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Monday, March 30, 2020

SNATCHER(スナッチャー)

Snatcher was one of the games I definitely wanted to play before I compiled my GOTY list for 1988. It's a Hideo Kojima ADV game blah blah cyberpunk blah blah terminator, you get the idea.

Oh hi Deckar- ...err I mean Gillian

To put things in perspective, I played a couple console ADV games from that year and a little bit of ANGELUS from Enix on the PC-88. I have to say, besides those Enix games such as Wingman and JESUS, Snatcher is probably one of the best looking ADV games I've seen on the PC-88 so far. However, the biggest issue with the original version is that it ends on a cliffhanger at the end of Chapter 2.

For 1988, this is pretty darn awesome

The PC Engine CD version that was released 4 years later in 1992 is the definitive way to play this game for sure. There are a number of really great looking ADV games on that system and boy was it way ahead of its time. It had amazing graphics, CD audio music, and voiced dialogue! For quick reference, Myst didn't come out until late 1993. What did the competing consoles have around that time? Otogiriso on the Super Famicom? Pfft, get out of here.

In any case, this version has the complete story and is the last one that Hideo Kojima himself worked on. The later ports are just complete garbage especially the washed out and censored PS1 crap. I made the mistake of buying that before I knew better and threw it in the Gamestop dumpster as soon as I finished the best version.

This is pretty much what my wife looks like IRL

So yeah, non-Jhipsters can go ahead and buy the ridiculously expensive Sega CD version to flaunt in their various YT videos, sure, why not? Or I guess you can play it on the just released PC Engine Mini... as long as you don't mind playing it in Japanese. Oh, I haven't done a Jhipster smug pic in a while now!

Aww, no English? I'm sure they'll make it real soon just like that vaccine!

Putting aside the standard Jhipster agenda, I thought the game was, I dunno, pretty good I guess? Maybe a bit over-hyped. For one thing, it's one of the easiest ADV games I played. Pretty much anybody will be able to beat it in roughly over 5 hours with little effort. I'm not saying that's a negative. I'm just as happy to enjoy the story instead of being stuck for hours, say for example, trying to pick a flower that's FUCKING impossible to reach. I think the fact that people could actually finish the game might have helped it stand out.

Ugh, this just reminds me of all those Metal Gear games I still need to finish...

Of course, the cyberpunk setting is also cool. I mean, who doesn't like cyberpunk? The visuals and voice acting was great too. The last chapter did feel rushed though. I wonder if Kojima meant to make a much bigger game but just didn't have the resources? Oh, and of course, how can I not talk about Catherine, the 14 year old model. Err... excuse me, I mean 18, duh! Don't you know that ages are counted differently in Japan at a ratio of 1.285714285714286, you culturally ignorant philistine?! A 14 year old Japanese person is actually 18 here, and 15 years is 19.28571428571429. Geesh, you Americans are SO ignorant!

Why is that towel transparent? TIME TO GO ON TWITTER!

So for a quick Japanese lesson, which doesn't have future tense, Catherine says she's 14 this year. Does that mean she is 14 already or actually 13 and will turn 14 later in the year? No really guys, this is actually really important for states like Alabama. Well, at least it was until 2003, when they raised the minimum marriage  age from 14 to 16. (Yeah Japan, why are YOU so backwards?)

Score: 3.5 Man, I'm so glad that a massive biological accident will never wipe out half the world's population in the REAL world, right guys? Um... MAGA? Tired of winning yet? Ah... fuck. out of 5

Anyways, I think if I was rich and Japanese and played this game in 1992, I would've been blown away. As it is, being late to the party as usual, I thought it was pretty good. Just not worth $700 or whatever for a censored version in my Jhipster opinion at least.

Now, that's some fucking sexy sax music



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

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Megami Ibunroku Persona(女神異聞録ペルソナ)

As I grow older by the day, I can't help but look at the pile of games that my sister keeps complaining about and try to gain some perspective. Like geesh, sis, you're barely even using your basement. And no, why should I go out and get my own place and a "real" job when my patreon and twitch revenue is earning plenty enough for all my essential needs (buying games, dew, and doritos). I don't know why you keep bothering me about rent and utilities. I don't even rent games and all my utilities are freeware!

Shut up, sis! I'm just about to get the Janus coin. Geez!!
What I actually meant by perspective is whether I would even live long enough to finish my games. I kind of thought about making a bucket list of sorts for all the best games I should probably play instead of oh, I don't know, fucking NIGHTRUTH? (Though to be fair, that one was so bad, it was hilarious.) I decided one of the series I definitely want to finish before I kick the bucket is Persona. Though I ended up beating P3 and P4 before I started playing things in order, I'm happy to announce that I just finished the first Persona game. For some reason, they removed the Megami Ibunroku part from the title in the PSP version.

What? A Japanese game title with less than 10 words? Blasphemy!

I know I've ranted about this before but notice that the Japanese cover makes no mention of SMT. Even the original PS1 title "Megami Ibunroku" has no "Shin" anywhere. So yeah, this is the only Persona title labeled as a spin-off to the Megaten series and boy, does it sure play like one.

YAMR (Yet another Megaten RPG)
First of all, while you do talk to people and walk around rooms in a top-down isometric view, the dungeon exploration is all 1st person, just like the various Megaten games that came before it. You can also equip both swords and guns. However, the big difference is the battle system where you have to place your members on a grid via a formation.

I'm a millennial so girls fight in the front (or at least those who identify as a "girl")

I don't think anybody likes this battle system? If an enemy isn't in your attack range, you just sit around and wait for your better placed allies to finish them off. Sure, you can set up various formations in advance but 1) it's too much hassle, and 2) you lose a turn to change formation so fuck that noise. Also, you can only put like 3 people in the front because for some reason, each person has to be a couple squares away from everybody else. You really only need to set up 2 formations, the second is so that when you get fucking back attacked, you have a second one to switch to. It's REALLY annoying.

Overall, the gameplay was just a mess with pretty much everything you could imagine thrown in. First of all, there's a stupid amount of elements that were (wisely) cut from later games such as "gravity", "nuclear heat", "revelation", "shock", and others I don't really even understand such as 「降魔」(descend demons?) and 「破魔」(break demon?). Oh, that's where hama comes from! Thank god at least that analyze happens automatically after defeating the enemy.

Unfortunately, my 奇跡 ("miracle")  element(??) skills were lacking against these guys

As for recruiting demons, literally the only thing you care about is increasing their interest level to get their spell card. Each character has a bunch of dialogue options so you have to choose the right character AND the right dialogue choice. Fuck that, google time. Also, everybody has 2 levels, your actual level and another one for the level of persona you can use. Both levels are almost always around the same so the second one is completely pointless (hence removed in later games). You also need to increase a Persona's rank by using their skills repeatedly to unlock new skills. Thank god their rank at least carries over even if you reassign to another party member.

The stats distribution is super weird too since the Persona's stats override yours. If you spread your points evenly across, they'll be wasted if your Persona's stat is higher. I dumped every point into TEC and AGI as they increase more of your base attributes.  Anyways, you get the idea. It's a big hot mess.

Oddly SP is fixed for each Persona so there is no reason to ever use a weaker skill

In addition, at least in the PSP version, the economy is totally broken. I read that they lowered the difficulty in this version and added a bunch more save points but I played on EXPERT mode so I assume that the difficulty is on par?  But boy, the last boss was pretty easy when you can buy 99 restore full HP items. It was so ridiculous that I ended up with almost 3 million yen with nothing to spend it on.

I'm no game designer but revive + full HP for 6000 yen seems a TAD unbalanced...

Still, even though the gameplay was a mess, I had fun with the game. At the very least, it was a relief to finish off the last boss on my first try after the grueling hell that was P3 FES on hard. Once you get used to the game, off you go, just good ol' regular dungeon exploring, leveling up, and googling demon negotiation and whatnot. I sure wished I read the manual however because the PSP version has a skip option for battles that I only discovered by accident during the final dungeon. Probably would've saved a lot of hours that way.

As usual, I liked the Persona aesthetics

As for the story, I guess I liked it well enough. There's no voice acting except for just one guy, which was kind of odd. As fit for the first game in the series, the theme centers on the various personas and masks we put on as members of society.

Hey, is that a Uzaki-chan poster? Why is the white underwear transparent??

Another interesting aspect of this game is the whole Snow Queen Quest thing. Basically, it's a completely different branch of the game that you can end up in during the first couple hours of the game. I did not play this scenario yet, something to do I guess on a rainy day... if I'm still alive by then.

One more game done! How many years I got left?
Score: 3 What? No Christmas date? No summer beach swimsuit break? This is NOT a Persona game! out of 5 (48 hours to beat)

This is not exactly a title I would wholeheartedly recommend but meh, it was still pretty fun overall. Obviously, I would have loved to use the skip option from the start but whatever. It was a serviceable RPG and the story is... not bad. At the very least, it's interesting to see how far the series has come from its humble roots. I liked the music as usual but man, I have to say the battle theme was a bit too much Persona to hear ALL THE TIME. However, the new PSP ending credits song was #BAE.

I liked it about the first 200 times but... might want to tone it down


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

Saturday, March 14, 2020

Tantei Kibukawa Ryousuke Jiken Tan - Kamen Genei Satsujin Jiken(探偵・癸生川凌介事件譚 仮面幻影殺人事件)

It's been getting more difficult to make these posts more interesting as gaming news seems slow these days. Then I figured since Tantei Kibukawa is a game written by a game scenario writer about the same game scenario writer playing an online MMO to find a murderer in the game in the game so that he can make a game based on the murder that happened in the game in the game, why don't I make this blog post about how I'm writing this blog post to be meta. Unfortunately, I couldn't really tie my meta blog post into talking about the game so I gave up on it.

"passwords" is not a typo here, you need more than one to log onto the PC in the PC... in the PC
Of course,  I'm sure you realized by now that the previous paragraph is about how I failed to write a meta blog post about a meta game with a meta intro. Yes, I just pulled a "if god can do anything, he can make a rock to heavy for him to lift" paradox. Mic drop!

Reminds me of the good ol' days when the gov did shit... (CDC? Who needs that?)

Anyways, I know I've been going on and on about getting rid of my more mediocre games in order to make more room in my (sister's) basement. Of course, you never know if a game is good or bad until you play it. That's just common sense unless of course, you're a paid game "journalist".

I assumed that Tantei Kibukawa on the DS would just be another mediocre mystery ADV game with horrible visuals. I mean, if you go by just the game cover, it looks... unique. However, I can agree with many of the reviews on Amazon Japan that the graphics grow on you to the point where characters such as Izuna and Rio actually look cute over time.

I would date her, but then again who wouldn't I date? Real girls, that's who. (Self proclaimed voluntary incel aka vincel #yaRight)
Not only are the graphics actually endearing, the story is also surprisingly pretty darn good. You know, I play obscure games with the faint hope that some of them would be a hidden gem but it's pretty rare unless you think hidden means "is not FF or Pokemon" like some YTers. And dare I say it, this game is kind of a hidden gem. Or at least good enough that I would be interested in playing more but oh, sorry, this is the only port among a whole series of games that are now completely unplayable without resorting to buying somebody's old Japanese flip phone with the game installed. So much for game preservation... You would think at least the series author would still have a copy around but well, here's a recent tweet from him.

In terms of gameplay, it's nothing more than your typical menu based detective ADV game. I did however get stuck just a couple times as you need to poke at some parts of the background to progress (that amazing DS innovation!) You also get a chance to exercise your deduction skills by answering Izuna's questions correctly. The only penalty for getting those questions wrong is you get a lower rating from her at the end. A better rating just unlocks some more memos to read about other cases, which are of course trapped on garake phones.

Whoa, a hand icon? DS is the only console that can handle this kind of gameplay!
I was hopeful that there was going to be some interesting gameplay when you're asked to select your character class in the MMO. It went into quite a lot of detail on the differences between choosing to be a policeman, reporter, etc. I don't know if that was too much to implement but you never really play the MMO as they describe it.

Score: 3 eh, I'm sure nobody will miss the other 18 or so games out of the series (shrug) out of 5 (12 hours to beat)

As usual, unlike the "pro" reviews, I feel no need to provide even a basic summary of the plot with my shitty writing and leave it as an exercise to the reader to check it out for him/her/etc self. I would say that if you like ADV games, this is definitely one worth giving a shot. (Sorry, Jhipsters only. I assume too obscure for fan translation.)


Now, my only issue is trying to decide whether to dump this game to make more room or keep it around as a "hidden" gem in my DS collection. Sigh, decisions, decisions. It may seem insignificant but I live in a modern, advanced society. It's not like I have to worry about life and death situations such as plagues from the old barbaric medieval times...

P.S. For future reference (if we're all still alive), I'm talking about fucking COVID-19.

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