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Saturday, January 19, 2019

Omoide ni Kawaru Kimi: Memories Off(想い出にかわる君 〜Memories Off〜)

You know, I'm just going to start out by saying that the Memories Off series has really started to grow on me. I know it's probably just a simple psychological reaction. When you spend about 100 hours through 3 lengthy games in the same setting, things kind of start to feel endearing and even nostalgic similar to the Trails series.

Spending 100 hours over 3 games (not for "pro" reviewers)
Speaking of Falcom, here we are on the 3rd game and I'm almost starting to feel like Shin is some galge equivalent of Adol. In the first game, he was your buddy in high school. In the second game, you happen to meet Shin after he dropped out of school and moved into the same building. He even got you that part time job over the summer at the family restaurant he was working at to save money to travel to India. This time, you play as a college student and Shin is a buddy that happens to be living nearby after he returned from India.

The guardian angel of galge guiding you to snatch some... um hush money? #MAGA
In the first game, you grew up with 2 girls as childhood friends and some stuff happened involving rain and whatnot. In the second game, you started out already with a girlfriend. This time, you start the game after your girlfriend left you 3 years ago without saying a word. She of course shows up out of the blue near the beginning of the game. Why did she leave? Are you going to somehow get back together or pick one of the other delectable girls you happen to meet? Are you going to be a two-timing asshole like the last game? You'll have to play to find out for yourself!

Oh geez Kanata, now my bed smells like another girl! Febreeze time! (not even joking here)
This game definitely feels a bit different in the beginning maybe because you no longer have a convenient school setting to meet with JKs everyday (damn riaju!) though rest assured, there are still some JKs ripe for the picking. Let's not get into the legal ramifications of being a college student dating JKs, these were simpler times. Or given that this is a clean game, maybe all you did was hold hands and smooch though I find that hard to believe.

16? Well, I guess it depends on which state you live in...
Kidding aside, this 3rd iteration of the series definitely seems more adult even though you're a privileged loser (#onepercent) whose parents apparently have enough money to afford your college tuition, living expenses, and your own private accommodations without you having to earn a dime. No awkward hand made sign to keep roommates out for shagging necessary. But I'm not talking about that kind of adult. What I mean is that the girls are literally adults and have grown-up people problems (eg finance) except for the Kashima sisters and Tama aka the "where the fuck are your parents?" JKs. In the end, this is indeed a Memories off game in all the ways that matter. Every girl has their own life issues and there are tons of great drama to be enjoyed.

But Neo, what about your little sister? You know, the one in a wheelchair???
You'll also have plenty of nostalgia time to see what some of the girls from the previous games have been up to. For example, Yue is still such a sweetheart, you can't help but fall in love with her again. I mean as the player, no you're not going to try to steal the first MC's girlfriend. That's a line that the game doesn't cross.

C'mon Yue, ditch that loser from the first game!
Some of the characters are a bit too quirky for me such as Hibiki who seems to have about a first grade education or Tama who seems borderline mentally impaired, her communication skills are so bad. I'm saying that even as a die-hard fan Nagato Yuki fan. Some of girls routes are not as thoroughly fleshed out either. For example, I would have liked to have seen more dere from Isako-chan. Still, for me, this was my favorite Memories Off game so far and I found the true route really took things in a direction I didn't expect. Without getting into details, let's just say this game definitely has some of that rain theme going on. I also liked how this was less of just a straight up galge with a male cast larger than just Shin and one other guy.

Wow, we look so cool! I hope the girls are noticing!
This is another one of those games like most post 90s Japanese visual novels that starts off really slow and frankly kinda boring. However, I would say with the true ending and plot points from other routes that tie neatly together, it's definitely worth the initial slog. Fully recommended renai drama goodness especially if you've played the first two games.

Ahh, the good ol' days!

Score 4 no wait 3, but I can't seem to break up with 4, but 3 is such a sweet number, please 4 take me back after all! Ok, let's average it out to 3.5 #polygamy? out of 5 (36 hours to complete)

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, January 11, 2019

Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth1(超次次元ゲイム ネプテューヌRe;Birth1)

This year is off to a good start as I finally finished the first Neptunia game or rather the remake on the Vita. The original game was actually one of the first games I bought for the PS3 as my first foray into the brave new world of region free gaming. I was so naive back then it was almost comical. I assumed that because the Blu-ray format allowed adequate space for dual audio that they would be selling the same game worldwide. While that was true for some large publishers such as Sony and Sega, little did I know that most everybody else would still essentially region lock games by removing all Japanese text and thereby requiring you to import it anyway.

As usual, fuck NIS America
I remember returning the game to GameStop baffled. After all, why would you want to play in a language that you don't understand? As I had no knowledge of weebs at the time, it made no sense to read English dialogue while listening to Japanese audio. Watching YT, now I know most skip through without actually listening to the Moonspeak. It still doesn't make sense to me but oh well, I guess better to import rather than pay sales tax that'll go toward building a stupid wall anyways. #MAGA What was I talking about again?

Sugoi! I think I heard kawaii in the dialogue!

Oh yeah so anyways, while I thought the original PS3 title was cool at the time with the weird breathing chests, I dropped it when I had to wait for the Lowee continent to connect in order to cross over. Many years later and I finally beat Re;Birth 1, which is totally different from the first game save for the basic premise and plot.

I'm sure I don't need to go over the whole personification of the game industry shtick like every other review out there. I do want to point out that Neptunia is actually called Neptune in Japanese even going as far as using an uncommon katakana combination (テュ) to get the correct phonetic sound (instead of the standard "chu" sound). I have no idea why they changed the name. After all, the Sega Saturn was not called stupid Saturnia. Of course, we're not new to the idea that localizers do stupid things so let's just move on.

Not my problem since I'm fluent in Japanese. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

First, let's talk about the most uninteresting part of the game which is the story and dialogue. Yeah, it's fun for the first few hours to talk about console wars and how the goddess powers are derived from shares but I dunno, I found both Neptune and especially Compa's voices annoying. Sure, you got the queen of tsundere Mingos for Noire and I loved how MAGES. calls her assistant (Christina's VA from Steins;Gate) but a significant portion of the dialogue was a snorefest.

LOL 助手 (sorry non-jhipsters)

Coming from a guy that liked listening to hours of Yuri dialogue about tea and snacks, I have to say you can only talk about purin so much in one game. Besides the filler dialogue and silly gags, I found the main plot was pretty boring as well. Other than fun game industry references, I didn't get much from the story except the message that piracy is bad mkay?

I mean I love purin as much as the next gal but I don't pontificate about it
Fortunately, the game play is much more interesting in that it's just broken. IGNorant once again proves that their "pro" reviewers don't actually play the games they review as one of the few positive points was that this game didn't require grinding. SERIOUSLY?! NO GRINDING?? Did you even bother to finish Chapter 2? Noire is the first example of how broken the progression system is as she will DESTROY you right after another boss battle to add insult to injury. You really do need those life rings as they raise your HP to a ridiculous amount.

It's ok to admit you didn't play. Oh wait you get paid for this? ...oh
The interesting part about this game is that you can pick up specs along the way to tweak the gameplay. It's almost like you're changing the game as you go, adding new dungeons, stronger enemies, etc., which definitely does fit into the whole meta theme. There is technically a limit to how much you can change based on how much "memory" you have but I never got close to running out.

Luckily, IGN probably never got this far. They don't like panties.
As you progress, you can use specs to just lower or increase the difficultly but what's the fun in that? Mostly, I grinded a bit after unlocking new enemies anytime a boss was overpowered (which happens quite a bit). If you don't use those specs, you're going to be grinding for a LOOOONG time. To give you an idea of how ridiculous the balance is, a regular enemy near the end might net you a few thousands exp points while the strongest unlocked enemy I killed netted almost 800,000 exp points. The different in grinding might number in thousands of encounters.

Oooh look at all that booty... er EXP that is!
I also changed my play style once I got 6 characters and discovered that your linked party member's HP recovers over time. Because Compa dies so easily later on in the game, I just swapped members in and out instead of bothering to heal them. Burning a couple discs that prevent status ailments was also really helpful.

The boss battles in the first half of the game also tends to drag out as you have to whittle down their guard before you can really start to do damage. Fortunately, things got a lot better after I used the spec to increase EXE meter charge speed. You hardly ever get to see those flashy EXE attacks until you use that spec. Then you'll be using them all the time (thankfully skippable). A couple of EXE special attacks and you'll break down boss guards in no time!

Tekken-chan hard at work
I thought it was especially hilarious that one of Broccoli's EXE combo skill was Acquarian Age. Yeah I wasn't able to finish that game but I don't think even many Japanese gamers would get that reference. You'll likely crack a few grins from all the game references such as the obvious Metal Gear guy in a box, the DQ rainbow bridges, and Steins;Gate fake phone calls, especially if you're a pro expert gamer like me.

Aaaah Acquarian Age Broccoli reference. Somebody there knows their shit!

Score 3 hey isn't that character from that game voiced by the VA from that franchise that merged with that one developer that went bankrupt that my sister's cousin's husband used to work at? Cool reference! out of 5

This game was a pretty fun time but not SUPER compelling. The dungeons are small and easy to get around. I also like super quirky game mechanics that are playful (RIP Imageepoch) but the main plot didn't get me hooked. There are some good moments and fun characters such as Broccoli (she's adorable nyu) but it's hampered by Compa's super fake and annoying voice. The music was also unremarkable. Overall, it's an solid average enjoyable experience.

At least Broccoli was adorable nyu
The end credits was pretty boss. We gamers are suckers for retro pixel style.
Oh those crazy panty days before the holy ray Cali Sony purge... #Nostalgia
Remember the good ol' days when people wrote blogs instead of sharing fake FB news?

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