I've been stuck to my portables lately. Partly it is because I've been using public transport some days, partly because console & TV gaming requires me to sit up and pay attention (either my couch is too far away, or I need a bigger TV), and partly just because I got some wicked awesome games for DS and PSP.
I finally got my DS to cooperate with my wireless setup's security settings, so I was able to try out the rescue features for Shiren the Wanderer. I ventured down to the 8th floor to rescue one guy, and after the rescue was complete I found I was able to keep all of the items I'd found during the run. None of the EXP, but it's still a cool incentive nonetheless. Later, after one of my own failed attempts at the main dungeon, I called for a rescue from the 10th floor. When I checked back the next day, some kind wanderer had rez'd me, and I was able to continue from that spot with items and EXP intact. I made it another couple of floors in before getting owned again. So far the furthest I've made it is to the third town, just before the 15th floor. This game is tough, but enjoyable.
I went to Best Buy the other day looking for Rondo of Swords, another DS game, an SRPG with an interesting battle mechanic where you draw your path of movement through all the enemies you want to attack on your turn. It's an Atlus game, so the idea is to buy it first, decide whether you want it later. Unfortunately, BB didn't have it, so I'm still looking.
They did have Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII, though. While I hadn't been exactly looking forward to it (the internet holds me in a state of perpetual FFVII fatigue, even not having played the game since like 1999), I had heard good things, and it seemed like it might be a good idea to pick it up in the limited edition packaging if at all (for resale value later if it turned out to suck).
I can happily say that it does not suck. Actually, it seems pretty awesome, so far. The production values are really something, despite the game suffering from the bland, empty 3D environment syndrome that a lot of PSP (and DreamCast before it) games seem to. The voice acting is surprisingly good, and the music is awesome. I love the J-metal butt rock you get during the missions and fight sequences.
The narrative I've yet to uncover much of (not expecting much, to be honest), but the battle system is really cool. It's the latest in a stream of SE's action/turn-based hybrid battle systems (including Vagrant Story, FFXI, FFXII, and others), and it blends the two styles so well that it feels like you're dodging and attacking in real time even when there is a slight animation or turn delay.
I like the side missions you get to do, also. There are tons of them, and they are accessible from any save point, so at just about any time you can hop from the main linear quest to somewhere completely different for a short action fix. So far they're all combat-focused, and take like 5 minutes max to complete, so they're perfect for a quick diversion and to pick up some loot. I've only done a few of these, but I already have 2 pretty sweet items earned from doing them.
So many awesome games to play, so little time.