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Category: Personal (9 posts) [RSS]

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Feb 21 2016

First Looks: February, 2016

A few games that are scheduled to come out this year that I've had a chance to get some information on this month.

蒼き革命のヴァルキリア

The newest game in the 戦場のヴァルキリア series. I really enjoyed the first and third games (the second was too grindy for my tastes). There's a video available which shows an hour of gameplay, and... wtf. Seriously? This is what's happened to a game that was about tactical gameplay? Something more like, but not quite like, the 無双 games (known in the US as the Dynasty Warrior games)? It just looks... really weird for somebody who was expecting a tactical game. Although I do have to admit that it's pretty, for what it's worth. And to think that I was going to purchase a PlayStation 4 for this game. Read more...

Dec 23 2014

Review: 大図書館の羊飼い

I've now finished playing through all of 大図書館の羊飼い, as well as 大図書館の羊飼い -Dreaming Sheep- (which is a fandisc of after stories), and I figured I would write down some of my thoughts (I haven't yet finished 大図書館の羊飼い~放課後しっぽデイズ~, which is a side story fandisc).

Story/Characterization

  • The story for 大図書館の羊飼い just isn't as tightly written as that of Fortune Arterial. The base game, 大図書館の羊飼い, is designed in the standard form of a common main trunk, which then branches out into the separate character stories, with the True End route locked until certain requirements are fulfilled. Fortune Arterial is written such that each of the character arcs helps contribute knowledge towards the True End; in contrast, the primary character arcs in 大図書館の羊飼い don't, although (as expected) they do help flesh out each character. In an interesting twist, however, the True End route actually consists of multiple endings: one for Kodachi Nagi (which is more independent), and one for each of the other girls (which result in minor variations).
  • The stories in 大図書館の羊飼い -Dreaming Sheep- consist of one after story for each character's ending in 大図書館の羊飼い (five main heroines, three secondary heroines), along with one ending for a secondary character (Takigawa Aoi) which attempts to explain her personality and motivation and one story arc, named the Toshobu arc, that covers a "blank" of a month that occurs during the True End routes.
    • In an unusual twist, Shirasaki Tsugumi's after story occurs after her True End route, while the other after stories occur after their normal endings. To further confuse players, although one of her appendix stories occurs after her True End route, the one she shares with her younger sister occurs after her normal ending (her other appendix story occurs sometime considerably later, and isn't tied to either).
    • Aoi's route is an interesting decision as, although it starts with an Aoi like in the other arcs, it ends in an Aoi that is substantially different from any of the other arcs.
    • The Toshobu arc is fluff. Entertaining fluff, but still fluff (obviously, as it was completely left out of the True End route). Read more...

Nov 16 2014

Unusual crossovers

Of the overall Japanese electronic gaming market, a considerable chunk consists of what are called ren'ai games (恋愛ゲーム, lit. love games), which are games that revolve around love, romance, (and all-too-often for guys) sex. From a mechanics standpoint, a fairly large percentage are comprised of what the Japanese consider simulation games (シムレーションゲーム), which for those not familiar with the term, are essentially electronic versions of Choose Your Own Adventure books (or gamebooks, if you want to use the more general term). For the most part, these types of games don't exist in the Western market. From a theme standpoint, some of these are called nakige (泣きゲー, lit. crying games), where the goal is have a story so emotionally charged that the player is brought to tears. Again, for the most part, these types of games don't exist in the Western market. Standard examples of the cross-section of these two are games by Visual Art's/Key (Kanon, Air, Clannad, リトルバスターズ!), as well as games in Giga's (戯画) maid cafe series (ショコラ ~maid cafe "curio"~, パ ル フ ェ ~ショコラ second brew~) and CIRCUS' D.C. series (D.C.~ダ・カーポ~, D.C.II~ダ・カーポII~, D.C.III~ダ・カーポIII~), amongst others.

But what if you were to take some of these themes into a different environment? Such as, say, board gaming? Read more...

Mar 28 2014

The return of iOS

Within the next few weeks, I expect that I'll be back on iOS. It's been a while since I've used it, but I've had experience with a number of different mobile operating systems at this point:

Up until now, I've been using Android on a Samsung Note II. Which has gone reasonably well, but a few things have caused me to give up on Android:

  • Replacing the home screen with Google Now.
  • My device has been relatively stable... except for the past couple of months, it's been hard-locking repeatedly. Sometimes several times a day.
  • I looked at a Note II because it was an attempt at trying something different with a mobile device. Unfortunately, several of the unique aspects just haven't worked out:
    • Stylus: I've barely used it.
    • Screen size: Larger than most phones, but not big enough to use for couch browsing.
    • Popup browser: Although active in Android 4.0, it was disabled in Android 4.2. Unfortunately, one of the things I liked.

In general, though, I've concluded that Android, at least at this point in time, isn't for me. At least some chunk of that is due to Google's business practices (Android is open... except when it's not). So back to a different walled garden for me - but at least it's one that doesn't pretend otherwise.

Nov 30 2013

Baldr Sky Zero 2

Hey, look, Baldr Sky Zero 2, which will at least address one of my complaints about the first game by having Meryl as a winnable character. Interesting that they decided to have Shizel as the other winnable character, though - I guess she was a lot more popular in Baldr Sky than I knew? Interesting how they're declaring that this will "complete" Baldr Sky Zero, though, something they didn't state in the runup to the previous game (unlike Dive1, which by the nature of the name, was clear about what was happening).

Nov 03 2013

Review: Baldr Sky Zero

About a week ago, I finished my first playthrough of Baldr Sky Zero (Sakura's, if you're curious). I've been thinking about it on and off as I started approaching the conclusion of the game, and these are a few of my musings. The short version is: not a horrible iteration, but it's nowhere to the level of Baldr Sky.

Story/Characterization

  • imho, the main character's not very relatable. Compared to the two previous Baldr iterations (Force and Sky; Bullet is a remake so doesn't count for this), Edward is an extraordinarily self-confident person, to the point where I would call him smug.
  • In a somewhat similar vein, I'm not particularly enamored of the main heroines, either. I'd argue that there's a problem when my favourite characters in the game are secondary characters.
  • And... the story? Giga/Team Baldrhead decided to do something that's effectively a 180° change from their previous games:
    original-6549.png
     
    This.

    Honestly, I'm pretty disappointed. Team Baldrhead's done a pretty good job (well, at the very least prior to Material Brave) of having the different characters' storylines tie together in a relatively organic manner (yes, you can point to Sora's storyline in Dive2, but the way it tied together fit really well).
    As a matter of fact, the ending felt a lot like that from Material Brave, with Meryl substituting for Ena, essentially declaring that there will be a sequel by leaving things open-ended at the end. Bleh.
  • And the vaunted connection with Baldr Sky? I have yet to see anything meaningful, although it may be in one of the other two storylines.... Read more...

Oct 21 2013

Review: 閃の軌跡

I finished 閃の軌跡 a couple of days ago, after a little north of 75 hours on it. I've had a couple of days to digest it some more.

It's good, but it's not great, imho. They have a good base to build from, but I think their earlier iterations (空, 零) did a better job of introducing the universe. To break it down:

Story/Characterization

  • Having all of the characters being of the same age (roughly) helps in a number of ways, in particular to address the relatively power level issue which often tends to be nonsensical in RPGs (*cough* シェラザード/アガット/ジン in 空 *cough*). Unfortunately, the catch is that instead, you get 9 characters to try to wrap your head around out of the gate, which is rough.
  • Predictably, they don't do a good job of resolving the characters' backgrounds, which is far, since they've generally not addressed characters' issues in the first game. I don't think they've been quite this... obvious about putting big shining LOOK HERE lights above characters' heads before, though (namely エマ).
  • And, well, the story? 零 was actually fairly gentle, as events are largely "resolved" (from the perspective of the player), although there are a number of unanswered questions. 空 punches you in the stomach with the epilogue events. I was expecting something around this level. 閃... takes it to a whole different level. They essentially give you the first section of the second game right up until the first major cliffhanger... and then end it right there. Ouch.
  • Also: the tech at the end. Really? Yes, it's kind of cool. But it doesn't really fit. Read more...

Sep 10 2013

Yet more gaming discussion

As if I weren't distracted enough already, there are a few more things I'm keeping an eye out for.

Distraction #3

I'm a Nihon Falcom fan, particularly of their 英雄伝説軌跡 (Legend of Heroes Kiseki) series. The newest installment in the series, 閃の軌跡 (Sen no Kiseki) is coming out at the end of the month (September 26th), and I'm picking up the PS3 copy.

original-6497.jpg
 
For the most part, from a combat perspective, it looks like things haven't changed too much from the previous games (or at least from 碧), with the AT battle system, Craft/Attack/Arts/Move/Item options, and the Master Quartz system for customization.
original-6498.jpgBut then there's this, which they've added this time around: 戦術リンク機能 (the Tactical Link System), allowing for a few more options during combat (even though they seem to be somewhat QTE-like in the timed button pressing, although at least it's only a single button... unlike elsewhere, where they do have full-blown QTEs). This is built on a relationship model, which looks to be considerably extended from what existed in 碧 (where it only affected which character's events/ending you would see and possibly what items you might get), since they've also added a counter to limit how many events you can get during each phase. Boo.

Nonetheless, I look forward to getting the game. Whether I wait for the strategy guide this time, who knows? Read more...

Aug 25 2013

And now for something completely different

My weekend hasn't really gone the way I expected a few days ago. There are a couple of reasons for that... distractions, you might call them.

Distraction #1

One of them is this:

original-6469.jpg
 
A few friends were trying out the beta of the re-released Final Fantasy XIV and said it was pretty good. So, I decided to give it a shot last weekend (beta 3, open) and found that it actually was quite fun. I haven't spent any significant time playing an MMO since the now-defunct City of Heroes, although I tried out a couple along the way that didn't stick, but one of the attractions of Final Fantasy XIV (and XI, to be fair) is that you build up your one character, rather than creating numerous alts.
original-6493.jpgThis is my main. Character name (Lapis Ritter) taken from two different characters from the same game. I leave it to as an exercise for the reader to determine which game. I will say that the (rough) look and the job are appropriate.

As a separate aside, I find it entertaining that the Caucasian look for this character is a very Japanese-style Caucasian.

That said, the launch so far is demonstrating that Square Enix (Japan) doesn't know how to hire software engineers who understand the concept of managing load. For an MMO. When their approach for dealing with a heavy load is to reject players because the world queue is putting too much of a load on the server, there's something really, really wrong. It's really a pain in the ass to have to gamble to try to get into the queue to log onto a game. Read more...

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Created by Administrator on February 9, 2014, 4:08 PM

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