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Friday, August 26, 2016

ZERO ESCAPE Koku no Jirenma (刻のジレンマ)

Usually, I like to write up these posts while I'm actually playing through the game in order to capture some of the different thoughts I have in the process. However, ZERO ESCAPE games (yes, they went all caps AGAIN) are the kind where you can't really gauge how good it is until you reach the very end and ZERO ESCAPE Koku no Jirenma, ur, I mean Zero Time Dilemma is no exception.

Best looking cover but 3DS barf. Played Vita version (duh)
My first impression was wow, god damn, the graphics are SO much better than Zennin Shi- ehem, excuse me, Virtue's last whatever. Especially Phi, wow, she looks good in those glasses. The graphics in this game look great overall, despite the weird graphics glitch of long hair twitching like it has SERIOUS seizures. I also just loved the chemistry and humor between Phi and Sigma. It was good to see those two again.

Phi is so hawt. Going back to VLR after this game is kinda painful.
However, a few hours into game, some cracks began to show. The variety of puzzles were much more limited and even less than a challenge than previous games. The only real challenging puzzle was how the heck to get unstuck when you run out of scenarios to play, which I guess counts as a puzzle?? Also, the length of the game was much shorter though I wouldn't necessarily say that it needs to be longer given the story.

Another beef I had with the game was the poor synch between the dialogue and mouth movements. For example, even for a one liner 「ええ」, which is totally one syllable, the mouth moved twice. I assume it was to match the shitty and awkward English track (as usual). The reason I'm guessing this is because this game was bankrolled by Aksys Games, not Spike Chunsoft.

We've reached a weird time in gaming history where Japanese games are simply not sustainable without the western market. Not only are there so much more people outside Japan (obviously), the rise of the shitty mobile games in Japan have made naruto onepiece weeb money indispensable ("naruto" pronounced as "now-roo-toe" of course).

You know who you are.
Now, if you want to buy Japanese games on steam, you have to hope the American publisher is willing to sell to the Japanese market. The Jhipster glory days of whole generations of games never seeing English localization is clearly over.

The music is also nothing special, much of it is recycled from the previous game. Overall, the quality of this game just kinda reeks of indie, the kind that over promises and under delivers. Maybe Aksys Games didn't put up that much money after all, I dunno.

I swear I've heard this song somewhere else...

I enjoyed the last entry of the ZERO ESCAPE series and yet couldn't help feel disappointed. Yes, the story had some good moments but also introduced things that I feel kinda broke the rules. I'm not one of those anal assholes that try to find every plot hole. I don't really care as long as I'm enjoying myself and things are believable enough. However, at the end of the day, while I enjoyed Koku no Jirenma, there was nothing exceptional about it (well except for Phi's hawt visual upgrade).

Score: 3 Meh, I guess it's better than nothing™ (by Inafune) out of 5 (25 hours to beat)
+.5 optional bonus for Phi's design.

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

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Kyokugen Dasshutsu Adv: Zennin Shibou Desu (極限脱出ADV 善人シボウデス)

Zennin Shibou Desu is part 2 of the Kyokugen Dasshutsu series- oh wait, you've never heard of it? Sorry, let me check English wikipedia....

A few minutes later...

Oh, ok, here it is. Many of you have probably already heard of Virtue's Last Reward, which is the second part of umm, Zero escape. Oh, that's a pretty clever play of words on zero, ahahaha.

My favorite track, enjoy while reading my awesome blog!

Anways, I decided to replay this game for the second time because I totally forgot the story going in Zero Time Dillema, the last entry in the series. Also, I needed to re-earn the trophies since I played on my US account before my full conversion to Jhipster mode on PSN. Err, I mean who cares about stupid trophies? NOT ME!

I have not replayed 999, the first entry because the story is not as closely tied as the second and third entries appear to be. It's totally NOT because silly Nintendo doesn't have trophies. Regardless, you'll definitely want to play all 3 games in order. Otherwise, it'll be like watching Star Wars Empire strikes back first and when Darth Vader says "I'm your father" you'll be like ummm... ok? Oops, spoiler alert?

OMG, I loved this anime! I think it was called Imocho?
Anyways, I'm sure I'll be writing about 999 when I'm suckered into buying the voiced Vita re-release or whatever. But for now, let's talk about Zennin Shibou... err, I mean VLR. The first thing I would say is that this is the kind of game that really requires a marathon. Usually, I chip away at a game for months and sometimes even years before I reach a point where I'm invested enough to just finish the damn thing. However, in this case, even in my first playthrough, I finished the game in a little over 1 month, which was kind of a record given my busy riaju lifestyle.

My defunct US PSN before my ascension into pure Jhipsterdom
Fortunately, the game is gripping enough and manages to keep the suspense going so that it's not too hard mentally to plow through it from start to finish. That's definitely a strong point toward it's plot and pacing. However, the real unfortunate reason you don't want to set this game down is because the major events in the various branching paths are pretty much the same but with slight differences in details.

Pretty soon, you start to get the details mixed up in each branch and the similar events start to kinda blend together. I could never remember who went through what door and who did what in each branch. The problem is exacerbated by the fact that you constantly have to switch branches due to it being locked for some reason or another. Unlike the first entry, you cannot play through all the way to the end unless it's one of those bad endings that go nowhere.

In terms of graphics, everything looks pretty good albeit just a tad bit dated. The 3rd entry looks way better in terms of graphics but VLR is still a pretty good looking game. The voice acting is fine, and the music is more than adequate. In terms of presentation, there's nothing that stand out good or bad.

HOT DAYUM! Which artbook do I need to buy for this?
The gameplay is much improved from the first game just in the fact that you only have to solve a puzzle once. I hated playing the first puzzles OVER and OVER again in 999 and so being able to jump around the branching paths was a great convenience. Although the puzzles seems way too easy now that I've played the mind fuck that was Misshitsu no Sacrifice, it seems just right for the mainstream audience. It even has an EASY mode for the extra mainstream newbs out there.

I have to give the game major props because while it has a stupid rabbit mascot, it wasn't annoying as fuck like some other games... *cough* Danganronpa *cough*. I really liked listening to the rabbit talk and I'm not even being sarcastic here. Of course, I'm talking about the Japanese version. Sorry for the non-jhipsters that have to listen to the annoying English voices. I have a nice fork you can stab into your ears or I heard the PAL version didn't replace the good shit with shitty fake ass English voice acting.

Finally, a rabbit that's not annoying as fuck.

One really cool part of the game is that some of the dialogue changes depending on the order in which you play them. Once you've saved playing through one path, even if you navigate back and replay that part, you're locked in that order so as a tip, you may want to keep a separate save before going down one path.

Score: 3.5 yeah it's a great game, if a giant, gaping plot hole doesn't bother you out of 5. (45 hours to beat the first time)

It seems unfair to judge a game that rewards the player with plot twists and reveals after a second play-through. I remember really enjoying all the suspense and mysteries the first time I played this game. But there's a GIANT plot hole I just can't get over that bothers me. As much as I try, I just can't explain this away and it kinda puts a huge damper for me on the game as a whole. I suppose I will see how everything wraps up in the 3rd entry.

Still, I definitely enjoyed this game and it's come a long way from Never 7. If it wasn't for the gaping plot hole, I would definitely give this a solid 4 as a great game. Maybe I will give it a score of 4 after all just for having an animal mascot that doesn't make me want to throw my Vita against the wall.

OMG, what's underneath the scratch part of the poster? THE SUSPENSE IS KILLING ME!!!

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