By Video_Game_King 16 Comments
Violinist of Hameln( Let me get this out of the way right now: no, I'm not doing an anime banner for this.) Why? First, I'm too lazy to drag a bunch of anime sprites into Paint.NET. Second, I haven't found an anime character creator that makes a good-looking Sexyface (obviously, you see the problem). Third, because I only have one anime game for this blog. So why is this too much anime? Because I'm gonna jam as many stupid anime references as possible into this blog. You know, like that. So grab a bowl of Ranma noodles (remembering the hot water thing, I am ridiculously tempted to Photoshop a bowl full of hot, wet dicks) and enjoy the show.
Or don't, because from what I've heard, it's not that good. Yes, there's an anime for this, so don't bother correcting me about the difference between anime and manga. However, do correct me on which one got the video game, as I obviously have no clue. It starts off with monsters attacking a village for reasons I don't remember. The village looks screwed, but a brave girl named Flute decides to scold them for destroying the town. I know what you're thinking: she's not coming out of this in one piece, right? Not quite. In enters our Elfen Lied character: a Pilgrim-ish dude named Hameln. Or Hamelin. I've seen both. He plays a tune on his violin and...the monsters start dancing. Why? How the hell should I know? I don't see any magic going on, so I have to assume that they're idiots. And so begins the adventure of the Violinist of Hameln...and his sidekick, Flute. Why does he need her there? I really don't know, since the game never really explains. In fact, it forgets a lot of things, like if Hameln talks, or if he's a silent protagonist who speaks through a crow. Also, an ending. As soon as it delivers a pretty cool twist, and just one level after it introduces a Gary Oak to my Ash Ketchum, the game just ends. What the hell, Enix? Did the actual anime/manga/whatever end this abruptly? Did you rush this game out before an actual ending was written? I DEMAND ANSWERS!
Of course, I could just watch the anime, but why the hell do I need to do that to enjoy the game? Shouldn't a truly good game stand on its own, without any outside help? Wait, this game actually does that, at least in terms of gameplay. Where do I start? Well, you kill things with your violin, firing death notes at them like crazy. (By the way, I'd probably watch Death Note if they used this as their theme song.) This may sound straightforward, but it isn't, since they'll sometimes fire up, sometimes down, but they're mostly straight. I only figured out how to do this after I beat the game, and from what I've read, it's not the most intuitive way to do something that's incredibly useful. Also, for whatever reason, the note is able to change sound. I don't know what makes it change sound, and I doubt that it has any major affects on the gameplay, but it must be mentioned! It's useless but confusing, like...uh...*looks at list of anime*...Naruto? Does that make sense? No? Fine, how about this: the music's pretty good. I should probably stretch this paragraph a bit by describing how it's good, but links will work better, right?
You know, I could probably do the same thing for this next paragraph, but I won't. Instead, I'll answer my own question from before: why does Hameln need Flute around? It's not just so they can both be a couple of slayers, destroying all the monsters in the land; you also need her to get through all the levels. Believe it or not, Flute is not naturally a hot dog. The main feature of the game is that you can play dress-up with Flute, changing her into a monkey, a robot (this came first, so I'm not making any Fullmetal Alchemist jokes), a penguin (you'd think it'd be the other way around), and about a Zillion other forms. Imagine A Boy and His Blob (is that an anime? Well, it is now.), only with an anime girl instead of a blob (ignore that screenshot of Lord Faggot; Flute isn't always a blob). With those forms, you'll be solving all types of cool little puzzles, like "how do I cross these spikes" or "how do I reach this platform." I know that it sounds rather standard, but it comes off rather well in the actual game. Every form has their own specific behavior, and, for the most part, you'll be using them all throughout all four/five levels of the game. Granted, some of the differences are subtle, like that between duck and penguin, but they're still there, and they still play a major role. Except for two costumes that just serve as arbitrary plot blockers. Fuck those costumes.
However, there is one theme that unites them all: Machiavellian ethics! Wait, that's Code Geass, I think. The one theme that unites them all is Flute. She's at the center of all these forms, meaning two things. First, she can take A LOT of abuse. That screenshot shows her with full health, but keep in mind that I went to an inn beforehand; most of the time, I just let enemies beat the shit out of her, simply because I was too lazy to protect her from the elements. Also, her health doesn't refill; it's like they were goading me on. To make things worse, she's supposed to lose money when she gets hit after losing all her health, but once you buy a certain item in the FIRST WORLD, she'll take all the abuse you throw at her. You can even do it for eternity, if you buy another item that lets you waste all the time you want. Hooray misogyny! (I'd have a link for that, but I don't know of any anime with blatant misogyny.) However, Flute is a double edged sword, that is somehow also a flute. You see, she refuses to cooperate under any circumstances. Her prime directive is to walk in a straight line toward you, but the levels often have curves, meaning she's not going to fall down until you pace back and forth, frustrated with her stupid antics. Of course, this is assuming that she's still human. When she becomes part beast, Flute now walks straight toward the exit. Unfortunately, she now thinks that "exit" means "wall." But that's not all; even when she's close to being cooperative, you still have to coax her ever so slightly into doing what you want.
Oddly enough, though, this is a pretty cool way of establishing the characters of Hameln and Flute. Think about it: Hameln's just putting up with Flute's mere existence because he has no choice (even his idle animation communicates that he doesn't want to put up with her bullshit), and Flute is putting up with Hameln solely because of some unexplained purpose she serves to this legendary hero, even though she's shown to be useful throughout the entire adventure. Granted, I haven't actually seen Violinist of Hameln, but it makes me want to watch it, if what I made up was true, and makes the show better if all of that is a bunch of shit. (I must resist the temptation to link those last four words. RESIST, DAMN YOU!) What doesn't make me want to watch the show are the easy boss battles. Anime shows have boss battles, right? You can't watch the next season of Bleach until you beat Ichigo's high school rival or whatever? Anyway, the boss battles in this game are stupidly easy. Here's a strategy I found that works for every boss: find one of your most recent costumes for Flute, dress her up, and exploit it to jam music into the boss's face. Granted, you're going to take a bit of damage, but usually, they'll die before you do. The only exception I could find was the final boss, but that was probably because I didn't bother getting the best armor, at that point. Had I had it, I would've gotten the crap cliffhanger slightly more quickly. That's not how you end a game, Enix, especially one this cool and creative. Likewise, this isn't how you end a blog: with the Dragon Ball/Sailor Moon/Digimon/Astroy Boy/Ghost in the Shell/Cowboy Bebop/InuYasha/Zatch Bell/Afro Samurai/Vampire Hunter D/However Many Bos Are in the Title of that One Show/Excel Saga/Neon Genesis Evangelion/Lupin the 3rd/Hellsing/Sonic X/Chobits/Flint the Time Detective (it took me FOREVER to find this)/ Gigantor/Lucky Star/Samurai Pizza Cats/Akira/Apparently Shin Chan Award for All the Anime I Wasn't Able to Use for my Dumb Jokes in this Blog. But wait, I just did. Shit. That was four lines of anime. Is that a record?
- I can't tell if the story sucks, or the source material sucks, but I am certain of this: the actual game tells a better story than the actual story.
- However, I can tell you that neither the premise (Japan's answer to that boy and his blob) nor the execution suck.
- Who knew that killing things with music could be so confusing, yet simultaneously so awesome? Wait...
As long as I'm talking about anime and video games, here's a Let's Play by a fictional anime villain. (Trust me, there are real anime villains.) I should probably point out that immediately after the video where he claims to be Batman, he also claims to be The Joker. How does that work?
Battle Mania: Daiginjou ( Wait, two anime games in a single blog?) I wanted Dorito's Crash Course here to balance things out, even if the protagonist is essentially an anime character in a top hat. (I'll explain that joke later.) How the hell did I end up with this game? I'm actually asking that: why did I head straight for this game instead of Crash Course? I'd say that it's because I really liked Trouble Shooter and a sequel sounded right up my alley (or any alley; I own all alleys), but I don't remember anything about Trouble Shooter, other than "two girls make trouble by shooting stuff, maybe."
I can tell that it's a sequel, because the beginning of the game clearly says that it takes place three years after something. Wait, I misread that; it actually says three days later. That's about as much Japanese as I know, which explains why I have no idea what's happening in this game. It also doesn't help that this looks like it would be confusing in English, which, trust me, doesn't happen a lot. Despite not speaking Japanese, I still understood games like Romancing SaGa and whatever the fuck this is. Not Battle Mania, though; nothing I did made any sense. So that's why I'm going to try to make sense of it: because otherwise, I'd have a vacuous hole in my blog instead of a paragraph. Anyway, from what I can tell, it's a buddy cop thing, simply because there are two protagonists, along with an aloof manager in a business suit and a mustache. There's also some chemistry between the two buddy lady cops (why does that combination of words remind me The Sarah Silverman Program?), but unlike Violinist of Hameln, it doesn't really come across in the game at all; it's limited to the cutscenes that I can't understand. Also, some cutscenes will randomly flash the katakana for "battle mania", just in case you forgot what game you were playing. So that's the story behind this game, and all without a single anime joke!
That means this paragraph's gonna be loaded with that shit, right? Well, I wasted all the good anime jokes in the Hameln part, so not really. I'd try to make jokes about the gameplay, but there's not much to make fun of. There's not much in the way of main power-ups, other than "your gun can kill more things." The only major twist I saw on that formula is that your buddy lady cop buddy (is it "buddy lady cop" or "lady buddy cop"?) helps you by shooting in different directions. In theory, this adds a satisfying strategic twist to the regular shmup, allowing you to focus firepower on survival or killing; in reality, you're probably going to keep her pointed backward the entire time, since, given that you're not Astro Boy, you do not have butt bullets. (Hey, look at that! Another anime joke.) Oh, and speaking of butt bullets, you have a "jetpack" (you can fly without it, so I'm confused as to why you even need it around) that poops out pure death. Of course, you have a gun that vomits up the end of existence, so why the hell do you need the deadly poo? You don't. However, it does have another use: at the beginning of each level, you get to choose between one of four power-ups. Of course, this is assuming you can understand the Japanese; if you're like me, you'll mash the A button a bunch and think that it's just a cutscene you always see. And you'll miss out on a cool feature, since it adds a lot more than it would seem, at first. None of them behave the same, and none of them really work in all situations, so it adds a lot of value to an otherwise OKish game.
That doesn't mean that the game isn't creative or anything; it's just that the creativity doesn't really do much for me. I'm pretty sure I know why: it's drive-by creativity. For those of you confused as to what the hell that means, imagine my blog. Did that work? No? What about this? Still nothing? Fine, I'll actually explain. Remember how Dead Moon followed a strict formula for its level design? So does Battle Mania, kinda: it introduces a cool new idea for a bit, and then forgets about it for the rest of the game. Repeat for the rest of the game. It can have a good rhythm in some places, but most of the time, it just feels like the game has ADD. Of course, this is marginally better than the boss battles. I'm not going to complain about them, since they're pretty cool and stuff, but there is one thing that warrants mention: they just go on forever. I'm surprised that I beat this game, but not because of difficulty; it's simply because the boss battles are longer than most games. Just when you think you've killed the boss for good, they pop up for one more round. I can understand if you want to get more creative shit in the game, but these bosses don't get more creative, at least in the way the levels do. If anything, they just get more progressively insane....Wait, I just figured this game out! It's like a diluted Treasure game. That explains why I like it, but not as much as I think I would. Accordingly, it gets the Silhouette Mirage Award, at least until I try out the Saturn version, now that I can actually do that crap, again.
- I don't understand anything that's going on; I don't know if that's intentional or Japanese.
- Oddly enough, the core gameplay mechanics are actually somewhat standard.
- I guess it makes up for that by dressing everything in liquid crazy.