Nihongo Ban (Translation: Japanese edition.)

Vib-Ribbon

( It seems like when they want to, the Japanese video game industry can create some truly weird/awesome stuff.) What, you don't believe me? Did you even click the f'ing link? Or read the title? Oh, none of you have any idea what the hell a Vib-Ribbon is? Fear not, people who aren't Jeff, for I shall explain it to you. For those of you who are Jeff, just continue ignoring this blog, as you usually do :P. (Disclaimer: that's a joke.)
 
Anyway, Vib-Ribbon, as I see it, is a very weird mix between a rhythm game and a platformer. You play the game using four buttons, each one assigned towards a certain obstacle: an L button for pillars, R for circle thingies, down for pits, and X for spikey pits of non-death. While it sounds like only the last two make any sort of sense, I think the controls work fine; one button to each area of the controller should, in theory, prevent you from tripping through levels like you're on the drunkest walk of shame in history. And it does keep such situations from happening. In theory. However, things kinda get out of hand when you start combining them in twos. What, you thought it would just end with pushing buttons on their own, in no sort of combination whatsoever? That wouldn't be very fun, would it?
 
No, instead, Vib-Ribbon is a pretty fun game, partly because of how it gets creative quickly. On easy, you're just tackling single obstacles as they come to you; normal difficulty, the camera starts swinging around because it loves failure; hard difficulty, HOLY SHIT! You have the camera angle thing from before, granted, but now you not only get those double-button press things, but now the obstacles move toward you independent of the path (as in they come towards you while you run at them)! Damn, the game is already hard enough, but why did you guys have to up the difficulty for....hard mode? Oh, shit. Never mind. Let me get back to why the game is already hard: it's the quirks, which, oddly enough, also make the game what it is. Just what the hell are these quirks? The major one is that you're playing as a vector bunny, but that's not what I'm complaining about.
 
What I'm complaining about are the controls and the graphics. Before that, a disclaimer: I am not saying the graphics are bad. In reality, the game looks distinct and appealing in a Japanese/cartoony way. The main problem I have with the graphics is when you trip or sprain your ankle in a pothole or pull a Homer Simpson. When you take enough damage, you change forms into snake/box/whatever, but before that happens, the screen periodically jitters in the most calculated way to repeat the cycle. I'm aware that a game should punish people for failure, especially in a rhythm game like this, but there's definitely something wrong with this system when such punishments hinder your progress in the game. I know that sounds weird, but let me put this in perspective: imagine if in Guitar Hero, when you miss a note or two, the lines started curving. Or if Modern Warfare 2 had a feature where each time you missed the enemy, your character slowly started developing Parkinson's. You'd call bullshit, wouldn't you?
 No, not like this. Never like this. Ever.
 
However, I still consider the game extremely fun, as I explained before. It's simple, easy to pick up, and there's a surprisingly high amount of replay value for one reason: custom soundtrack. You can insert an audio CD into the PS1, load a song, and then play a course generated from that song. It's like Audiosurf with a futuristic, surreal cartoon bunny. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to get the damn thing to work, so what I have to say is based mostly on what I've seen through some random YouTube videos. (It's OK, though, since it's not like there are major gameplay changes or anything.) The first one was a Zelda song about the children, and while things got off to a promising start, I noticed an odd trend: the music wasn't really lining up to the course. I thought it was just because the song didn't suit the game, but Katamari Damacy disproved that. The only way that could get more Japanese would be if it had a thin metaphor for atomic bombs, but I noticed the same problem. I know that this exists in other rhythm games, but not as pronounced as in Vib-Ribbon. Still, it's a unique game that I'd recommend, especially since these are the same guys behind Parappa. That's why I give it the Green-Haired Hippo Award for Greatness in Rhythmic Cartoon....Stuff...damn it, you know what I meant.
 

Review Synopsis

  • At times, it feels like a cross between a Japanese cartoon and a 1940s cigarette commercial.
  • Simple to pick up, hard to master. Probably because the later stages will fry your brain.
  • Only three difficulties, but that's fixed by the Audiosurf-esque level generator system.
 
 
 
 
I think we all know that Yahtzee's popularity has been declining for quite some time, but I'd like to say that many people don't understand him. Why? He lives in a land filled with giant seagulls of death, and anybody who can treat that as normal is automatically badass. Don't believe me, Mr. I'm Not Believing Anything This Guy Says in His Blog? Watch the video and be proven wrong yet again.
 
 
 

River City Ransom EX

( But since Giant Bomb doesn't have an individual page for this game, just pretend the EX isn't real.) Also, since thread titles can't have Japanese characters in them, just pretend the title of this blog is in Japanese. Oh, and since I can't come up with any way to escape this whole except for digging my way out, pretend that this is a proper transition into the blog itself, rather than an incredibly awkward joke that's been running for so long that its windpipe now resembles a silly straw.
 
 "Show me my f'ing girlfriend!"
Anyway, West Side Sto-er, River City Ransom. The plot of the game is simple: you live in River City, a city where the gravity is low enough to perform  high school cliques take things VERY seriously. If you thought bullying was bad in your school, just wait until the Jocks beat you and your Cowboy friends with chains/tires/your Cowboy friends, and then swipe your wallet while you're puking up blood on the curb. Oddly enough, all of these cliques can still agree on one thing: Richard Dawson must not breed. They then steal your girlfriend, lock her up in the nearest high school, and send the might of River City High School to beat you up. As "Alex" (I suspect he had to use this alias because he hates Jeopardy), you must now kick ass and take people's wallets until you have your girlfriend.
 
Obviously, this means the game is a beat-em-up, but not in the a Final Fight sort of way. Not even in a Guardian Heroes sort of way, the closest way without leaving the genre. Instead, I see it more like an old school version of Bully: you have the freedom to go anywhere you wish, tackling bosses in whatever order you want (for the most part), and in this new version, deciding who joins you in your quest for love. Yes, in this new version, you get your own sidekick to help you beat the piss out of your enemies. I thought this was because the developers were too lazy to change things from the multiplayer mode, but seeing as how this game doesn't have one (why?), I changed it to "they're compensating for not having one." Whatever, having an extra guy with you at least helps with the extremely high number of enemies you'll deal with at a given time.
 
I'm not kidding, there can be a lot of enemies in a single area. Worse yet, they respawn constantly, and you have to beat every single one before the boss decides Richard Dawson's bloodlust hasn't been fully satiated. Yes, beating people up is already fun, and I'd beat up a billion people if given the opportunity, but I don't want to be forced into it. Why? Well, you're bound to lose HP during some of these fights, and the bosses (especially the later ones) can be really, REALLY hard. Granted, I was underleveled for most of the game, but some of these bosses even managed to destroy my AI partner, who was usually at the appropriate level.
 
The only way out is to buy things, but the only way to buy things is to beat up enemies, who don't carry more than $2 on them if you're lucky. That's why I recommend that like Grand Theft Auto, you don't take this game seriously. Just beat people up, swipe their money, and repeat to your heart's content. If you get bored, just go buy a comic book; they hold the secrets to kickass moves lifted straight from Street Fighter. As you can see, like Vib-Ribbon/Transformers, there is more replay value than meets the eye. You know, as long as you don't beat the game, since the final boss, in what I am slowly suspecting is Atlus tradition, is cheaper than Ike at Costco's. (I was tired of making $3 hooker jokes.) I'd explain it to you, but because I'm incredibly lazy, I'll just post this video of it. And give River City Ransom the Most Times I've Used the Phrase "To Beat Up" in a Single Blog Award.
 

Review Synopsis

  • While seeing Richard Dawson shove his fist into people's mouths can be fun, it can also get repetitive.
  • Even if you get a wide variety of moves, weapons, and ways to use your allies as weapons.
  • Unfortunately, the hard bosses require such repetition.
7 Comments
8 Comments
Posted by Video_Game_King

Vib-Ribbon

( It seems like when they want to, the Japanese video game industry can create some truly weird/awesome stuff.) What, you don't believe me? Did you even click the f'ing link? Or read the title? Oh, none of you have any idea what the hell a Vib-Ribbon is? Fear not, people who aren't Jeff, for I shall explain it to you. For those of you who are Jeff, just continue ignoring this blog, as you usually do :P. (Disclaimer: that's a joke.)
 
Anyway, Vib-Ribbon, as I see it, is a very weird mix between a rhythm game and a platformer. You play the game using four buttons, each one assigned towards a certain obstacle: an L button for pillars, R for circle thingies, down for pits, and X for spikey pits of non-death. While it sounds like only the last two make any sort of sense, I think the controls work fine; one button to each area of the controller should, in theory, prevent you from tripping through levels like you're on the drunkest walk of shame in history. And it does keep such situations from happening. In theory. However, things kinda get out of hand when you start combining them in twos. What, you thought it would just end with pushing buttons on their own, in no sort of combination whatsoever? That wouldn't be very fun, would it?
 
No, instead, Vib-Ribbon is a pretty fun game, partly because of how it gets creative quickly. On easy, you're just tackling single obstacles as they come to you; normal difficulty, the camera starts swinging around because it loves failure; hard difficulty, HOLY SHIT! You have the camera angle thing from before, granted, but now you not only get those double-button press things, but now the obstacles move toward you independent of the path (as in they come towards you while you run at them)! Damn, the game is already hard enough, but why did you guys have to up the difficulty for....hard mode? Oh, shit. Never mind. Let me get back to why the game is already hard: it's the quirks, which, oddly enough, also make the game what it is. Just what the hell are these quirks? The major one is that you're playing as a vector bunny, but that's not what I'm complaining about.
 
What I'm complaining about are the controls and the graphics. Before that, a disclaimer: I am not saying the graphics are bad. In reality, the game looks distinct and appealing in a Japanese/cartoony way. The main problem I have with the graphics is when you trip or sprain your ankle in a pothole or pull a Homer Simpson. When you take enough damage, you change forms into snake/box/whatever, but before that happens, the screen periodically jitters in the most calculated way to repeat the cycle. I'm aware that a game should punish people for failure, especially in a rhythm game like this, but there's definitely something wrong with this system when such punishments hinder your progress in the game. I know that sounds weird, but let me put this in perspective: imagine if in Guitar Hero, when you miss a note or two, the lines started curving. Or if Modern Warfare 2 had a feature where each time you missed the enemy, your character slowly started developing Parkinson's. You'd call bullshit, wouldn't you?
 No, not like this. Never like this. Ever.
 
However, I still consider the game extremely fun, as I explained before. It's simple, easy to pick up, and there's a surprisingly high amount of replay value for one reason: custom soundtrack. You can insert an audio CD into the PS1, load a song, and then play a course generated from that song. It's like Audiosurf with a futuristic, surreal cartoon bunny. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to get the damn thing to work, so what I have to say is based mostly on what I've seen through some random YouTube videos. (It's OK, though, since it's not like there are major gameplay changes or anything.) The first one was a Zelda song about the children, and while things got off to a promising start, I noticed an odd trend: the music wasn't really lining up to the course. I thought it was just because the song didn't suit the game, but Katamari Damacy disproved that. The only way that could get more Japanese would be if it had a thin metaphor for atomic bombs, but I noticed the same problem. I know that this exists in other rhythm games, but not as pronounced as in Vib-Ribbon. Still, it's a unique game that I'd recommend, especially since these are the same guys behind Parappa. That's why I give it the Green-Haired Hippo Award for Greatness in Rhythmic Cartoon....Stuff...damn it, you know what I meant.
 

Review Synopsis

  • At times, it feels like a cross between a Japanese cartoon and a 1940s cigarette commercial.
  • Simple to pick up, hard to master. Probably because the later stages will fry your brain.
  • Only three difficulties, but that's fixed by the Audiosurf-esque level generator system.
 
 
 
 
I think we all know that Yahtzee's popularity has been declining for quite some time, but I'd like to say that many people don't understand him. Why? He lives in a land filled with giant seagulls of death, and anybody who can treat that as normal is automatically badass. Don't believe me, Mr. I'm Not Believing Anything This Guy Says in His Blog? Watch the video and be proven wrong yet again.
 
 
 

River City Ransom EX

( But since Giant Bomb doesn't have an individual page for this game, just pretend the EX isn't real.) Also, since thread titles can't have Japanese characters in them, just pretend the title of this blog is in Japanese. Oh, and since I can't come up with any way to escape this whole except for digging my way out, pretend that this is a proper transition into the blog itself, rather than an incredibly awkward joke that's been running for so long that its windpipe now resembles a silly straw.
 
 "Show me my f'ing girlfriend!"
Anyway, West Side Sto-er, River City Ransom. The plot of the game is simple: you live in River City, a city where the gravity is low enough to perform  high school cliques take things VERY seriously. If you thought bullying was bad in your school, just wait until the Jocks beat you and your Cowboy friends with chains/tires/your Cowboy friends, and then swipe your wallet while you're puking up blood on the curb. Oddly enough, all of these cliques can still agree on one thing: Richard Dawson must not breed. They then steal your girlfriend, lock her up in the nearest high school, and send the might of River City High School to beat you up. As "Alex" (I suspect he had to use this alias because he hates Jeopardy), you must now kick ass and take people's wallets until you have your girlfriend.
 
Obviously, this means the game is a beat-em-up, but not in the a Final Fight sort of way. Not even in a Guardian Heroes sort of way, the closest way without leaving the genre. Instead, I see it more like an old school version of Bully: you have the freedom to go anywhere you wish, tackling bosses in whatever order you want (for the most part), and in this new version, deciding who joins you in your quest for love. Yes, in this new version, you get your own sidekick to help you beat the piss out of your enemies. I thought this was because the developers were too lazy to change things from the multiplayer mode, but seeing as how this game doesn't have one (why?), I changed it to "they're compensating for not having one." Whatever, having an extra guy with you at least helps with the extremely high number of enemies you'll deal with at a given time.
 
I'm not kidding, there can be a lot of enemies in a single area. Worse yet, they respawn constantly, and you have to beat every single one before the boss decides Richard Dawson's bloodlust hasn't been fully satiated. Yes, beating people up is already fun, and I'd beat up a billion people if given the opportunity, but I don't want to be forced into it. Why? Well, you're bound to lose HP during some of these fights, and the bosses (especially the later ones) can be really, REALLY hard. Granted, I was underleveled for most of the game, but some of these bosses even managed to destroy my AI partner, who was usually at the appropriate level.
 
The only way out is to buy things, but the only way to buy things is to beat up enemies, who don't carry more than $2 on them if you're lucky. That's why I recommend that like Grand Theft Auto, you don't take this game seriously. Just beat people up, swipe their money, and repeat to your heart's content. If you get bored, just go buy a comic book; they hold the secrets to kickass moves lifted straight from Street Fighter. As you can see, like Vib-Ribbon/Transformers, there is more replay value than meets the eye. You know, as long as you don't beat the game, since the final boss, in what I am slowly suspecting is Atlus tradition, is cheaper than Ike at Costco's. (I was tired of making $3 hooker jokes.) I'd explain it to you, but because I'm incredibly lazy, I'll just post this video of it. And give River City Ransom the Most Times I've Used the Phrase "To Beat Up" in a Single Blog Award.
 

Review Synopsis

  • While seeing Richard Dawson shove his fist into people's mouths can be fun, it can also get repetitive.
  • Even if you get a wide variety of moves, weapons, and ways to use your allies as weapons.
  • Unfortunately, the hard bosses require such repetition.
Posted by AjayRaz

haha, great read. Vib Ribbon sounds crazy, good and bad. checked out the page and.. well.. @_@

Posted by Video_Game_King
@AjayRaz: 
 
Yea, the pictures kinda suck. Trust me, it looks better in motion.
Posted by Pepsiman

You sure have a habit of discussing some of the more memorably odd Japanese games I've played over the years. First Umihara Kawase and now Vib-Ribbon, huh? Funky. Anyway, I agree with your sentiments about the game. As I wrote in my own review of it on this site, it's not an especially deep game and it has some problems here and there, but by and large it works well and it's a charming game. I'm actually one of the people who isn't Jeff that actually owns a physical copy of the game (and its sequel Vib-Ripple that actually has nothing to do with music or platforming) and it's something I still like to put in and play about once a year or so. With the right sort of music backing it up, it can actually be a pretty relaxing experience.
 
That being said, I feel like mentioning for the record that the game actually has a PAL version, so if anybody happens to be reading this blog and was actually interested in picking up a copy, they don't have to sift through Japanese menus if I have to. I'm perfectly kosher with it since I actually study the language, but I digress.

Posted by Video_Game_King

Crap, I don't own it, at all.....because video game goblins stole it! *nervous giggle, wipes sweat off brow*
 
Even if there wasn't a PAL version, so what? It's not an RPG, so it'd be easy to navigate what little menus there are. The tutorial would be hell, but maybe you could decipher the manual or something.

Posted by Pepsiman

Oh yeah, I agree, I had the game years before I even started having remote literacy in Japanese and had no trouble at all navigating the menus back then. I was just mentioning the PAL version since it's not all that well known that it exists and that as far as I know, it's a perfectly serviceable version since it doesn't actually have the slowdown that too many other PAL releases from those years are notorious for, on top of being an alternative for people who aren't me and don't want deal with Japanese scripts, even minimally. But I digress.

Posted by Brunchies

That game looks awesome in more then one way and that goes into good and bad.

Posted by Video_Game_King
@Brunchies: 
 
Wait, which one? I suspect it's Vib-Ribbon. Yes, it is awesome.