This time Windows decided to inform me that one of my HDDs was biting the dust, at first I thought it was an error on Windows part as it only came up once and then disappeared. Then when my bios started telling me the HDD was buggered I actually went and checked it, and sure enough, it was in a really bad shape. The noise of the thing while testing it was horrendous.
Anyway, this HDD was the one I was storing my documents on, so it’s kind of important that it worked. And so began my journey of trying to find software to clone the drive before it bit the dust.
I downloaded Acronis True Image and Macrium Reflect hoping one of them would work. As it happens, True Image only lets you clone the drive if you pay for it. Thankfully, Macrium Reflect would have done the job.
“Would have” is the key point there, as every time I tried to perform the cloning it would error out because the drive was so buggered that it didn’t have enough speed to start the operation and time out.
So I went to Plan C; format the new drive and give it the same name and drive letter as the old one, then manually copy over everything. The only reason this works was because I cocked up when initially formatting the old drive when I originally got it and setting the whole drive as “My Documents” folder. This ended up working in my favour, as once I got everything copied over, the programs linked to those original folders automatically found them again and started operating as normal. Steam also relinked the games back up.
It’s not completely perfect though; after getting back to my Unity projects, I found that several files were missing. Not too big of a deal as I had them backed up on my repo, but I am a little worried about the projects I never got to commit or didn’t have repos.
Space Cart might be in danger of being too messed up to continue development with. I’ll give news on that soon if that happens to be the case.
In the grand scheme of things, it could have been worse. But it did set my schedule back by about a week.
On that note, the Game Template Project is progressing. 4 templates are ready to be used, and several more are being worked on. However, my estimate of taking a month to make these was maybe a bit conservative. So I’ll continue working on this until at least the end of July. But I really don’t want to spend any longer than that.
That’s it from me. Don’t expect another post for a while.
Welcome back to my thoughts on video games and anime throughout the first half of 2021. Keep in mind that I write this post over a period of months, so aspects of it might not meld all that well together.
Persona 5 Strikers
I fucking hate this game.
Persona 5 was a great game, although it’s not my favourite Persona game. But hanging out with all the side characters and finding things to do was a blast.
Well you can forget about any of the side characters because you’re stuck with the main cast for this one. And the side activities revolve around resource gathering, fetch quests, and mini-bosses.
The musou gameplay isn’t the worst, but the magic use being extremely limited by SP and then having the bigger enemies be very spongy leads to a lot of SP item usage during boss fights. And I do mean a lot. Just simply attacking the bosses will lead to miniscule chip-damage that makes you wonder what’s the point of buying better weapons.
Another annoying thing is that there are checkpoints throughout the dungeons that you can use to save and return to the “Real world”. However, time does not pass when returning back to reality, and there’s nothing to do in the real world hubs other than to buy supplies anyway. So you go back into the dungeon soon after leaving it, sometimes immediately. This process is also the only way you restore HP & SP without using items. Why they couldn’t just have the checkpoints restore them instead of leaving the dungeon is beyond me.
The story is completely forgettable, but it basically doubles-down on the concept of adults being assholes and wanting to control people. But now there’s AI voice assistants involved and the overhanging association of the tech company that created it. Unfortunately, if you’re like me and hated the main cast of Persona 5, you won’t find anything being done or said even remotely interesting.
Even the novelty of going to different cities across Japan wears out its welcome once you realise just how boxed in you are and the lack of anything interesting to do.
At least the music is still banging.
Dead Or Alive 6
In my ponderous research of learning how to make a fighting game, I decided to install a few example games to take inspiration from. Of these, Dead Or Alive 5 & 6 ended up making their way on my PC. DoA 5 had a lot of technical issues and saving my game simply could not be done due to the fact the developers hardcoding the save file directory to be “My Documents”, which due to the setup of my machine meant that I would get an error everytime it attempted to save.
So this section is on DoA 6 instead. I see why people are upset with this game. The utter avalanche of DLC is extremely off-putting and also makes the base game seem extremely barebones. Especially considering that characters that were featured in DoA 5 like Nyotengu, Momiji, and Rachael are now DLC unlocks instead of just being in the game. The single player story might as well not exist, but nobody ever came to this game for a thought provoking narrative anyway.
The fighting system is still fairly solid, however the new attack moves that fill up a bar that basically give you easy counters and supers seems a bit excessive. I’m not really a fan of super meters and DoA didn’t really need them. I suppose it helps very casual players (People who are somehow worse than me) pull off flashy moves, but does make fights a lot easier now.
The new character Nico is extremely fun to play as, and I also quite like playing as Tamaki. In terms of how it affected my learning of how fighting games work… Well that’s for another blog post.
Puyo Puyo Tetris 2
There really isn’t anything significantly new about Puyo Puyo Tetris 2. It’s mostly refinement with some additional modes and the inclusion of boss battles in the single-player that lets you build teams with special abilities and such. It’s still a good game, but not really worth writing reams and reams about.
Played a few things in VR over the month, mostly demos.
Spider-Man Far From Home
I was kinda worried when starting this one about how much motion sickness it would give me. Weirdly though, the swinging wasn’t too bad, but the on-ground movement being locomotion based did make me feel ill. I also had the anti-motion-sickness settings turned all the way up.
Anyway, it’s super short experience. You swing around a city for a bit, then a boss appears, and then you waggle your shit around until it dies, because the tracking constantly goes to crap. I don’t really much care for it, but it is free.
Warplanes: WW1 Fighters Demo
Now this was the demo that made me hurl. I always find flight games to be the worst when it comes to my motion sickness with VR. Additionally, there weren’t any recalibration options, so my original stance of standing couldn’t be changed even after pausing and getting a chair to sit in.
From the gameplay perspective though, it pretty interesting. You’re flying a plane and manually aiming a machine gun in front of you, firing off flares from another gun you can pick up, and manually aiming bombs that you drop by hand. I like the idea of it, but unfortunately my motion-sickness put a pretty quick halt to playing it any further. I’ll check out the full game some other time perhaps.
Into The Radius
This is one of those VR games that has locomotion movement rather than teleporting, so I got real sick after playing it for a bit. I didn’t even get past the tutorial.
That said, there’s a lot of fiddly gun stuff in this. Ejecting mags to check on ammo count, storing things in specific pockets, manually adding attachments, etc. It would be cool if VR tracking was better than it currently is.
I might come back to this, and I was intending to before I published this post, unfortunately, other games got in the way.
Borderlands 2 VR
I tried to start this game and then it soft crashed after the opening cutscene. Again, I’ll need to come back to this one, but I don’t have high hopes.
I was expecting this to be super short and underwhelming, but this is probably up there with Alyx in terms of fun VR experiences. It didn’t put any excessive wear on to me.
You get a bunch of levels about remedial jobs like office working, being a store clerk, car mechanic, etc. Of course these are extremely dumbed down and humorous versions of these. So you can throw trash into people’s cubicles in the office one, or fill a fuel tank with energy drink in the car mechanic one.
It’s more fun than you originally think it’s gonna be, which is great. And it didn’t make me want to throw up which is a plus.
Eleven Table Tennis
You would think table tennis would be VR’s “Pong”. A basic game that would easily help people to understand the potential of VR and get them comfortable in using it. Unfortunately it runs into the same problem a lot of melee weapon-based games do; a lack of tactile feedback.
In table tennis, the paddle essentially acts as an extension of oneself, but there’s still a weight to it and a certain way of holding it that making hitting the ball back and forth a comfortable experience. In VR, the paddle is now a relatively heavier controller, and you’re not holding in a similar way. Furthermore, with tracking being what it currently is, the amount of precision that you could use to finesse the ball is not really there, leading me to end up hitting it too hard or too softly. Sometimes the tracking would just fail on me and I don’t hit it at all.
That said, when I could get the rhythm down, it did eventually feel pretty good to play. But still not as good as the real thing.
So it’s not perfect. This game is also very expensive for what it is, even when bought at a discount. It’s very multiplayer focused, so if that’s your thing, I suppose you could get some fun out of it. There are a fair few options for practicing and various cosmetic options as well, if you like looking silly for other people you play against.
Much like Into The Radius; this also has locomotion movement, and teleporting. At the same time. And melee combat, along with guns.
Again, I need more time with this one, but the locomotion movement and pseudo-parkour really did a number on me.
I gave my opinion on this game back in November, and I bought and finished this game since. And Christ is it a headache. I’m not even going to try and play the DLC.
Forza Horizon 4: LEGO Champions
Forza Horizon 4 came to Steam a little while ago, and after it was discounted I decided to grab it and the DLC. Although there was only one thing I wanted do with it and that was check out the LEGO island stuff.
Honestly, it’s a bit of a mixed bag.
The LEGO versions of cars are really cool and there’s a lot of the LEGO charm and humour that one should expect. But the island isn’t completely LEGO, there’s still a lot of real world materials and items, and the races are still done with real cars rather than the LEGO ones. That’s probably because there’s only half a dozen LEGO cars. The McLaren Senna, the Ferrari F40, and a Bugatti that’s a variant of the Veyron; to name a few.
There’s still some neat stuff, like pirate ships, a raceway, and a desert filled with crashed UFOs. And the LEGO specific events are still pretty fun.
Maybe they should make a LEGO Racer game proper. But with better handling because SimCade is still a terrible handling model.
It Takes Two
As someone who really enjoyed playing A Way Out with a friend, I had relatively high expectations for this one; and for the most part, it hit them.
It feels really good to play, very tight controls that compliment the variety of game mechanics that they throw at you. The mini-games can be hit and miss though, particularly when one of you has an advantage due to being on a keyboard. Surprised they managed to program a working chess game though.
I wish I could speak highly of the story though. Without spoiling to much, it seems like the two main characters would have been a lot happier with their lives if they never had a kid. And quite frankly the whole game makes them seem like fucking assholes to their child anyway. With some very dark humour to compliment that point.
Last note, there’s one easter egg that I very much enjoyed listening to. I won’t tell you what or where it is, but I’m sure you can imagine considering Josef Fares is involved with it.
GTA Online: Diamond Casino Heist, Doomsday Heists, and Cayo Perico
God, fuck this game.
Anyway, a friend of mine recently got his new PC set up (Minus a GPU, which I am currently letting him have an old GTX680) and he proposed to me that we should play GTA Online. I was curious about the new island they added so I agreed.
I’ll complain about GTAO in a minute, but let’s actually talk about Doomsday, Diamond Casino, and Cayo Perico. The Doomsday heist requires you to buy a facility for about $1 Million or so and then you get your usual setup missions, except it’s different this time. You get prep missions before the setup missions, and the prep missions can be done within the current online lobby, and other players can interfere with it. Another thing is that you don’t need all 4 players to do any of the missions, although you still need a minimum of 2 for the setup and heist missions.
The money is OK, but it does give you a price discount on multiple key vehicles, including a flying car. Although it’s difficulty in the last part is pretty damn harsh. I didn’t like it overall.
The Diamond Casino heist is similar, this time requiring the player to get an arcade. Prep is actually more important here as depending on how you scope out the casino you will gain access to additional approaches. This time there are only prep missions, but the heist still requires a minimum of two people. But the payout is considerably higher than the previous ones, although you are limited by time and the loot that you get, which changes each time you do the heist.
I enjoyed this heist, but it’s probably the most difficult to deal with. The stealth is bad, and the game is very inconsistent about whether or not it wants to knock out enemies when you punch them. But the approaches are probably the most interesting in the game.
And then there’s Cayo Perico. Which comparatively is fucking El Dorado. You can get so much damn money from this place and it’s a near literal cake walk.
So you buy a submarine, scope out the place, do some preps, and then go to the compound on the island and steal the target and a whole bunch of other stuff. But basically, if you scope out the drainage tunnel near the compound and then do the setups related to that approach; you can basically access everything on that island with ease. Do it with a friend, but you can get even more dosh.
GTAO STILL SUCKS.
Let’s say you play for about an hour. 15-20 minutes of that hour is spent in loading screens. Another 20 minutes is spent driving to the place you need to go because they always put it as far away from you as possible. And then the rest of that time is spent actually attempting to do the missions, until a hacker turns up in an invulnerable jet and kills you several times.
I can’t wait to uninstall this game again.
Nier Replicant Version 1.22…
Nier is one of those games where the less I say, the better.
Unfortunately, I went into the game after playing Nier Automata, so I knew about a couple of references, plus as friend of mine told me about several things in the game, albeit with certain details omitted.
That said, this isn’t your usual bog-standard remaster. There’s new weapons, new costumes, and new quests; plus an additional ending. The combat has also been considerably improved and is apparently a lot less clunky now, although I can’t vouch for that point because I never played the original Nier.
Additionally, they added the original Japanese voices. Which is probably the sole reason why I decided to wait for this remaster instead of playing the original (Although I still own a copy). That said, the English subtitles are based on the dub, so expect inaccuracies and Americanisms.
The PC port is also somewhat concerning. It does work better than the legendarily awful Automata port, and I didn’t have a crash during my whole time playing. But holy shit, if you’re gonna remaster a game, spend the time and make sure the game logic isn’t tied to frame-rate, especially if you have no plans on locking the FPS. So this game is very sporadic in terms of game speed.
That said, that’s kind of the only major complaint other than the performance. The game just doesn’t utilise resources properly. But it’s difficult for me to explain why, but I’m sure you can find videos on it.
Anyway, I enjoyed this a lot, even with the back-tracking. And now I need to play the Drakengard games.
Record Of Lodoss War: Deedlit in Wonder Labyrinth
As far as Symphony Of The Night clones go, this one was pretty good. The game feel is fairly snappy and responsive. You become fairly overpowered pretty quickly, but despite that, the difficulty curve is still fairly wobbly. Bosses can jump between mildly annoying to a cake walk. It’s also pretty linear with it’s progression, not much in the way of exploring for optional bosses and such like you would see in SOTN.
The story seems to take place many years after Lodoss War as Deedlit is the only person still alive in the merry band of adventures, no doubt due to the fact she’s an elf and they live for hundreds of years. Unfortunately, my experience with the source material comes down to watching a handful of OVAs a few years back. I might watch the TV series at some point though.
I had fun with it, and I’m looking forward to playing Touhou Luna Nights, which came out before this and developed by the same guys.
Mamoru Oshii’s new show. I was expecting vampires, ended up getting a homage to a bunch of movies that Oshii likes; Castlevania, Street Fighter, and Darkstalkers references; and a whole lot of weird shit.
It’s an interesting show. The OPs are excellent as well.
Uma Musume: Pretty Derby Season 2
How the fuck does an anime about real world horses and real horse racing end up being one of the best sports anime ever made? I loved every damn episode of this. All the horses have their own weird quirks and jokes, the emotional moments work well, the overall story of Tokai Teio beating the odds despite multiple injuries; it just works.
Yasuke is an interesting bloke. He went from a slave to one of Nobunaga’s retainers, and was devoutly loyal to him to the end. So how does the anime portray him as? Well, something akin to that, but then they decided to set it after Nobunaga’s death, add in a whole bunch of magic and mechs, and then centre the whole thing on some annoying girl with DBZ power level magic.
It’s a fucking horrid anime. And the fact it barely talks about Yasuke as a person and his history is an insult to him. If you want to see a better representation of him, play Nioh. On the plus side, the anime has some decent animation and some pretty good music. The OP is quite good especially.
That should cover half a year’s worth of stuff. It’s not everything but it is the most important stuff that I actually feel like talking about. Next Den post will be in December or January.
A new Den post is almost ready. Quite a lot of games to talk about.
Till then, I started another project. This one isn’t a game per se, but a series of game templates or starter projects. Basically, a bunch of barebones projects based around various genres and ideas.
It’s intended to help prototyping ideas or getting game jam ideas up and running quicker. This comes from my own experiences in game jams where even though the idea for our games were simple, we still had to split time between development and art. And it ended up hurting the core gameplay feel more often than not.
This was especially problematic when working on The Feathered Stalker back in GGJ2021, where as the person in charge of the programming, I spent an alarming amount of time programming the player character and having it work properly, but ending up not finishing the game as a whole due to the core features taking too much time, plus the monster never got properly finished.
So having a few generic gameplay systems would probably help my life a lot during game jam stuff, at least where Unity is concerned. And if it helps me, maybe it’ll help others too.
Probably not gonna spend too long on this project though, probably June and some of July on it. Providing I can be as productive as possible and not have to deal with real-life bollocks, I should be able to bang out a template every day or couple of days.
One of the more interesting things I want to work on is networked multiplayer, and have it work with the different game templates. Not sure how that’s going to go, but I will provide updates as I go along.
In terms of other projects; the fighting game prototype, FIST-EM, is semi-on-hold. I’m still working on fixing the camera and the movement system. I’m not even going to attempt to animate any combat until those two things are fixed. Plus I need some new or adjusted animations for what I currently have anyway.
As for the reason why it’s on-hold; Space Cart. Currently re-doing the station menus and everything related to it. As well as going to make new mission types. Unfortunately, I need to rewrite quite a bit of code because what’s there is basically the contents of a pasta bowl. And it’s taking longer than I would like to work on it due to not being particularly motivated. Feature creep Hell is real and will haunt you.
Not much else has really been going on, not surprisingly. Our dog has had a few problems since the last post, but nothing too serious. Now that sun is out a bit more, playing with her is going to be much easier, she’s been fairly grumpy during the very wet and cold spring we’ve had.
That’s everything I guess. Like I said, Den post soon.
Another ThreeThingGame happened, and once again I decided to join. Having learnt absolutely fuck all from the last TTG; myself and my friend jumped right in.
We decided to go into the jam this time with a basic idea of a game rattling around and use our words as a theme for it. We joked about making a slightly more elaborate Pong clone.
Once we got our words: “Bunny”, “Kicking”, “Throwing”; I was suddenly reminded and subsequently inspired of the legendary NEO-GEO game from Data-East, Windjammers.
Seeing as I was doing the programming last game jam, this time my friend was doing the code and I was in charge of the art. And instead of Unity, we were using Godot again. As expected, it ended up being the bain of our existence for a multitude of reasons.
Godot continues to surprise me with how certain aspects are really half-baked. One of the first issues we encountered was with the controls, where we couldn’t separate Left Ctrl and Right Ctrl keys, Godot only defined it as one key. Seeing as we were making a multiplayer, this was a bit of a problem. The solution: Hard coding the controls.
The art side of the game, which was entirely my responsibility, went fairly well. The bunny sprite I made was a bit low effort in hindsight, but I really wanted to spend time on playing the game and giving feedback for refinement. But I was fairly pleased with how the points popping up on screen looked. The music choices were pretty bloody great, thanks to OpenGameArt.org.
It wasn’t perfect, but I feel better about this game than the Global Game Jam and last TTG games.
Anyway, if you want to check out Bunny Jammers, you can do so at the link below.
Despite the jam only being a few days ago, I already have an idea for the next jam, but I’ll keep that to myself for now. What I might do in the meantime is port Bunny Jammers to Unity to see if I can get it to play a bit better. But that’s a big maybe.
I started making this game in order to prove a point to my friend about how I thought directional inputs in fighting games suck for controllers, and despite a lot of bumps, progress is getting made.
You can follow development below.
This is only intended to be a prototype though. Don’t expect this to get turned into a full game. I do however intend on getting roll-back netcode working with it. But that will come much later.
A fair few challenges working on this so far. I gave up on trying to do the 3D animation myself and instead relied on Mixamo for the animation so far, but I did setup all the animation states and the programming relating to it. And anyone who watches my Twitch streams likely knows how much pain the camera was to finally figure out.
So that’s the 3rd project I’m working on. The GGJ game is binned, I’ll make the game page public eventually, but probably won’t upload the game. The music visualiser is on hold until I can find a more suitable C++ library to use as SFML is a bit more of a pain than I would like. I might use Godot with Native Script.
Let’s get this out of the way, the game did not get finished within the 48 hours.
We were trying to build a game similar to Slenderman with a shade of STALKER. The player goes around picking up parts, after they pick up the first part, a monster spawns in and starts following the player around. Where it differs to Slenderman is that the monster is supposed to react to sound to find where the player is, and actually attack the player more directly rather than just going insane.
So how did it go? Not terribly from a gameplay point of view. You can start and finish the game, which I consider to be somewhat of a success.
Our problems mostly stemmed from issues transferring models from Blender to Unity. Several of the models had buggered UVs and culling problems. Because of that I had to wait quite a while to even have enough art stuff done to actually get the game up and running to its current state.
The second major issue was the monster itself, importing it into Unity often led to it not having the animations, or when it did have the animations, they would get deleted after converting the model from a generic to a humanoid rig. Once it was converted to a humanoid rig, the bones themselves would cause errors. At this point it was very late into the second day and the decision as to whether or not we should stay up came into question. Based on the amount of work that was still required, we decided to call it a night there.
However, the story doesn’t end there.
Today, I started added additional models into the level, fixing up the collisions, and added more spawn points for the items. I also looked into the monster rigging again and found the bone structure problem and fixed it, but after getting deeper into configuring the model I found that the skeleton was backwards in places. After talking to my friend who helped with that aspect of the game, we both came to the conclusion that it should probably be re-done.
So that’s where the game is at. I’m gonna put a link to the Itch.io and GGJ pages here, and you can check in on them if you want keep up with development.
There is a new Space Cart demo, you can play it at the itch.io link below.
The new demo fixes up a lot of the issues were complaints the last time I made the demo. New navigation UI, better menus, more sounds, music, infinite scrolling, parallax scrolling, and so on. The demo has been out for a while now and I’ve gotten quite a bit of feedback on it, the most notable being that the PC controls are kinda broken.
The next milestone for me is going to be in November of this year. Originally I wasn’t planning on continuing development for Space Cart because I honestly wasn’t enjoying playing it when testing stuff. But seeing other people playing it, giving me feedback, and offering ideas; it rejuvenated desire to continue. Follow the game on Itch if you want regular updates on its development.
In C++ news, I finished going through the C++ Programming In Easy Steps book that I’ve had since Uni, and honestly, C++ is nowhere as intimidating as it used to be for me. OK, pointers are still a bit weird to me, but at least I understand them now. Not entirely sure where I would use them in my own programming problems, but it’s good to know.
With that out of the way, I want to get revenge on my old 3rd year project of trying to make a music visualiser. It’s been a mental weight on my mind since Uni that has been dragging me down since. So I’m gonna start over and properly build it this time with my new found knowledge.
Not decided on what APIs I’ll use, but SFML is still around and is originally based in C++, so that’ll probably be a my starting point.
As for the “New Project”, it’s significantly more complex that anything I’ve made so far. Several orders of magnitude more complex and requiring a lot of skills that I haven’t been in touch with for several years.
It’s a fighting game. 3D fighting game with Z-axis movement (Not fully, but some. Think Tekken or DoA). The unique hook is that it doesn’t require complex button presses or input timings. It’s more focuses on positioning, blocking, and dodge timing. The second aspect is that it features stance changing. I won’t go too deep into the details, but that’s the main idea.
The first bit of work I’ve done on it is building a series of animation states within Unity, and getting started with the 3D animation. The latter is the challenging part, even getting the character moving is proving to be challenging.
The new project isn’t really a project anyway, it’s more of a prototype I’ve had kicking around for a few months now. Curious how well it’ll go. It most likely won’t go well.
For my final point this post; I’m doing Global Game Jam this year. Because it’s remote this year it makes it a lot easier to be convinced to go do it this year. ThreeThingGame a couple months back got me interested in joining in on jams again, so I’m looking forward to burning myself out again.
I will try and stream as much of it as I can, and I will do a blog post after the event. It starts on January 28th and ends on the 30th. I hope it goes well.
Another year has passed, and Christ what a shitshow it was. No point in complaining about it, you already know. But in my personal case, a lot of plans of mine have been shelved into 2021 or 2022 now, including finding employment and visiting Japan for the first time.
Enough of that, let’s talk about video games for a bit and then get into why you’re really here.
Going from an action game to a turn-based RPG is a very rare turnaround to see these days, it’s usually the reverse. Yakuza 7 gives it a go and bring its own insane ideas to the table. The job system is hilarious and filled with careers such as Breakdancer, Chef, Musician, and Host. As you’d expect, the abilities these classes have are as over the top as ever.
It’s not completely perfect. It took nearly a month before SEGA patched in the ability to see what abilities enemies were weak to (A feature that was in the original Japanese release). Switching between targets doesn’t work as it should. And the encounter rate on street battles is so frequent that it can drive you insane at times.
The side stories and mini-games are abundant, including a port of VF5; which is the first time it’s ever been ported to PC.
The business mini-game is very tedious, but it does pay out quite nicely.
My last complaint is the difficulty, where it’s mostly easy until Chapter 12 and 14 where it decides to ram you through a wood chipper, bollocks first. The major boss fights in those chapters require you to really understand the best roles for those fights and use strategy accordingly. But every other part of the game, including the last few fights after those chapters require no such strategic planning.
But back to praise; Ichiban is an amazing protagonist. He’s a dumbass with a ton of passion, running into situations head-on, and looking at the world as if it was a video game. I’m serious about that last part, his love of Dragon Quest and other games is why the job system is the way it is and why enemies have dumb names.
He really drives the story. His troubled upbringing helps him relate to the other characters who likewise have had their own problems in their lives, and he really bonds with them over time. I quite liked Zhao whose personality is like a lesser crazy Majima but mixed with a love of games much like Ichiban and a love of cooking.
There’s a ton to this game, and if I really wanted to talk about it for hours I could, but you should probably just play it yourself.
I’ve been wanting to play this game for a number of years now. It used to pop up a lot during indie discussions and I thought the sheer attention to detail in the rice farming was intriguing.
Well let’s start with the rice farming; it is alarmingly detailed. From the start of the farming process; you must manage the quality of the soil by applying fertiliser, plant each individual seed, maintain water levels throughout the whole process, including draining and filling back up again. While the plants grow, you should pull out any and weeds you see. Once they’re ready to harvest, you pull them out, put them on racks to dry. After the crops have dried out you move them into the shed and start stripping the rice off the crop. Then you pound the rice with some kind of mallet, and how much you pound it defines whether it’s brown rice all the way up to white rice. Then to start the process again you need to plow the field.
Now if that sounds a little too much for you, good news; you can skip all of it.
You may be wondering why I’m not praising the Hell out of it, and that’s to do with the combat. It reminds of me of Muramasa Rebirth in terms of 2D platformer combat. But unlike Muramasa, it’s nowhere as polished. Enemies frequently get stuck in walls, getting stun-locked to death can frequently happen, and you can’t block attacks, you can only parry them. The parrying part is the most troublesome part because the enemies attacks will always take animation priority over the player. So you’ll get into the rhythm of the combat, and then suddenly one enemy will throw a punch through your attack and stun-lock you.
Aerial combat and movement is also awkward, the scarf that acts like a grappling hook uses the left-analogue stick instead of the right stick, meaning you must always aim in the direction you’re walking in. It’s difficult to explain why it feels bad without playing it, but trust me, I really dislike this control choice.
I haven’t been super motivated to continue this game, the opaqueness of the game’s mechanics with a really steep combat difficulty curve makes it hard to sink my teeth into this game as much as I would like.
Phantasy Star Online 2
Not too much to say about this. Myself and a friend starting playing this for a laugh and to quell some curiosity into the matter.
Starting this game is extremely overwhelming. There’s a bunch of loot that you get for stating, there’s more currencies than a border exchange, tutorials out the arse, and somehow I’m still very confused about what PSE is. And then I run into players that look like this:
The only thing I really understand is that I should feed my Mag. So I will.
Dark Souls III
Not a ton to say on this either other than I finally finished it with some help from a friend. Pretty good time, but I still think Sekiro is more my speed. I also greatly prefer the ease of initiating co-op in Nioh compared to From’s games.
What The Golf & Crumble
Although I have no problem with dumb physics-driven platformers or puzzle games, I also think that locking behind the more interesting aspects of your game behind doing levels in an efficient manner while dealing with random levels of chance from the physics engines; is a fucking idiotic design choice. Crumble is especially bad for this because small changes in trajectory can lead to wildly different paths. That, and the grappling mechanic can be very spotty.
What The Golf is a little better and mostly shows of the stupid and the funny in the main levels, and then elaborates and expands on the jokes in the challenge levels, most of which aren’t actually all that difficult. But objectives like “Race The Sheep” can be really hair pulling at times.
D4: Dark Dreams Don’t Die
I’ve never played a SWERY game before. Missed out on Deadly Premonition and the other weird things he’s made since. I decided to check this out because it was short. Takes place mostly in the past on a airline jet where the player character, with what could only be loosely described as a Boston accent, is trying to figure out how a passenger went missing.
It abruptly ends after 2 episodes, which is a shame because ends with a pretty dramatic cliffhanger. Maybe I’ll play SWERY’s other games at some point.
I liked the farming, but I still haven’t played enough of it to justify putting this on my list.
I’ll be honest, this is not a good game, but it’s so fucking stupid I can’t help but love it. I mean it has crabs with rockets attached to their arms flailing around. It’s fucking hilarious.
Released Games That I Wanted To Play Or Play More Of:
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2
I played a bit of THPS1 in this. Kinda fell off it due to other games and various other things.
Played the demo for this and thought it was cool, but didn’t really have the cash to buy it when it came out. I’ll probably pick it up in the future sale.
Another physics based puzzle game with super destructible environments. Looks super fun, but I had no dosh to spend on it.
Best HD Remaster/Remake
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2
Compared to the last remake, this is fucking amazing. It actually feels correct to how Tony Hawk should play and there’s no crappy physics glitches. And the visual upgrades are top notch and feel perfectly in-tone with the original. And the original soundtrack is there.
Worst Game I Played:
Star Wars Squardrons
I really wanted to like this game, but it was just so buggy when I played it. The controls are pretty awful too. The story is crap and uninteresting. To top it off, the VR mode made me really ill. I can’t really recommend it personally.
Worst Games I DIDN’T Play
I don’t need to explain this one. You know a game’s bad when mainstream news channels are roasting it.
Panzer Dragoon Remake
My understanding is that this is complete crap in terms of looks, gameplay, and soundtrack. What an absolute disappointment.
10. Resident Evil 3
This isn’t as good as the Resident Evil 2 remake, and it’s nowhere near as scary either. However, I would say it’s better paced and I definitely enjoyed it. Having a lot more ammo and weapons to deal with problems while at the same putting up with Nemesis’ sections. That said, his sections are very on-rails, and not really the same kind of constant dread that Mr. X brought. But I wouldn’t say it’s a complaint, both work.
9. Sakura Wars
Being truthful here, this is less of a game and more of a visual novel/adventure game with occasional action game mech sections. It also got me into Koi Koi.
The girls are great even if the story doesn’t grab me at all. Their defined personalities and attachment to the player character is weirdly endearing. The theme tune is still kick ass though.
8. 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim
Science fiction visual novel with time traveling and naked people in mechs fighting robot monsters in a tower defence mini-game. I enjoyed it, but I liked Odin Sphere and Muramasa a Hell of a lot more.
7. Persona 5: Royal
This is only on the list because the new content they added is a significant improvement to base Persona 5, and the new dungeon and characters are great. It also fixes some of the dumber moments and translation errors from the original, like Ryuji constantly screaming about how they’re the Phantom Thieves.
The new dungeon and boss fight is a highlight, and they at least tried to improve Mementos. Although, Mementos is still absolute shit.
This is mostly on the list because I played a lot of it while it was in early access, and it finally released this year. It’s not Skate, but it does remind me of free skating around in Skate and making videos and stuff. I’m glad there’s a serious community around it making content for it though, it would be very barebones otherwise.
5. Ghost of Tsushima
Extremely pretty is one way to describe this game. I probably took more screenshots of this game that any other console game in the past couple of years. The combat styles are interesting, even if the feel of the combat itself is a tad too much like Assassin’s Creed.
But the sheer level of exploration and uniqueness of it’s waypoint system is probably the biggest highlight. I explored every damn inch of those islands, looking for new weapons, new gear, shrines, and fox dens. The exploration was extremely rewarding, more so than Breath Of The Wild.
I could also pet the foxes. Which is a massive bonus.
4. Half-Life Alyx
Easily the best VR game out there, but it terms of a Half-Life game, I’d probably put it above Episode 1.
The combat in this game is hectic and engaging on a personal level. The sheer combat high from having to physically take cover, manage my ammo, manage reloading, and constantly moving physically to avoid being killed; it’s unlikely anything I’ve had to deal with in a game.
Lunatic levels of interactivity and physics nonsense thanks to Valve’s signature attention to detail do not go underappreciated. I noticed the liquid shader on those bottles.
One thing I didn’t get to check out was the developer commentary, which got added the same day I finished the game. Will get back to it and check those out sometime this year.
3. DOOM Eternal
If Alyx was near the top of my list for visceral gameplay experiences, this is probably at the top. Holy shit I was genuinely exhausted playing this. Constant, relenting slaughter of demons, and a gameplay loop that is persistently keeping me on edge.
Several people have compared this game to a stylish action game akin to DMC, but honestly, I think this is way more vicious than that. Late into the game there’s a section where I had to run around in circles with 40HP or less, making pinpoint headshots to get ammo so I could maybe have enough shotgun shells to deal with the half a dozen enemies chasing me around, where staying still would equal death.
The unlockables and cheats were pretty cool too, and the computer where you can play DOOM just loads the old WADs, so in theory you could load other stuff through that.
2. Nioh 2
Oda Nobunaga did nothing wrong, those monks had it coming.
Nioh 2 is more or less a refinement of Nioh 1 with additional weapons and a story that focuses on the rise and fall of Nobunaga and Hideyoshi. Level design has been greatly improved, a few more options and side enemies that provide some nice risk/reward moments, plus a few levels where it’s actually more beneficial to take a side route to destroy or activate something that actually kills a bunch of the enemies in the level. Remember those crystals in Nioh 1 can were linked to enemies, and if you destroyed them, the enemies linked to it would die? Stuff like that.
I haven’t had a chance to check out the DLC, and I think I might just restart on PC honestly. But I’ve heard very good things.
1. Yakuza: Like a Dragon / Yakuza 7
I spent the first part of this post telling you about how much I love this game, there’s not really much more I can tell you. These games always find a way into my heart, and Ichiban is such a great character and the game just does so many things I love, and the story is probably the best it has been for a number of years. It’s tremendous.
My Top 10 Anime Of 2020
This year wasn’t great for anime to be honest, but the good stuff was at least really bloody good.
No Guns Life 2nd Season
Iwa Kakeru!: Sport Climbing Girls
Eizouken ni wa Te wo Dasu na!
Kaguya-sama wa Kokurasetai? Tensai-tachi no Renai Zunousen
Nami yo Kiitekure
Nami yo Kiitekure really surprised me with how good it was. I couldn’t stop laughing at the amazing performance of the main character and her bloodlust towards her ex-boyfriend and numerous fuck-ups. Do give it a watch.
Episode 9 of ID:Invaded, Uzaki-chan wa Asobitai!
Worst Anime I Watched:
This was my Christmas movie of 2020. Scorsese’s crime movies are some of my favourite movies; Goodfellas and Wolf On Wall Street are amazing.
This movie both lives up to that expectation, but also says a lot about his previous works. The plot of the movie is about the disappearance of Jimmy Hoffa, a person I must admit I didn’t know too much about outside the fact that he went missing, suspected to have been killed. The film spends most of its second-half talking about Jimmy Hoffa’s life as a union president from the perspective of Frank Sheeran, known as “The Irishman”.
I won’t spoil the plot for you, but I will say this; this movie is long. Really long. It clocks in at around 3 and a half hours. So if you want to watch it, dedicate an afternoon or so to it.
I didn’t like the last part of the movie that much. I would say it seems kinda rushed, but the suppose that might be a deliberate choice. But seeing the life of this characters advance over the course of the movie and everything related to that more than makes up for it. And this goes without saying, but De Niro and Pacino deliver their roles flawlessly.
That’s it. 2020 is over, hopefully 2021 is better.
Well over half-way through the year Lockdown gives me a lot of free time, and putting off writing this post just makes it longer. Here’s the highlights of what I’ve been playing and some other thoughts. And I’ve changed the title formatting to reflect the fact that this blog post has been in the works for way too long.
DOOM Eternal is a bit of a mixed bag. I think DOOM 2016 has better pacing and better story. But Eternal is a lot more visceral, the levels are large and really push you to your limits mentally. Furthermore, they’re chocked full of collectables, my favourite of which being floppy discs that unlock cheat codes, and unlock the original DOOM games on an in-game terminal.
I like the game, but it’s an exhausting game. Unfortunately, I don’t have much more to say about it.
To start, this game is really pretty. The strong art style, colouring, particle effects, and general attention to detail; make this one Hell of a game to look at.
I took way too many screenshots of this game. My respect to the art team.
Story-wise, I can’t say it really did much for me. The main character is OK, and all the other characters definitely have their moments; but I wouldn’t say it really stuck out. Jin’s uncle and his whole “Honourable Samurai” shtick, although makes sense, gets rather tiresome to listen to. The game also doesn’t really punish or reward you for doing less than honourable acts of warfare. Because of that, there’s no branching to the narrative like there is in the InFAMOUS games, which does limit the replayability a bit. The ending is a bit weak too.
Combat is nowhere near as good as something like Sekiro or Nioh. It’s a lot like the original Assassin’s Creed. No lock-on and very limited main weapon variety, but it does have throwable sub-weapons like kunai and sticky bombs. Additionally, you unlock stances that are effective against certain enemies. To be honest, it’s very annoying. Much like Sekiro, it’s very parry based; but with a lot less skill required. I would also say that Sekiro’s sub-weapons were a lot more varied and provided different approaches to certain fights, plus a lot of them were hidden.
But to end on a highlight, a lot of customisation and collectables for armour and sword skins. I appreciate that it’s not a bunch of bullshit microtransactions.
One more thing, very easy Platinum trophy.
You can watch my whole playthrough here. It’s a pretty long playthrough though.
Final Fantasy VII (PS1)
This game does not hold up, gameplay-wise. Story-wise, it’s still somewhat entertaining. It’s spends a lot of time having you running around the whole map for what is essentially busy work and and dumps all the tools you need to skip all that near the end.
But the reason I dislike a lot of it, is that it feels extremely self-indulgent in its time wasting. You can’t skip or speed through animations, random encounters suck ass, and the ATB system is still the worst possible battle system. The controls aren’t great either, but it is a PS1 game. The overworld map screen doesn’t list the actual town names, so I had to refer to a guide while playing it.
And just as one final point, while fighting the final boss; just before the last phase, the second phase did an attack that put my whole party on 1HP. This led to me spending a good 5 minutes just trying to revive all my party members while the last phase of the final boss did his ultimate attack, which was a 3 minute cutscene, over and over. Even after getting all the party members back to normal health, I think I still saw that attack animation at least half a dozen times.
Control: Ultimate Edition
This game has great premise, completely let down by most of the character writing and acting being terrible. Furthermore, a lot of the story is hidden behind a vast array of collectables.
Exploring the Bureau is actually fairly entertaining in its own right, provided of course that the constant enemy spawns that can gank you don’t get on your nerves. Or the terrible map screen. Or the Dark Souls style checkpointing.
That said, the game does contain some interesting visual elements and gameplay segments. The Ashtray Maze comes to mind.
Just to end on a highlight, Dr. Dariling and the janitor Ahti are the most interesting characters in the game. If there was a something I would seriously change about the story, it would be to focus it more on those two.
War Remains: Dan Carlin Presents an Immersive Memory & Kokoka VR
These are a couple of short VR experiences based on the first and second World Wars respectively. War Remains has some great sound effects and Dan Carlin’s commentary is fairly novel, but there’s not really much to it content wise.
Kokoka offers something a bit more expansive and provides interviews with veterans and actual interactivity. However, it suffers badly from tracking problems and recentring the headset is impossible.
This is a very underrated game from the developers of the Yakuza series. When you originally see it, you’d be forgiven for calling it a generic cover shooter.
Now it doesn’t have a ton of hidden depth or anything, but it does some neat things in regards to enemy AI and friendship with your teammates. Throw in some very entertaining set pieces and some pretty fun characterisation; it becomes a game worthy of someone’s time. It’s fairly cheap these days, so maybe give it a go.
Just don’t use the voice command stuff. It doesn’t work.
I didn’t think it was possible to have worse writing than Borderlands 2, but here we are. This game really is the quintessential example of why having too much voice acting is just as bad, if not worse, than having too little. Characters just never shut up. There’s a part about 2 dozen hours in where you explore a ship that has an AI in it, and you go there with another AI. The whole fucking time, they argue like a divorced couple, and it’s as annoying as it sounds. Plus a fuck load of memes.
Another problem is that for a game centred around getting “sick loot”, you get fuck all. I think I only got a handful of rare guns that I never got rid off because the rest of the arsenal was just so uninteresting. I wouldn’t pick this up until it was really, really cheap.
Oculus Home & SteamVR with Oculus Quest
I’ve been borrowing my brother’s Oculus Quest on occasion to check out some VR stuff. I bought an Oculus Quest, used off eBay. Oculus Link is far from perfect, but it is a relatively simple process for the most part, although I can imagine some tech illiterate people having real issues getting it up and running (My brother nearly bricked his PC trying).
Oculus Link boots directly into Oculus Home, a little VR hub where you can live out your fantasies of being an interior decorator. One neat thing about it is that I can project windows from my desktop on to in-game displays. Unfortunately the low resolution of the Quest makes watching stuff like that a less than optimal viewing experience.
After booting into Oculus Home, I could then boot into Steam VR, where I could have much the same experience of “pimping my crib”.
The layering of having the base Quest OS below and Oculus Link/Home layer, which is again below the Steam VR layer; leads to some confusing moments of input issues. Not all games have Oculus specific controls, so I end up accidently pressing into Oculus Home or bring up the Steam VR menu because both centre buttons of the controllers bring up each. Fun.
And just as a last point, there’s not really much to play. And what games I do have, I would still be more comfortable playing on a normal display.
I really want to play Half-Life Alyx though, but I’m waiting for a sale. It went on sale while this post was being written and will come up later.
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2
Finally, a good Tony Hawk game after God knows how long. That said, Holy Christ I am rusty as Hell with this game. Even setting up basic combos seems impossible to me.
I kinda hope they re-do Underground or make a new game in that vein. I much prefer not being under a time limit and having a bit more freedom tackling goals.
13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim
Time travelling high schoolers who pilot mechs and fight giant robots in tower defence style missions. It’s mostly a VN, but the tower defence stuff can be pretty fun. Especially when you unlock Missile Rain and the framerate tanks.
I’m not gonna say too much about the story, but you should definitely give it a look.
Alan Wake has been on my radar for several years now. I started it ages ago but recently decided to restart the playthrough. Finally getting past the opening sequence and seeing the rest of the game certainly clarifies why people like this game as much as they do.
But before I get to that, the combat sucks. Shining a light on people is one thing, but it also acts as an off-centre aiming reticule, which is terrible. You also end up in a lot of situations where you get stun-locked to death in close quarter situations. So now that the worst part of the game is dealt with; the story is interesting.
Wake often monologues about his life as a writer, his fears and mistakes he’s made, and how much he loves his wife. Seeing him react to the surrealism of the world to the point of almost normalising the events that unfold add to the weirdness of it all. The collectables are story pages that describe what is going on in the game as written from the perspective of Wake’s novels. Unfortunately I didn’t read too much of them, but it’s a neat idea.
Additionally there are TVs throughout the world that display episodes of the fictional show called “Night Springs”, which have some fairly fascinating stories. Really adds to the overall atmosphere, which this game is abundant in.
Finally, shit loads of product placement. Pretty funny, pretty dumb.
Visual Novels are something I go to every once in a while because they tend to be longer than I usually like. 428 Shibuya Scramble has been in my backlog for quite a while, and I finally got around to it.
I love it. The stupidity and silliness on display, along with some of the most entertaining characters I’ve seen; it was an absolute joy to go through.
Now VNs aren’t known for being extremely interactive, but they can be very divergent. 428 takes that in a very interesting direction where you control multiple characters on a timeline, and the choices you make not only affect the character you’re playing as, but also the other character’s stories within that time frame. The goal is to line up all the choices correctly so that everyone can progress. But even with that, there are a few multiple endings.
My favourite characters are probably Yanagishita (Pictured below) and a taxi driver that is prominent in Minorikawa’s story. Their reactions and appearances are easily the most entertaining parts of the game.
Once you finish the main game, a couple of side stories unlock. One of which is a prequel for a character that gets referenced quite a bit, which in turn got an anime which acts as a sequel to 428.
This is one of those games that I end up enjoying even though it’s not particularly groundbreaking. When it originally game out, most people disregarded it. I can see why, it’s not terribly high budget.
That said; being a ghost, walking through walls, possessing cats, and causing electronics to go haywire; is genuinely inspired.
The story also had me second guessing a few times about who the real villain was, and it’s rare for a game to trip me up on that.
Do check it out if you have an afternoon or two to kill.
The Force Unleashed 1 was an OK game with a lot of interesting tech powering it. Furthermore, the story was fairly decent.
Force Unleashed 2 is hot garbage that should be avoided at all costs.
First of all, it starts off in 30FPS unless you patch it out.
The controls occasionally just shit themselves and barely function properly. The gameplay fairs a bit better when it works, but can also be largely repetitive. The boss fights are God awful though.
The story isn’t a saving grace from what I played of it. The voice acting is underwhelming, and the characters from the last game just come off as arseholes now.
Don’t play it. Just don’t.
After 13 years, we finally have a new Half-Life game. Problem; it’s exclusive to VR. Thankfully in the process of writing this alarmingly long blog post, I was able to borrow and eventually purchase an Oculus Quest headset.
So how is the game? In short; the best VR game currently available, but not necessarily the best Half-Life game, and certainly not the second coming of Christ.
The game focuses a lot of the pseudo-horror elements from Half-Life; lots of dark, claustrophobic environments filled with Headcrabs and zombies. That’s fine, but it is a little draining at times as someone who really doesn’t like being in dark spaces filled with things trying to kill you. Once you get out into more open combat areas, I started having a bit more fun and played with the AI a bit more. The combine are a tiny bit more of a threat this time as they can flank you, use shields, and send out Manhacks. But VR allows for the use of a few more tactics such as shooting around cover or throwing random objects at them.
The additional interactivity as led to some weird meta-challenges that I made for myself, including carrying around a bucket full of health stims through a whole level, as pictured above.
Not to spoil too much of the game, I’ll just make a few final slightly more negative points; the start of the game is kinda slow. Getting your first few guns isn’t too bad, but it takes a few hours before you engage with the Combine in anyway, and in that time, you’re mostly fighting Headcrabs in less than comforting environments.
There’s only three guns in the game; a pistol, a one-handed shotgun, and an SMG. Each have their own upgrades (Including a grenade launcher), but it’s no crossbow. The lack of precision weapons isn’t completely surprising, but at the same time, several of the enemies require precise aiming. Mods may add some interesting solutions to that.
To be quite frank, I’ve had this game on my mind since I finished it. Doesn’t help that they added the developer commentary during my last couple of play sessions. So I will be coming back to this game at some point.
I do really wish the Quest had better tracking though.
Not a horror game, not as good as RE2; but I had a good time playing it. It was well paced, even if short.
Halo 2 (MCC)
I know people really like the multiplayer for this, but the single player is pretty shit. But it is a better port than the Vista version.
Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine
I thought this game has campaign co-op, it did not. And the best part of the game is the beginning, because near the end of that game it starts dragging a whole lot and the combat feels monotonous.
And yes, I have played Yakuza 7 / Yakuza: Like A Dragon and Sakuna: Of Rice & Ruin; however, you’ll have to wait till the new year before I talk about them.
That DEKAI sure is SUGOI. The anime is alright, the voice acting is pretty spot on. It does contain what seems to be an ad for the Tottori prefecture. Anime studios got to make money somewhere I guess.
This is one of the best anime of the year. Globe-trotting con-men out-playing other scumbag con-men. The writing is great, the voice acting is great, the visuals are very abstract and interesting; check it out. It’s completely worth your time.
This one is about a manga author creating manga in secret from his young daughter so that she doesn’t become ruined from the degeneracy that he writes in his ecchi series and some indecent photos of himself that get published in the magazine. The original manga is created by Koji Kumeta, who made one of my other favourite manga turned anime; Sayonara, Zetsubou Sensei. I think the anime did an excellent job.
Eizouken ni wa Te wo Dasu na!
Another anime about making anime. But this time from the animators behind shows like Tatami Galaxy and Kaiba. This show definitely goes out of its way to show off the creator’s influences and obsessions. The small details are abundant, and there are more references than even I can understand (Although a lot of it is very old anime). A lot of love for the medium in this show.
Nami yo Kiitekure
Very underrated show this one. It focuses on a woman who’s ramblings make it on to one of Sapporo’s public radio shows, and after a short series of events, she becomes a late-night radio show host. This show is a Goddamn riot at times.
And We’re Done
This blog post took from October to December to write. A fair amount happened in that time, including a game jam, and my purchase of an Oculus Quest. But being the lazy git that I am, instead of re-writing the whole damn thing, I’ve just made strikeout edits. But to your benefit, you’ll still be able to read my original thoughts.
The next Den post will be in the new year with my Top 10s of the year. See you then.