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Saturday, July 22, 2017

Digital Devil Story: Megami Tensei (デジタル・デビル物語 女神転生)

Finally, I finished my first SMT game err, I mean MT? Ugh what a stupid acronym. Anyways, what I actually played was the first half of Kyuuyaku Megami Tensei, the updated SFC port of Megami Tensei 1+2. This is the DRPG and not the overhead action MSX/PC88/etc Nihon Telenet thing. For those new to this blog, DRPG is what we call 1st person dungeon crawlers since we don't need to waste a stupid letter to identify JRPGs (known to Jhipsters as RPGs).

The first thing you'll notice when you start up the game is all the reasons why this game was never localized. NOA was so busy trying to suck up to Congress saying THEIR games were wholesome family fun and would never have filth like Night Trap, they had to pretend this game didn't exist. Thanks to no internet, that was easy to do back in the day. I doubt this game would have helped their PR image if Shitaku was around back then.

Quick, somebody call Congress, it's time to hold to a hearing!!
I think this is the first game I've played that's actually a sequel of a bunch of books (for the kids, this is that Egyptian papyrus with words printed on it stacked on top of each other). Since the only version of the books available online are English fan-translated pirated stuff (typical), I decided to check out the OVA instead to get caught up on the lore.

Since YT has Content ID, I'm sure this is TOTALLY legal

Unfortunately, the anime only covers the first book and ends in a cliffhanger with a message from Set. However, I didn't really think the anime was so great anyways and I got enough of the gist to play the game. Maybe the books present it better but basically, you play as this asshole Nakajima who decided to make a program to summon devils cause first world problems and now you have to fix your own giant mess. You don't have to worry about how you defeated Loki and Seto in the books because lo and behold, Lucifer helpfully resurrected them for you to beat again in the game.

Man Loki, I already beat you. Didn't you watch the OVA??
So the game is pretty much a standard map filler exercise. Thankfully, it does have an auto-map so no pen+paper needed. If you're obsessive compulsive, this is a great game to go fill in all the squares. If you explore every corner, you won't miss anything and should be able to get through the game without getting stuck except for the last sword which you have to go back to a random spot to find. I also looked up the map once to get through the halls on fire. It was really annoying to lose health on every step and I didn't want to wander around aimlessly constantly losing health trying to find Izanami's clothing (it's not what you think).

Umm... that's a very interesting way to decorate your walls.
The fusion stuff was pretty original for its time but man was it really skewed toward fucking Salamanders for some reason. For example, in order to fuse a level 57 Odin, you need a Sphinx and a Hanuman. To make a Sphinx, you need a Salamander and a Yasha. In order to make a Yasha, you a Tsukuyomi and another fucking Salamander. And in order to make a Hanuman, you need a Zebec and ANOTHER FUCKING Salamander. Of course, it didn't help that I already had just finished fusing a level 55 Ganesha which also requires a Yasha and Hanuma which is TWO MORE Salamanders. So to make 5 Salamanders, I had to basically find 5 Dwarves and Pukas, the former which was annoyingly difficult to encounter.

Odin - mix 3 salamanders and a pinch of lemon for flavor
I also didn't really get the point of the moon phases and the date. There isn't any kind of time limit (thank god) and the only thing I cared about was NEW MOON because that's when you can't recruit any demons. Overall, the gameplay was just the standard attack and use magic to heal affair. You just grind away and eventually, you'll be able to get through with the handy AUTO battle. Though if you walk around with your demon friends, you will lose some MAG on every step so some resource management in necessary. I REALLY hated that enemies can sometimes knock down your level though. It made me save like a paranoid foil hat crazy and if you get leveled down, you might as well restart. And for fuck's sake, could you show the stats for equipment in the menu?? I mean, I had to look up the equipment list because I forget which stuff was the strongest. Lame.

Ugh, would it kill you to show some numbers here? It's a freakin' SFC remake!!
In terms of the plot, there's really nothing to spoil and it's as simple as can be. You're in there to kill some fucking demons and that's what you're going to do. Oh congrats, you killed em! Game Over, Thanks for playing! There is a floating city though so that's cool. You can fly to the final dungeon halfway through the game and die instantly just for giggles.

Dunno about the original FC version but check out dem SUPER graphics!!
Score: 2.5 Ignorant congressmen unaware kids in Japan were brainwashed into devil worship out of 5.

A dead simple game but still strangely addictive. I played while multitasking a visual novel and it was a perfect distraction while I listened to some imouto dialogue going on about oniichan, oniichan. I actually wish I was joking but unfortunately, this is actually totally true.

The music was pretty good but it got far too monotonous after hours and hours of dungeon crawling. Eventually, I just turned it off to listen to my imouto in the my other multitask game.

Yeah, might sound good to you now but try listening through 8 floors of Daedalos

A few more totally random screenshots just to highlight the wonderful Nintendo platform.




Ahh, fucking RICK. Man, what a great character and what a great story!!

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

Final Fantasy III (ファイナルファンタジーIII)

Every new Final Fantasy game I buy seems to require several hours of research to determine which version is best. I really only want to buy one copy of each game, as strange as that may sound to the "pro" game hoarders... err I mean collectors. I usually just go for the latest version that uses real buttons and not on a goddamn phone. With Final Fantasy III, given my unabashed bias and love for the PSP aka the best console of all time, it seemed natural to give my yen offerings to the Amazon Japan Gods and get me some of that UMD love.

This filtered washed out mobile shitfest graphics is not exactly the same as the PSP version (impartial opinion)
Now, I'm sure you 2D purists are already scoffing at me for going for the 3D remake but if anybody can explain why the original version is better in terms of gameplay, please do let me know what I'm supposedly missing out on. As for personal preference, I really don't care about 2D or 3D as long as the game plays fine. I will say that zooming in to find hidden items was kinda annoying and pointless. I'm not sure how that mechanic worked if at all in the original Famicon version. In addition, the load times was just a few seconds too long. Even using an ISO without all the UMD grinding, the load time was juuuust long enough to be annoying but the 2x speed in auto battle mode made up for it a bit.

3D? Pffft, you must be one of those people that liked FF13 *scoff*
Besides the 3D changes, I found FF3 interesting because you get an airship within the first hour of the game. Of course, this airship doesn't go over mountains so you can't go much farther than what you could easily walk anyway but I still thought it was a nice twist. What's even more interesting is less than 10 hours into the game, an NPC gave me an item for going around the world map on a Chocobo and it didn't take more than a couple minutes, the world map was so small, I assumed there was more to explore than just this tiny world (you'll need to play the game to find out).

Don't get too excited, you ain't gonna get too far with that.
This is the first FF game that uses the job system like Bravely Default (comparison for the new kids). I'm not going to guess at who or how the job system was invented but after playing FF2, it feels like a natural progression from the crazy everything has a level chaos. If you consolidate the disjointed parts of FF2 and wrap it in a neat logical package called a job... voila! Job system!

Out of the first 3 games, the combat in this one is definitely the best so far. While FF1 was 99% holding down circle and FF2 a crazy albeit unique mess, FF3 is the first game in the franchise that has any sense of strategy. Though when you open up 4 chests with equipment for the scholar, you can tell the game is trying to tell you something. You need to play around with the jobs somewhat to see what works at different parts of the game. However, the system definitely did have some flaws including the fact that you'll never have the time to really level up and try out all the various jobs. The game balance near the end seemed to kind of break down as well as bosses took only about 6-10 hits of 6000-9999 damage to defeat.

Character designs were kinda meh but Refia twin tails with glasses was a winner
I liked the fact that you need to actually buy and use items in the beginning as Esuna is a 7(!) level spell. Phoenix downs are also not sold in stores so you need to use what you can find until you unlock Revive much later in the game (though earlier than Esuna). It was really annoying to have to find a spring to revive party members as sleeping at an inn doesn't work so I usually just reset instead.

The setting of the story is very similar to FF1 with the 4 warriors of light again, which feels like a step backward from FF2 in terms of character development. This time, you're trying to restore balance with light or something via talking crystals. I was never a big fan of the crystal stuff in Final Fantasy but I guess this is where it kinda starts to become an FF theme. You know what kind of game would be really cool? What if, in a unique twist, you are actually warriors of dark fighting against light?! That would be pretty darn cool!!!

GOD DAMMIT SQUARE!!! You made the boring part of the story! (DS version)
As I mentioned, I'm not sure why they went back to the generic FF1 character style (is this an early example of FF9 retro throwback??) They tried to give the characters some back stories in the 3D remake but even so the character development is non-existent and they end up feeling almost as generic as the FF1 warriors of light anyway. You can see snippets of personality and interaction in short bits of story and by talking to the 5th character that joins your party now and then. But at the end of the day, you can change all the characters to cross-dressing harpies and the main plot of restoring light to the balance or whatever would work exactly the same. At least this time, the 5th character isn't actually in your party as an under-powered, dragging wet towel that you are constantly switching like in FF2.

It's too bad the characters are so boring because the world setting and story events are arguably the most interesting in the series so far. However, it all falls flat as the events unfold around the generic characters that you're not really invested in and the final villian was too abstract to really interest me. I guess we'll have to wait for FF4 for the Parom/Palom level feels. Well, at least we can enjoy the fancy new intro vid.

Character interactions not as rich as intro suggests

Score: 3 "I may be cute but I'm fucking warning you, this book is pretty darn heavy!" out of 5 (31 hours to beat)


I thought the game was just average on all counts. Oh well, at least FF3 brought us Moogles... and it has twin tails... and a cat suit so mission accomplished! Now I hear the final dungeon in the original version is hella difficult but it was pretty tame in the remake and thank goodness for that cause I was ready to be done with this game.

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

Friday, June 23, 2017

Prismaticallization

Sometimes, a little perspective goes a long way. While I didn't think too much of Never 7 (called infinity at the time), it's WAY better than Prismaticallization, even though it only came out a few months later. I can't help but compare the two games because Prismaticallization is like an earlier and crappier version of Never 7. It has the exact same basic concept except without any voice acting and crappier BGM. I bought this game purely on the cover art, so fool on me I guess.

Yesh, it doesn't take much to convince me to buy (if under $10)
It first starts out by warning you that there's nothing to do put read for the first 30 minutes. Pfft, 30 minutes?! Yeah, no worries there, I'm not an ADV newb. At the end of your first playthrough, you pick up an odd green prism crystal thing (hence the title). This prism crystal can be used to remember up to 5 things.

Be prepared to loop through this damn game at least 100 times
It's a very annoying user interface as you constantly have to loop and often run out of space on your crystal. I went to about 100 playthroughs and 7 hours before I cleared the first ending (the game helpfully keeps count in the upper-right corner). Yeah, if you follow a guide, you can clear an ending in under 20 but I was playing blind. Most of the time was spent holding the △ fast forward button so this game is totally a multitask affair. It really was an awkward way to play an ADV game and kinda unnecessary in my opinion. I mean, it was kinda fun at first, but it got old pretty fast. At the very least, maybe if the prism could hold 10 things or there was a skip to next choice feature (not fast-forward but instant), it would've made things quicker.

Unlocking the swimsuit scenarios were especially annoying as you have to first play a tarot game (1 loop). This set you on to path to one girl (chosen randomly). Then you have to remember the correct cards to win a card game (2 loops). Finally, you can unlock the swimsuit at the beach (1 loop). You then have to win the card game AGAIN (1-2? loops) and trigger the swimsuit memory at the beach a second time (1 loop). This takes about 5 loops for each girl (you may have to reload if you get duplicate random girl).

Well, I guess the effort was worth it for Miyu sukumizu
As I said, the BGM is not so great either though it sounds much better on the Dreamcast version. It feels like they spent all their budget on the pretty good opening animation and the ending song. Otherwise, this game is pretty darn low on both the polish and quality front.

The OP and ED were good but that's about it

Still, despite the overall cheapness of the game, the illustrations were not bad and it could have redeemed itself with a great story but unfortunately, it falls flat in that department as well. None of the characters were well developed and pretty much almost nothing is explained even after watching all the endings. The only good thing about the story was that it wasn't too long-winded and I was able to beat the game in about 12 hours. I did not unlock all the swimsuits however cause it's a pain in the arse and Miyu is really the only girl for me anyways.

Fake imouto was almost enough to make this game a 2. Almost.
Score: 1.5 sometimes even an imouto is not enough to make a decent game out of 5. (12 hours to beat)

I didn't think this game was terrible. It has some funny moments and some decent art, I just don't know if it was worth it. I certainly won't be keeping it in my ever shrinking closet of shame. If for some crazy reason I wanted to play it again, it's also available on PSN, though I would probably recommend the DC version for the better music and some extra scenes.

Oddly, this illustration was in a different style from the rest of the game

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

Monday, June 19, 2017

Kairisei Million Arthur (乖離性ミリオンアーサー)

Let me tell you a story about a foolish gamer who for some reason no sane individual can surmise decided to go about collecting all the trophies for Karisei Million Shits Arthur. He got all the way up to the last gold trophy which involves collecting 100 yes ONE HUNDRED Ultra Rare cards. He gave up on this stupidly repetitive task for many months until a collaboration event with Peach Beach Splash gave out 5 ultra rare cards with 20 名声, the equivalent of 100 identical cards. Giddy with excitement and disbelief he laughed at the fools for essentially giving away the gold trophy. Without hesitation, he went ahead and maxed out by combining all 5 cards but alas no trophy??!!

The tragic folly and downfall of a foolish gamer
With a pounding heart and shaking hands, he looked at the card details to discover to his shock and dismay that it had only gone up to 90 instead of 100. The fucking UI only said MAX so he had forgotten he needed to max out the level of one of the 5 cards FIRST, then evolve it to Million Rare, and THEN combine the other cards as Ultra Rare cards only have a max of 90 名声. Screaming in frustration and anger, this foolish gamer, instead of deleting this piling heap of garbage, decided FUCK YOU SQUARE, I'm going to do this the hard way. He then proceeded to waste his life away for the next 10 days until he finally achieved his empty, meaningless, and pathetic goal.

The end result of a fool's quest and his loss of valuable time and life
Oh, and I think there's a game in there somewhere.

Score: 0 fuck you fuck you fuck you Square Enix out of 5.

Some of the cards have cool art, I'll give it that. But I think it's ridiculous they still haven't finished the main storyline 9 months after release. Whatever, the story is meh anyways. I DON'T CARE.




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

Monday, June 12, 2017

Mad Father(マッドファーザー)

Corpse Party was kind of my gateway drug to Wolf RPG Horror adventure games. Turns out there's of bunch of these made by creative individuals completely FREE FREE FREE!!! No, not free-to-play microtrans BS but free as in no money needed. I mean REAL indie games without all that kickstarter bags of money and false promises. Mad Father was one that seemed particularly well polished and also not TOO scary like fucking heart attack Akemi-tan.

Personally, being surrounded by bodies is a turn-off but ok
There's really not too much to the story as these things usually go but your father is kind of mad (surprise, surprise!!) You play as his little daughter who decide for some reason to go exploring your guy's giant mansion when you start the game.

I guess since you started the game, now she HAS to explore. JERK.
My first impression of the game was wow, for an indie, the music is pretty damn good! Apparently, the opening song is also used in another indie game called Ib so I don't know who made the music or what the deal is but whatever, as long as it's not RIAJ, it's all cool.

Welp, I guess I have to play Ib next.

The first part of the game has lots of areas to explore and some puzzles that frankly I would never have figured out. For example, who would have guessed to drop the eyeball down a hole in the fireplace so that the girl in the cell can get her eyeball back? Yeah, you hear somebody crying in the study but that's hardly a hint. Aha, but yeah, that's the kind of puzzles you'll be solving. Things get easier as you get down the lower basement levels as the explorable areas shrink significantly.

Hmm... personally I would have just stayed in my room.
Score: 3 and I thought my parents were crazy!! out of 5. (3 hours to beat)

The character illustrations definitely have an indie look but overall, I thought it was a pretty solid game. It's only a little bit scary so it's probably a good title for horror newbs. You certainly won't lose anything by trying it out (FREE GAMES GOOGLE SEARCH BOT!). There's a special cut-scene at the end if you collect all 21 gems scattered throughout the house but I didn't bother.

Women, their choices in men will forever confound
There is an English version for the non-jhipsters though I don't know if it includes the latest changes. I guess the latest version 3 is now for sale on steam but you can download the latest free Japanese version here: http://novice2.web.fc2.com/game/mad/index.html.

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, June 8, 2017

Ys: The Oath in Felghana(イース -フェルガナの誓い-)

I started Ys: Felghana no Chikai (that's "oath" for the non-jhipsters) pretty much right after I beat Ys 2 since it's a remake of Ys 3. In the good ol' days, people used to use numbers so customers would know what order shit came in. But now, we have games like Ghostbusters 2016 aka "AHAHA you bought this garbage??", Tomb Raider 2013 aka "we spent that whole year working on Lara's hair", and Prince of Persia 2008 aka "maybe it'll sell better if you can't fucking die joke edition" so yeah whatever, we're all fucked. Where was I? Oh yeah.

So Falcom is probably THE pioneer of series you can never figure out without consulting Wikipedia (fuck you Dragon Slayer 2 Legend of Heroes -4 Xanadu not Next). So after looking up what games are in what order, I decided to skip Ys Wanderers From Ys, and went straight to the remake.

For fuck's sake, jut put the goddamn 3 on the cover
I mentioned previously that I was traumatized on the series from the start with a rental of the SNES side-scrolling version of this game. Fortunately, Falcom went back and fixed it all up and made a completely different game which is probably why they changed the subtitle.

They scrapped the side scrolling thing and went with the 2.5 style of the later Ys games. The classic bumping mechanic is gone and you now have to jump and climb platforms and shit. When I first started this game after finishing Ys 2, it was weird having to swing your sword like some kind of barbarian. I imagine Adol was previously using some impressive Iai invisible sword attacks during the bumps previously so this brute swinging style seems like a few steps backwards for the swordsman in terms of technique.

This is Adol in Ys I+II... IMO.
Personally, I preferred the old style without all this fancy double jumping and attack button. Even though the platforming segments were pretty tame and not super annoying, I'm not a big fan of jumping on shit, falling, and having to start again. (Did I mention I'm not big into platformers?) What was REALLY annoying were those TINY flying monsters which were such a pain to attack especially before you get the green ring.

...well at least it's better than Mario...
In fact, this game is pretty annoying until you unlock at least the dash ability (aka oh thank god, I can move at a normal speed FINALLY). The options give you the ability to have dash on at all times or by double tapping a direction but seriously why?? Turn it on always. DUH!

Take my advice and turn dash on always. Screw that 2x arrow key BS.
Another tip is to not worry about having enough Ravel ore. I never upgraded my equipment until the end because I was a Ravel hoarder. Only to find out near the end that enemies in the last dungeon drop Ravel so there's no need to hoard. Another great tip for boss battles is the healing cloak. While it will never restore HP by itself because you can't stand still long enough, it WILL restore HP when you boost after the curly bar totally fills up. I unfortunately didn't realize this until the last two bosses but it definitely came in handy for the tough final boss. My final tip is to check the castle entrance frequently as there's a missable escort event there.

You can press L to quickly switch to the cloak
The exploration gets easier as you unlock other abilities such as teleportation to save points and pretty much becomes a cakewalk when you get the healing cloak except for the bosses. Oh boy, the bosses. I played on Hard difficulty (cause hardcore gamer) and each boss battle was an exercise in trial and error by death. Nearly every boss battle was tense, frustrating, and while winning had that great feeling of satisfaction, it was mentally exhausting as well. Especially near the end, it seems like there's yet another boss around every corner.

I've been playing this game on and off for over a year now because I always felt a need for a break from yet another extremely tense boss battle. Since I'm hardcore but not masochist, I didn't play on Nightmare mode in the previous games and this game unlocks an even HARDER Inferno difficulty upon completion. You can get New Game+ bonuses but yeah... maybe next time.

Overall the boss battles are definitely the highlight making this game so fun but frustrating. That ice dragon thingy took at least 10 if not 20+ tries to beat. One personal highlight was Zirduros, The Clockwork Cannon. On about my fourth try, I've pretty much given up on winning after a dumb start and only one hit away from death. Then I got into some kind of crazy groove where I was able to dodge or ram through every one of his attacks with the yellow ring. HELL YEAH!!

The story was adequate to move the action along and voiced, which was nice. The music was, you know, the usual Ys stuff.

You're going to be hearing this a lot on Hard mode

Score: 3 oh you better believe some oaths will be said while you play and they will have nothing to do with Felghana out of 5 (19 hours on record to beat but probably more with resets)

I didn't enjoy this game quite as much as the first two. All that complicated jumping and swinging sword seemed to detract from the pure precision and skill required of the first two games (well except for that bullshit falling tile hope you're lucky final boss in the first game). However, while the exploration and grinding before boss battles were ho-hum, the boss battles were definitely sweaty hands good action, though a bit tiring.

Being a Ys game, it's localized in English and easily accessible on Steam (I played the #BAE PSP version of course). I don't know if the drama CD is localized however. It's pretty much a rehash of the same story anyways. Non-jhipsters aren't missing much. Those hoping for a hot spring scene with Elena will be sorely disappointed (um... not 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

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA Extend(初音ミク -Project DIVA Extend-)

Since Project DIVA Extend is essentially the same game as DIVA 2nd but with different songs, this is going to be a pretty short post. The only noteworthy improvement in terms of the user interface is the △ button option to play PVs right from the main song list. DIVA 2nd for some reason had this very awkward interface where you had to go to the Diva room to open PV mode. From there, you had to choose your song and modules from a list with no preview. It was a total step backward from the first game and so it's good that they fixed it in extend.

Other than that, as the name suggests, given that this is really an extension of the previous game, the only thing to discuss is the quality of the song list. I have to say in terms of volume, it's a bit of a disappointment especially since they reuse songs from previous games AGAIN. Some songs from the first game didn't have any video and was just a slideshow of images so it's fine that they redid those with a proper video. However, the songs from 2nd are the same so I'm not sure what the point is unless I guess you skipped 2nd? Maybe the extreme difficulty key patterns are more challenging. I'm not sure as I don't have those memorized.

This song AGAIN? Sigh...

The highlight of extend perhaps is the sheer number of modules as you can once again import all the unlocked modules from the previous game. Essentially, you're getting modules from all THREE games. They even created modules just for a specific song. You may think, oh so maybe that's why they included the repeat songs from 2nd but no, you can actually download an extend module pack for 2nd from PSN so it goes both ways. (At least if you're not a filthy pirate, you can download it.)

Free... my favorite price!
However, putting aside my gripes about the lack of content, I still enjoyed this game for what it was. After all, the very first song has Miku acting like a cat in probably one of the cutest videos I've seen.

I normally wouldn't want to own a cat but I can make an exception in this case.
In addition, I have to give props to Sega for deciding to do their version of the song: 結んで開いて羅刹と骸 even going as far to include a module complete with eyes painted on her hands. It's an abridged version but I believe the shorter length is better gameplay wise. If they wanted to censor it, they wouldn't have included the most risque line: 「子作りしようか」(sorry non-jhipsters).

Definitely one of the highlights of the game


Game is not as creepy as this OG ver but still cool nonetheless


Score: 3 HOLY SHIT! WHAT'S UP WITH THE EYE IN THE CLOSET?!!! out of 5.

Overall, while there's no new features from 2nd and the amount of new content is pretty lacking, the movies themselves are more interesting. Quite a few songs tell some kind of story that made me actually want to watch the PVs and read the lyrics. To confess, I don't normally read the lyrics because they usually don't make much sense; NOT because I can't understand the words (Hello? Jhipster here!) but because it's all lyrical... and stuff.

Best song so far in entire series in terms of choreography fo sure

While I wouldn't have been too happy if I paid full retail for this "extend" title, I definitely enjoyed it for the $25 or so it cost to find a used copy. It's a worthy addition to the PSP collection for sure. As this concludes the Project Diva series on the PSP platform, I also want to comment on the charm of the PSP graphics. While the Vita entries are great and I'm pretty sure you can get all these songs on high-def PS4 Future Sound or something, I feel like the latest models look kind of plastic and not as cute as the PSP version. I guess I'll see if the latest and greatest grows on me when I get to it. For now, I'm going to see if I can dig out my 3DS copy of Project Mirai buried somewhere in one of the boxes in my closet of shame.



PS. Is it just me or the camera angles a lot "safer" once they started localized these games to English? SJW WINS AGAIN???

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

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Memories Off

So I decided to check out the Memories Off series once 5pb. was kind enough to put a bunch of their PSP titles on a 100 yen PSN sale. Not to mention the fact that I have a stack of these games that I might want to get rid of once I finish them. (I'm running out of room in the shame closet.) There's like a bazillion titles in this series so it must mean they're good right? I mean every Call of Duty I've ever played has been like one masterpiece after another.

Yeah ok fine, COD jokes are getting old. SORRY
Apparently this game was super popular(?) because there's like a bazillion ports and on every possible type of media: manga, anime, novel, and drama CD. The PSP version I played contains the prequel Memories Off Pure and a new! exclusive!! After Story which as the amazingly clever title suggests is a story that takes place after the main game. By the way, I am NOT planning on playing the ponjan spinoff Festa.

2 down... umm 7 more to go?? I'm so confused.
I'm up to my 5th galge (6 if you count Never 7 which kinda is but not really), and I've started to notice that the more recent titles are a lot lazier in the branching path territory. Harvest OverRay has like a total of 3 dialogue choices and bitter smile. even kept a score to show you exactly which girl's branch you were heading for. '&' has a bunch of new choices that pop up as you unlocked certain endings that have nothing to do with the girl it leads to. The common theme I've found is that you have one main branch that you only really play once, then you go back and pick one branch per girl.

Memories Off on the other hand recalled some of the fun of those choose-your-own adventure books back from the day. There's tons of dialogue choices and branching paths all over the main scenario before you enter a girl's route. Even once you enter a certain route, there's plenty of opportunities to derail into the bad ending. However, the game makes navigation simple by showing you an avatar of the girl approving or disapproving of each dialogue option. I enjoyed trying to keep track of the various paths and finding the tiny bits of dialogue that would change just to make the narrative consistent.

31,971 messages... hmm, that's a lot of dialogue but how's the battle system?
Interestingly enough, I happened to get to the True ending on my first blind playthrough in about 9 hours. It's not hard thanks to those avatar hints but usually, the true ending is something you unlock at the very end and I guess the PS version is a lot more difficult to get the true ending. Combined with Pure Story and After Story, I was able to unlock 11 of the 13 endings blind and still spent a bit more time exploring some of the other paths.

I thought the VA was pretty good, except for Ayaka. All the girls were cute and unlike the hentai censored consumer port games I've played till now, they weren't all up in your business for absolutely no reason. (I know it's not actually hentai, I'm just trying to the make it easier for the non-jhipster philistines to understand.) In fact, as crazy as this sounds, it was kinda nice to play a pure game with no obligatory pool or hot spring fan service scenes. I don't think there's a shred of fan service to find in this game.

Almost like a real girl, if you were like umm... 2D n shit. Darn!
As for the additional added content, while the prequel was a nice side-story to fill out some of the details of the main character's past, After Story was pretty meh. Maybe too much time had past to get the original voice actors but there's no VA and no branching paths and the story was a bit silly to boot. I did find it interesting to see the reinterpretation of the character design with a more "modern" look.

Welp, another fine work from the post moepocalypse era

Score: 3 pre-moepocalypse nostalgia out of 5 (34.5 hours to beat)

Overall, I enjoyed Memories Off (I spent over 30 hours on it after all). I thought all the characters were charming, and the illustrations pretty good. The true ending was touching and all the girls definitely had their own story to tell. In particular, Minamo's route was pretty messed up especially since in this version, she doesn't open her eyes at the end unlike some of the other ports.

Looks damn good for a Neo Geo Pocket Color port!
While After Story wasn't much to write home about, the PSP port didn't have any technical issues and had all the necessary features in terms of sound options, etc. Certainly worth the 100 yen I paid on PSN. I'm not sure yet how After Rain fits into the series but I guess I'll figure it out when I get to the pile of PS2 games in my closet. If you're looking for a nice pure story about dealing with loss while getting to know some cute girls, I would say give this one a shot.

The music was just the regular ol' visual novel stuff.

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, May 25, 2017

MOTHER3

In my post about MOTHER2, I couldn't help but ramble on about how it fixed all the shitty parts of MOTHER to upgrade it from a bag of poo all the way to a fairly decent game. At this rate, MOTHER3 should be one of the greatest games of all time. At the very least, it addressed my only one major complaint: the complete lack of character development making it very difficult to feel invested in the story. BOY OH BOY, did they add a lot of story this time around, almost TOO MUCH (here comes entitled gamer complaining about getting exactly what I asked for). Within the first few hours of the game, the story get HEAVY AS FUCK (in more ways than one).

Heavy as a plate of chicken fried steak with biscuits AND gravy YEEHAW!!
If you thought MOTHER2 was doomed in the US market, MOTHER3 would have been like trying to sell bubonic plague. The graphic style combined with all the heavy dialogue and reading would have been like kryptonite to American gamers, gasping in shock as they vainly tried to reach for a bag of Doritos and dew with their weakened, fat hands. (Disclaimer: I'm American so I'm allowed to make fun of them, err I mean us.)

In terms of the gameplay and battle system, it's pretty much the same as MOTHER2, a standard multi-task hold down 'A' affair. Fortunately, you can hold down the convenient 'L' button for one-handed play and it goes really fast. In fact, TOO fast, one time I had to reset because I got an item from a battle, the game said my inventory was full, and I ended up throwing away my equip item instead by accident. OOPS!

Your first battle is with an okera, some sort of bug? He thinks he's tough.
Again, I really dug the way your HP gradually rolls up and down, giving you a chance to heal yourself before you die if you're quick (ATB?). It's great at keeping you on your toes for boss battles. It also helped me not care when the men's bathroom sign used PK Starstorm cause I could quickly end the battle before it really hurt me (you'll understand when you play game). There's nothing new really from the previous game in terms of game mechanics except for the dash. OH THANK GOD FOR THE DASH. I loved it so much I was super annoyed when you couldn't dash cause one of your characters was trying to learn a new PSI ability. UGH.

What really stands out in this game is the story and the large cast of quirky and memorable characters. In addition, the OST has TONS of songs and is probably one of the best VG OSTs I've heard in terms of variety.

GAH! DEM FEEEEEEEEELS


Warning: some very minor spoilers ahead.


Starting out, I thought maybe it took place many years before MOTHER2, maybe in Texas or something? Cause your dad looks like a cowboy and it looked like some sort of western setting but with dinosaurs? Hmm I dunno, maybe a completely different universe from the previous 2 games? That's what I thought going into the game at least and wasn't a big fan of the western setting at first.

Without getting into too much detail, let me just say that the story does NOT disappoint. Even though both Ness and Lucas are silent protagonists, the level of character development and emotional attachment is on a totally different level from the previous game, which is interesting considering Lucas doesn't say a single word in the entire game. I also liked that your dog in this game isn't a total useless, good-for-nothing like the last game. Sadly, my dog Chewy passed away after I started this game so it was a bit sad to continue playing with Chewy (チュイ) in my party.

Sigh....
As for the overall plot, while MOTHER2 had some great surprises and frankly disturbing plot points, MOTHER3 has dem FEEEEELS. There were definitely some great themes as well, such as how the bad guy used "Shiawase" (happiness) boxes to corrupt the town. My cynical self enjoyed the irony of exploring the bad influence of TV in a video game. It also did a great job of being a grand finale for the entire series. I don't know if it was Itoi's grand scheme for the series but it finally did live up to the title "MOTHER". It would have been cool if I wrote this post for Mother's Day but I'm a bit late for that.

Too bad my real mother is a krazy lady.

Score: 4 No seriously, I'm not fucking exaggerating about dem FEEEEELS out of 5 (29 hours to beat)

I was going to give this game an above-average score of 3.5 as I normally wouldn't give a multitask battle system game a 4. I didn't get that super hooked right away either as it took me over a year to finish. The underwater oxygen part was kind of tedious and I probably put it down for over 6 months at that point. Another issue was that this game didn't work on my PSP emulator as they must have used some crazy GBA tricks. It wasn't really an issue since I'm not a filthy pirate and I own the actual game but I don't carry my DS with me normally so it took me longer to finish.

However, after finishing the game, considering the great OST and my preference for a good story over gameplay, I decided that it deserves a 4 as a great end to a influential video game series. It obviously was intended to be THE END so I'm not really into these English (bleh) fan projects to make a "sequel". Just call it something else, geesh.

Just one of the many great tracks, check out the 8-bit version too

Also, it's STILL not localized for obvious reasons. For a game with graphics that look like it's some sort of edutainment kid's title, I'm sure parents wouldn't be so happy about the themes of animal abuse, nor you playing as a kid, making out with trans-gender mermaids and hallucinating on some shrooms. Considering the fact that we're apparently too sensitive to hear some wacky sound effect for punishing children, localizing MOTHER3 would have required more censorship than a boobie Compile Heart game even IF Earthbound had sold well (yeah not exactly oodles of Earthbound floating around on ebay). I mean, seriously Cero A rating?? Sure, if you want to tramitize some poor kid about mortality but c'mon really.

But Daren, aren't shrooms just vegetables? Doesn't count right??
Those Earthbound fans clamoring for an official English localization probably have never played this game. (Well duh, if they did, why would they still care?) While I wouldn't totally write off a possible digital English release, given the fake kid friendly image NOA is trying to maintain, I feel pretty safe putting this one on the official Jhipster smugness approved list. It's only been 11 years though, maybe they'll localize next year?

Jhipster smugness approved!
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, May 10, 2017

Dead Zone (デッドゾーン)

Yeah, don't think so.
I'm going to make this post a quick one because I really don't have much to say about Dead Zone, a Family Disk System ADV game from Sunsoft. Typical of console games from this period, the cover art is kind of deceptive as the actual graphics are pretty crude. I know this isn't PC88 Master race but still, it's 1986. Compared to Wingman from 2 years prior, this just goes to show how inferior consoles were back in the day.

Thankfully, at least cause FDS, you don't have to type anything. Even so, there's so many commands and possibilities, I would say this is another game that's almost impossible without a guide. It doesn't help that you can barely tell what you're looking at cause of the lame graphics.


LOL, that's quite a fancy plug there. Is this DirectX 12???
The puzzles are pretty intense and if you like that kind of thing, might be something that's even enjoyable. You start out in a garbage dump Star Wars style and have to make your escape by causing the walls to come closing in. You can then use the walls to climb up to the ceiling vent before it crushes you.

The game is filled with those kind of challenging puzzles if you're a masochist I guess. As for me, of course, I have no patience for that kind of thing so cheat time it is (AGAIN). Similar to Suisho no Dragon, the other FDS adventure game I've played so far, the story is pretty minimal and all is revealed in like 5 lines of dialogue at the end. I guess I was supposed to buy the game with manual if I wanted to get the whole backstory... SORRY.

Oh, well that explains why the game has no back story...
However, I have to give credit to this game for its interesting puzzles at least. The gnarliest is the final password, which Carry, your robot companion claims is 1215225. The real password is 1311825 and the reason I found was on a random Japanese blog.

数字はアルファベットの並び順。キャリーが言っているのは「12=L、15=O、22=V、5=E」で「LOVE」となり、正しい方は「13=M、1=A、18=R、25=Y」で「MARY」である。

Lies, just like the cake. Damn robots.
Also, there's a weird mini-game intermission kinda thing in the middle where you have to catch onigiri being thrown by an old guy. Weird.

Is there some mythos I don't know about that explains this?
Score: 1.5 well at least the title screen and box art looked good out of 5.

There's nothing exactly wrong with this game besides the ho-hum graphics and lackluster story. It could be a good game to try if you like nigh impossible puzzles solved strictly by selecting menu options. Oh well, at least the title and ending looked cool.


Oh man, this game is going to be SO COOL.

Well, at least the ending was cool...

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