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Monday, July 25, 2016

Net High (ネットハイ)

Net High is a game where I have so much to talk about I honestly don't know where to even begin. This game is truly a product of our time, an artifact that would have made absolutely no sense only a few years ago and is a perfect encapsulation of our society at THIS VERY MOMENT.

This game has it all including shameless self-plugs!
I'm sure kids of the future will look back on the kids today watching other people play games on twitch, their snapchat shenanigans, and whatever else they're doing nowadays and look bemused and confused with their typical smug "I can't believe this is what old people used to do!" asshole attitudes. Finally, today's kids can get a taste of their own medicine similar to how us old fogeys feel now with these stupid kids react videos to rotary telephones, Reaganomics, the holocaust or whatever the fuck they're doing on the youtubes nowadays. I'm sure the future kids can have a good laugh at these old kids watching videos on a OMG physical screen instead of some sexy AI avatar projection gently serving up their entertainment straight to their brain cells. Umm, what was I talking about again? Oh yeah! Net High is an extremely unique and funny game.

In the sequel, it'll record you playing a character watching a livestream of the game which your friends can then watch.
Net High is basically Ace Attorney but instead of a courtroom, you have Tweeeter, a social network not unlike Twitter and the netizens as the jury (Well AA is strictly bench rulings but whatever). You as the main character must steal Tweeeter followers from the riaju elite (if you don't know what a riaju is well, ggrks). Each battle is live-streamed from Niyo-niyo douga with the winner decided by the number of thumbs up from the viewer. Of course, you can thumbs up yourself. OF COURSE. AS MANY TIMES AS YOU WANT! SPAM AWAY!!

This is how public discourse has evolved over the centuries? Sorry Socrates...
As I said, if you're not all up on Japanese internet culture in 2015, you may get a bit lost with the numerous parodies of popular websites, apps, games, etc.. I wouldn't even call it references at this point. The game's setting is basically a dystopian result of the constant stream of meaningless information and distraction we are bombarded with via our smartphones nowadays. It's a reflection of today's modern smartphone culture and what a sad, sad world it is (don't even get me started on that pokem** Go shit).

Kankore parody but with tanks called Pankore? GENIUS! And this was BEFORE Girls und panzer exploded in popularity.
Not only did I love the premise of the game, the voice acting and cast was superb as well. Every voice actor was excellent except for one painful exception which was I think unavoidable given the situation which I can't talk about cause spoilers. In particular, I just loved listening to the voices of Shiru and MC.

I totally love this game for the voice acting. NO REALLY!!

The art, animation, and music were great as well. If the artstyle reminds you of Gurren Lagann and Kill la kill, you're not the only one. The illustrator is a freelance who has some really nice fan art on his tumblr page.

This guy's got some mad skills
My only real gripe was that the battles were painfully easy. While it makes a good effort of well, shamelessly ripping off AA, complete with frequent remarks about the protagonist's spiky hair, which gossip to use to attack your opponent was always painfully obvious. The investigation sections were anything but, requiring not much more than picking dialogue options. But at least Net High has petting mini-games!

In addition, there's a real pain-in-the-ass trophy that requires you to play for 3 hours a day for a week consecutively. I don't like to be rushed so having to keep the game on until I could play 3 hours for the day was a big bummer especially given that the game is not much longer than the 21 hours it takes for the trophy. Not to mention that one time it crashed after 2 hours... ARGH!!

I thought the artstyle, animation, and music were all good and-WHOA BOOBS!

Overall, I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed the game and loved it to bits really. I was simultaneously amused but also slightly frightened by how much of the real world is reflected in the game. What with all the gamerg*** crap, flaming, and all the ugly stuff going on nowadays with getting people fired from their jobs, doxing, death threats, and swatting. While the "game" aspect of Net High was certainly its weakest point, I still had fun with it and was thoroughly entertained during every minute of the story (despite some large plot holes). And at the end of the day, having fun is all that matters to me.

I highly recommend this game for all Jhipsters and while there is no localization yet, the fact the trophies are translated to English means non-Jhipsters may eventually be able to check out this neat title, hopefully before all the references get outdated and are no longer relevant. Here's hoping they come through with the sequel they teased at the end!

Score: 4 whereupon I spent hours pondering the effects of the internet on our society and cultur- OH MORE BOOBS! out of 5. (32 hours for platinum)

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

Monday, July 11, 2016

Ghost Trick (ゴーストトリック)

I'd like to brag that I bought Ghost Trick totally blind just based on my curiosity with the cover art but that makes me sound like some kind of hipster (NOT Jhipster) now that this game is like the most talked about "hidden gem" on the DS.

Jhipsters don't need no fancy cover of a ghost, just a guy sticking up his butt
Amazingly, despite being an old DS title (at least to these new kids), it's still dirt cheap... at least in America. Oh, you want a Jhipster Japanese copy? Be prepared to pay like $40 for a USED copy. JHIPSTER RANTS!!!

Just do yourself a favor and don't touch the iOS  "Oh it no workie no more? Enjoy the months waiting for a patch" version. In fact, just don't touch iOS at all, IMO. But whatever, that's neither here nor there. On to the game itself.

The first thing you'll notice right out of the gate is the amazing animation and graphics given the DS hardware. I won't pretend I've played every DS game out there (PSP fanboi and proud of it) but this must be one of the best looking games I've seen on the system.

Best part: you don't need overpriced, cheap, flashy marketing Apple hardware for this

The story is as good as you can expect from Takumi Shu. Funny, bright, and yet lots of crazy stuff going on all over the place. I thoroughly enjoyed the characters and the overall plot. Even though the game is definitely on the short side, it was just the right length given the plot and game mechanics.

The puzzle solving while innovative, does get a bit repetitive at times. It mostly consists of you trying to find shit you can tinker with even though almost everything seems tantalizingly out of reach. Of course, varieties to the core gameplay are introduced throughout the game. Though there's a lot of trial and error, the gameplay was still fun at the end of the day.

If you're too lazy to play yourself, you can watch Japanese girl play instead. Isn't that how the kids nowadays "play" games?

Score: 3.5 Shu stop with the fucking bajillion AA already and make something original like um... Ghost Trick 2? out of 5. (14 hours to beat)

While the highlight of the game is the great story, given the great graphics and fun gameplay, it's a great package overall. You really can't go wrong with this "hidden" gem. Definitely a solid game and a must own for the DS. BUY BUY BUY NOW NOW NOW!!!!!!!!

Bonus 0.5 points for Missle, two of the best dogs in gaming
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

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Tantei Jinguji Saburo DS - Inishie no Kioku (探偵 神宮寺三郎 DS ~いにしえの記憶~)

It was a dark and stormy night.

Wait, you think that's cliche? Well, Mr/Ms/Ind (gender-agnostic) learned, and scholarly non-philistine sir/mam/individual (again, gotta be considerate of the gender-fluid), you've come to the wrong place, because Tantei Jinguji Saburo DS - Inishie no Kioku is just about the most stereotypical series of detective stories you'll ever see on a video game medium.

My copy of the game, which I'm probably going to sell right after this
Actually I don't think it would be accurate to even call it stereotypical because it eschews conventional aspects of a crime story such as having a bloody goddamn mystery. Don't expect any kind of plot twist, some mysterious mastermind, nor basically any kind of surprise or suspense. Playing this game is more akin to reading a police report on some neighborhood crime committed by a criminal whose masterful plot was to throw away the murder weapon in the dump near his government subsidized project housing.

In each episode, you talk to people, gather some facts or eyewitness accounts, do some digging around (what we in the industry call legwork), figure out who did the crime, and done. Move onto the next episode. The only semblance of challenge you're presented is a series of questions to sum up the facts of the case you discovered in the previous hour or so of gameplay.

Inference time! AKA rehash what the game just told you.
For example, if you found a letter from the suspect stamped from Nerima, the game might ask:

"Where was the letter stamped from?"

A. Shinjuku
B. Nerima
C. Yokohama

Even if you were not even remotely close to paying any attention to the story, you're in luck! You can just keep choosing randomly until you get the right answer.

I even played the original version of the first case just to see if the mobile port from which the DS version was based on totally fucked shit up. I'm ashamed to say I also own the Early Collection for the PS1 so I was able to experience the original FC version in all its frustrating glory. And no, it wasn't any better, in fact it was a lot worse. At least the DS version made it easy to get through the not so great story.

SPOILER: there is absolutely NO POINT in exploring the park. THE CAKE IS A LIE!
What's even crazier is apparently Aksys tried to palm off this mediocre game with HALF the content? Of course, they changed the whole setting to no longer take place in Japan since stupid 'Mericans can't remember names unless it's like Bob or Jake Hunter??? WTF? There's no accounting for taste I guess... especially when you have none. I think I would almost have more fun trying to see how the localizer butchered the setting, what with the Yakuza and all (maybe add an Italian accent?).

The only thing this game has going for it is the character illustrations, the overall art style, and Misono Yoko. Yeah, Yoko is pretty hot. The art style is good but also hilarious because Jinguji is about the most Japanese hard-boiled detective ever. He's super polite, is quick to apologize, is not afraid to bow, and his office is neat and tidy to boot. Hard-boiled? Maybe more like the Hanjuku (half-boiled) detective in Shinjuku. LOOOOOOOOOOL #notfunny

All in all, I really have no idea how or why this series has gone on for so long. My only hope is that the later games in the series blows the early games out of the water as I continue to amass Jinguji games like an idiot collector. Well except this one, it's going into the sell pile.

Yoko, you're too good for Saburo... and this game.
Score: 1.5 if they did a AA crossover with Yoko, I would be ALL OVER THAT out of 5 (16 hours to beat)

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