IPPGFTS Special Report: GotY 2012

End of the year top 10 games lists usually just put into stark contrast how I play games compared to others. Not in the sense that my lists are dramatically different, but more in the fact that I usually don't have anything to actually put on the lists themselves. My tact of practically storing games means I usually actually play games 2 or 3 years after their release year, and thus when it comes time to compile a list, nothing is released in the right year. This year, however, I was a little better at it, and the fight for the prestigious title of “liked by that dude who plays porn games” turned into quite the bloodbath. But before I get to that, here are the games I played this year that I really enjoyed and in a just world would have made it on my 2011 list.

Saints Row: The Third

I really liked Saints Row: The Third, and I'm really glad I finally got a laptop capable of actually running it. The open world genre isn't really one I enjoy all that much due to various reasons, but for some reason Saints Row managed to hook me in a way I didn't think was possible. Some really annoying problems with the ending, however, stopped me from enjoying it to its fullest, and I have somewhere on my computer a 2000+ word blog entry that I was going to post which talks about game design and why the ending of Saints Row: The Third fell flat on its face for me. But I digress, at least it's better than Skyrim.

Sonic Generations

Sonic Generations is a great Sonic game, a phrase hardly anyone says anymore. The levels have a great mixture of 'inspired by'-esque remix qualities of the original games, and straight up taking the best elements from the original games. The different challenges they have for each level also gives a great spin on the core gameplay, some are better than others, but it's a great small addition that adds a lot. Also the online, when it works which is rarely, has a really awesome mode called 30 Second Trial, in which you have to get as far in the level as you can in 30 seconds. A seemingly simple mode but with the online leaderboards it's almost genius in how it works.

Driver San Francisco

What might be my favourite racing game to date. Driver San Francisco has a fantastic style to it with the whole coma aesthetic, and managed to tie it all together in a really amazing way. The ending suffers from Assassin's Creed's problem, however, of having to remove features because the main character wakes from the coma. A completely unavoidable problem when its all said and done but a problem nonetheless.

So without any further ado...

10. Analogue: A Hate Story

Appropriately, the first game in my list is a visual novel. Christine Love, creator of Digital: A Love Story and It Just Ain't Your Story returned this year with a 3rd visual novel. It stars a nameless main character on a mission to find an abandoned spaceship, where you find AIs that are still active. The story is primarily told in the form of data logs of the deceased crew, with some feedback and perspective from the AIs on board. It's rather minimalistic, which adds a lot more than it detracts. It's short, taking me roughly 3 hours to see every ending, and yet manages to back really interesting story beats in its short timeframe.

9. Sound Shapes

I'll admit I wasn't really feeling this game before its release, but hell I needed games to play on my Vita and it was either this or Everybody's Golf so fuck it. A platformer with music elements, but not necessarily rhythm based, that maintains its interesting premise and feel throughout the entire game. Some of the 'challenge' rooms are rather bullshit, simply due to an incredibly short time frame accompanied by random elements, but that pales in comparison to the reason it's on this list, and that's Beck.

When I got to this level I was blown away in ways I didn't think I would be. It's the perfect combination of an excellent look, great music and a progression that compliments the song so much that no matter how well or terribly you're playing the game, the song still works perfectly (though admittedly Turboman is really testing that theory in that video (love you man)). It's the moment in the game that really shows off everything working incredibly well. While a lot of the other levels get close, the experience of that alone really made me appreciate what they set out to accomplish with this game.

8. Paper Mario: Sticker Star

It's not as good as Thousand Year Door, in fact it's the worst Paper Mario game to date. Yet that really shows you how much I absolutely love this series and how high quality all of these games are that it's still one of my favourites of the year.

I guess you could say that I 'enjoy' this game.

The battles feel more like a puzzle game than RPG, working out how to beat each battle without getting hit, and sure I miss the companions, but this is still Paper Mario, in fact in some ways it's the most Paper Mario yet. Instead of worried they're get 'hurt', the Toads are worried they'll tear, Toads fold in on themselves to form stairs, the opening of the game the main hub has been rolled up in a tube. They really lean into the fact that everything is paper and cardboard, instead of it just happening to be the aesthetic in the past games. If you love Intelligent System's style of game design and the Treehouse's amazing localisations (which is in full effect here) then by all means check this game out. Just don't expect a straight RPG, it's more akin to an RPG/Adventure hybrid.

7. Journey

When most people consider what the best way to play Journey is, I'm pretty sure none of them would suggest that hour long period in between really drunk and really hungover at roughly 6am, but that's how I played it! At a house party during the summer when most people were asleep, my “Fuck it let's play Journey” mode activated and I'm really glad it did. I got to the game rather late, and my friend had only beaten it once before, so in the 2nd 'level' or so I met up with this super golden dude with a long ass scarf. He ended up leading me to all the secrets, and was pretty much my tour guide for the world of Journey. Frankly, in my state, that was absolutely perfect. The game is stunning, the music is incredibly and the atmosphere in every single place is exquisite. By the time I beat the game and the credits started to roll, it turns out that my golden tour guide was actually 4 different golden tour guides, all of them saw my character and its dinky scarf and decided to take it on an adventure throughout an amazing world. The people playing will never know it, but they made that experience all the more special because of it.

6. Katawa Shoujo

Watching this game rise from the ashes of its existence into its final product was what, I presumed, would be the most interesting part about Katawa Shoujo. Yet somehow the actual visual novel itself surpassed all expectations and actually turned out to be amazing. A lot of people were surprised by how the game handled the different disabilities, in that the characters weren't reduced to just that, as if before release the general reaction to this game would be that it'd literally be the worst piece of shit every produced by any human beings in the world ever.

Well it is a visual novel, after all, only freaks play those.

There's a lot to be said about this game but it's all been said already, Katawa Shoujo is an amazing story and I'd recommend anyone to check it out.

5. Hotline Miami

4. Gravity Rush

Part one in my answer to “So should I get a Vita?” Gravity rush is an amazing game that shows off the handheld's strengths incredibly well. A great and interesting main character in Kat, a really expansive world, and a story that leaves enough things open to allow you to pieces parts of the puzzle together yourself. Honestly, that's the reason it's here. The story and the universe it creates is so interesting that it really gives off an amazing atmosphere while playing. Enough clues are placed in the main story and in side quest objectives to give you a great understanding of the bigger picture, but when you actually piece it all together it's really incredible, and the connotations it gives for more games or even stories set in this universe make this easily one of my favourite video game worlds in recent memory. The actual game itself is also fun for the most part, with the combat really being its only main drag, with a lot of different mechanics that all manage to compliment each other well, but I believe it's the story and the setting that is the main draw here.

3. Persona 4 Golden

Part two in my answer to “So should I get a Vita?” Obviously you should, so you can buy this game that was released on the PS2 a few years ago. I fucking love Persona 4, ok, it was my favourite RPG game of all time by a wide margin. I sunk over 500 hours into it, playing it 8 or 9 times total, and somehow the made it better with Golden. Since this website is rather uniquely familiar with Persona 4, I'll just list some of the ways they made it better.

The fishing has been completely redone and is actually fun this time.

They re-added all the shit they removed from Persona 3 that they shouldn't've.

The shuffle time card system has been completely revamped and it makes playing the game with only one persona actually a viable option which is awesome.

They added bugging catching and gardening and they don't take up time so you can do them whenever.

They added a bunch of ways for your teammates to remember moves you've deleted, or learn brand new random ones.

They rebalanced the teammate abilities, i.e. “Take a mortal blow” is moved from level 1 Social Link to level 9.

The new character Marie is surprisingly awesome, fits in well with the story.

MOTHERFUCKING ADACHI SOCIAL LINK IS SO FUCKING BOSS HOLY SHIT.

AND SO ARE THE NEW ENDINGS

FUCK THIS GAME IS SO GOOD

So yeah this is a pretty great version of Persona 4, it's number 3 on this list only because it is a re-release, it's probably top 3 in my favourite games of all time at this point.

2. Eiyuu*Senki

Sir Lancelot wins the 2012 award for kawaii-est motherfucker around.

So this game is really silly, and that's why I love it so. Take all the horrible and fearsome leaders of history and turn them into anime girls, and you've got this game. You start in Japan and then conquer the entire world, meeting such people as anime girl Ivan the Terrible, anime girl Sir Francis Drake and anime girl King Arthur. The stories are usually based on the actual country you're fighting at any given time America is in a civil war between the north and south, southern Asia is Journey to the West, and so on. The actual gameplay is split up between talking to your commanders and raising they standing with you in very dating sim kind of fashion, and the actual battles, 3x3 grid of commanders attacking the enemy, in which the commander's health also serves as their attack power. Battles are won and money is got, which can be spent of increasing the army sizes of the commanders, and so on and so forth. The story only gets crazier and crazier once you've taken over the entire world, and without a doubt it's the sillies and best thing I've read this year.

The game was also announced for PS3 and Vita since its PC release, lets hope for a translation release because more people have to be witness to this incredible stupidity.

1. The Walking Dead

Fuck this game. Rmanthorp and I would always talk about how impossible it'd be to actually play all five episodes in a row, and I agree. Usually I'd wait for all episodes to be released and then play Telltale games, but this time I was advised to jump in with only 3 episodes released, to give myself time to recover for the next two. I should also point out, after I beat the game, Rmanthorp apologised for recommending the game to me at all.

I guess that's the best way to talk about this game, it's by apologising. The entire game you're wishing it went different, and it then tricks you into thinking everything was your fault. Not a single thing happened in which I felt good about what I had to do, or what I was going to have to do. The game makes you think there are black and white choices, slowly turns them into shades of grey, when all along everything is pure black.

Fuck this game.

And there you go you can rest easy now that you know my opinion on videogames.

8 Comments

I made a movie: Pacific

People here probably know me from my avid love of stories in porn games, but in other corners of the internet I used to make movies using old videogame sprites. I decided it was about time to do that again.

I decided to animate my friend's song, Pacific, from the album SUNDISK, with sprites from Kirby Superstar. It stars Lololo in the leading role and, well, you should probably watch it to find out what happens.

I hope you enjoy it!

15 Comments

I Play Porn Games For The Story // 27.05.2012

Hey, welcome to the last entry in this weekly blog! Yeah that’s right, this is the end, the last time I’m going to talk about videogames and visual novels, so let’s make it a good one!

Or rather a short one because I'm pretty tired.

VVVVVV

Vehveevehvehveev is a game that I think is now tied with Street Fighter 4 for how many times I’ve bought it. I got a copy when it first came out, got it again when it was ported to Steam, bought it technically a few more times via bundled, gifts to friends and stuff like that, and now finally I went and got myself the 3DS version too.

V^6 is one of my favourite indie games, from the great soundtrack to the amazing aesthetic and graphics, to the insane level design, this game is pretty much perfect to me. I at some point ended up trying to speed run the game even, coming close but not reaching my goal of beating the game in under 15:24, the length of the game’s quick look. I think my best time was 15:48 and I couldn’t find any more places to cut time and eventually gave up.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I5IAsHen7GA

So what’s cool about the 3DS version? Well there are custom made levels and a level editor... That was also added to the Steam version at some point. So really I don’t know what is actually new, if anything. Regardless, the game is still pretty dope, and part of me really wants to try that speed run again.

To be fair I hadn’t actually played the custom made levels yet, and there are quite a lot of good ones available, ranging from pretty cool to downright sadistic. Seriously, some of these custom levels made Veni Vidi Vici look easy by comparison. I didn’t get around to playing all of them but it’s nice to know there’s more content to a game that I already love.

True Remembrance

I talked before about how difficult I find explaining why I like the things I do. This is also super apparent when it comes to visual novels, as all of the good ones I usually just resort to some variation of “you should try it I dunno”. This brings me to what I consider my favourite visual novel to date, True Remembrance. Let’s see how long I can go before I just say you should go try it yourself.

...

You should go try it yourself. It’s completely free!

The story of True Remembrance takes place in a future in which suicides have become a pandemic. The pandemic has been dubbed “The Dolor”, and there exists a city full of doctors capable of treating the pandemic. These doctors are known as mnemonicides and they are able to treat patients by erasing their memories. Mnemonicides are ranked from Epsilon to Omega, the latter being so rare they exist only as rumours. The story stars an Alpha rank mnemonicide, which is one rank below omega, called Blackiris, who returns home one day to find a new patient, a young girl called La, whom he has to treat.

Much like Planetarian, the story doesn’t feature any branching paths or anything of that sort. Instead, it’s just a simple story, and it truly benefits from that. I consider this to be one of the best, if not the best story in any visual novel I’ve played. Riddled with interesting characters, a really cool concept and a fair amount of twists, what the story sets out to do it achieves effortlessly.

Unfortunately that’s really all I can say about the game. The art isn’t that appealing and the music is pretty good, and that just about covers all of what this visual novel has to offer. Though the weird thing about this one is that it was ported to the 3DS e-shop, by Arc System Works no less, featuring a much more anime art style which, in my opinion doesn’t really suit the game at all. The odds of that version being translated and put out over here are incredibly slim, but who cares because, like I said, the PC version is completely free! Completely free! You’d be crazy not to try it out!

This is the final entry in this silly blog. Or at the very least the final entry of this blog as it has been over this past year. I started writing this piece of crap in the first week of June last year, so it’s only fitting the last entry would be the last week of May. I had planned almost from the start just to go a year and see where that left me. It also happens to be the 50th entry in this series, because I missed two weeks due to illness, so that’s also a thing.

There are a few reasons for this, but the biggest one is the weekly format is pretty much killing me. Sure I have a lot of free time on my hands but playing one visual novel a week can really get a bit tedious. In some cases to actually be able to write about a visual novel per week I’d start playing a few at once, which can get pretty confusing at points. A month ago or so I started playing Kamidori Alchemy Meister and I still haven’t finished it. I think at this point I could write a thesis on that game and still have no idea what I actually think about it. Will I ever talk about it? Yeah probably, but I have no idea when that’d be. The format was also a disciplinary thing, as I’m always pretty terrible at meeting deadlines. I figured setting an arbitrary deadline myself and trying to adhere to it every week would help in that regard.

I feel the mission I set out to do at the start of this blog has been achieved. Visual novels were always seen as something you’re not meant to talk about in my group of videogame loving friends. Even if I would try to convince them there are great stories and great games in this format, none of them would have it, with one of my friends saying rather abruptly “no-one plays porn games for the story”. This blog covered a fair variety of visual novels, ranging from non-pornographic, to strategy games, to simply some amazing stories. What I wanted to emphasise while doing this weekly blog was, in fact, there are great gems in this medium, and you shouldn’t just look at the entire medium as a whole and condemn it. Hell, if you looked at videogames as a whole, it’s the budget games and mini-game compilations that’d take up the broader strokes, and of course we know that isn’t what makes the medium great.

The reason I got into visual novels was rather interesting, I say that knowing full well it isn’t actually interesting but I’m going to tell you anyway. I was present during the original Katawa Shoujo thread on 4chan’s /a/ board, but at the time I was also like “who the hell wants to play a game that’s basically a book?” and didn’t pay much attention. A few years later the demo came out and, after being stunned people actually went through with it, tried it out. Obviously I was a huge fan, and instead of just waiting for the official release, I decided to find more visual novels instead. The first visual novel I read after that was in fact True Remembrance, and as I said above it still remains my favourite, which is the reason I left it until the last entry.

So yeah, thanks for reading my blog and I hope it convinced at least some of you to try out visual novels. I’ll see you next time I can be bothered typing my thoughts into a browser, but who knows when that’ll be.

19 Comments

I Play Porn Games For The Story // 20.05.2012

Hey guys, bet you’re excited it’s time for this thing again, right? I know I am, even if I might have just woken up. I mean, since when has a proper sleeping schedule ever helped anyone? This is the penultimate entry in my blog that talks about videogames and visual novels, two of the most amazing things in the world, and that’s just fact. Well I guess let’s get this over with!

Portal 2

Portal 2 was without a doubt one of the best games I played last year, the story, atmosphere, the amazing co-op that I played through no less than 5 times with different people and somehow managed to have fun every single time. It’s hard to deny how good the game is. Then they released free DLC for user created levels, annoyingly actually releasing it just before I had university submissions, which sweetened the deal even further.

While I didn’t get the chance to actually mess around with the level editor itself, because I’m usually incredibly terrible at stuff like that, I decided to sample some of the higher rated levels that were already released. I got to the game a few days after the DLC was released, and already the amount of levels were in the thousands, which is insane .I downloaded a few pages worth of levels to see how crazy people are.

They’re pretty crazy.

The standout is called 12 Angry Tests, a 7 level long saga featuring 12 or so puzzles, finally ending in a straight up boss battle against the defective turret. It’s fucking crazy how well produced these levels are, especially for showing up within the first few days of the editor even being available. My brain can’t actually process it, and I love that.

There really isn’t much to this section other than ‘guys you really need to play 12 Angry Tests’, I played a lot more from the first few pages of the top rated section, and yeah a lot of them are really well done. Puzzles that would rival some of the harder stuff from the main game, even a few that I honestly couldn’t figure out and ended up skipping. Considering the only problem I had with the main game was the puzzles weren’t that hard, this DLC fills that void with abundance. The idea that now any time I load up Portal 2 there are an impossible number of new puzzles to play is both scary and amazing, and I can’t wait to actually sink some time into contributing levels myself.

Eiyuu*Senki

So my love for Sengoku Rance is rather well known, and I would honestly put it as one of my top 10 games I’ve ever played. Naturally, when I stumble across a game and the only information I have on it is it’s a “Sengoku Rance clone”, my ears perk up and I immediately buy it. That’s how I came across Eiyuu Senki, and man, was that the best decision I’ve ever made.

The story is rather straight forward, you control a rather Rance looking dude called Chihaya (though the name can be changed) on a quest to take over the world. To do this, Chihaya teams up with a girl called Yamato through a series of events. Once you take over Japan, Yamato betrays you and splits, leaving Chihaya to take over the world himself... or something. To be honest that’s about as much as I could understand of the story, given that it’s still entirely in Japanese. Whatever, I’m pretty sure that’s close enough. After Yamato splits, King Arthur shows up and forms a pact with Chiyaha, so that he won’t take over Hong Kong. Chihaya then continues his quest for world domination, starting with the rest of Asia.

You may have noticed I referred to King Arthur as ‘she’ in the last paragraph, and that’s one element of the game that is completely insane. Every country is ruled by various leaders or important figures from that country’s past. The UK is ruled by King Arthur and the knights of Camalot, Europe is ruled by Napoleon, Nero & Ceaser, America is ruled by Christopher Columbus and Geronimo. All fair enough, the mishmash of history has been done before, but in this game, all the characters are Japanese girl versions of said people.

This is a rather insane thing, trying to re-imagine these leaders (and in some cases really fearsome leaders like Ivan the Terrible) as Japanese girls, but I think it’s so insane that it makes the game that much more hilarious. After all, Nero is a magic girl. That’s just silly.

Since this was described as a Sengoku Rance clone, there is gameplay here too, and it’s a lot of fun. Each side has a 3x3 grid that can hold up to 6 commanders. Each commander takes turns in attacking and so on and so forth until one side wins. Positioning in a big part of the strategy as each commander can have different classes. Chihaya can attack to columns in front of him and in any of the three rows, gun units like Columbus and James Cook can attack only in the row they’re in, archers have a much larger range, and so on. After every attack each team gets a small amount of brave balls, which build up to allow magic attacks. Also each attack will net brave balls depending on the amount of damage it inflicts. Magicians such as Copernicus can heal using this bar, and most commanders will have super attacks that use the majority of this bar. Attacking works similar to Sengoku Rance in that, each commander’s health is also their power, as it actually indicates their army’s size. On top of that each commander has their own strength, speed and defence stat, which can be boosted by equipping items. Each turn nets more money, which can be used to increase the size of a commander’s armies.

On top of all that each turn also has a bunch of missions that can be taken, which results in anything from more money, to more story, to a commander learning a new ability. These missions require a certain amount of points to actually trigger, which requires a certain amount of commanders. In each turn you can only use a commander once, so if you send them on a mission, they can’t in the same turn attack, or in fact defend if the enemy ends up attacking one of the cities you own.

So that’s a decent summary of the gameplay, and if you’ve played Sengoku Rance (which I keep saying you should) you’ll notice that a lot of that is almost identical. The key difference here though is that this game streamlines a lot of it to make it, well, more fun. Sengoku has this whole capture and kill mechanic, meaning if one of your commanders goes down they could be killed off altogether. That doesn’t happen here, and all of the named characters are automatically added to your plethora of commanders as soon as you take over their country. Not having to worry about those things makes the game a lot more forgiving, and to certain extend a lot more fun.

9 out of 10 historians agree Sir Lancelot is the kawaii-est Knight of the Round Table.

So here’s the weird thing, this is the best game I’ve played so far this year. I honestly think when/if it gets translated it’ll shoot right up there as one of my favourite games ever. The characters are ridiculous to the point where it’s just funny, the gameplay has a lot going on while still being simple enough to pick up straight away, and even though I didn’t understand much of the side stories, the main story’s plot twists made me literally stand up and applaud. Seriously this game goes in a really stupidly awesome direction and, while I probably would have seen it coming if I understood more of the text, when it happened it was the greatest thing ever.

And that does it for another week! Man, this week didn’t feature that much stuff. Probably because instead of playing a bunch of games I just played those two, for like days and days at a time. I’m surprised my friends didn’t think I was died because I don’t think I’ve left my flat in the last week... I should probably get on that.

7 Comments

I Play Porn Games For The Story // 13.05.2012

Why hello there! Welcome to yet another one of these stupid blogs in which I talk about visual novels and video games. It seemed like a daunting task but somehow in between all of these games and all of these Japanese anime characters, I actually finished another year of university. Turns out waiting until 2 weeks before submission to make 3 complete games is a little harder than you think, but on the other hand, I’m pretty awesome.

So how ‘bout those videogames?

Puzzle Bobble Universe

So during one of my midnight shopping trips I found the 3DS Bust-a-Move for pretty cheap. And, because I’m a sucker, I bought it. I had no knowledge that there actually was a Puzzle Bobble for 3DS, but always figured it was about as inevitable as death and Bomberman. IT was literally the first time I had ever seen of it, so eh, why not right?

The biggest problem with this game is just there’s not a lot in it. There’s a puzzle mode which is broken down into several worlds of 10 levels each, with every world culminating in a boss battle, and a challenge mode where when you complete the stage a few new lines are added. Yeah, that’s all there is in this game, no multiplayer, no fun bonus modes, no crazy campaign in which Bub has to traverse a giant map beating AI opponents, no level editor, none of that. In fact yeah, the Playstation 1 version of this game had more stuff packed into it.

It’s a shame too because I do really like Puzzle Bobble, but when the phone version has more features than handheld version, someone somewhere fucked up. Also a funny little aside, before I first loaded the game I told my friends “Hey I hope they have that one song in there, you know, the main theme from the Playstation version? That’d be cool.” It’s almost as if they heard my wish, because that song is in there! And it’s the only song in the game. Every single theme is just a remix of that one song, which might be the funniest part of the entire game.

Offspring Fling

No unfortunately this is not a Angry Birds spin-off off of Crazy Taxi, instead, this is an indie game that was recently released of Steam. Before even the introduction video is over I’ve bought and installed it. This is the tale of Offspring Fling.

But first here’s the video.

So if that trailer didn’t sell you, Offspring Fling is a platform game in which you pick up your offspring and fling them places. Well, mostly it’s to pick all of them up and head to the end of the level, but flinging them is usually needed to reach said end. Basic platforming tropes like buttons, platforms... err, jumping? Yeah it’s not the deepest game in the world, but you get flowers for completing levels fast enough, and I’m a sucker for time trials.

One of the really cool things about the collecting Offspring albums mechanic is how it effects the character’s movement. The more you’re carrying, the slower you move and the worse your jump. It’s a great small detail that adds a lot, as it means you have to strategically plan out which offspring to collect and in which order to get the best time. They also increase your size, in the fact that if you’re carrying one of the offspring you can’t fit through one gird high holes, but you can sure as hell fling them through and pick them up on the other side! Videogames!

So yeah again another news flash man who likes indie games enjoys new indie game. The only real downside is the lack of Steam achievements, which even though I might be the only person I know that actually cares about Steam achievements, it’s still pretty annoying. Luckily the platinum flowers which can only be obtained by beating the developer’s times of every level will render me completely insane instead.

Galaxy Angel

Like I’ve said in the past, I try and not partake in adapted Japanese media. Usually the transition between anime to visual novel and vice versa loses a lot of the original story. However, that really isn’t the case with Galaxy Angel, as it’s less of an adaptation of the anime story, more of a... well, giving it an actual goddamn story. Oh and this is actually a game too, so win win in that regard!

The main character is called Tact Mayers, the commander of the second Frontier Fleet, a group of five highly trained space combat peoples, who are in charge of protecting the white moon. They find Tact Mayers and force him to become their new commander. The story follows Tact and the group, known as the Angel Wings, trying to foil a plan hatched by the exiled Prince Eonia to pretty much take over everything.

But really enough about that, this is a videogame. By which I mean every so often the usual visual novel style story telling goes away and in its place appears a space strategy game. You control the five Angel Wings and, well, fight enemy ships. Objectives are pretty much the same of just destroy all the enemy ships, but sometimes you have to make sure cargo ships aren’t destroyed, or just make it to the other side of the map, and stuff like that.

The combat itself is pretty fun, even if sometimes it doesn’t feel like you’re doing much. At the start of the game, it lets you know if you don’t issue any commands the characters will find the enemies themselves are just start fighting anyway. This means for the first like 6 or so fights I actually didn’t do anything in the game. There were a few close calls but yeah, just walked away and when I came back the mission was complete. Obviously later on the game gets a lot more challenging that you have to be paying attention to what’s going on, but I thought that was worth mentioning.

Anime girls and space combat, finally my two true loves are together!

Even though there is that whole gameplay part of it, it’s still pretty visual novel through and through. Whenever the group isn’t fighting, you can choose different rooms in the spaceship to go check out. Sometimes one of the girls will be there and you get a small scene with them, complete with choices and flags to raise and whatnot. Around chapter 7 the team gets invited to a dance, and Tact gets to ask one of the team to be his partner, which is what seamlessly takes you into each character’s route. Though the girl you ask can say no if you don’t raise enough flags for her, which on one hand makes sense but on the other hand I had to go through the entire game and all those fights again just to see that route UGH.

Overall it’s actually a pretty great experience, something I honestly didn’t expect. I wasn’t the biggest fan of the anime so I was rather sceptical going into this, but the storyline is great if a tad drawn out, the gameplay is fun if a tad too slow, and the characters are interesting if a tad too Japan. I mean seriously, one of the squad members is 13 years old, sure she might be talented but aren’t there like space laws against that or something?

And that’s the end of another exciting week of stuff that I gone and done did. Fun fact I wrote this entire blog post without any pants on. Now you may be sitting there thinking “well that’s fair enough but I didn’t need to know that” but then maybe you’ll slowly start to remember I’m Scottish and that word is rather different over here.

So on that note!

8 Comments

I Play Porn Games For The Story // 06.05.2012

Hey there! While I currently should be stressing out over university, what with submission being less than a week away, I’m here telling you about all the videogames and visual novels I played this week! I hope you appreciate that, well that, and the fact that the last time I ran my program the graphics card practically went up in flames and the computer couldn’t display anything, so I turned it off and hastily left the labs. But you know, baby steps, or something. Let’s get it on!

Mario Kart Wii

Man I’m really been on a Mario Kart binge recently.

So my friends and I played Mario Kart Wii this week, except we didn’t play Mario Kart Wii. So something I didn’t know until this week is that there are a lot of really crazy Mario Kart fans out there. So crazy, in fact, that there are a bunch of hacked levels available for Mario Kart Wii. Now, I was aware of the whole Brawl hacking scene, but I didn’t think it was a thing for other games.

So what my friends and I actually played was some weird compilation of custom made levels for Mario Kart Wii. The hack adds like 20 new cups to the level select (complete with the majority of the cup icons having white artefacts around them, letting you know up front how high quality these tracks are going to be), making it rather impossible to play them all. Another element that makes it impossible to play them all is that they’re all just so terrible.

Now I admit I didn’t go into this with the highest of hopes but god damn. So many giant tracks that jus take way too long to play with nothing going on, so many same level tracks, so many un-textured walls, one track in which the track texture was clashing with the grass texture which was completely horrible, and I don’t think there was a single shadow in any of the tracks.

I guess this is another redundant write-up, because hey you could probably guess fan made hacks wouldn’t be of the highest quality, but man, we pretty much played until we were completely sick of what we were seeing, and that didn’t take long at all.

Rugrats: Search for Reptar

Fuck your Amnesia, this is a real scary game.

I have incredibly fond memories of Rugrats for the PS1, so when a friend of mine got his hands on a copy, of course it was played for several hours. If you haven’t played it, it’s a Rugrats game in which you play as Tommy, walking around the house which acts as a hub world, and playing short levels to get puzzle pieces that eventually form Reptar. The levels range from an Easter egg hunt, mini golf, playing as Reptar destroying a city, collecting balloons, you know, basic stuff. But man is this game just weird.

It might actually just be due to the limitations of the PS1, but the environments are just creepy in some levels. The backgrounds just fade to black way too soon, the models just look messed up in some really peculiar ways, and just a lot of weird things all throughout. Again this is all probably attributed to the limitations at the time, but man if some of that stuff didn’t freak me out growing up.

The worst part of it is the goose level. So one level you play as Tommy and Chuckie in a mission to get Grandpa’s teeth back. The first section of the level takes place in a giant hedge maze. Now before I go on there was one of my friends and I present, and we had played the game before, and one other friend who hadn’t, who wouldn’t believe us that the game was scary. So anyway, Tommy was navigating the maze, and all of a sudden the goose was right in front of him. Now it’s an old game in which the camera isn’t that good, so after turning a corner you’d have to manually reset the camera, and then oh god goose. We ran away from that screaming and took another path. All of a sudden we saw the goose again at the end of a long straight just... waiting. It looked like it was in the default Jesus cross pose but a lot more menacing. We decided not to get closer and just turn around. We turn around, centre the camera, all of a sudden, goose right in front of us again.

It’s messed up man, it’s just messed up.

A Profile

This one has been a while coming, this week I played A Profile, a game from the same team as Sharin no Kuni and Devil on a G-String, so needless to say I was pretty excited for this one. Those other two games I mentioned are two of my favourite visual novels to date, with plot twists so insane and amazing that I’m still amazing at how they managed to pull them off. Expectations are a weird thing; this is a good visual novel, but the weakest of the three by a long shot.

He story stars Masayuki, a typical school student with a small group of friends who just so happen to be mostly female. This group includes his sister (stepsister that is, because you know, visual novels) Rizu who he has to wake up every morning. Miku, the silent type who doesn’t talk to anyone except Masayuki, and seems to just stare out of the window before class every morning, Miou, Masayuki’s childhood friend whose only real characteristic is the fact that she’s the protagonists childhood friend, Kaine, filling in the silly otaku best friend role. The actual story is mostly just slice of life based, main character hangs out with girls, then eventually one of the girls and hey they develop feelings for each other.

But wait, it’s by the same writer as Sharin and Maou, the stories get the rather audacious plot twist treatment, but I’m not just going to say what they are, that’d be silly.

It’s incredibly hard to compare to those other two visual novels, mostly just because I love them so much, but the thing those other two did well was the worlds they took place in. While those other two games took place in something resembling reality, it has their own unique twist on it. This game, however, is just a straight up high school slice of life with some crazy thrown in for crazy. I mean sure the other two were also high school based (since, you know, Japan) but it was different enough that it still remained interesting.

The thing I find weird about this one is the order in which you play the routes. I thought it might have just been my experience but it seems that there is an enforced playing order which makes it a lot weirder. Basically, without spoiling anything, one of the routes made me hate one of the other heroines. It’s a great moment in the story and it’s completely intentional, but then after that happens you then go on and play that route afterwards. What this resulted in was me caring incredibly little for that route. I can’t help but feeling it would have made more sense to switch them around, making the hatred in the first route I mentioned even more intense. But maybe that’s just me.

I’m not saying it’s a bad game, the twists are rather intense all things considered, but everything leading up to said twists are just rather generic. Not only that but other games have done this generic setting a lot better. But having said that the fact that the twist can make me just straight up hate a character (even if they’re redeemed and forgiven afterwards) means the story is effective. I guess I’m torn, so I’ll leave on an incredibly non-committal “yeah sure”.

Psycosis Befriends Nopony

So here’s a project that’s been in the works for quite some time. I decided about two months ago it’d be fun to make a bunch of mashups featuring My Little Pony fan songs, because those are a thing. At this time I had already started talking to one or two people that made MLP fan songs, so I figured it couldn’t hurt to ask them for their song stems to see what I could do with them. Two months later I have this album! The album has 26 tracks and lasts almost 2 hours long. Check it out on Bandcamp or check the preview below.

I usually don’t go into depth on my mashup side on this blog, so I won’t bother here considering this really isn’t the audience for it. But yeah, I made a thing, crazy right?

And that’s it for me; I’m going to go back to trying to figure out Direct X. By next week’s entry I’ll have done all the coding I need to do for university, or at least the submission dates will have passed. Less than a week away and currently my program breaks nvidia drivers. I should probably fix that.

16 Comments

I Play Porn Games For The Story // 29.04.2012

Oh hey! How y’all doing? I’m doing fine I guess, just writing this blog. Pretty boring if you ask me, you should probably just skip past it and not even acknowledge its existence. But if for some reason you chose to read this, then welcome, hey hi hello, let me tell you what I am.

Yoshi’s Story

So a friend of mine decided to buy Yoshi’s Story on eBay for a few bucks, because hey, it’s Yoshi’s Story. Now I hadn’t actually played Yoshi’s Story before now, but I always heard it was pretty good with a great visual style. And yeah that’s what I came away thinking.

While the gameplay is what it is, it’s definitely the art style that stuck out in my mind. It’s pretty much the same idea that Little Big Planet had, of all the levels looking like they’re just made from actual materials. It’s a really cool look and, even with Nintendo revisiting it somewhat with Epic Yarn, really should be done more often in my opinion.

The game itself is incredibly short and easy; again I never played it before now so I don’t have any nostalgia associated with it, but man it isn’t the best game to actually play. While there are a fair number of levels, only 6 if I remember correctly are actually required to be played to reach the end of the game, with the rest of the levels being available as alternative routes pretty much. It made for a decent system when playing with multiple people; however, as we’d each complete the game using different paths, but it’s still weirdly short.

Mario Kart 64

After being bored of that, we threw in Mario Kart 64 and actually had fun for once. I’ve never actually believed Ryan’s theory of the first Mario Kart you played is your favourite, because Super Mario Kart is the first one I played, and I think it’s the 2nd worst of the lot; Mario Kart 64 is in my opinion the... worst version. Yeah I really don’t like this version that much.

I don’t really know what part of it that I don’t like; maybe it’s the weird character sprites on a 3D level, maybe it’s the actual levels not being that good, maybe it’s the fact that the controls and the camera is just incredible weird after being used to the newer entries, or maybe it’s because Diddy Kong Racing is superior in every way, but this is a bad version of Mario Kart in my eyes.

Not to say the entire thing is bad, that Yoshi level in the last cup remains my favourite Mario Kart track. It’s just so stupidly designed that they somehow managed to overflow the ‘stupid’ integer and find themselves at ‘amazing’. Especially due to the fact that the map and the ranking system just replaces all the characters with question marks. I know that’s mostly just because of how many paths there are that ranking would be changing way too frequently, but it adds to the stupidity. I’m legitimately depressed they haven’t thrown this track into any of the newer games yet, as when they announced that feature in the DS version this was the track I thought of that’d be perfect for that.

But like I said this is nowhere near the best Mario Kart experience, give me Double Dash any day. I actually got the starman statue in that game, which you only get if you beat all the hard staff times in every level. Doing that replaces a Pinata statue in the Peach Beach level with a starman, and I can’t tell if this is a glitch or not but next I loaded up the game it was gone. I was obsessed with that game, and I really hope they release a ‘double dash’ mode or something in a handheld entry at some point.

Or maybe I’m just crazy.

Ef – A Fairy Tale of the Two

This week I read Ef – A Fairy Tale of the Two, a visual novel by Minori. Minori was the group behind Wind, the game I covered two weeks back. If you remember, the thing I loved the most about Wind was the twist, so I had high hopes for this one, and man, it didn’t disappoint in the slightest.

The story is split up into four separate stories with four separate protagonists. The protagonists (in order) are Hiro Hirono, Kyosuke Tsutsumi, Ranji Aso and Shuuichi Kuze. Most of the characters have some sort of tie with each other, such as Kyosuke being friends with Hiro, which makes all the stories feel rather intertwined without any story actually relying on the events of the other. One of the cooler things is that with this format, there are four different character routes technically, while making all the routes make sense. Probably the best example of this is the first and second chapter stories. The first chapter has a love triangle as the focus, between a girl called Miyako Miyamura and the main character’s childhood friend Kei Shindo. Not to spoil the first chapter’s ending, but the weirdest thing was I aiming for one of the girls, but that turned out to be the bad choice, and the girl that Hiro didn’t get with turned out to be the main heroine of the second chapter. On one hand it’s weird that it presents two girls and then says one of them is the wrong choice, but on the other hand the story makes sense and it was mostly just be trying to fight where the story was going.

I also have to point out this game looks phenomenal, like legitimately the best looking visual novel I’ve played, and even better than a lot of actual games I play too. While a lot of visual novels rely on twenty or so character sprites, maybe five per character, and a few event scenes, this visual novel must have thousands of these character sprites. Characters animate like an anime, using what I can only assume to be voodoo magic to determine the volume of the voice sample and animating the mouths to go along with it. There are quite a few scenes of the characters walking down streets and they have side view versions of the sprites on screen as if the character was actually walking. It may seem like small things but considering a lot of visual novels just have the character sprite on screen rather lifeless, it adds a lot to the experience.

The stories themselves culminate in a rather great twist as well; one I think is on the level of Wind, with the added bonus of the entire game just being one big story, so you don’t have to repeat the twist several times, so a lot better in that regard. The entire story is told as recollections from two other characters, Yuuko Amamiya and Yu Himura (which isn’t the twist, as that’s how the game opens), and the final nature of those two is a pretty bad revelation, but that’s only a minor nitpick on an otherwise amazing story.

Much like Wind this also has an anime adaptation, and much like Wind I haven’t seen it so I can’t comment on how good or how faithful it is. What I can say is this is another story that definitely has to be experienced.

Then again what do I know I must say that like 50% of the time.

SCP Foundation

Hot damn, the SCP Foundation is my current obsession and I can’t tell if I love that or hate that fact.

For people that don’t know, the SCP foundation is a wiki dedicated to supernatural stories, and if I’m getting my facts straight (which I never do) it originated on the 4chan /x/ board and pretty much spun out of control. What the site is now is over a thousand stories, quite a lot of which are really interesting, and quite a few that are actually really scary.

The reason I’m not too sure if this is a good thing for me is that I’m incredibly easily scared. The first day I read some of the entries I pretty much couldn’t sleep, and yet went back to read a lot more. An example is the original story, which is weird reading up about it now because it’s pretty much an angel from the Doctor Who reboot. Yet for every scary one there are a handful of really stupid ones. Such as a tomato that can propel itself at incredible speeds at a person that makes a bad joke.

The outcome of all of this is a giant pool of really interesting ideas and concepts. My friends and I are all in agreement that a lot of the concepts on that wiki would make amazing bases for short stories. So much so I’d describe that wiki as the logical progression of the Goosebumps books.

And now that this is over with I’m going to go back to coding stuff. Cause as it turns out when you leave all your university work to the last minute things can get pretty hectic! Oh well, serves me right I guess.

8 Comments

I Play Porn Games For The Story // 22.04.2012

Man has it been another week already? Seriously I thought yesterday was Wednesday or something. I guess that’s what happens when you have exams and coursework submissions due and you really haven’t started anything for anything! Anyway, welcome, I talk about visual novels and videogames, hope you don’t mind.

Videogames?

So like I only played like one or two things this week so I decided instead of trying to stretch segments on stuff I played for five minutes I’d lump them all into one and call it a day.

Street Fighter X Tekken is pretty great. I don’t own the game myself so I’m ignoring all of that gem nonsense and focusing on actually playing the game. The split between Street Fighter and Tekken characters is really cool even though I favour the Street Fighter characters a lot more. However, I think it goes to show just how well the game is made when I can use a Tekken character and, even though my knowledge of Tekken ended with the first Tag Tournament, still pick up those characters and use them well. Also the backgrounds are insane and I love them.

DJ Hero 2 has to be my favourite rhythm game, I was actually sad when Activision shelved the Hero franchises only because I felt the DJ Hero games were going in a great direction. This might be due to my fascination and experimentation with creating mashups, but I really enjoy the gameplay and the soundtrack to DJ Hero 2 above all other rhythm games. I really hope a third one will find its way out at some point, only because I really wonder how they’ll evolve the gameplay. In the first game there was a Daft Punk mix incorporating quite a few Daft Punk songs, I’d be really interested to see how they’d handle more than two songs being mixed at once, sorta Girl Talk or Super Mash Bros style. If only.

Super Smash Bros. Melee is a videogame.

Ok that’s that over with.

Daibanchou -Big Bang Age-

When I’m not playing Sengoku Rance (which I admit is a very short amount of time) I’m trying to play Daibanchou -Big Bang Age-. Both games are made by Alice Soft, and both games are visual novel in terms of story and then super strategic gameplay in between. Both games are about starting in a small territory of Japan and eventually taking over everything with an army. But the difference is; only one of them is good.

In the year 200X a giant crater appears in the middle of Japan, dubbed the Demonic Hole. It caused the land of Japan to be shifted and caused the appears of dark crystals that give people special powers, who were in turn dubbed Special Students. These Special Studnets ruled Japan out of violence and fear. The main character Zanma Rouga transfers to Seijou Academy and proclaims he will conquer Japan, and thus he bands together the Special Students at his school to restore order there, and then the entire district, then the entire nation.

The gameplay is split up into like 10 different stages, and that’s really where most of the confusion of this game takes places. Hell I don’t think I fully understand how each stage works but I’ll give it a go. First you have the option to load or save the game in stage one, then after that you get the traditional visual novel story aspect. Then you get a set amount of income every few turns, check your prison in case you want to recruit new members to your team, and then finally the main character’s brother informs you on any updates to the map or whatever. That’s like the first five or so stages and for the most part can be ignored. After that you can go explore a part of the place you control to trigger some character events and whatnot. Then you can talk to someone in your group to trigger events for them. Then you can send people to attack specific areas, and therefore finally the actually gameplay starts.

The battles are up to six members in each fight, and works on a point based system. If you land an attack you get one point, and if you kill an enemy you get two points. At the end of a fight, if you score more than 5 points difference, you get 2 control points in that area, otherwise you get 1 control point. Gain all the control points in an area to seize that area. After the battle the final phase is counter attacks, where enemy forces can attack places you control.

This is the order in which this game is played, and it’s incredibly unforgiving because of it. Sengoku Rance has a similar amount of shit to do each turn, in fact it probably has more, but the difference is you can do it in any order. Sengoku Rance did come out after Big Bang Age so it’s obvious Rance just refined these mechanics, but the way they’re represented here is way too confining.

I feel like if I gave this game enough time I’d end up liking it as much as Rance but even after sinking a considerable amount of time into it I’m just not feeling it. The gameplay is too constrictive and the game is incredibly unforgiving for beginners. But probably the worst part of it is how it handles the porn aspect. While Rance freely goes around raping, he is an incredibly likable character and everything is done in a very silly manner which makes it endearing. This game, however, it’s just the worst. The main character does get it on with quite a number of the girls, but a much higher percentage of the scenes are horrible. If I remember correctly in Rance there are maybe 2 or 3 of these scenes but they’re usually if you fuck up at some point. Here, however, you’ll get the choice to save one of two girls and you really don’t want to know what happens to the one you didn’t save.

Summer Wars

So my friends got me to watch Summer Wars this week. I had heard of it before in passing on the internet but never bothered to actually seek it out, so I actually never know what it was actually about. It’s a rare treat going into a movie almost completely cold, especially with my rampant use of the internet. Anyway, the movie.

Summer Wars is about a giant network called OZ, which is pretty much that universes version of the internet. Imagine if Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and, like I don’t know, Habbo Hotel, all joined together and was this giant system that almost every single person is connected to, that’s what OZ is. The movie stars Kenji Koiso, a talented mathematician, who gets roped into pretending to be Natsuki Shinohara’s fiancé for a family reunion. While there, he receives a text message featuring a math problem, which he easily completes, and accidently decrypts the security of OZ in the process.

The story balances a giant family reunion and this ‘giant social video game world’ rather well, especially with Kenji and Natsuki’s second cousin Kazuma trying desperately to fix OZ and prevent what spirals into the destruction of the world, while certain members of the older generations present consider them wasting their time playing a videogame. I will admit a lot of those kinds of interactions really made me laugh, especially one person getting punched for saying “It’s just a game”.

The story does that whole Truman Show thing of showing how easily our current path as a society can bring about a lot of terrible things. Where The Truman Show focused on reality TV, this applies that similar logic to social media. Thanks to OZ’s security being decrypted, an entity known as ‘Love Machine’ enters and steals accounts. Now before that wouldn’t’ve been such a big deal, but in this world not only does each account have the personal information of the people that created them, but also the same permissions, such as gaining access to the account of the guy in charge of the power grid, you’d have access to the power grid. While obviously if something like this happened in today’s world, the results wouldn’t be that drastic, but it’s definitely in the same vain.

Though the weird thing is we were watching the English version. I say weird because, well, to me I just find anime dubs to feel weird. The dub itself was pretty well done, the voices suited the characters and it felt like a lot of work had been put into it, but it’s still off putting. I haven’t seen the Japanese version, and I think when I re-watch it I will watch that version instead. Am I the only one who acts like this? I’ve never minded subtitled foreign movies be it anime or live action, and prefer them to re-dubbed attempts. I used to believe this was because usually the dubs aren’t good, but even in this case it still felt disjointed.

So yeah I really enjoyed this movie, and I’d really recommend checking it out. Although now that I’ve talked about it you won’t be going into the movie as cold as I did, so hey who knows that might affect something. Cause really all I needed to convince me was “Hey Psy the bro who did those Digimons and the Girl what leapt through time gone done made a movie”.

Animal Crossing

A week ago or so my friends and I were debating what the most accurate video game adaptation to movie is, we were pretty stumped and just defaulted to Mortal Kombat. Then all of a sudden, I’m informed this movie exists. “How the hell could they make Animal Crossing into a movie?” I pondered. Surely that’d be impossible considering nothing happens. They would have to make it nothing like the games to make it enjoyable.

Long story short the Animal Crossing movie is the most accurate video game adaptation ever made.

And it’s pretty great.

There’s really no need to explain what happens in the plot. A girl called Ai moves to an animal village during the summer. She gets a house there and to pay it off she does chores for Tom Nook, she befriends some of the villagers and plays around with her friends. She finds messages in bottles on the beach. She and the other human, a boy named Yu, and their friends go looking for fossils, they go to a K.K. Slider show, go to the bar for coffee. Resetti shows up every so often to lecture them.

Guys this is Animal Crossing.

Like eventually near the end there is plot, but that’s more in the sense of they needed something to be an ending to the movie. Now I’m not saying it’s an amazing movie experience, I’m just saying this is an incredibly accurate movie. I myself am a huge fan of anime like K-On, so it doesn’t really say much when I say I enjoyed this movie despite the almost nothing that happens in it, but they somehow made an Animal Crossing movie work, and that in itself is pretty impressive.

And I guess that brings me to the end. I always find the endings of these blogs a lot harder to write than anything else, mostly because I just wanna go “yeah that’s it bye” but that’d just look weird. Though maybe talking about what to write is even weirder... Oh well, this is already typed and I’m too lazy to backspace through it all.

...Yeah that’s it bye.

8 Comments

I Play Porn Games For The Story // 15.04.2012

Hey, it’s unfortunately blog time, so I guess we’re both going to have to just put up with it. This is the place where I talk about games, visual novels and link to songs on YouTube that have little or nothing to do with the text in question, or at least I would.

This week my laptop died. Hard drive failure, lost everything.

Also you know how people are stupid and never learn to start backing things up until they actually lose stuff? Yeah that happened too.

Oh well.

Sonic Generations

So before everything died, I started playing Sonic Generations. As with a lot of the games I own on Steam, I bought it and never played it. Well this week I hoped to fix that, and I did! Sort of. My laptop wasn’t the best of things regardless and therefore to get the game running I had to play it in 640x480, so already we’re off to a good start.

Somehow despite that set back, the games looks amazing, the way they capture the feel of the original Genesis games in 3D is incredible, especially compared to that super secret Sonic Adventure 2 attempt. The second group of levels are great too, somehow managing to capture the feel of the 3D games as classic Sonic and taking key elements and basically remixing them for modern Sonic.

Oh and there are three other levels too.

On top of the nine levels, there are ninety challenges split between modern and classic Sonic. These range from simple stuff such as speed runs to introducing completely new mechanics with the friend missions. Though that isn’t always for the best, as some of the worst challenges are these ‘new mechanic’ ones, especially Vector.

I managed to play a little bit before the destruction of everything, at which point I went to a friend’s flat and played even more. The differences between modern and classic Sonic can be a little bit weird if you’re switching back and forth constantly. As expected, modern Sonic has more abilities, and after playing those levels, I started to miss those abilities when playing classic Sonic. For instance classic Sonic has his spin dash, whereas modern Sonic just has a dash button, which is a lot more convenient. On top of that, modern Sonic can ring dash in some levels and homing attack. I know the classic levels are designed to not need these abilities, and they’re still fine without them, but that homing attack sure would have been useful in some of those speed runs.

The game is a great celebration of Sonic and pokes fun at itself in a lot of great ways such as making fun of Shadow the Hedgehog, unlockable songs from the best racing game of all time Sonic R, all the way down to Eggman saying “No-one’s called me that in a while!” when he’s addressed as Dr. Robotnik. There are a lot of really great nods that if you’ve somehow kept up with Sonic until now, sorta makes 2006 worth it.

But only sort of.

Wind ~A Breath of Heart~

O visual novels, you get me through the worst of times. So yeah, this week I delved into Wind ~A Breath of Heart~, a now ten year old game from Minori... Yeah that’s all I’ve got for this intro, bite me.

The game stars Makoto, forced to move away from his hometown ten years prior to the start of the game. Before leaving, however, he made a promise to reunite...

Man I just realised how often this introduction is used holy hot damn.

Anyway.

...with a childhood friend Minamo, he give her a harmonica, and promised to meet up again one day and marry. Now Makoto and his sister Hinata have returned, and he enrols in high school, gets a bunch of friends the majority of which are female and visual novel visual novel visual novel.

Oh right and everyone has super powers.

Hinata discovers she can jump over 2 story buildings and Minamo can control the wind. The sisters Nozomi and Wakaba can create shockwaves and cure wounds respectively. And finally Hikari who is smart? Something like that anyway.

The story has a nice blend of predictable harem nonsense with the whole ‘this city for some reason gives everyone super powers’ thing. Shifting between the two creates a weird pacing for the game that I think actually works, with the main character getting to the bottom of why the city is as it is while still accepting everything as standard. At the end of every route, however, shit goes down. Like, shit goes down in an incredible fashion. The story has one of those twists that can make you do a triple take when it starts happening, and I love it when a story can do that.

But that’s the only point the story falls down. In order to get the true ending, you have to first finish four other routes before unlocking it. While this is rather common in the visual novel medium, when the story has that much of a twist, playing the story again knowing what’s going to happen makes it all seem a little bit weird. Not saying that the twist itself doesn’t make sense, because in the context of the story it certainly does, but just knowing it’s going to happen makes everything before it seem trivial. Maybe that just speaks to how much I enjoyed the twist, but it obviously loses its impact on repeat playing.

If visual novels ain’t your thing the story is also available as an anime. I have no idea how the anime is but hey if they can accurately portray the story from the game then it must be awesome. Then again, it’s an anime based on a visual novel, and they’re usually terrible. Regardless of how you come across this story, it’s definitely one that’s worth experiencing. Sure the shock of the twist doesn’t have nearly as much of an impact on multiple playthroughs, but it’s still effective, and one I personally really enjoyed.

Sweet Plastic Acres

So at the beginning of the year I made a mini mashup album called Discord Days, taking the instrumentals from the Gorillaz album Demon Days and mixing them with the vocals from various songs from My Little Pony. It was a success, as this week that mashup album hit 100k views on YouTube.

Dat shit cray.

So to celebrate I made a follow-up, but this time using instrumentals from Plastic Beach. So yeah that’s a thing.

And that brings us to the end of a considerably short edition of my blog. I guess that’s what happens when the only thing you have that plays videogames and visual novels suddenly breaks. Oh well.

8 Comments

I Play Porn Games For The Story // 08.04.2012

Yo guys! This is my weekly blog about videogames and visual novels! Well, mostly weekly. Last week real life kicked me in the face and, due to my rule of not talking about my real life problems; I really had nothing to talk about. If you want to know what happened, this happened, and that’s all I’m going to say on the issue.

SO ANYWAY, back to regular gaming and... novelling? I guess that works, sort of.

Half Minute Hero

So Half Minute Hero is a game I’ve been meaning to play for quite some time now. I don’t know why I never actually picked it up, but I managed to steal a copy from a friend of mine, so yay videogames!

So for people who don’t know, Half Minute Hero is an RPG game in which each adventure is 30 seconds long. At the start of each level you have a pretty clear goal and also a few bonus objectives to do. Walking around the map can trigger random encounters and causes the timer to go down, while chilling in towns pauses the timer, and there you can buy stuff like new weapons or heal your health or pray to the time goddess to reset the time back to 30 seconds. The levels are, rather predictably, really short, but super addicting, causing me to blast through 20 or so without even realising how much time I was spending playing the game.

In each level you get graded on how fast you beat the level, which usually just boils down to how many times you had to reset the timer, but it’s the other objectives that give you a surprising amount of choice on how to tackle the level. For instance, in an early level you can easily just grind for a little bit to get your level greater than the bosses level (which the game kindly points out to you as soon as it happens) or you can go find bug swatter that will kill the boss in one hit. There are several different people you can recruit or help along the way that will be added to your ‘party’ for that one level, which also has its benefits.

I haven’t checked out the other modes just yet but I’m enjoying myself so far, it’s a great game for just playing in small bursts, even if those small bursts turn into huge bursts and eat up entire days at a time oh well!

Jetpack Joyride

In an attempt to keep up with everything that current with iOS gaming, I decided to play Jetpack Joyride. That’s what everyone’s into right now, right?

Jetpack Joyride is one of those one button games, you press and hold the screen to activate the jetpack and fly upwards, and then everything after that is just simply avoiding lasers and electricity and shit like that. You collect coins that can buy upgrades and you can get vehicles which operate slightly differently (such as a Gravity Suit in which the one button tap flips gravity).

The game is incredibly basic with the only real goal being how long can you survive. The game is one hit kill when you’re not in a vehicle, and one hit to get from vehicle back to the jetpack, much akin to a Mario mushroom in that regard. Though on top of the ‘how far can you do’ there are mini objectives, some as ‘get this far without collecting any coins’ or ‘high five scientists’ and stuff like that. These mini objectives are what give the game a lot of life for me, as it’s a lot of fun trying to achieve as many as possible in a single run, even if the end result is just simply more coins to buy different outfits.

Again this is another one of those games that you can just play for a few minutes at a time, yet it can eat up a lot of time without you really realising it, and therefore it was relegated to the game what I play when I was bored in university lectures for a while. It’s a lot of fun and, much like Half Minute Hero, it’s weird that I waited this long to actually try it out. Like, with this one I’ve actually had it installed on my phone for months but never bothered to actually load it up. Then again I guess a lot of my iPhone games are regulated to that fate.

Hoshizora no Memoria -Wish upon a Shooting Star-

This week I played the rather recently translated Hoshizora no Memoria. I’ve been looking forward to this one for quite some time now an absolutely had to jump on it as soon as the fan patch was released. So hey, I’m being slightly relevant for once in my visual novel selection, and not just “hey this game from 12 years ago doesn’t have the best art you guys”. Well, more relevant, I guess, they are still porn games after all.

This game stars You, Kogasaka You that is, who returns to his hometown. He and his sister left his hometown seven years prior to the start of the game thanks to his mother getting a job transfer, and moves back after her death. He has fond memories of watching the stars at night with a girl who he promised to that they’d meet again. However, he has no means of contacting her, and therefore the only way he keeps hope of meeting her is returning to the observation platform they hung out at as kids. When he gets there, he meets a girl who looks like the girl from his memory who calls herself Mare, a grim reaper who reaps nightmares. After several interactions with Mare, she reaps his nightmare of remembering the name of the girl from his past. And now with even less knowledge of who he’s looking for, he joins the Astronomy Club to continue his love for watching the stars, and hopes that that will help him in his journey.

I forgot to take screenshots so here's some Japanese shots of probably important parts of the game.

The weird thing about the story is that entire set up is sort of brushed away for the majority of the time playing, and is instead focused on Kogasaka interacting with the members of the Astronomy Club and making new friends in the usual high school environment. These friends include his sister, Chimani, who has a habit in talking in third person, Asuho, a friend from Kogasaka’s primary school, Isuzu, Kogasaka’s neighbour, and the twins Komomo and Kosame, who are complete polar opposites. The characters themselves work really well and all integrate into the story, all building up toward a rather interesting plot twist and revelation. And then the game continues for another like 5 hours.

Don’t get me wrong, I like the next 5 hours, but the game is structured weird. You’re introduced to the characters, and then that all play into a big story in which things happen, and then the main character is all “yeah it’s cool brah” and you get launched into whatever route you triggered flags for. Sure a lot of other games do this too, but here it just feels a little bit weird considering how big of a twist the common route takes near its conclusion. It also doesn’t help that when replaying the game to see the other routes (which are good, don’t get me wrong) you have to go through the entire common route again, which is incredibly long.

Something funny is probably happening here.

The routes are pretty standard, some being better than others. They all follow a rather simple structure of helping the selected girl’s ‘nightmare’ (some of them being more literal than others), but at the same time that can result in interesting story arcs. Each route you complete adds a little bit more to the common route too, eventually culminating in a ‘true’ route, which is predictably where the initial set up of the game comes into play, you know, 50 hours in.

Then again, the complaint of “there’s too much good content here” is a strange complaint to have, I really enjoyed my time with this game and I’d recommend it, just know if you want to see everything you have to be incredibly committed due to the sheer quantity of story that exists in this game. It’s worth it though, as the true route at the end of the game easily outdoes the rest of the routes in terms of quality.

And I guess that’s this thing over with! Hopefully I’ll be here again next week, so look forward to that I guess! Or don’t, whatever, I’ll just be here watching Adventure Time from start to finish.

20 Comments