Monthly Archives:December 2012

RO2: Legend of the Second

12 Dec , 2012,
Crimson
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My love affair with Rune-Midgard started more than a decade ago, when I first spotted Lee Myung-jin’s Ragnarok manhwa on the shelves of a corner bookstore. There were scant few high fantasy titles back then, and the instant I turned the pages, I was hooked.

Little wonder then, that when Gravity announced Ragnarok Online (RO) in 2003, I scrambled to roll a character on the International (iRO) server and later the free-to-play Anime Connection (ACRO) server.

The game remained one of my little indulgences, and on those cold, dreary nights when the World of Warcraft servers were under maintenance, I’d steal away from Azeroth to Rune-Midgard, to relive my adventures as Gale Vandal, a High Wizard with a penchant for lightning magic.

When I first got wind that Asiasoft‘s next big thing at Licence2Play was gonna be “Ragnarok Online 2: Legend of the Second“, I was elated. I’d been following the game’s progress since it’s Korean Beta in March, and there were many good things to be said about the gameplay, the look, feel and mechanics.

Of course, nothing beats getting a go at the real thing, and here’s our take!

And we’re off to an RO2 adventure~!

RO2 takes place some years after the incidents of the manhwa (if you’ve read it, you’ll know what I mean), with the defeat of the goddess Freyja by Chaos, the mortal incarnation of the god Baldr. Predictably, the peace does not last, and you, as a novice adventurer, are sucked into a conspiracy of epic proportions involving Freyjan cultists, kooky monsters, and BBEGs that have only been hinted at in the opening vid.

Character creation was a breeze.

It was pretty much no frills, and unlike most other free-to-play Korean MMOs out there *coughcoughdragonnestcoughcough* with gender-locked classes, RO2 pretty much gives you free reign in your approach.

Putting together my latest online incarnation was as easy as hitting the gender, which defines your base model, selecting a class (called a job in RO), and a profession (part of the new Dual Life system, which I’ll talk about later). This was followed by some cosmetic tweaks like hair and facial styles, colors and the voice pack, and I was good to go.

RO2’s biggest draw has got to be it’s nostalgia value. It preserves much of the cutesy art direction of it’s predecessor, and the minute you zone into the starter quest hub, you’ll see some familiar faces.

I didn’t know Porings were Plants. But okay… :3

I was secretly rubbing my hands in delight when I spotted my first poring, and laughing in glee as I laid waste to said poring with bolts of fire and ice and zap-happy lightning.

Those porings come in several varieties now, but just like in the original, they explode with a gooey and satisfying ‘pop’. Frips, Lunatics and Fabres also make an appearance early on, together with their higher tiered counterparts. What’s more, most monsters you meet can be scavenged for ‘parts’, which go a long way towards leveling up your Profession.

RO2’s Profession system lets you craft a variety of helpful goods and items with these ‘parts’, and whether you’re an alchemist, artisan, blacksmith or chef, you’ll discover that you’ve got a great many recipes for items that will help you along in your journey.

Later on, you’ll also discover that your profession lets you tap on a powerful ‘guardian’ buff and use several unique abilities by completing a quest and hitting ‘V’ button when your gauge is full.

Just explorin’. My Peco Peco’s red, and red makes me go three times faster~! :3

RO2’s gameplay borrows heavily from other MMOs in the market, and bears a striking similarity to World of Warcraft, which wasn’t a bad thing for a hardcore WOW player like me. It actually made the game feel incredibly familiar (kinda like a cuter, anime-style version of WOW), and that made leveling and getting through the zones a whole lot easier.

Some things that are immediately apparent are the tab targeting system, the UI (which comes in three variations, if you didn’t know), and a queue system for dungeons and instances that teleports you instantly to the dungeon when your party’s full up, the loot system, and a taxi service (like flight paths) that take you from zone to zone.

Also, with questing and story development the focus now, leveling’s become a whole lot easier. Completing quests actually racked up more xp than grinding, which was an RO staple back in the day, and hitting Level 10 in under an hour was pretty doable, if you did it WOW style and utilized the quest tracker feature.

Mobs on the pull up map display are highlighted in red, while quest-givers and turn-ins are marked with ‘!’ and ‘?’ icons, and that’s incredibly convenient.

The quests are also less demanding now (no more killing 1,000 porings or gathering 2,000 soft furs), and that, coupled with an in-game Achievement system that rewards you with Titles that have tangible benefits, makes exploring the world, completing quests, and doing stuff fun. ‘course, there are also Daily Quests, found on Notice Boards around town, which will allow you to rack up that extra bit of gold and xp while you’re in a particular zone.

Daily quests! Just check the Bulletin Board!

Personally, I’m digging the instance system and boss encounters.

While it doesn’t exactly reward you with a whole lot of xp (dungeon grinding isn’t as cool as it is in WOW), dungeon designs are fairly decent, and bosses have their own mechanics and strats that you have to work around.

Not standing in the green stuff’s instrumental in taking out this Poring type boss in the Wolf Den!

Gone are the days of solo MVP hunting – it actually takes a dedicated party of tanks, heals and dps to live through the tough parts, and it’s not quite as simple as just putting up Ice Walls, Storm Gusts and spamming Lord of Vermillion anymore as a High Wizard, or just quaffing pots and hitting Grand Cross as a Paladin.

It’s a nice touch, I think, and I actually had a good time in CBT reminding people not to stand in the fire (yes, WOW raid discipline actually helps a ton).

And since the game’s RO, Job change’s one of the fun parts. Hitting 25 in your first job allows you to switch to a second class, which gives you a host of new spells and abilities.

The only issue here is that as far as I know, there are no respecs (i.e. you don’t get skill point resets) and that means you’ve got to plan the talents you want to put points in pretty early on. (I found a Skill Calculator for RO2 online, and you can access it here!)

You get to do fun things like raining meteors on people, if you go Fire spec.

I’m definitely looking forward to the OBT, which begins on 27 Dec 2012 (that’s like in under 2 weeks time). In the mean, be sure to stay tuned to Asiasoft’s official RO2 website (http://ro2.playpark.net/) and Facebook page for the latest updates and details.

Thanks to the good folks at Asiasoft, we’re also running a raffle! We’ve got some poring keychains to give away, and all you need to do is to follow some simple instructions on our Facebook page here!

Let’s meet up in the Open Beta~! :3

Licence2Play 2012

3 Dec , 2012,
Crimson
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L2P – Official Banner Art – Replicated from L2P Facebook Page.

Come this weekend, gamers and cosplayers are in for a treat.

Licence2Play (L2P) returns in a big way from 7 to 9 December, and it’s set to break new ground with a slew of exhibitors and fresh content that will lend new meaning to the term gaming con.

For one, our fave gaming company Blizzard Entertainment‘s coming aboard in a big way this year, so expect titles like Mists of Pandaria, Diablo III, and Starcraft II: Heart of the Swarm. There’s also a buncha fun activities happening at the Blizz booth, including a Pandaren cosplay contest with attractive cash prizes to be won (pre-register for this contest here or email to blizzardcontest@asiasoftsea.net)

Yes, loads of Blizz goodies to be had at L2P. Replicated from http://blizzard.playpark.net/

Additionally, local Blizz distro Asiasoft SEA will be launching something new and exciting (we’ve got a feeling it’s Cabal 2 and RO2, so Ragnarok Online fans, rejoice) at L2P too, so that’s pretty damned awesome. They’ve even got a countdown site here!

The game plan, or floor plan. We’ll probably be hanging ’round the Blizzard booth a lot! XD

Naturally, what’s a gaming con without gaming competitions? Visitors can expect plenty of competitive gaming action in the Starhub sponsored Counter-Strike Global Offensive (CS:GO) Tournament, as well as other games such as DOTA2, World of Shooters, Streetfighter, and even TCG Cardfight! Vanguard.

Of course, we’re gonna be there for the cosplay. Licence2Play Cosgames, the competition that Crimson clinched the West Champion title in the year before is back, and we’re putting Crimson’s Tyrael and Angelus’s Syndra on stage this time.

We hear that there’s gonna be stiff competition this year, with lots of great gaming cosplayers in kickass costumes, so we hope you can visit the con on both Saturday and Sunday to support and vote for us! ^^;;

Crimson’s L2P competition costume. :3

Angelus’s Syndra cosplay from League of Legends. XD

If you’re a fan of celeb cosplayers Asahi Martha and Ginga Ion, L2P is also a great opportunity to meet with ’em.

Martha has been cosplaying since 2006 and has been featured inthe international photobook “Summer Time”. She also recently performed at the 2012 World Cosplay Summit Cure Cosplayers Collection and the Collection night at the Tokyo Game Show 2012.

Ginga Ion is a veteran cosplayer who is part of the all-girls cosplay performance group Venas Sisters, and has also performed at various big-name ACG events throughout Japan such as the “Be-Bit” and “Cure Cosplay Collection Night at Tokyo Game Show 2012.

Ginga Ion – Replicated from L2P official website.

Asahi Martha – Replicated from L2P official site.

We hear they’re guest judging the competition too, so we’re definitely gonna have our work cut out for us. ^^;;

The team’s definitely looking forward to L2P, and we hope you are too!

Here are the event details in a nutshell:

Licence2Play 2012

Date: 7 to 9 December 2012

Time: 11 am to 9 pm daily

Venue: Sands Expo & Convention Center Hall E

Ticketing: $5 at the door. Early bird tickets ($2) are available here.

Hyper Japan 2012

1 Dec , 2012,
Arvin
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A Japanese cultural exhibition in the UK. Our correspondents Arvin (reporter) and Levin (photographer) report.

About one month after the MCM Expo, we decided to go to Hyper Japan UK to get our convention fix. Being unable to enjoy AFA as we are still in the UK, we had to do something and Hyper Japan was it.

Hyper Japan is a cultural event, which celebrates Japanese Culture.

This of course includes cosplay, anime and japanese games. It was not so much a anime, manga and games event but there was still plenty of cosplay action, including 2 Casual Cosplay Competitions (one for each day) and selection for WCS and European Cosplay Gathering (Singles and Groups).

Hyper Japan was held at Earl’s Court Exhibition Centre a relatively large exhibition hall that hosted the volleyball competition for the Olympic Games.

Not having had breakfast, we rushed to the food section where we had a variety of Japanese food which were some of the best Japanese food I have ever had in the UK. These obviously came at a price with Okonomiyaki at 5 GBP, Green Tea with Wagashi sets at 5 GBP and Tonkotsu Ramen at 8 GBP etc.

We chanced upon this stall selling Katsu Don and Unagi Don selling at 3.50 which we thought was a steal. Other features included a Sake tasting booth featuring 20 Sake companies from Japan which had a ticket price of 20 GBP, Sushi making workshop at 20 GBP. However there was a Yakult Stall that was generously giving out free Yakults to any passerby. Being true Singaporeans, we naturally passed by the stall often.

In ICDS, we had free Nescafe. In Hyper Japan, we have free Yakult!

There were many stores selling traditional Japanese stuff such as Kimonos, Tea Cups and other trinkets big or small. Other stores included a goldfish fishing stand and Calligraphy stands.

Hyper Japan also showcased the Visit Japan Booth, a Manufacturing Group, ITK which had a great robotics exhibition and NHK. There were events on the stage showcasing such Japanese Culture, a Samurai Sword Artists KAMUI stage show, Kawaii Style Fashion show, a live show by Visual Kei group Ninjaman and so on. There was also an art gallery, showcasing the evolution of Japanese Art, culminating in Manga/Anime. The visitors were definitely treated to a showcase of Japanese culture.

KAMUI’s samurai sword display. They did bits of Kill Bill.

What is a convention without games?

The big Japanese gaming companies, Konami, SE, Nintendo, Namco Bandai were all there showcasing their games and figurines. Nintendo’s booth was particularly interesting as it featured the newest console, the Wii U. The third party games featured generally did not utilise the second screen which I attributed it to the relative newness of the console. There were also arcade booths, with the usual suspects of DDR and Taiko no Tatsujin however the star was a 10 controller Bomberman game which brought plenty of chaotic fun.

The Brand new Wii U. Look at the size of the controller!

The convention had the usual merchandise of figmas, gunpla, manga and plushies. It was the usual fare from any other convention. The Hyper Japan booth was there again selling interesting books at a good price. We recognised the stall keepers from MCM including the cosplayer.

Japan Centre stall!

As it is more of a cultural event, there were noticeably less cosplayers than one would expect. However, it is not totally lacking as there were many competitions to sate one’s cosplay desires.

There were more Japanese around and we had a great opportunity to use our Japanese language skills often, who were generally surprised at our ability as a Singaporean (and the fact that a cosplayer has a press pass). The habit of coscards was definitely more common amongst the Japanese and it was pity that we did not have any on hand to exchange. It was interesting to hear cosplayers from a variety of countries as there were many from Japan, China and of course England, thank goodness we were capable of speaking in those languages! The cosplays ranged from the recent (Magi, SAO, Chuunibyou) to the ancient (Creamy Mami). It was quite interesting to see such a spread of cosplays.

From the 1980s!

There were 2 days of competition with 2 different competitions.

Saturday had Cosparade (a casual cosplay competition) and the Group competition for ECG and WCS selections. Sunday had Cosparade and a ECG Singles selection. The stage was a raised stage (similar to that of TGX) with a catwalk (a feature no doubt influenced by ECG Finals in Paris). The format of the casual competition was a short pose session which was probably a result of the large number of participants.

We were treated to a dazzling array of competitors, with an interesting performance such as a Sadako coming out from a box and Lolipop Chainsaw. The winner of the singles was this extremely cute Hachikuji Mayoi (Bakemonogatari) who was just a young kid, with an Arararagi coming up on stage to show her the way.

The winner of the Group category was an Edge and Rydia (FFIV). Sunday’s competition had a Gaara (Naruto) winning the child category, Serah (FFXIII-2) the video game category, 3 Idolmaster girls the group category and Inori (Guilty Crown) the individual category.

Square Enix took the opportunity to advertise their FFXIV Rebirth Competition asking the audience to cosplay from FFXIV to stand a chance to travel to SE’s office in Japan.

Lost Snail getting assistance from Ararararararagi.

The WCS and ECG competitions had judges from last year’s competitors who dished out advice for the competitors.

Tokumaru Oguri, the Founder of WCS also came over to judge the competition. The group performance dazzled the crowd with reenactment from the scenes. The representative of WCS was a pair of Eiko and Vivi (FFIX) who wowed the crowd with a magic show.

ECG’s Group competition was won by a Frodo and Witchking pair, reenacting the LotR battle scene, timing the swinging mace with the sound effects well. It was quite a sight to behold. The ECG singles competition had interesting performances such as a sexy showcase by Adekan’s Yoshiwara Anri and a delightfully creep Grell Sutcliffe (Kuroshitsuji) who took out a plush of Sebastian and started combing his hair. The runner up was an Elrond who did a reenactment of the Batle of Dagorlad.

The eventual winner was a Kuma from Afro Samurai with a very impressive costume which had beautiful weathering done on it and expert craftmanship. We managed to exchange a few words with him.

Inside the head is a camera!

Kyle has been cosplaying for 2 and a half years and has learnt Propmaking from his University Northbrook College, a further education college. He is studying in a 3 year course in propmaking from his course leader Dan Jenkins.

His costume was so well made that in a competition he was upgraded from beginner to expert category in another competition and proceeded to win it. The swords were made from MDF and cut by an electric saw to give it a straight sharpened look. His team has access to a variety of tools from his college which certainly helped in the construction.

The head was made from a spherical balloon, then covered with paper mache, followed by fibreglass. They then proceeded to cover it with fur giving it a very nice spherical look. The most amazing thing about the head is that it has a screen inside the head giving Kyle the ability to see. He managed to mount a compact inside the camera with a barely visible hole above its nose and in its eye and he has the ablity to switch views. It was truly an amazing piece of construction. I wonder if anyone would think of doing that back home =P.

We certainly enjoyed ourselves and sated our Japanese culture desire. We made many friends in the 2 days and definitely leveled up our Japanese language skills. Though not exactly a cosplay event, there was certainly enough to go around.

You can also check out our photo coverage on Facebook!

1. Hyper Japan 2012 Casual Cosplay Competition Album – [Link]

2. Hyper Japan 2012 ECG & WCS Album – [Link]

3. Hyper Japan 2012 On-the-ground Coverage Album – [Link]