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I felt like making a topic about this, and then I found that the next day I still did. Good enough for me! Besides, with four games already and another (another 2?) in production, I'd say it's more than enough for our demanding notability requirements.
What is Epic Battle Fantasy? A silly plot wrapped around hands-down the best turn based combat system I've ever played. Three times (well, to be fair EBF 1 is merely ok, not outstanding). Oh, and also a surprisingly good Touhou-clone side-game, but that's no as unusual as a fun turn based combat system in my opinion.
Simply put, Matt knows his goddamn game design. Each party member has a variety of moves, offensive and defensive, many with good tactical merit (especially in 3 where there's a more proper combos to be had). Battles move quickly, with waves of enemies coming in to replace the fallen as soon as you beat them. In the first two you actually play the whole game in 2 and then 3 long stretches, area boss to area to boss, without resting or grinding or exploring between, making resource management critical and tension high (3 is a more typical RPG which allows but doesn't really demand grinding and saving between battles and does demand exploration, but it keeps the waves-of enemies thing during random encounters). Bosses are many and all tough as nails, with strategy required for almost all. I'm also in love with his treatment of status effects—offensive ones aren't always reliably but are massively useful when they work, stat affecting ones almost always work, and buffs are both powerful and fluid (stat buffs fade numerically over time, so their duration IS their strength; they all max out at 1.5x the most you can get from one casting too) and most affect the whole party, but since you only have two (later 3) people using them costs you valuable turns.
I won't soon forget getting my ass kicked a few times by the first proper boss in 2 (not counting the kitten fort), before figuring out that you have to inflict the syphon effect on him to bring him down from "Heals himself and has overwhelming offense" to "Frantically smack down his arms to reduce his overwhelming offense to a merely powerful offense while maintaining a non-guaranteed three-turn status effect on his main body, before he slaughters you with said offense." He's kinda the epitome of what RPG bosses should aspire to I think—hard even IF you figure out the trick.
Epic Battle Fantasy 3 ups the ante even further, with an extra party member, more skills, and equipment with serious effects—stuff like "Various stat increases, 30% resist fire, ice and lightning, and counterattacks with lucky star" rather than the "+5% bonus melee damage, +10% armor" you're used to seeing by now—and every piece of equipment has effects like that, in 3 equipment slots. The weapons take it further by changing your damage type on most attacks and all having a unique special attack of varying utility. To compensate, enemies in every area (or at least every area from the halfway point on) sport a mix of attacks and a mix of resistances, bosses too, making the element/equipment considerations a major part of the game. Areas are themed but that theme does not lock them into "resisting one or two elements will make the entire thing a cakewalk". And every single proper boss is a summoner, which just plain works because the summoned enemies add more variety to the damage types they do and thus can't be ignored (though none of the monolith minibosses are summoners).
Oh, and did I mention these games are super hard on the higher difficulties? Because, uhh, they are. I'm currently trying my hardest to overcome the last boss in Epic Mode in 3, which is a bit easier than 1 and 2 due to the different format, and the bastard keeps slapping me down. I'm getting closer though!
Anyways, I heartily recommend the whole series, including the spinoff if you're into bullet hell. But I especially recommend EBF 3, and 2 once you've played that and are looking for more.
I have played both 1 and 2 to great enjoyment. I have started 3, but I just don't have the time to sit down and play it out. Really good games though. 2 in particular, but 3 might be nice if you have the time to sit down and think about all the different items and abilities to combine.
The combat, art and music are awesome and the whole deal is amazing even if it had been the work of a team instead of one person. Really funny too. Unfortunately I prefer games with wide open landscapes and Scenery Porn nowadays so I can only handle the EBF games in short bursts.
Funny, I'd just bothered to look at their facebook a couple days ago. 4 and a platformer spinoff are in development, and they say that they're planning on making a sequel to Bullet Heaven
Yeah, I always feel so nerdy while I'm playing these games, but they are so. damn. FUN.
Yeah, I love these games.
Beating two on the hardest difficulty is ridiculous, though. The final boss smacks me down HARD.
I finally beat Akron (and thus EBF 3) on epic mode. It took me three whole days to beat him (well, nights at least). The guy's just plain powerful, or should I say his summons are just plain powerful, and he gets a lot of them. Eventually I settled on a mostly-defensive strategy with dark-and-bomb resistant equipment focused on AOE and never ever ever letting him have all four slots full at the same time unless I was about to combo my limit breaks to empty them (which didn't really work perfectly; Kyun+Ion or Kyun+Oblivion would usually take out one or both runecasters but leave the evil worm/tail pair standing, so I'd have Matt waste half of Cleaver killing one of the worms or have to withstand some extra attacks). Sure they were regularly replaced, but the offense was just too hectic to survive if I didn't.
After that, I had all the medals so I found the secret 60-Medal bonus dungeon (mostly because he points it out on the map in his walkthrough) and beat that too. Still on Epic mode of course. It was laughably unfair but not actually as hard as Akron because all but one of the opponents therein were still vulnerable to Doom, if I just hit them with the Lifeshaver enough times and then survived several turns against enemies who can reliably take out a character with one action and sometimes take out too. Surviving the first round against the monoliths in the last fight was a bit luck based, and after doing so I got stuck in a stalemate with the doom-immnue cosmic monolith for like four or five iterations of his super-attack before I realized that he's not actually immune to syphon, just resistant, and stacked it on him to buy myself time to whittle him down.
I'm thinking of going back and seeing how effective a Lifeshaver-Matt is against Epic Akron (or more specifically, his minions), but I kinda doubt it'll be worth it. And I could probably go back and see if I can beat that last secret area without Doom (or at least how far I can get). Otherwise I guess I'm done unless someone has an interesting self imposed challenge I can do (and yes, I am creative enough to think of "don't upgrade your equipment" thank you, as well as the terrible-idea that is "don't buy any skills").
How about giving each character an adjusted, fixed role for the duration of each battle by banning certain skills temporarily?
For example, like this (using dice to determine the restrictions):
edited 12th Feb '12 9:42:02 AM by Octagon8
Hmm. You might be on to something, but I don't think limiting people to "one set of similar moves at a time" is the way to go since part of the fun is in the game's tactical flexibility. I'd rather do the exact opposite: Roll a die and give each person only 2 or 3 (haven't decided, probably 2) random skills plus the "attack" command. After every battle I reroll someone's skills. To increase variety and balance skills are all left at level 1 (or possibly I come up with a rule for which specific skills can be increased), and to avoid getting bogged down I can only change equipment right before and right after bosses unless I'm switching to an item I just got. And I suppose I'll up the skill limit by 2 for boss battles.
Not planning on doing it anytime soon though, I've got other things to do. And it still sounds slightly meh.
You know what I like about these games? (especially 3?) It averts Useless Useful Spells. Toxic is one of the best abilities in the game if you invest some AP into it.
Yeah, I think 3 was when it really Grew the Beard.
edited 27th Aug '12 12:59:26 PM by TropeEater
Oh yeah, I love these games Don't remember how far I got on the medal collecting in 3, though.
I would love to see more of 3 in the upcoming 4. When is the development hell going to end??
4 is apparently 95% done. So that's neat.
New game is out in Kongregate. Whooo!
I'll put in my thoughts later
18 minutes in:
Well, the most noticeable change is the additional party member. There's also crafting now. Them wooden idols are cute.
I wish my laptop would run flash smoothly already.
Well, I've played through the first two bosses so far, and here's my thoughts:
I like the new party member. I also like the "backup party member" dynamic; it seemed odd at first but pulling people in and out of reserve as a free action whenever the tactical situation calls for different skills does feel intuitive after a while. The battle system just isn't designed for four party members at once, so this was needed. I still feel like I'm getting equal use out of all four people, at least somewhat, and thankfully he had the common decency to have them share combat spoils whether they fought or not. It does seem kinda goofy though that you can switch people freely but switching gear takes a turn, though obviously it has to be that way for balance.
Game balance is great. I'm using a wide variety of skills and equipment and monster weaknesses/resistances are spread out pretty well even with the "themed" levels. So far there's no single element or weapon that's always awesome or always useless, though that still doesn't hold true for individual skills.
As for status effects... Poison seems to be laughably weak most of the time, though maybe that's just because most of the enemies so far who were weak to poison as an element were puny (I think DOT is percentage based). Burn seemed a bit more useful, partly because most of the monsters I inflicted it on were bigger but mostly because burn-inducing attacks don't seem to have their impact damage stunted to compensate like poison ones do. The second boss rather distressingly summoned minions and launched huge elemental attacks right through a Siphon status, suggesting that siphon is not going to do anything unless the game holds my hand and tells me an enemy is using "magic". Other effects like Stun, Frozen and Wet, though, are just as tactically useful as the previous games had led me to expect.
I like the way the areas in this game are interconnected, with heavy use of Door to Before and lots of brief previews of future areas. The lava river area that seemingly runs through the middle of the map and can be approached several times from different directions is a nice touch, especially with the obvious implications that eventually you'll get the ability to cross lava and it'll hopefully become the backbone of a later dungeon.
The humor's still on-target, and the music still kicks butt.
There's only one real complaint I have: This game and its epic scope is clearly just barely capable of being contained by Flash. I had to turn off background AND party member idle animations to combat slowdown within combat (and it still slows down during some attacks), and there's a load time of several seconds every time you change screens.
edited 9th Mar '13 7:54:45 PM by Brickman
This doesn't really last. The exponential growth curves end up pushing Matt and Natz well ahead of everyone else statistically. Although that mostly balances Matt, since he ends up with a fairly dubious skill list, but Natz can get every element she doesn't start with, basically turning the rest of the party into her support in the process
Yeah, DoT was nerfed in the head. Although phase resolution was changed such that an enemy dying from it will give the next wave free attacks, so that may be for the best
You can syphon the bosses!? But, anyway, syphon is mostly used to lock down certain end-game enemies. By design, it's not worth using if there's not dedicated mages you need to deal with
Anyone else got to Godcat yet? Seems like Bullet Heaven was a sneak peek at the events of this game.
Or he decided to reuse the idea in a canonical game. Bullet Heaven was based on 3, Anna and the bosses aside
Course you can syphon bosses. You've always been able to inflict any status on bosses that they weren't explicitly immune to, though some I think are less likely to stick than usual. Hell, I'm pretty sure syphoning the second boss from EBF 2 is the intended method of beating him.
That's sad to hear about the exponential growth thing. Still, at this point in the game it's ironically the opposite—Natz currently has the least versatile skills in my party and I only recently got her her first area attack, so she's actually been the least useful up to this point (though only relative to the others). And I bet I can avoid it if I give the rest of my mattack+ items to Lance instead (I wouldn't be surprised if your Natz being overpowered was caused by giving her every single mattack+ item like I started out doing because "Oh she uses that stat the most", and giving Matt almost all the pattack+ items for the same reason).
edited 10th Mar '13 7:57:21 AM by Brickman
Just beat 3. Akron was just unfair, but not as unfair as my browser deleting my saves every night, thus forcing me to play the entire game in a single day.
Will 4 have the same memory issues? And how do I fix my keys getting stuck?
I didn't have any memory problem or key stuck problems either.
Oh, and the final boss is a lot easier than Akron if you level up enough. Has fixed set of weaknesses and isn't a Barrier Change Boss. You'll need protection against holy, dark, death, dispel, siphon, though.
I somehow had my browser history wiped just after reaching the beach area (which I assume means I had maybe two themes left to go). Grr. Well, if I try again, it'll be on epic mode and I'll forgo all non-HP stat items just to make it harder, so there's that.
Thoughts on the areas since my last post:
Due to everybody having the same weaknesses and generally being weak to area attakcs the robot area was excruciatingly boring for the first part until I got to the sewage part, but was quite fun from that point on. The more exotic enemies like the cooling units should have been moved forward and appeared at the beginning, they were fun. The boss was very cool but chaining my limit breaks made him go down way too fast; I think I'm gonna add a "no limit breaks against bosses" rule for the next run, or at least "no limit breaks while your characters are buffed".
The graveyard was actually pretty fun, though it was sadly very short (especially since it was divided into two visits, pre and post hammer). The monoliths and holy floating spheres were pretty great opponents all-around, it's a shame they only appear in that one spot.
The jungle area was even more mind-numbing than the robots until the point where it diversified its enemy portfolio but still felt underwhelming after that point. It might just have been that I was really and truly up to speed by that point though and the monsters were no more dangerous than the previous level, but I think they actually were just not very impressive. The brief lava area was extremely awesome though. The jungle boss was a complete joke, sadly, which is a shame since he should've been exciting with his variety of summons with varied immunities; again chained limit breaks deserve much of the blame.
edit: Also, I stand by and redouble my claim that the characters are balanced and the only reason one might outshine the others is if you distribute your stat items unequally. If anything magic-focused Lance was a bigger offensive powerhouse than Natalie, and after a certain point my goto strategy was "Lance uses his charged attack for two turns with a weapon everyone's weak to, Natalie buffs his magic on either the first or second turn, everything else doesn't really matter so I guess let them soften up anyone I think might survive or cast buffs so I can annihilate wave 2 without spending two turns on it". Or sometimes I'd let the others take out wave one and just blast wave two with the charge attack. Regardless, Lance seems better at pushing out damage than Natalie, or at least on par with her for groups and far superior for individuals.
edited 18th Mar '13 3:58:31 PM by Brickman
I'm busy playing 4 at the moment (indeed, I hear the "battle won" music as I type this); I'm currently in Lankyroot Jungle. I'm currently not paying enormous attention to my strategy: enough to keep me in the game without too much difficulty, but not worrying too much about balancing my characters, etc., I think.
I have a few thoughts, based on both my playthrough thus far of this game and my memory of having played the previous:
Overall it's fun: not perfect, but for a free game it works rather well.
I'm glad to say that it seems to avoid at least some of the pitfalls of such a game, in particular that of having poor combat mechanics and only a desire to complete the game, continue exploring or get the next piece of plot to pull one along.
I'm not a huge fan of having the quest items be drawn from the pool of forging items. It leaves me wanting to avoid forging in order to increase my chances of having quest items, or at least not losing any that I might have. :/
I don't like having multiple spells/skills/special abilities that are essentially the same thing to different degrees. Instead I think that I'd prefer to have spells differentiated primarily by effects (such as whether it's a single- or multi- target spell/skill/ability), and leave power scaling to the spell-levelling system. To some degree I can see value in keeping low-power spells for the purposes of having low-cost attacks, but I'm seldom running low on mana, it seems, so I end up simply ignoring my low-power spells once I get high-power versions.
Finally, I really don't like the prospect of going back over a significant potion of the game-world looking for key-locked objects (such as stones or lily-pads) once I get their respective keys. I'm currently putting off a re-tread looking for stones to hit with my recently-acquired hammer. If there were only a few, and perhaps a means of annotating the map, I think that I'd rather like this feature, but as it is it means a fair bit of back-tracking... :/
Concluding on a positive note, I like the new character, Anna. ^_^
(Well, sort of new: I've read that she appeared, albeit a little different, in one of the earlier games — the first, I think.)
Oh, and I rather like some of the block puzzles. ^_^
Oh again, I think that the hidden treasures — things like items hidden in wood-piles and the like — are a pretty good idea.
edited 18th Mar '13 4:30:46 PM by ArsThaumaturgis
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