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Friday, April 20, 2018

Danganronpa Another Episode(絶対絶望少女 ダンガンロンパ Another Episode)

Whew! It's been a while since my last foray into the crazy world of Danganronpa, but I finally finished this odd little over-the-shoulder shooter spin off entry with puzzle mechanics and it only took me over 2 years!

That doesn't look... um... appropriate
If you've never played the first game and care about avoiding ANY spoilers, I would recommend staying far away from this game. Don't even look at the cover art as it reveals a lot of what will happen in the first game. But don't leave! I won't get into any of it and I was very deliberate in choosing the screenshots.

No shitty, hit-and-run shocking spoilers in this blog!
I usually play shooters exclusively on the PC with mouse+keyboard but I got used to this game enough to enjoy it. The shooting mechanic is slower paced and deliberate than the typical shooter. So much so, I would just categorize this as an action game with shooting and puzzle mechanics. There are a bunch of puzzle type rooms where you can defeat all the enemies in one fell swoop if you use the various bullets the "correct" way. These bullets are unlocked throughout the game though you get a sneak preview of all of them in the beginning.

The only part I didn't like was the lack of frequent save points. These save points are actually portable potties called omaru in Japanese, which sounds similar to Komaru, the main character. Anyway, it was annoying to play a portable game that you can't easily turn off at any time.

Nothing more relaxing than taking a BIG dump
Speaking of portable, the graphics look amazing on the Vita (incoming switch whiners alert!!) and the settings are the usual colorful Danganronpa style. I especially loved the nice touches for the super stylized fire and swirling sewage water.

Even sewage water looks attractive. Nice water.
Some might say that the Kamaitachi no Yoru style for all the adult characters reeks of laziness but I dunno. If it's all the same to you, I appreciated not seeing a disturbing pile of detailed corpses, personally.

This probably would have been Cero Z if not "abstracted"
The 3D characters for the main cast looked great and transitioned very well from the 2D paper Mario style of the first two games, especially Komaru. And no matter how much it tries to paint her as just an average, regular JK, I just don't buy it. I don't care what the game says, but Komaru is HAWT. Not to mention the fact that unless some genetic engineering dramatically change the average Japanese girl's anatomy in the game universe, her boob size is definitely NOT average.

Game includes profiles of all the characters with measurements (84 cm bust here)
Besides the graphics (great) and gameplay (ok), the real highlight, as you would expect from Danganronpa, is the story. I'm genuinely surprised that this didn't get censored in the West as some of the subject matter is shall we say... highly politically sensitive? Even though nothing is explicitly explained nor shown, it's still extremely touchy especially when it pertains to children (argh, phrasing!).

First game I ever played that actually has the balls to say "child porn". Argh, once again, phrasing!
But putting aside all the crazy, taboo shit, I thought the final chapter was really, really good. It went in a direction I didn't expect and I really enjoyed the plot overall as well as the character development, even though the latter was more orthodox.

The music for the series seems to be getting better and better as this one had my favorite soundtrack so far. Though the list of songs wasn't quite as long and varied as I would have liked, I'm still humming "yeah yeah yeah" as it's damn catchy. Good stuff.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, uh uh uh

The Danganronpa series has been a sleeper "HIDDEN GEM!!!" hit in the west so all the games are fully localized. Obviously, as a Jhipster, I can only scoff at the English voice acting and lame localization. There is a riddle in the game that uses wordplay about a gunman breaking dishes. Because "gun"(銃) is a homonym for "ten" and 割る not only means "break" but also "divide", the answer is to divide by ten. Unfortunately, none of that makes sense in English so here's NISA's stupid answer to the "riddle".

Ugh, so forced and stupid. English is lame #weeaboo
Score: 4 this makes Lord of the Flies sound so tame out of 5 (20 hours recorded but probably around 25 with resets)

Objectively, this one is a 3.5 above-average game and just a 3 average in the gameplay department. It would be a stretch to say that this spinoff was better than the first two main entries. But I dunno, I just really liked the last chapter and felt really satisfied at the end. So I'm going to just go with my gut and stick with 4 as a great game. No, it has nothing to do with how cute Komaru is... not even a smidgen... mostly... I mean, got dayum, she's HAWT! My score is probably not what the typical Shitaku crowd would agree with but what do they know? Jack squat, that's what.

2 Jhipster thumbs up!

Gotta love the fanart
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 6, 2018

Sol Trigger(ソールトリガー)

Sol Trigger was one of the first games I beat on the PSP so long ago that I totally forgot about it till now. Even though it's from one of my favorite but alas defunct developer Imageepoch, it wasn't one of my favorite games from them. Still, it has the usual impressive Imageepoch PSP visuals and some great animation so it definitely makes a good first impression.

If only looks were everything

Unfortunately, the gameplay was uncharacteristically well, to be frank, kind of boring. Now, it has been many years since I played and my memory is a bit hazy but this is a very vanilla RPG without a lot of depth in mechanics. Each character has abilities and you can charge them before you use it but I never found a reason NOT to charge them to the max so it was just a tedious exercise of holding R every time.

Why the hell would you NOT want to charge to max?
I still remember the story so at least it definitely made an impression. It was very... well interesting to say the least. Especially when you get to the first ending so to speak. I wouldn't say the story was good necessarily but it was definitely different. One highlight is that Ema is voiced by Hanazawa Kana. This was before she got super popular so her gyara was actually probably affordable at the time.

Kana-chan moeeeeee

The game isn't that long and the replay value is pretty limited as well. You can pick one of the girls (I picked Kana-chan ofc) and it has minor affects on some abilities for a future party member for reasons that will be apparent if you play the game.

Score: 2.5 and optional 0.5 bonus Kana-chan points cause HOTNESS out of 5 (31 hours played)

Overall, in my vague recollection of the game, I didn't come away too impressed though it wasn't a terrible game either. It was just eh, whatever. It at least tried something new in the ending department at least, if not the battle system.

LOL, like I said, it's been a while

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 4, 2018

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

So minor spoiler here but in the SFC Kyuuyaku Megami Tensei remake, when you beat the first game, it shows you going to save in the first floor of Daedalus except in a new overhead view. Then all of a sudden, it pops up an error message saying your save data was lost and that it will reset. OH noes! TIME FOR CLASS ACTION LAWSUIT!!!

Son of a-! I KNEW I shouldn't have blown the cart!
Kidding aside, the remake seamlessly starts you into the 2nd game right after you beat the first. When you start the sequel, you are actually playing the first game IN THE GAME. In fact, since you lost your save file, you have to beat the first boss again. Fortunately, it's not actually the same game. The overhead map is WAY smaller and you can beat the first boss in a fraction of the time it took in the original game.

Game in a game? Pfft! Wake me when it's in ANOTHER game... on twitch... which is an app on the character's phone.
I thought it was pretty clever how it pretends to reset your save, especially the part where it totally makes the events and all your hard work in the first game irrelevant since it all happened in a game... in this game. So much for all the Megami Tensei books and lore. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

This looks NOTHING like the first game! LAWSUIT TIME!!
Meanwhile, in the REAL world (in the game), things aren't so rosy as you are actually playing a computer game not in the comfort of a suburban home nestled in the safety of a decadent consumer capitalist economy (ie US). No, in fact, you're actually in a shelter and not the homeless kind but rather well... you can guess.

Anyway, once you leave the shelter, you'll see the biggest change from the first game which is an overhead map you'll need to travel in between the first-person dungeons. This overhead map fortunately gets rid of most of the pain of running out of MAG by dragging around demons as it does not deplete on the overhead map. You can easily grind some more MAG outside the dungeons.

Speaking of mechanics, in the first game, you don't want to spend a single point on INT for Nakajima because he can't do magic and you want to keep him dumb as a brick for optimal male barbarian bashing and smashing. (#gamergate #misandry?) This time around, they addressed this lack of balance not by actually changing the gameplay but by making you give the main character (you) at least 8 INT to beat a certain boss. Of course I didn't know this beforehand, so I had to grind a few levels. Bleh. Near the end of the game, you also have to waste even MORE INT points all the way up to 25 (20 with Masakado helmet) so you can equip Lucifer's sword and armor. The game does nothing to explain this, it just refuses to equip until you have the necessary stats.

Look at all that INT wasted on... being smart n shit. USELESS
Other than that, and the fact that you can equip guns, this game is pretty much the same in terms of lots and lots of dungeon crawling and fighting random encounters (almost always on AUTO). However, there's just a LOT more dungeons as this game is much larger and longer to beat.

The fusion system is also a lot more complicated and I had to do quite a bit of googling to figure out all the rules and various combinations. It was kind of annoying near the end when you have to fuse very specific demons to progress in the game such as Undine or Gnome.

So Seirei is a special type that requires two identical types... blah blah 

Minor plot spoilers to follow, skip to end if you care. And yes, there IS an English fan translation. English, English, English... geesh.

I loved the post apocalyptic vibe as you wander the wasteland with your cool cape and cybernetic arm. Yes, you get a cybernetic arm when a trap rips off your real arm and you have to frantically walk to the cybernetic company with a bleeding stub of a shoulder. You can't fight, see the map, or use the COMP and you lose health every step. Now that's pretty damn hardcore.

For future reference, try NOT sticking your arm in holes with blood stains...
And of course, who can forget the final true boss that would probably give wholesome American Christian soccer moms from the 90s a heart attack especially on the allegedly family friendly Nintendo platform. Thank goodness for ignorance and limited internet back in those days. My advice if you are playing this game is to capture the frog as it makes it easy to see the various endings MUCH later in the game.

I lucked out by keeping the frog without really knowing what I was doing
Score: 3 "Oh our company doesn't deal in evil filth like Nighttrap, senator" out of 5

I personally don't have an animal mask fetish but I won't judge
On the difficulty scale, while most of the game is not too hard except for Zaratan, it kind of gets brutal around the end. Zaratan was garbage because you can't leave unless you clear it and it's filled with damage tiles all OVER the place. I eventually just ended up looking up the map online and going straight to the pillar and exit as soon as possible. I guess you can exchange an item for a Core Shield for the damage traps but it only works till the next full moon. What a pain in the arse!

This was my successful run, barely made it out with almost no MP to heal
While I liked the setting and the story, this game has a lot of cheap deaths and I'm glad I was playing on an emulator. It's not like there's much strategy either as I attacked and healed all through most of the game. However, in the end, I enjoyed this classic or at least this classic remake. It's kind of like a Persona clone that has the difficulty of Dark Souls but with Undertale graphics. NOT! (Sigh... kids these days...)

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