Archive for the “games” Category

Recettear demo screenshot.

Why yes, I do.

So I've been trying out this game demo of Recettear, a Japanese indie game that's being brought over in English. The demo has been out for a while (not to mention the original game in Japanese, which has been out since 2007), while the full game will probably be available around September 10 on Impulse.

Recettear demo screenshot.

I like the main character Recette already.

Recettear demo screenshot.

I definitely like her.

A full review might be coming, once I stop losing horribly. It's so hard to get people to part with their money.

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Nanoha and Phoenix.

Something I noticed when I was going through my GamerS screenshots.

Phoenix Wright taken from Court Records.

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Comparison pic.

Just something a friend of mine pointed out about the Bioshock 2 box art.

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Maya Fey and Kay Faraday.

Kay Faraday looks oddly familiar, in the sense that I remember thinking that she could pass for another character from another series. And yet I cannot for the life of me remember whom.

The Ace Attorney games are an interesting exception to the knee-jerk reaction I tend to have about localization. Some parts of it are cringe-worthy, I admit; the switch from ramen to burgers in the earlier games felt a little odd, as does the thin fiction that everything took place in some odd locale of the United States of America: odd in that a great many Japanese customs and settings are preserved because of some obscure hobby or tradition of the characters. It's obviously a Japanese game, but with the veil of Americanization.

And it's fine. The pop culture references became rather more subtle past the original three GBA games, and the humour was scaled back; I'd say the Apollo Justice game was darker in tone than the Phoenix Wright ones. But the overall ridiculously awesome characters and settings were retained, and the terrible puns in Japanese became different but just as terrible puns in English.

Ace Attorney Investigations, in keeping with being a side game to the main series, actually manages to make the companion character of Kay Faraday competent; she does say some odd stuff sometimes, with the world filtered through her Great Thief Wannabe (although Edgeworth correctly intuits that she probably wants to be a Great Ninja) lens, but she's smart enough to follow Edgeworth's logic.

And AAI has made me feel even more sorry for Gumshoe, a feat which I had previously not thought possible: I had assumed the depths of my sympathy for his situation had been fully plumbed, but now I see this is not so. Apparently being a member of the police force in the weird Japan-America hybrid setting of Ace Attorney is not a happy job.

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Potentially spoilery.

One of the goods I got from AFA was Persona 3 Portable. In Japanese. I'm basing my playthrough on my knowledge of the original (well, the FES version), as well as about fifteen years of watching anime. It doesn't matter if I can't understand all of it, but just that I can understand enough.

This is still a surprising amount. Or at least surprising to me, despite the pitiful percentage it likely is overall. It helps that I know roughly what the plot is, so I'm not completely lost.

I'm still in the middle of it, so I can't really comment on the game as a whole, but wow the female main character is cute. For some reason, female characters seem cuter in my eyes if they're the ones I play as. I've expressed this sentiment before, but it bears repeating, possibly because if there were more cute female leads in games, they might get more fans like me.

And yes, I realize how chauvinistic it seems. I can't help it; if it matters, I think the cute female lead would be even cuter if they turned out to be as badass as the female route version of the main character in Persona 3 Portable is.

There are several gameplay changes and improvements, enough to almost make it a new game. (As it is, the changes make it about half of a new game.) The ability to control your party members directly in battle should be a good incentive to get this game.

Being the fanfiction writer that I am, I find myself imagining that every time the female main character sees that door at the end of the second-floor hallway in the dorm, she wonders about the strange feeling she feels in her heart. It is a feeling of the faintest of regrets, of loss, and the memory that never was, of what might have been.

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I've not met most of these characters yet.

Lest one might be mistaken in believing that my life is naught but fun and games, I should mention that since this blog is a hobby blog, it shall therefore only focus on hobbies. Real Life stuff that are Not Fun and Not Hobbies don't get time here. (Or most of anywhere, since I'd rather not get in trouble for blogging about stuff I shouldn't.)

In any case, I picked up Devil Survivor, mainly because I heard that it was more "character-driven" than the bizarre translation of the only other non-Persona game in the Shin Megami Tensei series I've played: namely, SMT1 on a SNES emulator. I quit that due to the bad translation leading to an incomprehensible plot devoid of any reason for me to care about whatever was happening in the game. Also, the first-person perspective making everywhere look the same; Doom was never that bad.

After that, it was Persona 3 and Persona 4. I liked the latter game mostly because it was happier, although I did miss the big-city setting of the former. Considering I played the games for stuff like Operation Babe Hunt and King's Gaaaaame respectively, I may not be the core audience for these.

Thus far Devil Survivor seems to be going through the whole "we are all going to die and the world is doomed, ZETSUBOUSHITAA~" angst-panic phase. I've been having a bit of fun pairing off the main character (named, in a fit of fancy, Raidou "Light" Yagami, for no reason other than my own personal amusement) with his Childhood Friend Yuzu Tanikawa. Because despite the Doom and Gloom, I will have my romantic comedy hijinks, even if they are only in my own twisted mind.

I have to admit that Yuzu is very, er, large for the typical Childhood Friend archetype, who is supposed to be jealous of the other girls with more… tracts of land. I'm a little worried about what's going to happen to her later, since games (and indeed, stories in general, as in anime) like these love to Pull The Heartstrings by causing Great Tragedies to characers I like. It's a cheap shot, I feel; Drama should be a natural evolution of the story, not because The Writer Says So.

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Minato and Minako, official wallpaper.

You can kind of tell how busy my week has been or is likely to be by checking when I post to this blog. As I keep saying, two posts a week without guarantee of quality. If both of these appear on a Sunday, it is a sign that the schedule of my life is going to be a pain for the next two weeks, and I will have to post again on a Saturday.

I've been trying out roleplaying on a MUSH. A PersonaMUSH, as it is so named. The general world of the Persona-verse as described in Persona 3 and 4 (and only as described there, since I've never played any other Persona games) is one of those, like the Negima-verse and the Nanoha-verse and the ZKC-verse, where I like to create characters in.

I've never MUSHed before. This is a learning experience, and the lesson that is being pounded into my Skull Of +5 Thickness is that I am in entirely the wrong time zone.

Most of the basic character concept comes from one of those discarded bits of proto-characters that always turn up when I am in the midst of storycrafting. (I realize this sounds a lot more formalized that it really is, but I can't think of any other term.) A useful trait of all these settings is that it's all magic, even if it's actually science fiction or superpowers or whatnot. Essentially, things that cannot be done in Real Life, but can be done in that setting because it's cool.

Unfortunately, I have to keep the aspect of Coolness subordinate to the aspect of Consistency, mostly because I like characters who find new and creative ways to use what powers they already have, and I can't do that if I don't know what these powers actually are. This may be why I get accused of being too much of a killjoy when it comes to Cool Things Happening.

At least in this MUSH the powers are already defined, in that they are the best approximations the MUSH can do to the game powers. Everything else is roleplay.

I must admit that the primary reason I'm in PersonaMUSH is because I can't wait for Persona 3 Portable, and the opportunity to play a female protagonist. I have made this point before, but I can't quite be bothered to search for the relevant posts, so you're on your own there. But my character's appearance was first inspired by that of the female main character, popularly named "Minako" (or alternately "Misato"), and then altered to be less obviously ripped-off. Her personality gains some bits from both the proto-character (formerly a researcher from the Nanoha-verse), as well as the manga depictions of Minato Arisato (aka Male Main Character of Persona 3) translated into girl-form. Her character story arc stems from Doctor Faustus.

So it goes.

If you do wish to drop by PersonaMUSH, it is at, port 2012. Shiori Hibiki will be there, likely whining to what few may listen about how annoying it is to have to live life Out Of Character at GMT+8.

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Chie as Haruhi is a little...

While waiting for my Internet to get repaired (again), I've been marathoning Persona 4, which features, as one of its much-vaunted improvements over Persona 3, branching Social Link options. The overall difference is fairly minor, largely in the conversation options and incidental dialogue; the Social Link results are the same regardless.

Now, if you've never played either Persona 3 or 4 before, the idea behind Social Links is that you meet someone, and then you get to know them better through further repeated meetings, until you form "an unbreakable bond" of Really Close Friendship (and for female characters, possibly something more). Along the way, you help solve some problem or other they are facing in their lives. All of this gives you nice bonuses that help you in battle, or at least the preparations before battle, but that's beside the point.

The branching routes in P4 mean that I get to Socially Link with either one of two choices for each of the school clubs. Back in P3, this didn't matter that much, because the game refused to be clear on which club the Social Link character belonged to until you actually chose yourself (insert Schroedinger's Cat experiment reference here); whatever your decision, you'll be dealing with the same person. In P4, however, you deal with different people. So if you pick the Basketball Team instead of the Soccer Team, you'd be interacting with Kou Ichijo, rather than Daisuke Nagase. The same goes for the Drama Club's Yumi Ozawa and the Symphonic Band's Ayane Matsunaga.

But what about the other, unpicked route?

As I've mentioned before, I have problems with this sort of thing, which I call Visual Novel Route Regret. Basically, all these characters have their problems and worries, some of them really serious, and the game often implies that they will never be free from their woes without your assistance. In P3, it was actually possible, if very difficult, to max out every Social Link in one play-through, and thus solve everyone's problems neatly. But in P4, with the branching, this is impossible, even if the actual game mechanic Social Link maxing is much easier.

And so I have to weigh the Seriousness of the characters' problems against each other. Is Kou's insecurity about being adopted more or less debilitating to his future prospects than Daisuke's inability to get over his old rejected crush? Both have let it affect their performance to the point of depression, so it's not a given that they'll be able to get over it themselves. The Cultural Clubs are a little easier to pick: Yumi's angst about her estranged but hospitalized father, leading to her nearly severing links with her mother, is probably more serious than Ayane's basic lack of confidence in herself. Sorry, Ayane, but Yumi's case is more likely to make her suicidal.

At least the Social Link problems in Persona 4 are not as drastic as in Persona 3, which is a bit of a relief. If you haven't been following a Max Social Link guide but know what is in store for the characters, it's hard to decide between helping Yukari get over her father's death-by-corporate-murder, or comforting Mitsuru after her father's death-by-actual-murder and her arranged marriage to an odious man she hates. Compared to that, Chie's search for a good reason to protect people is a little less world-shattering.

This is a bit of why I'm not very keen on playing the more Dramatic sorts of visual novels: the girls tend to have incredibly depressing (and often supernatural) backstories, which may very well lead to their deaths or spiritual discorporation or whatever. The viewpoint character may or may not know the reason why, in a given route epilogue scene, certain members of the old gang appear to be missing, but the experienced player knows. And that makes it all the more depressing.

On a vague tangent, I have this incredible urge to go write some lyrics for the Junes jingle.

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I've forgotten her name, sadly.

Why do so many bishoujo games have a token cute animal (for varying degrees of "cute")? The Key anime adaptations featured theirs, with Piro in Kanon, Potato in Air, and Botan in Clannad. Nursery Rhyme has Azu, and Heart de Roommate had Toshibo. I first noticed this during the fake opening for the last Haruhi-chan episode, where apparently Muu-chan (a Haruhi-chan original) and Shamisen double-team this role.

I've not had much time to play Coming x Humming, and I swear that this is actually the name of the visual novel. I have no idea what it's about, except apparently some sort of local goddess from the shrine taking human form to… I don't know. Boink the player character, maybe. Characters in visual novels seem to have a surprisingly blase attitude towards plainly supernatural phenomena; it's hard to tell if this is something generally Japanese, or if it's just easier to tell a bishoujo game story like this, without having to explain all the plot contortions.

I wonder what the first bishoujo game to utilize all these conventions was. Probably something relatively old and familiar, since when I encountered them in Coming x Humming, they had this comfortingly familiar feel. Token cute pet, token childhood friend, token MAGIC… all is well with the world.

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A vision of game data to come.

Perhaps late to the much-vaunted party, but I have been very slowly working my way through Persona 3 FES. I didn't exactly plan on it (I still have Freespace 2 to work on, courtesy of Good Old Games), but after spending a fruitless span of time attempting to articulate my thoughts on Spice and Wolf, I popped the disc into my PS2 for a break.

As the story usually goes, it became rather more than a break.

It's certainly one of the more anime-related games I've seen; now I understand the excitement among other, more timely anime bloggers, when the sequel anime was announced. (I don't remember what their reactions were after it aired; I need to start keeping track of that sort of thing, I think.) Even apart from the art style, there's plenty of anime-familiar dialogue choices, which would probably not make much sense to anyone who has never heard the "-tan" suffix before.

All the names are also in Japanese, and when faced with the Enter Name Here screen, I felt compelled to follow suit. So far, "Akira Hirazawa" (I wanted "Hiiragizawa" ie Eriol for various poorly-thought-out reasons, but the first and last names can only allow eight characters each; I hear his unofficial official name is "Minato Arisato") has struck me as the sort of laconic asocial JRPG player character (see: Neku Sakuraba) who probably has a snarky running commentary in his head on the various absurdities occuring around him. Since the game does not provide this, I've supplied my own.

The game is broken into two simultaneous phases, where the player party has to deal with school in the daytime, and fighting evil eldritch abominations in the night. Cram things together too much, and you get tired and sick, which interferes with both phases to a severe degree. Along the way, the player must deal with incredibly clingy friends, of whom one (of the females) will end up being the player character's girlfriend. Keeping everyone pleased will take up most of your time, and you'll end up actually grinding levels maybe once every two weeks in-game time or something.

Did I mention that you only have one year total to save the world?

Normally, I try to collect everything I can in a game, since I'd rather not have to find out three hours to the end that I missed a certain crucial item or procedure five minutes after the start. With P3F, though, I welcomed the news of a New Game Plus option which carries over at least all my non-combat stats, since grinding those have proven to be the most tedious part of the game. I would probably not mind as much if my goal were to live an everyday school life, or defeat the shadows and save the world. Both at the same time is a bit much, and my fellow NPC allies join me in bemoaning precisely that. I'm currently concentrating on Academics (for exams and such) and Charm (for a certain requirement), in that order; Courage can wait until the next playthrough.

And then there's the romantic entanglement aspect of the game. I kind of know how the main character in a harem comedy anime feels now; all (well, almost all) the girls are in some way desirable, in the sense that if they were actually in a harem comedy anime that I'm watching, I'd be switching loyalties pretty often. As it is, I'm probably going to stick with Yukari Takeba (the first girl you meet at the dorms and designated battle healz0r) this playthrough, if I can meet the minimum requirements; otherwise, Chihiro Fushimi (the shy bespectacled student council treasurer) seems like a choice I'd stereotypically make. I get the feeling that being greedy will likely result in what is generally known among certain anime fandoms as an ending worthy of a pleasant sea-going vessel.

The story itself is very… well, anime-serious is about the best I can put it. There's a great deal of introspective dialogue about the nature of self as we relate to others, as well as how Making Friends and Connecting With Each Other is the answer to all your stat-grinding needs, which strikes me as sort of a common theme among anime which purport to be "deep" and "complex". Maybe they're trying to tell us to stop playing games so much and go out into the world or something.

Of course, this kind of veers into surreality when the primary method of evoking one's Persona is to shoot yourself in the head. Repeatedly.

Being that I'm only a short way into the game, I have to admit that I'm enjoying it so far, but I'm well aware of the tendency of such games to turn out to be grindfests near the final boss. This is like stopping the plot just before the final episode, and inserting a 156-episode filler tournament arc. You'll eventually finish the story, but the payoff never seems worth it.

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