Saturday, May 17, 2014

Fullmetal touch screens and recovery times

After another half hour of gameplay, another 15 or so episodes of Full Metal Alchemist have played out (so I'm up to about episode 33 of 51). Full Metal Alchemist: Dual Sympathy does a pretty good job of keeping pace though. Instead of highlighting every battle from the series, the major ones from the main plotline are emphasized and the game is otherwise filled out with little minigames.

In the section of the game I played through tonight (Warehouse 5, and Ed and Al meeting with their teacher Izumi) there were three such games. One is a memory minigame, another a rhythm-ish minigame, and the third a stealth minigame. All of these used the touch screen. As someone who doesn't play that many beat 'em ups, these breaks from mashing the attack buttons are very welcome.

Especially since Ed can beat up chimeras ranging from lizard-lions to dragon-gryphons in ten blows or less without so much as a scratch if you mash those buttons quickly enough.

That's not to say that the beat 'em up portions of this game are broken because Ed's overpowered. It's just that enemies have a very slow recovery time. If you manage to catch them in a combo (get within brawling range and mash those buttons!), then there's little chance they'll break free. Though the same thing goes for Ed.

Not in that enemies launch combos and those can catch Ed in a rain of pain. No.

But in that environmental hazards like retracting spikes are perfectly timed to match Ed's post-hit recovery time. So if you're hit by a such spike once, you'll likely be hit by it again just as Ed's getting up. And again before you manage to jump (or have the damage dealt throw you) out of harm's way.

Tonight's session also saw the first appearance of necessary alchemy in a battle. While fighting the living armour named Number 48, you need to transmute giant stones into statues. Number 48 then attacks these statues and while it's mid-blow you need to knock its head off so that you can fire off some of your offensive alchemy. Otherwise, when it's got a cool head about itself, Number 48 just blocks everything.

What I like most about this sort of necessary alchemy is that you aren't really told about it going into the battle. You either need to remember the fight from the series and watch for your cue to copy what Ed did in it, or just watch for when your currently available alchemical skills change. Forcing the player to keep an eye on both screens like that is something I enjoy because it brings an element of discovery into an otherwise dull and straightforward genre.

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