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Saturday, December 31, 2016

One Last Entry in 2016

Wow, so I beat the SuperBoss in Final Fantasy VII Crisis Core before this year is out (hence I now have the Divine Slayer accessory) and above is more or less my endgame setup, bar SPR Up++; I don't really need maxed SPR now so I've swapped in Zantetsuken just to make the gameplay more fun (you just need to have one decent summon in a Final Fantasy game, right?)

The battle with Minerva wasn't as bad as people made it out to be... it is just very... long (cos she has, like, huge HP) ... so it was, like, chipping that away slowly while keeping Zack alive. I stole 99 phoenix downs off her in my second attempt (to keep reviving Zack after those OHKO attacks - Judgement Arrow and Ultima) ... and won! Turns out you do need to max both VIT and SPR (defence against physical and magical attacks, respectively) but not MAG since most of the time I just spammed potion than use Curaga. And my ingenious decision ^^ to include Lucky Stars really paid off. Whenever Zack was in grave danger, the Modulating Phase popped up and good old Cissnei was there to lend a helping hand and got the DMW up to "heavenly" as well as healed Zack etc. And she kept popping up (love her). Equipping it just made the long and tedious battle more, well, fun. 

Now I just need to complete all the other (easy) missions and 100% the DMW (I only need one more scene for Cloud) and I'm done with this game. Am not sure I wanna jump into NG+ right now but I'll definitely return to Crisis Core time and time again. I think this is more fun than FF X-2 (or FF4 or even type-0!!)  

I'm ready for the New Year and More good video games !!!

Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII ~ Revisited (3)

Final Setup ?

Believe you me, even having equipped both Lucky Stars and Moogle Power, it was NOT -- repeat NOT -- easy to get the Moogle DMW! Insane. I had to grind for about half an hour to max both the Quake and Moogle Power materia *argh*

But it's done now. Am ready to face The Ultimate Boss ><

Friday, December 30, 2016

Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII ~ Revisited (2)

Oh My, this game is getting seriously fun -- am only, like, three dungeons away from the ultimate bada** mission boss Minerva >< and I find the final leg very challenging, though not impossible.

Hardcore stats
This morning I finally max-ed out on the HP stats, without which I found it was not possible to survive the last dungeons (when enemies inflict huge damages and can cast invincible on themselves -- like, wtf! TOTALLY broken ... but just beat that Malboro....) So with 99,999 HP, there is no need for Darkness (to make Costly Punch work) and I've swapped Quake in (even though it's not mastered ... I'm only after its HP stat boost). I will have it mastered at some stage (might throw the Moogle materia in just for fun)... Quake should also be fun when doing Mission 1-1-6 LOL 

I have a choice between using Lucky Stars and Zantetsuken, the latter gives MAG a boost, meaning Curaga can heal more per cast. Since I have just got the Genji Gloves (critical every hit), I don't really need Lucky Stars that much (other than to get more Cissnei on the DMW, which I love LOL). I read that there are only two important stats that really matter for the final boss: VIT and SPR and I've maxed both, thanks to the Ziedrich accessory. So am good to go!

The Limited Edition of this game is really, really nice. A real collector's item so I am keeping my fingers crossed that it doesn't die quick (please please please) but it IS already a decade old (even though the one I bought on eBay is supposed to be "brand new"or unused...)  

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Much on the Go...

The week in Bali simply flew by! Did lots of yoga (of course) and made some real progress in my handstand practice ... now I can stack my hips over my shoulders (and shoulders over wrists) quite easily without flipping over, especially when I go up in scissor-legs (check out my IG @  If I keep practising this, one day I will/ should be able to squeeze my straight legs together and do a "proper" handstand :-)

Bali has changed much since the last time I visited (about six years ago ... according to this blog anyway ...) Well, the traffic is now pretty bad. Basically it took much longer to get to the resort (from the airport) this time, practically stopping every few minutes on the road. But the airport is now very modern (it was renovated) and airport tax is now included in the ticket (so need to worry about that when leaving the country).

My stay @ the Desa Seni resort was mostly hit, with only a couple of small misses. First I couldn't find the driver when I arrived ... there were just too many people at the arrivals hall holding up big cards (with guest names on them) and it was a scene of confusion. When one picked me up, I called the resort but both listed numbers weren't working. Luckily I had my BlackBerry and could email them (and they, luckily, saw and responded to my email) so crisis averted. Secondly, there are just too many mosquitoes!!! Unlike last time, most of the nights I had mozzies actually INSIDE the nets that were supposed to keep them out!! You can imagine the nightmare. They need more geckos and lizards to feast on them (even though I already saw quite a few, of different sizes, running around).  

One thing I really love about Desa Seni is their staff. They are super friendly and super helpful! Always smiling and hospitable. I really miss them ~ 

In the end, I took Steins;Gate with me to Bali and it is getting quite engrossing. I love the characterisation of the crazy cast as well as the humour. Which means I now have three games on the go simultaneously!

I came home to find limited edition of Final Fantasy VII: Crisis Core already arrived (yeah!) Hope this one doesn't break down (touch wood) like the last one I bought >< It really is a wonderful edition. I've just unlocked Lucky Stars ... but it hasn't been bringing me much luck so far :-( Where is Cissinei? (I've grown to love this character!!!) 

Elsewhere am still trying to figure out that "creature creation" feature in Final Fantasy X-2. I think the trick is to keep level of the main characters as low as possible cos I can level up the creatures quickly (such is the mechanics). But the prospect of having to play those compulsory missions AGAIN is a major put off esp my game is in Japanese... 

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Just One Game to Take with Me...

So, am off to Bali tomorrow and which game should I take with me?

I 99%-ed Final Fantasy X-2 last night (I mean, just how very annoying is that? Which was the 1% that I missed and, ultimately, costed me the Perfect Ending?) Anyway, I was going to take this one with me (esp the Vita shares the same charging lead as my Xperia Z5 compact), together with a guide, but the game is just too fiddly ... and for some reason am getting my a*** kicked in beginning of second playthrough even though I have top gear and accessories ... what's going on (perhaps cos we start from Level 1 again...) 

Happy Ending ... 

Just how annoying is that?

So I'm settling for Steins;Gate because it is lighter and I'm gradually being drawn into this very slow/ sluggish yet gripping narrative. 

Though I may change my mind ...   

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Final Fantasy

Alright then, one more post for 2016!

Now that Final Fantasy XV (the latest in the popular JRPG franchise) is finally released, I'm once again gone a bit FF-obsessed (i,e, digging up old FF games that I have/ haven't finished yet ...) But first, thanks to YouTube, I was able to watched the cut-scene movie of FFXV and it looks v good. I know gamers complained about the story (lack of which) but I think it's okay... it's a game after all (!) and the gameplay is what really matters and that looks cool enough. And I've been playing its OST (also thanks to YouTube) ... Without too many spoilers, I was surprised to see how Noctis (the protagonist) changes towards the end of the game (like, from bad-hair brat to ... model!)

Anyway, I dusted off both Final Fantasy VII: Crisis Core and Final Fantasy X-2 - both games I unlocked all the top accessories/ gears but haven't finished (cos I know finishing them won't be difficult) and made some progress.

In FF:CC, I managed to do some more missions and have beat the hardest one (almost by fluke!) It's the one with the cactaurs and I managed to beat three of them using just one phoenix. There are, like, four more missions to go before I confront the ultimate mission boss Minerva but will do the easier missions first (which I unlocked after having progressed further with the story). Now, the story bosses are just piece of cake now and I OHKO-ed Sephiroth, like, twice in what is supposed to the most challenge battle in the game itself. Oh well, too bad. I never liked Sephiroth anyway. I've also decided to get a new FF:CC PSP limited edition since the one I got has fallen into pieces ... hope the new one is ... better built (having it shipped from Italy). So when the new machine arrives I will play more missions ... 

Meanwhile, I've also picked up where I left off with FFX-2. I think I will not be able to unlock more side missions until NG+ since I messed up the beast capturing (there are three special "cups" in the fiend arena I have yet to unlock). So I have made more progress (today) and now only have the final dungeon to beat. Miraculously I think I might be able to 100% this game in my first playthrough (after missed out several, err, missables including the "Invincible" accessory!!) Just left a question in the forum to see whether it's possible to unlock what I need without having to play the whole game again ... that'd be very tedious esp the version I have is Japanese.

So it's back to the grind (so to speak!) and I may be able to finally complete both FF:CC and FFX-2 this holiday. That means I only have FFIV to complete (again, am near the end in that ... I tend to lose interest after I've unlocked all the rare items...) Other FF games I'd completed are Dissidia and Dissidia Duo Duodecim as well as Type-0

Now... here is the FFXV OST ... fantastic stuff...

Saturday, December 17, 2016

One More Post...

... possibly before end of 2016! 

First, just posted below in a game forum...


VLR & ZTD (loved them both)
Uncharted: Fight for Fortune (finally finished, great value!) 
Stranger in Sword City (unfinished)
World of Final Fantasy Demo (unfinished)
Steins; Gate (playing, v good)
Steins; Gate 0 (bought, in the queue)
Psycho Pass (bought, in the queue)

Trail of Cold Steel 2 (carried over from 2015, fantastic game) 
Ao no Kiseki (old game but best JRPG I played this year)
Super Robot Wars ZIII (epic but unfinished) 
Digimon Story Cyber Sleuth (unfinished)
Digimon World - Next Order (unfinished)
Atelier Escha & Logy (unfinished)
Infinita Strada Hana (unfinished)
Summon Night 6 (playing) 
Nobunaga's Ambition Sphere of Influence Ascension (playing)
SD Gundam G Generation Genesis (playing) 

Also bought Crisis Core PSP edition on eBay, Fantastic game!!!

Did I really play all these games this year? One good thing about this blog (do people still blog?) is that it's a great record of all the games I played (might have missed out just one or two) ... sometimes I just lose track ... So it looks like game of the year for me is Ao no Kiseki, which I might pick up again next year since there are all these extra bosses I haven't fought yet (they are only available in second playthrough). But first, such a backlog to clear now! Still have Steins;Gate x 2 to finish, as well as Psycho Pass, Ascension and Gundam G Generation Genesis. Those titles will take me to end of first quarter of 2017 I reckon. 

Steins;Gate is very slow-paced (it's a VN, visual novel, after all) but the story and writing/translation is pretty good so will persevere. Then will play its "sequel" (mid-quel, whatever you call it), Steins;Gate 0, after that. I really love this time travel/ alternate timeline stuff. The Nobunaga game is another one I just like to go back to time and time again. Empire building is really not my thing but it's not one of those games you can play and play in a sitting ... so, in between bursts of Steins;Gate will play Gundam, which is a genre (turn-based tactics/strategy) I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE! Hopefully I won't have to buy a new game till mid next year ... still waiting for the much-anticipated release of Trail of Cold Steel (Sen no Kiseki) III. I think that will be totally AWESOME and EPIC! And I hope it will be released on the Vita and not an PS4 exclusive!!!

Elsewhere, will be heading off to Bali for a yoga retreat next week. It's going to be on Yin yoga but I just wannabe away and staying at somewhere quiet and nice ... and have lots of massage >< Will practise and practise my handstand and take lots of IGs LOL ... so that is my simple Christmas vacation plan for this year.

So will take my Sony Xperia Z5 Compact with me to Bali ... still an excellent camera phone and it works very well with the htc RE camera.

I'm not sure about the LG V20... it's a beautiful phone (Made in S Korea!) but it's just TOO BIG to use (I just realised I cannot stand phablets)... so maybe will box it for now (than buy another phone to replace it...) I mean, if Samung releases a new colour for its Galaxy S7, maybe I'll think of replacing the V20 but otherwise, I think will just wait until 2017 and see that the new year will bring ^^

Sunday, November 6, 2016

An Update

Wow, it has been a month since last entry ... so a quick update:

In Game Land, am on the final chapter of Summon Night 6: Lost Borders. Despite not having played any previous instalments I still manage to enjoy this game, given the characters are quite fun and well fleshed out (I didn't skip any of the conversations, granted I did skim over some of them). The gameplay is not difficult at all, I breezed through much of the game after the basic eight-member team was unlocked. And here is my latest (thematic) setup: 

Raju + Isuto// Amu + Natsumi // Enysha + Gian Crastof (powerful!) //
The last two I am more flexible, depending on what's required to get brave orders:
Aty + Rexx // Aya + Touya Fukazaki or Hayato // Kyle + Scarrel
I'm waiting to unlock Melgitos ... he should be fun with his special skills. I take it there will be more unlockables in NG+ so will see ...

Elsewhere am still trying to get into Steins;Gate ahead of the release of its sequel Steins;Gate 0 ... but this being a visual novel (and in Japanese with subtitles) it IS hard to get into. Meanwhile am also playing the old Marvel Alliance/X-men games on the old PSP so I'm a bit all over the place. 

In Tech Land, I traded in the Sony Xperia XA (beautiful that it is, battery life is really bad) for the new LG V20 (also in rose gold LOL). It's definitely a super upgrade but the screen (5" 7) is so large I have not been using it much. I did try to install the G5 kaleidoscope live wallpaper onto it but without success :-(  

So my latest lineup is now: Blackberry Priv (which battery life is just getting worse *argh*) + Sony Xperia Z5 Compact + LG V20. The J-Phone and Sidekick are just there as spares .. the latter I won't be able to use unless in the US ...

Kathryn Budig is always so inspiring  

And, finally, in Yoga Land, I am taking a very short break before a three-weekend handstand workshop, which I am really looking forward to attending. I will see if there are tricks that can compensate my lack of strength in the upper arm + shoulder muscles. Think I did too much reversed binding I've injured my right shoulder ... I reckon that will take months to heal ... and am off to Bali end of the year for a retreat ... despite the (long-distance) travel am determined to savour and enjoy every second while there. 

Sunday, October 2, 2016


This is the best video editing app EVER! It is quite easy/ intuitive to use -- though you have to fiddle with it a bit to understand how Everything works. Today I finally figured out how to get rid of the "title text goes here" (by actually tapping on those words on the screen -- doh! -- then type in spaces) as well as doing split clips for slowing part(s) of the video down. Will have to do a lot more of these. Really FUN ~  

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Summon Night 6 & Steins;Gate

Have two new, but very different, games on the go ... Summon Night 6: Lost Borders is a tactical/ strategy RPG, like a cuter and easier version of Tactics Ogre, and a very odd but fascinating visual novel called Steins;Gate, which has the feel of the Danganronpa series but with a lot less gameplay. The latter, in English, is available on the UK (not Asian) PSN.

I have never played any Summon Night games so this fan service edition feels very fresh (though missing out on all the references obviously) and I just love the cutesy anime, not unlike One Piece (it actually has a pirate character). Looks like the game is divided into bits with different characters in each. Not that keen on this structure since I do do a bit of level grinding and now I've come to the point to switch over to a completely different set of characters (and have to level them up)... but I hope special skills remain unlocked and new characters come with new ways of playing the game. Actually, I don't know how to execute the "assist attacks" yet ... the Chinese explanation isn't that clear. The gameplay is easy enough so far, even on Hard mode. 

Steins;Gate is just a novel and am sure I will be engrossed in this story of parallel universes/ timelines soon enough... more thoughts to come later... 

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Sony Xperia XA

After months of dithering -- I still had the Samsung Note Edge (Japanese edition), which I bought the beginning of this year, and the Sony Xperia Z5 compact and I didn't wanna, well, start piling on too many phones -- I finally bought this new(ish) smartphone. Having been to the official launch of the Samsung Note7 (not that I'm getting that, SO over this brand), I decided to sell the Note Edge, which looks really dated now (and it was only released a couple of years ago) and replace it with the XA.

I also contemplated on selling the Z5 compact (Snapdragon 810 is not the greatest processor as it heats up quite quickly) and why have two Sonys? But it has 1) great battery life (no problem with hours on Pokemon GO); 2) great camera, which I pair up with the htc re cam; 3) great size that I decided to keep it. So here are what I have now:

* Blackberry Priv: total workhorse for work;
* Sony Xperia Z5c
* Sony Xperia XA
* Sidekick ID

Sold the Nokia 8310 ... like, what's the point if it is not used at all (same actually can be said about the Sidekick but I really do like its form factor).

Since the XA is notorious for its bad battery life, I use it mere as a backup. And so far so good. With its size (just a tad taller than the Z5c) and premium casing, it's just a great phone to hold in the hand. For play I've been using the Z5c quite a bit. The htc re cam is a bit problematic. Having bought it for about three months its Bluetooth kinda died. And when I had it replaced (under warranty), the second one died overnight (!) So, hopefully, third time lucky as the latest replacement works okay. It does get slightly warm but such a fun toy. 

Meanwhile on game land I'd downloaded this free title Infinita Strada, which is a card game and I love this genre. Just joined PS Plus for a month just to get some decent cards ... should be able to cruise through the first five chapters ^^ then I read that difficult level really spikes ... so will see... 

Sunday, August 14, 2016

A Dharma Yoga Wheel Teaching Certificate

Hurrah! So happy to have met Yogi Varuna and Leela Om who led a Dharma Yoga Wheel workshop over the weekend. Will roll on it everyday from now on!!! #Gratitude 

Saturday, August 6, 2016

A New Game

There is no Part 2 to Zero Time Dilemma because I've already finished the game and ... it was a bit disappointed. The whole game mechanism is just not as good as its predecessor Virtue's Last Reward and those twists and turns are all a bit forced. But it is also an easier game -- the Decision Game is not quite what it says on the tin cos whatever decision you make, you will always have to make other choice(s) in order to proceed with the game thus making decisions in the game is totally pointless. Still, I overall enjoyed the game and I really miss its presentation ... so despite it not having much replay value, I'd love to go back to it every now and then to revisit certain chapters. The VO is good and I just love watching the animation.   

Now I'm downloading a, believe it or not, FREE card game called Infinita Strada Hana ... strangely I cannot find much info about this game, which was released in Japan a couple of years ago and when I searched GameFaqs only one poster mentioned that it's better Monster Monpiece, which I finished awhile ago. I love card games so will see if this one is any good. 

Other than that there isn't much out there -- on both HK and UK PSN -- that has caught my attention. Err, okay, forgot to mention I'm also playing Pokemon Go >< and last night I caught Clefable, which is supposed to be rare. But what I really want on my PokeDex is Raichu and one of those dragon types. They just look super cool. And I'm Hardcore. Have been asked whether I've been to any PokeGyms for fights yet but I'm still at the collecting stage and by the time I got what I want the fad will most probably be well and truly over. Anyway, will just keep going until I don't feel like playing it anymore. The other game that I don't feel like playing any more right now is Stranger of Sword City, which is a shame cos (oh god, the game just dropped in price by half on UK PSN) it gets a bit tedious and the dungeons are getting ridiculously difficult if you haven't done the grind. (Even) I lack the patience to grind and level up... I love all that class system stuff but it's just not very stimulating (to look at). I rather jump right back to Zero Time Dilemma ... the art is just very good! I might go back to it later. Persona 4 DAN is also still on the hold uncompleted, so is Digimon World - Next Order. Think will sell that (since it's in Japanese). Nabunaga's Ambition I def will pick up again but will wait for when I'm in the mood for that ... Super Robot Wars Z3 the same. There are also those Legend of Heroes titles but will wait till the third instalment of Sen no Kiseki III to pick that up again. What else is there? World of Final Fantasy is coming out but will wait and see if it's worth getting. Gameplay looks fun though and the art is very cute. 

Monday, July 25, 2016

Zero Escape: Zero Time Dilemma (Part 1)

Well, I'm glad I picked up Virtue's Last Reward again cos, despite all the spoilers, I still found the ending totally mind-blowing. Alternate realities, robots, parallel universes, time travelling etc ... what makes the story so good and clever is that everything seems to ... make sense, even though all those pseudo-scientific theories seem far reaching. 

Now playing the last of the trilogy, ZTD, and the narrative (if there is one) is all intentionally jumbled up. At the beginning anyway. Will have to keep playing before things start to make sense, I guess. New characters are quite horrible, not likeable at all. Which turns out to be a blessing since I don't feel a thing to see them getting murdered in quite horrendous ways (!!) But the puzzles in this game seem to be more fun and less forced.

Well, there is nothing else out there that I want to play right now so will spend some time on this game (which is not that long). The next title I might get is World of Final Fantasy, which looks interesting (and very kawaii)... 

Monday, July 18, 2016

The Best Incense Sticks (IMHO)

And I thought incense sticks were all the same. Until I ran out of the Banyan Tree variety that i bought years ago from Macau and realised some smell terrible. For instance, I bought some from Thailand (also awhile ago) ... but think they were made in India and the incense was so pungent and strong that they cannot really be burnt in a yoga class.  

Top to bottom: Vanilla, Rose, Bergamot,
Sandalwood and Lavender
I guess these ones from Banyan Tree, which come in different "flavours", are primarily for aromatherapy (massages at their spas) they are milder and, well, more yummy to inhale. These are short incense sticks (which I think is the only disadvantage) so I guess they're for settling the mind. Great to lit up before a yoga class. Here are how these scents are used:

(From Cindy Murdoch @

Aromatherapy can be used to help us relax, to provide mental clarity, to help cope with emotional conflicts, and to energize us physically, emotionally or mentally.

* Rose to relieve anger
* Bergamot, Rose and Lavender to relieve anxiety
* Bergamot, Lavender and Sandalwood to relieve depression
* Sandalwood to increase confidence
* Sandalwood and Vanilla can used as aphrodisiacs (!!)
* Bergamot, Sandalwood, Lavender and Rose can help insomnia 
* Rose can calm irritation

Sunday, July 10, 2016

A PS Vita Game Drought

Cast of Zero Escape: Zero Time Dilemma
While I still think those puzzles are kinda random: weighing different coloured coins? Whatever for? The story behind Zero Escape: Virtue's Last Reward is very intriguing. HOW the story is unfolded also interesting, if not a little repetitive. So basically you have to go through various routes (with 28 endings!) -- a very disjointed narrative -- in order to get the full story, which is pretty deep and clever. As said previous, I rather go straight to the story with minimal BS so am glad there IS a direct route. Am about the finish the third proper story ending, so six more to go. And despite having read many spoilers (unavoidable as the game came out some years ago) -- cloning, parallel universes, time and timeline hopping -- I still find the plot engaging and full of surprises. I'm glad I can, err, jump right onto Zero Time Dilemma straight after this ... after all, there aren't that many PS Vita games out there that are as good at the moment ... Maybe I should look for more games by Spike Chunsoft, who is also behind the Danganronpa series, which I enjoyed (bar those mini games...) 

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Zero Escape: Virtue's Last Reward

I really dunno what to make of this game. I bought it on the UK PSN awhile ago (cos it's not available in Asia ... God knows why) after I read some raving (and I mean, GOTY sorta raving) reviews. It's kinda like Danganronpa (but a tad less bloody): nine people are trapped inside a maze-like plant and they need to escape... or else they die. While in Danganronpa, those who wanna survive/ escape will need to murder others (without being found out... v sick), here you need to betray others in order to survive... and those who are betrayed will ... well, die (equally sick).

Like Danganronpa, it's a visual novel with an intriguing story. And in order to advance with the story (which is full of twists and turns), player needs to solve a series of puzzles. Now, so far so good (even some of these puzzles are a bit ... forced). What I didn't realise was that there are 20+ endings and just as many routes to take in order to get the fully narrative. So, after I played through one route (which doesn't take that long) I was utterly lost. It turns out the ending I unlocked is all but one of many endings (hence makes no sense when viewed by itself). Only when the player has unlocked most (if not all the endings) do they get the full picture/ TRUE story. 

Look at all these routes
Since I am a little impatience, I have decided to look up a walkthrough (above) that gives me the most direct shortcut to the end, i.e. so I can SKIP dead ends that stop me from progressing the story. Even then I still need to take a combination of 11 routes in order to reach the "true ending".  

Is the game enjoyable? Kinda. Kinda not. But it does help while the time away. Besides, am running out of games to play (again). Like thre Digmon game, I lost interest in Stranger of Sword City pretty quickly while I think I will re-pick up Crisis Core later. Also, VLR's direct sequel Zero Time Dilemma was just released so I might as well get that too ... 

Monday, June 20, 2016

Stranger of Sword City (Part 3)

Yeah! My team has reached Level 13 so will be able to class change. But should I place two party members in the infirmary to recover their lost life point/ heart. Maybe this is what I will do while level grind for the others (to a level so they can class change too):

* change Knight (Loki) to Cleric, then place him in infirmary, level 6;
* keep Dancer (Pixie) as is, then place her in infirmary, level 13;
* change Samurai (Diana) to Ninja, level 6;
* change Ranger (Orlando) to Wizard, level 6;
* keep Fighter (Godot) as is, level 13;
* keep Wizard (Saruman) as is, level 13 

This is such a major undertaking ^^

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Cat Stretch

Okay, here is a yoga pose that, seriously, cured that annoying pinched nerve on my left shoulder/neck that has been there for many years. It's a pose that I now try to incorporate into my teaching/ classes. 

Quite an intense back bend there ...

It's a very, very deep spinal stretch (see photo). I obviously don't have the flexibility to go as deep as the lady above (you need to have quite a flexible spine to have the knees so close to the chest, which is pressed onto the ground). At the beginning, my chest could barely touch the floor without sliding my knees all the way back ... so I looked like I was just lying on the floor faced down. 

Gradually though, my knees got closer while keeping my chest down. But I had this issue, when my chest - and chin - are pressed on the ground, my left shoulder/neck area was SO tight (explains my pinched nerve?) that my left upper arm/elbow would lift off the ground and it took many, many breaths in the pose to finally lower it down without causing too much pain.

So I had that problem for awhile ... in the meantime, my to-go-to teacher gets us to do lots of back bending in his vinyasa sequence so my spine, especially middle and lower back, has gained much flexibility over the past six months. That must have helped. Now, I can have my knees slightly closer to my chest when I'm in this cat stretch -- I can feel the middle back arching a lot. So I do warm up with some back bending before knee, chest, chin down. 

But MOST amazingly, when I do cat stretch now, my left upper arm/elbow no longer lifts off the ground and there is NO pain around my left shoulder neck area, whether in or out of the pose. So, if I have to recommend any yoga pose for people who have very stiff shoulders, this would be the one! Try it out ... it's a great pose to relax in ... but remember to warm up first ^^ 

Stranger of Sword City (Part 2)

This turns out to be quite a fun and addictive game. And it's not available in Asia (!) so I had to download it from my UK PSN account. 

The beginning, with really sh*t equipment and low level, was tough. Two of my characters got KO-ed for no reason at all (like, falling down a hole? Doh!) ... but have grinded a little and I'm now okay even with the bosses. 

Stranger of Sword City is kinda like Tactics Ogre LUCT + Valhalla Knights in that it features a class & race system and that skills can be transferred over if you do class change(s). So a team member may start off with being a Knight and ends up as a Cleric. It's not something I tried with TO but it is a vital part of the overall game strategy for Stranger. The only thing is levelling up is quite slow in this game and you will need to reach a certain level to make the class change worthwhile (i.e. collecting some cool skills). 

I like the sprites of this game, very nice art.
This is lovely Diana, Samurai-turns-Ninja and
the best attacker on the team 

My initial team setup is: Knight/ Fighter/ Samurai in the front row and Wizard (my main)/ Ranger/ Dancer in the back row. My plan is to turn my Knight into a Cleric (so I'll have a tank healer LOL), Samurai to Ninja (latter have better stats and skills), Dancer to Cleric. I also have an option to turn the Ranger, practically an archer to Wizard cos the character's race is an elf. Thematically that makes sense. My dwarf Fighter is fine as he is and so is my main. I think my team will be quite balanced to have two hitter/tanks (Fighter and Ninja); mages (my main and archer); and healers (Knight and Dancer). I think I will have this setup ready before entering mid game ... heard the bosses there are quite hard.  

Will have to put Crisis Core down for now. Like X-2, I'm totally OP-ed in that game anyway and need to take a break from all that mission grinding ><

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Stranger of Sword City

Oh, Here is what I recently posted on a forum re my latest progress in Crisis Core that I've been playing lately: 

So I'm advancing in Mission 9 (approaching 9-5-x) ... have decided to go as far as I could while potion lady is still available.

I'm not going for the perfect setup (for now) but maxing out VIT has helped a lot. So right this seems to be working okay: 

Darkness to inflict damage and lowering own HP when in break limit; Costly Punch; Curaga; Stop Blade for its (60) ATK stat (for Darkness); VIT UP++ and Zantetsuken. I'll fine tune this in the future but to migrate stats from one materia to another is not something I look forward to doing...>< 

As for accessories I have: Brutal, Adaman Bangle, Power Suit and Genji Shield. I am looking forward to getting the Ziedrich (to boost VIT AND SPR). Dunno if I need Genji Helmet (am not using much magic other than Curaga) but Genji Glove would be great to replace Brutal. Genji Amour I won't have until I move on with the story. 

Okay, will see if I have enough protection to take on the 9-5-x missions ... heard they are tough ><

But having just watched Warcraft, now I want to play a RPG with races and classes (!!) Stranger of Sword City seems like a good choice. It's a turn-based dungeon RPG and it's ... roguelike, which means it's a totally unforgiving game (Natural Doctrine and Curry God come to mind!!) But it has very interesting customisation so will check that out this afternoon. Time to revive one of my Vitas ^^

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII ~ Revisited

This is the first proper JRPG I ever played (back in 2008) -- and LOVED it ... even though it was in Japanese (the English version wasn't released yet). While I managed to get through a good part of the story/ game, I didn't finish it cos neither did I understand the ins and outs of RPGs then (doh!), nor what was really going on, well, not enough knowledge of the language to complete the game (I don't think I was strong enough to tackle either Genesis or Sephiroth).

Fast forward to present day; I'm quite an expert in the genre (having played so many since then) and -- hurrah -- the English version of the game has been out for years. I was actually given a copy but for some stupid reason, I sold it (after I gave my old PSP, Dissidia special edition, for the first generation Vita). I've always wanted to replay Crisis Core but it'd have meant getting myself and old PSP, which I didn't wan to do...

Until I saw an (unused) Crisis Core special/limited 10th anniversary bundled edition on sale on eBay (like, I had an OMG moment) and for around US$350 including shipment/postage ... which, seriously, is a bargain. Another seller offered the same thing for US$750 (!) but I noticed that has now been sold too. These editions are hard to come buy (even on eBay) so I ordered it straightaway ... I think it makes more sense to get a special edition than, say, get an ordinary (old) PSP and the game separately. Anyway, it wasn't all smooth sailing. When the game arrived - sure, it's spanking new as promised - but the battery had already expired (it was bloated, in fact) and after I bought a new battery for it, the screen kinda quickly died. Thankfully, this city being, well, this city, I could get that fixed pretty quickly (and hour!) so have been playing the game for a couple of days. The beauty of it wall is that I actually started playing the game some weeks ago, after a friend lent it to me, and I successfully transferred the (digital) save onto my new machine. So a happy ending!  

Now that I know how to play the game properly, I can beat that horrible axe-wielding Vajradhara monster quite quickly (boy, did that thing used to give me much grief!!!) by dodging and spamming Blizzaga *LOL*  I have also completed as many side missions (300+ in total) as poss. at this stage (Chapter 5, half way through the game) and got my Zack to Level 29. That's the thing, levelling in this game is all a bit random but I hope I'm just slightly over-levelled, while my "DMW" (digital mind wave) is in "sky high" at the moment, good to get back into story mode (to meet Cloud ~ yeah!) Doing the missions can be quite tedious, especially when you stumble into those random battles all the time >< but some of the items are quite worth it. But over all, I think I missed playing such a fun Final Fantasy game!!! I mean, FF X-2 was fun with the dressphere and stuff but I think by the time I unlocked all the mascots, I started to lose interest in the gameplay ... and the game is so full of missables that I just got tired following the YouTube playthrough. And it's in Japanese.

With Crisis Core, I like the randomness of that DMW wheel and its challenging battle system (non turn-based). Oh, this is Hajime Tabata's first PSP title and I've since played his Third Birthday as well as FF Type-0 ... I think he's quite a genius, always introducing something fun in his games. The story of Crisis Core is also excellent - great characters such as The Turks - so I'm really looking forward to completing the game this time round. And I think I'll just play this game on the special edition... it deserves to be special!!!  

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Ao no Kiseki (Part 6)

Yes, truly incredible that I'm still playing this. There are some hidden Phantom Beasts hidden in the last chapter (second playthrough only) so I'll have to trudge through the entire game just to unlock them. Crazy. The completist in me just wouldn't let that go! Meanwhile, I'm also slowly making my way through Super Robot Wars Z3 Tengoku-hen, which is a great turn-based tactic/ strategy game but since everything is in Japanese I need to find out which robot does what best, through trial-and-error. And that is a laborious process. A friend will lend me his PSP and Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII so this time I wanna finish that game (like, I really know how to play a RPG!)


Anyway, back to Ao, I just got the rarest fish in the game but it matters little now since I don't need that to exchange for any rare accessories... I have so much mira (dosh) now I can just buy it outright. And my team is pretty OP now. Lloyd has evasion close to 90 per cent, while Randy is another tank. Tio replaces Wazy as the mage and Ellie (now my fav) is the healer with many time tricks up her sleeves. The thing is it's getting quite tedious to speed skip all the dialogues I think I will take a break. Nightmare more in second playthrough is totally manageable...

Elsewhere, Have bought the Danger Hiptop Side id on eBay. I actually wanted to get this ages ago but wasn't sure it would work here since it's a dual band (850/1900 MHz) US phone. But I think my service provider actually offers 1900 so we'll see. It costs next to nothing now... and am surprised I could find it still on eBay! 

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Ao no Kiseki (Part 5)

Wow, I finally beat the game last night. I kinda put it down for a few weeks (no matter how much I love it) cos I thought the final boss (notorious for being extremely difficult, even on Easy mode) was impossible to beat. Then I've been watching all these YouTube videos and reading different posts on forums (doing my homework and research!) and realised it could be done ... just needs to be patient and a little planning.

Mariabell of Crossbell
So, first up in the final battle is the alchemist (witch?) Mariabell Crois, who actually isn't that difficult to beat; then it's that egg/cocoon thing (a morphed KeA!!) that has two forms. The first form looks tricky but isn't too bad once you realise you need to kill off his minions first ... otherwise the thing just keeps spawning and healing itself ... horrible. The final form is what most players had difficulties with. I defeated it with luck ~ like I happen to have Zero Field (protection) on at a really crucial moment and enough burst orbs to spam S-Crafts to kill the thing. But it take awhile (maybe an hour?) to wrap the game.

Now I'm on second playthrough ... and nightmare mode. Looking forward to a second run as I really like this game and its battle mechanics ... so will keep playing it until Sen no Kiseki III comes out ~ whenever that is!!! 

Sunday, April 10, 2016

More The Legend of Heroes ...

To be honest, I really miss the cast in Ao no Kiseki so it's great that Lloyd and Rixia are back and playable in Sen no Kiseki II, in the last dungeon called the "Cloister of Reveries". I really am stretching these games out so I have something to play while waiting for Sen no Kiseki III. Well, both Trails of the Sky and Trails of the Sky SC are downloadable but do I really wanna play through these earlier Legend of Heroes titles? There is also The Third Evo but the English version won't be out until next year (boo-hoo). And after Ao, I don't really fancy playing such a long game in Japanese, even though a special box set is now available!

So, with a party of seven, I've decided to turn Rean and Fie into Lloyd and Rixia, using the mirror of reveries. Gaius and either Millium or Jusis will make up the team while Emma and Alisa are in reserve. Since all the bosses have to be tackled by Class VII so no point bringing the grown-ups or the two girls from another school. Besides, all I wanna play are the pair from Ao!

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

A Pain in the Neck

Yes ... to celebrate the announcement of the release date of Final Fantasy XV (in September), I dug up 1) Final Fantasy Type-0 and 2) The 3rd Birthday (sadly not Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII cos I very stupidly sold it years ago), all of which by director Hajime Tabata (of Square Enix) who is now in charge of the FFXV project. I love these games and thought I'd just, well, play them. 

Those who've been following this blog (me) will remember The 3rd Birthday was the game that gave me some serious health issues ... well, a numbed thumb and pitched-nerve-neck to be precise. The shooter game is really, really, really fun but pretty intense. Anyway, a couple of nights ago decided to replay the first two chapters (my old saves were erased by the recent ransomware attack - boo-hoo!) and, Wow, my thumb became numbed and my neck totally stiffened up! This game is So Good, yet So Bad for me!!!

So, now I am playing Digimon World (I know...) which is a more relaxing game LOL

Saturday, March 19, 2016


Unfortunately the new A Thief's End is only available on PS4 and not PSVita ... the graphics is amazing, as is the animation. And Nathan Drake is back! Yeah! My introduction to this franchise is actually through a spin-off, a card game called Fight for Fortune, which received so-so reviews when it was released some years ago but I think is actually one of the best card games on the Vita (not that there are many!) I played it for awhile then put it down (there are all these bonuses you get if you'd played Golden Abyss, which I didn't, and I thought I'd never be able to beat the game ...) well, actually, that's not true cos I still managed to beat the first and second campaign and am now on the last one and am really enjoying it ...

Well, when the AI is NOT cheating!!! I got really angry several times (#RAGEQUIT!) cos the AI was getting all the best cards while I drew all the ********* shite ones ... it was infuriating! So I had to rage quit a few times (the box under my desk got kicked so violently ...) but there were times when the AI was so, like, dumba** and I beat it no problem. 

Anyway, back to Uncharted... I really like its big cast - heroes, villains and mercenaries - and they really should make a movie out of this title (oh, I think they have) and Jennifer Aniston should play Elena Fisher! But who should play Nate?


Sunday, March 6, 2016

Super Robot Wars Z3 Tengoku-hen

Okay, have decided to give this game another go. This is (supposedly) the last of all the Super Robot Wars titles after all. Since, like Ao sen no Kiseki, I have a physical guide for the game, I'll try to understand its superbly complicated system: like how to power up, how to exploit stats during battles, how to deploy my team of robots on the map and so on. While I am not too bothered with the story (I'm not a Robot/ Gundam fan) I really like its strategical gameplay, not unlike, Tactics Ogre, so will continue to study it... I love micro-managing *lol* Meanwhile, since I lost Nobunaga's Ambition Creation with Power Up Kit file after the ransomware attack, I will install that into my new 2000. Now I have to carry two PS Vita around all the time >.<!

Saturday, March 5, 2016

So Many Games on the Go

Now that I have two PSVita ^^ (bought the neo orange 2000 edition last weekend ~ yum) it's hard to decide which game to play first *lol* After Ao no Kiseki I've been drifting in and out of Atelier Escha & Logy (it's an okay game but not, like, gripping like Ao) and have just gone back to Super Robot Wars Z Tengoku hen (End of Heaven) though it's really hard to get into it cos gameplay is so complex and it's all in Japanese. Which is a big shame cos this really is one of those games I can really get my teeth into: turn-based strategy!!! I love that.

I'm also enjoying Uncharted: Fight for Fortune the card game despite its shortcomings (like, I cannot organise my own deck) so basically how you do each fight is determined by the system/ AI since IT decides what cards I get and that's totally luck based. 

But I won't be going back to a handful of old favourites after the recent nasty, nasty, awful ransomware attack when I lost quite a number of files on my laptop: Persona 4 Golden (!) I simply won't restart from the beginning again. Lucky I still have Dancing All Night, and all my The Legend of Heroes games are intact (cos I didn't save them onto my laptop). All my Final Fantasy games are also on my Vita 1000. 

Okay, I have the "perfect bible" (strategy guide) for Super Robot Wars Z so might as well give it a read ... even though it's all in Japanese, with few illustrations >.<!

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Atelier Escha & Logy -- Opening Track

The crafting/ synthesis system in this game is pretty complicated but I'm enjoying the game nonetheless. And I love its opening track...

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Self Made "Yoga Retreat"

So I had three weeks off work recently (worked from home in the first, went down with a bad flu in the second) and didn't have time to organise a yoga getaway abroad so decided to stay in the city and created my own programme in the third and final week of my break. And I had a brilliant time!

It just happened that one of my (v good) instructors Patrick was in town for a month so I was able to join some of his classes for a week. Before that I discovered this really cool Indian teacher at my local studio and his demanding sequences prepped me well for Patrick's more advanced classes.

I decided to get up early for the first morning session and was pleasantly surprised to find Patrick's teaching has evolved since the last time I took his class (awhile ago). It is now more retrospective, quieter but still as detailed as ever. There is a lot of "lengthening" of the spine throughout and I love, love, love how my upper back is being worked. So I took three sessions with him, all pretty advanced and the final (apex) class yesterday morning was the most challenging. In fact, at one point I was so physically, mentally and energetically drained I was having difficulty in breathing and I thought I was going to pass out (!) But I stuck with it and was able to hold my headstand for a long time again (I forgot a slight back bend would help stablise the pose). It was really great to see some of my teacher training classmates on the mat too.

Just when I thought my practice has "plateaued" (I don't practise as regularly as I used to, say, two years ago) I think I am still making gradual progress... it is just not immediately obvious!

My next class will be in a couple of days and I've asked the instructor to come up with something that will help further open up my upper back and shoulders. Then I think I will have to target my glute muscles and hips later to start working on my Lotus pose (which I simply cannot do at the moment).       

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Atelier Escha & Logy

This is the second Atelier (Alchemist) title I've bought and played, the first being Meruru from the Arland arc, which was so repetitive, dull and boring I gave up before finishing its first chapter. Come to think of it, I can't recall why I bought the game in the first place >.<

Anyway, after playing the two (intense) The Legend of Heroes games almost back to back, I've decided to go for something more, say, leisurely and the gorgeous art & graphics of Atelier Escha & Logy: Alchemists of the Dusk Sky caught my eye. As the title suggests, this series of games runs on the theme of alchemy, so the gameplay involves a fair amount of crafting; i.e. collecting items before combining them to make new items. I'm not a big fan of crafting but am not against it either. What I love most about this series is, though, it does feature a turn-based battle system (my favourite kinda game after card games). And, to my delight, the battle system in E&L is really fun and I've already completed the first chapter. 

This game features two protagonist and I've chosen to be (naturally) Logy, who has this really cool voice acting. All the characters are nice and amicable and some of the dialogue pretty fun and wacky. The pair has been assigned to the same government department and are ordered to carry out a series of important tasks and side quests, all have to be completed within a time limit. I think it has similar mechanics in Meruru but I cannot remember the "time" factor being that important. Anyway, it's not that difficult and I only missed out on one small mission in the first chapter.  

The battle system is pretty traditional but with some nice features: other than attacks you can also use skills, items and have other team members jumping in to help or defend. My team can take up to six members. At the moment I only have three but it's been really fun so far. The perfect game to relax with!!!  

Monday, February 8, 2016

A Very Nasty Virus

What a way to end the Year of the Goat last night when my laptop was attacked by this really nasty virus/ malware "HELP_RECOVER" ... what that does is it encrypted almost all my document, music, photo and video files, thus rendering them unreadable & useless. Just as well I don't keep that much important stuff on my laptop and most of which I don't mind losing. Still, it basically destroyed most of my files!! Worse, the virus planted 10,000+ viral files onto my laptop, which took me a couple of hours to delete them all (thank goodness for universal search!) 

It was so annoying because whenever I restarted the computer all these fake screens popped up. It was a real nightmare. So I downloaded two (free) software programmes that contained the malware virus (very grateful) before I killed the planted files.

Luckily they didn't reach my cloud accounts (touch wood) cos that'd have been quite a disaster.

Year of the Monkey has started so hoping a healthy year ahead for my laptop !!!    

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Ao no Kiseki (Part 4)

Wow! It took me several hours to beat one of the tougher bosses, Arianrhod the "steel maiden". Had to use the first few attempts to formulate a successful strategy; so had a high evasion bait (Lloyd) to distract Arianrhod, time manipulating Elie to get extra turns + buff/debuff, Tio spamming protective shields while Wazy deals damages. Their positioning was also crucial ... AI saw a loophole in my strategy and exploited that (believe it or not!) ... and I am already on Easy Mode! Anyway, wish I had Rixia with me but at the end I won without wasting too many items. 

Now I can play around with different setups ... I can have ~

Tank Team: Lloyd, Randy, Rixia and Wazy
Mage Team: Lloyd, Tio, Wazy and Elie
Shooter Team: Lloyd, Elie, Noel and Alex Dudley
Male Team: Lloyd, Randy, Alex and (arguably) Wazy *lol*
Female Team: Tio, Elie, Noel and Rixia

Below more screenshots from the final chapter. This game is truly epic! 

Noel with the funny cap is my least favourite

By chance Rixia is the most friendly with Lloyd <3 td="">

Oh, the source of all troubles!

Spy Lechter Arundel
a recurring character in the Kiseki series

Ao no Kiseki playable characters

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Ao no Kiseki (Part 3)

Here are just some snaps of all the different characters from this fantastic episode of the Legend of Heroes series! 

Members of different fractions gathers at this v important convention

Day off at the fair with the troupe

KeA transformed!

KeA with Red Constellation and Ouroboros members

Lloyd's brother guy (the v moving part of this epic story)

This dude is funny

Yet, another fraction in this sprawling kingdom....

Monday, February 1, 2016

Ao no Kiseki (Part 2)

I never thought I'd get THIS far with the game, given it's all in Japanese and I wasn't particularly drawn to the story or the game system initially (unlike Final Fantasy X-2, which is also all in Japanese but I was interested in all that Dressphere stuff...) Anyway, I've just completed (the v epic) Chapter 4 in Ao and I took out the supposedly very difficult boss (well, I am def on easy mode and I learnt this v devious trick that guarantees success) so I reckon I will be able to complete my first playthrough over the next few weeks (while I am on holiday ~ yeah!!!)

(The Zero track is actually better, I think)

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Samsung Note Edge

It's funny how I just woke up one morning and decided it was time to get rid of some of my old phones and buy something new. For the past six months or so I've been cluttering my cupboard with the purple Sony Xperia Z (bought in April 2013), yellow LG AKA (March 15) and a bling-bling J-Phone (which I bought on eBay). They are all pretty decent phones (especially the Z) but ever since I got the BlackBerry Priv several months ago, I haven't been using any of them at all. Priv, which runs on Android, basically meets all my daily needs and there is no need for a second phone, really. So yesterday I decided to sell those three phones, bar the ancient Nokia 8310, which will not worth a single penny now (but check this ad out, so cool still!)

Another reason why I sold these old phones was that I saw a "Made in Korea" Samsung Note Edge selling for just under HK$4,000 (used to be over HK$6,000). It is, apparently, the Japanese edition (and it's white) so I decided to get that, knowing that I won't be using it that much ... but what am I to do with two SIM cards? Also, who can resist those colourful bling, bling Edge "sidebar" notification lights?!?

Now I have one black and one white phone, which is great. Plus the 8310 for, err, emergency. The thing was when I took the Xperia Z to the shop, I forgot to save photos stored on that phone so all my old photos and videos (esp those taken during my yoga teacher training) are all gone. Oh well. Never mind. I never looked at them much anyway... but I will miss them at some point I am sure (the phones and the photos).

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Ao no Kiseki (Part 1)

Not understanding a word of Japanese has never stopped me from playing any games in that language: Final Fantasy Type 0 and X2 immediately comes to mind, oh, I think Natural Doctrine too. There are just so many resources online these days I can always follow walkthroughs on YouTube or Google Translate ones in Japanese (but only when needed). 

So having got a little stuck in/at the beginning ... those side quests are very difficult to do if you didn't know where to go and who to speak to (that's why I'd put it down for more than a year) I've returned to Ao no Kiseki (Trails of Azure), the Evolution edition, and now TOTALLY into it. And that is despite the fact I'm kinda playing this series backwards. Ao came before Sen no Kiseki, though story-wise, the timelines of the two arcs are more or less the same. So you have characters appearing in both that are connected and spoilers everywhere (cos I already played the sequel in practice). But I don't really mind. With so much information on the Internet, I get spoiled left, right and centre anyway.

Ao is quite challenging in that it has a battle system that is slightly different from Sen and I don't get to buff/debuff as much (maybe I am still too early in the game). Have just unlocked a dungeon, which looks more difficult than all the ones before ... the fact I need to protect a NPC all the while makes it even more challenging. And that's what makes this game so gripping...

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Games that didn't Make the Cut

Boo-hoo to these titles I bought but weren't that great: Zero Escape: Virtue's Last Reward, Civilization Revolution 2, and  Digimon Story Cyber Sleuth (which I surmise is for teenagers). One good thing about buying the physical copy is that I can always resell it so it's not a 100% loss (except for Virtue's Last Reward, which I downloaded digitally).

So onward and forward with Ao no Kiseki, which I shall trudge through slowly. Here is another track that I love... honestly sooooooo 1970s!

The Legend of Heroes Series

So I'm getting myself re-addicted to this series >.<! 

Having (almost) finished Sen no Kiseki II (am going through the very last dungeon before the game pushes me into second playthru) I decided to pick up where I left off with Ao no Kiseki, another "arc" of the LoH series. Apparently all these different arcs intertwine with one another as each takes place in a different country/city, but within the same region... so:

Kingdom of Liberl (setting for the first arc)
Crossbell State (setting for the second arc)
Empire of Erebonia (setting for the third arc)
Republic of Calvard (setting for the upcoming fourth arc)
Principality of Remiferia (also in western Zemuria, beautiful scenery and the leaders in medical research and technology)
North Ambria (aka, that place with all the salt)
Ored (don't forget us!)
Leman State (central Zemuria, home of the Bracers Guild and the Epstein Foundation)
Holy Nation of Arterla (central Zemuria, headquarters of the Septian Church)

(sources: Guruda in the gamefaqs Trails of Cold Steel forum) 

The story so far... 

So Ao and SnK overlap one another because they are set within more or less the same timeline. In fact, after the main game of SnKII, there is a "side chapter" in which Lloyd (from Zero and Ao, the Crossbell arc) literally crosses paths with Rean (from SnK, the Erebonia arc). Ao does take the whole story/narrative further as by the end of that arc, Crossbell regains its independence (SnK ends with the Empire of Erebonia forcibly taking over Crossbell). It is a bit confusing only because Zero and Ao were released BEFORE SnK as games ... so the latest releases actually go backward in time (if you see what I mean). Perhaps the Calvard arc will now move the story forward again (i.e. starting from end of Ao, not SnK, timeline wise)...

Another fav track... 70s groove!