ADMAN’s Den – 28/10/2013: “Hey, Video Games! And Anime! And Manga! And Stuff!”

In case you couldn’t tell by now, I am brilliant at keeping personal deadlines. Oddly enough, it has been exactly over 2 months since I last did this, and I have since decided to expand the subject matter.

Video Games:

Two months is a relatively long time, although it can pass quite quickly depending on what you’re doing. Especially when you got a ever-growing back-catalogue of games like I do.

Hey, ever wanted to play the video game equivalent of a pantomime? Well Puppeteer is probably for you. OK, marketing-esque speak aside; I am genuinely surprised by this game. It’s a solidly written (For the most part) platformer with a unique look and play-style. The gameplay is pretty standard, but the way it flows it quite different to how you would expect, partly due to the heavy use of the scissors as a mechanic. It leads to a far more organic way of moving through the environments and interesting transitions into different levels.

To explain, large chunks of levels are made out of paper, which is the most common material that scissors cut. Using that, you mash your way through the material which keeps you suspended in the air, or following a string path, and so on. It’s pretty cool early on. My only gripes with the game are that the writing dips to being annoying at times, it heavy use of QTEs (Especially on bosses), and that it becomes quite repetitive near the end of the game. Although a lot of the environments and boss fights are really different and interesting. If you have PlayStation Plus maybe wait for it to hit IGC, or get it cheap.

Virtue’s Last Reward does right was Bioshock Infinite did very wrong. If you haven’t played either or 999, skip this segment and start reading SMT: Devil Survivor.

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So anyway, VLR is one of the best games I have played on my Vita. Had I not played P4G, it probably would have taken first place. It’s a puzzle-adventure game at it’s core, with the story being delivered in a visual novel style. You play as a dude named Sigma who has been kidnapped and put into a sick game known as the Nonary Game. And you wake up in an elevator with a young girl named Phi. Upon escaping the first room, you meet the other contestants in this so called game. I won’t say who they are because that kinda spoils a few things, also you technically should play 999 first.

Apparently a figure known as Zero created this game as an experiment, and set down rules. It should be mentioned that each player has a bracelet (Just like in 999) that has a number on it. However, unlike 999, this number changes each round of the game. The player who reaches the number 9 on theirs can open the door and escape. Should their bracelet reach zero or they break a rule in the game, the player dies via an injection of a strong muscle relaxant from their bracelet.

Now let me get to why this game is significantly better than Infinite in terms of it’s idea. So the ending of Infinite tries to point out the idea of string theory, and references the divisions in the game as a point to this, however the choices never actually matter because it is a linear game. Well VLR isn’t like that at all. You make choices, very subtle ones at that, that can have dire consequences later on. The game presents a flow-chart with all of the possible outcomes and endings so that you can see how you affect things.

VLR goes really out of it’s way to point out to you why the choices here matter, certain people distrust others, different places can only be explored by going through a certain combination of rooms, and certain people will die or be saved based on that. Then to top it off, you travel into different versions of the same reality to gather information relating to particular puzzles or questions. The game even goes as far as to lock you out of story threads completely if you haven’t seen a particular set of endings yet.

Speaking of which, there’s over 20 endings to this game. There are a few repeats, but for the most part, they are all as crazy and weird as the next one. There’s one specific example where after talking to a character for a while, you end up following them out of a room, only to find them and every other player of the Nonary Game all dead in a room having each of them committing suicide using a scalpel, at which point you follow suit (There’s an explanation for this action).

999: Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors is the earlier game in the series, with a lot of the same ideas, names of mechanics, and so on. Difference being the environment, which is an old cruise ship supposedly the sister ship of the Titanic. Unlike VLR which stuck to an underground base. Also, the way players are killed for breaking rules is far more violent. They outright explode from a bomb placed in their bodies. You get taste of that right early on. There’s not much else to say that can’t be said of VLR, other than the puzzles are more challenging and the main character is hallucinating half the time.

One thing both games do is explain a lot of philosophical, physiological, and scientific ideas that give a general basis upon which the fiction is set. Even though it is a very super-natural game, the theories and research it presents are very much real, and intrigues further research into ideas like Quantum Physics, psychotropics, mental disorders, and so on. Again, something Bioshock just made up for it’s own fiction and a lot of players moronically accepting it as something that actually existed in real-life, especially a lot of the political stuff, which it often got VERY, VERY WRONG.

Basically, if like adventure games, go fucking buy both of these games right fucking now. And leave a few screenshots I took:

Phi being Phi.

HELLA WACK, YO!

</SPOILERS>

In regards to SMT: Devil Survivor Overclocked, I’m still really early in it. About 5-6 hours into the story and still on the “First Day” of events. But my first impressions of the game are that is shows some interesting ideas. The auction house for demons on top of being able to fuse them being kinda cool. They last for about 5 seconds and you have to try and out-bid AI opponents to acquire new demons to mess around with. Other than that, the grid-based, turn-based gameplay is more or less what you would expect from an SMT game, but that’s perfectly fine as it still works perfectly.

The story is kind of interesting, although the characters you run into are not the best. It doesn’t help that the game only features English voice acting, with no option for the Japanese original. Luckily you can turn off voices completely, which has lead to me playing my 3DS completely muted. So yeah, it seems cool, but I find it hard to talk about off the top of my head. I should really start taking notes while playing games if I’m gonna talk about them in this fashion.

Rayman Legends is both very, very fucking awesome; and quite annoying at the same time. First off, I played the game on the Vita, which (At the time of writing) is missing a large chunk of levels from the game, and Ubisoft has yet to deliver on the patch. However, the levels that are there are really creative and fun. It is far more forgiving than Origins was and the controls have been significantly tightened, leading to a much more playable game than before. The problem is the touchscreen stuff they have added.

Put it this way, you’re in the beginning portion of a level, getting into your grove. Then the game puts a wall in your face and says “STOP PLAYING. IT’S MURFY TIME!”, then you start controlling a fairy as you interact with pieces of the level and watch an AI character navigate through these environments instead of you. On top of that, the AI for said character is very stiff, going along a very deliberate path. There is some good news, you can turn on multiplayer and have someone else do the Murfy stuff while you navigate the levels. But honestly, I would prefer it if none of that shit was present, it just seems annoying to me, I want go through these levels! I want to enjoy them and have the satisfaction of overcoming a challenge, not some narrow-thinking AI incapable of emotions.

Other than that, the end-world levels are absolutely amazing. The first one is exactly what they showed at E3 a few years ago, but later on they start playing versions of songs like “Black Betty” and “Eye Of The Tiger”, either as covers with the original instruments, or just go nuts and play the entirety of the song in a Mariachi band style. It is the most awesome shit. Of top of that, the levels practically turn into rhythm game, with enemies and obstacles popping up to the beat of the song. Definitely one of my favourite games of the year, albeit with some issues.

I already a fair amount about Muramasa: Rebirth already, but I figured I would give a small update. I start playing with the male character, and the game is still very much the same. Different bosses and story line, but it plays exactly the same. The swords are very similar also. And I am aware of there being lot more to this game now outside of the main story line.

Another Vanillaware game; Dragon’s Crown seems pretty interesting. I’m usually not a fan of brawlers, but this showing some promise for me. The use of RPG mechanics seems like a nice fit for once and actually adds new moves and options for combat. Another nice feature is the ability to have AI party members, so I don’t have to be alone when going through the game, a major help when not many people I know have the game.

Also, it’s a gorgeous looking game. You might have opinions on the character art, and that’s fine, I’ve seen way more fucked up shit in art galleries when it comes to representing humans; so the designs in that regard don’t faze me at all. But everything about the world from the background art, animations, lighting; it’s fantastic.

As for another game that is astoundingly pretty, but unfortunately lacks the same depth or fun; Remember Me has a really unique concept, the idea of going into people’s memories and changing them to alter their opinions of the world around them and even to manipulate their motivations. Neo-Paris is a stunningly beautiful environment, both the slums and the upper-class areas are well-detailed. The concept art in the game also opens up the ideas that the developer has, showing even larger parts of the city with huge landscapes and environments to climb around in.

The problem with the game is, it falls flat in terms of mechanics. It relies very heavily on combat, without giving a ton of variety in terms of enemy encounters, and when there are new enemies to fight, they are not very well designed, and combat scenes end up lasts way longer than they should because of certain enemies like the guys that hurt you whenever you strike a hit at them, or the invisible mutants. Not very fun in that regard.

The Memory Remix is a really cool idea though, and I personally wish they made more of them throughout the story of the game.

Shadow Warrior is both cheesy as Hell, and kinda dumb fun. I don’t even know why they give you guns, the sword is so awesome to use to cut dudes up into especially tiny pieces. Yeah, the level design could be better and there should be more enemy variety early on; but I still find it quite enjoyable. The amount of 90’s movie/song references is pretty great too.

Right, now let me tell you about ARMA III. It is both the most realistic military shooter a civilian can get their hands on, and the dumbest fucking fun you could ever have. Allow me to explain. You could have a well thought out plan to attack an enemy base, and capture it without alerting the enemy players… Or, you could get a tank, turn on direct comms, and then blare out NWA songs while steamrolling towards their front gate with the full intention of fucking their shit up. And that’s why I love this fucking game. Wasteland is a really fun game mode to play by the way, although it needs fixing at the moment.

Far Cry 3 Blood Dragon seem pretty great. I only played an hour though. Same with Tomb Raider. I’ll try and play more of both, I promise.

StreetPass. Now that is a thing. I honestly wasn’t too hot on the idea before I ended up back in England for Uni. But know that I have people to actually StreetPass with, I’ve come around to it. Don’t get me wrong, it is a dumb through-and-through, but it is very much engaging nonetheless. So much so that I spent money on those extra games that they made.

So what are my thoughts on the games? Puzzle-Swap is a no-brainer. Pass people, get pieces of an image. As for the StreetPass Quest, it’s more of a game, a very basic strategy game, but still more of a game than the Puzzle-Swap thing. You basically go room to room, clearing out enemies and getting hats.

Now the paid games is where it gets interesting. First off, I paid fucking money for a fucking gardening game… And I’m enjoying it! Growing plants, organizing my garden, selling the seeds I get; enthralling as Hell. Next up in the StreetPass Battle thing, where you build an army of Mii characters you collect. It sounds cool in concept, but in actual fact you spend more time building you damn army through just StreetPassing then logging in and ending your turn than you do actually fighting. Kind of a bummer in that regard.

Next couple of games are the StreetPass Mansion, which is a dungeon-crawler/puzzle-piece/timing-based combat game. It’s interesting and kinda deep in places, although if you don’t pay attention to what you are doing you can get killed very quick, which happened to me because I was too busy talking to people or watching something. It has a bunch of levelling up and weapon upgrading you can do if you’re into that. And the last one is a space-shooter where the Mii characters you have turn into a variety of weapons. It’s fun but kinda time consuming. To be fair, with all these games now, I barely have time to play other games on my 3DS because I’m too busy StreetPassing- OH GOD HELP ME!

I’m still playing Persona 2: Innocent Sin and Persona 3 Portable. They’re not really worth talking about here because I’ve already talk about them to death. As with Metal Gear Solid: Digital Graphic Novel, it’s a novelised version of the original story. It’s not bad, but you already know what it’s about.

As for Battlefield 3, well fuck the console version of that game, it’s unplayable. The PC version might be superior in every way, shape, and form; but aspects of that game are still not great. I still think persistence in a multiplayer environment in relation to levels and content locks is a terrible idea that very much turns off late-joining players.

The Battlefield 4 Beta was unplayable for me due to the fact I didn’t really have a PC while it was out for the most part, and even when I did get my computer back, it still had horrible frame-rate issues.

I went into Syndicate with an the expectation that it was a game with a specific style and idea that failed to deliver appropriately. And it met that expectation perfectly. The world is extremely stylized, much like Remember Me, and the music is a highlight; with a powerful dubstep driven soundtrack. What is poor about the game is the fact that is fails to execute any of it’s coolest ideas in a fun way, often using a mechanic once and then never giving you a reason to use it ever again. Although my more pressuring issue with the game is just how much of a console port it is on the PC.

Getting to the point, the FOV is complete crap and will ruin the game unless one is to mod the files to increase the field. It truly is sickening while playing the game, especially with all that stylized camera use that Starbreeze is known for. That being said, this isn’t a disappointing game, as long as you go into it with the right expectations of knowing that it’s a very stylized, but still kind of generic shooter; there is some fun to be had with it.

I started playing and enjoying Saint’s Row 4, then I got to a point where it kept crashing on me and I got reverted to an old save and haven’t played it since. As for GTA V, well you’ve probably played it and enjoyed it. I liked it too. And it is not worth repeating why because you already know the answer.

3D Dot Game Heroes is fantastic game idea that I really wish got released on the Vita. It basically a love letter to Zelda. As a matter of fact, it pretty much is Zelda. Even down to some of the sound effects being the same. Anyway, I finished the first dungeon and worked my way through the rest of the world, it’s really fun and filled with references. You should play this.

Now, I’m not the biggest fan of Pokemon.. Actually I’m not a fan at all, but I still bought Pokemon Y after some very light persuasion from a couple of friends. Well, it’s exactly what I thought it was going to be, another Pokemon game. You collect, train, and fight with monsters. Yep. And you know what? It’s good, and I’m enjoying it. What more do you want from me? I’ve certainly taken my time with it, I’m 16 hours in and I’ve only just finished the second Gym Leader, now I’m just grinding up my main Pokemon into the level 40s.

Also, when I found an Evee, I lost my proverbial shit from just how adorable it was.

And finally on the games front, The Stanley Parable. Do not not not not not not (DO) play it.

3DS Impressions

So I’ve had a 3DS for four months now. My general impressions of the system are mixed. Put it this way;

  • Yeah, the 3D works, but it’s a pointless feature.
  • The sound and visuals are terrible for most games.
  • The console is quite uncomfortable to hold in my hands for long periods of time.
  • The system is more cute than it is functional.
  • The eShop is joke.
  • The friend system is the worst.
  • The touchscreen is poor.

But then there’s this:

  • StreetPass is a cool feature. Dumb, but cool.
  • It might be more cute than functional, but it’s kinda joyful in that regard.
  • Digital Releases of all 3DS games.
  • SD Card slot.
  • Dual-Screens are alright depending on how they’re used.
  • There may not be a ton of great games, but the ones there are, are of a fairly high quality.

Take from that what you will, I know I’m not going super in-detail like I did with the Vita, but that’s because I really don’t have a ton of time to write a lengthy comparison right now. I like the system, but the Vita still stole my heart in this regard. But I have plenty of room in my bag for both.

I promise to do a more in-detailed comparison of the two in the future.

Gaming On A Laptop

It sucks. Don’t do it. Ever.

OK, in all seriousness, if you have a good surface to place it on you’ll be set. And provided it’s powerful enough, it can probably get by. I just wasn’t having a good time with my laptop because I wanted to play stuff like BF4 and a few other high-end games, and couldn’t.

Anime:

Seeing as I’ve watched so much of this stuff this year, I’ll just give you the lists I’ve created.

Stuff I watched:

  • Cowboy Bebop
  • Cowboy Bebop: The Movie
  • Persona 4 The Animation
  • Persona: Trinity Soul
  • Devil Survivor 2 The Animation
  • Samurai Champloo
  • Kids Of The Slope
  • Attack On Titan
  • Watashi Ga Motenai No Wa Dou Kangaete Mo Omaera Ga Warui! (WataMote)
  • Black Lagoon
  • Eden Of The East
  • Ghost In The Shell
  • Howl’s Moving Castle
  • My Neighbour Totoro
  • The Girl Who Lept Through Time
  • Paprika
  • Perfect Blue
  • Summer Wars
  • Grave Of The Fireflies
  • Lupin III – Castle Of Cagliostro
  • Akria
  • Death Note
  • Valkyira Chronicles
  • Spirited Away
  • Voices A Of Distant Star
  • Nausicaa Valley Of The Wind
  • Ghost In The Shell: Arise (Pt 1)
  • Millennium Actress
  • 5cm Per Second

Planning To Watch:

Ghost In The Shell: Innocence

  • Ghost In The Shell: Stand Alone Complex
  • Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood
  • Serial Experiment Lain
  • Sword Of The Strangers
  • Shigurui
  • Hellsing Ultimate
  • Metropolis
  • Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion
  • Nodame Cantabile
  • Darker than Black
  • Macross Plus
  • Laputa – Castle In The Sky
  • Porco Rosso
  • Whisper Of The Heart
  • Shinsekai Yori
  • Freedom
  • Persona 3: The Movie
  • Girl und Panzer
  • Mardock Scramble
  • Ghost In The Shell: Arise (Pt 2/3/4)
  • Kill La Kill
  • Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet
  • A Letter to Momo
  • The Place Promised in Our Early Days
  • From Up On Poppy Hill
  • Colorful
  • Gurren Lagann
  • JoJo’s Bizzare Adventures

Manga

Similar situation with the anime stuff. I could describe my feelings in more detail, but honestly, you could just check them out yourself.

  • Shingeki No Kyojin (Attack On Titan)
  • WataMote
  • Black Lagoon
  • Kids On The Slope
  • Cowboy Bebop

Attack On Titan and WataMote are the series that I am following at the moment. I purchased all the Black Lagoon volumes they’ve put out, and I’ll read them whenever I get back home.

Other Stuff:

Windows 8 Sucks

Yes, it’s the worst. It is an OS for people who clearly have no idea how computers work, but also fails to cater to the people who do know. It makes even the most basic customisations that you would usually be familiar with a complete hassle, and the “Metro” interface to totally pointless. I haven’t had a chance to update to 8.1 yet, but I doubt it fixes my issues.

There is one thing I like though, when you have dual-monitors (Much like I do), you can have a collection of single-monitor wallpapers, and you have both monitors shuffle through different pictures at the same time, instead of specifically creating dual-screen wallpapers like before because it used to just repeat the same image on both screens unless you went through the hassle of making them yourself.

PC Status

MY PC IS WORKING AGAIN. ALL IS GOOD.

Yeah, it was just transit damage, but I still didn’t have the tools to properly fix it, so I ended up paying someone to do it for me. They also gave it a damn good cleaning which was nice.

Anyway, this blog is finally written. Make sure to check out the latest MGCast, where we shoot the usual shit. I’m out! Later!

-ADMAN

About Adam Lutton

Game Designer / Programmer
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