By Psycosis 16 Comments
Oh hey, didn’t see you there, welcome to my weekly blog! Here, I take approximately 30 minutes out of my day to hastily write down my opinions on videogames I’ve played and visual novels I’ve read over the last week. Sometimes, I’ll even throw in bonus content such as anime, programming, or really whatever I feel like. Now, I make a point to never go into any angst, woe is me real life issues in this blog, cause really who wants to read that? The more perceptive of you will notice I haven’t added that part in a while, but it’s really so I can segway into this tidbit, nd this will be the only thing I mention. I had to sign an NDA this week. It’s almost like I’m actually doing something with my life! But until that comes to any fruition, or really if it does, let’s get on with the blog!
Professor Layton and the Spectre’s Call
The Professor Layton games and I have a weird relationship. I love them, well, for the most part. The universe itself is fantastic, the characters are also really well realised and work well together. What those characters do in that universe though? I mean... Ok, right, before I go on about this new game; let me share my opinion on the previous three games and their stories. The first game, Curious Village, had an amazing story with a really great twist, with the entire goddamn village turning out to be robots. It was great, and I feel since that one Level-5 have felt the need to one up it. The only problem with that is that, every attempt since then has been on the wrong side of the great/stupid line.
The great thing about Level-5 and the Layton series is that they’re pretty much on par with visual novels, and I feel it is not full of myself to say that I’m somewhat a connoisseur of visual novels. Visual novels also tread the line between great/stupid when it comes to their plot twists, that is, if they have any at all. On one hand they can be the stupidest thing ever, like for instance Hitomi –My Stepsister- where all of a sudden it’s revealed your stepsister seduced her own father and then caused her mother to flip out and try to kill her. Or they can be absolutely amazing like Devil on G-String, where the game shows how the ‘devil’ and the main character is the same person, only to reveal 20 hours later they were fucking twins that just happened to never be in the same place at the same time.
The first Professor Layton game, as I said, was amazing, and then everything after that has been terrible. The second game, Oh I Guess Time Travel’s twist was everyone was high, pretty much. Like, sure, I guess, they had to explain away time travel in some way and that’s a slightly sensible way to do it. I still didn’t think it was a good ending. Then the third game came out, Oh I Guess Time Travel 2: Electric Boogaloo, with an ending that WAS FUCKING TERRIBLE.
I’ll try and be calm, so, the ending for three explained away the time travel in the STUPIDEST way that could ever be conceived, that whenever they were in the future they were actually in a giant replica of London built underground, and that the time travel clock was just an elevator. Now, you may have a different opinion, but I feel that’s fucking stupid. But whatever, so again time travel doesn’t actually happen, and Layton was just partying at Future London Underground. One mech fight later, because apparently every Layton story needs a mech, and everyone lived happily ever af-SUDDENLY TIME TRAVEL..
YOU DON’T COME UP WITH THE STUPIEST JUSTIFICATION FOR HAVING A FUTURE LONDON THAT DOESN’T INVOLVE TIME TRAVEL ONLY TO TURN AROUND AND SAY ‘WELL HOW ABOUT TIME TRAVEL’.
So I didn’t like that ending. So how does Spectre’s Call stack up? Well what if I told you it was a Layton game?
Even ignoring the ending, this is a Professor Layton ass Professor Layton game. You solve puzzles, you talk to people, you advance a story which eventually blows up into something incredibly stupid and you unlock a few different interesting mini-games that are only really there to be something that isn’t puzzles or visual novel story.
Having said that, dude it’s another Layton game! That isn’t a bad thing, either. The story at least fools you into thinking it’ll go in an interesting direction, so that’s cool. The puzzles themselves are also really great, something that is rather surprising considering this is the fourth game and somehow they still haven’t ran out of ideas. If anyone is looking for more Layton then yeah they delivered on that. They also have that London Life thing in there that, despite the only reason I imported the American version was because I heard a rumour it was getting cut from the UK release, I still haven’t touched yet. Maybe next week?
One of the many games I’ll randomly go back and play, Pokemon Black is still the best Pokemon game, in case anyone was interested. When Pokemon Black came out, I figured this would be as good as time as any to get another perfect Pokedex save. I’ve only ever managed it once before, and that was in Pokemon Blue. Catching a grand total of 649 pokemans seemed a lot more daunting than 151, but still I pressed forward. Oh, I haven’t done it yet, I’m currently sitting on 532, I just wanted to talk about Pokemon.
Dude how crazy is Pokemon? I didn’t really get into Pokemon that much growing up. I had both Blue and Crystal, and then fell off, just stealing copies from my friend whenever a new generation came out. I got back into it with HeartGold and was quickly introduced into the crazy underbelly of intense strategy that the Pokemon series has. Pretty soon my friends and I were sharing strategies, comparing the best places to EV farm, and generally talking a whole bunch of crazy. I bought both HeartGold and SoulSilver, the latter of which I gave to my little shota so I could have another avenue to completely humiliate him in. I had a pretty great all dark team, for no real reason other than I liked abiding to a gym leader-like team system. Then, almost out of nowhere, I stopped giving a shit.
Then came Black, which I bought as soon as it was on sale, and did the exact same thing. The only difference is that, instead of playing what was a remake of a game I had already played, it was all new. New pokemans, new places, some new mechanics, and thanks to that I’ve clocked more than 300 hours into the game.
Like I said near the beginning of this section, I’ve been set on getting a full pokedex. I have about 100 pokemans still to get, but unfortunately quite a few of them are legendaries from the previous generations, so at some point I’ll have to commandeer copies of them again, and beat the entire game just to transfer pokemans to the new game... That’s rather silly now that I type it out like that.
Generation 5 is, in my opinion, the best generation of Pokemon. They did a lot of things right, which is rather amazing considering just how terrible generation 4 was, the difference between these two are, well, black and white. Generation 4 tried to capitalise on first and second generation, by having the majority of the new pokemans just evolutions of previous pokemans, and then threw in a bunch of legendaries just cause. But in generation 5, at least before the Elite Four, you don’t even see any pokemans from the previous generations. It’s a great little touch that forces the players to use and in theory like the new generation of pokemans, and not just fall back onto the ones they already know.
This week I delved into the crazy work of Da Capo. When I started this visual novel I didn’t really expect much, since I hadn’t done any research into where it was coming from. I later found out it was made by Circus, the same team behind Suika, a visual novel I read a while back now and absolutely loved due to its absurd plot, so my expectations were heightened. In retrospect, I probably shouldn’t’ve done any research.
The story revolves around a character called Juinchi, and his typical high school life which includes him barely committing to his studies, living with his sister Nemu who just happens to actually be adopted, hanging out with one wise cracking male friend and having a plethora of females around him at almost any given situation. The story takes place on the fictional island of Hastunejima and features a never dying Sakura tree. Suddenly, Junichi’s cousin, Sakura, returns from a six year trip from America and starts living as Juinchi’s neighbour. As well as these two, there is also Kotori, the head of the school choir, and Moe and Mako, two sisters that fill the tomboy and sempai roles respectively.
Something the game does right is the choices it gives the player. You feel a lot more in control of what happens in this visual novel than most I’ve played, even if the choices don’t seem to have that much impact on what happens. Every morning you decide when Junichi want to wake up, every lunch hour you decide where he eats, and after school, where he goes to hang out. After a while you’ll get used to where each of the heroines will be hanging out. For instance Moe and Mako will be eating lunch on the roof, so if you’re gunning for one of their routes, that’s the best place to go. After about two weeks on in game time, the game will sort you into a route, sometimes whether you like it or not. It seems that there isn’t any way to actually fail at the beginning and find yourself without a route to go down. Whenever I purposely tried to do that, the game would always throw me into Mako’s route, which rather weirdly, seems to be the worst route of them all, due to it feeling like it was rushed.
As far as crazy goes, the two main routes, Sakura and Nemu, have more than their fair share, with the rest not really delving that far into the crazy bucket. The whole premise of the crazy is the never dying sakura tree. The sakura tree, as well as obviously having a connection to your cousin Sakura because duh, grants people magic powers. The main character Junichi has two magic powers; firstly, he can produce sweets out of thin air for some reason, and secondly, when he’s asleep he can enter the dreams of other people. The second power is used a lot more throughout the story but it’s really as excuse for Junichi and the player to learn about the backstory of each of the heroines, and rarely expands beyond that. Each of the heroines have their own power thanks to the tree two, but like I said, the only ones that go crazy with it are Nemu and Sakura, the rest aren’t that consequential to the story.
I guess that’s where I find most of the disappointment for this game. In Suika, the game Circus made before this one, there was a bunch of crazy all over the place, ranging from ghosts to time travel to psychic manipulation and everything in between in some capacity. The game also establishes that Suika and it takes place in the same universe, by straight up having one of the heroines from Suika show up in some scenes saying she’s lost. There’s also a scene in the high school that your idiot best friend says there’s a door that is always locked. When he unlocks it, he falls into the town from Suika. So that’s silly.
After you complete the five routes, you unlock an extra two routes, which can be accessed via a new choice given to the player near the beginning of the story. These extra routes are pretty silly all things considered, one featuring a background girl from the first five routes falling into a coma and being replaced by a goddamn robot, and another featuring a completely new character who just so happens to be a cat... So that’s also silly.
As I said from the start I think I would have enjoyed the story a lot more if I wasn’t expecting much from it. The story, at least in the main two routes, goes in rather interesting directions. But after playing those two it feels that there wasn’t as much care or even attention given to the remaining three, which makes it absolutely crazy that there are bonus routes unlocked afterwards.
And wouldn’t you know it, that’s the end of the blog! Now, the week coming up is going to be a very exciting one for my personally. On the Monday, I will be releasing the flash game I’ve been working on for the past 15 months, Bullet Bill 3. I’ll be writing up a blog on the Monday full of information on the game, which I’m sure at least one person will find interesting. So, stay tuned for that, and of course, you’ll find another edition of this blog in a week’s time!