I am too damn tired to come up with a proper introduction.
I’m not the most hardcore Devil May Cry fan out there, but I definitely have an appreciation for the series, and a very strong love for Devil May Cry 3 in particular. Playing the PS2 DMC games last year along with Bayonetta, and then playing Ninja Gaiden Sigma and the Metal Gear Rising demo made me realize I absolutely love character action games, in the same way I love SHMUPs. The gameplay is front and center, and when it’s great, and all the surrounding elements of the game do well to complement the gameplay and in balance, it’s really something special.
For DmC, I went into it with as open a mind as possible, because I like the old games but not enough to be in the crowd that actively wished for the game to fail miserably. Going only by the general consensus in the official Neogaf thread, I felt somewhat prepared for what the game would have in store. The opening cutscenes and first level was a very promising, even exciting start to the game. The shifting environments were really cool, the gameplay and moves were very close to how they behaved in the old games, and the presentation, while not necessarily digging all the Combichrist tracks and Dante’s debauchery, the style is very bold and Ninja Theory commits to it all the way through the game. Not everything about it is likeable to me, but I give them props to sticking with something so clearly different.
But then the game continued. And other elements were introduced. And then things kinda dulled. But there were spikes where the game did something really neat and amazing. And then it dropped off as sharp as it went up. Needless to say, by the end of the game I was not excited at all about the idea of replaying the game again for 100% completion. With all that underlying potential and the very promising opening, the experience came off as rather disappointing.
This isn’t me so much being disappointed as a Devil May Cry fan, as there are certainly issues with it that are specific to that franchise, but rather disappointed as a fan of this genre. Things like the color coded enemies and Angel & Demon weapons seem like good ideas on paper, but their execution ended up restricting combo potential, and the busted style system didn’t make it that much better. The structure of the levels and progression, while really impressive and cool the first run through, ended up keeping me from wanting to do subsequent runs. Things like walking through the Virility factory with Kat and then the levels where the Order’s base is being stormed by SWAT Those and other moments that were set up to further convey the story had me questioning what the hell kind of game I was playing. I wanna fight demons, not go through this Uncharted-esque nonsense, and I love Uncharted. Just not in this kind of game.
Story is ultimately the biggest disappointment in this game, given Ninja Theory’s pedigree with this stuff. The only other game I’ve played from them was Enslaved and I enjoyed its story with the exception of the ending that almost destroyed the story that came before it for me. The story here is not that much better than past DMC stories, but the promise about it being greater than what the old games have done actually makes it way worse. It shouldn’t be hard at all to make a story better than past games, and Ninja Theory couldn’t even succeed on that front when they’ve been able to do it before (makes me think Alex Garland’s role of script supervisor was pretty much ignored). The characters in the story are a real shame in particular. And when I’m saying characters, I mean ones other than Dante. For all that people have complained about it, Dante is the least of the narrative’s problems. Granted, I still prefer previous incarnations of Dante over this one, but this one isn’t as terrible as some of the marketing made it out to be. His character is close to something like DMC 3 Dante in terms of attitude. Interpretation is different of course, but the character’s essence is there.
If anything, this game already has a character that I think is so far, and maybe will be by the end, the worst character of 2013, and that is Vergil.
How ironic that the most different looking Dante has a personality more in common with one of that character’s past interpretations, while Vergil looks close enough to his previous incarnation and has his personality and defining traits fucking destroyed. This is supposed to be Dante’s equal? I can see what they were probably shooting for with Dante being the brute and Vergil the thinker, but if they’re the Sons of mother fucking Sparda and both have weapons given to them by their father, why isn’t he a more proficient fighter and badass instead of a fucking pussy who begs his brother to join his resistance and proceeds to do dumb shit for the entire game. Oh wait, except for the part in the final mission where he decides to become mankind’s dictator and actually puts up a fucking fight with the Yamato (pronounced YAMAto, not YaMAto, god dammit) and other skills you expect from a Son of Sparda. Where the hell was all that? Sure, it got us a boss battle that was better in comparison to all the other boss fights earlier in the game (still not a great fight when compared to other action game fights of that sort), but as if Ninja Theory’s story wasn’t terrible already they just had to take an extra shit on it. Jesus Christ.
Speaking of Sparda, his portrayal is also rather shitty, but not as much as Vergil’s because he only gets mentioned in the early levels and is for the most part forgotten and never brought up again (Still disappointing, though). A character that has had an important role in the original games as being a badass legendary figure is reduced to a weakling who chose torture over death after losing his wife to Mundus. Everyone in OG DMC wanted Sparda’s power in some form or another. Here? Who the hell wants to be that guy?
At least Mundus had some good lines.
So the game has a shit story and characters, and the core gameplay is solid, but is bogged down by annoyances throughout. As much as the game disappointed me, I am willing to give Ninja Theory another chance if they make a DmC 2. The potential for something great is in DmC, but everything around it keeps it from being great. Otherwise, I’m more pumped for Metal Gear Rising at this point and I am doing my best to be patient for the next couple weeks until that game comes out.
It’s a visual novel. About dating pigeons. It’s a pigeon dating sim. I am not shitting you, I swear.
I kept telling myself I would write about this game after buying it a few weeks ago but visual novels require me to REALLY focus on getting through them. Because there’s next to no gameplay. I spent several hours getting through a single route in Katawa Shoujo and I have a second route I have yet to finish. I have also not continued Bible Black since last summer, for better or worse. Before playing this game I messed around in the trial version and got an ending where my character was assassinated for failing to become intimate with one of the birds.
The best part about Hatoful Boyfriend (the name of the visual novel I’m writing about, if you didn’t notice) is that playthroughs are short. It takes place over the course of a Japanese school year, but it doesn’t waste any time getting through it. It took me about the same time to complete a single route as it did for me to complete the first act in Katawa Shoujo. And even shorter on subsequent playthroughs because of clicking a button to fast forward through the dialog you’ve already gone through. So I can say that I’ve played through more storylines in this game than in other visual novels.
Still, what exactly is this visual novel, you may ask? Well, you already know it’s about dating pigeons, and you have a wide assortment of pigeons to date as the only human student at St. Pigeonation’s. You’ve got the main character’s childhood friend Ryouta, the narcoleptic math teacher Kazuaki, the reclusive book worm Nageki, the aristocratic prick Sakuya Le Bel Shirogane, the flirtatious Yuuya, the sinister infirmary doctor Shuu, the JRPG obsessed Higure, and Okosan…that last one doesn’t even need a description. Okosan is just Okosan. You go through an entire school year and you can choose to pursue these birds.
It sound super ridiculous on its face, and it’s got plenty of ridiculousness throughout, but there’s actually a rather in depth back story, and some rather tragic moments for all the different routes. Well, except for Okosan’s. If you played through his route only, you’d probably think the whole game was just that kind of nonsense throughout. Conversely, going after Shuu ends up being rather creepy and disturbing. The other routes end in a somewhat bitter sweet manner. And that’s not even covering the Bad Boys Love route, which I have not gotten to yet but is supposed to explain in detail why the hell there’s a school for pigeons and why birds all of a sudden can talk (except Okosan).
I’ve really enjoyed going through this visual novel. It’s such a bizarre concept, and it ends up being a pretty entertaining and dark story rather than being just a joke, although Okosan’s route feels closer to being like a joke because of how crazy things get. I keep mentioning Okosan, because he is my favorite character in the game. Plus Okosan’s portrait is based on the creator’s pet fantail pigeon. However, unlike in game Okosan, real life Okosan does not like pudding.
While I’m at it, if for some reason you don’t want to buy this visual novel then you can just read this let’s play thread that increased awareness of it a couple years back.
And the Rest
Ninja Gaiden Sigma
It’s not Ninja Gaiden Black, but any version of Ninja Gaiden is still a good game.
Classes have varied so far. My drawing class has been the most interesting as I'm learning stuff that actually pertains to one of my interests. Physics however turned out harder than expected as I have not done too well on my homework and I just had my first exam in that class this week. Was rather stressful. Not much else of note that was eventful.
That's all for this week. I know I'll wanna write up more in depth thoughts on Ninja Gaiden Sigma, but I'm not too sure what else I'll want to play while I wait for Metal Gear Rising. That game can't come soon enough.