Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Actraiser (SNES)

What a pleasant game Actraiser!  It's by Quintet which I've talked about before on this blog.  I am jumping all around on the release of their games.  All that's left for me to play is the supposedly mediocre PS1 game and Terranigma.  I'll get to that one soon.

Yes Actraiser is so pleasant.  You fight some things and then you play a mild sim and then you fight some things.  Just sit back and play it and relax and have just a jolly of a time.  The game requires that you play moderately well at the end Boss Rush but why shouldn't it?  Then you got Yuzo Koshiro impersonating John Williams for most of the soundtrack.

I would like to try the all action sequel that I hear is worse but my emulator wouldn't play it so I decided to spend my time elsewhere.

So you need something to do on a Saturday afternoon?  Play Actraiser.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (Tomas Alfredson)

A nice way to spend two hours?  Not something I ever plan on watching again, but I might buy the smooth jazz soundtrack soon.

It's a spy movie that is probably what real spying is like.  Set in the 1970s there's a mole in the British service right at the top where men discuss the fate of the world in a tiny orange room.  Gary Oldman is brought out of being fired by the agency to finding out who is giving secrets away that caused him to get fired.  It's simultaneously very slow and doesn't at all stop to let you catch up with the plot.  It doesn't explain anything and expects you catch a lot of little details.

However none of that has to do with participating in figuring out which of 4 men is the mole.  You know from the beginning of the movie that it is either one of them or TWIST ENDING.  None of the men are given enough development for you to suspect or support them.  Gary is going to figure out it is one of them.  His assistant has the most high strung scenes in the movie.  Tom Hardy plays an incredibly handsome side character with a superfluous sex scene.

Still I watched it, didn't hate it, then went home.  The Cappuccino I was served was mediocre and took 20 minutes to get my change.  Thanks theater with a Starbucks in it!  Still a successful evening.

Parodius (Various)

I've never really gotten into the Parodius series and last week I decided to go ahead and play as many as was convenient hen read the HG101 article.  Basically they're parodies of Konami's other shooters primarily Gradius.  There are a lot of cross over characters and most of the games also use Twinbee's Bells.  Twinbee is another series I plan on going through soon.  I played Gokujou Parodius, Parodius Da!, and  Jikkyou Oshaberi Parodius S. 

It helps that I played mostly the SFC versions of the games and my emulator decided to recognize rewind.  I wasn't playing these for skill.  I was playing them for research more or less.  They aren't as interesting as I was expecting and even while I was playing them they sort of ran together.  The most identifying mark between them was the cast of characters I could control.  Also that Da! was incredibly hard possibly based on the character I was chosen.  After about 20 minutes of rewinding and dying in the same 30 seconds I quit.  It feels like some sections of the game are completely based on if you get an invincibility bell or not.  I know that saved my skin a 3 or 4 times across the games.

Jikkyou is notable because it has a guy narrating all the way through on a SFC game.  I believe the cart size is impressively huge.  Also you fight Twinbee with tits.  I mean Twinbee has breasts.  yeahh...  I guess I need something more than honk honk splurt bwaaoooohhhh humor.  I couldn't tell you a think about the music. There is a lot of non-necessary animation which in my mind reads "these guys really liked this project and were proud of it" than engaging to me.

I guess I'm just wired weird.  Sorry Parodius!  I might still buy Otomedius despite everything telling me it's not a very good game.

Friday, January 20, 2012

El Shaddai (PS3) Shadows of the Damned (PS3)

First off a year end award.  Congratulations to Portal 2 for having obnoxiously load times between areas in 2011.  Really hit it out of the park with that one.

Shadows of the Damned is uh...well not much of anything.  It feels like the sort of goop of a game that comes out when after 18 months of development the main character design still isn't decided.  The sort of game where the director is Italian and unknown and the first thing out of gamespot's interviewer's mouth is "You're not the only big name attached to this, talk about all these Japanese guys."

EDIT: Forgot to mention.  Fuck this game has like the worst boot up.  It takes about 3 minutes.   First it loads the opening cutscene that you are eventually allowed to skip. then loads.  then shows a "title screen" then you click start and it plays THE SAME SCENE YOU JUST SKIPPED so you skip it again then loading THEN the actual menu.  God that almost made me turn off the game.  If you play it you get in the mood to play it for AS LONG AS POSSIBLE because the alternative is you might get so frustrated with the boot up next time you'll decide to go outside and take an interest in sports.

It's a difficult game to discuss because there's so much not there.  It's all "kinda good" but not really remarkable.  There's some almost set pieces.  Some of the game looks really great but it's difficult to care about it being really great.  The plot was either worked on way too much or way too little.  Everything was worked on way too much or way too little.  The dialog is well acted and while not as good as Nier's is up there in delivery.  It still just sort of sits there dead and lifeless and hmm.

Except the music.  Oh man Akira's Yamaoka's soundtrack carried Shadows.  And hey there's one song on the soundtrack that perfectly sums up the game and it's only 1:20 long!  "As Evil As Dead" is the beginning of an amazing Queen style ballad butnononono it just ends.

El Shaddai is filled with amazing sights.  Absolutely astounding visuals.  Also only about half a game design document and a very obvious point where they covered for running out of money.  It's a labor of love.  I'd love to know if they expected to set the world on fire or were content with making a beautiful piece of art that no one would care about.  Because holy shit some of the shit you see.  Man it is amazing.  Then they ran out of time.

But thanks to El Shaddai I got to revist the forgotten concept of travelling into the screen, going fast, as a looming icon becomes ever larger and ever closer.  Then they ran out of money but had to finish the game.  El Shaddai at least gets right the core combat mechanics.  They are rock solid.  They knew how to design a character.  They got a character that was fun to control and had simply jump, block, attack, reload.  May this group of people move on to create something else wonderful.

I definitely ended up with positive opinions of both games.  I'll probably play both of them again one day hopefully probably not.  I think they are both better than Vanquish.  Maybe I'll go back to that soon if Battlefield 3 didn't continue to be the most fun I can have with my PS3.  I've got a 40-80 hour RPG to play on the damn thing! Resonance of Fate!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Wild Arms 5 (PS2)

A JRPG about a full of spunk boy that wants to become [noun] [adventure-synonym].  He has a feisty redhead [childhood friend/sibling].  On the night before he plans to leave his home village a mysterious silver haired girl falls from the sky and utters "Johnny Appleseed."  She has amnesia.

Wait "Johnny Appleseed?"

Then in the first real dungeon a cutaway showing the possible evil guys plans with evil.  Then party member who is on the title screen but we've never met is having trouble in the second town. Then I decided yep okay.

The music was kind of nice.  And I like how China the starting area felt, then it also had spaceships and rustic farms and ancient mayan ruins and hotpants and uhhh....

EDIT: I should mention I played this specifically because the japanese title is Wild Arms V: The Vth Vanguard.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

The World Ends With You (NDS)


1. It's got like 20 god damn battle themes.   Probably one of the most flawed lines of thinking in RPGs is making a 30-100 hours game with about an hour and a half total of music.  That's absolutely moronic.  "The battle theme is sooo good."  Sure maybe in hour 2, but never in hour 36.  or in hour 13.  This game has like 40 excellent pieces of music showcasing the merge and clash and variety in tastes available in Shibuya (this will be important later.)

2. It's like 15 hours long.  Look I fucking love Persona 4.  It was also the only thing I played for about 3 months.  People just don't have that time.  15 hours?  That's great! 

3. The game is broken up into 20-30 minute chunks.  So you can spread that game playing across your commute or before bed or just whenever you have some time.  Again great for people with actual lives!

4. The game is like brain training.  See your fighting the battles on both screens.  On the bottom screen you're using your stylus to scratch or press or flick.  You might also need to blow or scream (one of the only possible negatives I can leverage at the game (it also requires you blow and scream for about 2 minutes once.)  On the top screen you are using either the face buttons or the dpad to pull off combo attacks with your partner.  BUT!

5. The game is only as hard as you want it to be.    See you can set it to easy mode and your AI partner to auto attack.  You won't do as well or get as many trinkets/bonuses for controlling both characters.  If you do want it ultra hard...

6. The game constantly rewards you.  Setting it on hard and bouncing the light puck between your two characters gives you the immediate benefit of "I'm kicking ass and dodging shit and totally wrecking these freak monsters."  It also gives you more money and more pins.

7. There's so much shit to collect in this game.  There's over 300 pins that give passive and active abilities.  You can also just stick with the pins that work and just moving to the upgraded model of that pin.  There's also clothes to put on your characters that give benefits inside and outside of battle.

8. WEWY is constantly asking you to experiment.  Sometimes it's forcing you, but that's okay.  You gotta expand your horizons (holy shit does that mean the...

9. There is an absolute connection between the way the game plays and the narrative.  The way the battle system works, how your equipment boosts your stats, why there are no random battles.  It's like the whole game is as cohesive as the ending of Final Fantasy Crisis Core.  Every part of the game feeds back into other parts.

10. FOR EXAMPLE use specific brands in one area and those brands get bonuses in future battles in that area.  The game gracefully explains this to you.

11. It probably has the best tutorial system on EARTH.  See this might be going over your head and I might not be explaining what I'm talking about but the game very slowly and smoothly introduces every concept.  It never feels dumbed down and it just keeps getting more complex.  You keep thinking "there can't possibly be more to this battl-OH SHIT I WAS WRONG."

12. You eventually gain the ability to restart any battle you've lost.  Okay here's one fault.  The first two hours of the game if you lose a battle you are stuck back at the title screen.  I'm not sure why they decided this should be an eventual feature.

13. BUT YOU CAN SAVE AT ANY TIME. If you aren't in a cutscene or a battle you can save.  This may sound like "duh" but there are plenty of games this generation with save points and that's BULLSHIT and we all deserve better.

14. Your pins gain experience when you aren't playing. and.
15. You gain pins merely by connecting to wireless hotspots and other DSes.  Remember THE WORLD ENDS WITH YOU.  You gotta expand your horizons.  You have to break out of your bubble and enjoy the world.  Play it in cafes. 

16. There's this whole other pog like minigame you can play with other players.

 17. Our protagonist is kind of a jackass. But he really does grow as a human being/character. 

18.  The post game content is plentiful.  As I started getting towards the end of the game I was afraid to end it purely by how much fun I was having.  Good thing there is an absolute ton of post game content in the form of challenges for each Day that unlock details of the meta-narrative.

19.  There's even a gaiden side story.  Alternate goofy universe adventure to play featuring all the characters from the main story!

20.  There's more going on in the plot than bullshit just not going to tell you. YEESSSSSSS.

21. Scaling Sprites.

22. Shibukyu.  Okay backstory.  While I was walking around Tokyo one day I had a white dude approach me and go, "Do you know how to get to Shibuku?"  That's not a real place.  I instead told you.  "Uh...ShibuYA is that way, and ShiNJUKU is that way.  Good Luck."  There's a play on a department store's name in this game call Shibukyu.

23. It's just like Shenmue!  Taking any nerd that had a Dreamcast around Tokyo and they will at some point tell you this is just like Shenmue at some point. Granted I'm retarded and Shenmue is one of my favorite games precisely because it so well represents anywhere Japan.  WEWY accurately represents Shibuya.  You could probably use it as a semi-map of the area.  I could identify just about every area and store presented within it.

24. It's localized just enough.  Everyone still has Japanese names and the story doesn't take place in NYC or some shit.  But you also don't get "san" and "kun."  I think they even call "nikuman" "nikuman" and not something like "meat buns."

25. It's really fun.  The battles are fast!  The music is great!  The atmosphere is fun!  The story is on a small scale for 95% of the game.  Not buying this game when it was released was a huge mistake.  It didn't sell well.  S-E has said they aren't going to let something like this happen again.  That's a tragedy.  I want Jupiter making whatever the fuck they want forever.  They have some of the smartest game designers working for them.  This game is a marvel on a design level.  I love it and it was probably the best thing I played in 2011.