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Friday, February 16, 2018

Dragon Knight(ドラゴンナイト)

Dragon Knight is a DRPG where you save the kingdom/town of Strawberry Fields by defeating Dragon Knights. No literally. Dragons that are also knights (spoiler alert?). Personally, I think the game would have been much better if it had SPACE Dragon Knights but I digress.

The knight jumps into the dragon's mind... or something
Because I'm retro old-school, I first played through the original PC version. Not surprising for this type of game, but the kingdom/town is comprised solely of women. Now, I'm not sure how that works since Luna's mother is in the game and hence they must have some way to reproduce. Either they have some secret scissor magic (LOL) or maybe they hire out for some umm... outside help.

Luna, hate to break the news but your dad is... um... a test tube
One of the major problems with the PC88 version were the long load times and significant lag. The game was sluggish even at a blazing FOUR MHz so I dialed up the juice in my emulator all the way up to eight, count em EIGHT MHz!! Maybe the PC98 version is much better but I always have issues with those emulators.

There's really not much to say about this game except that it's a very, very simple RPG with one attack and one heal spell, no items, and limited equipment. Now, as far I as I could tell, there is no automap feature and while I would love to map stuff out myself (ugh no), I have a life so I looked up the maps on the Suupaa Information Highway.

Nothing like a BACKLER to fend off them monsters
It's essentially a DRPG version of 闘神都市 except without all that sex. In fact, there is no sex whatsoever as you're practically a saint, saving all these women from the goodness of your heart. #WhiteKnight #FriendZone #ClosetSexOffender

What? Clothing? THE NERVE!
Unless you're really insistent on seeing some nipples, it's better to just play the PCE CD remake as it has an expanded story and nothing is cut. In fact, a lot of stuff has been added including bits of fabric or hair in some key strategic spots. I do have to point out that the the PC R-18 version has one image that probably won't be legal today thanks to America's proud work in changing the Japanese sexist laws. Thanks America! I won't put up the image of the match girl here so you'll have to play yourself if you're curious.

Is that one pixel going to make this blog NSFW??
I have to admire the fact that this game has different music for each of the 6 dungeon floors but man, PC88 music is not something you want to jam to for any length of time. I would put a link to one of the songs but nope, here's another screenshot, you horn dog!

There's like 3 other characters that look identical to this one
The PCE CD version is quite a faithful remake as all the dungeon maps are the same EXCEPT oddly enough the 6th floor. In addition to adding SUUPAA CD-ROM POWER voice acting, the game balance was also significantly tweaked. In general, the PCE version is almost TOO easy except for the weird difficulty spike at the black dragon. I grinded for a while there just to discover you only need to survive a few turns to win. MEH

Pretty much the same as PC except for, well try to guess.
Because of the addition of voiced dialogues, you can no longer change the main character's name from Takeru. A fair amount of dialogue was added with some minor plot changes including dialogue lines to hint at a larger story. Another big change is the ability to have a second party member. There's quite a few lines of dialogue in the original version where the main character complains that nobody ever tags around to help. I guess the developers took this to heart and decided to address his complaints. Also, the remake has automap though since I knew where everything was at this point, it was kind of moot (except the 6th floor).

This screenshot makes this look like an actual decent RPG
Score: 2.5  you're probably still googling "match girl" aren't you? out of 5.

I would say this game was a 2.5 including the remake given that it's based on a game from 1989. Yeah, the mechanics are dead simple but sometimes I'm in a mood to play a brain dead RPG without having to think about complicated shit like um... items. I had fun with it even though it's not a great game by any means.

SJWs in a rage right now might want to listen to these lyrics

Some extra screen shots cause, "Hey, I need to make some clickbait revenue too you know!!" I AM a "professional" after all!!

Pretty much the same as PC except for well... what do YOU think?
I tried to go back to the town and NUTHIN
Yeah, I actually finished this shit... TWICE. Don't know why
Next time, I'll probably just stick with the console shit

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, February 9, 2018

Valis II(ヴァリスⅡ)

I thought Valis II on the PCE CD was also a remake of the MSX/PC88/Sharp X68k, etc. PC versions and that it was simply made before the remake of the first game. Fortunately, Wikipedia (.jp of course) set me straight and it was actually developed simultaneously by an entirely different team. The PCE CD version dropped the 「夢幻戦士」 part of the title and was named simply Valis II.

As a result, this is almost essentially an entirely different game and I guess there are pretty large differences in the plot was well (my in-depth 5 min wikipedia research). While I thought the cut scenes were awesome, the story in the PCE CD version made very little sense to me. Still, I have to give this one props for being WAY AHEAD of its time technically at least in the home console market (hail PC(88) master race). To have fully voiced cut scenes at the height of the FC days really makes those kids playing Goemon 2 or whatever seem like, well child's play.

Yeah, the window is small but try comparing it to FC games from 1989
Plus, Yuko is a strong female protagonist bad ass this time around so you can't go wrong with that... oh but bikini armor... never mind! Japan it seems was still stuck in the middle ages when it comes to women's rights. Thank god America had it all figured out by then.  #MeToo. #TooSoon?

NOT SJW approved
The music was pretty darn good as well and this game is worth a play-through perhaps just for the soundtrack alone. Given that this game came out in 1989, in the context of the time, this is a pretty damn awesome game. However, by today's standards, the biggest problem is that actual game itself isn't the best platformer out there.

Not gonna lie, I was jamming during this tune

I'm going to be straight up honest here. Since I discovered the save state feature in the PCE emulator on the Vita while playing Valis I, I couldn't help but use it heavily for the sequel. Yeah, I technically cheated but the game was not good enough in my mind to expend the same amount of energy replaying over and over, the "correct" way. Especially when you consider those god damn annoying tiny floating spikes on fucking moving platforms in Act 5.

No seriously, fuck this shit
Playing this after the first remake was quite a step back in terms of both the in-game graphics and gameplay. Not just the lack of skirt physics, there is no longer a slide kick but the biggest problem was that the sword powers were very unbalanced. The power that can grow to the height of your character was so much more superior to all the other powers, that you want to avoid getting anything else at all costs. The projectile is huge and it even swallows incoming projectiles unlike the rest of the dinky, weak powers. My favorite homing missile from the first game was especially disappointing as it barely even homed and only fires one missile at a time even at max strength.

Score: 2.5 I guess the world wasn't ready for skirt physics before the 90s out of 5

I scored this one above the 2 mediocre score mostly because of its superior cut scenes and CD capabilities before even the SFC came out. Like many fellow non-Jhipsters, my first full CD-ROM experience came many years later with Myst on a machine that cost several thousands of dollars. It must have been real nice to be a Jhipster back in the day. Yeah, this game was localized I guessed and released on the TurboGrafx-CD in 1990 but who had one of those? Also, who wants that awful English dub anyways?

Me back in the day when I didn't know Japanese
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, February 1, 2018

AKIBA'S TRIP PLUS(アキバズトリップ・プラス)

AKIBA'S TRIP PLUS is the enhanced version of the first game on the PSP, not to be mistaken for the sequel, which was localized without the 2 (ala FF2 vs FF4). This game, unfortunately for the non-Jhipsters, has never been officially localized and probably never will be.

As avid readers of this blog would know, I've seen some dumb ass English titles so it's refreshing to see a title that actually makes sense and is even a clever play on words (albeit in ALL CAPS AGAIN). The way the title is formatted: AKIBA'STRIP, makes it pretty obvious that it was intentional. (No, it's not "Aki bast rip", dumbass.) I was pretty stoked for this game for the #gamergate clickbait revenue... err I mean for the clever concept but unfortunately, it didn't quite live up to the hype.

This image is featured in my doctorate thesis that your tax dollars paid for. #journalism
First of all, even though the game is really short (I was able to beat it in a little over 10 hours), it took me YEARS to finally finish it. My biggest mistake was starting the game as I do all games on hardcore gamer difficulty. However, this is one of those games with multiple endings and a new game+ mode so starting the game on the harder difficulty was a very bad idea. If you had asked me how the gameplay was after the first 10 hours, I would've said it sucked donkey balls. Of course, no professional reviewer would state such strong opinions without playing through the entire game, right? (*cough shitaku cough*)

Honestly, with these textures, I'm not surprised it's only Cero C
Now that I've completed the entire game including all the endings, I can say that the combat becomes a lot more fun after you buy all the upgrades scattered throughout the various stores in town. My weapon of choice is the boxing gloves. If you hold R to always block, you look like a boxer. Once you unlock all the moves, you can skip around while blocking (aka "footwork") to dodge or you can block and go in for a 1-2 counter combo.

Definitely give this one time to unlock all the mechanics before you judge the combat as it starts out as a shitty "button mash and hope for the best" type of game in the beginning. And whatever you do, DON'T try to finish all the 5-star side quests on gamer difficulty without figuring out how to upgrade your equipment. This is done by selling weapons and clothes you stripped with +1 or more stats. This makes upgrades available in the junk store which you can use to add stats to your current equipment.

The OG version must have sucked pretty bad

As for the plot, there's a fair chunk of dialogue and all of the main story lines are voiced in this enhanced plus version. The story was nothing special but it was entertaining enough. I really like the artwork and illustrations even though the in-game models didn't really live up to the character design.

This game has a total of 5 different endings and I ended up playing through the game 3 times to see all the endings as they each have quite a bit of story. The first time was because I was playing blind and didn't know what I was doing. The second time, I figured out how to upgrade my equipment and decided to carry it over onto the third playthrough in order to save enough money to give to your imouto to unlock her ending. If you look up where the branching paths are, you can reach all the endings in two playthrough by keeping additional saves at the correct points.

Oh yeah, imouto time is BACK
One really neat aspect of new game+ is the ability to choose to play as any avatar from the game. There are some minor differences in dialogue if you play as a girl vs the default male avatar. It also unlocks a new "otaku" difficulty level which I didn't bother to try without any trophies to show for it.

Given the choice, ofc I would pick a girl. Not really into men's undies.
Score: 2.5 can't wait to try out AT2 er... I mean AT1, oh not this FF number shit again! out of 5. (28 hours to beat all endings)

Yeah, the game definitely has some flaws and the concept behind this game was perhaps too much for the PSP to handle if they were hoping to go for something like an Akiba version of Ryu ga gotoku, err... excuse me, Yakuza (as non-Jhipsters call it). The map locations are extremely limited in size and while the graphics look pretty darn good for PSP standards, it didn't quite stand the test of time. Maybe Acquire didn't have the resources to make this game for the PS3.

Nevertheless, I enjoyed this fun little title after I gave it a fair shake and persevered through the first 10 extremely frustrating hours. Plus, it was successful enough to kickstart the series and the sequel looks WAY better and closer to what they originally wanted to make (though I prefer the art style in this game). I'm looking forward to checking out the rest of the series.

You goddamn riaju you.
This game is also available digitally on PSN which is the best version because you can remap the shitty mon-han camera controls to the right analogue stick on the Vita. Because I'm a sucker, I ended up getting that on top of the UMD. Of course, it's not an issue if you're a flithy emu DS3 controller pirate.

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