Playing this week -
Ar Tonelico Qoga (PS3)
Agarest Senki (PS3)
Infinite Undiscovery (360)
I found myself hopelessly addicted to the third Ar Tonelico game this week - after receiving it on Friday last, it dominated my weekend almost entirely (helped by the rain that tumbled down almost the whole time). When I was younger it was almost a matter of routine to plow six or so hours into a gaming session but that has become much less frequent these days. However, that was exactly the manner in which I found myself playing the first 20 or so hours of Qoga - in three or four marathon sessions because I just couldn't put it down.
The combat system is really quite addictive; there are so many things to keep an eye on while fighting that it never becomes mundane and unleashing a powered up attack from your Reyvateil support can be quite spectacular. Add to this the Item Creation system, which yields quite practical rewards in the form of super moves and updated weapons; along with the Dive System, which literally allows your character into the mind of one of your Reyvateil companions in order to improve and aid their mental state by completing such bizarre things as giant board games or classic RPG tributes.
I also found myself playing a few hours of Agarest Senki (Record of Agarest War) after a long break (since May last year, according to the save data!) Initially I found the going awkward but finally got into a bit of a rhythm and spent quite an enjoyable time with the game. The generous serving of free DLC certainly helped, bringing some nice items and power ups along with bonus dungeons to explore.
Last but not least is the 360's Infinite Undiscovery, released prior to Star Ocean: The Last Hope and sharing this same engine, along with a similar play style; It's pretty much Star Ocean in a straight-up fantasy setting. This game doesn't seem to get a lot of love and it's one of the few 360 exclusive RPGs from Japan that was never ported to another system.
It has some nice features that set it apart from some of its contemporaries: battles are enjoined on the same screen - no touching an enemy then waiting for the battle screen to load - and there's a feel of "seamlessness" to the towns and areas as there's virtually no load time when entering buildings, etc. In addition there's the usual Item Crafting system to help you make weapons and become stinking rich. Each character has a different trait that must be leveled up to allow for more advanced crafting, so there are certainly rewards for persevering.