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Wednesday, August 21, 2019

KOUDELKA(クーデルカ)

Continuing the tradition of documenting my gaming history on the internet for posterity (otherwise known as the cesspool annals), I have to say I never really got into Biohazard (Resident Evil for the non-Jhpsters). I was sufficiently hyped enough by a raving review in some gaming magazine to buy a copy on the ol' ebays but never could finish it. I wasn't a fan of the stupid tank controls (and no fuck you, bad controls don't "enhance" tension) and most importantly, the ribbons were torture for an obsessive saver like myself. I think I will enjoy the remake now that I'm more comfortable with the limited resources nature of survival horror but at the time I probably would have enjoyed KOUDELKA far more. It seems like the perfect game made for RPG fans like myself who want to get a little taste of the horror genre. In fact, I really wished Square had made Parasite Eve 2 more like this game instead of the shitty Biohazard clone that it is. Speaking of Parasite Eve, I wonder if the founders of Sacnoth "borrowed" some tech from Square because the CG cutscene at the end really reminded me of Parasite Eve.

Strong female protagonist but was weak as a child 2/10 - SJW Reviews
The one negative part about this game you'll likely hear are the super slow random encounter battles (probably by the same people that rave about the completely pointless and avoidable battle system in Chrono Cross). Personally, the slow battle system didn't bother me that much because you just don't have to fight as often as a regular 40-60 hour long RPG. This is a pretty short game I beat in about 12 hours and the random encounter rate is low enough that you could easily navigate several rooms before running into enemies. I didn't mind the short length because, 1) I got this game super cheap, and 2) I'm a pro gamer that needs my time to be respected. Joking aside, given the story and setting, I felt like 12 hours was about the right length.

 "Random encounters like this are why JRPGs died" - some know-it-all blogger
Overall, I found the game balance to be on the easy side as you level up pretty darn quick from just a few battles. All the bosses are pretty easy except of course for the gargoyle. I could not for the life of me figure out how to kill the gargoyle even with the gargoyle killer which requires you to save the game exactly 11:11:11 hours in with a certain number of items. Fortunately, the gargoyle is an optional boss and the final boss wasn't too hard as long as you use reflect even though you're supposed to lose for one of the endings. I also threw away the pendant to make room, which happens to be an item needed to beat the game but you can just get another one from the black cat at the last hidden save point.

One potential barrier to entry for casual gamers is figuring out how to allocate your stats as some of them are quirky. For example, Piety increases max MP you but it also makes you more resistant to healing. There's an in-game explanation of each stat that was handy. (Manuals? No thanks, I just ate.)

Oddly, the names are still in English for the reverse weebs
As for the story, I was thoroughly impressed at how good the writing and English VA was for a game made in Japan. I have so many questions about the script and cast for example, who is Vivianne Bateman, the VA for Koudelka and how did she get cast for the role? How did they do motion capture at a Santa Monica studio? Why was the word "gypsy" censored out of only the Japanese version of the game? Yes, in one cutscene, there were a bunch of annoying skips that seemed to be at very specific points during the dialog. Sure enough, looking up the same cutscene on YT, the audio cuts out every time the word "gypsy" is mentioned. Like Japanese people are totally listening to the English dialogue and would get super offended at the racial slur? #MJGA

We don't adhere to that kind of language here. We're equal opportunity killers.

Score: 3.5 the first law of ____ies is to never talk about ____ies out of 5 (12 hours to beat)

Overall, I enjoyed all 12 hours of my time playing this game and it ranks as an above-average game of the PS1 era for me. I'll definitely be keeping this one around in my hoarder collection. The plot is a fun, classic adventure with a motley cast that is both funny and interesting to watch as they learn about each other over the course of extraordinary events. The gameplay while flawed was still fun to play and the music was good. At the very least, I had way more fun than the shit turd Chrono Cross I played previously and I'm looking forward to seeing what the rest of the series has to offer.

"I like how the music is not in your face" - random YT comment


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

Friday, August 9, 2019

Chrono Cross(クロノ・クロス)

Full disclosure, I'm pretty much a Chrono Trigger fanboy. I still remember watching the trailer over and over at Toys R Us with my jaws on the floor. Holy shit, the Toriyama Akira art, the amazing graphics, the music, it was a trifecta of perfection. I saved up my arubaito money and bought a shady CIB copy at the flea market for the cheap, cheap price of $70, probably like $100 in today's money adjusted for inflation.

As a stupid kid, I lost this poster along with the game.

Several years later, as an older and wiser gamer, I bought a used copy of Chrono Cross on eBay probably for like $15 or something. Despite not splurging on it on release like a craven Youtuber, I was still super hyped, that is until I started the game. The music was pretty good. It's not as good as Trigger's kami OST but not bad and that's about the only good thing I can say about the game. I eventually stopped playing around the part where you rescue Rideru not because the game was terrible but for a reason that's almost worse, it was just boring. This time, as a fully evolved Jhipster, I decided to finish at least the true ending hoping that the original Japanese script will make things better. It didn't really.

Meh, not my jam really.

Here's the deal, Chrono Cross is the kind of title hipster game journalists will hail as "underrated" as they masturbate to their droll, creative lit 101 inspired review. I'm just a dumb gamer so I'm gonna call this spade a duck (or whatever, I'm not a "pro" writer). This game fucking sucks ass.

You would imagine a team would have to mentally prepare themselves with balls of steel to create a follow-up to one of the greatest games of all time by the "Dream Team" of RPGs. For you kids, that term is no joke referring to a team with Jordan, Magic, Bird, Pippen, Barkley, and Ewing. It was like watching somebody play 2K with cheat codes in real life, to give you an idea of how ridiculously OP that was. So when the sequel doesn't even recognize the save files and makes me move the cursor to "Continue" every time and doesn't even remember the last save slot, I could already tell these fuckers did not take the task at hand seriously. How the fuck do you have the balls to make a sequel to Chrono Trigger with a sloppy and shitty UI? I know it sounds like nitpicking but it just shows a lack of polish that also speaks to the rest of the game.

Chrono Trigger team but more Japanese and slam dunking brilliant game design. 

As soon as you start the game, it's apparent that it looks nothing like the original and not in a good way. I'm not super picky about graphics but man, they couldn't cut Toriyama a check? The character design is so fucking generic. It's especially jarring for some characters that are supposed to look a certain way based on the first game and they totally don't.

I'm sorry but this looks like something a bunch of Korean contracters would knock out on the cheap

In addition, while the battle system is balanced, it's slow and boring as fuck. What makes an RPG fun like Dragon Quest and of course Chrono Trigger, is watching your characters get stronger as they progress. Apparently they forgot that, as well as, obviously missing Horii himself. In this game, you get a star and level up when you beat a boss but only very, very minor stat increases for regular battles so there is literally zero incentive to the whole thing. The economy is broken so there is no monetory incentive either. I spent the entire game trying to avoid the enemies as much as possible and still had little trouble beating the game. As a game, Chrono Cross isn't any fun, which is primarily why I stopped playing back in the day. But another reason I stopped was because the story just didn't go anywhere.

People don't understand the story because it's never shown, not because we're not "pro" enough to understand it. In the original game, we traveled around the world across many ages and experienced an amazing adventure first-hand whether it was dragging Robo's broken body to a dome or bumping into a cute girl at the festival by chance. In this game, some shitty ghost characters tell you some mumbo jumbo about multiverse and some Captain Planet shit about the planet moving cities to try to protect itself from humans or whatever. But really, what you're actually doing is going back and forth to the same but slightly different set of islands, collecting shit and fighting boring enemies with no backstory. The switching was especially annoying too. What, they couldn't make it a menu option? You constantly have to go back to the beach, skip the cutscene, go talk to this character, collect an item, etc., and switch again for the next thing. I don't remember what happened in which world and honestly it doesn't even matter.

At least Jhipsters don't have to read Kid's stupid Australian accent, eh mate?
You never get to leave the islands, you don't get to see the main continent they keep talking about, you're just going to the same tiny islands at least twice cause you know, alternate reality! Wow, what a clever way to recycle the same shit... Urr I mean set up an "equally valid, separate, and well-developed world" that's not a "rehash" to quote a "pro" journalist. It really reeks of a low budget game maybe because they were so busy writing tiny variations of dialogue for all the random characters that join you for no reason.

I don't know what the fuck they were thinking with all the random characters. Most don't add jack to the game and you're not going to convince me that their little side stories are equivalent to the deep character development from the original. They also tried to do a half-hearted token shoehorn of Maou but instead fucked up one of baddest, coolest villians in game history.

Fuck you Arufu, you ain't shit

And that's my major beef with this game. It's not a horrible game, it functions and would normally be around a 2.5 score but I cannot forgive it for fucking with the story of Chrono Trigger. They added this ending in the later DS version as a tie-in to Chrono Cross, kind of like how that stupid Anakin kid shows up at the end of the "enhanced" version of Return of the Jedi instead of Darth Vader.

Meesa thinks this game sucksa.

It's the most pathetic ending I've ever seen that just left a bad taste in my mouth. Basically, there's a boss you're not strong enough to beat because you have to wait for Serge or some shit. Yes, the original cast with better design, infinitely better character development, been through way more shit than just floating around some islands somehow couldn't deal with it. Instead, Serge has to... you know what? I don't even know what the fuck he did. The story is so abstract and lectured to you, what did Serge actually do besides being born? The true ending with the Chrono Cross melody that I had to google ends the whole thing with a final boring lecture. I had more fun watching a documentary about quantum physics. (To be fair, quantum physics is cool... and WEIRD.)

Score: 1.5 Jar Jar Binks out of 5 imagine if Solo doesn't even shoot in the cantina but instead lectures about protecting the environment. (40 hours to beat)

Apparently, Chrono was too busy drinking green milk to deal with things this time. Actually, the game never explains that part. It leaves a lot of things unexplained, which hipsters love. But Katou, I just wanted a fun game. If I wanted to play some artsy, hipster shit, I would rather play Moonlight Syndrome and that pretty much sums up how much I hated this sacrilegious "Indiana Jones Crystal Skull" level of butt fuckery.

To explain why I can't help, first, are you familiar with string theory?

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