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Thursday, April 27, 2017

In search of GOTY for 1986

Oh my god, as if to make up for the dearth of games in 1985, 1986 can be pretty much considered a gamer's paradise (if you were rich) of the 80s. The Famicon Disk System launched in February and pumped out some mega hits including Zelda as a launch title. Meanwhile, the PC Master race was not to be outdone either with tempting titles from both sides of the Pacific.

As for the Famicon, it's still firmly in the camp of arcade style games that are designed to make you want to murder somebody, for example fucking Goonies. Now I loved the movie primarily cause of the smart Asian kid with the gadgets but the game not so much. I played a bunch of the Famicon games released in 1986 like Goonies and Kage no Densetsu much later with that shady 100 games-in-one cart Korean console and well, needless to say, I wasn't impressed.

Fuck this game, fuck it to hell

As for me, besides some odd titles I've played on other people's expensive PC hardware (C64, etc.), this was the start of my childhood nostalgia rose-tinted glasses of the mighty Master System. While early shooters are kind of dated now, at the time I played the SHIT out of Astro Warrior. That and of course Space Harrier are the games of 1986 that made up my childhood. Now, I didn't have/rent these games IN 1986 (duh, these are Japanese release dates) but these are the games I grew up with probably around the late '80s. Yeah, pre-orders and scummy resellers weren't really a thing in the golden age.

As for Space Harrier, while the vanilla arcade port came out in 1986, I believe I must've had the later 3D version cause I remember killing my eyes with those glasses. Come to think of it, that might have something to do with why I can't see shit anymore. Ah, the good ol' thrilling days of rampant lead paint and potentially life-threatening toys before all this Obama death panel government interference!

We wore these while licking lead off GI Joe figures but somehow still not as dumb as SJW millennial kids nowadays

However, I'm not a dumb kid anymore and have far more sophisticated tastes, so let's see which games have the best boobies... er... I mean have the best expression of gameplay aesthetics... and... interactivity... and stuff....

Family Computer Disk System

I bet the game looks just like this!
There's a lot to like in the FDS's offerings in 1986 that are obvious contenders for GOTY, mainly Legend of ZeldaAkumajou Dracula (aka Castlevania for the non-Jhipsters), and Metroid. That's quite a hefty lineup for a peripheral, especially during its very first year on the market. For the serious Japanese gamer able to blow ¥15,000, it's a must own item as Zelda and Akumajou Dracula didn't get FC ports for many, many years. Metroid never got ported at all, you would have needed to wait till 2004 to play on the GBA!

I played through a few levels of Akumajou Dracula and I can't deny that it's fun. I certainly got good at avoiding those pesky flying Medusa heads. But not GOTY mostly due to my genre preferences.

Also on the FDS, I played an adventure game called Dead Zone. While the cover and art style outside of the game looked good, the game itself was brutally difficult and had a minimal story like many adventure games during this time. It was just so-so.

The Legend of Zelda

I was definitely late to the party with this one but I can add my voice to the consensus that the first Zelda game is a timeless classic that was amazing for its time. It's still fun to play today and very close to being my GOTY.

Technically I haven't played Metroid yet but I did beat the GBA remake. It's almost a completely different game so I can't say too much about the original version. However, I just couldn't really bring myself to play through it after the oh so much better remake.


I feel like 1986 is a good year to check out Champion Soft's lineup. Even though they have a couple games going all the way back to 1983, it's a bit too dated even for me. Zeta, on the other hand, is a very interesting idea of bundling a magazine with software in probably one of the earliest if not the first example of virtual idols. The software even has a contest for favorite idol conducted by sending in a postcard from the magazine (it might be a tad bit late to send now). The Disk Magazine was published biannually until 1987 with a total of 5 volumes. Considering the big cultural impact virtual idols have had in Japan from the likes of Hatsune Miku, Love Live, etc., Zeta is definitely a noteworthy game for GOTY just in historical terms.

This is vol 1, issue 2, the only picture I could find online

If you've never heard of Champion Soft, you may have heard of their brand AliceSoft, which I thought was the name of the company for the longest time. Champion Soft is still around and is the developer responsible for AliceSoft (the brand). So definitely a lineup to keep an eye out for in terms of Jhipster gaming history.

Space Quest: The Sarien Encounter

It seems Sierra On-line is still the dominant pioneer in the English-speaking adventure genre and boy, did they knock it out the park with the hilarious new series: Space Quest. Yeah, they also released the rather simplistic licensed game The Black Cauldron and yet another King's Quest but Space Quest is one of the series that I actually played and loved growing up, playing with my friend on his (rich) parent's Tandy on EGA graphics or whatever.

I loved the premise of Roger Wilco's anti-hero persona as you play a loser janitor on an accidental adventure to save the universe. As a bullied nerd, this was the perfect game to release some stress, er, I mean if I WAS a bullied nerd. Of course, as a super popular stud surrounded by chicks, I can only guess but I bet some poor nerd would have really enjoyed this game.

One of the best premise for an amazing series of adventure games
I would say in almost any other year, Space Quest I would be a no-brainer for GOTY but alas, 1986 is not just any year and there are some heavy contenders this time around. However, it at least deserves an honorable mention.


Not to be outdone by the competition, Square released Alpha this year and so far I would rank it as their best Adventure game by far. Leagues ahead of Death Trap and Death Trap II, it features probably some of the best graphics (boobs) on the PC88 and it's not just ONE picture like Enix's scammy Zarth. In addition to some nice puzzles (boobs), it has a decent story (boobs), a nice OP theme song (boobs), and even a bit of animation. This definitely would have been a contender for GOTY if it came out in weaker year.

Like one nipple away from GOTY

Dragon Quest

While I gave the Famicon a lot of flack for being a mediocre platformer/action home console, there is one major exception. Even though all the cool games such as Metroid and Zelda were being released on the Famicon Disk System this year, surprisingly Dragon Quest came out on the regular ol' Famicon.

Reading on the Famicon? What is this? FDS wannabe??

There are countless "articles" written by some nerd in his mom's basement about how JRPGs are really CRPGs and how they are more linear because of story or some bullcrap. However, at least for our good ol' pervy friend Horii, anybody who's played Karuizawa Yukai Annai can see where Dragon Quest's roots came from. 
Pfft, so much for those Reddit/Kotaku/Polygon JRPG history "experts"

The final RPG portion of Karuizawa Yukai Annai is not so much linear, but better described as extremely primitive. You have to fight enemies in a certain order as the game balance is extremely tight and restricted. While DQ, being a full fledged RPG rather than just something tacked on the end, obviously has a lot more leeway in terms of balance, it still requires you to go to certain places in a certain order and weapon upgrades become available just when you need them.

I really enjoyed the tight balance and simple linear gameplay but I think it was more a product of simplicity and time constraints rather some stupid cultural bias as some dumb "JRPG vs WRPG" blogger would like to think. The fact is, with more ambition and budget, the next two sequels, especially 3, become much more open-ended as soon as you get the boat. Personally, it's why I hated 2 and still slogging through 3 because exploring without a clear goal with random encounters ain't so much fun when you're a busy adult. I'm sure it's great for kids to waste time on the ONE game they're stuck with for months, but no thanks, I'll stick with the good ol' simple DQ1.

While I played the SFC version, which has better music and sound so there is a little bias there. However, besides the much improved menu interface, it's still a similar experience to the original. While Zelda comes close or even tied, Dragon Quest is my GOTY for now mostly because I'm partial to RPGs.

Other games of note

VR remake candidate?
While I didn't try this game myself, 177 is a noteworthy game for perhaps being the first example of the Streisand effect in gaming. Though since no internet, the effect was a mere golf clap, this pretty simplistic and frankly bad game has the notorious distinction of being the first adult title discussed in the National Diet. No idiots, it's not some new diet fad, I'm talking about Japanese politics.

Apparently 177 is the law concerning rape and you basically just chase down a woman in the park and well... 177 away. According to Wikipedia, this game was practically pulled from the market after the Diet got wind of it. Pfft, silly politicians, I guess they didn't even know about Tenshitachi no Gogo released a year earlier, where one of the menu options is "rape". Due to the increased notoriety and the subsequent ban, this game is supposedly now a rare collector's item. Way to go collectors!

J.B. Harold no Jikenbo Murder Club
A decent detective story with standard PC-88 ADV menu action.

Suishou no Dragon
The other Square developed game in 1986, published by DOG. Maybe because it was crippled by not being on PC master race hardware, I thought it was just so-so.

Valis: The Fantasm Soldier
I played the PC Engine remake which was pretty good but the original 1986 release looks pretty rough.

Wingman 2: Kitakura no Fukkatsu
Not a bad sequel but there are better ADV games.

Ganbare Goemon! Karakuri Dōchū
I spent a few hours playing the first Goemon game given that it's a fairly extensive franchise. I didn't beat it but it was certainly one of the better action games for this year. Having small, first-person mazes was nice distraction. However, it does get a bit repetitive after the first few levels and there are no bosses or anything of the sort.

Games I plan to try later

King's Quest III: To Heir Is Human
マドゥーラの翼 レイラ

Monday, April 17, 2017

Gitaroo Man Live!(ギタルマン ライブ!)

Somehow, I had never heard of Gitaroo Man until this month as it comes free with PS Plus. Now, I would never waste my precious money on these "free" games that are only playable if you continue paying each month but Play Asia had multiple promotions making PSN yen really cheap and there was some PS plus discounts that were worth more than the cost of a month of Plus itself and ANYWAY, long story short, how the FUCK have I never heard about Gitaroo Man until now? I mean, Koei published a rhythm game?? Whoa!

Awww yeah, time to fuckin' battle with MUZAK!!!
Gitaroo Man Live! is the PSP port of a PS2 title that to briefly sum up, is everything I wished Parappa the Rapper was but is obviously NOT. Yeah yeah, Parappa is way older and the first of its genre, blah blah sure but still doesn't change the fact that Gitaroo Man is an awesome game.

The single player story only has 10 stages so in terms of volume, there's not much more than Parappa and I was able to beat it on Normal mode in a couple days. However, my main gripe with Parappa wasn't the length but the fact that the game was broken. I watched a perfect play of a song and the rapping parts don't even match up to the song. On the other hand, Gitaroo Man's gameplay is spot on. While things get really hard, pretty darn fast, if you practice and get used to the frantic pace of the button presses, you can get through... at least on Normal mode.

Gitaroo man is lucky he didn't have to battle tenor sax, master race... instrument

Everything about the story was top notch, unlike Parappa, whose message seemed to be "You gotta believe!" and if you do, you can get away with doing whatever stupid shit you want. This game is about believing in yourself and what you can achieve with self-confidence.  I loved the voice acting, especially Puma and Kira and the playful, colorful graphics were great. As a once avid Tenor sax player before I got busy with real life, (ahem yeah real life like Gitaroo Man? Shuddap!) I'm also totally a sucker for the idea of battling opponents in a music battle.

As enjoyable as this game is, the tiny tablet sized Vita buttons killed my thumb. I never really liked the stupid tiny Vita buttons and it really makes its annoyance known when it comes to frantic rhythm games. It might be why Vita got stuck with DJMax Tecknika touchscreen bleh instead of the #BAE portable shit. Still, the PSP has that shitty nub of a analog stick so I don't know if that would be better. I would say go for the PS2 version but then you'd miss out on the two new co-op songs in Live!

Apparently the inspiration for Vita button design
So until Stage 9, I was going to give this game a score of 3.5. but the whole story with the legendary theme filled me with so much hype and emotion that hasn't been matched since watching the ending of Crossroads so many years ago, that I instantly upgraded this game to a 4. This is a great game and if you don't agree with me, well then, you're probably some sort of music philistine listening to Britney Spears or whatever the kids are listening to nowadays. (Yeah, I'm old, I GET IT!)

Crossroads: It's like Karate Kid but way better and with Devils.

I'm still working on the game in Master Mode as it's no freakin' joke. Of course, it doesn't help that my thumb is practically flat after a few hours of this game, stupid Vita tablet buttons. And I still have to check out the two Live! exclusive multiplayer songs. Since I have no friends, I'm going to see if there's a way to play it by myself in adhoc mode on the Vita. Anyways, while short, any fans of music games should definitely give this one a try as it's a great game. Wouldn't it be great if we got a full HD remake on PS4 with trophy support? Naw, let's remake shitty Parappa instead. Bitter? Who me?

Score: 4 I probably should've learned guitar instead of accordion, then maybe I'd have my own Pico-chan out of 5

As a Jhipster, I did take a brief look at some English gameplay and man, the voice acting is a severe downgrade. It's stupid they call him "You One". His name is Yu-ichi which of course is a pun but you know, I guess that doesn't work so well in English. Anyways, best to stick to the Japanese version, AS USUAL.

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, April 12, 2017

In search of GOTY for 1985

Yeah yeah yeah, 1985, NES launch, OMG Super Mario Bros!!!!! OMG OMG OMG, Nintendo has single-handedly saved the vidya game industry! Miyamoto IS MY GOD!!!! YAAAAAAAAWN

This is so me as I'm typing this. Yeah, I'm a fucking dog. PLOT TWIST!
Meanwhile, the FC has entered a second full year of its lineup and I can't help but reaffirm my suspicion that yeah, I'm not really into platformers. I remember my sister talking about playing a game at a friend's house involving mushrooms, stomping on turtles, etc. and I was like, "Dude, did YOU eat a mushroom?" (Paraphrasing as my knowledge of psychedelic drugs at the time was limited)

I played this as a kid decades ago and thought it was as dumb as I do today

I did eventually play Super Mario Bros at some friend's house but I don't remember being particularly impressed. However, given the historical significance, it IS the obvious choice for GOTY so let's see if there's anything else in 1985 that could top it. Given that the Master System's 1985 launch lineup of sports games is not exactly GOTY material, we'll have to dive into the PC MASTER RACE.

While this makes me sad about his early passing, Balloon Fight still not GOTY material

King's Quest II

I tried the 2010 VGA remake which is completely different from the original. This game deserves bonus kudos points just based on the fact AGD interactive offers a remake for free with permission from Sierra. Still, while King's Quest was my GOTY for 1984 based on its revolutionary graphics, and even though the remake is great, the original sequel didn't add too much from the first game.

It's not 1984 anymore, not good enough for GOTY. Sorry grandma.
In the first game, you become King of Daventry by finding some shit around the kingdom. In the sequel, you get horny, so you set out to find a woman. I'm paraphrasing but that's essentially the plot of the game. The VGA remake adds a bunch of additional plot and is worth a playthrough but the original is not what I would call GOTY.

Tenshitachi no Gogo (天使たちの午後)

Readers of this blog know I would never dare to sully myself with eroge but due to my self-proclaimed title of Japanese game historian and archivist, I feel I have to mention Tenshitachi no Gogo, supposedly a pioneer in the bishōjo/galge genre. According to random guy on internet, Jast was originally in some sort of computer equipment business so they were the first to scan high quality art into umm... ascii porn using fancy (for the 80s) scanning equipment.

You may have heard of Jast USA, and if you have not, I do not suggest googling them at work. Sadly, the original Jast that the USA brand was associated with is no longer with us, which is kinda ironic given that Jast USA is happily chugging along to this day.

Praying for the arrest of the local serial rapist?
Of course, if I were to play this game, I would opt for the PC98 master race remake in the Tenshitachi no Gogo collection. However, since I did NOT touch this filth, I have no idea that you play pretty much a serial rapist. Not exactly the most subtle and touching love story. Simpler times... I GUESS? Anyways, the collection doesn't come out till a decade later so why am I putting this screenshot here? (clicks, clicks, click$$$$$!)

PC98 Master race don't wear pants cause static

Karuizawa Yukai Annai(軽井沢誘拐案内)

So for GOTY of 1985, I'm going to have to go for Karuizawa Yukai Annai (at least for now). While I didn't give it a very high score, there's really not much in contention that I could find for this year, perhaps due to the NES hype. Well, except for Ultima IV, which I have yet to play so this GOTY position is certainly tentative depending on how much I enjoy Ultima.

Plus, I gave King's Quest GOTY for the previous year even though Hokkaido blah blah had a far better story so I feel as the last entry in the series before we lose the creator to mainstream DQ, this game and the series as a whole deserve 1985's GOTY.
It's pervy lighthearted fun, and is an overall interesting title both for its gameplay and its place in gaming history. On top of that, nobody talks about it so GOTY it is. YAY!! (Yeah, nobody cares, I know.)

Other games I tried

WILL The Death Trap II
The only Square developed offering in 1985 (Thexder was just licensed and not made by Square I guess). While the title screen looked good, it was a step backwards in many ways to the first Death Trap and extremely short.

Games I plan to try later

Ring Quest
Ultima IV: Quest of the Avatar
ルパン三世 -カリオストロの城-

Karuizawa Yukai Annai(軽井沢誘拐案内)

Though light on narrative, the ending of Hokkaidou rensa satsujin blah blah definitely left an impression on me and will probably go down as the best adventure game of 1984. Though it did not make GOTY simply due to the genre defining technical achievement of King's Quest, so far, it was definitely the game I enjoyed most from that year.

So of course, I had to check out the 3rd entry in Horii Yuji's Mysteries trilogyKaruizawa Yukai Annai. At least this time, the title is far easier to memorize and it is a very curious title: Karuizawa kidnap guide. Never have I seen the word "kidnap" paired with "guide" before. I hope it doesn't trigger some FBI search alert... oops, I guess writing about the FBI doesn't help me here. Anyways, since there is no PC98 Master race remake, I will delve into the original PC88 version. Oh wait, there's a phone app remake? Let's see...

OMG, I just literally barfed RIGHT in my mouth just now
Wow, Square, you've somehow managed to make a game from 1985 look WORSE on a phone with probably about 1000x better hardware. That's... quite an achievement. BRAVO! Ok anyways, let's get on to the OG PC88 Master race.

So this is a heart breaking mystery murder adventure like the last game right??
In the last game, you played as a detective investigating a series of murders by ordering around your slightly perverted detective underling. Right off the bat, I have a feeling Kuruizawa Yukai Annai is going for a slightly different tone.

Man, I can't wait to solve a thrilling mystery!
But I can't quite put my finger on just what feels different about this game.

So is this a game where I need an emergency ESC in case my mom walks in?
This time around, you play as a regular Joe Blow vacationing with your girlfriend at a cabin in you guessed it: Karuizawa (OMG PLOT TWIST!). After you get frisky with your GF (that's always a good way to start a game), she worries that her younger sister Nagisa hasn't returned from an errand to buy some soy sauce. The police doesn't seem interested and thinks she just went off wandering somewhere and will be back soon. So you and your GF decide to take matters into your own hands and set off to find her.

I'm still trying to figure out what feels different about this game...
The controls are very smooth in this game. You can do everything from the 8-directional keypad and Yuji added a map this time. This works better with the narrative that you're roaming around town, looking for Nagisa-chan.

Was gonna put screenshot of map but still trying to pin down what's different
Thanks to the lack of infinite possibilities of a text input adventure game, I think this game is very doable without a guide. I still used a guide though cause fuck it, I don't have time to wander around aimlessly, looking for Nagisa-chan. However, the big exception are the parts where you have to find shit on the screen. It's like there's exactly one TINY spot which has the item and it's totally invisible. Even knowing the invisible item was there, it took me forever to actually find it. So in short, this game is pretty much impossible without a guide in the later chapters.

The search icon is a heart? Hmm... is the game trying to tell me something?
Finally, we get to the last chapter and funny ol' Yuji decides to put a barebones, crappy RPG in the mix. The only moves that are effective is for Kumiko to blow a kiss, Asami to show her "panti" and you do all the fighting. You have to defeat the guys in the right order and even then, you may need to save and retry if you're not lucky. Needless to say, I wasn't super impressed.

Panti RPG is a good idea but lacking a bit in execution
Score: 2 just make it a freakin' eroge Yuji and stop teasing already out of 5.

As the final 3rd entry in the Yuji's mystery series, I guess I can look at this as his final goodbye to ero as he cleans himself up to make a little known series of games called Dragon Quest. I can see why the previous entry is way more popular as it has a far superior story and human drama. Still, this one was a playful and somewhat funny title and while not the best story, it has some of the best art for it's time and deserves at least a play through.

Fuck it, GOTY. Why the hell not?
Dude, what are you doing with Kumiko?! Nagisa is OBVIOUSLY the way to go!
Bye pervert Yuji, we'll miss you.
This picture included with game is the clue to the final puzzle before the RPG bit
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, April 7, 2017


If you're a long-time reader of this blog, first of all, you have excellent taste and second, you may have noticed just the slightest hint of fondness for Imageepoch. It's not like I planned things that way. I only noticed much later that many of the games I really dug and enjoyed just happened to share the same name.
You may be gone but your spirit lives on... I hope. Sigh...
I was super bummed when the company disappeared (whatever happened to the CEO btw?) but thankfully other companies are picking up the slack. Fate/EXTELLA was just announced and even though it sounds like an action Musou clone (MEH), I'm still hopeful for a good game. At least it's a good excuse to revisit the first game.

Hopeful Fate/EXTELLA will be OK at least story-wise despite this action bullshit
When I first played Fate/EXTRA, my only exposure to the Fate franchise was the Fate/stay night anime and I thought it was boring as hell. Shirou was one of the most whiniest, annoying characters only a bit better than Shinji from Evangelion (aka "the crying masturbator") and Saber was like that super annoying straight edge girl in college who probably should've gone to a dry campus. So you won't hear me raving and drooling over this game just because of the franchise. In fact, I actually came in a bit skeptical but I was quickly pulled in by the very unorthodox premise.

Wha-? You calling ME the NPC?? THE NERVE! Sure, my avatar is super generic but I HAVE FEELINGS!
What I really liked about this game is that you're not some super special hero destined to save the world AGAIN. Ok ok, you start off with amnesia (oh that's a new one) but I loved how everybody just treats you like NPC trash (aka mob-chara if you ask some fucking weaboos). Everyone assumes you're going to die in every battle and it was awesome to see their shocked faces every time you come out alive. They're all like, "WTF?? You're still here??"

Gameplay-wise, the boss battles are definitely the highlight. The regular battles are very simple, pretty much rock-paper-scissor. The environments and regular enemies are super low-budget, very generic and often recycled. You level up very quickly at each new dungeon but there's a huge drop off so you can't grind really. This makes the later boss battles fairly challenging. Between just plain luck, trying to anticipate the boss's moves as well as timing your own special attacks, and making good use of your items, the boss battles are what makes this game fun. Yes, you actually need to use ITEMS in this game!

The music is smooth as hell... just like yours truly

You can choose between 3 servants and so far I've only played through the game with Saber. But man, she's SOOOO much cooler than Fate/stay night. She's deliciously decadent and is totally the opposite of the annoying, straight-edge, frigid Saber character from the anime. I am replaying the game with Caster and there's a couple boss battles and options that you can choose differently in a second playthrough so there is some replayability. A 3rd playthrough is stretching it a bit though.

UPDATE: Since it's been a while and I forgot a lot of the story, I went ahead and beat this game a second time with Caster and it was just as much fun as I remember. I even beat the secret hidden boss that only unlocks on the second playthrough and boy was that fight TOUGH! If you want to win as Caster, you pretty much have to cast a spell almost every turn as the boss can and WILL kill you with one devastating move. However, the battle won't end early enough for your MP to last so that's something you have to figure out. Anyways, great game and I'm sure I'll play it for a final 3rd time a few years later again.

Caster, you're the only waifu for me! Really!

Score: 3.5 Ha, paper beats rock! Wait, why is there a sword in my chest?? GAAAAAH! out of 5 (80 hours to beat twice with Saber and Caster)

I think Fate/EXTRA could have really used some more budget. Despite being a very story heavy TYPE-MOON game, there are far too few voiced lines. I actually had to read or something. (WTF is this "read" shit??) The environments are extremely limited and while the regular battles are kinda relaxing in a way, paper-rock-scissor isn't something to get excited about.

However, I really enjoyed the story despite all the reading and the boss battles were fun as hell. The music was good and overall, I had a great time with the game. I'm going to enjoy replaying it now it's been a few years and a bit more fresh.

Fate/EXTRA is available in English but not dubbed. Even though non-Jhipsters have to read ALL the text, with the large volume of unvoiced dialogue, I guess this time I can sympathize... a bit. LOL, you poor non-Jhipsters.

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

Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA 2nd(初音ミク -Project DIVA- 2nd)

So as I write this blog post, I guess Dingo Inc. recently went belly up, which is really unfortunate because I really dug their lineup. Fortunately, none of the games they worked on were published by them so there should be no issues with availability of their catalog. Still, it's unfortunate to see another cool shop go down while stupid ass DeNA is chugging away with their diarrhea bullshit. Gamers these days...

I gotta keep this recurring theme going, ya know
Anyways, with a drink to our fallen comrade, let's dig into Project DIVA 2nd. To quickly sum up DIVA 2nd (and yes I'm going to keep using CAPS because that's the official title), it's basically what I feel like the first game should've been and pretty much renders the previous game completely unnecessary to own. I'm still keeping it though cause collectors...

Man, I bet his girlfriend is feeling soooo lucky...
First of all, they added an auto-save feature. Jesus, I can't believe they didn't have that in the first game. Not only that, DIVA 2nd also has ALL the modules from the first game and pretty much every song except for a few I really didn't care about anyway. On top of that, they enhanced the gameplay with the standard elements you expect in a Diva game, namely long button holds and the W double key press. In addition, the left directional pad is now interchangeable with the right keys allowing you to press all 8 keys alternately as you see fit. Pretty much the basics of all the newer Diva games. Finally, there's a harder difficulty mode EXTREME that the first game did not have.

Finally, a real rhythm game.
So not only do you get most of the songs from the first game but you get those songs with better gameplay and a new difficulty setting. On top of that, of course you have EVEN MORE modules and a smattering of songs completely new to 2nd. Also, for songs that feature 2 characters, you now have a way to choose the second character as well. You want to play a Rin and Len song with Haku and Luka? Go for it! They also added a few more key sounds instead of just the standard tambourine-ish sound. I always turn that key sound off cause I'm a music PURIST but a welcome improvement for some.

Wait, wasn't this song in the first game? Yes, but it's EXTREME now!

Finally, the other major change is the introduction of in-game currency to unlock modules and room accessories. No, don't worry, this game is still from the golden age of gaming so I'm not talking about some microtrans BULLSHIT. Basically, instead of those tedious module unlock requirements from the first game that made you play a song you weren't particularly fond of 5 times or EVERY SONG to unlock those silly swimsuits, you can play whatever song you like to acquire points to unlock modules. While I would've enjoyed the achievement style unlocking if the achievements weren't so boring, I appreciate the flexibility of this new model.

But don't fret! All that time I spend playing EVERY song FOUR TIMES to unlock 4 swimsuits was not in vain as you can import your original save and get all those modules unlocked in this game right from the start. Since the first game has a good number of modules and those swimsuits do cost a fair amount of points, you can save a heap of time this way. I mean if you ignore the heap of time I wasted just to see Luka and Meiko in a swimsuit. (Shuddap! It was totally worth it!)

Can you imagine, you can unlock all this GRATIS? Ahh, those were the days.

Of course, the meat of this game are the new songs and they don't disappoint. It's a matter of personal taste but I much preferred the song selection this time around as I felt it had catchier songs that sounded more "professional" (or "commercial" for the music indie hipsters). The visual were great as well with a lot of lively animation and heaps of that moe goodness (complete with naganegi stick).

This was probably one of the funnest (and funniest) songs to watch.

Really, if you're remotely into rhythm games, vocaloid music, and especially any of the newer DIVA games, you can't go wrong with this one. It took the technology of the first game and refined the mechanics into a solid winner of a rhythm game. You can skip the first one but this is definitely a keeper (or buy both if you're a hoarder... err I mean collector).

There's other features such as the PV editor which I don't touch because I suck at that kind of thing but you can see a preview of it in this nice trailer by Sega.

Score: 3.5 but really, they're just recycling all the songs from the first game! Shhhhh SHUDDAP!! out of 5

If you're coming into 2nd right after finishing the first Project DIVA game like me, you may feel a slight wave of disappointment every time you unlock a new song and it's a song you just finished playing. However, if you're coming into this game new, you'll be pleasantly surprised by a generous list of songs with great visuals and the large number of cute modules you can unlock BY PLAYING THE GAME. OMG, you greedy gamer, will you think of all the DLC money the poor publisher must have lost on this game???!!! Don't worry, you can still purchase additional songs as DLC, KACHING!

Pre-order limited edition EXCLUSIVE DLC that will only be valid the first week of release!!!

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

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Great Ace Attorney(大逆転裁判 -成歩堂龍ノ介の冒險-)

For some reason, I have no trouble getting through Ace Attorney games as this must be the only game series on the market that I'm actually mostly caught up on (minus crossover stuff). In fact, the reason why I haven't written about all the AA games is because I finished them long before I started this blog and don't really remember the details too well.

So when Daigyakuten Saiban was announced, I could've bought it and played it right away buuuuut, AA5 was such a disappointment, I was wary of the franchisement of the series ala in the style of "Ass creed" and COD. Anyways, I steered away for a while because reviews suggested the story was half-finished. Sure enough, with the announcement of the sequel aka "ok, hopefully this time they finished the game for real", I thought it was about time to get my objection addiction fix in.

I don't even remember all the countless references to this series
My first impression as I started the game with wary skepticism was got dayum, the music is good. The AA soundtrack really needs to be fully orchestral and finally, we have the technology to make the music come alive.

Thank goodness Nintendo is finally getting modern technology!
Just listen to that sweet Contrabass

Beside the sweet soundtrack, I really liked the fresh 20th century setting. I think the franchising of Naruhodo Ryuichi is really what made AA5 so dull and tired and Capcom really should've ended it with that character (but I'm sure Marketing/Sales had different opinions). Anyways, who cares about all that shit. It's WAIFU TIME!!!

Susato: My AA #1 Waifu
The highlight of this game is definitely Mikotoba Susato. Her grace, her Yamato nadeshiko mannerisms, a delicate and yet strong willpower. Oh man, everything about her makes me want to travel back in time to Japan before the advent of Gyaru-go. Ugh, JK nowadays are so tensage.

Git your "chou yaba yaba gachi" shit out my face, HO!!

As for the meat of the game, the plot, well, there's a lot of filler cases. Except for the god game AAI2, we all know the first case is just your typical tutorial filler but honestly, even though I haven't played the sequel, I'm 99% sure case 2 AND case 4 are pretty much filler as well. So if you consider 60% of the game is filler, yeah, I can see why they "needed" to split it into two games. Only by case 5, does the story START to get interesting and so really, in this first game, you're just left enjoying Susato's mannerisms and the music. Fun times, but not much more than that.

Please marry me Susato!

However, the story is not nearly as unfinished as the Japanese reviews suggest. Yeah, it leaves some questions unanswered for the next game but I was expecting the game to end at any moment out of nowhere based on how pissed some of the reviewers were. Given the complete lack of taste of Japanese gamers nowadays, maybe they should've added some gacha cards and suckered people out of several thousands of yen to review more favorably? Anyways, while this game is not as good as the best AA games, it's certainly better than 5 and a bit better than 4. Given that this is a Capcom franchise now, I don't think you can expect much more than that.

I do find it interesting to finally play a AA game with juries instead of the usual bench rulings. Even though AA4 hinted at adding juries, it's funny we had to go back in time to finally experience it.

Score: 3 I dunno I'll have to wait and see how shit plays out so 3 for now out of 5? (35 hours to beat)
Bonus 0.5 point for #1 AA waifu Susato and OST

After the disappointment of AA5, I really don't expect too much from AA games anymore in terms of the story department. The best I can hope for is casual fun times with likeable characters and maybe even some moe. In that regard, Daigyakuten Saiban fully delivers even though the cases themselves are mostly underwhelming. Even for the ladies, I'm mean I'm not gay or anything but Holmes and the prosecutor are pretty damn hot. Just wait till you see Holmes without his hat.

At least I can add this to the shrinking list of Jhipster Japanese exclusive titles. If you're wondering why Capcom is quoted as saying they "can't localize" this title, I think a recent Sherlock Holmes lawsuit settlement might be a very good plausible explanation. To sum it up, we Americans are consumerism slaves to our corporate overlords and lawyer shark jokes, etc. etc.. Ahem, anyways, time for the obligatory Jhipster smug seal of approval on this never to be localized Japanese gem candidate if they don't fuck up the second sequel half of the game.

Jhipster smugness seal of approval
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