Somehow, I've crammed Japan into every orifice this blog has.


No Caption Provided

Osmos

( I know that I've said this about seven times already, but down goes another game in the Humble Indie Bundle.) For those who don't read my blogs regularly (which I'm assuming is every last one of you), I received two Humble Indie Bundles at the end of last year, and have been spending all of this year trying to eliminate them all. This time, we have Osmos, a cool little gameplay-focused game set in space...or maybe it's at the microscopic level. I have no idea.
 
And I'm pretty sure the game wants it that way. Hell, just look at the title: a combination of cosmos and osmosis, because Cosmosis would sound less like an experimental indie game and more like a bad episode of The Fairly Oddparents. Wait, I'm getting ahead of myself. Maybe I should explain what exactly I'm talking about. After rattling off a quote from the ever-quotable Isaac Newton, you're plunged into a blue void that will fill up 90% of your screen, full of things to absorb (more on that later). Are they cells? After all, they can dodge you and stuff, and it often looks like somebody was feeding fish in the background. But wait, why am I rotating around this giant sun thing, which itself is rotating around this giant sun thing? What's with all the anti-matter floating around? That doesn't sound like cellular stuff. And what about this? Is this game in space or in a microscope? If the developers wanted me to ask this question (they probably did), then they did a good job or whatever. Also, while I'm talking about the atmosphere the game projects, I might as well mention the soundtrack, because why the hell not? It's pretty cool. Wow, I thought that would last much longer.
 
 Trust me, it's far more fun in motion. Imagine a more cannibalistic version of bowling, and you're halfway to understanding this game.
Trust me, it's far more fun in motion. Imagine a more cannibalistic version of bowling, and you're halfway to understanding this game.
OK, let's stop beating off in the bush and talk about the gameplay. You know, the entire focus of this game. If pressed to describe this game by relating it to other games (not sure why I'd be pressed; maybe the person I'm talking to understands thing only in video game terms), I'd say that it's what happens when Pac-Man eats Katamari Damacy. By that, I mean that most of the time, your goal is to eat everything in the level until you're no longer microscopic (assuming you were in the first place). There's just one problem: to move, you have to fart out some of your mass. It's usually best to take things slowly and passively, meaning this game is the perfect thing to lull you into a deep sleep, right? Did you not read the "eat or be eaten" part earlier? Your fucking life is on the line! To make things worse, running away from bigger motes requires that you feed them, kinda like this. Kinda. But play your cards right and use the right strategies (that's what this game is all about, after all), and the hunted will soon become the hunter. That's the best part of the game: the predatory feel that comes with lazily drifting through levels and watching motes slowly shrink into your enormous body. Only sometimes they'll actually try to run away, and this is where things get interesting: the Sentient levels. They're the best levels in the game, partly because of the predatory aspect I mentioned earlier, but also because it's the closest you'll ever get to multiplayer. There are only two ways the levels pan out, both great: they're either a race for resources, hoping that your opponent doesn't win and decide to eat you; or it's like Pac-Man in a room full of blue ghosts. That last one may not sound too good, but wait until the end, when you can fast forward and watch the enemies drastically try to fart away from you in all directions. Now you understand. I hope.
 
Sadly, the Sentient levels are the least numerous in the entire game, leaving you with Ambient and Force. They're not bad; they're just not as good as Sentient ever will be. First you have Ambient, which takes the Pac-Man analogy to its natural conclusion. You have a maze of huge-ass motes (man, the word "mote" will suck the thunder out of anything, won't it?) to navigate and enough pellets to launch a successful drug dealing career. These are the levels that require the most patience and a lot of strategy, since it's going to take a while to figure out things like which gaps are too big and how to steal food from other motes. They're cool, but what appears to be antimatter (it only behaves like antimatter if it's significantly big compared to your mote, if that makes any sense) can't trump frantic death farts. Of course, both of them can very easily beat gravity, also known as Force. I'm not saying that it's bad (the gravity aspect is actually put to as much use as it can be put to), but it's definitely the least enjoyable, probably because of how hard it is. Adjusting your orbit is a crap-shoot, and I'm guessing that the Ambient levels just ate as much as they could from the Force, because the spacing in these levels is bare. Want an idea of how hard Force is? I had to look up obscure Wikipedia articles on orbital physics in lieu of a FAQ (randomized levels destroy any chance of a FAQ). That's too far. Still, it's not every day you get to play a weird hybrid of two Namco games. Unless you own Osmos. Which you probably should.
 

Review Synopsis

  • Everything about this game comes off as a combination of Katamari Damacy and Pac-Man. Even the graphics do, as long as you consider the game to be set in space.
  • I MUST CONSUME EVERYTHING!
  • Did Isaac Newton design the Force levels? Why do I need a PhD in Calculus to beat them?
 
 
 
 
After what I posted last time, I thought I'd post something a bit more heterosexual. And auto-tuned to hell and back.
  
  

Kishin Douji Zenki: Denei Raibu

( Man, I'm getting incredibly obscure with these, aren't I?) I mean, who the hell has ever heard of Kishin Douji Zenki? (Given that the anime it's based off actually came out in America, I'm guessing PixelPrinny and Hailinel might chime in about it.) So why exactly did I play this...besides my love of all things obscure? Simply put: I watched this video, and it looked pretty cool. That's it. That's my only motivation for playing this game. The fact that it's OK was only a bonus, of sorts.
 
Of course, one thing the video didn't capture (because I guess it was very heavily implied) is that this game is completely in Japanese. That may not sound like a big deal, since it's a platformer and everything, but remember that it's based on an anime. That in mind, (I think) it tries to feel as much like the anime as is humanly possible. There are quite a few cutscenes and even some voice work, so awesome, right? Well, the voice work is, but there's one problem with the anime cutscenes: their recycling would make Captain Planet proud. Every cutscene uses the same voice work (although it's not as bad as I'm making it out to be), the same characters (as bad as I'm making it sound), and even the same dialogue, I'm guessing. It's not Kishin Douji Zenki; it's goddamn Speed Racer! But wait, what's Kishin Douji Zenki (which will now solely be referred to as Zenki) even about? Again, it's all in Japanese, but here's what I was able to pick out: there are demons terrorizing Japan, and I'm sure they have a good reason for doing so. The only person capable of stopping them is a little girl with the power to summon demons herself. What's interesting about this is her choice of demon: instead of Beelzebub or an oni or anything predictable, she bends time and space to summon Yu-Gi-Oh to aid her. I am not kidding. Just look at that picture below and try not to see Yu-Gi-Oh. Don't misunderstand me; this version of the King of Card Games is actually pretty badass, but it's still Yu-Gi-Oh, even without the Dark Magician Girl.
 
  Is it possible NOT to view this as Yu-Gi-Oh?
 Is it possible NOT to view this as Yu-Gi-Oh?
Instead, you get some pretty decent platforming. You can jump, charge up shots, collect some tokens (although oddly not for extra lives, but for something a bit later) and maybe encounter Cut Man or something. There's really not a lot to say about it. I could talk about the power-ups in this game, but I'm not sure how they work. There are icons scattered across the levels, but I never really noticed them doing anything, so what was the point? In fact, the only time I noticed my shots getting more powerful was when I got hit. This type of powering up never happened again after that point, so I'm guessing that Zenki is trying to fuck with me. Speaking of Zenki (by which I mean Yu-Gi-Oh), his attacks are actually less powerful than the girl's. Obviously, this brings up the important question of why the girl even bothers summoning a demon to beat other demons, a question I'm sure Zenki dutifully ignores, just like I'll ignore any attempt at segueing into the level design. It starts off simple enough, consisting of straight lines with some optional jumping, but over time, they become decently complex and satisfying. Sure, I got lost a few times, but I choose to blame that on my own idiocy instead of not-Konami's design choices. It's a shame that there are only six short levels throughout the game. See? I told you there wasn't a lot to talk about.
 
Then again, there is one other part of the game that I have a lot of material on, mainly because Zenki seems to be really proud of it. Hell, when you beat the game, it gives you a secret password for a multiplayer version of it. So what is it? Timed button presses. I can sense your confusion, so allow me elaborate. Or don't. I'll do it anyway, because I don't need your permission for something like this. Anyway, after each boss battle, you get another boss battle. Instead of Mega Man-esque shenanigans, you have to press a button (different buttons perform different attacks, but you can usually stick to one for the whole game) to fill up a bar and hit the enemy. Then they'll dodge it, throw a punch your way, and you dodge it. So it's pretty much a quick reflexes version of rock/paper/scissors. Do I have to say it? It's a really odd thing to include in an anime platformer like this. I'm not even sure how I should feel about it. On the one hand, it's pretty satisfying once you get the rhythm down and know what to do. On the other hand, hitting the enemy is usually completely luck. It's all just so confusing. Why was it included in the game? To add cinematic value? Or variety? My brain hurts from this nonstandard gameplay mechanic! I'm just gonna end the blog here and wait for my head to stop throbbing.
 

Review Synopsis

  • Even though the game's in Japanese, I have gathered that it's Yu-Gi-Oh three years before Yu-Gi-Oh was Yu-Gi-Oh.
  • The platforming's pretty good, I guess.
  • Also, there's some button press thing that confuses the hell out of me.
12 Comments