By Video_Game_King 8 Comments
(This marks the third time I have probed into the feminine mindscape.) The first was a resounding success, leading to my discovery of the elusive "girlbro". The second, though, just involved a lot of fruity musical numbers and the Olsen twins flailing about for dear life. But now comes the third part of this amazing trilogy, wherein breaks my spine in two while murdering my Ewok buddies. I think. I was gonna say that this is where I play a game that's actually decent, for a change, but I think Rhapsody beat Magical Diary to the punch by nearly four and a half months. Still, though, this is a pretty cool game.
Although the wording on that may not be entirely correct. After all, the plot moves so quickly that air friction will cause your Steam account to burst into flames. Don't believe me? It all begins by covering a three year period in less minutes, and then moves onto Professor Snape being an asshole, then moving in with your roomates, thenfreshmaninitiationandthenyourfirstexamandafterthatco-THIS GAME MOVES REALLY FAST, is what I'm saying. It doesn't help that the game skips over things like Christmas break, where, you know, there might be important plot points the reader may want to know about there. It can be a bit disorienting, at times, especially when you found out that it only took about four hours to blow through an entire school year. But it's a fun four hours, populated with some pretty cool moments (and so many more if you decide you don't need yet another four hours). I could go into detail about the sex education or....whatever the fuck this is, but all I have to say is Big Steve. That is all I need to say.
So so far, it's hitting all the right visual novel notes. OK, one note, but it's not like it ends there. It ends twelve paragraphs from now.....Anyway, the graphics. They're pretty good, despite looking like a crappy Flash game. That's really the only way I can describe the aesthetic. It has some good caveats, like character customization (it's good enough to give you an idea of what the Queen looks like), but for the most part, it just looked really cheap, especially with the lack of anti-aliasing on some of the portraits. Fortunately, though, it makes up for it with just how damn expressive it is. It really speaks to how many emotions your characters can express when even the customizable one is more emotionally expressive than you are. Hell, some of them even move, horrifyingly enough. What more need I say?
Something about the gameplay? You do realize this is a visual novel, right? Really? Fine. Here's how it works: every Monday, you form your schedule for the week. You only get one class per day, but you get to choose what class that ma-and already, this is the most needlessly retarded way to organize a school ever. Can anybody here cite a school that has only one class per day? How would you even accomplish that? Do you keep the fuckers locked up for eight hours, lecturing them on the arcane secrets of black magic...or gym (which is apparently an elective)? What happens at lunch time? Do they eat in the classroom, or do you break the flow of studies?
And let's go back to that customization aspect: WHAT? Seriously, what? Wouldn't that much paperwork on a weekly basis be a bureaucratic nightmare? And more importantly, how would the teachers ever put together a lesson plan that could fit every student in the room? I could feasibly go the entire year without touching something like white magic, and then show up for the last day of class; how are you going to teach this kid when your system says it's totally fine to do this? Don't magical schools have accreditation boards or government oversight to make sure the students can do algebra without blowing themselves up? After all this, I'm left with more questions than answers, probably because there are no answers for this stupidity.
OK, let's ignore the surprisingly retarded class structure, because that aside, you get some clever use of magic and puzzles and stuff out of it. Every now and then, you get zapped into a dungeon and have to figure a way out. Two things I like about it: first, there are TONS of ways to solve each puzzle. Blow shit up? Teleport yourself? Both at the same time (hybrid spells rule)? Sure, why not? Of course, the early dungeons will have you reading emotions with magic because the early selections suck, but that goes away with my second reason for liking the magic: the puzzles. They're pretty good, forcing you to pay attention to everything around you and to know what you have on hand. Pretty nice stuff. The only major problem I can see is that there aren't enough of these things, but as I said long ago, you can play through them again with different magics, if you want more value from the experience. But what more value do you need in the first place? You have a cool story, sweet spells, and a guy named Big Steve. What more could you want?
- Imagine Harry Potter if the main character (whatever his name is) was more inquisitive about sex. It's as great as it sounds.
- Man, the teachers at this school know aboslutely nothing about how to run a school.
- But they apparently know how to design good gameplay in a game that doesn't really need it in the first place.
You know, not all games can attract girls so easily. Sometimes, they require the stone cold determination of Hatsune Miku, as demonstrated here.
Barbie Super Model
(This game could use more Hatsune Miku.) Wait, what am I saying? How can I even call this a game? There's absolutely nothing to be found here. At least the previous Barbie game I blogged about had the "honorable" "distinction" of being "ungodly terrible". This, however, is just a gaming black hole; a mass of nothingness that somehow manages to suck harder than anything has sucked before.
Hell, even the set-up is bad. After choosing one of two difficulty levels and adjusting to the simultaneously pastel and overly saturated graphics, we get to the story...I think. Every level's set up with Barbie just sitting around, thinking about what she's gonna do. Or what she did. It's hard to tell, since there's no real time frame for comparisons. Let's assume that it's the future, since that means she has to get to a fashion show later that day. Of course, that brings up the question of what the hell she's doing at a restaurant when she needs to drunkenly rampage across town to strut her stuff. Or what she's doing at the restaurant at all. I guess what I'm saying is that the game fucks up the story without even having one.
Imagine what it does with its gameplay! Actually, don't, because that's a more accurate definition of Barbie Super Model's gameplay mechanics. Again, there is no gameplay. You just drive forward, press buttons a few times, drive backward, and then press those buttons again. Then repeat all that for four stages, because, you know, it was such a good idea for the one stage and everything. It sounds just as fun and engaging as I make it out to be. I'd assume that's why they included a couple (literally a couple) mini-games to break the monotony, but that doesn't explain why the mini-games suck so hard. They're both just memory games where you match magazine covers. The face one is alright, I guess, but the outfit matching one is just unfair. There are TONS of outfits to sort through, and it takes five seconds for Barbie to change into a different outfit each time. Can you remember what color top Barbie was wearing after three minutes of sorting through her closet? Even when you don't give a shit about the game? DO I really need to summarize my opinion on Barbie Super Model?
Don't make me do another one of these, guys. I fear it can only end badly.