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Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Murder Club(殺人倶楽部)

The legacy of the J.B. Harold series of detective ADV games goes back even further than the Tantei Jinguji Saburo series, though it doesn't seem to have the same miraculous tenacity. The series sadly got into the dead dumb-phone platform for the last 3 games and are basically unplayable as far was I'm aware. It's too bad because I'm kind of curious about the 5th game Seattle Purple Haze. The only thing I could find about the game was this tiny screenshot.

"Little did J.B. know that renting would lead to homelessness years later when he could no longer afford his Ballard rent due to soaring tech stocks."
Unlike the last 3 games which are lost in the heady days of flip phones and PHS (lol remember picchi?), the first game Murder Club has been ported to every platform imaginable. Its release history reads like some sort of abridged game console timeline from the original PC-88 1986 release to the MSX, Famicon, PC Engine CD, PC, DS, etc., the most recent release being a port of the iOS version on the Switch eShop. The later versions are all based on the DS remake which is the version I played.

God, Janet Robbins is so HAWT in the remake.
I believe the DS remake is mostly the same as the original but with a new coat of paint and some improvements to the UI. It also added an epilogue where you can check on what the cast is up to after the main game, as well as, a lead in to the sequel. Fortunately, my used copy had already unlocked the epilogue because supposedly you have to beat it with 100% completion to unlock and I only had 97% with zero desire to play all over again.

The official sites always feature Janet... Well, she IS hawt.
I also checked out the PC Engine CD version because it's the only version with all voiced dialogue. It's a rare fully bilingual game with both text and audio so no reason to pay $80 for the TurboGrafix CD version. But then again, what else would all the rich, privileged non-Jhipsters spend their money on?

Well, you have to spend your institutionalized socially advantageous money somewhere.
The unfortunate thing about the PCE version is that the BGM for the game is just awful. It's so weird because the title and setting screens have pretty darn good CD quality jazz music. A little too much soprano sax for my taste but still pleasant to listen to. What, did they think having a nice jazz BGM would be too relaxing or maybe it was some technical limitation? Even without a CD soundtrack, they could've done a better job with the sound chip IMO. At least in the DS version, while the BGM is super boring, I didn't even really notice nor care.

Yeah the OP sounds good but wait till the game starts...

Finally, onto the game itself, what's all the hubbub about? Is this game really so good that it needs to be ported to 13 different platforms over the span of 31 years? Well, for a 31 year old game, it's pretty good but that's not saying much. It's a standard old-school PC-88 ADV game which means you're trying menu option after menu option. I feel like some of the menu options are useless and should've been removed. For example, why the fuck would you want to ask everybody's blood type? Americans don't even know their blood type half the time. It's not like we're reading Japanese teen magazines to see what boy hunk is compatible with our blood type "personality". I actually had a tiny bit of fun seeing how many ways the VAs could say "I don't know" for all the various menu options but it gets old fast.

Today's blood type?? She's playing ya man! Get a DNA swab! You never watched CSI?

In addition, I understand that there weren't countless podcasts and murder channels to describe in depth how murder investigations were conducted in 1986 but the way you go about it is simply ridiculous. The game dumps a ton of characters on you at the very start which is a bit overwhelming, trying to remember who did what. After you spend a few hours asking everybody their blood type, you then get search warrants and start finding evidence I guess nobody bothered to dispose of. Then, you go to the DA to start arresting people for questioning. You press them with the evidence until they confess. Case closed. All in a good day's work, eh detective?

If you ignore the gameplay, this game does a pretty decent job of uncovering a web of human drama for you to untangle. The story pales in comparison to the deep human drama presented in Hokkaidou blah blah but it kept me interested enough once I got over the initial mental hurdle of memorizing all the characters.

Unfortunately, this is the extent of the fan service. No Yuji Horii panti here.
Score: 2 "Look at my amazing complete PC Engine collection, no it doesn't bother me that I can't read most of it, I'm a Youtuber not a gamer silly!" out of 5 (8 hours to complete)

Pretty cool but how much was a Sharp X68000? Probably like one of my kidneys.

As I look back on the short list of games I completed so far from 1986, I would say that this game is a very middle of the road average 3 score for its time. The remake was fairly well done in that it was faithful to the original while adding some minor improvements. However, in today's standards, this would be a hard one to recommend unless you're striving to be a Jhipster gamer historian like yours truly or just really partial to old school ADV games.

The only reason to buy the U$ version is if this typo bother you. #1stWorldProblems


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, June 19, 2019

Majin Tensei(魔神転生)

JESUS FUCKING CHRIST!!! I finally, finally finished Majin Tensei after 59 scenarios of tedious fucking hell/makai. I really need to question my own sanity. I guess I'm a glutton for punishment? Unfortunately, I didn't realize the snapshot feature on my emulator overwrites the previous snapshot so I pulled most of these images from other JP bloggers that are almost as crazy as me. I say almost because they stopped updating before finishing the game, which in retrospect was probably the right thing to do.

Ugh, seriously, fuck this game
I'm going to go on a little rant here because this game has a LOT of problems. The biggest problem is all the goddamn waiting for enemies to move and sometimes those fucking yellow neutral demons that take their own turn. It's so bad that the game was pretty much unbearable without a fast-forward emu button. I really, really should have started using the turbo button from the start. Even with that, it was a bear, especially Scenario 56 near the end with the fucking sprawling desert that you can only travel at 2 squares a turn.

Fuck this desert. I'm too fed up to even come up with a funny caption.
Now, I'm not too big into SRPGs so it's not like I have a ton of experience to compare to other games in the genre but I can tell a shitty game when I see one. Not only is the waiting just unbearable but the whole demon fusion part is completely useless. You generally only want to play with just the two main characters because the demons only get a few levels in the form of stars and experience is pretty much wasted on them. On most maps, it's the same spiel, rush to the nearest blue healing pool thingy, kill all the nearby enemies, rinse and repeat.

The other issue is your tiny inventory space which makes items and most of the treasure chests an absolute waste of time. Basically, you just hoard the jewels until you can trade them in for some aura gear or Excalibur.

Thanks for making items essentially useless
If for some crazy reason that I can't fathom, you are interested in playing this game, you might want to look up the conditions to unlock the "best" ending cause why the fuck would you want to play this any longer than necessary? One of the annoying requirements of this ending is to visit Atlas 3 times with 3 floors, essentially extra repeat playthroughs of 9 maps (almost as fun as stabbing yourself with a fork!).

I unfroze you so can you please get out of the fucking cave?
The other tip I would offer before you go down to hell/makai is to recruit both the army guy and the blonde dude by finding Izanami on a random square in a cave. At the very least, I recommend the angels because they can fly around fast to plug up those pesky spawn circles.

She's in a cave somewhere, just google jp it. 
Score: 1.5 "so good I cried in joy when it was finally over" out of 5 (too many hours of my life wasted to beat)

Honestly, besides the boring waiting game Atlus thinks somehow qualifies as "gameplay" and the fact that none of the mechanics are fun or serve any practical purpose, I thought it was a pretty good Megami Tensei game. I can't comment on the music because it was playing at 2x speed pretty much the entire time but the story however minimal it was, has the standard Megaten shenanigans.

If you don't mind fast forwarding after every turn and really, really must play ALL the Megami Tensei spin-off series, I would say give it a go. However, to play the game as it was originally intended without emulation is just a pure exercise in self-flagellation. (I mean if you're into that kind of stuff, I won't judge.)

Thankfully, I'm here to warn the 2 people that read this blog to avoid a game they were never going to play anyway so I'll conclude my contribution to the greater good of society here. Don't say I didn't warn you...
..
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Hello? Is anybody reading this? Bueller? Aww. (◞‸◟)

C'mon, we have boobies on Nintendo here! (Yet another AdSense violation)

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

Sunday, June 2, 2019

DS Dengeki Bunko Iriya no Sora, UFO no Natsu II(DS電撃文庫 イリヤの空、UFOの夏II)

You may be wondering, hey eminent Jhipster, if part one of Iriya no Sora DS was soooo boring, why in the world would you waster your time with the second half? Well, you must be new to this blog. If this Jhipster doesn't play through these games, who else will inform the greater English-only internet what they're missing out on? Sure, you can waste your money on one of those A-Z Patreon funded books cause I'm sure those authors are fully fluent in Japanese and actually played through all those games they throw in there with a token synopsis and some screenshots that you can google yourself in like 3 seconds.

Uh huh, yeah, sure. Whatever you say.
Anyways, Iriya no Sora, UFO no Natsu II is one of those perfect examples of why you shouldn't shit on a game you never finished (*cough* Jason Schreier *cough*). Though in my case, they split the story into 2 games so I technically finished the first game. Needless to say, the snail's pace of the first 2 volumes of the light novel rapidly speeds up in this game and some shit finally happens! For example, Iriya changes up her hair.

I'm pretty sure I know what white looks like and that's not it (screenshot from Nintendo's site)
Kidding aside, I finally realize why this light novel is regarded as highly as it is. It definitely went in a direction I didn't expect and it becomes clear that this is not a happy-go-lucky story as suggested by the first game. I don't want to get too much into spoilers but there might be a rape scene in there (sorry if this triggered you).

The main character is as spineless and useless as always so at least his character is consistent. But now that shit's starting to hit the fan, you do feel for the poor kid. After all, he is just a snot-nosed middle school boy.

He's just a boya (Ha! Get it? I'm here all night folks!)
The setting with the war, UFO, aliens, etc. was not really explained at all but it's merely just the backdrop for the love story. It's a very immature love story about a normal boy and a mysterious girl, a bit touching at times but also tragic. I thought it was worth the read even though it took a while to get to the interesting parts.

As for the rest of the features, they removed the multiplayer card game (oh noes!!) and that annoying feature of touching words to unlock cards. Now, you can just enjoy the story and play the mildly entertaining side-scrolling shooter, at your leisure.

Hidden gem shmup (check my $100 eBay listing, great deal!!) 

You can play as the fighter plane in the air or jump down to shoot enemies on foot Contra-style. I was quickly able to beat 4 stages but then it just starts over at a harder difficulty and that was good enough for me.

Score: 3.5 Cero D for sexual content? But it's just words, you guys didn't even illustrate it! out of 5 (16.5 hours to finish)

I'm not sure if this sound novel is above-average in general but it certainly got me hooked enough to finish it much faster than the first part. Also given how boring the first half was, averaging the two scores gives it about a 3 average which is around what I would score for the entire story overall. You never know how you'll feel about a game until you finish it all the way to the end. Good thing I have a real job that doesn't require me to poop out a diarrhea review in time for the release date.

In any case, it was good enough for me to be interested in picking up some of the other DS Dengeki Bunko games. All right, look like it's time for some SHOPPING!!!

Time to open up my monster amazon.co.jp wishlist!

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