Uh....here's some Japanese stuff to enjoy, I guess.

No Caption Provided

Custom Robo

( Wait, I'm blogging about an N64 game?) When the hell was the last time that I even touched the system? Looking back, it was apparently Carmageddon 64, maybe because I didn't want AjayRaz posting in my blog anymore. I'm not sure why that was the case, but can you think of any better reason why I'd play that game? But why the huge gap between that and this? Technical problems, like with the Saturn? Actually, it was laziness, plain and simple. Also, I couldn't really figure out how to get to any of the battles in this game the first few times I played it, so there was always that.
However, there's a good reason for that: this game is entirely in Japanese. I'm not sure why, but this game about robot arena fighting never made it outside Japan (Battlebots came out in 2000, so there's barely an excuse there), and it never really got any type of fan translation, so I was stuck reading everything in Japanese. Problem: I don't know Japanese. I was stuck not understanding what the hell was going on, like in my last blog. However, unlike Cho Aniki, I can actually imagine this coming together into a coherent storyline. Hell, I think I've even figured it out: you're a ten year old version of Rolf from Phantasy Star II. However, you have yet to meet Nei or find out that Motavia's gone to shit, so you bide your time fighting in robot tournaments. If that sounds vaguely like Pokémon, then you are clearly mistaken. Did Pokémon have an underground robot crime ring thing? Kinda? Well, shit. Then from a story perspective, this is just a really repetitive Pokémon, but with robots. Wait, repetitive? Right, I forgot to outline the basic format for the story: wake up, go outside with friend into a world that could fit on a Super Mario Galaxy size planetoid, go to the latest tournament, talk to all your rivals and all the female characters (did somebody copy and paste character roles and hope that nobody would notice? I did.), battle four or five guys, go to bed, and repeat for two in-game weeks.
  I don't know what's more shameful: that this game is ripping off Yu-Gi-Oh, or that I know that.
 I don't know what's more shameful: that this game is ripping off Yu-Gi-Oh, or that I know that.
At first, this might sound bad, but keep in mind that there are ROBOTS IN THIS GAME. Kind of. I'm told that they're robots, but they look more like anime kids strapped on robot suits...and Shadow Man. However, what they lack in robotitude (that's a word now, I declare it), they make up for in pure rage. After each battle, you get a new piece of equipment from your opponent...meaning you rip off their limbs and use them as your own. Imagine Cyborg Justice, yet nowhere near as fucking awful. GOD, THAT GAME IS SUCH A STEAMING PILE OF SHIT! Hell, the character creation doesn't even matter, since all the randomly generic yet (unsurprisingly) generic enemies provide you with spare parts you could have began with, anyway. Not so in Custom Robo. Here, character customization actually matters, once it actually starts happening (trust me, it takes a while); you have a ton of options for what guns/bombs/other bombs/legs (at least after the first part of the game), lending a lot of strategy to battles. Granted, I usually just unloaded my gun on them while yelling, "DO YOU WANT TO TASTE THE CURB!?!?", but I've seen the computer set up some decent combos with the right combination of bombs, other bombs, and guns. Combine this with some of the cooler arenas in the game, which often feel like something ripped from Mario Party (take my word for it, because the only videos for it are shitty Japanese camcorder LPs), and it's hard to see why this game wasn't su...didn't make it out of Japan.
Wait, I can think of a reason: this game's...too easy? Again? Cho Aniki and Gunstar Heroes weren't enough? Christ, I should play Battletoads or something. But on Custom Robo: as I said, the game's pretty damn easy for too long. Through the first twentyish battles or so, you can just run up to your robot enemy and shoot them in the face to death. Oh, sure, they'll fight back, but somehow, your pissant pea shooter will always beat their slightly-above-pissant pea shooter. Keep in mind that this is before you get a lot of the really cool parts, like flying bombs and a gun that shoots dragons (again, wish I could show you). Once you get your hands on these mega weapons, the game...damn it. The game actually gets appropriately challenging at this point. This is when your opponents start building up all those cool combos that I mentioned earlier. Granted, I still relied heavily on the curb stomp tactic, but the point is that I started doing other things, like launching bat bombs or noticing how weird the graphics were (characters grow when you walk away from them). Normally, I'd say that the game's also short, because easy games don't last that long, and while I finished it in a few days, I skipped through the text like crazy, so I imagine this game would last a fairly long time, especially with multiplayer? What? You don't find the idea of battling robots appealing enough to invite others? How? That's an awesome idea, and this game knows that! Go play it until you learn that basic fact!

Review Synopsis

  • Apparently, it's Pokémon, but with robots. That does not equal Digimon.
  • Imagine Power Stone, but with customizable robots.
  • It's fairly easy and best with others. There's no "but with" for that.
Blah blah blah confused parody, blah blah blah limited scope (possibly within an already limited scope), blah blah blah shit noises.

Valis II

( Uh, I think I beat this game before.) In fact... I totally did. And if I remember correctly (don't bet on it, though; I forgot the Syd of Valis thing a couple of sentences ago, didn't I?), that game sucked ass. So why am I going back to this? Well, there's a simple explanation: Syd of Valis was a gross misrepresentation of what Valis II actually is, so consider this a correction, of sorts. What's that? How much did they fuck up with Syd of Valis? Consider this: Valis II is actually pretty decent.
I'd say that Syd of Valis got the story right in that they both suck, but let's be honest: Syd of Valis is always going to suck worse than the source material. That's a hard feat, given how much the source material sucks. Allow me to demonstrate: the story of Valis 1 has ended, Yuko has learned to fucking shut up, and her best friend is dead. Kinda. Reiko comes back from the dead to do something. I honestly don't remember, and I doubt that the writers did, either, because she only appears twice in the entire game, and the first time is in a flashback thing. The point is that when Yuko killed Rogles (whom I now figured out is called Row-gless, not Row-gulls) in the first game, this caused a civil war between the Rogles army and the anti-Rogles army. It's Yuko's job to destroy the anti-Rogles army, because...I don't know. Maybe the writers didn't know who the villain was? Or Yuko just hates dream people? (Speaking of which, how many games take place in dreams? NiGHTS, Klonoa, Kirby, LSD, Dragon Quest VI, this, etc.) Speaking of dream people, she has a twin sister who's a dream person. I'm sure that would have been a decent plot twist if the game had developed something that would make it a plot twist. Valis II, you have to remember that you're a platformer, not an action RPG. You don't have the time to fit in all the details necessary for a decent plot, and dear god, does it show. There are just so many conversations that end with zero resolution, and so many characters I absolutely do not care about in the slightest. It's really sloppily thrown together, and my only explanation is that they put so much time and detail into Yuko's fucking metal bikini (WHY DOES SHE WEAR A GODDAMN METAL BIKINI!?) that there wasn't enough left over to make a coherent story of any kind.
  It's hard to tell if this background is archaic (Atarai 2600) or ahead of its time (Flash). I do know that it sucks, though.
 It's hard to tell if this background is archaic (Atarai 2600) or ahead of its time (Flash). I do know that it sucks, though.
Of course, part of the problem is the voice acting. I should say right now that pretty much all of the story is told through anime cutscenes that have aged somewhat well, even with the " let's surround this terrifying picture with a field of green motif" they went with, for some reason. Of course, when I say "age well", I mean that the graphics have aged well. Otherwise, this paragraph would make no sense, since it's about how much the voice acting sucks. It's not as bad as Valis III, but it's still pretty bad. There's so much ham on display that playing this game is enough to be excommunicated from the Jewish faith. Yuko sounds like a thirty year old woman (again, not as bad as the previous example), and Megas half-slurs all of his lines. Did the casting director just look out the window and hire the local town drunk for that role? If he did, then he must have put him in charge of the translation, as well, because a lot of the names are really off. I'd point out Rogles, but I already did, so I'll dust off a gem: confusing L and R. It's probably screwed over countless games with shoulder buttons, and it appears in this game to fuck up the voice work. Granted, I only noticed one instance, but it was a big one: Valis is pronounced Varis. How? It's the name of the fucking game. That would be like if one of the scientists in Half-Life randomly misused the damn word all the time. Again, IT IS THE NAME OF THE GAME.
Wait, game. I should probably talk about the game stuff. I could just say that I covered it in my Syd of Valis blog, but that would be inaccurate; I covered it in my Valis blog. I know that I shouldn't be surprised, given that they share a name (although you can't tell by the voice acting), but Valises 1 and 2 play pretty damn similarly. Both are straightforward platformers, and both have a wide variety of weapons. Odd, because you only see Yuko use a sword, but she has tons of weapons, like homing missiles, a wave beam, stars that fire diagonally, and something else. Oh, and there are special weapons, but I never really saw any reason to use them. Weird how the regular weapons are so much better than the special stuff that the game holds back a lot of the time. Did you see the regular weapons? They're pretty awesome, especially after you've upgraded them enough to notice that they've been upgraded. Once your wave beam starts taking up half the screen, nothing will stand in your way. Normally, this would make the game so easy that I'd complain again, but oddly enough, Telenet Japan fucked up in such a way as to balance things out into an OK difficulty. How? Simple: load up the levels with constantly regenerating enemies. Is there anything else I can do to the word "constantly?" I don't think that's enough.  It gets especially bad when you realize that an enemy's spawn spot is just off screen, meaning that as soon as you kill them, their brother jumps off screen to avenge their death before the body starts decomposing. And then you realize that there are more mini-bosses in one level than there were games in the series, at that point. Given all this, you'd expect the bosses to be cheap motherfuckers, and to that, I say...not really. They're OK, even if one of them has confusing genitals, and the final boss is piss easy. Actually, that last one is actually a perfect summation of the game: it fucks up enough and in just the right ways to make an OK game. I'd call it the Dead Rising of the 90s, but Valis II is still pretty good.

Review Synopsis

  • I've always been interested in the story behind Valis games, so it's unsettling to see the games actively try to destroy that interest.
  • It's pretty much a decent, nondescript platformer...
  • ...made challenging by a sihtload of enemies.