing scene should have been a turning point in the story; it was the perfect place to finally have the siblings defy Garon -- all of the development led to it -- and yet... instead we got Aqua's course of action. A few fetch quests and errands would have been okay for the first few chapters, but it became repetitive and frustrating after so long. Ganz and Macbeth were annoying; I wanted nothing more than to kill them off. In fact, I fully expected Leon to do it, too, or for Kamui to at least learn from the time when said brother murdered the Izana imposter (whose name escapes me) specifically to shut him up, but alas. Disappointing. So much just didn't make sense. Arg. I'll never let go how idiotic Aqua's strategy is. All I could do was cringe the closer the ending inched because I kept hoping someone would finally suggest something more logical, but they never did. Such a terrible, terrible plan. I was under the impression "stopping the war" was forcing the two to make peace, not win it. The game was heavily Hoshido-biased; they keep stressing how siding with Nohr was the "incorrect path". It might have been better if they had employed two different writers to avoid something like this.
  12. Nohr!Kamui undergoes some notable character development, and their siblings will call them out for being too soft-hearted, but it usually just leads to a sigh and not much of a conflict. They're forced to come to terms with how sheltered they were throughout the plot, and will thus tweak their morals to reflect it. There's also an in-game explanation for their leading of an army, and the Takumi/Kamui situation was handled much better than Frederick/Robin. Ultimately, they're a standard JRPG/shounen protagonist, but they've at least got more to them than our last MU. However, I can't speak for Hoshido or the third path. ...Though if you found Luke bland, then Kamui will be agonisingly forgettable. Pre-Akzeriuth Luke was annoying, without a doubt, but I'd argue that he left a lasting impression. His personality certainly varied from the rest of the Tales protagonists, and the sheer difference between himself at the beginning of the game and then at the end was astounding.
  13. Nor do I; I used to bathe with my sister all of the time when we younger. Anyhow, Leon and Takumi's supports are cute. Definitely one of my favourites. Hoshido/Nohr royalty interactions were something I anticipated the most, and lots of them certainly don't seem to disappoint.
  14. Except the C-A Female Kamui supports are identical. There are just a few extra lines about comparing breast sizes.
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