(Hint: it's me.) Yes, it was upon this glorious day in 1637 that I was born. Of course, this means that I am turning 375 years old. Let us celebrate this glorious occasion! How, exactly? Well, earlier this month, @Gamer_152 decided to give out presents on his birthday, so let's do the opposite of that. Or maybe I'll indulge in Earth tradition and stuff my face with cake. Whichever is more entertaining, I guess. Anyway, let the festivities begin!
(With Persona 2: Innocent Sin screenshots.) I know that doesn't sound blog-worthy, but let me impress upon you the scale of the task I imposed upon myself: I uploaded, captioned, and uploaded to the wiki 355 individual screenshots of this game. But don't expect any fancy image analyses just yet. I'm saving that for my blog on the matter, which I'll post a couple of months from now. (All my blogs are put on delay for the purposes of editing out any potential nipple slips.) Speaking of which, obviously, this has meant that I had no real time to write anything in the actual blog. Well, nothing relating to those damned images.
Which brings me to the wiki, somehow. Without writing a damn word, I was able to accrue 1068 points on the page. Again perspective is needed: this is more points than the Tear Ring Saga page I actually wrote for. (I'm not done with that page, though. It still needs a lot of work.) All those images were enough to knock Katawa Shoujo off my top wiki edits deck. (And while I'm talking about the page, anybody mind cleaning up the galleries? There are a couple of Eternal Punishment images floating about there.) Ho.....I do.....how is t.....
Don't consider this a bitter rant or anything, though. Simply think of it as me venting my abject shock at the previously documented revelation.
(All of this would have been a status update if I actually had the room for it. But alas, it must languish here, as a blog I'm not giving a banner, posting to the forums, or attaching to a wiki page.)
Odd, given that the story, for the most part, is pretty standard fare and could stand for some improvement. After an intro that establishes why this game needed a fan translation, we get...kind of the same thing. There's a dark god, a hero kills him, and he establishes a bunch of kingdoms and tells them to play nice. Of course, they do no such thing, dragging naive noble Leaf Runan into a continental conflict. What follows is enough politics to make Hideo Kojima's head spin, along with a dark view of mankind. People being burned on the stake, nobles abusing their power constantly, fourteen year old girls being considered adult women. It's almost as though anybody outside your party is an asshole, and half your army is composed of them....and that's what I like about it so damn much.
But still, there's a lot of politics to it, and I mean a lot. Don't get me wrong; it is interesting to see how the various political games play out over the course of the game, especially when it all comes to a head near the end of the game, but it is a lot to take in. Hell, that's probably why I never bothered writing a good story section for the wiki: because there's just sooo much to keep track of, especially in Runan's side of the story. It doesn't help that the dialogue is expository as hell.....OK, it does help, but you know what I mean. I don't like it. It doesn't at all sound natural, especially since the characters should probably know the things they're being told. Imagine if I gave you a list of facts about the story and told you to explain them to somebody unfamiliar with the game (IE anybody). Your dialogue would match up very well with what's in the game. I'd say that the game doesn't know how to tell a story, but then you have some reasonably detailed map choreography (SPOILERS), detailed battle choreography, and shit like this. MAKE UP YOUR MIND, TEAR RING SAGA!
Or maybe I should make up my mind, because I'm about to tell you how much I love the characters in this game. (I should rename this to Schizophrenia: The Blog.) I'd say that all the characters in this game have great backstories and development and feel like actual people, but I remember a few of them getting snubbed, so I'll only say that most of them are great. You have the bros (both types) Mintz and Hagaru, the lackadaisical Vega, the guy who betrays you because his people were persecuted a bunch Zeek, Julia feeling tortured about all the killing she's done....Christ, this game is a fucking bummer. Waiting around every corner is an opportunity to bum you out. For instance, chapter 14. In this chapter, we learn that Plum's mother was a dancer, the medieval equivalent of a stripper. How do I know this? Because I sold her into slavery and discovered the boob bounce in this game. On a teenager. Being forced to dance against her will. So yea, this game can get dark like that a lot. Fortunately, though, the game manages to find a balance between humor and tragedy, and that balance has a name: Holmes.
It's gotta be Holmes. Allow me to explain. In this game, we have two protagonists. The first is Runan, who, for the most part, is your typical Fire Emblem lord. He's a young noble, idealistic yet disconnected from the world (which explains Mr. Expository Eugen's prominence), and he becomes an asshole near the end for no real reason. I mean it: there's one (extremely poorly translated) cutscene where he remembers...something (all I got was this), and out of nowhere, he becomes a sullen, angsty asshole. But anyway, Holmes. About a quarter of the way through the game, for the purposes of making the game a more robust Sacred Stones, he shows up as another protagonist. Another, asshole-y protagonist. Not that I have a problem with that; in fact, it's what I love about Holmes. He's foul-mouthed, completely cynical, hard to get along with, and spends his spare time lightheartedly abusing his kinda-lover Katri. Given that he's in a game with more social interaction than you typical Persona game, this lends itself well to a lot of entertaining scenarios. I'd list some of them, but a lot of them would be the same, since they're mostly battle situations of him utterly dominating. He's such a great character that I once thought his stats capped. I WAS WRONG.
Which brings me to the actual game. Or, rather, the characters in the game (again), who are....a bit of a conundrum. Here's the thing: from what I can tell, their growths (their chances of stat improvement upon leveling) suck ass. I can't tell you how many times I got a level-up that was blank. Despite this, though, everybody's a fucking powerhouse. I don't know how, but I had so many fantastic units. A lot of them could strip naked and take an entire army with their bare fists, knowing that they'd get, like, five critical hits in a row, two of them restoring their HP in the process. So this game should be stupidly easy, right? Here's the thing, though: IT FUCKING ISN'T. Yes, there are some chapters that you can blow through in two minutes (like chapter 15...except not like that), but then others can be balls hard. The last few chapters love to fuck with you, generally by crippling your party immensely. Have you been relying on Vega and Julia the whole time because they can hit dudes nine times in a row? Well, let's Nihil those abilities out of existence, turning this into a pure battle of the stats. Have some awesome Mounties? (It's Tear Ring Saga. I wouldn't be surprised if this all took place in Canada.) Well, the final few chapters are mostly indoors, and horses aren't allowed to mess up the rug, so prepare to throw out and any all advantages those units once had. It does a lot to keep you on your toes and forces you to be really goddamn careful about the strategy in this game.
And that's what I love so goddamn much about Tear Ring Saga: it's Fire Emblem on peyote. Character recruitment can fuck with you immensely, like when you have to kill somebody to recruit a witch. Keep in mind that the victim in question is your most powerful unit at the time, so it amounts to the game taunting you to defy all logic, like it does. An awesome archer who can't kill for shit! A sexy nun as a playable class! Weapons with 100 uses that jack your critical rate into the thousands! Mountie skills on non-Mounties! A staff that lets you save mid-battle (think about that from a story perspective)! Goddamn tanks! Oh, and this is how the game ends. Do you need more reason to go out and play this game?
You do? Christ, you're hard to impress. Let's see....I've already talked about the characters and the stuff it knows to steal from Fire Emblem. How about the spectacle? Yea, let's go with that, because this game looks amazing. There's just so much detail packed into those sprites, and some of the battle animations can be pretty damn elaborate. This is especially true of the various spells in the game, which tend to go all-out when given the opportunity. For instance, there's at least one spell that's just a huge picture of doves and shit killing your foe. But you don't care; you're just going to soak in everything the game's offering you. That includes the music, which is....OK, it isn't as good as the graphics, but it's still pretty good. Triumphant, varied, fun; these are all words I could have used to describe this game if I was a better writer. Instead, I'll merely add that in keeping consistent with the theme of crazy, there's a song in this game that pumps up the bass. You know, because that's an instrument people had in medieval times. It's hard to think of a single thing I don't like about this game.
Although, if I were to insult the game (not counting the third paragraph, I guess), I'd probably go straight for the mechanics, which, let's face facts here, are all kinds of janky. Take, for example, the maps. On the one hand, you can place flags on the map, which actually adds a lot to the whole strategizing aspect of this strategy-RPG. Unfortunately, there to yank away said benefit is the inability to see where your units are going to start off on the map. Sure, you can influence where they start, but in order to do that, you have to start the chapter, check if you like where everybody is, remember their positions if you don't, restart the game, and switch fuckers around until you get what you want. It shouldn't be this way, especially when your army is split up as often as it is. Oh, and some other strange stuff, like different level caps for every character and turns not ending after you've moved every last person and occasionally sticky controls, but it's mostly the map stuff.
Oh, and the translation. I know I can't actually use it in determining the game's quality, yet obviously, something like this still warrants discussion. Simply put: wait for the patch. Yes, there's a full(ish) translation floating about right now (along with a partial one on GameFAQs), but you're going to have to jump through waay too many hoops for it to be worth the effort, especially when you consider the quality of the translation. Now I'm not calling it bad; like the game it's based on, the translation is all over the goddamn place. Some of it can be professional quality, while other parts can be really bad. Google Translate bad. I'm not even joking; I legitimately believe that some of this was translated through Google (even though the translators were told specifically against that). Hell, there's even an instance where somebody's called Julius-sama. Because when I think "vaguely European medieval political war scenario", high-ranking weeaboos immediately come to my imagination. So if you're gonna play Tear Ring Saga (fucking should), just wait until somebody announces a complete translation of some type.
Come for the promise of a Fire Emblem story; stay for the characters (or because Holmes will call you a goddamn pussy if you don't).
And possibly because this is the type of game that thrives on making logic cry.
If that's not enough, the game generally looks amazing.
But wait, there's more! Because I played this game for so long, I took a lot of pictures. And I mean a lot; in fact, they add up to....137!? I think that's the thirdmost I've ever uploaded to the site, just narrowly beating out Rhapsody: A Musical Adventure. And unlike Rhapsody, I'm going to break down my obsessive-compulsive tendencies for your amusement!
I captured 88 screenshots of the dialogue alone. You know what that means, right? 64% of my screenshots WERE NOT DEDICATED TO THE ACTUAL GAMEPLAY. Keep in mind that this is a Japanese game with a translation most people aren't going to read like I did (IE without sanity), so I'm not sure what I was thinking throughout this experience. Oh, wait: yes I do!
Of those 88 screenshots, 21 of them were of the strange translation choices I came across. Look, you can't just come across a phrase like "untouchable holiness" and not capture this strangeness for future generations, and you certainly can't blow past somebody like Demonic Geezer. Actually, that reminds me that 9 of those screenshots were also of the strange proto-names that the translators gave to unnamed NPCs (and NPCs whose names they could never be bothered to look up). My only regret in that regard is not taking a picture of Hagar with a Bib.
I'd like to talk about the battle pictures I took (really, I would), but there are a few other categories I must take care of before that. Namely, the twelve of all the neat map things it does for the story (including a Sailor Moon reference), the six of just general gameplay, like the deadly power of overzealous anime fans, and the six screenshots I really couldn't fit into any other category. You know, like battles.
Speaking of battles, the battle pics, of which there are 26. A pithy 19%. But how does this 19% break down? Well, four of them defy categorization, seven of them are simply of the more awesome monsters you get to fight in the game, like the deathticles or the final boss, and five of them are of the awesome spells in this game. Hey, here's one! But what could be more awesome than that?
How about some goddamn insane criticals (and other insanely high damage outputs)? I managed to capture ten of them, although that's not the most I could. There were others; I just thought you'd get the point by now. But in case you haven't, yet, I decided to record the critical rates in question. One of them was 97%; three of them were 100%, and two of those feature Vega staring at them utterlybored, as if this type of thing doesn't freak him out. It probably helps that I gave him a weapon that jacked said critical rates straight to Eris.
Finally, Holmes, the most awesome of characters in the game. Turns out I gave him 25 screenshots, featuring such gems as the Holmes Rap and that time I thought his stats capped. Holmes, you truly are a great character, even if you are a total asshole.
Oh, and I uploadedfourvideos, one of which would have been better served as a screenshot. And that's Tear Ring Saga, ladies and gents.
You know what? This might as well be the ending to Tear Ring Saga.
(And rounding out this kind-of retrospective is Advance Wars.) What? Did you expect something else? Berwick Saga's not even close to being considered for translation, and playing the Satellaview Fire Emblems is a fairly bad idea. So why Advance Wars in particular? Well, because it's the game (series) that eventually led to Fire Emblem. While it isn't obvious just by looking at it, the strategic spirit of Fire Emblem is certainly present, and that's enough for me.
So how did it take me this long to get around to Advance Wars? I mean, it's Fire Emblem's older brother, for fuck sake. Fire Emblem's far more neglected older brother. And that's not even considering how bad Fire Emblem gets it. I'm talking "cigarette burns" bad. Meanwhile, ol' daddy Nintendo's throwing beer bottles at that overachieving smartass of a son Mario, and poor Metroid has to get naked in front of strangers to earn cash nowadays....What the hell was I talking about? I think it was the story? If you think this is something Advance Wars shares with Fire Emblem, I laugh in your stupid goddamn face. It's simply a few sixteen year olds leading a military campaign for incredibly vague reasons. Along the way, they'll encounter a man who thinks Seinfeld music is a form of punctuation, a fucking Norse god, and Psycho Mantis making robots or some shit. Do you sense a theme developing? I do: war is fun. Oddly enough, it doesn't bother me a damn bit. It's so utterly disconnected from anything realistic that it more resembles a lighthearted sitcom than a Ted Nugent song in game form. (Odd wording, given the intro to this game.)
There's a very good reason for this type of atmosphere: the actual game is all kinds of daunting. Not difficult (more on that in a bit), but complicated. "How complicated can it be", the voices in my head ask me. "You move your guys, they move theirs; what more is there to it?" Well, ammo and gas. Each unit has different ammo and gas limits (and consumption rates), so that's gonna require some occasional supplying. But be careful not to place your APC too near your guys, because it's definitely in danger, maybe. Each unit can only fire on certain other units, but you can never remember who hits what. And don't forget about that offensive advantage! Or joining your units when they get too beat up! Or what effects your current CO gives your troops! Do you see what I'm getting at? I'm not saying that this is the X-COM of video games; I'm just saying that it's a lot to take in. It's a lot to keep track of, but it's all absolutely necessary to become victorious in the heat of combat.
Unless you decide to spend all your turns spamming the shiniest unit in the menu. Because you can totally do that, if you want. That's sort of the one major flaw I found with this game: how easy you can make the game. Why bother thinking up a winning strategy when you can summon tanks and infantry out the wazoo as part of your "salt the Earth" strategy? I'll tell you why: because the game's not at all fun like that. You're gonna waste, like, two years trying to destroy all the enemy units like that, too many of your asses will be kicked, and your sexy CO adviser's certain to chew you out for your idiocy. So what the hell do you do? Go with clever solutions, of course! I'm talking about baiting that bomber into your anti-air arsenal, or falling behind enemy lines so you can conquer their pitifully defended base, guaranteeing victory in two turns. That type of clever manipulation of numbers that makes you feel like Ares, God of War...that's what makes this game worthwhile. Oh, and the variety of game modes and maps and such (not counting the mid-game love affair with fog of war, of course). But mostly the strategy god feeling.
(And so goes yet another game in the Humble Indie Bundle.) Unfortunately, this isn't exactly an interesting Humble Indie Bundle game to blog about. I'm not calling Zen Puzzle Garden bad; in fact, it's good. And that's the problem: it comes up with an idea, executes it, and then does absolutely nothing else. That leaves me with only two words: it's good.
Alright, here's the basic premise: you're a monk in charge of raking a garden. Unfortunately, you're the type of OC SOB who won't cross the same path twice (unless you're fucking about in freeform mode), and that's pretty much how the gameplay goes down. OK, so there are also lamps you can move and leaves you can pick up (in order of color, because this is the type of monk who has to make sure his lines are perfectly straight or else his day is completely ruined), but that doesn't really change the core gameplay. Not that I'm complaining; the puzzles can be pretty clever and challenging, and there's a decent variety of modes and levels. And that's it. That's all there is to this game.
Do I really need one?
Nazo no Murasamejou
(How about an actual blog, for a change?) I'll make up for that last part later. Anyway, Nazo no Murasamejou, also known as "Mysterious Murasame Castle", also known as "A Nintendo Game You've Never Heard Of". I know that you're wondering how that's possible, since people tend to know of even their most obscure franchises, but this happens more often than you think. Ever hear of Devil World? How about For the Frog the Bell Tolls?
Yea, there are tons of them like that, and while I can't explain them all (it's been a while since For the Frog the Bell Tolls, and I've yet to touch Devil World), this game has a clear reason for remaining as obscure as it is: it's a decent game, but not terribly outstanding. You'll play bit of it, think "that's pretty cool", and then move on with your life, this game having no impact on that life whatsoever. It's like the Zen Puzzle Garden I can actually form a meaningful opinion about.
Although to be fair, it does put a lot of work into its story, something that most games didn't even have when it was released. OK, so at first, it looks like your typical "save the princess....multiple times" ordeal, but it's the little details that really propel this game to greatness. For example, one of your enemies is an exploding ninja, meaning it has to take place somewhere during the Warring States Period of Japanese history. In fact, there's a real argument to be made here that this is just one samurai's desperate attempts to remain relevant in a world changing right before his v-Oh, who am I kidding? This game makes absolutely no sense. Princesses turn into demons, the ending is a wiggly Ode to Joy, and sometimes, you pass through mountains for no real reaosn. Although that's not necessarily a bad thing. It's got that "I'm a game and I don't give a shit" feeling that pretty much every game back then had, and that's what I love about this game.
Oh, and I guess I like the gameplay. Or, to be more specific, the combat. What do I like so much about it?....I don't know. It can't be the power-ups, because while there is some strategy to them, like "use the spread on those shielding asshole bosses", there aren't a lot of them there. Just shurikens, fire, and about four ways to configure the two. Oh, and invisibility and lightning, but those don't come up often enough to have an impact on the game. No, what I like about the game is everything you can kill. Samurai who stand and wait for you to run into their sword; ninjas hiding in every damn pixel imagineable; hell, even some kind of cool bosses near the end of the game. So what if the levels are just banal dungeon crawls or the game is five(ish) levels long? It takes a basic idea and fleshes it out for some frantic and decently challenging action, and that's enough to satisfy me. Like Zen Puzzle Garden. For a bit. Then I move onto the next part of this blog and on with my life. Again, like Zen Puzzle Garden.
It's an early NES game, meaning it's flamboyantly game...
...and it's a nice little diversion you won't remember the next day.
Still, I wish Nintendo would reboot this as a Devil-May-Cry-esque character action game, or perhaps even a Binding-of-Isaac-esque dungeon crawler.
I've said it before, I'll say it again: Russian cartoons are fucking weird.
(And rounding out this blog is some Elebits.) Why? I was feeling nostalgic, and while normally I am quite capable of ignoring these urges, this time, it was too much to bear. I had to take Xenoblade Chronicles out of my Wii for less than a week so I could play an almost-launch title for the Wii. Not that I'm complaining about it or anything. Elebits is damn cool. Imagine if Valve contracted KeitaTakahashi to design Portal for arcades. Aw hell yea.
And I can guarantee you that you'll be using these words to describe the game, too. How do I know this? Well, here's the premise: parental neglect, a world fueled by alien lightning creatures, and a kid taking his father's weapon so that he might conquer the very elements themselves. It's amazing to think that in its earliest days, the Wii would feature a game that could easily double as either Norse legend or a heavy metal album...probably because it didn't. That description before? Selective. Yes, those elements are there, but they're played far more lightly than how I depicted them. Specifically, they're a bedtime story being narrated to a whiny little girl (?), and sadly, that's the best thing I have to say about the voice acting in this game. The protagonist is supposed to be a boy (even when I originally played it, this caught me extremely off guard), the father sounds less like an actor and more like a reading, and...no, that's pretty much the entirety of it.. Fortunately, they art's so good enough to make up for it. Not the graphics, which are merely serviceable, but the art. Holy shit, is it vivid. This game uses colors that I didn't know existed, like greem or fleven. That's more than enough to make me forget the "just enough of a Y chromosome to be a" boy.
But not enough to forget the Wii aspects of this Wii game. Remember what I said about this coming out near the birth of the Wii? Well, it shows. You see, back then, every goddamn Wii game had to have motion controls NO MATTER WHAT. Some of the time, it made sense, like here. It's mostly limited to pointing at the screen and zapping Elebits (more on that in a bit), but there is some manipulation of objects to be found. It starts off intuitive enough, like throwing something on the X axis or the Y axis or the...Z? There's a Z axis? Why? From what I can tell, it feels really goddamn awkward and never works, so you default to the other two axes, anyway. Still, it's better than twisting. For an action you have to do an oddly high amount of times, it sure is awkward as hell. See that doorknob? Grab it, twist it, and watch your cursor fly to parts unknown, scared of the arcane upside-down world you cast it into. Then you have to coax it back into the game with that handy little home button that completely removes you from the experience. I wouldn't complain about it so much if it didn't come up so often. Just...damn it.
So what the hell do I like about this game, exactly? Wasn't I positive about it before? What makes me like this game so much? How about everything else, motherfucker?! The basic premise of the game is that you're supposed to collect a certain number of electricity creatures. Here's the thing, though: they can detect your utter hatred of them, and they'll promptly hide from you if given the opportunity. (Black Elebits don't count because fuck them and their deadly love hugs.) This means you get to overturn every goddamn thing in sight. I repeat: aw hell yea. It's chaos incarnate, and what could be more fun than chaos? Double chaos. You see, not only are there Elebits that allow you to lift more powerful stuff, like that house from before, but there are power-ups that give you the powers of the gods themselves. Lift whales and cause tornadoes. Who's going to stop you? What? The game is? With its Super Black/Blue Death Elebits, and its arbitrary sound and insurance limits? Fuck that, Konami! I don't care about your Metal Gears! I can throw your Metal Gears halfway across the goddamn planet! I AM AN UNSTOPPABLE DEITY!!!
Wait. I ran out of Elebits to zap up. That's gotta suck. Unfortunately, it happens a lot more often than you think, and it's exactly as unfun as I make it out to be. You're forced to turn over every goddamn thing looking for the next Elebit, and while that sounds exactly the same as before, trust me: it's not as fun when you've captured every other Elebit in the level. It's also not as fun when you realize you've made a huge mess of things because that's what makes the game so fun. The game's tendency to block off areas until you've found X Elebits only frustrates the issue. WHY MUST YOU PUNISH ME FOR HAVING FUN, ELEBITS!? I realize that the game has to deliver challenge in some form, but I would have preferred that they didn't sacrifice pacing to achieve that noble goal.
That aside, Elebits is simply a solidly built game with a lot of meat to it. For example, remember how I mentioned power-ups earlier? Turns out there's more to them than simply lifting shit. Granted, a lot of it is contextual, so the only ones you're guaranteed to use throughout are the homing laser, super strength, and, if it ever comes up, the super death vacuum. What's more fun than lifting a house? Vacuuming it up in anti-gravity. Oh, did I forget to mention the anti-gravity parts of the game? I did? How? They're really fucking awesome, you guys. No more worrying about finding that last damn Elebit; you just get to toss shit around and make a mess of everything. And then you get to fight a boss that restores gravity to the world. Does it make sense? No. Do I love it? Yes.....Actually, that could describe all the boss battles in this game, final boss and his fucking screws notwithstanding. To make up for that, I guess, are all the extra modes and unlockables? There are soooo many of them. In fact, I'm not going to list them, since that would constitute another blog entirely. Instead, I'll just demand that you dust off your Wii and shove this in it.
All these colors! All these lightning creatures! All these listless voice actors!
Such magnificent power! You're all nothing more than fleas compared to me now!
Oh, and a bunch of ultimately minor fuck-ups that don't do a lot to diminish the overall product, or something to that effect.
(I need manly games!)NNGGGHHHH!!!!.....Perhaps I should explain. Last week, I covered two exceedingly girly games, so to balance it out, I've decided to jump into the realm of meat and testosterone. So what does that entail? Blacks Ops? Oh fuck, you guys. Just....fuck. I'm not ready to revisit Neon Genesis Evangelion. I need more time between games that focus more on spectacle than the actual game.
Wait, what am I saying? These games are completely different; Neon Genesis Evangelion is a dumb anime, and Black Ops is a dumb action movie. Not that there's anything inherently wrong with that; previous Call of Duty games rock that feel well (or at least they rock that feel), and to be fair, Black Ops hits some cool moments, too. In a world where everything is one bullet away from an explosion, Alex Mason jumps all across the world, being an all around warrior badass in Cuba, Russia, Vietnam, and other 1960s places. Sometimes, deep voices shout at him about numbers, but who gives a shit about that? You're here for the goddamn action. All the bitchin' shootouts and adrenaline and fucking 'murica, man! If you're into explosions masquerading as a story, you'll just eat this shit up.
Of course, I'm not too hot on dumb action movies, so the only reason I ate this up was so I could vomit all over it. That's the level of intelligence this game leaves you with. Why? Well, first of all, I already told you: I'm not into dumb action movies. Pay attention. Anyway, this game can be really stupid when it wants to be. Slow motion for no reason, prisoners shouting an oddly specific chat during their break, villains who think that gassing puppies is morally subtle, etc. True, these are balanced out by some legitimately cool moments, like when you finally break free of those voices and weirdness ensues or the level(s(ish)) immediately before it, but it just isn't enough. Second, it can be just plain psychotic in areas for no real reason. Now I'm not going to say we should stop shooting people in these games; I'm just saying that they should remain generic, nondescript baddies instead of actual people. There are some moments where you can literally see the pain and fear in a person's face as you stab them mercilessly. Hell, one of the levels has you walking up behind a guy and slitting this throat. What was he doing to deserve this? Eating rice. That's it. He's not gonna shoot you or stab you or warn his sleeping buddies (although that last one's because you slit their throats two seconds earlier); he's just enjoying a nice meal. That's not fun; that's fucking mentally imbalanced.
Third, because it interferes with the game. How, exactly? Well, the levels are all straight lines with occasional bouts of shooting. See an alternate path? Fuck you for deviating from our vision; now get back on that trail and enjoying the 'murica. Although to be fair, that's not exactly the worst part of the game. I can deal with linear levels as long as there's enough shooting. Hell, that's why I hated that My Little Pony game so damn much. Unfortunately, this is where Black Ops tends to stumble a bit: it's more concerned with the action than...well, the action. Only, like, 40% of the game is actually shooting guys; the rest is just shitty action movie fluff and story for its own sake. Perfect example: there's a vehicle section pretty early on, and while most of the vehicle sections are actually fun to play through, this one isn't in the slightest. I imagine some of that is because you're not playing through it. You have no control over it at all. Sure, the game will prompt you to press the triggers a couple of times, but I suspect that's just to check if you're still playing this thing. Yes, driving through the streets of Cuba sounds like fun, but I imagine it would be much more enjoyable if I was actually doing it. Just....fuck.
Sad, too, because for the most part, the underlying mechanics for Black Ops are actually pretty solid. For example, your default guns are always good enough, so there's no real reason to switch out weapons ever....Wait, that's the opposite of solid. What I meant to say is that the action in this game is really well pulled off. Whenever you do get into a firefight, expect it to be a confusing clusterfuck where you have no idea what's going on. That might sound negative, but keep in mind that those words also perfectly describe an orgy, and would you turn down an orgy?...Exactly. In fact, the only difference between this and an orgy is the amount of death present. (First person to correct me gets arrested.) Yes, you're going to die quite a bit, and a lot of it is because you can't tell what's going on, but I'm not bitter about that. Instead, I'm bitter that the rest of the game wasn't like this. Why would you end on something that awesome?.....Uh.....There's still the next part, you guys....
Great action movie.
Not so great game.
Just play it for the multiplayer.
What's manlier than a dragon bear?......Seriously, I'm asking you: what's manlier than a dragon bear?
(C'mon.) You knew there was only one option for this. Can you name a game manlier than a Cho Aniki game? Stroker doesn't count, because that game only has one rock hard cock. However, as I've previouslyexhausted the series, I had no choice but to go back to the beginning, when things were less gay and more generally insane. But also still super gay.
I'd say that this much is evident from the scenario, but who am I fooling: gay craziness (hereby referred to as "gayziness") is this game's scenario. It all begins when the gods break two angry musclemen out of prison. (Also, I guess a woman, but you'll never play as her; the sexual delight will be too much for either of you to handle.) Then....uh...happens. I can't really describe anything in this game. How would you describe this? I'd like to call the whole thing a gross violation of the barriers between man and machine, but that sounds like the game is trying to make a point. It isn't. Not everything can be a boner joke, you guys. Sometimes, you just gotta have fun in the confusion. The music certainly knows that. It knows that better than anybody else. Hell, I just heard it say "sexy dynamite" just because. Do you know of any better ways to describe Cho Aniki? This music is what happens when you throw nine different kinds of drugs into a bowl and jam your face into the mess, personal health be damned.
However, strip away the scenario, and you're left with nothing but a none-too-glamorous shooter. First off, you only get one set of power-ups throughout the entire game. Sure, that picture from before alludes to options, but from what I can tell, they don't really do anything. So you're left with one set of power-ups: a scattershot weapon that makes the game harder until your shots become the size of basketballs. Then nothing can stand in the way of your love! Not even the bosses! Just park your well toned ass in a random spot and release to your heart's content! Wait, that's nto exciting. Why am I using so many exclamation marks? That shit sounds boring! And it's not like there's much to the game outside those complaints; the levels have a tendency of sticking to one idea and driving it into the ground, and it's not a terribly long or meaty game. Actually, now that I think about it, that's all this game has: the meat. You know what? Step away from this computer, take a bunch of freaky drugs, and visit your local gym. I guarantee you it will be the exact same experience as Cho Aniki.
It's Cho Aniki. Do I have to tell you that it's specifically made to offend vegans?
I do, however, have to tell you that underneath all that meat, there's a sorely lacking shooter.
(Didn't I do this already?) I remember now: long ago, when I was but a naive fool, I covered Mary Kate, Ashley, and My Little Ponies. And now, here I am again, playing a game that is perhaps just as girly as Tra La La. There is, however, one key difference here: I didn't know that this game would be this girly. Yea, the title indicates some obvious musical themes, but that ha-Wait, there are actually two differences: the first one, and the fact that this is a legitimately good game. None of that irony here.
Hell, there's even a decent story...sort of. We find ourselves in a world where one person can talk to puppets and command them to do her bidding, something that isn't explained until the last ten minutes. Her name is Cornet, and of course, we play as her throughout the whole game. Doing what, exactly? At first, it's trying to win the heart of a prince (did I mention how girly this game is?), but before the poor schmuck can get any real characterization, he's turned to stone. Now it's up to you to find the five whatever stones and who gives a shit? That's really all the plot you get, and it's not particularly good. So why did I call it a good story? The personality, for one. It's not really afraid to poke fun at itself for a good laugh every now and then. For instance, early in the game, Obligatory Assistance Fairy Kururu advises Cornet to dress up like a furry if she wants to win her Prince's heart. The funny part? IT TOTALLY FUCKING WORKS. Now imagine a game where that's happening every five minutes. OK, that sounds overwhelming, but trust me: it's damn cool. Throw in some idiotic characters (just...this), some memorable moments, and expressive enough artwork, and I'm more than willing to overlook the fact that this is Wand of Gamelon: The Musical.
Oh, right: I've demonstrated how this is an adventure, but what about the musical part? (I feel this will also cover the Rhapsody part, and I've certainly addressed the "a".) It's....pretty bad. Don't get me wrong; I love the idea of a video game musical, and I wish that more games did it than this and PaRappa the Rapper. However, I also wish that there were more games that did it well. Why does this game fall so flat (and does that count as a pun)? First, the songs are only relevant to the plot, like, half the time. The rest of the time, they just come out of nowhere. Like here, where a mountain man decides to sing about being a mountain man (in three voices at once, somehow) because...it's been 45 minutes since the last song, I guess.
Complaint number two: a lot of the songs aren't really that good. OK, I guess if you get a boner watching Sleeping Beauty, there might be somet-I can't finish that sentence with a straight face, and it's not because of the first part. It's more because the songs aren't really that good. They're the most saccharine things you'll ever encounter, and most of the rhyme schemes read like the first entry in a rhyming dictionary. Just look at this. This is the first lyric to the first song you hear in the game. THAT IS HOW IT DECIDES TO INTRODUCE ITSELF. Although that does remind me that not all the songs in the game are bad. For example, immediately following that song is one that adds some depth to a character who would otherwise be a total bitch. (it doesn't help that she is a total bitch.) Then there's this song, which is actually pretty touching and something I might actually listen to outside the context of this game. Or at least I would if the song didn't cut off at the end.
Damn it. This is going downhill fast. I have to think of something I liked about this game.....Gameplay! Four paragraphs in seems like a good enough time to mention it. It's an isometric strategy RPG with more emphasis on the RPG part than the strategy, and with light isometry pepperings throughout. Here's how it works: you get in a random encounter, move your characters into place, and whack enemies until they die. Also, deadly pancakes. I'd comment on how little strategy this system offers, but let's put that off for a bit, because I want to compliment the game for a change. Namely, the battle system is fun enough and it has party members pouring from every orifice. True, you can blast through the game with a single party, but there's enough variation in abilities to experiment around every once in a while.
Too bad there's not much motivation to do so, what with the game being as easy as it is. Now here's the strange thing: the game sort of understands how difficulty is supposed to work. The enemies do take longer to beat with each encounter, so it seems like there's a difficulty curve to be found here. The problem is that you're always ahead of it. I think this screenshot explains it well enough. But let's assume that, for whatever reason, that isn't true. Maybe you're using underleveled puppets. In this case, the game's still incredibly easy. Will the enemies attack the weak puppets, which would be a good idea? Hell no! They're gonna go after Cornet, transforming her from mere support role to an unstoppable death machine. Then the game ends, because it takes longer to sleep than it does to finish this game. But like sleeping, it's a perfectly acceptable waste of time, even if it is filled with too many songs, bouncing boobs, and frogs in assless chaps. What? Your dreams aren't like that? Weirdo.
All I have to tell you is that Nippon Ichi made a Disney movie. That will give you the perfect idea of what the story is like.
As for the actual game, imagine the original Dragon Warrior Monsters with the combat of Tactics Ogre.
And a level of difficulty that makes it perfect for little girls. However, I need girlier games, though. GIRLIER GAMES!!!
Hey, you know what else is Japanese and tailor made for girls? Probably not this:
Mary-Kate & Ashley: Girl's Night Out Barbie in the 12 Dancing Princesses
Much like the paragraph where I describe the game's set-up. Can you blame me, though? It's a Barbie game. If you're expecting this game to set your world view ablaze, then you probably don't understand any of the words in front of you. Unwanted fuck up. Anyway, the story: king has twelve daughters (and mother presumably dies from her stomach bursting open like that scene in Alien), is pissed that they're not feminine enough, hires his sister to make them girlier, middle middle middle, she kidnaps eleven of the kids and plans to poison the king. Now it's up to Barbie (except she's not Barbie, but still is Barbie, I guess) to rescue her sisters from...what are they in danger of? I mean, whenever you find them, they're just standing there, clearly safe from the nothing that so sorely wants them dead. Or girly. I forget, mainly because the plot isn't exactly memorable or necessary in the first place.
Neither is the actual game, but at least it's competent. The graphics are technically good, and there's nothing outright offensive about the gameplay. (Put that on the back of the box.) It's a simple platformer where you jump through levels and...no, that's pretty much it. I know that sounds really boring, and while it is soul crushingly mundane, it's the power-ups that save this game from being outright awful. Not counting your monkey murdering pussy, rescuing your sisters nets you some magical shoes that summon things like stilts, deadly butterfly nets, not-deadly croquet mallets, and so much more. I know it makes absolutely no sense, but does it have to? It's fun enough to kill ants by whacking them with your net, and everything else can be put to good use. (Can.) Hell, it even puts them all to really cool use in the final level, where you have to solve alternate dimension mirror puzzles or some shit.
And that's it. There's really nothing else to the game. It never really puts any of those power-ups to interesting use. In fact, it doesn't put a lot of them to use at all; you're mostly going to use the magical stilts and the magical incline generator, and I think I can only remember two times I ever used the croquet mallet. That's not enough to carry a game like this, and believe me: it neeeeeds it. I mean, what else is going to carry it? The levels? Fat chance. There's never really a sense of purpose or direction in any of the levels, making them feel like a chore rather than a fun excursion. Just jump through, head in random directions, and repeat for a few levels that look exactly like the one you just finished. Throw in some unexciting graphics and music that eats a high fiber diet specifically so it will never have any shits to give, and you can see why I'm none too pleased that I didn't get to cover that Mary Kate & Ashley game. Even if this game is by far the better one.
Yep, that's a Barbie.
The underlying mechanics are good enough...
...but the game surrounding it is severely lacking.
Don't look at this as a gloomy waste of time, though. It's actually been pretty fun, as each one has its own little quirks that I simply love discovering. Mayhap the narrator decides to grab a quick bite during his reading, or perhaps they've included some nice sound effects to bring their reading to life. Maybe they did a line of coke before that reading and you have trouble keeping up with them from paragraph to paragraph. But I don't care; that's what makes these so enjoyable in the first place. And that's not even getting into the actual stories, which also tend to have their fair share of eccentricities. So sit back and let me recount my adventures in the world of sort-of-Japanese literature!
A Scandal in Bohemia
Alright, time for a straight-up warning: most of these stories are going to be from the 19th century. In fact, all of them will be from the 19th century. I'd say it's due to copyright laws, but I prefer to think that Japan has a boner for steampunk. As do I. Now before I actually go into the story, I feel it pertinent to state that this was one of the first Sherlock Holmes story put to pen, meaning it was key to establish exactly what type of character our friend Holmes was. Of course, the author chose to make him a condescending asshole, evident from the beginning of the story. After Watson arrives, Holmes mocks the poor bastard over his inability to memorize the number of stairs in his house. Things only go downhill from there. He lets Watson try to solve the case, only to push him aside and let the big boys handle these things (remember that Watson is a licensed medical doctor and not his kid nephew); and then he threatens to light a woman's house on fire so he can commit a home invasion the next day. But it's hard to hate the guy when he gets results in the end.
Only he doesn't. One of the guy's first cases, and he fucks it up big time. Fortunately, it's because he's such a pompous asshole that he screws things up big time. God, that catharsis is amazing. Granted, the story tries to frame it as some type of success (Holmes' client still gets his wish), but trust me: Sherlock Holmes done fucked up......You know, I should probably stop ragging on the poor guy. After all, there's more to this story than that. The whole detective process plays out rather logically and covers all its bases, and...no, that's all I can remember of this particular short story. (It's been a long time.) Still, if you have about fifteen minutes to blow through someday and you forgot your DS, you could probably go to Wikisources and find A Scandal in Bohemia lying a-
Wait, I forgot about the audio part of this audio book. Strange, given the quality of these recordings. (See if you can spot a pattern to come.) I don't know if I said so earlier (because even I don't read this dreck), but this was my first Japanese audiobook, and I'm glad I started things off so well. A piano introduces and outroduces each MP3, the audio is clear, and best of all, it's not just one asshole recording everybody's voices. I know that sounds strange, but you'll learn why I appreciate this soon enough. Suffice it to say that I was surprised and pleased when a female reader voiced the female character. (I was expecting a squeaky-voiced man, if I remember correctly.) The only complaint I have (aside from that one time Holmes chows down mid-monologue because fuck you) is that these recordings seem specifically designed to make me hate Germans. There's only one German character in the entire story, and he's always speaking way too fast for words to be made out. I get it: you sexted a picture to Irene Adler. But slow the hell down. Nobody can understand you. Speaking of being unable to understand a damn thing...
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
Unsurprisingly, that has more to do with the source material than it does the Japanese. Perhaps a chronological retelling of the story's events will make it clear. Alice is sitting by the river, complaining about the lack of manga, when she sees a WHITE RABBIT dressed in PEOPLE CLOTHES jump down a NEARBY rabbit hole. Did I mention that Lewis Carroll SHOUTS EVERY OTHER PHRASE AT YOU as a funny means of emphasis? Anyway, she chases the rabbit down the hole, and then eats some treats on a nearby table, because why the fuck not? Then she grows big, then small, then almost drowns, and then she goes to animal Congress or whatever and then she breaks into somebody's house a-
Are you sensing a pattern yet? If not, let me lay it out for you: shit just happens all the time in this book. There's really no causal relation between any of the parts of the story; nobody has any motivation for doing what they do. OK, that's not entirely true for the end, which does try to make events follow each other for a reason, but for the most part, you could arrange everything around differently and nothing would change. Not that this is all bad by necessity. As you should know, I'm into all kinds of weird shit, so personally, I could take it or leave it. Besides, it's a children's story (with some allegorical math sprinkled about), so who cares if it makes no goddamn sense? If it's a fun ride, who am I to complain? My only true complaint is that the White Rabbit isn't as utterly pimp as he is in the Disney movie, but that's hardly something I can hold against the book that was written years before film was even invented.
Which brings me to the audio files, I guess. All I can say is that they're competent, but not glamorous. Just kidding! I can say a lot more about them. For instance, only one person did this recording, sadly enough. And as there are multiple characters in Alice's adventures, prepare for all kinds of memorable impressions. Squeaky Alice! Stoned Caterpillar! Husky Gryphon! Stoned Cheshire Cat! Stoned (or Possibly Very Tired) Dormouse! Upon reflection, a good portion of the characters sound like they lit one up before speaking with the protagonist. Incredibly fitting, given the material we're talking about, but if I can be a stingy asshole, technically only one character was smoking anything in the entire book. But I can't hate on this too much, because on a technical level, everything's fine. She speaks at a reasonable pace, so I can make out what she's saying, and the audio's clean and clear. Not as glamorous as A Scandal in Bohemia, or even as good as the next audiobook, but whatever. It gets the job done.
And back to Sherlock Holmes we come! Don't worry, though; I'm not gonna lay out my complaints about the world's greatest detective or whatever his alias is. Hell, I'll even go so far as to say that this is better than A Scandal in Bohemia. Two reasons: first, the case is a lot more complex than getting a picture back from some lady.....OK, just one reason: Sherlock Holmes having fun. That shit about the case being difficult and complex? (I might as well tell you what the case is right now: a murder case and a horse was captured.) That's still true, but Holmes solves it in about half a page. This leaves the rest of the story open for Sherlock Holmes to systematically fuck with every character he comes across. Don't worry; it's all ultimately harmless, and a few of them have it coming anyway. So yea, it's miles better than the last Sherlock Holmes story, and I include the audio portions in that statement.
Though on that subject, surprisingly enough, the MP3s here are like some strange combination of the previous two audiobooks. On the one hand, we have the general quality of A Scandal in Bohemia. The quality is by far the best of any of these, and while there aren't any fancy intros or outros, Silver Blaze gets its sound effects on, what with the train noises and deathly air of British moors resounding throughout. On the other hand, like Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, only one person does this. Yet unlike it, this guy doesn't even really bother with something so petty as multiple voices. You want to differentiate the characters? He'll change his inflection slightly, and that's it. But I guess that's to be expected when you have a voice as cool as this guy's. It's hard to describe the exact qualities of a voice (smooth with nine Os?), and I'm not sure I can link you guys to the MP3s I was listening to, but trust me: the guy reading Silver Blaze has a great voice. I'd call him the definitive Sherlock Holmes if Sherlock Holmes spoke Japanese.
Little Match Girl
Oh god, this was terrible. If ever there was a worse audiobook, I have yet to listen to it. Not that I can say I listened to this particularly well, given the dreadful quality. It sounds like the people involved in this all recorded their lines from halfway across the room, and given the prevalent sound of lips smacking throughout, I'd guess they're using the same piece of crap microphone I use for the Mumble servers. For those of you who remember what the beginning of that sentence is like, congratulations! You remembered that I said the word "people"! Since A Scandal in Bohemia had multiple people in it, this one oughta be just as enjoyable, right?
WRONG. Just....wrong. Let me list my experience with these participants. First, they decided to read the title, author, and some other shit all at the same time, possibly in an attempt to be cute. (This is a children's story, I've been told.) Obviously, that had to be edited out immediately, and with it, I edited out any enthusiasm the readers put into this. After that, they all read their lines like...well, like they're reading lines. Worse yet, I couldn't edit all these people into the same person. I would if I could, since it would make things easier on me. I know it sounds trivial, but trust me: it's a trifle distressing to be reading a paragraph and suddenly hear somebody else's voice for no reason. There are only two lines of dialogue in this story; there's no reason to have nine separate people recording it.
Oh, right. The story. I've been putting this part off for a bit, and for good reason: it's depressing as hell. What's wrong with you, Hans Christian Andersen? You couldn't call up Lewis Carroll and have him write you a decent children's story? Actually, now that I think about it, this is about as far as you can get from Alice in Wonderland. Remember how that was a whimsical adventure utterly detached from reality? Well, Little Match Girl is as gritty and down-to-Earth as you can get. It's a cold British night, and a little girl has to take to the streets to sell matches, or else her father will beat her. That's not a joke, but an actual line from the story. And the worst part? It's not the most depressing part of this tale. Spoiler alert: the little girl lights herself on fire and burns to death. I'd say that this could qualify as a memory item short story in Fragile Dreams if it wouldn't make the game oppressively sad in the process.
Yet I have to admit that there's still something a little sweet that I like about this story. Despite essentially being a snuff film put to print, there are some touching moments to it. For instance, the girl meets her dead grandmother, and a hallucination goose offers its flesh to the starving child. I know that sounds messed up, but it's actually emotionally appropriate. In fact, remember that Fragile Dreams comment from earlier? Little Match Girl is exactly like that: utterly depressing and sad, but uplifting in a strange way. For those of you who haven't played Fragile Dreams, yet, shame on you. Haven't @Jay444111's ramblings taught you anything? But, for those few shameful people out there, this ought to approximate the Little Match Girl experience. Not that I'd recommend skipping out on this story; only skipping out on the audio parts of it.
To be continued, if this proves a good enough feature.
(Let's not dance around the subject: this is Borderlands with zombies.) I can sense half of you looking at me in confusion, and half of you preparing to yell at me (maybe; I'm not sure how Dead Island fans behave), but this is Borderlands with zombies. Same open world structure, same character customization, same weapon system, hell, even the same texture loading problems. I'm not saying that in a bad way (I'm a connoisseur of blurry textures), but just giving you an idea of what's to come.
Except in terms of the story. That's where things are incredibly different. While Borderlands was about looking for a magical space vagina in a George Bush-torn Connecticut, Dead Island starts with some fuck being an asshole at a party. Then you start the game proper, choose a character with a ridiculous amount of backstory (more on that later, though), wind up in a hotel, and start looting every stray bag in sight for money/cell phones/booze. (Apparently, the only things you need to have a fun time in Australia are $20 and a bottle of Hennessy.) Notice how I didn't mention zombies. That's because you don't need motivation to swipe everything that isn't nailed down, only to swipe the nails so you have more to swipe. But after your wanton looting spree, zombies happen, and this is where the game gets interesting. Yes, there's a virus that turns people into zombies, but that's not very important to what the game's going for. While it indulges in that a bit, yet it's not about killing the zombies (FUCK YEA, IT ISN'T!), but more about survival and making sure people can go on living. Hell, the zombies aren't even that important to the story. You could replace them with, say, bears, and it wouldn't change the game too much. Although...Anyway, it's a touching take on a post apocalyptic scenario like zombies.
And then you hit the laboratory, and the story completely goes to shit. What happens there? Well, the developers decide to explain how the zombieness works: first up, a cosmetic scientist is explaining all this to you. That should be warning enough, but it gets worse. Turns out that the virus mutates really goddamn fast. Now I didn't mention it before, but your characters (even if you play as one, the game treats it as though you're playing as four) have an unquestioned immunity to this zombie virus that I'm now forced to question. If it's mutating so quickly, how are they immune to it for so long? What's that? "It stops mutating in their bodies"? Except it's already mutated, and they're already fucked. But the story continues, as you head to a jungle, a prison, and zeros of other places! By the way, the prison is host to the most ignored moral choice ever, the most predictable plot twist in the world (the guy who was leading you the whole time was a bad guy!) and the lamest ending possible (the bad guy gets zombie-fied and becomes a mega-super-mutant for no good reason). Oh, and that same shitty rap song from a few links ago. It's like they purposefully tried to sabotage their game.
That would certainly explain the character selection thing. Aw, that's a little mean; it's well-intentioned, but not well thought out. Remember that Borderlands comparison from before? Well, like Borderlands, you get four characters to choose from, each specializing in one type of combat. Nothing wrong wit-wait, there is something wrong with that: I haven't played the game. How am I supposed to know which play style suits me best? And it's not like I can switch between characters at any point, so if I choose the wrong play style (gun users seem to be fucked for the first all of the game), I'm fucked. OK, this could work in multiplayer, where you're going to see how the other play styles play out. And to be fair, there is some meaty character progression attached to all this, adding a dimension of strategy to this game about shooting zombies in the face. It's just that the premise is shaky, even if the execution makes up for it.
Speaking of execution, killing things! It's really damn fun! What? Does that surprise you? It honestly shouldn't. It's a zombie games; zombie games tend to be good with combat. What should surprise you (assuming you haven't already ready a billion other reviews, of course) is the combat itself: not a lot of it is shooting. Yes, it's a first person shooter, and you do get to shoot, sometimes, but that comes up pretty damn late in the game. For the most part, you're gonna grab whatever's at hand and use that to kill a zombie. Sometimes, you'll find yourself chucking propane tanks at zombies like that one episode of King of the Hill everybody wanted. A lot of the time, though, you're just hoping that you'll either find any sort of weapon to deal with the zombie hoards, or hope that your current weapons won't degrade into rust by the time you hit another enemy. It really goes a long way toward creating that desperate feel a zombie game like this should really have.
A feel, of course, which quickly gets chucked out the goddamn window as soon as you actually start hitting something. Not that that's a bad thing; the combat's the coolest part of the game, provided you do one thing: turn on analog controls. I know that it's a bit funky at first, what with the momentum-based controls at first, but give it time. Soon, you're gonna come to love slicing zombies in half and feeling the weight of a hammer as it plows into their skulls. I know that makes me sound like a sadistic bastard, and that's probably because I am. How else do you explain me finding enjoyment in electrocuting zombies or drowning them in the various kiddy pools littering the land? Throw in some cool enemies (from a gameplay standpoint; artistically, the look kinda dumb) and a level scaling system that keeps the difficulty consistent over the course of the game, and I don't see what else there is to mention ab-
Missions. I forgot the missions. Can you blame me, though? They're not exactly the best parts of the game. A lot of them are fetch quests or some variant thereof, and the only reason you go along with them is because of the promise of zombie killings. Hell, that's a better reward than most of the rewards you get from the missions themselves. Specifically, weapons and money. I've nothing against weapons, even though I often had zero room for them, so that leaves us with money, which really isn't necessary. All those watches and cell phones you swipe from tourists act as a steady source of income, since you can scrounge up weapons very reliably, there's no need to buy new weapons or parts or ammo all that often. In fact, the only thing I spent any real money on (outside dying a ton) were repairs, which, again, aren't terribly necessary for all but the best of weapons in the game. I guess what I'm trying to tell you is that the only reason you have to play this game is the myriad methods of killing zombies. Not that that's a bad thing. Remember my blog from two weeks ago?
Imagine I Am Legend, but it becomes Code: Veronica X in the third act.
I guess to make up for that, the developers decided to give you complete in total freedom in how a zombie's head comes off.
Oh, and you get to run around an island and do stuff that isn't illegal...ish.
For some reason, I want people to turn this into a game where Hank Hill throws propane tanks at bears. Make it happen, Internets.
You bastards! What h...wait, this is actually pretty good. Habit, I guess.
(And the deja vu continues!) I understand that some (all) of you are confused by this, so let me explain. Long ago, when I was too poor to afford a banner for this thing, I said many kind words about Rayman for the PS1. People didn't really respond, so of course the logical thing to do is the exact same thing as before. Hell, my opinion of it hasn't even changed one bit. I mean that literally; when I went to update the score on this, I realized that I gave it the exact same score as before. (8.1, by the way.) So I guess present me and past me are in agreement on at least one thing: this game rules. (Also, it seems present me and past me have the same writing abilities. Don't judge me.)
Oddly enough, part of it is because of something everybody else was doing at the time: feel like a 90s cartoon. Not in story, though, as that's pretty simple. Mr. Dark (because Evil McBadGuy was presumably taken) has captured all the Electoons in the world, and you have to free them. Throw in Rayman being a genuinely likeable dude (yea, he'll beat you up, but he's still gonna hang out with you after it), and you have the game's story. So where does it get that feel, exactly? Well, Rayman's antics, for one, but it's more due to the art style. Oh my god, the art style, you guys. It's like playing a fucking Disney movie. Everything's just so colorful and vibrant and cheerful that it's hard not to love the look. Granted, a lot of the larger sprites can look iffy, since they were likely scaled up from much smaller versions, but even then, I'm not bitching about it too much. After all, it's hard to complain when you're jumping on pencil-headed Buddhists with drums for eyes. (Though that may be because it's so hard to think in the face of such unlogic.)
It's also hard to complain when the platforming is this goddamn solid. Again, this is because of something that every game back then was doing: speed. Tons and tons of speed, which isn't exactly surprising when you know about the pencil Buddhas. A lot of the levels have you simply running forward really fast and occasionally press the jump button. I know that sounds simple, but it's actually really satisfying when you nail down that specific rhythm. But let's pretend that this doesn't appeal to you, possibly because you're a terrible person. Fear not, you monster, for there's more to this game than mere speed. You also get some Gradius bits, some Sonic CD shrinky bits, even stuff I can't connect to other games. I know that sounds pretty reductionist, but I really do love the levels in this game. For the most part, they manage to find a great idea and mine it for all it's worth. Absolutely no bullshit to find in these levels. Wow, what an awesome game! What faults could you possibly find with this game?
Oh shit. I don't like the looks of this fourth paragraph, you guys. That's never a good sign. What is it this time? The challenge? I don't remember anything to egregious on that front. Yea, you'll get your ass kicked, but it's not overly challenging or anything. Wait, I remember now: the secrets. All the hidden lives and Electoons and all that mess. Now I know that it sounds incredibly petty to complain about how hard it is to find secrets, but a lot of these just violate common sense. Want that extra life? Get to the end of the level and then turn the fuck around. How about that Electoon cage? Jump down that hole which will likely kill you. No, you're not gonna find a secret area; you're just gonna hear a beep shortly before Rayman shuffles off his mortal coil. Normally, this would be a nice addition to the game, but there's one thing getting in the way of that: necessity. You need to find every last Electoon to beat the game. If you want to see the ending, you're gonna have to bounce from level to level, hoping that you find that one cage you didn't manage to find last time...or you could click here. Disappointing, isn't it? You don't even get to fight Mr. Dark or an-WAIT! It finally makes sense! They make you 100% it so you just give up and don't see the crap ending! What's the opposite of "Man, fuck this game"? Because that's how I want to end this blog.....Girl, give this game a prostate exam.
I know this is going to sound complicated, but Rayman was the Rayman: Origins of its day.
(こんにちは, bitches.) This week, I come to you with an anime themed blog, because themed blogs are infinitely easier to title than other blogs. Unfortunately, I don't think I've ever seen the animes in question, meaning at best, I can only give you vague ideas of how they connect to the source material. Also, at least one person will probably yell at me for this. Yea...I didn't think this out too well. Just like the developers of this game! Turns out that in trying to make it like the anime so damn much, they forgot to make a decent game part of their video game.
Though that's not to say it's entirely worthless. After all, if you're a fan of the show, I imagine you'll like it a lot. Unfortunately, I'm not a fan of the show, and everything is in Japanese, meaning I have no idea what's going on half the time. Robots beat things up, act stupid, Shinji yells a lot, and that's about it. For some reason, that sounds like an accurate description of the show, and for no reason, it makes me want to watch it. I know that sounds weird, but it does. The visual style is pretty cool, what with the robots being fairly organic and everything (even when it backfires, like in the previous video), and it has some pretty cool moments. I know that sounds weird coming hot off the heels of a robot howling at....something, but look at this. It's just fun to watch and makes the game enjoyable. In fact, the animes are the best part of this game (even though it can look shit half the time), which should be a good indication of where things go from here.
But what about the game part? Well, not only is it not very good, but it's very hard to describe, since it can't decide on what type of game it wants to be. It's like the lead game designer was too much a pussy to tell people their ideas couldn't be in this game. So, like my girly blog of oh so long ago, I'll break it up into what I can remember, but this time, it'll be ordered by importance! First up:
OK, this constitutes about 40%ish percent of the game, so you'd expect it to be worthwhile. Not even close. Fighting games live by two things: a wide variety of moves and tight, precise controls. Neon Genesis Evangelion has neither. You're limited to about two moves, and only one of them is useful (except in one level, where it's the exact opposite). So most battles devolve into mechs trying to hug each other and backing the hell away when they blatantly telegraph this. Good thing, too, because the controls are more sluggish than France. Tell Shinji/Asuka/Rei (possibly) to stab a mech and they'll give it some thought while the weremechs of the night approach. Then they'll freak the fuck out and scream them to death. I wish that could make up for the flaws, but it doesn't. Speaking of flaws...
Shitty Quick Time Events!
To be fair, though, the game does introduce some variety with the QTEs, but I still didn't find them terribly enjoyable. First up is the semi traditional "PRESS THIS BUTTON NOW" type. Why the semi? WATCH OUT, THAT SEMI IS ABOUT TO RUN YOUR ASS OVER!!! Uh, I mean "because it's a button and a direction". Nothing too offensive, but the reaction time on these things is so quick that I'm certain the developers have some type of vendetta against psychics. But what about those other QTEs? These function more like a rhythm mini-game: press these buttons before time runs out while music is playing. Sounds serviceable enough, but unfortunately, it is. I can't think of any major faults with it. I can't think of anything terribly exciting about these sections, either, but in this game, you take what you can get, like...
Holding Z Sometimes!
There are two levels dedicated to this: one has you hold Z twice, while another has you hold Z thrice while pressing other buttons. Riveting. Now there's more to be found in this game, but a lot of it is very one-note (IE I can only note one time it appears in the game) and I believe I got my point across: the gameplay's weak, and I don't think the developers could give two Shinjis either way. I suggest you do the same.
I have to admit that this did get me slightly pumped for the anime...
...despite it being twelve different games and none of them being any good.
My god! They've weaponized ham! I thought bitch was the limit!
Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon R
(Up next in this poorly conceived anime line up is Sailor Moon!) Now unlike Neon Genesis Evangelion, I may have once seen an episode of Sailor Moon, maybe. It's been so long that I can't remember a damn thing. A rabbit girl summons moon power to beat people up, and for some reason, that's all I can remember. Probably would have helped, though, if I could remember literally anything else, given how confusing this game is.
In fact, I think that's the game's priority, since from the very beginning, I don't understand a damn thing. Sailor Moon's living the life of a normal Japanese youth, which involves her future daughter brainwashing Sailor Moon's family, for reasons probably explained in the show. Then the Black Crystal Gang is going to steal something or do something that also happens to involve a confusing word salad, thereby forcing Sailor Moon to go Sailor Moon. Then there are other Sailors who represent other parts of the Solar System, but don't really get mentioned in the story. Now does that seem disjointed and difficult to understand? That's not my fault, for once: that's literally how the game handles things.
Think it gets better in the actual game? WRONG. Here's a listing of the stages in the game, nothing abridged: first is the school cultural festival, which immediately becomes Batman Returns for reasons unclear. Next up is a generic fantasy setting where gnomes jack off in the background. Then Crystal Tokyo, and finally, space, because if you're going to give up your stockpile of fucks, you might as well do it in style. All the while, some fuck in a mask says things at me, which I guess constitutes a plot. That probably explains why there isn't any to speak of anywhere else. I know I shouldn't be complaining about the crap story, since a lot of games have them, but whenever it does have a story, it at least feels like it's trying to be the anime. So if they put that much effort into making it feel like an anime, why did they give up when it came time to write a cohesive story to join it all together? Or is that what the show was like in general? That shouldn't really surprise me.
Just as it shouldn't surprise you that this game isn't that good. It's not bad, though; it's average. Really, really, really average. In fact, all I have to do is tell you that it's a beat-em-up and you'll know exactly what it's like. You beat people up and then do that again. Stretch it over four stages, and you have Pretty Girl Knight Sailor Moon R. Not that I'm insulting it or anything. Beating people up is always fun, and the game at least tries to build on that. You have some OKish enemy variety, five Sailors to choose from (and one mini-Sailor who makes the game super goddamn easy), a grading system, for some reason, and some other stuff! What more could you ask for? Quite a bit, actually. No matter who you choose, you only get three or four moves, depending on how you look at things, and the game edges a bit on the easy side. True, it is easy for whatever-the-hell-these-things-are to corner you and smack your ass about, but you're still going to blow through this thing in about a day. Still, there are worse ways to spend that day. *points above*
Or maybe I shouldn't have, given how things begin: bleak as all hell. How bleak? Well, your character has been arrested for...some reason (I don't remember, possibly because the game never tells you), and he's to be put to death. Yet right before he's to be executed, the guards ask him his name. That was were they made their mistake. I was given the opportunity to create my own character, and HOLY SHIT, THERE'S A LOT TO CUSTOMIZE ON THESE GUYS. Chin length, eye depth, dirt (which is apparently a body part), and everything in between. Also, body types, unless you're SpongeBob or something. Think the customization ends there, though? That's probably because you haven't gotten past the actual character creation, but whatever. Point is that there's a lot you can specialize in. Want to stab a guy and then set him aflame? You can do that, you magnificent bastard. Or do you want to snipe a guy from afar while wearing a steel helmet? That's allowed, too. (Fashion is its own skill tree, for some reason.) But it's not all combat, even if it mostly is. You can start a meth lab, stare at fish ass, and so much more. Granted, it can take a lot of work, especially with some of the more obscure ability trees (did anybody specialize in speech?), but in Skyrim, you're free to be anybody you want, if you're willing to put in the work.
And I was Dickpunch Cockblaster, Khajit Warrior Badass. If there was a dick to be punched, he would blast it; if he met a woman, he would pay for her gender reassignment surgery just so he'd have a cock to blast. (Dick punching is an oddly lucrative career choice, prospective college kids.) I guess this is the part where I talk about combat, but a lot of it was pretty much covered by the last paragraph: pressing the triggers will do a lot of things, depending on what you want to do. But from my experience, you're usually just gonna stick with what you know. There's no real reason to venture outside, say, punching everything you see. (Support magic doesn't count, because you can't kill with support magic.) The only thing tying all these disparate characters together are the dragon shouts you learn over the course of the game, which mostly act as support magic, so....yea....On that note, though, the dragon battles are pretty badass. You'd think that given how many of them there are, they'd get stale, but surprisingly (or perhaps unsurprisingly), punching a dragon in its smug goddamn face never stops being fun. (Part of that may be because of how dumb a dragon looks while talking.) Then again, you don't spend a lot of the game fighting dragons; you spend a lot of it punching rabbits in the woods. So clearly, you don't come to this game for the combat.
So what do you come to it for? The world. Why? Well, there's a lot to do in the world of Skryim. And to prove it, I'll ask you to do something. Go pop Skyrim into your 360 or whatever right now. (I realize that's skipping a step, but just do it.) Now try to walk from one mission objective to another. Did you make it? Of course you didn't! You were too busy exploring all the dungeons and forts and shit to remember that there's a story in the first place. What are you going to do? Discover a location and not plunder its depths for all the cool shit you think lies within? Yea, right. You're gonna jump the fuck in, punch a skeleton in the face, steal/sell his sword, and love it, damn it. That's what Skyrim's all about! Though I'm not sure Bethesda entirely knew that the exploration was so awesome. What mean me? One thing: they don't want you mountain climbing. Why, Bethesda? Climbing a mountain is the manliest thing you could possibly do in this game. Nothing feels better than climbing a mountain so you can scream a Frost Troll off it and watch its bones splatter on the pristine snow beneath. Don't put invisible walls between me and that precious monkey blood.
I guess to make up for that, though, all kinds of cool stuff happens over the course of the game. No, not the set pieces, which can vary from cool to stupid; I'm talking about the random shit unique to your experience. Perhaps an example will help. This.....Perhaps another example is necessary. As I mentioned before, Dickpunch Cockblaster loves to punch dick, and the guards of Riften learned this lesson the hard way. (In fact, all guards everywhere learned that lesson, but I wish to focus on Riften.) They had had enough of my cock blasting ways, and decided that I would find it very difficult to punch without fists. They were wrong. Even in the midst of a dragon battle, I was able to blast every dick in sight. Speaking of dragons, shortly thereafter, the game recognized what I was doing as amazing, and decided to award me with a dragon's eternal soul. The Riften guards haven't touched me, since. THIS SHIT HAPPENS ALL THE TIME FOR EVERYBODY EVER. I can't even pretend to predict what will happen to you. Maybe you'll steal a farmer's harvest and then sell it back to his stupid ass. Or maybe your killer will recognize you only after you are dead. Who the hell knows? It's your story, af-
SHIT! In my retelling of Dickpunch's adventures, I completely forgot to relay the story to you! Where did I leave off before? Something about being executed? Well, turns out I didn't escape through punch, because contrary to popular belief, Dickpucnh Cockblaster can't punch you with his hands tied behind his back. Instead, a dragon arrived and wrecked shit up just for the hell of it. There's just one problem with that (dragons wrecking shit up is never a problem): dragons should be extinct. It's up to you to find out why that's not the case, and I do mean you. You see, unlike its predecessor, this story is all about you. Don't be fooled by those other characters; they're only there as decorations that make you look stupid. Skyrim is all about you. Plot? Fuck that; you have dragons to yell at. Pacing? You pace the game, damn it! Atmosphere? T...actually, the atmosphere in this game is pretty goddamn good. It's medieval as hell and feels like everybody has just given up on life; the perfect conditions for the Dovahkiin. And I'm pretty sure that Bethesda knew about this, because look at how much work they put into this game. Hell, the dragons have their own language, and it feels like an actual language. If none of the previous rambling has convinced you to get Skyrim, and that failed, too, then I'd like to introduce you to a friend of mine. I think you've met him already.
Skyrim is where you can be anybody you want to be. Except Don King, apparently.
And you can explore anywhere you want, too, so long as it isn't a mountain.
There's also a story. I really can't think of any limits that imposes on you.
Can somebody tell me what this arrow in the knee business is about? I got arrowed a lot, and while I'm sure a few of those were in the knee, I don't ever remember falling over in pain.
For those wishing for a cheaper alternative to the Skyrim experience, the following game does absolutely nothing to deliver on that promise I just made up.
Dead Rising 2
(Long ago, in the days of old (just last year), I encountered the dead rising from the dead.) Predictably, it repulsed me beyond comprehension, largely because of the bullshit story, ugly characters, helpless partner AI, and so many other issues. Unfortunately, Capcom interpreted that as "I want more Dead Rising", and decided to make another Dead Rising game. (Actually, they probably interpreted it as "you probably should have voiced those complaints at least ninemonths earlier".) Good news on this one, though: they managed to get it right this time around.
Except with the story, which turns out to be racist. Like, really racist, you guys. We start several years after the events of Dead Rising 1, and dear god, is it willing to reference that fact. However, we're not at that point, yet, as that's more in the middle of the story; right now, we're dealing with Charlton Heston literally mowing down zombies for viewer pleasure. But it's OK, because he's economically forced into it to buy anti-zombie medicine for his daughter. Plus there's a civil rights group telling everybody that killing zombies is bad (when they're not campaigning against Baby Seal Baseball, of course)? Hooray! Somebody's finally sticking up for the undera....what's that? That civil rights group is depicted more as ready extremists than reasonable individuals? And the zombies are a mindless horde after all? Oh, for fuck's sake. Show me one goddamn rule about zombification that tells me that zombies are supposed to be lumbering dumbasses. Why do they of all people get this second class citizen treatment? Oh, they don't have dreams or emotions or feelings or the capacity to think. They're just mindless, brain-eating automatons we can guiltlessly kill. Hell, why else did they come back to life if they didn't want to die again anyway? IS THAT WHAT YOU GODDAMN THINK!?!?.....Uh....uh....
...That aside, though, the story still isn't too strong. The third act looks like somebody took a BB gun to it, and the premise doesn't make a ton of sense. Take a look at the beginning cutscenes. Look at how much control the general populace has over these zombies. They're so not a problem that there's a TV show dedicated to killing them. And then a zombie outbreak occurs. What the hell, you guys? How could that even happen? Yes, it was hard to predict that the zombies would escape, but since they were locked up in the first place, you had to have some means of rounding them up without killing every non-zombie in the process. Hell, it's established pretty early that there are people all over the country with zombieism, and I know that at least some of them eventually choose to become zombies; how the hell is that managed? I'd very much like to know that.
In fact, one of those closet zombies is your daughter, Gameplay Mechanic Green. You see, she needs anti-zombie medicine every day at a very specific time, and if you don't-what's the point of this feature again? Seriously, I don't get why this was included. Is it motivation to get me back at base? The same base I'm gonna see anyway because of the story and the fact that I have to drag all the survivors back there? The only real difference there is that I'm fetching an item instead of a person, so it's just a tad redundant. Or is it meant to make me sympathize with the protagonist's daughter (whom you'd only see thrice because of this)? I think she'd have it hard enough being a seven year old girl surrounded by face-eating zombies. The only reason I can think for including this is to relate to Chuck in the first place. And trust me: the poor bastard needs it. He's got all the emotion of a particularly callous bagel, which isn't exactly the attitude you want to have when you're slicing up zombies. It makes you look like a goddamn psychopath.
Then again, the actual psychopaths are pretty well executed in this game. Man, these are some fucked up individuals. Just look at this redneck stereotype, for example. (Yea, if you're from the South....this game hates your guts.) Look at how quickly things go to shit for this guy. Hell, it's almost like he was on the edge already and he's using this zombie breakout as a cheap excuse to go fucking crazy. Now imagine that there's an entire world filled with people like this. That's more terrifying than anything else in the game.....I mean that in a good way, you know...I think. And then you have to fight them, at which point they pigfuck you to death. I also think. My point is that these fights are gonna kick your ass time and time again. In fact, I think there was only one boss I killed on my first try. (Of course, my memory is shitty, as I've just told you.) If you want these guy dead (and given the EXP these bastards drop, you do), you're gonna have to get creative.
Which is the entire point of the combat system. OH MY GOD, YOU GUYS, THE FUCKING COMBAT. As much as I hate the treatment zombies get in this game, you gotta admit it's pretty fun killing them. (If you ignore the racism, of course.) I'm guessing it's because of how many ways there are to kill them. Melee weapons, ranged weapons, heavy weapons, crowd control weapons, ramming weapons, emotionally scarring weapons, and so much more. I had trouble completing some of the goals in this game simply because I'd waste so much time trying to kill zombies with a magazine. What? Everything else is a weapon, so why not that? And that's not even getting into the weapons you make yourself. For as many weapons as you can find, there's usually just as many that can be made deadlier with a box of nails. Now, truth be told, you're probably gonna stick to the knife gloves because nothing else can cut through crowds as easily, but it's still all kinds of fun tasering a crowd of zombies with a Blanka helmet.
Oh, and you also have to rescue people or something. Now remember how in Dead Rising, rescuing survivors sucked ass because their only form of defense was a weak cough and they could get lost even if they weren't moving and those convicts would always mow them down for no reason and FUCK YOU DEAD RISING. Well, they fixed that. Big time. They can find you pretty easily in a crowd and they know that zombies don't want hugs. Hell, I could leave them to ride a mechanical dolphin or fight a psychopath, and they'd probably be able to bash some zombie brains in. Granted, a lot of this is because you don't handle large crowds too often (I think the most I had at one time was four, and I was barreling through crowds with one), and those could potentially create some issues, but that's not the point. The point is that actually playing the game isn't a pain in the ass now. Hooray for that! Oh, and hooray for the rest of the game, I guess.
Man, fuck the zombie racism in this game.
Man, fuck the guy who said fuck the zombie racism in this game.