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Thursday, February 25, 2016

Last Ranker (ラストランカー)

It's been a while since I last played Last Ranker but I still clearly remember how much fun I had with it. This is one of those games that has the classic Imageepoch signature (at least their later games). It has a very unique battle system, fairly simple but fun and addictive mechanics, mediocre story, and impressive PSP graphics.

This was the top result for an in-game screenshot Google search. Go figure.
Back when I first escaped the mainstream hypetrain for the Nintendo DS and got into the PSP like a REAL gamer, Last Ranker was one of the first games I completed because it was just so much darn fun. The basic premise is you go to a city full of fighters all ranked by strength and you start out WAY at the bottom of the heap at rank 95,000.

No, you're not going to fight 95,000 people. If you beat someone of a higher rank, you basically swap rank. I had so much fun climbing up the ranks by fighting various people around the city. I also loved how some NPCs talk to you like you're some common plebian dirt and gradually change their attitude as you climb the ranks, eventually treating you like some sort of celebrity god. Being popular with the ladies is a nice change too.

The order in which you can challenge people to raise your rank is pretty linear and I used a guide a couple times to find the right person to fight. It's not like you can grind hardcore and jump several thousands ranks in one fell swoop. However, there are optional people you may miss that you don't have to fight to progress in the game.

I loved the character models, especially the top 7 ranked fighters. Everybody looked totally badass and I couldn't wait to climb up to their level. There's also a few nice FMV cut-scenes which I'm guessing Capcom had a hand in given the monster hunter-ish style.

If this trailer doesn't make you want to play... I guess we can never be friends.

The real highlight of the game is the battle system. As usual with Imageepoch, all the various mechanics unlock gradually but when it does, it's a really fun system of semi-realtime action with special moves and a stamina meter. It's very similar to Black Rock Shooter but less action and more RPG. You can even switch between different fighting styles such as using a gun or shield but I dunno, the first style was good enough to beat the game and the other styles seemed a bit weak to me. Might be something worth considering in another play-through one day.

The graphics are great, the mechanics are fun, and the music is good. The only thing that was a tad disappointing was the ending but hey, just don't expect a Xenogears or something. There's not much in terms of environments, you have the city, some woods to fight monsters and level up, and a smattering of other areas. Still, Last Ranker is definitely one of the funnest games I've played so far on the PSP and I would recommend it any day to anybody (with taste).

Unfortunately, for non-Jhipsters, you're gonna have to wait for an English patch that will come out... who knows? Or you know, you can join the ranks of the elite Jhipster army... just saying.

Music... pretty DARN good.

Score 3.5 Imageepoch, why did you leave me? WHYYYYYYYYYY!!! out of 5 (34 hours to beat)


Scale
0 - Awful
1 - Bad and not worth your time
2 - Has some flaws but still enjoyable
3 - An average enjoyable experience
4 - A great game
5 - Masterpiece of a caliber only found very rarely

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

聖剣伝説 RISE of MANA

So I guess this is what gaming has come down to nowadays, huh? Spin up an online, free-to-play game, only to shut it all down less than a year later. Of course, I'm a sucker for this shit because I can't stand having a game that I can't finish on my profile (Resistance 2, I'm talking about you). So here we go, it's time to marathon Seiken Densetsu, RISE OF MANA.

Here we go again with this gacha shit
The only positive thing I have to say about this game is at least you can finish it relatively painlessly. Pair up with some crazy lvl 95 dude who OBVIOUSLY is way cooler than you and lives a highly fulfilling life and the other dude will take care of everything for a while. There's even some people with Metallica (no I'm not talking about the band, oh RIGHT, they changed her name to Metallia for Merica). I guess I missed the NIS collab event but whatever, who cares.

Am I jealous I missed this? NOT AT ALL!
And here's where I think this game failed ultimately. Doing a collab event took way too much work. You have to create a 3D model and have it you know... be PLAYABLE??? Compare that to million shit arthur where you can drum up some illustrations, maybe throw a few seconds of voice acting at it, slap some card numbers on it and call it a day. Even PSO2 collab events is mostly just costumes and weapons from my understanding, plus PSO2 is a way bigger game in terms of scale.

Rise of Mana is just a shitty gacha mobile port that takes FOREVER to load and is filled with useless filler missions such as, "Hey, I dropped some shit in a cave. Can you go pick it up?" It doesn't even have voice acting for the main story which even million shit arthur had.

Congrats, you got some useless shit. Hope you didn't pay real money for it
Near chapter 17, the lvl 95 pal wasn't cutting it and I started dying. Of course, you can use gems or some shit to revive yourself (bargain deal at ONLY 100 yen). But you get free gems for beating the missions so I hit up the gacha and upgraded my weapons. I finished chapter 20 in a matter of a few days and while I'm not technically finished with all 30 chapters, my trophies told me I could put this shit down for good.


If this looks like fun to you, trust me, it isn't.

Score: 1 at least you don't have to spend months to reach level 109 for yet ANOTHER round of trophies, yeah I'm talking about you fucking million shit arthur out of 5.

The story is meh, the gameplay is meh, the music is meh, the Japanese gaming industry lately is meh. But at least I got some goddamn trophies.

Scale
0 - Awful
1 - Bad and not worth your time
2 - Has some flaws but still enjoyable
3 - An average enjoyable experience
4 - A great game
5 - Masterpiece of a caliber only found very rarely

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Misshitsu no Sacrifice (密室のサクリファイス)

Hey you! Are you looking for some cheap low-budget digital boob thrills? Or perhaps you're looking for some fun and light-hearted puzzles you can knock out on a lazy Sunday? How about some cute anime girls that tease you in a traditional moe harem setting? If so, get the fuck outta here cause Misshitsu no Sacrifice has none of that weaboo shit. Now if you're here to bang your head repeatedly against a wall for hours as you try to solve some REAL puzzles for MEN, you've come to the right place.

Don't let the cover fool you, this game is fucking HARDCORE.
No, not that kind of hardcore, you goddamn perv.
Now, I'm no MIT grad but I have beaten my share of mainstream puzzle games with (almost) no cheating (yes zero escape is mainstream for the uber Jhipster). What's important is for the puzzles to be challenging but not TOO hard otherwise the frustrated player will be stuck forever... right?

NO, FUCK THAT BABY SHIT!

You don't want some Japanese developer to hand-hold you like you're some kind of fucking baby DO YOU? When you examine a piece of paper with some random gibberish, you don't want the game to give you some BABY HINTS. No, a REAL MAN'S game will say, "Oh, looks like a piece of paper with some random gibberish. GOOD LUCK WITH THAT SHIT!"

SPOILER: this is a screenshot with the answer. No, for REAL!
Believe me when I say this guys, this is THE hardest puzzle video game you will find anywhere. Go ahead and add a comment if you know of a harder game. Because my blog has such a huge readership, I'm sure the lack of comments will prove unquestionably that yes, this is THE HARDEST puzzle video game ever conceived.


Prepare to hear this song for HOURS as you bang your head against a wall

I thought I was so clever and making good progress until I hit the latter second half of the game. That's when they pull out the REAL HARDCORE shit and I was pretty much done. I put in a good effort too, including spending hours, no really, literally HOURS trying to find the goddamn tea cozy.

The thing is, the story was actually getting kinda interesting as some of the plot points started to fall together so yes, I cheated just to get all the endings. While the plot got a little bit too out there at the end, it was at least good enough to make me want to cheat. One interesting aspect was they used this weird alphabet which looks kinda like Cyrillic?

Pretty sure that's not Russian? Sorry, but I'm only trilingual...
Given the not too shabby story (fully voiced too!), the large number of INSANE puzzles, multiple endings, and a so-so soundtrack, I have to say this game was not bad at all. Pretty good even?

Score: 3 WHAT THE FUCK IS A TEA COZY??? out of 5

If you think you're gonna play some weaboo, ecchi, harem shit, you're gonna be in for a rude awakening. However, if you're a masochist for hunting down objects hidden in the tiniest of pixels and solving number/logic puzzles that are out of this world, then you must have no friends... but as least you can enjoy this quirky, little title.

FYI: This is the EASY part

Scale
0 - Awful
1 - Bad and not worth your time
2 - Has some flaws but still enjoyable
3 - An average enjoyable experience
4 - A great game
5 - Masterpiece of a caliber only found very rarely