Impressions of "Etrian Odyssey Untold: The Millenium Girl" DEMO

The opinions contained herein are in regards to the DEMO version of Etrian Odyssey Untold: The Millenium Girl downloaded from the Nintendo e-Shop, NOT the full game.

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U.S. Box Art for Etrian Odyssey Untold: The Millenium Girl

The Etrian Odyssey series found its start in the Nintendo DS era utilising the bottom touchscreen for recording maps in addition to many features found typically in traditional RPGs. By creating your own characters, you have a personal link to the game and the story that unfolds.

After the release of the Nintendo 3DS, Etrian Odyssey IV: Legend of the Titan was released in mid-2012 in Japan and 2013 internationally. While keeping the elements that made Etrian Odyssey popular to begin with, new classes were included, graphics were updated to accommodate the 3D screens, and other items as well (F.O.E.s were updated graphically on the top screen during exploration).

Somehow, the Etrian Odyssey series had evaded my notice up until my acquisition of the 3DS less than a year ago when I played the demo for Etrian Odyssey IV.  The unique use of layering in the in-game menus, lush environments, as well as the music by the talented Yuzo Koshiro helped to get me more readily absorbed into the environment than just the character creation.  So effective, in fact, that I refused to buy the game until I was able to hunt down a FIRST-PRINT copy with the outtakes and drafts CD.  The game also made use of Streetpass and QRCodes to share characters from your party so that other players can potentially go on an adventure with your personally created character.

Etrian Odyssey Untold: The Millenium Girl keeps these features and takes things further in the advances seen in the previous installment with various changes, such as minor graphical enhancements (the backgrounds in the town of Etria are now 3D rather than standard 2D art layered by the menus). The menu colours are now slightly different but keep on the same layered menu.

Probably the most noticeable change in this new entry to the series is the inclusion of a Story Mode, where a preset group of characters is made as your party similar to most standard JRPGs today. This is in addition to Classic Mode (unfortunately not on the demo), which allows you to create your own characters and party like previous games, so fans of character creation need not fret.  If anything, that the game includes both makes it easier for a wider variety of RPG fans to get into the game.

Etrian-Odyssey-Untold-The-Millennium-Girl-screenshot2

From Left to Right: Raquna Sheldon, Simon Yorke, Frederica Irving, Highlander, Arthur Charles

Since there is a story mode, Atlus now included animated cutscenes into the game. These cutscenes are beautifully drawn and animated and fully voiced. The only complaint here (and frankly in this review at all) is that there is no option for subtitling. While I tend to play in the comfort of my own home, the 3DS is a portable device and many do take the device out in public to play where they may not be able to hear the dialogue easily.

In the Story Mode, you play as a Highlander (a class that has higher attack and whose skills sacrifice one’s own health/status to inflict greater damage to the enemy) who is duty bound to the Radha of Etria. Etria has been having issues with frequent earthquakes recently and after a small tutorial map, you find that these earthquakes are linked to activity in a nearby ruin.  After proving yourself, the Radha sends you to investigate the ruin in secrecy, whereupon you discover Frederica – the titular "Millenium Girl" – who seemingly was in some sort of cryogenic sleep and is suffering from amnesia. Shortly after, you are also joined by three members of the Midgard Library – an outside faction that is famous for its knowledge – that were also investigating the ruins. It is here that you begin your story to unravel the mysteries of the ruins as well as of Frederica.

The ruins are linked to a labyrinth and the demo ends when you reach B3F of this labyrinth. You are able to reach a max level of 10 and can carry over your demo save to the actual game similar to the system in Etrian Odyssey IV.

In story mode, you are locked to only the characters given to you (whether more party members will later join you or whether you can create characters in story mode beyond the demo is not known to me), so initially I had concerns that perhaps I would be "classlocked" through the game. However, there is also a mechanic known as the "Grimoire System" that allows characters the ability to gain skills not normally found in their respective classes. Grimoire Stones can be created through random "Grimoire Chances" that occur in battle. Once created, this new stone may contain a class skill or even an enemy skill, allowing for new combinations. While you can only equip one at a time, there is also the Grimoire Synthesis which allows the fusion of three separate stones to create a new one (The first two stones pass over skills while the third passes weapon proficiencies).  This allows you to either enhance the strengths or cover the weaknesses of each character.

The classes – from what I’ve seen in research – resemble the ones from Etrian Odyssey I with a few differences (probably because this is a retelling of Etrian Odyssey I to begin with!). For example, Simon is a medic, Arthur is an alchemist, and Raquna is a protector. However, the Highlander and Frederica are unique in that they don’t follow the old classes; the Highlander is in a class of his own (pun intended) and Frederica is a gunner, similar to a sniper in Etrian Odyssey IV but with guns.

Voice acting is also included in the game for the various characters, from the shopkeep to each of your party members. The "proximity gauge" that notifies the player of when to expect a monster encounter also is supplemented with voices exclaiming the potential danger. They will also mention if there is something to "Check" on a square.

Throughout the dialog between the Highlander and the party members, you can choose what to say, similar to Atlus’s more popular series, Shin Megami Tensei (Shin Megami Tensei IV was recently released for the Nintendo 3DS as well).  Whether or not this affects anything in the story or any other element remains to be seen.

While I am relatively new to the Etrian Odyssey series, as an Atlus fan, I have high hopes for the full product.  After all, Atlus has got my back when it comes to games!

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Um… yeah.

Disclaimer: The Etrian Odyssey franchise is the property of Atlus (should I say Index Corp or Sega now?)

Remembrance – Dr. James Robertson, Jr.

On the eve of a day of joy, thanks, family, and friends before a season of celebrations, comes a bit of sadness and emptiness. At 12:10 PM today, Dr. James Robertson, Jr. passed away after a long struggle with pneumonia.
Dr. Robertson was a very supportive individual and strong in his convictions. His impact was seen everywhere throughout the school. When one needed advice or simply someone to talk to, he would lend an ear. He was friendly, but he knew when to be stern and get down to business. The Rangel College of Pharmacy, its students, its faculty, its employees, and its organizations would not be where they are now without all of his hard work and support through the past few years as Associate Dean. However, I am sure that my colleagues will agree that we’ve lost more than a dean; we’ve lost a teacher, a mentor, a leader, a guide, an advocate, and most importantly, a friend. It will be a tough position to fill.

I regret that he will not be present during our graduation, but I will never forget his support from before I even became a student at this school, his kindness when I needed such most in Kingsville, nor his willingness to pay for and share a cab when I ran late for my flight back from Las Vegas last summer (of which, I did end up paying him back, thankfully). Ultimately, I am thankful that I had the chance to meet such an extraordinary individual.

May God rest his soul. Rest in peace, Dr. Robertson.

Review: Pilot Hi-Tec C Gel Ink Pen–0.4 mm

So it’s been a while since the last post, so let’s start off with a review!

Instead of previous reviews that were limited mostly to games, I was given the option to review a Pilot Hi-Tec C Gel Ink Pen over the past few weeks.  As I am still in pharmacy school, there’s quite a bit of writing – though most of our notes are digital now – so it gives me plenty of opportunities to try out this pen.

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The Pilot Hi-Tec C is really lightweight compared to my typical writing instruments (e.g. Uni-Ball α-gel pencils), giving it a very free feel to it.  This increased the amount of time it took before my hand started to feel tired.  It did take some getting used to for me, however.  The narrow diameter of the pen gave me a little difficulty since I’ve been using wider pens for years.  However, it can be taken elsewhere easily due to its size (I keep it with my Kindle now).

The feel of the pen on the paper is a factor a lot of people take into account before buying into a pen.  I don’t use anything over 0.5mm, so this is something that concerns me quite a bit.  For some thinner pen nibs, the pen will scratch into the fibers of the paper and eventually collect so much that it becomes a hindrance in keeping a neat line.  They usually will start building an inability to roll smoothly and consistently.  However, in this particular pen, I am absolutely satisfied.  The pen – despite the thin nib – glides easily across the paper with neat lines, allowing for my rather thin script to appear fairly clear, which I’m sure is a relief for my professors and possibly my patients.  It’s surely a relief for me, as now I can actually read my notes using the Hi-Tec C without having to use print.

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One thing I should also note is that the ink dries fairly quickly.  Having a left-handed artist for a friend, I occasionally see her smudge ink on paper when she’s working with pen unless she contorts herself in an unnatural manner to not smear the ink.  I try to keep this in mind when I try out new pens so I can sometimes suggest some for her, and I can say this one would be pretty handy for the lefties out there.

I’ll be honest. When I was out and about in Hong Kong and Japan, I saw a lot of this particular model of pen, but never really gave a second thought to it. The cost of the individual pens there were around where I might pay for a pack of BIC pens (which I find uncomfortable to write with and have failed me many times in the past). Over the course of trying out the Hi-Tec C, I’m regretting that I judged it prematurely.

This particular pen is US$3.30 on Jet Pens, so it’s not particularly expensive, and if you buy enough over there, it’s free shipping, so I definitely encourage trying it out!

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NPR: Looking at the Bamboo Ceiling – Afterthoughts

http://www.npr.org/2011/07/05/137631005/looking-at-the-bamboo-ceilling
This was on today. One thing that struck me was the “Asian Poker Face”, which apparently garnered the attention of others thinking that they were angry all the time just because they didn’t smile all the time since it’s considered crazy rather than friendly if you are smiling all the time in certain cultures.
I had this happen too many times.  It’s rather frustrating when you’re having an actually nice day and you’re accused of being angry and they won’t accept any other possibility.

As if it weren’t bad enough that my patients don’t trust me because I look too young to them.
Speaking of which, I found myself guilty of judging people as crazy for smiling too much. Especially Asians. Example would be the State Farm commercial they have on TVB.  They’re either retarded or crazy.  I highly doubt you have to be raised the way I was to think that.  (Also, they sound heavily ABC – American Born Chinese – here)

Despite my background, however, the measure of success I was taught was not just about the grades that I get in school; it was also measured by the people I know.  It was, however, difficult for me to understand what I kept doing wrong while trying to get to know people despite doing my best to be congenial.  Rather, according to this, I am led to believe it’s due to others not being able to understand me.  So either I have to learn to adapt to this, or the country needs to adapt.  Both are difficult, but it’s likely easier for me to adapt than to wait for all my possible patients or contacts to adapt to me.

Of course, as I mentioned, it’s difficult, especially since it has followed me through all of my youth.  I’ve heard some professionals claim that it’s near impossible for one to change one’s personality or behaviour once they pass the age of 21.  I fall under this category.  I intend to beat those odds, but I’m not quite sure where to start. After all, no one tells me when I’m doing something right…

2011 Sendai Earthquake – 東北地方太平洋沖地震

Despite numerous disasters that happened in my lifetime, few were able to cause me to be concerned enough to be constantly checking for updates.  One was Tropical Storm Alison, which struck my hometown while I was overseas. Another was Hurricane Katrina, which caused devastation to neighboring state of Louisiana (and consequently an influx of refugees to my state and city).  The most recent is the Sendai Earthquake (東北地方太平洋沖地震) off the northeastern coast of Japan estimated by the U.S. Geological Survey at 9.0 on the Richter Scale.

The Great Hanshin Quake (阪神淡路大震災) in 17 January 1995 – though devastating and within my lifetime – did not have quite the effect as this one, possibly because I did not actually know anyone in Japan personally.  This time, a friend of mine who studied here in the States with me in high school (and later attended Waseda University 早稲田大学) that I still keep sporadic contact with is living there.

The day of the quake, I could not fall asleep and thus decided to check Twitter when I caught wind of the quake as well as the ensuing tsunami.  At around 03:00 CST, I found a live feed from the NHK which showed a massive wave spreading over the land, leaving devastation in its wake.  Dread came upon me, and I tried to contact my friend.  Of course, he wouldn’t respond until much later, but the concern kept me glued to the constant surge of updates on the event.  The unending devastation – the earthquake, the aftershocks, the tsunami, the nuclear threat, etc. – brought out thoughts and feelings I still find difficult to put into words.  As one who has travelled and seen the beauty of the countryside and the country itself twice, I was appalled to see the results of the tsunami taking place.

Examples of the destruction that ensued from the quake can be viewed here.

Many at this point were unaccounted for or possibly dead.  Then someone collected a bunch of posts from Facebook and posted it on Twitter here.  I don’t think I’ve ever been as furious at people as the period of time that followed immediately after reading that post.  I don’t think people remember Hiroshima or Nagasaki which ended the Pacific Theatre against Japan.  After reconstruction, Japan is one of our biggest allies in the East Asian region.  There is nothing to “get them back” for.  I’m not saying that the deaths of our people here in the States should be forgotten, but neither should those of our former enemy and current ally.  Furthering bloodshed or hatred only continues that circle.  There was also the incident with the troll who posted a video thanking God for the tragedy that struck.  I’m normally alright with trolling, but in this instance it was tasteless. No international disaster should be made into such a horrid “joke”.  Also, the way it was portrayed as well as how far it travelled only served to worsen the international image of us Americans and Christians.  It is no wonder that the international community or those who are not Christians tend to view us as dislikable.

By then, I began to lose faith in humanity once again (seems like it fades away pretty easily for me, huh?).  But then, a friend of mine linked me to a collection of Twitter posts from that someone translated.  Here are some of my favourites:

* 段ボールに感動
http://twitter.com/aquarius_rabbit/status/46213254376210432
ホームで待ちくたびれていたら、ホームレスの人達が寒いから敷けって段ボールをくれた。いつも私達は横目で流してるのに。あたたかいです。
Card board boxes
Thank you! It was cold and I was getting very weary waiting forever for the train to come. Some homeless people saw me, gave me some of their own cardboard boxes and saying “you’ll be warmer if you sit on these!” I have always walked by homeless people pretending I didn’t see them, and yet here they were offering me warmth. Such warm people.

* パン屋
http://twitter.com/ayakishimoto/statuses/46403599743451136
昨日の夜中、大学から徒歩で帰宅する道すがら、とっくに閉店したパン屋のおばちゃんが無料でパン配給していた。こんな喧噪のなかでも自分にできること見つけて実践している人に感動。心温まった。東京も捨てたもんじゃないな。
The bakery lady
There was a small bread shop on the street I take to go to school. It has long been out of business. But last night, I saw the old lady of the shop giving people her handmade bread for free. It was a heart-warming sight. She, like everyone else, was doing what she could to help people in a time of need. Tokyo isn’t that bad afterall!

* 日本ってすごい
http://twitter.com/tksksks/statuses/46403815397801984
日本って凄い。官僚も民間も、皆で助けようとしてる。トラックの運転手も有志で物資運んでるらしいし、東北の交通整備をヤクザさんがやってるという話も聞いた。最近、日本に対して誇りを持てないことが続いていたけれど、そんなことない。日本は凄い国だ。素直に感動してる。日本国の皆さん頑張ろう!
Japan is a wonderful nation!
Both the government and the people, everyone is helping one another today. There are truck drivers helping evacuees move. I even heard that the “yakuza” (gangsters, organized crime groups) are helping to direct traffic in the Tohoku region! There have been many recent developments that have made me lose my sense of pride in my country, but not anymore. Japan is an amazing place! I’m just simply touched. Go Japan!

* 声をかけること
http://twitter.com/RUMI88LoL/statuses/46342599149240320
昨日、裏の家の高1になるお兄ちゃんに感動した。 家に1人で居たらしく、地震後すぐ自転車で飛び出し近所をひと回り。 【大丈夫ですか―――!?】と道路に逃げてきた人達にひたすら声掛けてた。あの時間には老人や母子しか居なかったから、声掛けてくれただけでもホッとしたよ。 ありがとう。
A strong voice
Yesterday, I was impressed and touched by the actions of my neighbor’s 13-year-old-boy. He was home alone when the earthquake hit. But instead of hiding, as soon as the earthquake quieted down, he jumped on his bicycle and road around the block repeatedly shouting at the top of his voice, “Is everyone alright? Is everyone okay?” At the time, there were only women and children and the elderly in the homes. I cannot describe how comforting it was just to hear a strong voice asking if I was okay. Thank you!

* いつでも買える
http://twitter.com/7474529/status/46565903520907264
今日、募金箱に金髪にピアスの若い兄ちゃんが万札数枚入れていた。そしてその友人に「ゲームなんていつでも買えるからな」と言っていたのが聞こえて私含め周りの人達も募金していた。人は見た目じゃないことを実感した。そんなお昼でした。 この話感動しました。
Goth youth
A goth youth with white hair and body piercings walked into my store and shoved several hundred dollars (several tens of thousands of yen) into the disaster relief fund donation box. As he walked out, I and people around me heard him saying to his buddies, “I mean, we can buy those games anytime!” At that, we all opened our wallets and put our money into the donation box. Really, you cannot judge people by their appearances.

More of these stories can be seen here.

As a student of a health-care profession, I wish to help in any way possible.  Of course, it isn’t quite possible for me to travel over there to help for multiple reasons.  Currently, I’m spreading whatever news I can find on the topic.  Also, within the Cultural Diversity Committee, I (along with several classmates) am pushing for a fundraiser and/or item collection to aid in the relief effort.

For those of you that may not be around for that, there are different ways that you can pitch in yourself:

Microsoft organized some support and also included several links to different places you can support or help.  These groups include NetHope, The American Red Cross, World Vision, Save the Children, International Medical Corps, Mercy Corps, and AidMatrix.  Another organization I found is Second Harvest.

Please help in whatever way you can. No one deserves to live through disasters such as these.

Bots

I love it when they try to “comment” on older posts that are obsolete and try to say it’s “great info that they’ll take into account” and junk like that.

It makes it soooo much easier to clean out my comment queue.

-Adorning Creation -

An old friend and next-door neighbour of mine recently started up a new blog in a new venture.  She’s creating original, handcrafted jewelry and special requests are accepted.  If you are at all interested in jewelry, please check it out at http://adorningcreation.wordpress.com/

All proceeds will be going towards paying for her tuition and for her family (which saw a new addition less than half a year ago!).

adorningcreation1 adorningcreation2

adorningcreation4 adorningcreation3

Moving Day and a Recap

So I’m moving to Kingsville for pharmacy school now.  Mostly excited, since it’s a new start, and another step towards my goal, but at the same time, frightening.  I haven’t been away from Houston for longer than a month at a time since I moved here as a kid.  I’m so accustomed to big city/suburb life that I’m not sure how difficult it will be to adjust to small town/suburb life.  I’ll manage somehow.  At least there will be fewer distractions, or so I hope.

I seem to have more to bring up this time than when I used to dorm up at UH.  I think it’s probably the thought that I’m not coming back every weekend that’s causing this.  I don’t think I ever realized how much… stuff… I owned.  Most of which are things that invoke old memories with friends and family.  It reminds me exactly how blessed and fortunate to have met all those I have met in the past 21 years of my life.  To those of you that fall into the above category, you have my sincere thanks and gratitude.

The most common question I’ve gotten in the past month was “So what were you up to for the last few months/weeks? It’s like you disappeared off the face of the Earth after school ended!”

For those I didn’t have a chance to answer, I’m sorry.  To make it up, here’s a short recapitulation:

1) I went to San Antonio with Cougar Kendo to volunteer for the AUSKF Iaido Camp.

2) Went to Las Vegas with family for my father’s birthday, Fathers’ Day, and the HP Tech Forum.

3) Went to Lake Charles with a few friends in celebration of our turning 21.

I could elaborate more, but honestly, it’s 2 AM. I have seven hours before driving.  I really should sleep :/

Rangel College of Pharmacy Blog

Hi all,

In regards to the blog I referred to earlier, I decided to set up the subdomain rather than merge the posts together.  I’d rather the blog be able to stand alone as a separate entity for those interested in applying to the Texas A&M Health Science Center Irma Lerma Rangel College of Pharmacy.

The blog can be found at http://tamhscpharm.the-blue-haven.com for now.  If there comes a time when TAMHSC wishes me to change the subdomain for reasons of association, then I will update you on both sites.

In regards to this site itself, the main page will link to both this blog and that one.  I’ve also given this blog a facelift (though the theme itself is not my own).  It’s a lot sharper and works better with the computers of today.

Back from the Grave and a New Direction

So apparently Mochahost renewed my domain for a year without me realizing, so I guess this is still up.  I might just continue with this site after all.

I guess since the last post, quite a bit has changed.

I joined Cougar Kendo, nearly finished the large form for Yang style Tai-Chi, and finished my undergraduate years.  I will be moving to Kingsville, Texas soon in order to continue my education at the Texas A&M Health Science Center Irma Lerma Rangel College of Pharmacy.  Considering that this is a relatively new school, I realize that not too many people know of its existence, and those in undergraduate who do know of it, may have a lot of questions about the school.  Because of this, I’m thinking I might start anew by blogging about my experiences at the Rangel College of Pharmacy.  I’m in the middle of setting up a new sub-domain, but I might just end up blogging here in the end.  I just don’t want to mesh the personal blogging with the CoP blogging.