I Play Porn Games For The Story // 04.09.2011

Who spent all day reading My Little Pony fan fiction and only realised an hour before posting his blog that he hadn’t even started?

Trick question, it was half an hour.

AAAAH introduction hey everyone video games visual novels other stuff link to YouTube video witty jokes on with the blog.

Quarrel

So the only game I’ve really been playing this week is Quarrel, an iOS game that Gary Whitta recommended over Twitter a few days back. Basically Quarrel is Risk game, but instead of relying on random chance, it’s replaced with a Countdown mixed with a Scrabble-like system which works really well, and makes the game for me at least a lot of fun to play.

How it works is each player controls territories of a map, and can initiate battles with neighbouring enemy territories. During the battle each army is given the same 8-word anagram, and the best word wins. Instead of just being the longest word, however, each latter has a Scrabble point system attached to it, so for instance X will give you 10 points whereas S will only give you 1 point. On top of even that the length of the word you can make is dictated by the size of your army, so that stops you just entering the letters into an anagram program and getting the 8 letter anagram every time. Armies can range from two troops all the way to eight, so while you could try and trample the entire board in one round, trying to beat high level AI with a troop disadvantage is rather foolish. I you do manage to beat an enemy with more troops than you; you automatically capture some of their troops as a bonus.

At the end of your move you get more troops, guaranteeing you always have at least two troops per territory. You can also get more troops by collecting treasure and making high point words, by doing this you eventually fill up a meter that gives you a backup troop which you can deploy at the start of a battle. If you’re really good at anagrams (or have an anagram solver program) this can easily be gamed. If you have one territory of 8 troops and solve the anagram, the amount of bonus treasure you get equates to at least one new backup troop. Therefore, since Risk rules have one troop stay behind when you take over a territory, you can just keep deploying your new extra troop and keep making the anagram, and therefore completely dominate the entire game in one turn as long as you can reach every opposing territory with that one unit.

But that’s a complete hypothetical, of course.

Moero Downhill Night

If you’re one of those kinds of people that only play one genre of games, first of all you’re crazy and you should play Portal 2 seriously what the hell Slowbird I can’t even be- then you’re probably thinking “Hey, all these visual novels are fine and all but I need something to sustain my lust of over the road racing!” Well my friends your question has been answered, here this week is Moero Downhill Night, a visual novel about street racing.

The game stars Daichi Shou, a rather normal teenager who works as a delivery man for a shop on a mountain ridge. That all changes, however, when he gets into an accident, and through a random case of convenient amnesia, he can’t remember the specifics. When he wakes up he finds himself in a taxi cab driven by Michi, the main heroine of the story. She thinks Shou is an amazing racing navigator and, because Shou decides to go along with it, gets dragged into being her navigator as she tries to race against the best and become the champion racer of the mountain ridge.

So while the story does revolve around racing, your character is never actually doing any racing, and hooray you fell for the trap, all the gameplay in this game is just standard visual novel selecting lines of dialogue. Admittedly the system in this game has a nice twist to it which makes it a lot more involved than other visual novels. Whenever you’re not in a race it’s rather standard fare, but in a race, all of the options are paired with a timer and all revolve on racing strategy. For instance, coming up to a bend, you’ll be given the option to either go into the bend slow and out fast, or keep speed and go along the outside of the bend. The options get more difficult the further into the game you get. I’m sure if you actually knew how to race the options would be incredibly easy but since I lack that knowledge I got stuck quite a few times during the last few races. If you make enough mistakes in a race the car will spin out and you’ll lose, but beat the other character and you progress through the story.

The story itself is short and thus can’t really flesh out any characters other than the main two, and even there isn’t sort of whatever. Throughout the story you’ll be racing against 5 different opponents, most of which are conveniently pretty girls as opposed to Vin Diesel. When you beat a girl as a race they’ll come up with some excuse for you to bang them, or if you want to stay true to Michi you can decline them like a real man. Like I said since the game is short none of these characters are really developed in any way, and just fall into generic stereotypes. No matter if you do end up getting with a girl you can’t then be their navigator or anything like that, the story while having separate endings for being faithful or not, doesn’t ever divulge that much.

One interesting thing to point out though is the graphics. While sticking with the normal anime visual novel presentation as you’d expect, the races have 3D cutscenes after each decision. This I find is rather amazing, and made all the better when you realise this was made back in 2005, so the 3D is great. As far as the actual anime graphics go it’s par for the course in my opinion, not terrible but nothing too impressive. The music as well, despite being MIDI based, at least tries to go for an Initial D vibe, so there’s that.

All in all Moero Downhill Night is a rather average visual novel, but still pretty good for a few hours of distraction. But for people looking for a good story to enjoy will be disappointed with what little Downhill Night has to offer, without any well thought out characters and a short run through time, the visual novel is rather something something something racing pun.

Programmers are not Game Designers

This was the subject of a lecture I got in university from my tutor, who is an ex-Blizzard programmer, talking about how in group projects we should never dump the job of designing games onto the programmer. Admittedly I was in a slightly different position than my colleagues; I had in fact been designing games as well as learning how to program them all throughout my high school years. Therefore, this talk didn’t really mean much to me.

At least, that’s what I thought.

The talk at the very least made a lot of sense. A programmer will see point A and point B and code a line to join them. Very efficient, no hassle and works as intended (hopefully). When you have to design games as well, however, the line isn’t straight at all. I’ll give you an example, two programs made for 2nd year PS2 programming, one by me and one by a friend who, in his defence, is a great programmer (but not as good as me).

Point A and Point B in this instance was the incredibly easy Start Menu to Game. You can see the very obvious path to take here, highlight a button, click X or start, and then load up the game. That’s what my friend did; there was really no need to do anymore. Using the pixel text we were given with the font code already provided, he wrote the title of his game and ‘Press Start to Continue’, and then coded that when the user presses any button it continues to the game, because why not. I, however, took a different approach, an incredibly silly and convoluted approach; I created a 3D camera using 2D sprites.

Why would I do this for a start menu you ask? Well I came up with a silly concept for my game. My game was a 3D dual joystick space shooter, sort of a mix between Geometry Wars and Tempest. But then I wanted whenever you die for the game to zoom out and reveal an arcade machine, where buttons on the PS2 controller were corresponding to buttons on the arcade machine. Therefore whenever you start the game it’d show the arcade machine, and when you press start the camera would zoom into the monitor and start the game. This unfortunately didn’t get made and instead I had panels held up by rope that had the menu options on them, and when you press start, the camera zooms past it onto the action. I also added the right analogue stick to slightly tilt the camera in the menus a la Super Smash Bros. Melee. Was all this necessary? Nope, my friend’s system was arguably better because it got the user into the action faster. My incredibly complicated maths based camera system would be lost on most people playing (even the lecturer marking it I might add). I did get feedback speaking extremely favourably on my game design and music (my music was an 8-bit rendition of Black & Yellow I made which, might I add, was rather amazing) saying it’s incredibly rare for students to realise the importance of design in their programming.

Another not as successful attempt to do this was in 1st year when I was coding GBA games. I made a silly fighting game; complete with wasting half my sprite sheet on a fire explosion to transition from the character select screen (the characters were all disembodied heads of my old high school friends) to a versus screen, where they’d come in from either side of a metal door and fly away, the doors will open to reveal the battlefield and they’ll fall down onto it as the 3, 2, 1, GO started to tick down. When a person won they had personalized win quotes that were all in-jokes between my high school friends and I. Needless to say it was amazing. But the marker didn’t care at all, and only cared about my programming ability and got an incredibly embarrassing grade (read: not an A).

This image shows me beating the hell out of Manthorp a.k.a Rufi91... I look a lot different now.

Unrelated but the disembodied heads of my friend and I previously showed up in my last year high school project which was a generic jRPG battle system.

A jRPG game that evolves into a fighting game using the same characters? That's the stupidest thing I've ever heard.

Since this isn’t a programming focused community, the question I want to ask here is how important to you are the little design flourishes? If you were met with the two games I described, would you prefer my friend’s game that gets you into the actual game much faster, or my system of adding a little style to the whole thing? In my opinion it can do in two different ways. When it’s done right it can be amazing, but if it takes too long or the actual functionality of the menus suffer as a result of the flourishes, it can be the worst thing ever. By not adding these kinds of flourishes no one is going to care either way. Fancy menus are only ever talked about if the game attempts it, and I seriously doubt anyone is going to be annoyed by a game because they don’t attempt some kind of superfluous effect.

Sorry for the lack of stuff this week, it’s sorta been a crazy week all round, and it doesn’t look like next week is gonna get easier! But whatever, even when everything that can go wrong does all at once, I’ll get by knowing I have my precious visual novels to keep me going!

...Man that’s really depressing when I say that out loud. I’m going back to My Little Pony stories.

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I Play Porn Games For The Story // 28.08.2011

Hello once again and welcome to my blog of rapidly declining introductions! Also some other stuff but whatever. Here I talk about videogames, visual novels, sometimes anime, mashups, programming or anything else that comes to mind that isn’t my personal white girl problems, I mean come on, why would the internet care about my power my pleasure MY PAIN, BABBYYY. So sit back and get ready to read yet another poorly written (and non-proof read) blog!

Shadow The Hedgehog

No I don’t know why either.

At some point this week I must’ve said to myself “Gee I’m really bored of playing all these good quality games!” or something, maybe I passed out and found myself in a fever dream, a dream that told me the only way to stop the world from exploding was to play Shadow The Hedgehog. Maybe I found this game after playing a bunch of Mario sports titles and thought to myself “Haha, no thanks, I don’t hate myself that much!” and put it in my Gamecube anyway. Regardless of the reason, I played some mother fucking Shadow The Hedgehog.

I’m going to preface this by saying I got this game for Christmas the year it came out, and didn’t even get past the 2nd level before taking the disc out and storing it away forever. I had attempted to play through it between now and then too, if my save file indicates anything. I loaded up the save and I was met with Shadow saying “For what purpose do I exists?” Already I was about to take the disc and smash it so it would not hurt another soul. But instead, I quit out, and started a new game instead, just so I can get more of this amazing story.

So really, fuck this game. That’s my thoughts on it. But since this is my blog lets elaborate. This game is very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very mediocre.

Why would the dark lord or whatever keep trying to side with Shadow after Shadow killing a bunch of his men? Why is Charmy in the game? Why would the ‘good guys’ still be attacking Shadow despite him being on their side? Why would Eggman send his robots to the sky level, and then ask for Shadow’s help? In the same level, why would Eggman’s robots be attacking you if the plan was for you to be of their side? Why doesn’t Eggman just ask the robots that HE SENT THERE to destroy the pillars instead of waiting for Shadow? Why is Charmy in the game? Who built the four toed statue? Why would Eggman build himself a roulette vehicle and even give the option of the vehicle attacking itself? Why would Eggman also make spawning rings a roulette option? Why would Eggman make GIVING SHADOW CHAOS CONTROL a roulette option? How did Kate get the other key to the safety deposit box? Why did Sonic team feel the need to add a hint sphere that says ‘jump as high as you can’ to reach an edge? Was Mikhail recruited by the Others before or after the Purge? Why is Charmy in the game? If Shadow is indeed an android why did he still have that memory of Maria? Why don’t the rules of time travel apply to Desmond? If Eggman made an army of Shadow androids why was he keep on insisting that the Shadow the player was controlling help him? SERIOUS GUYS WHY IS CHARMY IN THIS GAME?

So I completed the game once, I decided to go the straight normal path because that took the least amount of effort. Will I go back and beat the rest? Depends on how much I hate myself I guess, but not right now, because the game is just too goddamn stupid.

Jamestown

Back when the Summer Steam sales happened I had little to no money, so I was extremely annoyed I couldn’t get myself a copy of Jamestown for half price. Luckily though, Jamestown for half price just so happened to be one of Steam’s Daily Deals this week, when Rufi91 pointed out to me due to their typo of saying Jamestown was 650% off today, so I snatched that up the moment I could!

Now I’m a huge fan of bullet hells, playing way too much of the Touhou games and even making one at one point. The only problem is that I was never really that good at them, usually getting through the opening of a super hard level before getting nervous and dying over and over again. Therefore I was cautiously looking forward to this game, as I can see it giving me a similar level of challenge.

The great thing about Jamestown is the scoring system and how the vaulting works, making the game a lot of fun to play even in the higher difficulty settings. Basically, when you kill enemies they drop gears, collecting gears causing your vault meter to fill. Once full, you can ‘vault’, in which you get a bunch of points for staying in vault mode. Vault mode can be extended by collecting more gears, and anyone who wants the highest score possible, will want to stay in vault mode for the entire level. However, vault mode also acts as the player’s shield. Once you entire vault mode you get a giant shield, and any bullet that enter the shield are destroyed and give you points. This shield only lasts for a few seconds, however, and not the entire vault. Though what you can do, is vault again for a second shield. This second shield is a lot smaller and doesn’t even last as long as the first shield, but who cares, it’s a shield! When you do this, the vault ends automatically and you can’t add to your vault meter for a brief period. This is a really good system as it’s a great balance between letting people who are crazy get a mess of points, and letting people like me who can’t handle all the crazy have a few fleeting seconds of safety... before crashing and burning spectacularly.

Besides the short campaign there are also a bunch of bonus levels in case you thought the main game wasn’t hard enough... eep. Some of these just throw a bunch of enemies at you and tell you to survive for a certain length of time, which may not surprise you, I found to be INCREDIBLY DIFFICULT, but they also do a bunch of score based levels. These levels are structured really well to train you into getting the most points out of enemies. For instance, the bomb enemy that when they explode, sprays a gratuitous amount of bullets in every direction. If you kill them early on you get a few points, however, if you kill them just before they’re about to explode, you get a lot more. Other enemies work the same, such as destroying the turrets on some ships before destroying the main ship will only net more points, and more gears. Knowing these are essential for keeping a combo throughout the entire level, but again since I’m terrible at these games, surviving is the main priority, but it’s cool that these systems are in place.

Trackmania

So I was just minding my own business one night when suddenly, Rufi91 pops up out of nowhere and is all “Psy you have to come play on this server this music is AWESOME.” And so started an hour or so of Rufi91 and I playing in this weird server that had a bunch of weird launching levels that made no sense with songs like Teenage Dirtbag playing in the background. Yo this game is silly.

I absolutely love it for that. There was a time in which I was the kind of Ultimate Hyper Trackmania United Forever: Star Edition HD Remix (This time it’s Trackmania) player that would only play single player, like I do with all games. I would be obsessed with getting the Nadeo medal in every single track, and watch as my worldwide rank got higher and higher and higher, and I was having fun! I really enjoy time trail games like that. But then, Rufi91 showed me how goddamn silly the online is and I’ve never looked back. It’s still the same time trail concept obviously but isn’t of really well thought out levels it’s just “here’s a few boosters and a ramp, there are 10 exits spread out in random positions in the air, you have 2 minutes GO.” Such a great game.

Bastion

I have already stated my love for Bastion in the past, but when I went on Steam to pass some time I noticed they added 7 new achievements. Figured I couldn’t just leave the game sitting there without an S rank, I loaded it up. Little did I know the pain and torture that was about to unfold.

Rather unsurprisingly, six out of those seven achievements all focus on beating Who Knows Where with idols. Three for beating each of the three with 5 or more, and three for straight up beating each one with all 10 idols intact. The last achievement is upgrading all the weapons which I totally already did so yay for loading up and automatically getting achievements. I had tried a 10 idol run before these achievements and got to round about wave 10 in each one, and since the leaderboards work different, thus beating it first didn’t give that guy the top spot forever, I didn’t feel compelled to keep at it. Now with achievements, however, it’s a whole different story.

So far I’ve only managed to complete the first Who Knows Where map with all ten idols. The birds in the 2nd map really mess me up big time, but apart from that I can probably do that entire one without having to even take any potions. So far the everything in the 3rd map is messing me up, which is super annoying considering I found those enemies to be the easiest in the game in terms of the storyline, but I digress. I weapon layout for the entire game since the first playthrough has been the dual pistols and the war machete. The war machete is great since I’ve given it the poison upgrade, which is very effective against the regenerating health. Mostly my strategy is just throwing that, busting a few rounds of the pistols and running away like a coward, and it totally worked for the first map! The birds, however, like to run away as well, and I can’t seem to take them out without resorting to my special ability, which right now is the Portal Gel Canister, but even that sometimes will be taken out before it can deal and decent damage.

So yeah, I’m still trucking along with that, hopefully I’ll be able to do the other two in the near future, or just in time for SuperGiant Games to add even more achievements like the fiends they are!

Family Project

So this is a relatively better known visual novel than some of the other stuff I’ve played, but I’ve never really felt compelled to read it. Though the time finally came and I decided to see what all the fuss is about, time to delve into the Family Project.

So the main character is Tsukaka, he works at a Chinese restaurant and lived in a small apartment all alone. However, his world gets turned upside down when he finds Chunhua, a young Chinese girl asleep in the back alley behind the restaurant. Though a request by the manager of the restaurant, he takes her back to his apartment. While living there she starts to learn Japanese and it’s revealed she travelled to Japan in hopes of finding her mother. While this is happening, a group of thugs are trying to capture Chunhua. Another homeless man called Hiroshi, who upon seeing Chunhua being rescued gets jealous, shows up and fends off the attackers, and successfully barges his way into living in the flat as well. The flat gets destroyed and all three become homeless. The three happen upon a woman called Masumi about to commit suicide and decide to help her and convince her not to go through with it. Then, they find an apparently abandoned home where they take shelter, and come in contact with another homeless girl called Matsuri, who also took shelter in the home. After living there for a while the original owner, Aoba, and get kicked out. Tsukaka, with help from his ex-‘girlfriend’ Jun, eventually convince Aoba to let them all live in the household. And thus the seven of them form the ‘Family Project’, a group of rejected people all living together for mutual benefit.

Through living with everyone, Tsukaka learns more and more about each person and why they are now in the position they are in. Though from the point that the Family Project starts, which means the opening credits 6 hours into playing, approximately a whole load of fuck nothing happens for a few hours before any real conflict arises. While each character does have their own development, the main one seems to be Jun, Tsukaka’s ex-girlfriend, in a sense. Jun actually just cares about money, and when whoring herself out to Tsukaka, Tsukaka started having feelings for her, causing her to leave the school. Each route has their share of the worst things possible. A lot of violence, rape and just terrible stuff in general await you in each backstory. The story takes a turn where Hiroshi takes out a giant loan and thus has thugs after him. Masumi then gives Tsukaka her mother’s savings of 3 million yen, with the idea that he will know where the money should be spent. Each character eventually goes their separate ways and the Family Project ends. The thugs set fire to the house they were all living in, and depending on the route, where some people are still currently living.

The story itself is rather lengthy, a little too lengthy in my opinion. I don’t mind a long story but as I said earlier there are a lot of points that just feel like absolutely nothing is happening. A lot of the character development, while I agree the changes can’t happen that fast, just feel like everyone is going in circles in some points. This is brought into much sharper contrast when the endings all seem rather rushed, and have a surprising amount of inconsistencies for something so methodically paced. Then again, a since a lot of the character development happens in the common route before the split, there isn’t really that much need to play each route. While each route gives a lot of information about that specific heroine, most of them can be inferred from the common route.

This is a rather old visual novel too, released in 2001, so I can’t really complain about the art or the UI stuff. But gosh darn it I’m going to anyway. To be fair the art still holds up pretty well, with only a few CGs looking stupid, not Clannad stupid but they get pretty close. The UI however, oh boy, that is some ghetto ass stuff. Saving in this game just pops up the generic Windows 98 looking pop up with a list of places to save. This rather obviously carries over to the options, giving you the pop up and a bunch of sliders and check boxes. I probably should have expected this, and especially when I loaded up the game and it’s all 640x480 and shit.

If you can put up with a rather drawn out story, Family Project is pretty good. The characters are well realised and pretty believable all things considered. The things considered being the translation and the fucking translation. The translation, while not Hinatabokko bad, can be rather annoying at times. By which I mean, there’s an ‘over 9000’ reference within the first hour. So... there’s that. But still, it’s a pretty decent visual novel and I can see why it’s so popular, but I wouldn’t call it a personal favourite.

I really need to stop with this shit, but a friend of mine sent me this image of Pinkie Pie and Snoop Dogg so of course I had to make a mashup to accompany it.

And that’s my week in a nutshell. I’ve currently been having a lot of terrible ideas for mashups, including one that I think is just the worst thing in the world so obviously I’m going to try and make that work. But apart from that nothing really much happening, I actually haven’t worked on my game Bullet Bill 3 since making that trailer and I really don’t know why, the sooner that’s out of the way the sooner I can justify all my new stupid ideas! Anyway whatever, until next time!

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I Play Porn Games For The Story // 21.08.2011

Blogging time once again. Welcome to my blog where I talk about videogames and visual novels, and claim to talk about programming, mashups, anime and other stuff. This might be badly written, more so than usual, because while Giant Bomb was playing a bunch of Super Nintendo yesterday, I decided to play way too much Sega Genesis, because when I was dead broke man, I couldn’t picture this. So much so I haven’t bothered proof reading! I’m living on the god damn edge here folks and we’re all in for the ride! So let’s get this blog on the road!

Bastion

So recently, Bastion came out on Steam, giving me a platform to actually play it on. Due to all the Giant Bomb related hype I pre-ordered it the first moment I could, and similarly started playing it minutes from release. I was really looking forward to this game, and as it turns out, hey this game is pretty good. Actually, more than that, I think it’s one of the best games I’ve played this year.

I should point out here that I’m going to talk incredibly specific about the ending of the game, so if you haven’t played then try to avoid that! The rest should be relatively spoiler free, but the less known about the story the better, just go play it.

There really isn’t much I can say about the game that hasn’t already been said a billion times. The stranger’s voice really adds a lot to the game, and makes the entire game a lot more compelling. The combat is a lot of fun to play as well, though you do get to a point that without the idols you can just mow through everything far too easily. But then with all the idols things can get balls to the wall hard in some levels. I found my sweet spot at about 7 idols, enough to give me a challenge but not enough to feel like the game is just giving me the middle finger of “Oh this enemy is almost dead? Well now you can’t damage it and it regains half its health whoops”. The soundtrack, also, might be the best soundtrack in a game since Donkey Kong Country 2, and I’ve never heard a song use FL Studio’s “Hit 4” as confidently as the battle music does since Snoop Dogg’s That’s Tha Homie.

The game is a little short; the first time through I beat the game in roughly 4 hours. The second time, which I should mention happened directly after the first time, was cut doing even further to approximately 2 hours. The third time, which again, happened just after the second run, I tried to speed run the game, and with 7 idols on I beat it in 70 minutes. Obviously the game isn’t meant to be played like that, but since I love speed runs it’s great that I can do so. I think with some proper weapon management and not outrunning the level and falling off the world as it’s being created I can probably bring that time to under an hour.

So let’s get down to it, the ending. Now this is one of the first times, or at least that I can remember, in which I really had no idea which ending to pick first. At the end of the game, you can choose to either restore the world to a time before the calamity, or just high tail it out of there and go exploring in the world as it is. I spent maybe 5 minutes deciding on the answer, and eventually going with high tailing. The choice before that, however, I never had to even think about. Zulf, a survivor you find near the beginning on the game, ends up betraying you, and tries to destroy Bastion. He returns to his race but as you find out, he is being killed by them, presumably for leading you to them. You then have the option to save Zulf, or leave him be, and every single time, I’ve chosen to save him. When you do this, you drop your weapons and are pretty much defenceless. However, the music changes to Zulf’s theme, quite possibly the greatest track in the game, and the enemies eventually cease fire and let you leave with Zulf. It’s an amazing moment in the game and really solidified just how great this game is.

So the ending choices, I can’t decide which ending is better, in terms of the story. The restoration ending is the best for Zulf and rather tragic for Zia. Whereas the exploration ending is better for Zia, but I can see Zulf being incredibly bitter about the whole thing. General rundown of the back story from Who Knows Where gives this impression. Zulf would rather die, as he lost his fiancée in the calamity, and the Kid actually found him when he was about to end it all. The restoration gives him back his fiancée, but in exploration he still has to live with his loved one gone. Zia’s back story is full of betrayal and solitude, exploration is clearly the best option for her with people she can trust. The Kid could go either way, he may find friendship or even companionship in Zia, but his entire back story is about him working and fighting, he’d be doing that either way. Rucks, the narrator, built the Bastion with restoration in mind, but judging by the endings he’s cool with whatever.

But the best thing I can say is really, this is one of the best games I’ve played this year. In fact at this stage this and Portal 2 will probably by fighting it out for my favourite overall. And in a very similar battle Exiled Vilify and Mother I’m Here will be fighting for the best song.

Which reminds me:

Bastion wins.

Cthulhu Saves The World

So after completely forgetting about it last week, I went back and beat Cthulhu Saves The World. I enjoyed it, more so than Breath of Death VII, mostly for the graphical improvements. Which I appreciated the minimalist black background style of Breath of Death VII, the backgrounds do make everything look a lot better. The maps are also improved, having two whole layers this time! The combat, however, despite the addition of the insanity strategy, is pretty much exactly the same. Most random encounters could be beaten by just mashing the A button, with only a few requiring selecting slightly different attacks, and then proceeding to mash the A button. I guess I’m ok with that but by the end of the game I was getting burned out by it again, but then again there’s only so much you can do with a retro RPG system like that.

There’s not really much else to say other than that though! I did like the hidden stuff near the end. You eventually recruit a dragon and can fly across the map. At this stage you can go exploring across the entire map, and eventually battle Dem and Sara from Breath of Death VII, which I thought was a nice touch. Once the game has been beaten you get a few new modes, such as levelling up to level 40 in the first match, so you can just power through the entire game to relive the story. The new feature from the Xbox Indie version, however, is a slight retelling of the story. In this mode, all the areas are the same, but the game stars October as the main character, and the story elements are tweaked to include slightly different characters and scenarios. A nice touch but like I said, got burned out, so I didn’t get very far into it. Which is to say, I fought the first battle and went “oh god it’s just this again”, quit out and deleted the game from my hard drive... I recommend it!

Blocks That Matter

Blocks That Matter is an indie game that recently got released on Steam. I heard that and it was already 60% though the installing process. I have a problem. But then again there’s a direct correlation between ‘I play a lot of indie games’ and ‘I have too many amazing games to play’.

So what is Blocks That Matter, I hear you ask, and do the blocks truly matter? Well in terms of that second question I can confirm that yes the blocks do indeed matter, as far as what Blocks That Matter is, yo, you heard of Super Mario Bros.? Yeah? Ok cool, how about Minecraft? Ok great. Finally, how about Battleblock Theater? No? Oh, well than never mind, the first two should be enough.

So this is a puzzle platformer in which you control a robot, and can collect different kinds of blocks, be is wooden blocks, sand blocks, diamond blocks, and so on. Once you’ve collected blocks, you can then place blocks down to create platforms for you to advance through the level. However! You can only place blocks in tetromino shapes, and have to be connected to either other blocks or the level itself. This gives the game a pretty impressive amount of strategy. For instance, your robot can jump up 2 grid spaces, so to access an area 3 grid spaces up, you might place a line piece on the ground and jump up. However, once placing your tetromino, you can then recollect the pieces, and therefore take back three blocks and use them for later tetrominoes.

There are also three things to do in each level. The first is just simply beating the level, which is rather straight forward to start with but by the end of the 40 main levels it can get a bit tricky. Another thing to do is to collect the ‘Blocks That Matter’, which are found by collecting a treasure chest hidden somewhere in the level. These treasure chests either require you to be extremely careful with your block usage, or require power-ups found later in the game to access. These ‘Blocks That Matter’ are all references to other games, for instance, in the second level you’ll find the Super Mario Bros. ? block, or the Creeper’s head from Minecraft, or the Portal Companion Cube. Stuff like that. The last thing to do is starring the level. This involves completing the level with a certain number of blocks still in your inventory, the exact number changes from level to level, but usually means every collectable block in that level, which, can be incredibly difficult. There are also bonus levels that are unlocked by collecting the ‘Blocks That Matter’ to provide even harder challenges.

I also want to quickly mention the story, which I found pretty funny. The game starts off with the text ‘”Sweden, the land of indie videogames”, so already you know you’re in for a treat. The story involves the two developers of the game, making their next highly anticipated indie game. When suddenly, two armed men raid their apartment and kidnap them, forcing them to make games for the man! Or something! As it turns out, however, their next project was not an indie video game, but instead the robot, and then all of a sudden indie video game about rescuing indie developers within their own indie video game. Ow my head.

It’s pretty short with only 40 levels in the main game, but the challenges are really well thought out and the ‘Blocks That Matter’ and star challenges provide a good reason to go back and replay the levels.

Oh look Psy liked an indie game release on Steam how weird what is the world coming to.

Canvas 2 ~Akane Iro no Palette~

This week I went into the world of Canvas 2 ~Akane Iro no Palette~, albeit rather hesitantly. This is the only game in the series to receive a fan translation, a series that is now up to its forth entry, and I was sceptical to start a series with something other than the first entry. As it turns out, at least from what I understand, the entries don’t have very many story links tying stuff together; the only common thread I could see is the idea of art being the centrepiece of every story. So, let’s find out if this game a work of art, or if the entire thing is just all washed out.

Here is where you play the Gametrailers review theme, compulsory after every terrible review pun.

The story starts off with a flashback, the main character, Hiroki Kamikura, and his best friend Yanagi are in the middle of painting a portrait of their other friend, Kiri. Hiroki wakes up from the flashback dream, rather bitterly, and goes to work. He works as an art teacher at the high school he used to study at. His normal life of ignoring the after school art class, of which he is an advisor for, and living with his younger cousin Elis is suddenly turned upside down by the re-appearance of Kiri, who has recently been hired as the school’s P.E. teacher. It is revealed through-out the course of the game that the three friends from high school all went their separate ways after a series of unfortunate events. In typical love triangle fashion, both Hiroki and Yanagi had feelings for Kiri. But when Kiri revealed she had feelings for Hiroki, Hiroki turned her down, knowing that then being together would only hurt Yanagi. Yanagi, annoyed at Hiroki for hurting Kiri, enters the national art competition using Hiroki’s own painting, and ends up winning, and thus becoming a famous artist. Hiroki, having no way to prove himself, gives up on becoming a successful artist, and instead relegates himself to teaching art at his old high school, while never actually painting again.

With Kiri back into his life, however, and a feeling that Yanagi is not that far behind, his life changes and blah blah blah visual novel mode let’s do this. Along with his younger cousin Elis and friend Kiri, there are 5 other girls that you could focus your attention on. Elis and Kiri, however, are the main routes, with Elis torn between an art scholarship in France and being with Hiroki, and fixing past mistakes with Kiri. The interesting part about this visual novel is that even though each heroine does have her own problems, each story is as much about the main character’s problems as the heroine’s, which is great at humanizing Hiroki and not just making him a generic template for the player.

And to be honest that’s really all there is to this game, there aren’t any major twists in the plot, strange character trait reveals or anything like that. This story is very much cemented in some kind of reality, which after a few visual novels of “Well everything is normal except demons” or stuff like that, is perfectly fine. Though a little bit too real in one route really. One of the girls, Kana, is the generic loli “but actually older than the rest of the students because Japan” of the game. When you first try to get it on, let’s just say it doesn’t really work out the way the main character intended. They go their separate ways and then everything is super awkward for the rest of the route until you finally actually get it on. I don’t need that much reality in my visual novels god damn it! There are also some amazing coincidences but that’s pretty par for the course in visual novels like these. Things like “oh the guy I fell in love with when I was younger turned out to be the main character what are the chances”, even if they’re commonplace it doesn’t mean I find them silly any less.

I’d say this is a good visual novel to try out, though with a lot of choices and opportunity for bad ends it might be a little unforgiving. But still the story is pretty good for being incredibly down to earth and the art is really good too. I can’t tell if it’s a good or bad thing that’s nothing incredibly dramatic happens, on one hand it makes the characters rather believable in a way that most visual novels have trouble doing, yet on the other, it makes the story a lot less exciting than other visual novels. I guess this will depend on whoever is reading it, but I felt it was a little too straight forward to be really great, but still worth checking out.

After making two My Little Pony mashups last week... I couldn’t stop. So I decided instead of making a bunch of 2 or 3 minute mashups featuring other My Little Pony songs, I just went all in and made another 40 minute mashup, featuring every single song from the first season. Should do without saying that yo if you don’t like My Little Pony you probably won’t care for this, but where else will you hear ponies singing over Kanye West tracks? Nowhere, probably.

And there you have it! Now that I have that mashup out of the way, it’s time to start on my next mashup idea, a 40 minute mashup comprised only of WWE entrance themes! No wait, I should probably work on Bullet Bill 3, I should really finish one idea before moving onto the next.

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I Play Porn Games For The Story // 14.08.2011

Hello! This is a blog all about visual novels, video games, mash-ups, programming, anime, never in that order never all at once and only very rarely divulging into other stuff! This week has a pretty important announcement, so I really hope you like that. So while I figure out whatever we did to these guys to make them so violent, here’s another semi-coherent blog!

EDGE

People may remember Edge from being the centre of that completely ridiculous Tim Langdel trademark lawsuit type thing. The game was up and down on the iOS store for ages, even being renamed to ‘Edgy’ at some point, that actually getting a copy of it proved to just come down to right place right time. Luckily, Two Tribes, the team behind both Rush and Toki Tori, have ported it to the PC, making it much more widely available for everyone to play.

The game is basically a puzzle platformer, you control a cube in a big isometric blocky level, and have to move around to collect prisms and reach the end of the level. You can move the cube in four directions, and the movement is rather deliberate. While the game is grid based you can’t just press the down button to move in that direction. Instead, moving in any direction will start to tilt the cube in that direction, forcing you to hold the direction for about half a second before the cube actually moves a space. Once you start rolling though the cube moves rather quickly, and collecting prisms seems to also increase the speed. The cube can also climb up one level, but only if there is nothing directly behind it. The main part of the game, however, is the edge system. Once turning onto a wall or ledge, the cube can hang there for as long as you can lightly feather the movement to keep it at around 45 degrees from the wall. This is incredibly useful because if the wall is moving, for instance, and the cube is hanging to it, the cube will move along with the moving wall. Any hang time will also be deducted from your overall time, thus making it crucial for getting the best ranks.

Speaking of ranks, this game is crazy with them. Each level has a leaderboard and a ranking system, ranging from the fabled S rank all the way to D rank. At least, I wish that was it. I got through the first 4 or 5 levels getting S ranks, feeling pretty good about myself. Unfortunately I then got a B or something similar. Feeling that this was a direct attack against my manhood, I retried and retried that level over and over again until I got that S rank. But no, what rank did I get?

S+.

FUCK. There’s a goddamn S+ rank! Now I have to go back to the first 5 levels and get S+’s in them too! Not only that, but there’s an achievement for getting S+ ranks in every level, giving me even more reason besides me just being obsessive to go back and get the best times. Having said that, however, I can’t for the life of e figure out how to S+ rank even the first level, my pride is completely shot.

The controls admittedly take some getting used to, and the isometric view doesn’t make it any easier. The camera is fixed to that one point and unable to turn around. This means that there are multiple instances of paths you’re meant to be going in being obscured by walls in front of it. Some of these, I’m sure, are completely intentional, as there will be hidden paths to take that you just have to know are there. There is also a mini map that is in a top down perspective, using that it’s a lot easier to see where platforms are and where you’ll just fall to your death. Luckily, the game is pretty good at checkpointing, usually checkpointing at each prism or before each difficult obstacle, so if you don’t care about your rank, there’s no need to restart a level from the beginning when you fall into the abyss.

The game is broken down into 48 different base levels, the same levels that are from the iOS version of the game, but on top of that there are new bonus levels and a promise for free DLC with new levels and modes. All of this in my opinion makes the game a really good deal, even if you’ve previously owned the iOS version. Two Tribes have really put a lot of work into this product that calling it a straight port is giving it a bad rap. This also has the added benefit of not being on a goddamn iPhone where directional controls are terrible.

All in all this is a great version of the game, and as previously stated Two Tribes looks to keep making that better with their free updates, something that they have a great track record of with their other two games, Toki Tori and Rush. I’m just hoping the S+ rank achievement won’t eat up all of my time like I suspect it will.

Wanko To Kurasou

I’ve been thinking about writing about this game for a while now, not because I think it’s amazing or anything, but there’s a big amount of “let’s get this over with” with this visual novel. The visual novel in question is Wanko To Kurasou, a visual novel that contains both lolicon and catgirls. Now, the reason I’ve been reluctant to talk about this one is, well, just that. I personally don’t have an issue with lolicon or catgirls, but I know a lot of people do. In fact more people who even play visual novels or are interested in some of the other stuff I’ve talked about previously have probably switched off already. Regardless, it’s still something I should probably talk about, or at the very least not just completely ignore.

In the world of Wanko To Kurasou, there are special anthropoidic cats, dogs and birds. Why? Videogames. That’s why. So in this world these pets are rather expensive but at the same time incredibly popular. The main character is called Yuuichi, who, orphaned when he was young, was brought up in a brothel. He learned the ways of the brothel, or something, and as a result became incredibly hostile to the idea of relationships and love as a whole. Now he is a college student who teaches a cram school for money. One day on his commute back to his flat, he comes across an abandoned doggirl called Mikan, and decided to shelter her from the rain and take her into his flat. Through-out the story he eventually gets another doggirl and starts living with Risa, the sister of Mikan’s original owner. Quite quickly the game goes into porn mode, which is really no shock considering the main characters back story, when the main character is convinced to help ‘relieve’ the group of doggirls and catgirls while they are in heat.

Now there is something incredibly fascinating at the core of this game, and to talk about it I’ll be spoiling one of the two routes in the game. So if you really want to read what is a rather one dimensional plot then ignore some of this. Anyway, this game, intentionally or not, really blurs the line between the owning a pet and living with a person. Just by having these catgirls and doggirls here, and I don’t play many games in this genre so I have no idea if it’s done elsewhere or not, really makes the whole thing seem a bit weird. For example, the second doggirl Yuuichi owns was owned by a breeder. She is an incredibly rare breed of doggirl, or something, and her previous owner was trying to make her pregnant with another type of breed to, you know breed an even more exclusive doggirl. This is a practise that does exist in this world with dogs and, I don’t know enough about it to know how frowned upon it really is, but in this context it can be equated to a form of rape. Similarly at the end of one of the routes, Mikan goes missing. It starts to become apparent that she might be lost forever, and in fact she was stolen by a group of people with the intent to sell her away. Again, this is a thing that does happen unfortunately, but when applied to these anthropoidic animals it becomes a bit more heavy hitting, especially when talking about how the penalties of killing a pet are far less than killing a human, it’s an incredibly weird thing to see these human-esque animals not being treated as humans in the slightest. Again, I have no idea if this game intended that, and I’m pretty sure it did not, this is just a weird observation that I made while looking maybe too much into the story.

Then again if I didn’t read that much into the story there wouldn’t really be much for me here. The game is broken down into two different routes; the first route is with your roommate Risa. In this route, Risa upon learning of Yuuchi’s past attempts to become his first love, and some hilarity ensues I guess. This route is also the one that focuses more on Yuuichi’s two doggirl pets, and treats the four as one big happy family of sorts. The other route is with the owner of a local pet store called Nadeshiko, who despite being the lolicon of the game, is rather predictably older than Yuuichi. The second route seems to be thrown in as an afterthought, or at least as an excuse to have a porn scene with the only other non catgirl or doggirl member of the main cast. The main story beats, and in my opinion the better route, is the Risa route for reasons I detailed in the previous paragraph.

So overall this is at the very least an alright visual novel. The art I have to say is rather fantastic, but I just wish there was more to the story. The characters for the most part are completely one dimensional and the Risa route, while a compelling final story beat, seems to be more of a quick grab for an emotional response as opposed to a well thought out arc. There’s obviously an audience for games like this but for me personally, it needed that little bit more to be great.

Super Secret Project Shh

If any of you follow my Twitter account you may notice in between all the talk about My Little Pony and the obvious sexual tension between Sparklykiss and I, I talk about something called ‘Super Secret Project Shh’. Well now, finally, I can reveal just what that project is!

So I started this project exactly one year ago today; and I felt I shouldn’t tell anyone about it until the time was right, I guess. The only problem with that is with no obligation to finish it quickly, I just ended up adding a bunch of stuff to the game. Now though, I feel the game is going at a steady pace that I might be able to release it at some point this year hopefully maybe oh god.

So just what is this game? This game is Bullet Bill 3, a sequel to the predictably named Bullet Bill 2. I find this next part weird to say, but if you were on the internet 5-6 years ago and played flash games, you probably stumbled onto this. Like I said, this is weird, because it sounds incredibly pompous. But even if you search Bullet Bill in Google, the first two games take up the majority of the results. Bulletbill.com is a website that I didn’t even make where you can play the first two games. Bullet Bill 2 on Newgrounds sits at over 800,000 views, and still gets around 250 plays every day, 5 years after it was released. As far as flash games go, these games were pretty popular, so much so that when coding the game at university last year instead of university work, classmates would come up to me saying “Oh cool Bullet Bill 2 I haven’t played that in ages!” They were completely shocked when I told them I made those games, I’m pretty sure some didn’t believe me.

Anyway, the game is rather simple. You control a Bullet Bill and try to dodge obstacles, you get hit once you die and start from the beginning again. Through-out the level there are bricks and enemies to kill and get points. Very basic stuff, but pretty fun if the ‘success’ is anything to go by. The 2nd game came out in 2006, and I always said I’d only make a sequel if there was a legitimate reason to. Back then I was a pretty terrible programmer (even compared to me now where I’m only slightly competent) so any ideas I had were shot down by my own coding limitations.

And I hated that.

Therefore, I never did anything like it until I had more programming knowledge to do it justice. Fast forwarding to last year, and after playing a bunch of Modnation Racers and LittleBigPlanet, I got really interested in the idea of user created content. I set about trying to figure out just how I could make that work, but still a little sceptical if there was anyone that would actually use it. Still I ventured forth and over the next 4 or 5 months I created a basic level creation tool, where I could create and save levels in basic text dumps and load them back up with no problem. I took some inspiration from flash game Punk-o-Matic, in which saved levels are also done in a similar way, and Excitebike, for having different characters correspond to different elements within the game. Back then, I was pretty happy with it, and was ready to announce. But then I decided to just add more stuff to the game, stuff that necessarily doesn’t make the levels any better but just for stupid fun. After watching a lot of those Super Mario World Rube Goldberg videos I decided to add bob-ombs and change the properties of koopa shells to allow for crazy stuff like giant lines of koopa shells flying everywhere. A lot of fine tuning to make everything just feel right, but at the same time trying not to make everything so crazy that the original ‘dodge stuff’ gameplay was compromised. I decided at some point to also have a bunch of non-Mario characters, to which Rufi91 jumped at the chance to suggest Nyan Cat, and I made a bunch of sprites to make it fit in with the Mario All-Stars style. I added a few other just silly characters but those are still secret I guess.

The music was made by a friend of mine known as Wolfgun, and you can find his dope beats over on his Soundcloud. While he doesn’t do much remix stuff, I actually first encountered him via the greatest Super Mario RPG remix ever made, so there’s that.

Don’t really know what else to talk about so I’ll leave it at that! I hope you enjoyed the video I put together (I’m still pretty new to video editing so aaaah) and I’d really love to hear your opinions on the video and if you’ve ever played the previous games. But most of all, I’d really love if you guys could tell people about it! I’ve been working on this is secret and as a result only a handful of people even knew it existed. Now, however, I want people to know! So please any help in that would be incredibly appreciated.

So if you remember from last week I mentioned my new found love of My Little Pony, and the more eagle eyed readers may notice that this is the mashup segment.

So... here you go!

How did I find time to do these as well as edit that video? Who knows!

Man what a week! It’s been rather crazy all around. I guess I better get back to coding! Again, any thoughts on the trailer would be greatly appreciated. You can also play the original two games on my website, Psy City, as well as a bunch of other games, movies and mashups that I’ve made over the last 7 or so years. So until next time!

36 Comments

I Play Porn Games For The Story // 07.08.2011

Blog time! Hey everyone and welcome to another edition of videogames, visual novels and probably other stuff! This week has been pretty great for a few reasons, one you’ll hopefully be privy to in the coming weeks! Hell, maybe even next week, who can say! It’s kinda like a big deal, like, you should just stop reading here and just wait for that announcement.

...You’re still here? Well, I guess I have something for this week. Let’s see what I can whip up.

Breath of Death VII

I’ve been meaning to pick this one up for quite some time, ever since one of my internet friends started raving about it back when it was on the Xbox indie channel. Now it’s up on Steam so I finally got around to playing a little bit of Breath of Death VII. The game is pretty short and I completed it in one sitting, which I guess makes sense because it’s so cheap and comes bundled with Cthulhu Saves The World, so I can’t really complain about that.

First off, the humour, I found the humour pretty good for the most part. I lot of references tucked away here and there, and some just generally funny dialogue between the main character and his companions. When I started playing it I was pretty down on the humour, expecting it to just be completely out of place references, as if it was the Family Guy of videogames (which is a bad thing). The moment I turned though was town of Motherbound, a rather obvious nod to Mother/Earthbound franchise. The first person in the town says something along the lines of “Not a lot of people get to visit our town, but it’d probably be too costly to make it available around the world.” Great! I was on board 100% after that.

The other part of the game, literally the only other thing it has, is the combat system. If played the game or even watched the quick look you’ll know a bit about this already, but I find it rather interesting. The battle system itself is also rather reminiscent of Mother, with its first person-esque view and downright silly enemies. The system of the enemies getting stronger every turn is great, but doesn’t really affect strategy as much as you might think. In normal RPG games I usually zone in on one enemy, kill them, and then rinse repeat for the rest of the encounter. Here, however, you might not do this, as whatever enemy you’re left with, if the encounter had a large number of enemies, will be incredibly overpowered. Luckily as luck would have it you’re in luck! There are quite a few spells, and some weapons, that target every single enemy, making taking all enemies out fast a viable option. Except wait! That’ll mean you’re doing less damage to each enemy, making them stay alive for longer, and making them all more powerful as time going on. The power amplifier system does a great job of being well balanced that general RPG tactics can still apply without one being more beneficial than the other.

Another part I liked was how random encounters were handled. This game fixes random encounters, guys, like for serious. Each dungeon or area has a set number of random encounters, meaning once you hit that amount of random encounters, you will never encounter enemies in that dungeon or area randomly ever again. Now, this game doesn’t have any back tracking, but I can see a system like this being incredibly beneficial for an RPG with said backtracking. At a point when you’re going through a dungeon for a second time you’re incredibly overpowered and the random encounters are nothing more than a nuisance. If this system was in place, however, imagine going through a previous dungeon without that worry, and being able to explore in peace, it’s magical! The game also features a battle button, meaning if you want to fight you can, even if there are no more random encounters in that area. If there are though, this will count towards that counter, meaning if you’re crazy like me, you can just use this to prematurely end all random encounters in a dungeon in the first screen. So yes the system can be gamed slightly but I still find it super well done.

Cthulhu Saves The World

I started playing Cthulhu Saves The World right after beating Breath of Death VII. This was probably a really bad mistake, as despite the improvements I was pretty burned out from beating Breath of Death VII in one sitting. I’m sure this one is pretty great just like the previous game but a little bit too much to handle all at once. Hopefully I’ll have this game done by next week and have something to say about it then.

(That’s not the announcement.)

Team Fortress 2

Everyone’s favourite JJWeatherman alerted me on twitter to a Team Fortress 2 Bombing Run happening. Considering I was doing a fat load of nothing at the time I decided to join in! I managed to get on despite a 250+ ping so... sorry to everyone I was with if I was ever glitching around the map. My main class is the Soldier but since I was just fooling around I decided to switch class every few deaths. You can also tell I don’t really play a lot of FPS games or really care about my stats by the way that I expect to die around twice as much as I kill. But whatever, it’s all about having fun!

I wouldn’t even mention this, because I end up playing a little TF2 every so often anyway, I usually don’t have anything other than “yo I shot some dudes” to say about it. This week is different however. Because I shot some dudes...

With arrows.

I couldn’t believe it myself, one map I decided to go Sniper because why not. I don’t play Sniper that much in any FPS game because, despite having good twitch reflexes, I don’t find sniping that fun, ever. I had the Huntsman equipped and was too lazy to switch it out so I rushed to the center point, with JJWeatherman all up in my ass being all Medic like, and got two Huntsman headshots in a row! I even dominated some fool! It was fun and I should play on the Giant Bomb server more often, but maybe I’ll try and get a faster internet connection first.

Tiny Tower

“HEY PSY”, the annoying voice inside my head shouted with the inconspicuousness of a chainsaw powering at 6am, “You should play Tiny Tower while your code compiles!” For some reason instead of completely disregarding what I had to say (I have issues), I took myself up on the offer and downloaded Tiny Tower. I’ve been casually interested in it ever since it was featured on Tested’s App of the Week segment, but never felt the need to try it out until now.

It’s pretty fun, but after the first day or so the addictive nature of it wore off almost completely for me. In the first day I only had about 3 or 4 shops and I was determined to get the most goddamn coins I could. I had alerts on (something I’d rectified since) so I knew exactly when to stock new items, using math to figure out average sell time so I could always make sure stores had at least one item in stock at all times. I was even evicting everyone new to my tower unless their dream job was one of the 3 already established floors. It was crazy. That’s changed already; however, now that I have about 10 or so stores, I just order everything at once and don’t touch it for maybe 4 hours, restock and order again, it’s a pretty basic cycle. I’d say the game is still pretty fun if you like that micromanaging type stuff, but it quickly gets to the point for me at least, that there are too many variables to care about the maximum amount of output without going virtually insane, and the further you get into the game the more variables they’ll be.

Also I have no friends on Game Center so I can’t even show off to other people!

Hitomi - My Stepsister

The one thing I’ve always hated about visual novels is the porn. Not to say that I don’t like boobs or anything, but in the past I’ve tried to make a very clear distinction between ’visual novels’ and ‘porn games’ as I’ve always felt, and still strongly feel, that the two are not one in the same. This is partially the reason behind the stupid blog title; I tried to get one of my friends into visual novels only to be met with “I’m not gonna play porn games what the hell”. After trying my every so damndest to try and make my friend see things differently, I caved as soon as he kept saying “who the hell would play porn games for the story?” Why am I saying all of this? Well this week’s entry is Hitomi – My Stepsister, and this is a fucking porn game.

When you load up the game you’re greeted with a terrible mess of string voices that make up the company’s logo and a main menu featuring one of the characters topless. Off to a good start. The story starts off with the main character, Takahiro, living a normal life with his overworking father. His father divorced from his mother due to him constantly being at work. One day, however, Takahiro’s dad has suddenly remarried, and now they’re living with Yoko, his new stepmother, and the titular Hitomi who, which may come to no shock to find out, is the stepsister in question. Also featured is a classmate of Takahiro whom he admires, but that’s neither here nor there. That’s really all the set up you need, or rather, all the set up you’re gonna get. The game rather quickly goes into choice mode to decide which one of these three girls you’re gonna end up romancing. Both the stepsister and stepmother route just make the main character seem like a giant dick. Especially if you think about his father, who has been alone working hard to keep a roof over their head, and who has finally found love again after how many years, only for Takahiro to fuck everything up in, like, a week or so. Then again, the story was probably not thought that indepthly.

In fact I’d go as far to say the story really isn’t thought about at all. None of the routes make any sense, the main character will do three completely different things one after another, destroying any illusion of him being a well thought out character. The actual story arcs for the heroines are also rather all over the place, with only Hitomi’s plot having even the slightest resemblance to character progression, but even that is stretching it slightly. What the story is in all three routes is just a convenient way to segway from one porn scene to the next. I wouldn’t be surprised if all the porn scenes were made first before someone thinking “oh god we have to justify this somehow” and throwing together this haphazard plot a week before shipping.

Another weird thing that sort of lends itself to that theory is that the game would constantly crash for me, because I’d actually take the time to read the text. So this is probably that “old game meet Windows 7” bug but it happened often enough I may as well mention it. So for some reason every time the music would loop in a scene, instead of setting the music back to the beginning of the song it would instead repeat the last 5 seconds over, and over, and over, AND OVER. This is extra frustrating as more often than not that’d include the fade out to silence. When the music glitched like this, whenever it switched to a scene with different music, the game would lock up and not respond. Again, this is probably a Windows 7 thing, but holy hot hell it was annoying, as it forced me to reload the game and skip to the scene or make saves every time I thought the game would switch scene.

Every so often I do something that can’t be labelled using the admittedly incredibly otaku-esque headers I’ve used up to this point. So for these rare occasions I’ve devised this miscellaneous section! How convenient! Now some of you might be thinking "finally stopping with all this weeaboo crap! Time for some real content like food and blood and handegg!" Well hold your horses, or should I say hold your ponies?

My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic

Oh boy here we go!

So until very recently I’ve been pretty down on this recent My Little Pony craze, but at the same time never had that much exposure to it. The only people I knew who watched it, or rather admitted to watching it, were my two bestest internet friends who, obviously not caring about my stance on the whole thing, would talk about ponies seemingly ALL THE TIME. It sort of annoyed me but at the same time since I hadn’t even given the show a chance, or rather at that time I was still oblivious there was a show to give a chance to, I didn’t really object that much. Eventually I read more into it and learned about the legacy behind the show, the Powerpuff Girls and Fairly Odd Parents connections, and figured I may as well give it a shot eventually. Then I was linked to one random scene and the only thing I could even say was. “What... wait no wait what?”

“Did they just make a Blazing Saddles reference?”

I was shocked, like, I know I probably shouldn’t’ve been but damn, it was pretty well done. This was the tipping point, and my cold dark hatred filled heart slowly thawed over the full day marathon of the entire 1st season.

So after watching it I can completely understand both why people love it and why people hate it. First off I do have to say that I really enjoyed it, and any criticisms I do have against it sort of crumble and fall apart when you remember the intended audience for the show, so you know whatever. The characters fall into stereotypes rather easily, some of the plots either feel like reused plots from PPG or other shows in that sort of vain with a little twist, and as always friendship conquers all of life’s problems, which admittedly you’d come to expect due to the name of the show. Again, I don’t know how much I can hold this against the show all that much considering the target audience. On the plus side, there are some really funny episodes, the characters for the most part (which can be read, “all except for Rarity”) are pretty great, and as someone who hates when shows just randomly go into song for no reason, the times in which they go into songs rather randomly aren’t that bad, all except for one time but then the joke following the song is that the song is terrible, so that’s pretty funny.

While I’d say I’m a fan, I still find quite a lot of the fandom to be absolutely crazy, but then again you can pretty much say that about most things on the internet, so I’m not going to complain about something like that. Just felt the need to say if anyone is like how I used to be and absolutely don’t understand just what the hell this whole thing is all about, I’d say you may as well give it a shot. Sure there are some bad episodes but I still find it pretty fun to watch, even to re-watch, something which I hardly ever do with any TV show.

And that’s it for this week! I woke up on the Friday to find that Bastion was available for pre-order on Steam so I pre-ordered that before doing anything else that day. Seems like the best decision I’ve made in a while. I can’t tell yet if I want to be that guy who waits for it to come out, and quickly play through it to get all the 10 idols and try and top the leaderboard. Mostly because if I dedicate myself to doing that, no doubt I’ll not make it in time and be super pissed off because of it. If I don’t do it I don’t risk my pride, really. But who knows, August 16th that way as well be years from now! Who’s thinking that far ahead? Not me at least!

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I Play Porn Games For The Story // 31.07.2011

Hello and welcome to another edition of ‘whatever I can be bothered to write in between programming and generally doing nothing’ also known as my stupid weekly blog! Somehow I managed to scrape by this week with, again, doing almost absolutely nothing. I don’t know why I’ve gotten into that kind of mindset but at the same time I don’t give a fuck, real life is boring, all I need is porn games! I doubt anyone actually reads anything past the title before quitting out due to the realisation this isn’t just a quick one off thread about a man and his love for visual novels and therefore they can’t make fun of said man for it. Or something, anyway, let’s get this over with.

Chantelise

So this week marked the release of Carpe Fulgur’s latest joint, Chantelise. People might know these guys better as the team responsible for translating Recettear, which I deemed my personal 4th best game of 2010, and they definitely keep up to their extremely high quality localization standards with their 2nd project.

So a little backstory is probably needed here. Both Recettear and Chantelise were originally created by doujin circle EasyGameStation in 2007 and 2006 respectively, this means technically Recettear is the follow up to Chantelise. Not since Armour of God has there been this much confusion between sequels. The only reason I mention this is so people who don’t know about it don’t start thinking “oh boy from the creators of Recettear? I loved that game I wonder what their next game is like!” Not saying this is a bad game, far from it, but it doesn’t have the unique shop system that Recettear had. Instead, this is just a straight up 3D Action RPG. Also I hope you liked the assets in Recettear, because they’re here too! Hooray for reused assets! ...Or rather, hooray for assets that were originally created for this game and then reused in Recettear because that was technically made after aaaah fuck it, Operation Condor 2: Chantelise.

So this is, as I said, an Action RPG, and an extremely fun one at that. You go around 6 dungeons hacking and slashing everything in your way, eventually reaching a boss that will kill you, and you try not to throw your controller through the monitor and send the bill to Carpe Fulgur. Yes this game, as well as being fun, is insanely hard in that great old style that only Japanese games can do so well. You might beat the dungeon levels with relative ease but before you know it you’re up against a boss that can hit you for more than half your health and before you can say “Oh fuck what do I do” you’re back at the town, defeated. One reason behind this is that your character doesn’t level up, that’s right, an RPG game without experience points, it’s kind of weird. Instead, all of the character progression is via better items, such as better armour, better magic wands, health vials that increase your max health, and so on. The health vials are consumed once purchased but most of everything else you need to dedicate an item slot to, of which you only have two at the beginning of the game, and you gain one more after defeating some bosses. This is a really interesting approach to take, as it can mean you can fight the final boss as weak as you started out the game if you’re crazy, but also means if you don’t use magic that much you don’t have to dedicate any slots to magic boosters. Items can also stack too, such as you can equip two gauntlets at once to further boost attack if that’s what you want to specialise in. Items can be changed via the pause menu in a dungeon too, which is great as you can customize your items to better suit different encounters, or different boss patterns. Wear a bunch of armour to stun a boss, and switch to all attack boosters while the boss can’t attack, strategy HO!

As previously stated there is also magic in this game, and the magic system is actually pretty interesting. When you attack an enemy sometimes they will drop magic crystals. You can pick up up to 6 of these crystals to perform magic attacks. These magic crystals come in earth, fire, wind and water variety (unfortunately, no heart crystal) and deal different attacks depending on the element. For instance, water is a homing projectile, wind is an electric attack, fire is a fireball and earth is a circulating ball that floats around Elise (to which Chante says “Stop. Hammerball!” oh Carpe Fulgur I love you). Now the interesting part comes from combining the elements together. At the start of the game Chante can combine two elements together, and by the end she can combine four. Two earths together gives Elise super armour, giving her more defence and no knockback from attacks, two fires is an explosion, one earth and two wind gives three revolving balls (if I remember correctly). The rate that the enemies drop these crystals and the fact that you can only carry six at one time mean you’ll more often than not have enough magic to spare and completely overkill enemies, though once you pick up crystals there is no way to sort them, so there is a strategy in only picking up, say, water crystals, as three water crystals is a nice healing spell that can be extremely useful especially in that final boss oh god.

There’s also fishing, and no I don’t know why either. I assume someone working on the game thought to himself why not and added in a whole fishing system for no real reason. You can get the fishing rod from someone in the first level, and then whenever you’re in a level with water (or lava, whatever) you can go fishing. The item screen even keeps a tally of what type of fish you’ve collected, of which there are 46, and how many. Is there any point to this? No, not really, but it’s an incredibly throwaway thing that most people will probably won’t even come across until they’ve finished the game, so it’s nice to have a little something else to do.

Another cool little thing is that every single level has a hidden treasure, giving you good reason to go back and explore said levels again, because these hidden treasures contain some of the best equipment in the game. These hidden treasures will only pop up once certain requirements have been filled, be it kill a certain enemy first, or hit all the boulders in the level, and whatnot. Once you’ve found all the hidden treasure in a dungeon, this opens up a secret new level that usually involves a bunch of giant enemies all trying to kill you. Each level also has a time attack mode if you want to go that route, but this mode doesn’t give you a goal time or anything, meaning for me at least there isn’t that much incentive to find the fastest routes through each level.

I do have to point out that the story and the script in general is rather fantastic. That’s not just me fanboying out on Carpe Fulgur, I really found all of their work to be absolutely amazing... as fanboy-ish as that sounds. The story is rather basic for the most part; the two sisters Chante and Elise have been searching for the past five years for the witch that turned Chante into a fairy. The game starts at this five year mark in which the sisters reach a town with a famous fortune teller, hoping that she can help them on their journey. You meet up with the owner of an item shop who helps you on your journey and adventure awaits. There are a few foreshadowing moments that makes you just instinctively go “she’s the witch!” or at least I did, but the way the story actually unravels is rather well done and not that predictable at all, and a final scene that made me smile way too much.

I really enjoyed this game, and will probably continue to play it despite technically finishing the game. The only thing I have left to do is complete the ‘survival dungeon’, which gives you 60 random floors with bosses at every 10th, to see how low you can go. The floors increase will difficulty with every floor, meaning I’ve only ever gotten to about 25 (little over an hour in) before dying in two or three hits. In all fairness my tactic is equipping all the power up items, speed boots to go faster, winged boots to air dash and the darkness crystal that, without any defence items, gives me a pitiful three defence is return for a charged up health sapping attack. Now that I mention it that’s probably the problem, but as long as I stick to my strategy of “don’t get hit” I should be fine.

Tony Hawk’s Underground

So everyone’s favourite AjayRaz was talking about buying Tony Hawk’s Underground on twitter, and that made me bust out my old copy for the Gamecube, and almost as if by result my Gamecube, to play it myself.

This game is still super fun.

This is the 2nd last Tony Hawk game I’d declare is still a lot of fun to play; Underground 2 is not that last one due to it being a giant pile of stupid, rather American Wasteland is. Super 8 or whatever is okay from what I’ve played of it and the less said about pretty much everything after that the better. But whatever this is about Underground.

What can I say about a game that’s almost 8 years old? Surely ‘this game is still super fun’ covers almost everything about this game at this point. But then again I’ve never been known for having short statements. Gameplay in this game is the peak of the Tony Hawk franchise in my opinion. While all the shitty parkour stuff in American Wasteland can be used for even sillier combos, the hip transfer and wall plant was the last few additions the game needed to be absolutely amazing. Level design is pretty great too, something I can really only appreciate now as opposed to when I originally played it, though including Tony Hawk 2 levels such as the School just puts how much better the team had gotten at their level design.

So this game is dumb, especially the storyline. Again these are things I can only really ‘appreciate’ now, but hot damn Neversoft are so goddamn racist. Like what the hell how did they get away with some of these characters? Also the car controls are the shittest thing I’ve ever seen in any videogame ever created in the world since the beginning of time. Then again, the entire game is meant to be incredibly stupid (I hope), so in that vein I’m playing as the Spy from Team Fortress 2.

(I apologize for the insanely terrible quality)

You know this actually helps the story make sense; I should’ve never worn that Eric Sparrow mask in Hawaii!

VVVVVV

I also played a little bit of VVVVVV due to the recent rather drastic changes to the game, and I wanted to see if I can still speed run this mother. It seems like the changes have only messed up one screen of my speed run which I can probably get around by being better at videogames.

If you can’t tell I really like this game, having technically bought it three times now (via original site, Steam and the latest indie bundle) and including it in the previously mentioned best of 2010 list. I find it great for attempting speed runs, because I’m insane. I’ve been trying to beat it in under 15 minutes (15:42 being my current record) but that seems damn near impossible unless I completely nail that fucking Gravitron screen. Also because I can, here’s a little taste of my speed run from like last year, to prove that I’m not all talk.

Saya no Uta

If you’ve ever wondered where the girl from my videogame banner comes from well have I got news for you, she’s from Saya no Uta, a game that is ‘fucked up’ in every sense of the phrase and even in some senses that it isn’t. The main character, Fuminori, three months prior to the start of the game was in a traffic accident that killed his parents and left him extremely injured. However, the operation that helped him survive had accidentally completely and utterly messed up his vision. Not to the point in which he can’t see, rather, everything he sees is rancid and disgusting. Surfaces are covered in pulsing vile flesh and his best friends are only seen as disgusting monsters. He tries his hardest to cover this up, but every moment of his life is torture. The only upside to this is a girl he met at the hospital, seemingly the only thing unaffected by this, called Saya, whom he now lives with. The story basically covers Fuminori and Saya’s life together and some really bad things start happening to both them and Fuminori’s friends.

So that’s the basic overview, as mentioned before the game has a rather, unique style to it. By that I mean the visuals are super gory. So gory, is fact, some screens actually made me physically ill when looking at them. At the beginning there are options to blur or darken the images if you have a weak stomach, which should be indication alone to how nauseating these images can get. And really that’s the main draw for this visual novel, in my opinion. Not to say that the story is bad in any way, but it’s definitely the style that makes this one stand out among the rest.

The story goes in interesting directions for sure. Rather predictably, Saya is actually a gruesome monster, and it’s only Fuminori that sees her as a girl. The inside of Fuminori’s house has been ‘painted’ in such a way that makes it not perceived as vile flesh, which as you’ll see a pattern here, is actually rather disgusting to ‘normal’ people who are unfortunate enough to enter his house. For a large portion of the story Fuminori eats normal food only to survive due to it being repulsive to him. Though at some points he comes home to find what is actually a corpse, but to him, looks and tastes like delicious fruit.

I find this rather interesting especially when it comes to choosing what ending you want. From anybody else’s perspective in the story, Fuminori is an evil cannibalistic psychopath who should be put into a mental institution, yet from his point of view, for the majority of the story anyway, he’s just trying to survive in a nightmarish world. Do you want the protagonist to have the best ending possible? Or would you rather have him die? It’s a weird thing to be given the perspective of someone who could be the bad guy, especially when what’s the best ending for him might be the worst possible ending for everyone else.

I’d say if you can handle a decent amount of gore you should check this one out, it’s pretty short but as stated the story and style do enough things differently from everything else to warrant a check, in my opinion.

Again I’ve found myself messing around with audio software. This time I decided to practise transitions between songs, trying to make them seamless or at least not extremely terrible. To do that I made this 40 minute long mashup, featuring everything from Timbaland to Avenged Sevenfold to Spice Girls to Gorillaz to more Timbaland. I wouldn’t blame you for not listening to it to be honest, but you know, I always like feedback, no matter how harsh! Mashups Are Magic!

I’m wondering how many people (if any) have been interested in the visual novels I’ve been talking about. If I’ve made even one duder more interested in these kinds of games then I’m doing god’s work I guess. But yeah, really interested in that, and I hope you enjoyed reading this! I never like asking for people to post but any opinions on what I write about (or really my style of writing) are appreciated. I also wonder how many people just don’t bother reading this because of the name of the blog, but then again I can’t say that here because they wouldn’t be reading and therefore don’t know I’m wondering that. Yeah. Here’s to another week I guess!

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I Play Porn Games For The Story // 24.07.2011

Head’s up, here’s another one! Another week of videogames, visual novels, anime and programming nonsense! So I realised, like, yesterday that I’ve pretty much spent the last week doing absolutely nothing. Usually I’d follow up this thought with a “of course Psy you don’t do anything at all why would this week be any different” and I’d be all “why do you think you can shorten my username like that, get back motherfucker you don’t know me like that” and I’d promptly challenge him to a match at Summerslam. It’ll pretty much be like the Mick Foley vs. Dude Love vs. Mankind vs. Cactus Jack fatal 4-way we’ve all secretly wanted to see.

Wait... where was I? Oh right, the blog.

Persona 3 Portable

So I’ve still been trucking along with Persona 3 Portable, my current play style is story line and social links during the day and Tartarus runs during the night, much like how the game works now that I think about it, usually accompanied with some kind of Whiskey Media related podcast. I’ve rather recently switched my play style for this run to be a Minako/Ken only run because, why not really. This makes Tartarus rather weird admittedly, and actually I think it makes the game a whole lot easier.

The trick with using fewer characters in your party boils down to experience points. In Persona 3 Portable, and many other games, you get a base amount of experience based on who you fight, and that is split between your many members. Since I’m only using two party members, the experience is only split three ways as opposed to five, as Fuuka still takes a share, and thus they all level up almost twice as fast. Now the great part of Persona 3 is that enemies can be scared of you in Tartarus, and that only factors in the main character’s level. This means the enemies will get scared faster, be more susceptible to player advantages, and will often be distressed when the fight starts, rendering them more susceptible to critical hits as well. All of this very quickly adds up, makes fights that one or two members would never be able to beat being extremely easy rush jobs due to the amount of advantages the player gets. This then obviously adds to more experience, and the characters get even more powerful. Since this is a persona game bosses will usually have some kind of exploit, even if that exploit it just hella mind change yo, and Ken learns a bunch of healing spells, it’s almost as if I planned this kind of run out!

The bad thing is anything outside of Tartarus becomes rather difficult. I just finished the early October full moon event which, to avoid any spoilers, renders Ken unavailable to fight for that boss. I knew this was coming, having played FES a lot, but it can still be rather tricky. Outside Tartarus also has a weird limitation in which Fuuka will say it’s “too dangerous” to go fight the shadows without a full party, despite everyone who isn’t Ken and Minako being rather close to their starting levels which, may not surprise you, means they are about as reliable in battle as a WWE referee is to a light breeze.

Ken is also one of the better ones for a two party run (I will justify this as much as I can dammit) due to him being one of the earliest characters to have their Persona evolve. The ultimate personas, unlike in Persona 4, are unlocked via storyline beats as opposed to maxing out social links. Another difference is ultimate personas learn different skills than the starting personas. For example, Ken’s starting persona only learns 7 moves and can’t learn any more, hell Fuuka’s only learns 3. When they evolve, however, they get a bunch more moves they can unlock. It’s a weird limitation, and I don’t know if this is the case, but I really hope this means I don’t skip moves by levelling up these characters before they get their ultimate persona. I may have skipped Ken learning Mazionga, but I just really hope I don’t skip any Fuuka abilities as those are actually useful.

Another thing I’d like to mention briefly is the different mentalities between the male and female protagonists. I guess this is just that usual different sex double standard but it’s weird giving the choice. So in Persona 3 and 4 the main characters are regular P.I.M.Ps, they can get with almost every single female character given a voice actor and get away with it, that is, if the player is good enough at maintaining them all. Persona 3 Portable, with the female protagonist, totally also has this option, but I actually had to think about if I wanted to do it. Though should have I even had that second thought, especially since I did it without even thinking when the protagonist was male. I guess what I’m trying to say is:

Or something.

Speaking of sluts, it’s time for a visual novel!

Yume Miru Kusuri

This is a weird one, if you actively pay attention to the visual novel ‘scene’ or whatever you want to call it, you’ve probably heard of this one. In fact, Yume Miru Kusuri: A Drug That Makes You Dream is probably one of the more well known visual novels, often touted as a beginner’s visual novel. I can sort of see why this story would be given that sort of treatment but if I’m honest I’ve never really understood the appeal of this one, at least not fully. I also like the idea of the visual novel ‘scene’, and I’m pretty sure no-one actually cares for them and everyone silently mocks me for writing so much about them. But I digress.

In this visual novel there are three incredibly different heroines for the main character Kouhei. There is Nekoko; a weird eccentric fairy cat girl... thing that asks Kouhei to help her find the home of the fairies... yeah. Then there is Aeka, who gets relentlessly bullied at school, and Mizuki, the school council president hailing from a rich family. The only thing that ties the heroines together is that their lives suck, suck more than even Kouhei’s, and while some problems are obviously more apparent than others, Kouhei pretty much has to decide who he wants to spend his time with and ultimately try to help. On top of all this Kouhei has to balance his part time job with a perverted gay guy who only plays visual novels all day (how meta) and his stepsister who, despite having a few random scenes here and there and going to the trouble to establish Kouhei as being adopted, doesn’t actually have a route.

So where this visual novel sorta loses me is right here, the characters themselves are rather pathetic in their own special way, and when you actually play every route you soon realise just how severe the consequences are if you don’t go with each girl. What I mean by that is, in all three of these girls would probably die if you weren’t there. Obviously you don’t really care in the first route, but hot damn, if you actually think about it it’s rather messed up. Another problem with the characters is that they are so different, which admittedly is a super weird thing to complain about. The characters are so different that they really have nothing to do with each other, and the main character really hasn’t got any incentive to go with a specific girl. This means that the character differences are there only to give some kind of weight to the player as opposed to the main character. I myself never like inserting myself into a story, even with games like this, so that kind of rubs me the wrong way. Other visual novels will sometimes have the ‘best route’ or ‘true route’, and I prefer that to ‘here are three extremely different routes and none of them are considered correct’.

I’ve also never seen a visual novel in which each heroine is so fiercely contested as this one, it’s completely crazy and I have no idea why it exists, yet at the same time I can completely understand. This game can be described as a one route game, in the sense that because the characters are so different, there will probably only be one heroine that the player will want to choose. After playing this route, any other routes will just seem completely boring and meaningless by comparison. It’s a very weird thing that I ended up doing as well. The first route I played was Aeka, and absolutely loved the route for the most part. On subsequent playthroughs I could not give a single flying fuck about anything that happened in the other routes. Yet as stated earlier people will wildly contest which route is the best stating this exact feeling for one of the other two routes. The first time I played a route after Aeka, the main character nonchalantly says that Aeka killed herself, but then went on to say he didn’t care as he had nothing to do with her. It’s such a weird thing, in her route you’re obviously there to convince her not to commit suicide, without you she has nothing.

Like I said each character is fucked up in their own unique way, and this game uses that to attack the player. People who have had friends die due to bullying will probably be more attached to Aeka, and people who know people in the positions that Nekoko and Mizuki are in will without a doubt be more willing to help them. I said earlier I don’t like seeing myself in stories like this, and this visual novel lives off that exact concept. You’ll get a lot more out of this story if you can picture yourself in these scenarios, but for me, I don’t think that’s a good thing. I’d still say it’s a recommendable visual novel if you want to try some of these kinds of stories out, you just might not be that interested in all the stories it has to offer.

I don’t claim to be an amazing programmer, hell I don’t even claim to be a programmer. I’m currently sitting my degree and have a bunch of flash games under my belt dating back to 2006. I have a certain perspective on games and I’d love to hear any thoughts or duelling opinions on. While I try my hardest to not be another echo in the cavern known as an internet forum, some of these points might just be regurgitated from other people, who knows, it’s not like I’d ever bother checking.

Importance of Scoring

The concept of high scores is weird, you do certain things right and you get 10, 20 or maybe even 100 points. It’s a good feeling, but, does score and high score tables matter? I’d be hypocrite to say that they don’t matter anymore, especially since I do like seeing my progress on leaderboards as much as possible. However, this is from a programming standpoint, which puts score in a completely different light in my opinion, I’ll try to convey my thoughts from both sides and please, call my out on my bullshit if you disagree, my views are weird after all.

So as a ‘gamer’, high scores I feel are still pretty important. There is a certain bragging right that’s associated with high score tables, the same kind that the various achievement systems have successfully capitalised on. The score is a great mechanic to successfully measure your skill with other players, and adds an incentive to play the game again to be the very best, like no-one ever was. There are a lot of games in which they don’t even have that yet score can add a lot to the experience. I can’t imagine playing the original Super Mario Bros. and not seeing the ‘100’ point text fly out of the enemy, yet there’s no way to tell people I just did that, there was no high score table saying how many goombas I’ve successfully stomped and how many more I’ve stomped over my friends. There was no Twitter integration saying “Hey guys, I just stomped a goomba in #SuperMarioBros! Can you beat my score?” Despite none of these features, I do believe the experience would still lessen without it. I guess we sort of live in a different kind of world, and have a different mentality, that having these scores to show off our abilities is completely engrained in us. Without this arbitrary score what is there to drive us to do better in the game? I know that I would not play Super Meat Boy as much as I do if it wasn’t for the high score table. I may be able to get all the platinum relics in Crash Bandicoot 3 but if there was a way of telling me how much better my friends were than me you bet I’d try everything I could to show them up. Also no matter the type of game, a higher score is always more appealing. Take Call of Duty 4 and Modern Warfare 2, for instance. In Call of Duty 4 when you kill a guy you get 10 points, in Modern Warfare 2, however, you get 100 points. This is completely meaningless point inflation, but does it work? I’d say so; in Modern Warfare 2 you’re killing that guy 10 times harder than in Call of Duty 4. This works especially when it comes to achievements, in which we’re told that more score is always better, even if the ways to get said score are never equal in difficulty. If in Modern Warfare 3 you get 1000 points for killing a guy, yo you must kill that guy real good.

Which brings me to my next point, and to offer more of a programming spin to it, how can you make score fair? This is something that I’ve been wrestling with on my latest shitty flash game (that I have still yet to announce so no real specifics). In my game you get 100 points for killing enemies, you get like 200 for killing harder enemies, all very basic stuff. Complete a level without dying hey that level’s score is now doubled, very basic scoring mechanics that make sense. However, there are characters that are easier to play with than others, should these characters receive some kind of score penalty? Should the harder characters get more multiplier when achieving certain objectives? So far they don’t, but it might make the game fairer. Another thing to take into account is people wanting to change characters. Up until very recently, I didn’t have any option to change character during the game, and anyone who wanted to switch character had to start from the start of a world with no score. Now is that fair? On one hand the score can’t be cheesed by people choosing characters that are suited for certain levels, and then switching them when they’re ill equipped for others. Yet on the other it can feel like a meaningless and arbitrary limitation. For the longest time I felt that worked fine, but it brings me to the real question here.

Does score matter?

Does score matter in the sense that, I’m locking something away in the favour of keeping the score ‘legit’, but as a programmer and a designer shouldn’t I be more focused on making the game more fun? Would letting players choose different characters for different levels add to the experience of the game? These characters are unlocked at the end of each world if certain criteria have been met. The player might just want to try out the new character for a bit, you know, take it for a test run. Completely viable, but it might mess up the scores. Would I rather keep the scores in a state that they can be legitimately compared or would I rather give the players more options to have fun? If I released the game without this option, would anybody care? Part of me believes no-one would even notice, yet it’s still a weird thing to try and balance.

My eventual solution was to give the player the option, but whenever they do so they receive a score penalty. This seems like the perfect balance between the two, as people who want to have a high score will keep their one character throughout, and people who just want to have fun playing a dumb flash game can do whatever. This addition did mean I completely scrapped my scoring system, however, which was rather silly. Before there were a lot of things that gave you 50 points, and some 250 points, which is fine on its own but with this new penalty I decided to times all the scores by two. Now, every score you get in the game is divisible by 100 as opposed to 50, because after all, more points is always better. Then, the score penalty divides your score by 2, to the nearest 100, and a la Street Fighter 2 adds 1 to your score. A simple 1 in an otherwise divisible by 100 score, simply mocking you for having the nerve to change character. It’s rather cruel now that I think about it, but it works.

So does score matter, to the extent that games should not let you do certain things in favour of keeping the score meaningful? I’d love to hear your opinions on it!

So lately I’ve been a fan of Nakinyko’s mashups, he seems to blend rap with anime intros, of all things, rather well in a way that’s both great to listen to and rather novel. Since listening to these I’ve had a few ideas of my own to mix anime lyrics with rap or current pop songs, but none of those ideas have been all that good. Anyway, here’s my latest attempt at such a pairing, mixing the James Bond feel of Cee-Lo Green’s Bright Lights, Bigger City with the 2nd opening of A Certain Magical Index, Masterpiece. Here is Bright Index, Bigger Railgun.

I’m terrible at naming things.

And with that brings another week of terrible writing to an end! I haven’t been able to work on that Vice of the Heart (The Anime Vice visual novel project) recently and that’s killing me inside. I never realised how hard it is to write consistent character personalities, and most of the stories I’ve thought of the characters don’t fit in with their set archetypes at all. Maybe one of these days I’ll get better at it, but until then, I guess I’ll be writing more terrible blogs!

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I Play Porn Games For The Story // 17.07.2011

I’m going to make this quick, I was out drinking yesterday because it was Friday, Friday, getting down on Friday. So yeah that was a lot of fun, but that’s not important right now! Hey everyone and welcome to this week’s blog of visual novels, videogames, anime and other junk. I’ve spent an inordinate amount of time working on a visual novel concept in which you play as ZombiePie, seducing the Anime Vice mods. So much time, in fact, I’ve written up a 5 page design document and tried to convince a friend of mine to draw some of the anime versions of mods that I’ve cooked up. So that could be hilarious, but until then, let’s get on with the blog!

Nimbus

So after telling myself I’d play a bunch more Nimbus after last week’s blog I went ahead and did exactly that! I really enjoyed this game, so much in fact that I wrote up a review saying how much I enjoyed it. My advice is that you should go read that, recommend it so I can get those review quests done, and then come back here. Done that? No? Well whatever you can’t stop me this is MY BLOG DAMMIT.

Something I didn’t end up covering in the review is the music, partially due to me forgetting about it but also because most of the time I had the game on mute and was instead listening to The Hood Internet mixtapes. I really like the music in this game, on both a musical and a gameplay perspective. Musically I felt the tracks were really good, and had a nice happy feel to them which coincides with the graphics perfectly. I do also like how the music for the levels are the same as the music for the world map, meaning the tracks never stop and start unless switching worlds. Some of the level tracks even gave me a little Donkey Kong Country 2 vibe, which as everyone knows is the greatest game of all time and also has the greatest soundtrack ever produced for any form of media ever. On that note the addition of having giant coins to hunt in the levels is also reminiscent of the giant DK coins in each Donkey Kong Country 2 level... Damn it! Noumenon Games tricked me into loving their game via subconsciously reminding me of the greatest game ever created! Those fiends!

I kid around but Nimbus is still a great game in its own right, though the DKC2 coin mentality is just one wink and nod this game has, intentionally or not. The game opens with a great Ghosts ‘n Goblins homage, in which a giant one eyed villain who could past for Kracko Jr’s brother, steals away a ship that looks identical to your own, except it’s pink. The graphics especially in the first world is reminiscent of Green Hill Zone with its green grass and brown chequered dirt.

Oh no! My girlfriend ship!

Nimbus came out in October of last year, and it’s still being updated with new levels! Even in between my review and this blog, a new patch was released, fixing the level load problems I talked about, and even adding three new levels to the game! I encourage anyone who’s interested to check it out on Steam, both in that it’s a great game and well worth the low price, and that I need more people on my leaderboard to HUMILIATE AND DESTROY.

Puzzle Dimension

If there’s one thing in this videogame world that I love more than anything it’s the weird Playstation 1 games that were released. If there was one game I would love to have a new version of on Steam is Devil Dice. Another great game from this list is Kula World, so when I stumbled onto the Steam page for Puzzle Dimension and thought to myself “wait is this just a Kula World rip-off?” and immediately bought it. As it turns out it’s totally made by the same main designer, and it shows, this may as well just be Kula World 2, and I love it for that.

So the way Kula World worked is that you control a beach ball in some weird floating platform based world, whose main objective was to collect keys to activate the level exit. The game is all grid based, moving forward moves one grid space and jumping moves two. Various obstacles in the level will stop you from advancing, such as spikes, fire hazards, ice that means you can’t change direction while slipping on it, grid spaces that break away after you move off of them, and a bunch of other hazards. In Puzzle Dimension, however, you control a ball in some weird floating platform based world, whose main objective was to collect sunflowers to activate the level exit. The game is all grid based, moving forward moves one grid space and jumping moves two. Various obstacles in the level will stop you from advancing, such as spikes, fire hazards, ice that means you can’t change direction while slipping on it, grid spaces that break away after you move off of them, and a bunch of other hazards. Completely different!

I’m giving Puzzle Dimension a hard time here; it’s an amazing puzzle game. There is a great gravity system that, while is similar to Kula World, the difference is probably the biggest difference between the games. In Kula World if you reached a dead end you can roll onto the other side of the map and the gravity will change to that new side. Gravity works similarly in Puzzle Dimension, however, now there are specific 45 degree panels to change your gravity. Another new mechanic is that each level starts off pixelated, and as your move across the level the ground starts to unpixelate and you get a score bonus. Possibly the greatest part of this mechanic is that even the music starts off with a chiptune feel, and as you traverse the level the music fades from chiptune to a more orchestra based soundtrack. It’s a really neat effect that does a great job in giving the game that extra pizzazz.

Chime

I also played a little bit of Chime to pass the time. I feel Chime is a fun game but I’m just not that good at it. Lately though I’ve been trying to aim for the achievements, and yeah as it turns out it’d probably be beneficial if I was good at this game in my attempt to get them. I enjoy Chime from the musical perspective, and it’s probably one of the best uses of music as a gameplay mechanic that I’ve seen in videogames. And it’s what I blame my constant listening of Moby’s “Ohh Yeah” on.

Listening to the music in Chime and the actual songs, however, is a completely different experience, and this is very apparent with Portal’s “Still Alive” which is featured in the Steam version. Covering the level with your tetromino-like shapes advances the song, however, if you’re bad at the game like me, this can mean certain parts will loop a lot longer than they maybe were originally intended to, with songs taking as long as 10 minutes to complete. Still Alive, for example, is a song at this stage you probably wouldn’t want to hear an extremely extended version of it, and after hearing most of the songs in their original state the extended versions can be a bit weird. As previously said the songs will progress with the level completion. With Still Alive, for example, the drums will only kick in at about 20% level completion. It’s a really cool effect, but some loops don’t really work that well, in my opinion. For instance, 95% to 99% will loop the final “And when you’re dead I will be still alive” section, which again if you’re bad at this game like me, you’ll hear that a lot when trying to cover the last few corners of the game, and it will drive you insane.

Suika A.S+

This week’s visual novel is Suika A.S+, an interesting visual novel from Circus, so all eyes on me I guess. This visual novel is broken up into 4 separate chapters, each one with a different main character and heroine. A really great idea, as it’s like 4 short stories in one game, yet each chapter ties together in rather great ways. The game originally came out in 2001, but I’ve wanting to read this ever since reading the 2006 and 2008 game Ef: A Fairy Tale of the Two. Both games follow this four chapter structure, and two of the main designers from Ef were a part of the development of Suika, and that’s enough for me to have high expectations going in, as I absolutely loved Ef. I’ll probably talk about Ef whenever it gets its official English release, but until then here’s my thoughts on Suika!

So since each chapter is in fairness its own story, I have four different story synopses to write, my favourite! Chapter one features Akira, as he returns to the village of Tokiwa, only to reunite with a childhood friend at the shrine and begins to recollect his time in the village years ago. Chapter two revolves around Souji and his interactions with an exiled family in Tokiwa. He meets with the father and daughter family to paint, and then ends up tutoring the daughter due to getting one of the lowest scores in her class. Third chapter involves Yoshikazu trying to balance life with his long term girlfriend, and his extremely jealous younger sister. And finally chapter four has Horishi finding a nameless girl during a visit to the shrine, and taking her in, hoping that she’ll be a good friend for his bedridden younger sister.

Well that all sounded really nice didn’t it. From those synopses you’d get the impression that this is your rather standard visual novel. Well allow me to forcefully remove that rug you seem to be oh so conveniently standing on, because this visual novel is all out fucking insane, people killing people left and right, suicide, murderous intent, time travel, supernatural elements and a bunch of other crazy shit. The first chapter delves into this near the end, so it’s a great bait and switch. You go through the entirety of the first chapter thinking everything’s fine, then eventually you find out the girl’s dad is insane, which makes sense considering his wife and one of his daughters are dead. But then the further you get into it you realise that everything is insane and oh god, what the hell have you gotten yourself mixed up in. The other chapters also have this obviously, but due to them not being chapter one, you’re expecting it to happen, thus making it not as impactful, though still super crazy. In fact, some of them I’d say work even better because of this, as they go in directions you’d never expect.

The different chapters have some interesting connection. You’ll see some characters spread out across different chapters in rather inventive ways. In the first chapter Akira will come across a weird girl selling a bunch of small items for 10 yen each, thinking nothing of it he buys two things and continues on his way back home from the shrine. Then in chapter two, that girl is trying to run away from someone trying to kill her. She left her wallet at home and digs through her pockets looking for any cash for the bus. Some random guy shows up asking if she’s selling the small items she threw on the floor trying to look for money. The guy buys two items, giving her enough money for the phone to call Souji, and effectively saving her life. Some other little nods are here and there, such as the father from chapter 2 being the painter behind a large plot device in chapter 1, the main character from chapter 4 visiting the shrine and conversing with the heroine from chapter 1, a character that appears near the end of chapter 2 being a pivotal character in chapter 3, and so on. Each story happens concurrently and it’s a great way to make the village feel extremely connected while at the same time having their own extremely messed up adventures.

The way that the story is told is also pretty great. Along with each chapter containing its own main character, the story is also told via a multitude of characters. The story can and will also cut back and forward with flashbacks to fill in the past and how they affect the story at hand. What’s great about this is that, despite every narrator telling the story from their own perspective, it gives you as the reader a great coverage of all the events of the story, and also allows main characters to go missing or whatnot and let other perspectives fill in that time. This can be a bit weird from a gameplay perspective, however, as there is no way of telling whose eyes you’re currently seeing the story through. And on top of that, you as the reader can have more information on what’s going on than the characters, meaning when making plot decisions you’ll have more knowledge than you probably should have, as it can work to your disadvantage. For instance, as the player in chapter 2, I knew the main character was at the heroine’s house. This meant, as the heroine, when given the option to phone her own home or the main character’s home, I instinctively went with her own home, which ended badly to say the least.

There’s also a ton of content in this game. There are six routes spread across the four main chapters. Five of these are available from the start, with the 6th being unlocked so to speak after completing the full story. One of the endings of chapter 4 can only be accessed by going everything perfect in the previous 3 chapters, but apart from that each chapter can conclude in their own ways without affecting the other chapter's main story. On top of all that there are also side stories to explore the story of the village in more detail, this combined with each chapter taking about 5 hours each means there’s quite a bit of content to be had here.

So yeah, needless to say I really enjoyed this visual novel. The stories don’t rely on each other to the point that they are just four really cool stories, but at the same time manage to interweave the characters in such a way that it does feel like a big village that went through a crazy month. The stories themselves also strike that fine line between being set in some kind of plausible reality yet still throwing hints of supernatural conduct here and there and, while some of these do end up being red herrings, they do it in a way that’s not completely stupid. I’m looking at you Unwound Future.

Rio – Rainbow Gate!

Now this is an anime that’s been on my computer for months but I never found the time to watch it. I finally did this week, so hooray! Rio – Rainbow Gate is a weird anime as it’s based on a Tecmo series of pachinko games that feature the titular character Rio Rollins. Pretty crazy right? How does one take a simple poster girl from pachinko games into a fully fledged 13 part anime? By making everything completely goddamn crazy, of course!

The main story revolves around the titular Rio Rollins, the ‘Goddess of Victory’ at Howard Resort, a giant island based casino, in which she is a popular dealer. Every time she enters the room the casino gets a breath of good luck, and people around her start winning big jackpots and getting a ton of luck. This, already, is weird. Surely any proper casino would immediately fire any dealer who you know was helping people win money from the casino. Having said that the casino is famous for their ‘Goddess of Victory’ so maybe that’s part of it. You learn throughout the series that Rio is a holder of a gate, one of 13 magical cards that only the best card dealers own. Eventually other gate holders show up to challenge Rio to a gate battle, in which each party bets their own gate on a casino based game. Rio turns out to be the daughter of the only person ever able to collect all 13 cards, and drives to collect them all to be closer to her mother.

Rio is also a ‘Roll Ruler’, which means she can manipulate luck through illusions. These illusions have some kind of sense but it’s mostly used to make games of chance a lot more interesting. For instance, the first episode contains a five card poker match. After discarding part of their hand, Rio’s illusion starts up, showing a giant maze of cards that both players traverse to try and get the cards they want. This, weirdly enough, is probably the illusion that makes the most sense. As these Roll Ruler illusions are pretty much just the Shadow Realm equivalent for non-children’s card games. The games start with poker and roulette and eventually evolve into ridiculousness like space pinball and what is essentially AaAaAA in reverse. Some of the people you fight end up showing up later in the series as good guys, or at least better guys. One some example is the less than subtle Elvis-sama, a womanizer whose only real character trait seems to be he’s surrounded by woman all the time.

Like most anime nowadays it’s also got a bunch of fanservice. Almost every main character is female, Rio will often be wearing skimpy outfits as chosen by the owner of Howard Resort, and losing games in gate battles might also have a losing clothes stipulation. It’s sort of par for the course whether that’s a good thing or not, at the very least it’s usually brought on for humour rather than extended shots to try and boost viewers. All of this, however, is nothing compared to the best fanservice comes in the form of a Tecmo nod. One of the characters Jack Mighty, who is the spitting image of Caillou from Recettear, has to hack the security of Howard Resort due to someone trying to take over. How does he try and bypass security you ask? Well, he does it by playing some motherfucking Star Force, that’s how. And it’s not just like a weird anime styled version of the game or anything like that, he types some stuff on the screen, the camera zooms in onto the monitor and it’s all ROM CHECK ROM0 OK ROM1 OK ROM2 OK ROM3 OK STAR FORCE INSERT COIN. Jack then essentially says he made a program to bypass security, but instead of making it a text based hack he just programmed Star Force so it’d be more fun.

So this isn’t a section that will be used that much but I figured I don’t really have many places to showcase my silly mash-ups so why not? Because they’re terrible that why, but yet here it is!

So I make stupid mash-ups, here is one of said stupid mash-ups. Combining the silliness of the DK Rap from Donkey Kong 64 with that Drake song what has three other more talented rappers in it for no real reason. I give you Forever DK.

Yeah I have more time than sense over here!

So the story starts off with ZombiePie sleeping in class, only to get woken up by MattyFTM during lunch. Marino also shows up a little after the fact as Zombie starts to tease Matty. They tell Zombie that Caravella-senpai needs to use the room usually reversed for the Giant Bomb Club, and therefore will have to relocate for the week to another room in a different part of Whiskey High. After school, Zombie means up with his comic relief ridden best friend Sweep and heads over to the new room. However, Zombie in his sleepy state, didn’t remember the room number, and found himself in the wrong room! The room is occupied by Newton, Sora and Kris, the only members of the Anime Vice club, as they are completely shocked by the new visitors. After some basic introduction, Sweep drags Zombie away and goes to find the room they’re meant to be in. After the Giant Bomb meeting, Zombie heads to his shoe locker where he meets an incredibly shy Newton also heading home. Zombie tries talking to Newton but he just locks up, so Zombie decides to leave him alone. As he leaves Newton shouts after him, and they walk home together. Newton reveals without any staff covering the Anime Vice club, and with not enough members, the school board at Whiskey High is thinking about closing the club. Newton bashfully asks Zombie if he and Sweep could join, which causes Zombie to get flustered for reasons he can’t understand. Zombie agrees, and Newton walks off extremely happy. Zombie completely brushes off the weird feeling he got when looking into Newton’s eyes, and walks his apartment, hoping that his simple life didn’t just get a whole lot more complicated.

...What?

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I Play Porn Games For The Story // 10.07.2011

Hello and welcome, to another edition of whatever the hell this blog is. This week is filled with 29 goddamn games to I think it’s fair to say I won’t have to play anymore games for the rest of the month! I have one more day of steam tickets to survive, but this blog is about the past! I ain’t some living in the future kinda guy, let’s get it on!

Steam

I just want to say, I only needed 33 tickets to get all the DLC for the games I owned. That meant, 33 was my goal, after that I could stop. I now have 45 tickets, I just can’t stop! There’s just so tempting, I can’t help it. At this point I’ll probably end up getting DLC for games I don’t own but could possibly get in a later sale when I have more than 0 munnies to my name. Or if anyone is out there willing to buy me games that’d be cool too!

Defence Grid

Another leftover from the Potato Sack, Defence Grid really rubbed me the wrong way when I played it originally. I guess at the time I was sort of whatever on tower defence games, so I played this for the potato trigger, and uninstalled. Now, however, with the steam ticket, I liked it a lot more. The ticket involved playing five levels in ‘Out Of Bullets’ mode, meaning I couldn’t place gun-based towers. This made the game unsurprisingly a lot harder, and I enjoyed the extra bit of challenge. This still isn’t my favourite game ever or anything, but I’m at least warming up to it despite a rather frosty first impression.

The Polynomial

Before this ticket popped up I didn’t even know The Polynomial had achievements, so at least there’s that. This really isn’t a game, and whenever I play it, I usually set it up as a crazy visualiser as opposed to for its actual space combat type gameplay. Killing an enemy using the sun was easier than I thought it’d be, and this game still looks super crazy!

Trine

Trine is one of those games that I’m ashamed of owning. Not that it’s a bad game, the fact that I own it and still haven’t played it. Thankfully, a wild ticket appeared, giving me ample reason to play! The ticket forced me to play a few hours into the game too, so I managed to at least have some vague impression of this game finally. I’m enjoying the three person mechanics but I’m still not too fond of the platform jumping just yet, I guess I’ll just have to get used to it. I really like it, and I hope that now it’s installed and the fact that I’ve had a taste of the Trine magic will motivate me to finally playing through this game.

Serious Sam HD: First Encounter

I LOVE Serious Sam HD. I have no good reason to, especially due to my usual hatred of First Person Shooters, but Serious Sam is an amazing game that I played a bunch of when it was first released and loved every second of. Unfortunately, the HD re-release fell into the “games I’m buying but won’t install for x number of years” Steam hole that makes up most of my Steam collection. The drowning an enemy ticket was super easy to do, but my Serious skills have really deteriorated over the years. I couldn’t even get past the 4th level, yet I have too much pride not to play on Serious, so... that sucks.

Serious Sam HD: Second Encounter

Everything I said about First Encounter holds true for Serious Sam HD: Second Encounter. So instead of just copy and pasting the previous paragraph here I’ll just make this one short. The ticket here was to get an underwater achievement. Luckily for me there’s one near the beginning of the first level! In fact, it’s exactly at the beginning of the first level. In fact, if you turn around after loading into the first level, there’s a giant pond with a secret rocket launcher at the bottom. It’s like they’re not even trying!

Monday Night Combat

Monday Night Combat seems like a game I’d really enjoy if I just gave it the time. Every time I’ve loaded this game up I’ve enjoyed it, but for some reason I haven’t bothered to play it at any length. The offline survival mode that marries tower defence and the third person shooting is interesting and can get super complicated at the higher difficulties. I haven’t messed around with the game’s proper online modes, mostly because I’d rather be playing with my bestest friends as opposed to randoms on random servers, and setting up a server for Monday Night Combat has proved to be rather difficult to say the least. Regardless we found an empty server and gamed this achievement as fast as we could, so we didn’t attract any actual players to join the server and kick our asses as we goofed around in the centre blowing each other up for tickets.

Beat Hazard

So I totally got this achievement last week, but completely forgot to mention it, so yeah Beat Hazard. I still love the Ultra expansion, and it’s even cooler with my sweet golden ship! Since I last mentioned this game I played a little online with Rufi ‘I just moved flat and won’t tell Psy my new address just to annoy him’ 91. After taking approximately 7 months to sync my 13000+ song collection we had about 200 or so songs that were the same. I assume it just lines up the entire ID3 tag to see if they match. Regardless, that left us with The Police, Lonely Island, System Of A Down, two Wheatus songs and the DJ Hero soundtrack. We have the best taste in music.

And Yet It Moves

Another entry in the “I should really install this game and play it” group, I bought And Yet It Moves during the last Steam sale, probably as some kind of indie bundle knowing me and my affinity for such packs. I feel the world turning mechanics are pretty interesting, and the game uses it for a lot of rather inventive puzzles. The movement mechanics, however, left quite a bit to be desired. I’m not too sure exactly what it is about them that I’m unhappy with but they feel a little bit off. Oh well, pretty much quit the game as soon as the achievement notice popped up. I’ll get back to this one eventually, I promise.

Killing Floor

Much like Defence Grid, Killing Floor went from a ‘whatever’ Potato purchase to being really cool when trying to get this ticket. I’m not too sure why I was so down on Killing Floor before, to be honest, as I had a ton of fun playing it this time round. Object here was to kill a certain zombie with a crossbow, which I managed to do rather easily. If I wasn’t constantly juggling hard drive space (I usually have less than half a gig on a good day) I’d keep this installed and have a ton of fun. But tickets come before fun goddamn it!

Left 4 Dead 2

More zombies! Left 4 Dead 2, and for that matter its predecessor, I feel are the weakest Valve games in recent years. There’s just something about them that I don’t really enjoy, at least to the extent of Team Fortress 2 or Portal 2. Maybe I just don’t like the idea of relying on other people for my progress, and thus, games based entirely on co-op don’t appeal that much to me. The new campaign, however, is pretty great. Some great set pieces and mechanics, I’d say it’s better than some of the main Valve campaigns.

Rush

Rush is a great puzzle game and one of the pleasant surprises of the potato pack. It’s pretty much LEGO Alpha Team except I don’t have to feel ashamed about playing it! Which is to say it’s like ChuChu Rocket with a lot more puzzle elements thrown in for good measure. I really enjoy this game, even if I’m rather stupid and rely a little too heavily on the hint system. Regardless I feel this is a great puzzle game and I’m kinda sad that I’ve already completed all of the puzzles in the game. The new level was good but it just made me hungry for more. I might just re-install LEGO Alpha Team at this point.

Spiral Knights

I’ve been meaning to play this for a while to get that Team Fortress 2 hat, so luckily a ticket showed up here, giving me even more reason to install Spiral Knights. It’s got a nice Link To The Past style gameplay system that I think works rather well in this weird instanced MMO type... thing. After getting enough money between my bestest friends and I we bought a firecracker to get the ticket. Upon which we celebrated by doing the only thing MMO’s are good for, /dancing.

Bit.Trip Runner

Luckily I got this game from the sale on the first day, because it just so happened to contain a ticket! Loading Bit.Trip Runner up prompted me to play through a bit of the 2nd world, and then almost immediately want to throw various objects through my monitor. This game is rather hard, and since I’m a perfectionist, I hate that. One of these days I will S rank this game, but today will not be that day. I got the ticket and split. I did like how Commander Video has been updated with scuba gear on, it’s a nice touch.

Audiosurf

I never play Audiosurf outside of Ninja mode. I can’t handle any more than two colours in my high paced music generated space track. So whenever they feel the need to add new aspects to the game using the other more confusing modes, like they do all the time, I’m usually completely hopeless at it. I got this one by playing I’m A Flirt, which officially my unofficial theme song, on easy Pointman, just chilling in the side lane for that magical red paint. Fun game, and if it wasn’t for Beat Hazard this would still be my favourite game to have fun listen to music.

Counter Strike: Source

I’m not that good at Counter Strike: Source and this has been made painfully clear to me due to my university friends. I have two Lithuanian friends who are good at Counter Strike, like, very good. Like, “The only things I did while I was growing up in Lithuania were play Counter Strike and then play more Counter Strike” good. Said friends then suggest Counter Strike at our irregular LAN parties, and then proceed to completely destroy us all. Luckily, this ticket could be, and was, done using bots. Two sniper kills with a zoomed scope, surely some 8 year old on Call of Duty would have shouted at me for ‘hard scoping’ for that!

Tidalis

In a world filled with match 3 games, Tidalis is a neat puzzle game disguised as another match 3 game. The object of this game is to match 3 (or more) same coloured blocks, but not by swapping them around, but by changing the direction of the arrows on said blocks, to point at blocks of the same colour. I admit I’m pretty terrible at this game, and when I set up a super easy game and left it chaining for about half an hour, not only did I get the steam ticket, but like 34 other achievements too. Whoops!

The Wonderful End Of The World

I’ve got good news for you, if you like Katamari Damacy you’ll probably also enjoy The Wonderful End Of The World, it’s like Katamari Damacy but... it’s on a computer? Ok so this is exactly Katamari Damacy, you walk around a level absorbing objects smaller than you to get bigger, and then absorb bigger items. The game is rather short, 12 levels or so, 14 if you count the hidden levels added during the Portal 2 ARG. I really enjoy this game despite itself, as it’s pretty buggy and only takes about an hour to complete entirely. It also has a lot of that Dejobaan craziness, my personal favourite being a level in which everything you pick up is just 2D sprites.

Intermission

This intermission is brought to you by this Tested Photoshop image I made while trying to code my game.

I was in the middle of writing a line of code when I got this idea; I made the image, uploaded it, and went back to complete said line of code. That’s just how I roll! Anyway, where was I?

Poker Night At The Inventory

While I don’t mind this game, the achievements for Poker Night At The Inventory are pure unadulterated evil. How the hell do they expect me to get a straight flush?! Well the new achievement, and associated ticket, isn’t as gruelling, making you win a hand when you have both a 6 and a 9. Not as bullshit, but still, chance achievements like this are in general bullshit. I know you can’t really do anything else in a goddamn Poker game but at the same time I’m one straight flush away from an S rank and it’s KILLING ME FROM WITHIN.

Turba

You should recall my Audiosurf Beat Hazard comments about them being high up in my music game preferences. Now, notice how I didn’t mention Turba when I said that (also notice how I didn’t mention Rhythm Zone but that’s not the point here). I don’t like this game. I don’t like the art style, I don’t like the presentation, I don’t like the speed of which the menu items move after selecting a game type, I don’t like the effects on screen once you use a special ability, I don’t like the look of the blocks in game, I don’t like the beat detection in the game, I don’t like the score mechanics and I don’t like the requirements for ability upgrades. However, because I hate myself, I have an S rank in this game, and felt obligated to get this new achievement and ticket to maintain that. I got the ticket rather easily using I’m A Flirt, and proceeded to uninstall the game as fast as I could. I dislike this game so much I got the achievement during a Spiral Knights loading screen so it wouldn’t show up as the game I was currently playing.

1... 2... 3... Kick It! (Drop That Beat Like An Ugly Baby)

So this game is also rather crazy, but you can probably tell that from the title. What you can probably also tell is that Kick It is brought to you by the crazy cats at Dejobaan Games. I feel this is the weakest of the Dejobaan games right now, but then again Kick It is still technically pre-release, so who knows what they add before the game is final. Kick It is like a cross between AaAaAA and Audiosurf, which is to say, it’s AaAaAA with music generated levels. It’s alright, but as previously stated for music generation games I’ll go play Beat Hazard or Audiosurf, and for crazy falling down through score plates and getting close to building to get multiplier, I’ll play AaAaAA. I don’t really need this weird middle ground game that does both elements but ends up lacking in both too. I got this ticket by using, what else, I’m A Flirt.

Day of Defeat: Source

Oh boy a Source game! I got Day of Defeat: Source for getting the golden potato back during the Portal 2 ARG, where anyone who got said golden potato was awarded the complete Valve pack, which even included a copy of Portal 2! It’s another Source game so I don’t really have that much of an opinion on it; I loaded a local server and capped a few points, hooray look at me I’ve got this new shiny ticket. Hell it might be the greatest game ever made, but whatever.

Galcon Fusion

I’m just going to admit, I have no idea what I did in Galcon Fusion. I loaded the game, signed up for some forum thing, created a local server, clicked on a bunch of planets and got the steam ticket. I really really have no feelings on this game what so ever. Again, might be the greatest game ever made, who can say.

Worms Reloaded

I am a huge fan of Worms Reloaded. Admittedly yes I did originally pre-order it because of the Team Fortress 2 Soldier hat, but that was only because I wasn’t sure if it could top Armageddon as the best worms game ever. Fortunately, at least in my opinion, it totally does with all of its new modes and especially online play; it’s quite possibly the best worms game to date. The ticket in this game is to deal exactly 31 damage to a worm with 100 health, dropping him down to 69. Another ‘Summer of 69’ achievement, just like the Poker Night ticket. Thankfully this included self damage, so all I had to do was load up a mission and dynamite myself at the right distance to cause 31 points of damage. Easy stuff, but poor Yui got hurt in the process. ;-;

Portal 2

So I really do not enjoy when games have achievements based on other players. I don’t like achievements in multiplayer modes and I don’t like them in co-op. I don’t like achievements by random luck or in a virtual shop. I do not like them in a box I do not like them with a fox. I do not like them here or there I do not like them anywhere! Anyway, I wouldn’t trust my friends to do basic math half the time so relying on them for achievements is the WORST. So when Portal 2 shuffles next to me and says “Hey Psy, this ticket is a co-op challenge!” My first reaction is to scream to the heavens in frustration. But I can’t let a game beat me! I ended up playing co-op with myself, by tricking the game into thinking the 2nd player was my 360 controller. This did mean, however, whenever I used the 360 controller, the portals would flip around for both characters, and then flip back on keyboard input. But again, I can’t let a game beat me! I figured out a solution to beat chamber 6 on the gel co-op levels using only one set of portals, and let the 360 controlled robot just nonchalantly strut through the level once it was completed. Take that videogames!

Altitude

I think I own Altitude because it was part of a steam indie bundle, or maybe it was super cheap one day in which I had some money lying around that for some bizarre reason I didn’t want to spend on alcohol. Regardless, I totally own this game, so that’s a start! This is the only game in which the achievement is multiplayer focused, and I couldn’t cheat the system and get it alone or with friends, which sucked. I completed the tutorial levels, quickly jumped on a server, got the achievement and hastily left with my Steam ticket in tow.

Nimbus

I’ve been really looking forward to play Nimbus, so much so, in fact, that it appears that I totally forgot that I bought it. When it first came out I looked at it and thought to myself I’d really enjoy playing this game, I’ll stick it on my wishlist so that I don’t forget about it. Then every time I went to my wishlist I’d grapple with the idea of buying it finally. Now, at some point in between this action taking place and now, I had actually bought Nimbus, and subsequently ironically completely forgotten about the entire thing. So it was great looking at the tickets and noticing that I had indeed, bought Nimbus already. And I am super glad I did, this game is amazing! I had so much fun with this game getting the ticket I think as soon as this stupid blog is posted I’m going to go back and play some more! It’s a great quick time trail based game, and uses similar air controls to Altitude now that I think about it. All around super fun, and I’m glad I finally installed it.

Toki Tori

Again, for some reason I played games in which there was no ticket based reward for doing so. I was actually going to uninstall Toki Tori from getting its ticket last week, when I noticed I still had 4 achievements locked. So, I figured why not, and got the last remaining achievements for that oh so glorious S rank, and then uninstalled it. Videogames!

Frozen Synapse

I should start off by saying, major thanks to Rolyatkcinmai for gifting me Frozen Synapse after I won his Photoshop competition. This game is absolutely crazy, and I really wish I could get good at this game. But the mechanics seem way too intense for anything I can handle. Every time I start a mission and painstakingly issue my commands, hitting as many enemies as I can, I feel like the greatest person whatever lived. Then I actually press play, however, and all but one of my troops are dead and even he is completely fucked. I’ll keep trying to figure this game out, but I’d also like to pimp this amazing battle in which MattyFTM wins in just 2 seconds.

Persona 3 Portable

In amongst all of this I still played a bunch of Persona 3 Portable, though admittedly my P3P time has just recently been me going into Tartarus and making Ken wear ridiculous clothes for my amusement, while he keeps telling himself that Tartarus doesn’t scare him with a rather scared expression on his face. Oh Ken. He also justifies the stupid clothes by saying “yeah I’ll wear it, I’ll prove to you I’m not a kid!” Well there’s another way he can prove that to me but I’m not far enough in the story to even start his social link, maybe I should just power through to that point as fast as I can.

Speaking of which, I was recently talking to a friend who is currently playing Persona 4 for the first time; and for his first social rank 10 with Yukiko. I came to the conclusion that the next Persona game should be a lot more transparent with the character relations. What I mean by that is, while both 3 and 4 do imply sex at rank 10, I feel they can push that implication a lot more now, and I for one am all for it. If they can push that boundary, they can have good merit to include social rank relationships in the story, and therefore tie them together instead of having what feels like two separate games most of the time. Even if when the main character went back up to their room after getting rank 10 with whoever, and had that person in the main character’s bed sleeping, that would be enough of a further implication to get the ball rolling, so to speak. The games already have this visual novel styled story progression it’s weird they don’t embrace it more.

Also before anyone says that sex isn’t implied in these games, I can come up with two examples of the top of my head, both features Naoto who is the only female character worth caring about in Persona 4. So firstly, if you hang out with her for her Christmas scene, her present is a watch that says how far apart she is from the main character. The scene then fades to black and says “The watch reads: >1m”. The other moment is, if you don’t have her in your party during a dungeon run she might show up in the dungeon with someone else. I think if that other person is also in a relationship with the main character, and you talk to Naoto, this scene will trigger. Here Naoto shyly says she accidently left her socks in the main character’s room, causing the other girl to ask why Naoto was in your room, why she had her socks off or you know; why she’d forget about having her socks off. These small scenes happen with everyone though I can only remember that Naoto scene specifically, because as everyone knows, she’s the only female character worth caring about.

Phew, now that that’s over with, time for the real content!

Planetarian

Planetarian is a visual novel from the fine developer Key, which jerks like me who like anime will probably better know them for Clannad. Planetarian is a very different visual novel to anything I’ve talked about up until now. There are no branches in the story; in fact there are no player choices at all. There isn’t any gameplay or anything of that nature. The only thing you’ll find in Planetarian is a linear story set in a post-apocalyptic wasteland. But having said that, the story in Planetarian is phenomenal, and completely worth checking out.

In the world of Planetarian, humanity has almost been completely wiped out due to war that used nuclear warfare, which nearly irradiated the entire planet. Due to this, most cities have been reduced to rubble and there is a constant downpour of acid rain. The war continued for many decades after the fact, due to war machines that had been built, that kill any human they detect. The main character is a Junker, a loner in a post-apocalyptic wasteland who goes from ruined city to ruined city in search of undamaged goods to survive and, in the event of cigarettes and alcohol, sell for high prices. On this outing he finds himself in a building occupied by a gynaecoid called Yumemi, Reverie in the translation, who informs the Junker that he is the 2.5 millionth customer to the planetarium. The Junker soon finds out that the planetarium only has power once a year, luckily falling directly on that week, but the projector is broken. The Junker spends the next week learning about Yumemi and how she came to be the only occupant of the planetarium, and tries to fix the projector so that he can see Yumemi’s presentation of which she loves so much.

And that is all I’m going to tell you about the story. I can’t assign homework or anything but please if that synopsis interests you I highly recommend you track down a copy of Planetarian. It is a rather fantastic story and one that I, at the very least, still hold dear every since I first read it two years ago. The story is rather short, clocking in at around 5 hours if you take your time, but the impact is incredibly big. You can even get a free English translation for the game. That website has a bunch of information on the back story, setting and plot of Planetarian if you’re still on the fence about it. So seriously, you should go get it.

So I did the math and there are currently 4 more Steam tickets than there are prizes, and that’s with one day still to go. Admittedly I did said math to try and justify there being a method behind my madness of getting more Steam tickets than I needed, though it does mean Valve has the potential to do something different with unclaimed tickets. This is my hope anyway, as it justifies my rather ridiculous obsession with this kind of thing. The reality will probably be that Valve doesn’t except you to own all the games so they added more in to give people a better chance at getting all the DLC they want. But MY hope is that any unused tickets can be used to buy TF2 keys! I have like a billionty crates Valve, and I want rid of them!

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I Play Porn Games For The Story // 03.07.2011

Fuck Steam! Oh wait I need to do an intro first. Hey and welcome everyone to another vaguely comprehensible collection of thoughts about things including and very limited to videogames, anime, programming and porn games! You’d be surprised how many things I can do whenever I’m not admiring my own reflection in the bathroom mirror, which I do more times than I care to admit, on with the blog!

Steam

Fuck Steam! So here I am with no money and a lot of programming to do, literally telling myself to get a lot of work done on a certain day. You know what happened on that day? The Steam sale started, that’s what! And with it came another treasure hunt metachievement thing. I’d just ignore it but I really want that golden Beat Hazard ship! And Team Fortress 2 Shades! So it’s time for a ticket adventure!

Bit.Trip Beat

First ticket! Bit.Trip Beat, and for this matter the entire Bit.Trip Saga, was a game I thought looked cool on Wii but I never bothered to get it. I am, however, a sucker for indie packs on Steam, so I own Bit.Trip Beat there instead! I had to get past the first section of the first level without missing a single beat, which I did with relative ease. So much so, in fact, that I kept going to see how far I could get. I managed to get a combo of 496 before missing one and NO I DON’T HAVE THAT 500 COMBO ACHIEVEMENT GOD DAMN IT NEXT GAME.

Toki Tori

Toki Tori is a game I bought to get the golden potato back during the Portal 2 ARG, and was one of the games on that list that I was pleasantly surprised with, and enjoyed quite a bit. A harsh contrast to, let’s say oh I don’t know, The Ball. Anyway, Toki Tori is in my opinion a fun puzzle game disguised as a platformer. So fun that I ended up completing the game after the whole ARG thing was finished and really enjoying my time. The ticket here was to stand under 10 sunbeams, in 10 separate levels in World 1. All in all, this one is pretty simple, but a nice way to think about these simple levels from a different perspective.

Lead & Gold

I don’t actually know exactly why I own this game, I opened Steam one day and all of a sudden I had it in my library. If I had to take an educated guess I’d say back when there was a Lead & Gold free weekend one of my friends bought the 4-pack and just happened to choose me for one of the copies, if that’s the case, thanks unknown friend! Having said that, I don’t enjoy this game all that much; I got a few of my bestest friends together and grinded out the 7 headshot achievement and promptly uninstalled it from my hard drive. Some people might feel that that’s rather harsh, I, however, don’t see what I can feel. If vision is the only validation, then most of my life isn’t real. Because if you’re not really here, then I don’t want to be either. I want to be next to you, Lead and Gold, Lead and Gold, Lead and Gold.

AaAaAA!!! - A Reckless Disregard For Gravity!

AaAaAAnother member of the potato sack, yet one I happened to own before the pack was released, was next up. I do really enjoy this game, even if it’s balls to the wall hard. This game has an amazing sense of humour that, similar to The Wonderful End Of The World and 1... 2... 3... Kick It! (Drop That Beat Like An Ugly Baby), the gameplay almost seems secondary to the ridiculous style and comedic value found in Dejobaan Games. Like I said the gameplay here is rather difficult, and when getting the glorious golden potato this was the game I spent the most time trying to beat. The new summer level is rather short, so that’s a good thing, and utilises checkpoints, which is even better! Managed to get a ‘perfect’ score on this level after 6 or so attempts, a good record for me and my AaAaAA skills.

SpaceChem

No, I didn’t buy SpaceChem only for the Team Fortress 2 items, shut up. Well regardless I’m really glad I did, this game is one part amazing two parts MORE AMAZING. The game starts off with you having two atom inputs, and the ability to bond them together, break already present bonds, and output the new combinations. It’s essentially a puzzle game, with a heavy chemistry twist. The further you get into the game the crazier it gets, so crazy in fact that I had to re-learn a bunch of my high school chemistry education just to be better at the game. The ticket here was to complete 3 developer levels. I purposely found 3 rather simple ones because I didn’t want to spend hours upon hours on one solution, no matter how gratifying it would be to complete one of those. Oh well, the ones I picked ended up proving to be rather challenging any, so at least there’s that. I really recommend this game to anyone who likes fun.

Team Fortress 2

I ended up playing a bunch of Team Fortress 2 normally this week, well, when I say normal I mean on a friends only server where someone was always playing K-On songs over their microphone. That was until my bestest friends and I had enough tickets for the Summer Shades item, in which all that played was B.o.B’s Past My Shades, I have the best friends in the world. So then a ticket appeared, to jump in the water while on fire. At first I thought this was totally already an achievement in TF2, but I’m too lazy to look through a list of 379 achievements to back that suspicion up. Oh well, an incredibly easy thing to do, regardless.

Jolly Rover

I had no idea what Jolly Rover was before I started to play it, and it turns out it’s some kind of dog based pirate point and click adventure game. Sure, I guess, at least now the name makes sense. I probably own this game due to some kind of indie bundle, not too sure. Oh well played it until I got the ticket and didn’t feel compelled to keep playing it, having said that it only took me a few minutes to get to said ticket. Maybe I’ll play it for achievements later on in life who can say.

Magicka

Magicka is one of those great games that I can play with my friends and never get bored by it. It also has a great sense of humour about itself and isn’t afraid to let you know just how silly the entire game actually is. The best part, however, is that the ticket is in the exact same vain. Every other ticket so far has been things that can easily be achieved via normal gameplay in their respective games. This one instead is a super stupid grind, forcing you to cast blizzard or rain 20 times in a versus match, something that I’m pretty sure would never happen in normal circumstances ever. What’s also funny is that while all the other tickets try to make good use of summer themed names, this one is just called “Swedish Summer Achievement”, I love you Arrowhead, don’t ever change.

Super Meat Boy

I do really love Super Meat Boy, I am definitely one of those time trail obsessed “if I do this one thing I can shave 0.02 seconds off my time” kind of gamer. So much in fact that I was the first person in the world to get all the trophies in Mirror’s Edge, since I was the only person for the first few days to beat the last level’s time trail target, and not only beat but completely destroy I was number 1 on that leaderboard for months. Anyway, so this will come to no shock at all when I also say I’m the greatest Super Meat Boy player whatever lived (on Giant Bomb). So when this ticket effectively asks to get A+ on all of the Hell levels, all I had to do was load up the game and I got the achievement on the main menu. Score!

Bit.Trip Runner

For some reason in amongst all of this ticket madness I found some time to play games just for fun, I know; what a bizarre reason to play a videogame! One such game was Bit.Trip Runner, which was graciously gifted to me by Rufi ‘I am contractually obliged to mention him every week’ 91. I got through the first world, after almost destroying my laptop and everything mineral based within a 3.5 mile radius due to level 1-11. A really fun game, and if you could let me be a little bit self-indulgent here, I made a rather similar game a while back called Fish Outta Water. Although when I say similar I do mean similar in mechanics, not in quality. I also really love the music and sound effects that delay to the next beat before playing; it’s a nice simple effect that adds a lot to the overall experience.

Portal 2

Recently there was a Portal 2 map making competition, and I recommend anyone who enjoyed Portal 2 to check out some of the high placing entries. Some of these maps are just evil, and a lot more challenging than even anything in the official game. A nice little change of pace to my Portal 2 play of being genuinely proud of myself for figuring out a few of these puzzles.

Puzzle Agent

The recent Puzzle Agent 2 Quick Look got me rather hyped up, and would luck have it I checked Steam and at some point I had already bought Puzzle Agent, hooray for me! Not really got much to say for this that hasn’t been said already, it’s a really good mesh of adventure game and Layton-style puzzles. The puzzles themselves never get that hard, however, with only one puzzle giving me a hard time. That same puzzle in fact, once getting the answer, seemed completely wrong to me, and I cannot, even after reading how to get to that answer, even fathom how to get to that solution. It may only be one puzzle but I’ve never felt that way with any of the Layton games, which in my opinion offer a better challenge in terms of puzzles, and it’s in stark contract with the rest of the game. Regardless, I’m really considering getting Puzzle Agent 2 now.

Persona 3 Portable

I somehow also found time to play some Persona 3 Portable! So far this game has been regulated to 1 to maybe 5 hours per night before I go to sleep. One thing you should note about me is that I play the Persona games, or at least the Shin Megami Tensei variations, with an extreme amount of obsession. I have completed Persona 4 approximately 7 times now (clocking in 600+ hours easily due to many of them involving level 100 runs), and Persona 3 FES 4 times. This is only my first run on Persona 3 Portable and yet I’m already scoping out things to do with my 2nd and 3rd run. My goal in this first run is full social links, which can be rather annoying in Persona 3 when compared to its sequel, and I believe I’m on track to achieve that, and all Elizabeth quests. 2nd run I’ve decided will be a Minako/Ken only dungeon run on hardest or something like that.

So I don’t think it would come as too much of a shock if here I said that I am really enjoying the game so far. The female protagonist adds a lot to the game, even if she’s pretty much just Rise, which makes the game feel fresh despite the amount of times I’ve already completed it. The funny thing about that is now a lot of the social links changed, giving social links to the male SEES characters, and adapting the female social links to be less about them wanting to get it on with Minato. The gameplay improvements that were pretty much copy pasted from Persona 4 do make the battles a lot less tedious, but still keep enough of the Persona 3 mechanics in place to not feel like a complete overhaul.

That being said I think a lot was lost in making the game portable. The gravitation to a more visual novel style storytelling, more than it already was in fact, does hinder the game slightly when there are long story sequences, especially since I fondly remember them with proper character models and 3D environments. Similarly the movement has been simplified down from walking around a 3D space to clicking buttons on an isometric image. I know these are to reduce the size of the game but I can’t help but once or twice I can’t help but to wonder why I’m playing it when I have a Playstation 2 not but a few meters away from me, with Persona 3 FES in the tray.

Shuffle!

Two weeks ago I was left with the feeling that most generic visual novel ass visual novels weren’t that good, and because I hate myself, I went out to find another one! On this quest I came across Shuffle!, and because I really hate myself, it’s another MangaGamer translation joint! Oh boy my favourite!

The premise of this universe is rather interesting. A few years before the game starts, a portal to hell and heaven opened on Earth, linking the three places together. This caused some mass hysteria but nowadays people are pretty chill about it. Devils and Gods roam the Earth, conveniently look almost exactly like humans but just with bigger ears, and are just normal except from the whole “oh wait Devils and Gods can use magic” thing. Due to this, several academies have opened up to research and teach people devils and gods alike about how to use and control magic. Enter Rin Tsuchimi, your average bland medium hair length high school student with more female acquaintances than male. On the way home from school one day he happens upon a god and a devil, who both suspiciously already know his name, despite this apparently being their first meeting. The next day both of them happen to transfer into his high school class. Oh and both of them are the princess of their respective worlds. Not only that, but both of are looking to marry Rin because 8 years ago on their last visit to Earth, both of them happened upon Rin and fell in love at first sight. This is amplified by their dads, the king of devils and the king of gods, who have made giant houses either side of the main character’s house, and are generally silly and forceful for Rin to marry their respective daughter.

There is another smaller, but then eventually major, plot involving the homunculus. Apparently the king of gods and kind of devils being the great BFF they are, used their combined power to try and create a being with amazingly high magic power. The first attempt involved giving the power to a devil, but their body couldn’t handle it and disappeared. The second attempt involved cloning a devil and infusing the clone with the magic, this clone also died due to the amount of magic in their body. The third and last attempt was to make a being out of scratch, with a body that could hopefully handle the intense amount of magic. This 3rd incarnation ends up living with the main character, and the entire homunculus plotline ends up becoming vital for most of the heroine routes, of which there are 5 in total.

I enjoyed Shuffle! quite a bit. The premise is a nice mix of usual high school shenanigans and its own universe twist. There’s always a lot of room for parody when you deal with heaven and hell, even if they don’t ever explicitly call them by those names. It’s also rather weird the races from these places are gods and devils, as opposed to angels and demons, and the actual God and Devil are instead referred to as the kings of their respective races. There are a few throw away lines here are there talking about religion but they don’t spend a lot of time mining that specifically for humour. Though I admit I laughed at the small line saying a certain religion has halved ever since the kind of god and kind of devils were shown as best of mates.

The entire Shuffleverse is kind of crazy to me. The creators Navel has since released two Shuffle! based games that continue down two different routes in the original game. This is a rather interesting approach to take with visual novels, especially since the majority just follow the ‘happily ever after’ routine after the character specific conflict, if any, has been resolved. Unfortunately these haven’t been translated so I don’t know if they are of good quality, I’m optimistic and I feel Shuffle! was good enough that, if these are ever translated, I may as well give them a shot. Another addition to Shuffle! that has been released is Shuffle! Essence. Essence is essentially an expansion on the original Shuffle! game. Not contempt with the original 5 heroines, the developer decided to add 6 more routes which I can only imagine make perfect sense and doesn’t completely destroy the original story by shoehorning in a lot more characters.

Motto To Love-Ru

So after last week’s showing, I decided the best course of action was to watch the sequel, Motto To Love-Ru. So I feel this anime makes the broad assumption that anyone who watched To Love-Ru was all “oh boy that was amazing I’ll go buy all of the manga volumes for this series right away!” I say this because not one minute into the first episode I was already confused about just what exactly was going on, good start!

Motto To Love-Ru actually makes a lot less sense than even To Love-Ru did, which is surprising. So what To Love-Ru did, was take 24 stories from seemingly random points in the manga and animate them as a 26 part anime. The sequel, however, takes 34 stories, shuffles them around and squashes them down to a 12 part anime. This is a huge step up, and something I really enjoyed, as it meant each story wasn’t stretched out to death via intense prolonged fan service like in To Love-Ru. Don’t worry, the fan service is in full effect here, but it isn’t as let’s call it, unnerving as before. Regardless, as before the last 3 or 4 stories (here being the last episode) someone accidently loosens the valve on the plot hose and each story ties directly into the next. Therefore, there is absolutely no reason to talk about the plot on this series. The first episode almost feels like it looks at the ending of the last series and actively laughs in its face, and continues to have characters living in the main character’s house who aren’t actually introduced (or indeed living in the house) until half way in the season.

Aside from three characters there aren’t any new faces to the group, and rather surprisingly only two of these three characters end up falling for the main character, though to be fair the 3rd character is a 3 year old plant... or something, she’s never actually introduced, she’s just... there. Like seriously she’s in the first scene of the first episode with a very nonchalant “Oh silly plant alien, you’re not in plant form anymore! You don’t need watering, aren’t you silly. Oh silly plant alien.” Anyway, this means that the anime does not have to take half of its episode count to introduce each character, which means a lot more time to ensue some hilarity. Some alien skunk that turns high school students to children with its gas? Yeah sure why not. How about the main character accidently puts on glasses that lets him see through clothes? Of course. How about the never explain plant alien’s spore makes anyone affected by it fall in love with the main character? That’s weird but ok I guess. Throw in a few beach episodes here and a few images that accurately sums up ZombiePie over on Anime Vice and you’ve got yourself an anime good sir!

Obviously this isn’t the go to anime for an amazing story, but if you want some background noise or looking for a stupid fun time it’s a great anime for that. I had a good time with it and some parts are genuinely funny in that Japanese slapstick kind of way. And here’s when I proclaim my annoyance of very little Ren showings again. This is made even weirder this time around because his female counterpart Run is now some kind of teen idol pop star. You’d think she’d sneeze once or twice while on a tour or something. I better stop thinking about weird plot questions in animes like this; it’ll be the death of me.

Oh wow how did I manage to write that much. Really sorry, hopefully this blog won’t just keep growing and growing like some out of control Katamari. Next week will be filled with a lot more Steam ticket quests so look out for more anecdotes to that I guess! Oh also I made this poorly photoshopped image, Whitta reposted it and raised my Klout score by 5 points! So thanks Whitta!

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