The Forgotten Dub of Soar High! Isami

*This is a re-posting of something I wrote on Tumblr back near the end of April. It is obviously not really about a video game but a lot of the voice talent mentioned in the blog are actors from various video games and the company that released the show in the US was a former visual novel publisher, so I thought the community here might find this interesting. Make sure to click on all the fun hyper links for videos and other informative stuff :) *

Soar High! Isami ( 飛べ!イサミ ) - Group TAC - 1995

Remember when anime DVDs would always advertise on the box who directed the show? I imagine only a very small number of people knew who Tatsuo Sato was in 2003, or even now.
Remember when anime DVDs would always advertise on the box who directed the show? I imagine only a very small number of people knew who Tatsuo Sato was in 2003, or even now.

Back in 2003 Hirameki International, a short lived company mainly known for localizing a handful of visual novels in the early 2000s, briefly threw their hat into the anime publishing industry by releasing two shows, Idol Fighter SU-CHI-PAI and a kid’s show named Soar High! Isami. The later follows a young girl named Isami and two boys, Toshi and Soshi, who are all descendants of the Shinsengumi. They use technology left behind by their ancestors to fight against the Black Goblin, an evil mastermind that is trying to control the world and who is hunting done Isami’s missing father in order to steal his scientific research.

Lately I’ve been obsessing over this seemly average kid’s anime because while Idol Fighter can be easily found and watched online there is surprisingly little information about Hirameki’s release of Soar High! Isami. I was especially curious of the show’s English dub since there are no details online about the actors or whoever produced the dub. Because of the lack of information on the show my curiosity got the best of me and I decided to pick up the DVDs, which wasn’t very hard since there were only three volumes released and they can be found almost anywhere for real cheap. According to the ending credits on the DVDs these are the actors and actresses that starred in Soar High! Isami (at least the ones that were credited):

I couldn’t find information on every actor, and I’m not sure if all of my information is correct, but most of the people I did find have pretty interesting backgrounds. Isami’s actress, Rumiko Varnes, has done a lot work in video games including playing Jennifer Simpson in Clock Tower for the PlayStation, the narrator in Taiko: Drum Master, and more recently she played Chloe in Pokkén Tournament. She also did some additional voices for the infamous dub of Shenmue along with several other actors in Soar High! Isami, including Michael Naishtut and Dennis Falt. Dennis Falt was the Master Librarian and Death himself in another infamous dub for Castlevania: Symphony of the Night as well as notably playing Walter Sullivan in Silent Hill 4. Soness Stevens is also apparently the official English voice of Hello Kitty according to her website and Sean Nichols is semi-famous for playing the character Sean White in Ultraman Max.

After the first DVD some of the characters were played by different actors. Dennis Falt was replaced by Barry Gjerde as the Black Goblin, who’s voice you may recognize from the first Resident Evil where he famously played Barry Burton. Gjerde also did the voice for Poro Rosso, years before Michael Keaton, in a little known English dub of the famous Studio Ghibli film that was shown on JAL trans-Pacific flights in the 90s. Soshi’s voice actor was also replaced by Jeremy Felton, Greg Dale replaced Richard Allen as Kazuma, Michael Naishtut took over all the roles previously played by Blake Crawford as well as Richard Allen, and Kei/Reiko were now played by Terry Osada (who is another actress that played a few classic characters in Shenmue).

Although Hirameki credits most of the English cast for Soar High! Isami, they never mention who exactly created the dub for the show. However my personal theory is that it was the NHK themselves who made the dub for Hirameki. The NHK is the license holder/broadcaster of the show and several of the actors involved in the dub, such as Michael Naishtut and Soness Stevens, worked for the NHK at the time or were English actors living/working in Japan. It makes the most sense to me and there have been other cases of Japanese companies creating dubs for English publishers, such as when Tezuka Productions provided Central Park Media with the dub for the 90s Black Jack OVAs. But I guess we may never know for sure.

Even though the voice talent behind the English release of Soar High! Isami may seem like a mixed bag, the dub actually has a lot of charm to it and I found it to be very entertaining. At the very least it is refreshing to hear an anime dub that doesn’t have the same ten actors that you hear in almost every modern production.

Outside of Soar High! Isami’s interesting dub history, the show itself isn’t half-bad and is a fun little comedy with cute characters as well as some genuinely funny moments. There is also some notable talent that worked on Soar High! Isami: Tatsuo Sato of Nadesico fame directed the series along with supervision from Gisaburo Sugii, who is a an industry veteran that famously directed Night on the Galactic Railway. Animation production was done by the once prolific Group TAC and characters were designed by Kazuaki Moori, who’s done character designs for the long-running Pokémon anime along with another TAC production called The Daichis: Earth’s Defense Family. If you are a fan of any of these people’s works then I would recommend giving Soar High! Isami a watch, especially if you are a fan of Tatsuo Sato’s later works like Shingu: Secret of the Stellar Wars.

But don’t take my word for it! I uploaded the dubbed episodes released by Hirameki on YouTube so you can make your own judgment and experience an obscure bit anime history.

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Running White Day on a Modern PC

Korean Box Art

With the new remake of White Day: A Labyrinth Named School being released in English for iOS and Android, as well as the PC sometime soon, now seems like a good time to revisit, or experience for the first time, the original Korean classic that started it all. Although it was never officially localized, the original White Day can still be played in English thanks to a fan mod that was released by Unnamed back in 2012 or so. The translated version is freeware and can be easily download from ModDB but what is not so easy is getting the game to run on a modern PC.

I ran into several crashes and bugs when I first attempted to play White Day on my Windows 10 computer and it took me a few months to figure out exactly what I had to do in order to get everything working properly. I've seen other people having similar problems so I thought I'd share the solutions I used so that others can have a smoother White Day experience.

I'll run down some of the common problems I, and many others, have encountered and walk through the solutions to fix them. Now there may be other ways to troubleshoot these problems but this is what I found to work and the game hasn't crashed once since I implemented these fixes. Hopefully they work for your computer but I can only share what I know.

The Floating Door Knob

One of the most common issues people run into when trying to start White Day is being unable to get past the first room. None of the doors work and there are several graphical glitches, such as a door knob floating midair in the center of the room. The reason for this bug is that your computer is not running in the Korean Locale, since this is a Korean title it will not work properly on a computer from a different region. The fan mod got around this by installing AppLocale, a program made by Microsoft that allows applications from any region to run on any computer. However AppLocale does not work on modern Windows operating systems, so even though the fan mod installs the program it won't actually work once you start the game.

The workaround I saw many people suggest online was to use an AppLocale substitute called Locale Emulator. Basically once you install the software you can right-click on a program and run it in any locale that you have created a profile for. I found this to work perfectly but be careful when installing the program because once it is installed you will not be able to move it to another folder. Also make sure to start White Day through the "WhiteDay - Start" executable instead of the one simply labeled "whiteday." The game will start no matter which you click on but the "WhiteDay - Start" executable is more stable while the other crashes randomly.

If for whatever reason you don't want to install Locale Emulator the only other way to run White Day that I know of is to change your computer's system locale to Korean by going to the "Region" option in the Control Panel. This an annoying process since you will need to restart your computer every time you change the locale and you'll need to change it back to your primary locale once you are done playing the game.

Everything Is Running Too Fast

Once White Day is playing in the proper locale you may notice that the game seems to be running fast. Characters move very quickly during gameplay and cut-scenes will be out of sync with the audio.

Always have the game running on the option that begins with
Always have the game running on the option that begins with "[DX8]"

Now to fix this problem I made the common mistake of changing my graphic card setting to the option beginning with "[DX7]" in the Device Settings tab on the launch menu. This appears to work at first but eventually causes the game to crash later on and messes up some of the lighting effects (such as the match and lighter looking like a flat glowing polygon instead of a flame). So don't do that, keep that setting on "[DX8]" which is what it defaults too anyway.

The actual problem here is that the game is trying to run in DirectX 8 but it can't since it is no longer supported by modern operating systems, at least that is how I understand it. So in order to have White Day run properly in DirectX 8 you will need a wrapper, which is just a simple DLL file that you place in the same folder where the executable is located. There are several different DirectX 8 wrappers out there but I downloaded mine from HERE.

Once the wrapper is placed in the "WHITEDAY" folder the game should run at normal speeds.

Conclusion

So to summarize, in order to run White Day on a Windows 10 computer, or any other modern Windows operating systems, you need to:

  1. Download the game from ModDB
  2. Install Locale Emulator in order to run the game in Korean locale
  3. Place a DirectX 8 wrapper in the "WHITEDAY" folder
  4. And always start the game using the "WhiteDay - Start" executable

And that is it! White Day should run perfectly after following all these steps and if it doesn't then I'm not sure I can help you. Everyone's computer is different and this is just what worked for me and should also theoretically work for anyone with a Windows 10 computer. If you have any other kind of technical questions or need help with troubleshooting something I would suggest going to the Unnamed forums, which is the official forum for White Day's fan translation. I found some of the solutions to my problems there and I'm sure the people there could help you more than I could.

I hope this blog was helpful and have fun playing White Day!

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2015 Favorites

I was very strapped for cash in 2015 with almost no spending money to use on video games or buying new hardware, I still don't own any of the new consoles. So this year I made a serious effect to finish some of the bigger titles in my backlog and only got around to playing a few games that were released in 2015. Originally I thought I was missing out on a lot of great games, and I'm sure I was, but having a whole year where I mostly skipped out on new releases to play my older titles was sort of relaxing. I felt like I was enjoying my games at my own pace instead of keeping up with release schedules and always trying to play the next new thing.

So without further ado, here are some of my favorite games I played this year:

Oreshika: Tainted Bloodlines

My team that defeated the big bad
My team that defeated the big bad

Oreshika was actually a game I was super hyped about for a long time and was one of the titles I used to justify buying a PlayStation Vita. The game is about a samurai clan whose members were cursed by an evil sorcerer to live for only two years. For the sake of revenge, the clan teams up with the gods to produce offspring that can continue the fight against the sorcerer as the older members die off. The premise is very original and the gameplay is just as original, despite deceptively looking like a standard dungeon crawler, combining elements from raising sims, RPGs and time management games. Oreshika is all about effectively using what little time your clan members have left and spending every day taking another small step towards your goal. While I had some problems with the game being repetitive at times it was still a very fulfilling experience and I even got kind of emotional when I looked at my clan's long family tree after finally removing the curse.

Corpse Party 2: Dead Patient

The character designs in Dead Patient are much more reserved when compared to the spin-off titles
The character designs in Dead Patient are much more reserved when compared to the spin-off titles

I really liked the original Corpse Party, I even wrote about it forever ago on GiantBomb, but that game came out over 4 years ago and I hadn't touched it since its initial release in 2011. So when I played Corpse Party 2 this year, thanks to an unfinished fan patch, I was reminded of all the stuff I loved about Corpse Party, not the gore, or scares, or girls peeing themselves (god why is that a thing in this series) but the feeling of having no idea what will happen next. The mystery of what crazy thing is behind the next corner and what fate awaits each of the characters was one of the most compelling aspects of the first Corpse Party. Dead Patient got closer to recapturing that feeling than any of spin-offs ever did since nothing was reused from the previous titles. Corpse Party 2 is an unfinished game so the story could all go south when the other chapters are released, and it very well might after seeing what happened in Blood Drive, but I really enjoyed feeling that sense of the unknown again.

Danganronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls

Another Episode was certainly dark but it also had plenty of lighter moments
Another Episode was certainly dark but it also had plenty of lighter moments

When I played the first Danganropa back in 2013 I wasn't that impressed by it. I had just finished Virtue's Last Reward, seen Battle Royal for the first time, and Hunger Games was the new hottest at the time so Danganropa just felt like another story about kids killing each other while trapped somewhere. However, Ropa stuck with me and I fell in love with the series after playing the sequel, which made me hungry to learn more about its crazy world. Another Episode finally made the environment outside the school the main backdrop to the story while also shacking up the formula by the changing the gameplay and exploring some really dark themes. Danganronpa Another Episode may not have had a mind breaking plot twist or as many memorable characters as the previous games but it shows that the series is flexible and is still able to surprise me with its insanity.

The Devil Survivor Series

Daichi was probably my favorite character from the whole series
Daichi was probably my favorite character from the whole series

I've purchased every version of both Devil Survivor games as they were released but it wasn't until 2015 that I finally played through each title on the 3DS. Both games are great strategy RPGs but I think Record Breaker is my personal favorite. Everything in the second game just felt like a huge improvement over the original and I liked the game's cast of characters a lot more, the great voice cast and the Fate System helped a lot with that. However the first Devil Survivor had a much more oppressive atmosphere and made me feel like I was struggling to survive every day the characters spent in Tokyo. Record Breaker definitely lost that by having the characters be a part of a powerful organization instead of just being some dumb kids in the middle of a disaster. So in some ways both games complement each other and I'm happy I played them both instead of just finishing one or the other.

Shantae and the Pirate's Curse

The bosses in Pirate's Curse where never super hard but they were always fun to fight
The bosses in Pirate's Curse where never super hard but they were always fun to fight

The Shantae series has been hyped to hell and back for as long as I've been looking up games on the internet. I always wanted to play them ever since I was in High School but the Gameboy cartridge was super rare and I never owned a DSi so the series seemed like a wondrous fruit that grew on a branch just out of my reach. When I did finally play these titles years later I thought they were just okay, both games have nice presentations but I always thought they were lacking in many areas. Pirate's Curse is the first Shantae game that I really felt lived up to the series' potential and all the hype from fans. All the characters have much more personality, the controls are incredibly tight and Shantae's new abilities are fun to use. The world is easy to navigate and full of verity while the presentation continues to be just as beautiful as the previous titles. The story is even interesting to follow and kept me curious the whole way through. Pirate's Curse was the game that finally made me a fan of Shantae and I am very excited to see what Wayforward does next in Half-Genie Hero.

Xenoblade Chronicles

Shulk and Reyn on the Bionis' Leg. This giant field is just the leg!
Shulk and Reyn on the Bionis' Leg. This giant field is just the leg!

Whenever I would enter a new area in Xenoblade the giant environment would, of course, impress me but when the title of the area appeared on screen it would put the place into a powerful context. I was standing on the thumb of one of the giant creatures all life on the planet lived on. Any game can impress with a pretty background but the fact that this huge vista before me was just the thumb of something much, much, much larger really gave me a clear idea of just how huge the world was. So many JRPGs get lost whenever they attempt to have a scale this big but Xenoblade always felt anchored because of how well it interweaves its world with its gameplay, even if it did get a little lost near the end. The game is a finely crafted experience and I really appreciated everything it did.

Another Code: R – A Journey into Lost Memories

I really liked how the game was set around a camping trip
I really liked how the game was set around a camping trip

Another Code R is just so freakin chill. A lot of my favorite adventure games have zany characters or are big stories with large stakes but Another Code R is refreshingly low key and down to earth. Not to say that Another Code R doesn't have any drama, or even a little sci-fi, but everything happens at a leisurely pace and focuses on small discoveries instead earth shattering revelations. The game is nowhere near perfect but everything just clicked with me on a personal level, from the presentation, to the characters, and even down to the sound effects used for the menus. I just had a great time playing Another Code R and I wish that Cing was still around so I could see Ashley's adventures continue.

The Last Story

Every alleyway in the Lazulis is full of detail and life
Every alleyway in the Lazulis is full of detail and life

When I first heard about the Last Story I excepted it to be a big sprawling adventure similar to Final Fantasy or even Hironobu Sakaguchi's previous console titles, Blue Dragon and Lost Odyssey. But what I found was a much smaller tale about the story of a closely knit group of mercenaries and their dream to become knights on Lazulis island. The game eventually becomes about the end of the world and the like but it is never presented outside the perspective of Zael and how these circumstances effect him, his friends, and the residents of Lazulis. Last Story takes place almost entirely on the island town and it becomes almost a character in itself as you see the town, and the people within it, change over the course of Zael's adventure. The game feels very personal and I grew attached to the cast and the island of Lazulis. When The Last Story ended I felt like I was saying good bye to a friend, which is something that only a handful of games have ever managed to make me feel.

And that's my list. If you want to read my thoughts on every game I completed in 2015 go check out my list where I wrote a few sentences about each title as I finished them throughout the year. And if you're curious about what I'll play in 2016, I've already started a similar list for this year that you can follow. Also, this has nothing to do with games, but if you are curious about what were my favorite animes I watched last year then you can also read a list about that over at Anime Planet.

Thanks for reading.

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Thoughts on Corpse Party: Blood Drive

October seems to have become the month of Corpse Party for me, although I didn't really plan it to be. I completed several different Corpse Party titles throughout the month of Halloween in anticipation for the latest English release in the series, Corpse Party: Blood Drive. After all the spin-offs, pre-sequels and adaptations, Blood Drive was finally the direct sequel that I had been pinning for since finishing the first game back in 2011. I had no idea what to except but, after playing Corpse Party 2: Dead Patient, I had high hopes that Blood Drive would be at least as good as the franchise's previous outing into polygons. However my expectations were not exactly met. Blood Drive unfortunately turned out to be quite the mixed bag and the bag was mostly full of garbage. But before we jump into the details lets me explain what Blood Drive is all about.

Game Details

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Corpse Party: Blood Drive is the continuation of the final chapter from Corpse Party: Book of Shadows, which combined serve as a direct sequel to the first game. It is hard to explain the story without getting into spoilers for multiple titles but the gist of it is that the Heavenly Host Elementary School is still around. Ayumi once again returns to the school's haunted halls as part of a dangerous plan to resurrect her friends that died in Corpse Party 1. The game plays similarly to the first with the player navigating one of the characters through the school while solving puzzles to accesses new areas and proceed with the story. Nothing is too different but what little changes Blood Drive does make to the formula do nothing but hinder the gameplay experience.

Horrifying Gameplay

Flashlight is dead, health is low and the the darkening has set in
Flashlight is dead, health is low and the the darkening has set in

Heavenly Host feels much more dangerous in Blood Drive thanks to a dramatic increase in obstacles that can harm the characters. Broken glass, floor tentacles, booby traps, and phantoms all make exploring much more tense. The school is also surrounded in darkness making it almost impossible to see traps unless the player uses the character's flashlight, which can run out of batteries. However, while I thought the traps and darkness added a interesting sense of danger at first, I quickly grew annoyed with them when I began having to backtrack through old areas. Being chased by relentless phantoms while tripping over every little trap, because my flashlight had run out of batteries, was insanely frustrating. And that frustration only intensified when I was in the same situation while looking for the next story point or trying to find the solution to a puzzle.

The solution to this puzzle involved more backtracking than anything
The solution to this puzzle involved more backtracking than anything

I say "puzzles" but no actual brain power or deductive reasoning goes into solving any of them. The solution to every problem in Blood Drive is to click on every object in every room and hope you find the item needed to proceed in the game. This becomes a monumental task later on when you have access to large parts of the school. To make matter worse, sometimes even clicking on everything still doesn't work! One time I needed a key to continue to the next area but I had already checked every room and didn't know what else to do. I later discovered that the key was in a cabinet I had already checked earlier but for some reason, after watching a cut-scene, it just suddenly appeared there. Nothing in the game implied the key was in the cabinet and nothing happened during the cut-scene to suggest a key would appear there when only a moment ago there was nothing in it. Even when a puzzle didn't involve going on a click-fest through the whole school the solution was often so opaque that I had to just use trial and error to find the answer.

Blood Drive also has a mechanic where the player can hid from the phantoms that chase the characters at random times. Hiding doesn't help much though since the phantom will still be wandering nearby and will likely start chasing you again moments after leaving your hiding spot. I found it better to just run around until I found a talisman to permanently destroy my pursuer, making the whole hiding mechanic useless.

The gameplay in Corpse Party 1 was not perfect by any means but it was never so frustrating that it got in the way of enjoying the game's stronger elements. The same cannot be said for Blood Drive.

Blood Drive vs Corpse Party 2

Corpse Party: Blood Drive is unique from most games in the series in that it is fully polygonal. Characters are rendered in stylized chibi designs while the environments look more realistic. Technically it doesn't look that impressive but I liked the style and the 3D presentation gave some of the cut-scenes a more cinematic feel that I enjoyed. However, while playing through Blood Drive I couldn't help but compare the game to the other polygonal entry in the series, Corpse Party 2: Dead Patient. The first chapter of Dead Patient was released a year before so I thought Blood Drive would have expand upon the innovations introduced in that title, but that is not the case.

Inventory ring from Corpse Party 2
Inventory ring from Corpse Party 2

Inventory management in Corpse Party 2 was simple and elegant. You would just click one button, the inventory would appear in a Secret of Mana style ring, and then you'd highlight the item you wanted equipped. The system allowed the player to manage items without having to go to another screen which really helped the pace of the game. Blood Drive, however, hides its inventory behind several layers of menus, with loading screens between all of them, and feels like a less intuitive version of how inventory was handled in the first game.

One of my biggest complains with the original Corpse Party as well as Blood Drive is that it is very unclear sometimes on where you are suppose to go next. Dead Patient fixed this problem with a "goal" pop-up that would appear after certain cut-scenes, making it so I was never lost or confused on what to do next. I found it surprising that Blood Drive didn't keep this feature especially since there were many moments when the game would have benefited from just spelling out what it wanted the player to do. Sometimes Blood Drive would do something smart to guide the player, like having the bell tower ringing to indicate that you should check it out, but the rest of the time I would just have to wander around until I ran into what I was supposed to do.

Gotta love that kite tail
Gotta love that kite tail

On a smaller note, Corpse Party 2 had the other members of your party follow behind the player, kite-tail style. I missed having that in Blood Drive. It made me feel like I was alone even when I had three other people in my party.

All in all Corpse Party 2 felt like a game that the developers carefully constructed with a lot of nice details and a well thought out interface. Blood Drive feels like a clumsy mess in comparison. However, these comparisons and my issues with the gameplay are far from Blood Drive's biggest flaw.

Horrifying Tech

The response I feel I should get for complaining about video games
The response I feel I should get for complaining about video games

Corpse Party: Blood Drive is plagued with a multitude of technical problems. I'm not sure what happened during the development of this game but something obviously went very wrong. There are loading screens everywhere. Even when the game first starts it has to spend half a minute setting up trophies and initializing the game followed by a loading screen before and after all the company logos. All together it takes almost two minutes just to get to the title screen. There are also loading screens whenever you open the option menu, click on anything in that menu, go to a new room, start a cut-scene, etcetera, etcetera. Whenever the game does anything there is going to be a lot of waiting which really screws up the game's pacing and makes game-overs a huge hassle since you'll need to reload everything again. And even when everything is loaded, the game is constantly hitching and dropping in framerate. Even the text appearing in the dialogue boxes chugs at certain points. The only time anything runs smoothly is when you are in a small area with your flashlight off but even then that only works if you are not running.

Same
Same

The game's audio is also very compressed, often sounding like it was recorded off a cheap Wal-Mart microphone. This was partially disappointing to me since the biggest selling point for the whole series had been its soundtrack, fantastic voice acting and effective "3D" sound design. Beyond just technical problems with the audio, Blood Drive's sound design feels sort of lazy in general. For example, there was a moment in the story where the game was playing a happy song during a calm scene. Then the camera cuts to someone attempting to commit suicide but the game just keeps on playing the same happy track. There were many times where I excepted the music to change or a sound effect to play during a dramatic moment but nothing would happen, making certain scenes feel flat. Characters footsteps also don't make any noise and the game seems to glitch a bit whenever the player walks up to something in the environment that makes a sound, such as the bucket surround by flies in the hallway.

There are also many visual inconsistencies such as a character having an eye patch during a cut-scene but then not having one during gameplay. Or the text describing how someone has a bunch of burns on their body when the image shows the character with smooth perfect skin.

Blood Drive feels like it was thrown together. How could anyone have let this game ship with so many technical problems is beyond me, especially when everything the title is doing graphically is relatively simple. The game was made using Unity and I believe this was the first title the development team had created using that engine. So maybe they were just inexperienced with the engine's tools and didn't know how to optimize it correctly. Whatever the reason, it still does not excuse Blood Drive's technical hiccups, lazy design and many other problems that make the game almost unplayable. I say "almost" because despite all my grievances with Corpse Party: Blood Drive I still sort of enjoyed some aspects of the game.

Staying Positive

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The soundtrack by Mao Hamamoto continues the Corpse Party tradition of being spooky and rocking. Voice acting is still very strong and a lot of the returning actors really put in some great performances, especially Asami Imai as Ayumi. And of course the story, Corpse Party: Blood Drive is an actual continuation of the Heavenly Host saga. Book of Shadows contained a prologue to Blood Drive but I found that game to be disappointing because it mostly consisted of retellings of the events from the first game. The story in Blood Drive is an actual full-on sequel and it was fun to finally see the old cast in band new scenarios. I felt the story started strong, showing how the characters were trying to recover from the deaths of their friends and by "recover" I mean suffering alone or being consumed with guilt. Those beginning moments were actually pretty emotional for me and the chapter where Ayumi investigates the abandoned apartment really made me excited to see where the story was going. Unfortunately the story is not without its problems.

Back to Being Negative

Wasn't the biggest fan of this character
Wasn't the biggest fan of this character

Blood Drive is one of the longer games in the series and its story suffers from bad pacing issues during the middle chapters. The game just sort of ignores some of the bigger mysteries for a while and the characters do random things that don't feel like they move the story much, like hanging out at a god damn hot spring. The game could have benefited a lot from being a few hours shorter or by cutting a chapter or two. A lot of the new characters aren't that great either. I thought the Niwa sisters were interesting, even if they were super over the top, but a lot of other new cast members were not partially memorial. The plot also becomes very convoluted very quickly after the apartment investigation and by the end of the game the stakes are raised so high that I found it difficult to be invested anymore.

Not sure who you are but I'm positive I don't want anything from your skirt called
Not sure who you are but I'm positive I don't want anything from your skirt called "Happy Butter"

There are also a surprising number of references to Corpse Party 2U, a comedic spin-off that has not been translated officially or otherwise. There are characters and organizations, that I assumed first appeared in 2U, that barely get introduced in Blood Drive even though they play a large part in the game. I had to look up details about these characters in the ingame encyclopedia to figure out what their deal was and even then I was still sort of lost. While most of the references to 2U are minor in the grand scheme of things there was still one major plot point that went over my head entirely. I only later found out the plot point's significance after doing research on Corpse Party 2U. Although these are not technically problems with Blood Drive, since the only reason I didn't know these details is because I can't play 2U, but it was still really strange to me that the game didn't spend more time reintroducing this stuff. How can you expect all of your fans to have played a comedic spin-off to a series that otherwise has nothing to do with the franchise's continuity?

A Mixed Bag Indeed

My write up of Corpse Party: Blood Drive has become a reverse compliment sandwich but there is simply much more to criticize about this game than praise. The gameplay only serves to make the game frustrating, it is a technical pile of garbage and the story raises the stakes to such ridiculous levels that characters are practically throwing Kamehamehas at each other by the end. I loved hanging out with the original Corpse Party cast and seeing characters like Ayumi develop throughout the story. Again the music and voice acting is also great but these are but small lights in a dark, dark tunnel. If nothing else this game has finally ended the Heavenly Host saga. Now, just like the characters in the game, maybe fans and the developers of Corpse Party can move on to something new.

Like Chapter 2 of Dead Patient...

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Ys IV: The Dawn of Ys English Dub Released!

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My brother, Burnt Lasagna, has been working on a fandub for the PC-Engine CD game Ys IV: The Dawn of Ys for a long time and it is now finally complete! There have been several attempts to dub Ys IV since the text patch was released back in 2004 and now the game's cut-scenes are finally fully voiced in English! I believe this is the largest English fandub for a video game ever completed with more than a hour of recorded dialogue with more than 20 actors. But enough talk! Go this link for more information! I Hope you enjoy the dub or at the very lest enjoy this cool trailer:

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Beat'n My Games: Thoughts on Corpse Party

Find out more information about Corpse Party by reading my previous blog post and by visiting XSEED’s official website.

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I started playing Corpse Party on November 22, 2011 and I finished it 5 days later on the 27th. Corpse Party is not a "short" game it took about 10 or 12 hours for me to complete it, so if you can't tell by how quickly I finished it I really liked the game a lot. Few games have grabbed my attention and forced me to marathon to the end like Corpse Party has. Now although the game is obviously a horror title I did not enjoy the game for the gory imagery or jump scares that are advertised in the game’s trailers. What made Corpse Party such a compelling game for me was how it made me feel empathetic to the characters’ situation.

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The great localization by XSEED certainly helped a lot in this department by giving the characters very natural sounding dialogue, which helps a lot in a game as text heavy as this. The game's text is also used intelligently during certain scenes when there are no visuals and the text is describing the situation. These "black screen" moments are mainly used for Corpse Party’s death sequences and are very effective at creating a horrifying atmosphere since it allows your imagination to "see" horrors that cannot be visualized just based off the game's text and sound.

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Speaking of sound, Corpse Party expresses a lot of the emotions of the characters through its sound design. The soundtrack is amazing and changes tone with the game’s story. Most of the music in the first 4 chapters has an atmospheric sound to it that fits perfectly with how confused and terrified the characters are. In the final chapter the music becomes much more upbeat and energetic which matches how the characters have become more confident and now have a plan to escape the school. Corpse Party is also completely voiced and although it is all in Japanese it still does a fantastic job at conveying the emotional and physical state of the characters. There are some partially great performances by Asami Imai as Ayumi and Tomokazu Sugit as Kizami. Although Corpse Party sounds fantastic many people will be less enthusiastic about the gameplay.

Corpse Party's gameplay is very simple which is to be expected from an upgraded port of a game made with RPG Maker. There are limited puzzles and a majority of the game consists of exploring the environment clicking on anything that looks interesting. Even though that may sound boring to some I believe that it is well designed and simplifies things so the player can concentrate on the game’s main attraction, the story and characters. Exploring the environments can be really interesting as you discover the bodies of other students who have been trapped in the school and read notes or flyer that explain the game’s back story. However, the characters and story are the most important aspect of Corpse Party and the best think I can say about the gameplay is that it doesn’t get in the way of that.

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I know I have done nothing but praise this game but the thing is that everything I like about Corpse Party is highly subjective and many people may not enjoy this little horror title. Corpse Party is obviously not a high budget game and there are little things here and there that will annoy some people. The biggest complaint I’ve hear is how it is really easy to get a “wrong end” in Corpse Party’s final chapter and the game does not give any hints on how to avoid them. However these flaws did not bother me and I'm not writing a product review so I'm not going "detract points." I'll just say that if you call yourself a fan of adventure or horror games than you should give Corpse Party a look. I enjoyed every minute of Corpse Party and I hope it does well for XSEED so they can release its sequel, Book of Shadows. It’s because of games like Corpse Party, and because of publishers like XSEED, that I’m happy I own a PSP.

If you do not know what "Beat'n My Games" is all about then please read my mission statement for more information.

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Beat'n My Games #1 Corpse Party

Corpse Party (PSP)

PSP version
PSP version
Japanese Box Art
Japanese Box Art
Original PC-98 version
Original PC-98 version

One of my favorite video game genres are adventure games, such as the Ace Attorney series and the old Scumm games. I also love discovering obscure Japanese games so Corpse Party caught my eye when I first read about it in a Siliconera news article. Corpse Party is a horror themed adventure where you play as a group of students and their teacher who get trapped in a haunted elementary school. Can they survive?! The game was original developed by a doujin group called Team GrisGris for the PC-9801 using an old version of RPG Maker. Team GrisGris later remade Corpse Party in 2008 as Corpse Party: Blood Covered and the game was remade yet again for the PSP by 5pd, creators of Steins;Gate, as Corpse Party: Blood Covered:…Repeated Fear. This PSP remake is the version that XSEED recently released as a PSN only title for America. I purchased the game on day one thanks to the hype from Hardcore 101’s article on Japanese computer games witch called the game “brilliant and award-wining”, that award being the 1996 2nd ASCII Entertainment Software Contest, and from Tom, aka Wyrdwad, from XSEED. There are 5 chapters in Corpse Party with multiple endings. I am currently on chapter 4 and unless I get one of the bad endings I think I’ll be finishing this entry in my back log pretty quickly. Wish me luck and stay tuned for my thoughts on Corpse Party when I finish the game.

Don't know what "Beat'n My Games" is about? Please read my mission statement to get the details.

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"Beat'n My Games" Mission Statement

I really like video games therefore I own a lot of them. However, many of these games sit on my shelf unfinished. I could make the excuse that “I’ve been very busy lately. I don’t have time for games.” but the truth is that I play my games all the time. The problem is that I keep getting distracted by shiny new games. I have now accumulated quite a large back log of unfinished games and it’s becoming depressing thinking about all the money I’ve wasted on these games. So I have decided to make a vow! I’m going to conquer my gaming ADD and beat all the games in my back log. I’ve created a list of every game I own that I have not finished. I’m going to pick one game at a time from the list and play nothing else until I finish it then move onto the next game on the list until I’ve played them all.

"Beat'n My Games" will chronicle my quest to finish my back log. I will have two posts for each game. In the first post I’ll say what the game is and why I purchased it and in the second post I’ll say what I thought about the game. I’m also going to restraint myself and not purchase any new games until I’ve completed this mission. Wish me luck.

Stay tuned for my first entry!

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