Temporarily not working is niiiice!

Hiyaaaaa! How’s it going? 😀 Ooh, what’s this featured image thingy? Ah, I see. That’s kinda fun. 🙂 It probably only has an effect if you click on the post title, though.

Anyway ya, it’s been a li’l while since I last sharted tons of words onto this website. Although, well… I have some drafts somewhere around here. Yes, I did it again, I wrote loads of crap that I didn’t get around to posting. 😛 Partially because the posts got a bit long, partially because they happened quite a while ago and therefore it’s kinda late to post them, but mainly because I am a lazy shite. 😛 As I’ve been demonstrating over the past two weeks by not working!

Yes, I booked some time off because I was going to die otherwise. 😛 I haven’t actually had time off for myself in over a year. I’ve had time off, sure, but that’s because I had to take it off to go visit/have people visit me. Fun, but not really relaxing. I was going to spend some of my holiday doing productive things, but I pretty much just ended up sleeping a lot and playing games a lot, with a bit of eating and washing up in-between. So yes, lazy shite. 😛

I think the main cause of the lack of productivity was RimWorld. I won’t explain it too much, but it’s a colony simulation game kinda like Dwarf Fortress, not that I’d know cuz I “played” about 30 seconds of Dwarf Fortress before saying “fuck this, I literally can’t play”. 😛 Someone I know’s been playing RimWorld, so I thought I’d give it a try. And… well, I think the best word to describe it is “dangerous”. It’s insanely addictive. Like really insanely. I don’t think I’ve played a game that’s been this addictive before. But the annoying thing is, regardless of its addictiveness, I don’t actually think it’s that good. It’s frustratingly luck-based. I mean, Jesus, the friggin’ hit chances. I’m pretty damn sure what it says is total bullshit, because when some guy with a 4% hit chance hits you 3 times in 9 shots when your guy with a 10% hit chance hits ZERO times in 9 shots, that’s totally unbelievable. If I’d been playing it normally and didn’t reload when I felt bullshitted, I would’ve probably lost half my colony in one pathetic raid where the only reason I was struggling was cuz no-one on my team could fucking hit anything because of luck, then I would’ve probably lost the rest to stupid mental breakdowns where people usually end up wandering around doing nothing for about a day before complaining that they’re half-dead from starvation when they suddenly get over everything.

And it’s not only the luck-based crap, but the more you play it, the more idiocy you see. The AI is fucking stupid for one thing; you have to micromanage until you’re on the brink of an aneurysm. Then there’s some really dumbass design choices, like… by default you can only have one colony (multiple colonies work absolutely fine, they make the game more interesting and there is no real reason why this is disabled by default), the dumbass AI doesn’t give a shit about friendly fire and they can shoot friendlies directly next to them even though the learning helper effectively says that they can’t, everyone hates anyone who slaughters colony animals even though it was my direct order and they would have all died if they didn’t have the food it gave them, and if you capture a downed enemy who attacked you but failed to land a single hit on anyone, they’re not classed as guilty for some reason, so if they die through any means (such as “oh shit I didn’t realise that guy was going to die in two hours and it takes an hour and a half to get them to a bed because these fucks are so slow”), your whole colony gets a massive mood penalty because “omg a harmless prisoner died that’s so barbaric”. Oh, and you can’t harvest the organs of a dead person, but you can harvest organs from a live person (but you get mood and social penalties if you do so there’s no point). The fuck?

And I said I wouldn’t explain it too much and now look at that, for God’s sake damn it stop. 😛

Anyway, I got around to doing something kinda productive today. I made a RENDAR! Yez. 😀 It’s related to this game I’ve been slaving over for the past two years or so, although it feels more like three or even four. Not any of my games, no no no, that wouldn’t be “slaving over” it because I want to make ULSG V14, but I just never have the time. And when I do, I’m too friggin’ focused on sleeping and being lazy. 😛

It’s a game called “Race Kings”, sexist, which we made for another company. Another company who then has the audacity to say it was developed by them when it really wasn’t. I guess they paid the company I work for to do it, so maybe legally that’s correct, but… logically, it just isn’t. 😛 It’s probably best if I try not to say exactly what I think about it. But I’d like to encourage you not to play it at all, please, k thx! 😀

Anyway, the render. It was just a quick, simple-ish idea based upon one of the game’s completely idiotic understandable if you’re fucking stupid design choices. A design choice so dumb it annoys the designers that some people in the office complained about endlessly a few times. If you set off between two and zero seconds before the light goes green, you immediately lose, and forfeit all the money you wagered on the race. but if you don’t start within about a frame of the light going green you’ll lose because that’s basically the whole point of the game and 95% of the time you’ll finish last if you start last unless you pay to win

So, now that the rant explanation is out of the way, here is a dragon getting a false start!

False Start (1080p)(Available in these great flavours: 1080p, WUXGAQHDUHD)

Taken a few moments before he gets a bit more violent. No, he doesn’t break his HLE Infinity smartphone; he likes it way too much to damage it over this. He just burns a very specific part of London down instead. 😛

Anyhoo, I used Iray for this render again! I’ve been practicing a li’l bit, and I’ve gotten more used to it now, sort of. You just need to ignore the fact that it’s trying to be realistic and use whatever numbers make things look nice. When it asks for things like the candle wattage/lumen of a light, just smile, pat it on the head and input a value about 200,000x more than what is realistic. 😛

I don’t really understand light, but I know Iray is full of crap when it comes to it. 😛 The lights in this scene came with the environment, and they already had unrealistic values. By default, Iray uses candelas/m² to measure luminance, and it was set to 250,000cd/m². I had no idea what I was doing, but I did some rough measurements and found that the lights had a surface area of about 0.812m², meaning their luminance was about 203,000cd, and apparently 1cd = 1 lumen. That’s makes the light twice as powerful as full daylight, and there’s seven of the damn things! And guess what? That’s NOT ENOUGH!! I had to increase their luminance to 17,500,000cd/m², which is about 14 MILLION LUMEN! PER LIGHT! WHAT!

If I turn off the Sun-Sky lighting and just use the already insane default values, the render looks like this:

Iray

COOL, HUH?!? (Oh, ignore the noise, I only let it render for about two minutes. :P)

I tested to see if I wasn’t going crazy by switching the material’s luminance units to lumen and entering 14,000,000, and amazingly, it looks like I’m actually right. The light is pretty similar to when I enter 17,500,000cd/m²; it looks just a little bit brighter. So… yeah! I rest my case! This renderer is trippin’ balls and needs ridiculously inflated values! Maybe not quite 200,000 times more. Just 20,000 times more. 😛

Also, Iray doesn’t seem to be able to produce a render which isn’t grainy as fuck, no matter how high you put the render quality (pro tip: no higher than 4 because that’s about as good as you’re gonna get 😛 ). But I have found that you can get rid of most of it (most of the time) with a couple of quick Photoshop filters. Just add a 0.6-radius Gaussian Blur followed by a 0.6-radius Smart Sharpen. Tends to do the trick, kinda. YMMV. 🙂

So, for the 1080p version at rendering quality 3, it took… 1 hour 56 minutes 48.7 seconds, and it only reached 91% convergence before hitting the iteration limit. That was on two GTX 970s, so… speedy, Iray is not. 😛 I guess it can be prettier and more realistic, though. As for posing, that actually took about the same amount of time, but might’ve taken less if I wasn’t such a moronic perfectionist. I posed his feet and tail, even though you can’t see them. 😛

I listened to the Daytona USA soundtrack while posing, because this game kinda reminds me of it, apart from that it’s not NASCAR, or touring cars, and the courses only have 1-2 laps and last 30-60 seconds and is generally nothing like Daytona USA. 😛 and there’s next to no skill involved and it doesn’t have an awesome soundtrack and it isn’t fun or cool Maybe it’s because you go around in circles. Or maybe it’s just because the second half of Pounding Pavement cracks me right up, and Mitsuyoshi-san is a legend. 😀

Anyway, hope you like the render. 😀 I’ll get the QHD and 4K versions done overnight. QHD and 4K versions are doooone. 🙂 I’ll also go through those drafts I did and see if I can fix them up enough to post them. And by “fix up” I mean “holy crap cut them down that one’s about 10,000 words long”. 😛

Buh-bye! 😀

(Also LMFAO)

 

UPDATE!!

Added the QHD and 4K versions. 4K would’ve taken more than 6 hours to reach the 95% convergence target… if it didn’t run out of time. 😛 QHD took 3 hours 56 minutes 5.8 seconds. THE SPEEEEEEEED! 😛

UPDATE 2!!

I found out that my work monitor, like my work SpackBook, also has a stupid uncommon resolution, 1920×1200, also known as WUXGA, Wide Ultra eXtended Graphics Array! It’s like 1080p, but with 120 more pixels of height, and I didn’t even notice. Literally the only reason this resolution seems to exist is because someone said they could use it to fit two full pages of text on-screen at once. I wonder if they realised that instead of making an entirely new resolution and entirely new class of monitor they could just… zoom out to 80%? 😛

Anyway who cares. I re-rendered it in WUXGA so it fits my work monitor, so I figured I’d add it here, too. 🙂

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The return to Paradise! And other stuff.

Hey hey hey, how’s it going? Did ya have a good Chrissamas? Great!/Oh no! (delete as appropriate) Look, wow! A lame snow effect! (please disregard if you’re reading this outside of December)

Sooo, I’ve been in this mode for a while where I write some stuff down, save it to drafts, and theeeen… totally forget about it. 😛 I remembered I wanted to write about Rhythm Paradise Megamix, so I came back here and found I’d already written a bunch of stuff down. Then I also found a draft for Super Mystery Dungeon which’s been here for about 2,000 years. Oops! So, let’s take ’em out of drafts, finish ’em off and actually post ’em! 😛 I’ll start with Rhythm Paradise Megamix, since that’s more recent. 🙂

Oh, by the way, I might throw some spoilers, but I’ve blanked out any major ones by making text the same colour as the background. If the background isn’t near-black for you for some reason, then my spoiler-hiding won’t work, yay! 😛 If it does work, though, you should be able to read them if you highlight the text. Here, try it: Well done, you successfully highlighted some text but just lost The Game. I would use a bit of JavaScript and HTML so certain bits of text are only shown when you click on a link, like a “spoiler” tag on forums, but WordPress removes any useful HTML automatically because it SUCKS!!

Rhythm Paradise Megamix

It’s been a few many many weeks since Rhythm Paradise Megamix was released in the European Union and the UK. 😛 Japan had it ages ago, of course; it was released over there as Rhythm Tengoku: The Best+, and I was much jealous. Then it was released digital-only in America as Rhythm Heaven Megamix, and I was even more much jealous. By the way, I never really got why it’s called “Heaven” over there and “Paradise” over here. Must be a copyright issue or something. ANYHOO, yes, it was finally released in Europe in October. 🙂 We also got a physical release for some reason. YA JELLY?! 😛

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I’m a huge fan of Rhythm Paradise. I’ve never played the first game (because Japan only) but I have the DS game and the awfully-named “Beat The Beat: Rhythm Paradise” for Wii (it has a much better title in America, “Rhythm Heaven Fever”). I love the zaniness of all the games; how they came up with some of their ideas, I’ll never know. 😀 I also love how it’s challenging, but really fun at the same time. In the run-up to Megamix’s release in Europe, I made an effort to get 100% completion in Rhythm Paradise, and a few days before release, I finally managed it:

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I was rewarded with the barista’s immense praise and the ability to listen to every BGM in the game. Getting all 50 Perfects wasn’t easy, so it felt like a pretty big accomplishment. Rhythm Rally 2, man… I found it harder than Remix 10.

A few days later, Megamix was delivered to me, and I was like EEEEEEEEEEEE! 😛 Of course, I didn’t have huge expectations of it or anything. It was basically a compilation game after all, with a few bonuses added on. However, one of the first things I noticed when I started playing was that Megamix did something… weird. It has a story. No other Rhythm Paradise game has a story; it’s just a bunch of musical minigames. I don’t believe it needed a story, since each game tends to have a micro-story behind it anyway, but they decided to add a game-wide story anyway. Hmm. Okay.

The next thing I noticed was that it appeared they’d changed the progression. Normally, each “stage” consists of 4 games revealed one at a time, and then a Remix consisting of those four games mixed together with different music. Then, after a certain Remix, you get the credits game, and from then on, each stage contains 4 games which are harder versions of previous games, followed by a Remix that contains an assortment of previous games. The game culminates in Remix 10, which contains every game, and sometimes things you might not expect, like the credits game and the rhythm game you played in the tutorial. Megamix, though? At first… there are four games, and no remix. Clear all four games and you get to advance to the next stage, where there are four more games… and no remix. After every second stage, there’s a Gate, guarded by three gatekeepers who challenge you to get a certain score in an Endless Game. Each gatekeeper sets a challenge of a different difficulty; the harder the difficulty, the less coins it costs to try. Beat any of them and you can advance to the next stage. Hmmmm. No remixes… okay…

Another thing… the difficulty. The lack of it, that is. At first, I thought I was the problem, because excluding the ones from Rhythm Tengoku (GBA) and the games exclusive to Megamix, I’ve played all of these rhythm games before. But no… it wasn’t that. Many early games were familiar, but they were set to new music, and they were so easy you could probably clear them with no sound. I got 15 straight Superb ratings before finally getting an OK on Tongue Lashing, one of the new games (which is actually kinda tricky). For comparison, on my first attempt of the first game on Rhythm Paradise DS, “Built To Scale”, I got a Try Again. On my first attempt of the first game on Beat the Beat: Rhythm Paradise (BtB from now on 🙂 ), “Hole In One”, I got an OK. Hmmmmmmmm…

So far, so… not good. The story was shaping up as pretty much throwaway, and it was weird in a not-really-charming way (Donut Land, Jesus fucking Christ I can’t facepalm hard enough regarding that character). There didn’t seem to be any remixes, and loads of the rhythm games from previous games were set to new, worse music, and were much easier. On the plus side, a few of the new games were good. First Contact, LumBEARjack, Tongue Lashing and Super Samurai Slice were all fun to play, even though I got Superb and “No Miss” in three of them on my first attempt. 😛  (No Miss is basically a Perfect, but not really a Perfect, because to get a Perfect, “Go for Perfect!” has to be active on that game when you play it. 😛 )

When you reach Lush Woods, the final area of Earth World, things look up a little bit. In this area, there’s a tower containing four games and a remix, just like the previous games. The remix was pretty decent (the highlight of the five games was definitely Sumo Brothers, though; it was hilarious. :D). But then you get the ending! WHAT?! Of course, anyone with a brain would realise that there’s no way this is the end of the game, because there’s supposed to be 100+ games and you’ve only played 32 at this point. 😛

After the first “ending”, the game starts to pick up the pace. Six more towers show up, which contain both harder versions of previous games, and new games which are more challenging. Rhythm games from previous Paradise games return with their original soundtracks and difficulty. The legendary Ringside returns. And each tower has a remix. One of them even has vocals! When you clear those 30 games, you get the ending… to the Earth World arc of the “story”. Tibby goes home to Heaven World, that’s pretty much it. Nothing surprising. It’s not the end of the game, of course, because there’s supposed to be 100+ games and you’ve only played 62 at this point. 😛

No, Heaven World comes next, with 12 more games, followed by an endless game challenge, followed by another 12 games and two remixes, and then the epic Final Remix, nearly four minutes of awesomeness which I’d say is better than the awesome Remix 10 from BtB. 😀 No, it doesn’t end in this brilliant way, where the developers just screw with you. I’m glad, since that was kind of a one-shot gag. 😛 Instead, Final Remix mixes in each of the themes of the Rhythm Paradise games, which is such an awesome tribute if you’re a fan of the series. If they were going for a good sense of closure to the series, they did a great job there. Then comes the ending to Heaven World. You find out Heaven World is all messed up is because Tibby’s mum (who is a palace, yes you read that correctly, she’s literally a palace), was holding her breath to get rid of her hiccups. So yeah, the story was a totally throwaway, unnecessary waste of time and money. Some of the dialogue was funny, I suppose. 😛

Speaking of money… I think they lacked some of that. I was disappointed to find there was a huge lack of new vocal tracks. They tend to be the highlights of Paradise games for me, because they’re often really good. 😀 I mean, there’re so many I remember and love… Struck by the Rain, Young Love Rock ‘n’ Roll and That’s Paradise from Paradise DS, and Tonight, Lonely Storm, Beautiful One Day and Dreams of Our Generation from BtB. All awesome! 😀

If you exclude the strangely hilarious track from Karate Man Returns which isn’t explicitly marked as a vocal track (HEY BABY, HOW’S IT GOING?! THIS. BEAT. IS NON. STOP!), Megamix has… one new vocal track, “I’m a Lady Now”. That’s it. It’s decent, wasn’t super-keen the first time I heard it, but it kinda grew on me. But still, that’s it. We’re lucky we even got that. Why? Because any English vocals you hear are actually from the Japanese soundtrack. You can prove it by changing to the Japanese soundtrack in the café (which is a really nice feature, by the way). Their soundtrack actually has three new vocal tracks (in Lush Remix (which is really good with vocals!), Honeybee Remix and Machine Remix), but the non-English ones weren’t translated and re-recorded for the English soundtrack, which is a massive shame. No, wait, they have four, cuz the ending theme has vocals on the Japanese soundtrack! Gah, what a waste! One upside, though: the Machine Remix’s Japanese vocal track is terrible. 😛 I prefer the instrumental for that one.

Oh, and if you like to sing along to what vocal tracks we have, they’ve added the lyrics as subtitles into some of the games! Well, not all of them. Only a few. For some reason. Shrug.

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As for stuff on the side, Megamix has a lot more than previous Paradise games… but also a lot less. The biggest thing is the Challenge Train, and I’d say it’s the best part of the game. It’s basically survival mode. You can play multiplayer, but no-one owns this game, so you’ll have to wait until partway through the game before you can play solo. 😛 Each course on the challenge train consists of several rhythm games, each of which has a goal: “Score”, “Life” or “Monster”. Score goals challenge you to clear the song and attain a certain score (basically an accuracy percentage, which is shown on all results screens in Megamix along with the traditional, coarse rating scale of “Try Again”, “OK” and “Superb”; it’s kinda nice). Life goals challenge you to clear the game within a certain number of lives; you lose lives by missing cues. Monster goals are strange; the rhythm game appears in a window which begins shrinking, revealing a monster in the background. If you hit a cue perfectly (known as an “Ace”), the window grows. If the window shrinks too much, the monster will eat it and you’ll fail. Rhythm games on a Challenge Train course may have their tempos increased, too. Passing a goal lets you move to the next game. Failing a goal costs a life. Clear all the goals within three lives to clear the course and earn one to three Flow Balls depending on the course difficulty (Flow Balls are special currency used for unlocking new rhythm games). Courses on the Challenge Train eventually get stupidly difficult, mainly thanks to the Tempo Up modifier. It has varying levels of “tempo upness”… er, what’s another way of saying that which isn’t retarded…? Varying levels… yeah, Tempo Up has varying levels, but it doesn’t tell you how much it increases the original tempo. Sometimes it’s about 10% more, but other times I swear it’s about 50%. Frog Hop with Tempo Up nearly crippled my thumb, and I lost seven lives to the same stage in a certain course (Air Rally 2 with at least 30% Tempo Up in two lives, wtf). It’s an awesome addition, though, because it’s even a challenge for people who’ve played all the previous games. Paprika almost craps himself when you clear them all. “Maybe we can be friends.” Haha.

Next to the Challenge Train, there’s the Perfect Campaign, which isn’t really anything new, it’s just a central location for going for Perfects, because the map is a pain in the arse to navigate. 😛 Also, when going for Perfect, Megamix ends the rhythm game the moment you miss a cue, which is nice. Oh, and you can skip the intros to rhythm games now, after you’ve played them once. 🙂 Getting a Perfect in Megamix only gets you a Flow Ball, not a gift. Gifts in this game are Rhythm Items, which are unlocked in the shop with coins, so you don’t need to perfect everything to get every gift and read the funny descriptions. 😀 What else… oh, yes, there’s a long-term Pachinko metagame which involves some turnips and a goat that lays golden eggs. Shrug. 😛 It has absolutely nothing to do with rhythm and unlocks nothing meaningful, but does generate lots of anger past Level 90 or so. 😛 Oh, there’s also a StreetPass game, which is a kind of “versus” mode of Rhythm Fighter. Again, no-one has this game (no-one even has a friggin’ 3DS in this city apparently; I’m lucky if I get a StreetPass once a week), but it gives you a fake opponent at least every day. It can be absolutely hilarious. GO GO GOOOOO! AND ONE TWO! ONE TWO! AND GO GO GOOOOO!! 😀

There’re no Rhythm Toys like the previous games, which is a slight shame, but as for Endless Games, there are… four. That’s it. You unlock them by beating all three of the gatekeepers at a gate. The best one is “Sick Beats” originally in Rhythm Tengoku (GBA), but… it doesn’t feel particularly “endless”. You have one life, and after the third wave, the tempo increases every wave. Once you reach 128 points, the tempo of the wave that follows is so high (around 225BPM) that it becomes nearly impossible to keep the beat, so there’s no point trying to break your record. I tried to demonstrate the insane BPM using my right hand to hold a phone and my left hand to press the D-Pad, and nearly succeeded on my fifth try. I was one wave short of my record. But the vid gives you an idea of how impossibly fast it gets. 😛 The other three Endless Games are Coin Toss (from Rhythm Paradise DS, and it was never particularly notable), Clap Trap (from BtB, I don’t think I played it back then cuz I don’t remember it, but it’s barely a rhythm game) and Charging Chicken (new, but not really since it’s based on a Rhythm Toy from Rhythm Paradise DS, but it’s pretty good nonetheless). It’s a shame. No Tunnel, Shoot-‘Em-Up or Glass Tappers from Rhythm Paradise DS? I know Tunnel was basic, but hitting a cowbell repeatedly in front of someone trying to drive a car is strangely hilarious, even more so because she only gets mad if you do it wrong. 😛 Shoot-‘Em-Up was a good Endless Game, and Glass Tappers was epic. And no Wake-Up Caller or Munchy Monk from BtB? Wake-Up Caller was kinda slow but it was a great rhythm-keeping test, and Munchy Monk was absolutely friggin’ hilarious! ONE EGG! ONE EGG! ONE EGG! HANDFUL’A PEEZ!! What’s with the weak selection? Did they pick the most popular or their favourites, or did they pick the easiest ones to develop? Probably the latter. Sigh.

So… all in all, I think Rhythm Paradise Megamix is… a decent compilation. It could have been an amazing compilation, but I have a feeling they didn’t have enough resources. Or they did a half-arsed job. Not sure which one. Maybe I’m being a bit harsh, cuz I don’t regret getting it or anything; it’s been a lot of fun to play through and I’ve got a fair bit of playtime out of it, but I can’t help but feel like it wasn’t as good as it could’ve been, y’know? Maybe it’s my fault for playing too much Project Mirai, but the difficulty of Megamix just wasn’t enough for me. Yes, even though I mentioned that the Challenge Train gets stupidly difficult, it didn’t feel stupidly difficult enough. 😛 I mean, I cleared all the courses but I only failed about 5 times in total. Then, when I perfected the Final Remix after my 9th attempt (failures mainly consisted of blunders and one particular part of the song: Cosmic Rhythm Rally to Jumpin’ Jazz, followed by the three cues in Clap Trap), it felt good, but I realised that I’d just beaten the last big challenge the game had to offer. All the other Perfects won’t be as hard to get as that one.

As for recommending it… hmm. It’s difficult. I’d carefully recommend it to fans of the series. If you really liked the previous games, there’s a good chance you’ll like this. Actually, I might recommend it more to people who’ve never played a Rhythm Paradise game before, since there’s way more to discover and the chances of you getting Superb on everything on your first try is much lower. As long as you like rhythm games, that is, and you’re not expecting something intensely difficult like Beatmania or Project Mirai, and as long as you like a bit of crazy humour. So yeah, a fair few conditions for recommendation, there. 😛

Pokémon Super Mystery Dungeon

I wrote about this way back when I was more than halfway through the game, but never followed it up with a “I’ve finished the game now!” post.

My thoughts on the game haven’t really changed much since then. 😛 It’s… probably the second best game in the series… although I’m kinda torn between making it second or third best, actually.

The worst game for me was the original, Red/Blue Rescue Team. I played Blue, not like there’s a difference in the story or anything. 😛 It was just… lacking. And the story was completely fucked. There was literally no purpose for anything you did until about half an hour from the end when you suddenly find out a meteorite is heading for the planet, which is also the part you find out that the reason you were brought to the Pokémon world was to stop said meteorite. But then the one who actually saves the world is Rayquaza; he busts the piss out of the meteorite with Hyper Beam while you stand around and watch. All you did was ask him to do it. Of course, when you did, he was all like “FUCK YOUUUUU I’M A DRAGON type” so you had to beat him up before he realised and said “OH SHIT LOOK A METEORITE THAT’LL KILL US ALL”. Of course that’s not exactly how it went down. Effectively the same, though. 😛 After Rayquaza saves the world, with your role fulfilled, you disappear and your partner loses it. This would be sad, as it is in the sequels, but the dialogue was quite sparse and the story was so short I didn’t have time to connect with any of the characters. I finished it in less than 16 hours, which is crazy. RPGs generally last way longer than that, I mean… Explorers of Sky lasted me around 60 hours, Gates to Infinity was about 50, and Super Mystery Dungeon about 40. Sure, there’s a bit more to do after the main story, but it’s not obvious, or very interesting. You just go around into harder dungeons and meet Legendary Pokémon who don’t join you the first time, and only join you the second time if you have the correct “Friend Area”, a retarded system that makes it stupidly painful to get members or set up the team you want to use in a dungeon. Besides, after the main storyline, the game disconnects you from your partner pretty much entirely; they no longer follow you around and their character becomes generic. Guh. I’m glad I didn’t play this one first, because I reckon it would have killed my interest in the subsequent games. Oh, now that I think about it, there was one good bit in Blue. Hehe. 😛

That leaves either Gates to Infinity or Super Mystery Dungeon to rank as number 3… naw, what am I saying. Super Mystery Dungeon has to be number 2. 😛

Gates to Infinity was great. The gameplay was a little bit dumbed down due to the removal of the hunger system and the addition of the Team Attack, which was essentially a rechargeable Get Out Of Jail Free card. If you stumbled into a Monster House with the Team Attack charged, the Monster House might as well not be there. 😛 I also didn’t really like building up Paradise. You could only take one quest at a time, and there was no guarantee that the rewards for any of the available quests were materials you needed. It was really annoying. But the story was awesome, as were most of the characters. I especially liked Victini, Hydreigon and Rampardos (even though Rampardos and Victini were basically shopkeepers 😛 ). Virizion was cool, too, as was Espeon and Umbreon (always a great pair), and Emolga, and the partner Pokémon, and Quagsire, hmm? 😀 If I can fondly remember nine characters, I’m pretty sure they’ve done it right.

Although… I said the story was awesome, but honestly, when the Bittercold came into play, the story suddenly became… odd. I don’t remember a great deal after the major twist in the last half of the story, where it turns out the antagonist was actually Munna; she’d been manipulating your dreams to make it seem like Hydreigon was evil, but in actual fact, Hydreigon was the one who called you to the Pokémon World. WHAT A TWEEST! No, seriously, what a fucking tweest. I never saw it coming. It blew my head open. 😛

Super Mystery Dungeon had a good story, but it did take a while to get going. When you leave the village to join the Expedition Society (god fucking damn it that part is so sweet), that’s when the story starts to pick up the pace, and it begins feeling like it has a bit more of a purpose. Then the ending, where the writers turned everything upside down from the previous games and decided that your partner is the one that disappears this time? MIND EXPLODE. Didn’t see it coming. Didn’t see ANY part of the story coming, if I’m honest! The story might’ve been a bit “out there”, way more wild than Explorers of Sky, but if they can keep me guessing for the entire length of the story, then they’ve totally won.

I remember the very beginning of Super being presented in a really cool fashion, actually. Traditionally, there’s been an intro video followed by menus, but this time it feels like they’re trying to suck you into the world almost as soon as you press Start on the title screen.

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The return of the personality test was a nice surprise, too. 🙂 In Time/Darkness/Sky and Red/Blue, you were asked a series of questions before the story began, mainly situational and personality-based. Asking you how you’d respond to a friend who made you a meal that tastes terrible, how you feel when something you bought yesterday for full price is marked down to half price today, whether you’ve ever accidentally called a teacher “Mum” or “Dad”, things like that. 😛 Based on your answers, the game guessed your personality and assigned you a Pokémon. After that, you could select your partner from the remaining Pokémon, with the restriction that they can’t be the same type as you (can’t pick Squirtle (water) if you get Totodile (water), for example). I think it was a great idea, and it somehow really got me hyped up when I first played it. The problem with it, though, was that… well, the game’s decision was absolute. Sometimes you got a Pokémon you really didn’t want to play as. If this happened, you could restart the game and try the test again to see if you got a different Pokémon (the questions you got were randomly selected from a pool). But it was a pain, and that’s probably why they removed the test in Gates to Infinity and allowed you to choose. In Super, though, they brought it back and made it the best of both worlds. You take the test, but the game only recommends a Pokémon to you. If you disagree with its choice, you can change it.

Super also had some great gameplay, the best in the series, I think. The Looplet/Emera system was really good… um… no, well… not entirely good, actually. I found one huge issue with it. Seriously, huge. One day, while playing through the endgame, I found an Emera called Ally Reviver. It’s literally the most overpowered thing since The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion’s 100% Chameleon bullshit and I seriously hope it can’t appear during the story. When you have Ally Reviver in the leader’s Looplet, your teammates are effectively invincible. When they reach 0 HP, they’re automatically revived with full HP and PP. It doesn’t revive the leader, but there’s no limit to the amount of times it can revive your teammates. Seriously. I told them to wander around on their own and the amount of times they fainted was ludicrous, but it didn’t matter because they just got right back up again, like they were using friggin’ cheat codes or something. 😛 When you have Ally Reviver, the only thing you have to worry about then is the leader, making the rest of the dungeon trivial, unless you run into a Monster House like a moron, or if some twat with a room-wide move enters your room and you have no way of escaping or fighting back. Hell, if you find two Ally Revivers, you can put another one in a teammate’s Looplet, then when the leader is looking like he’s gonna get owned, change the leader, let the old leader faint and revive for free, then switch back. Practical example of how overpowered it is? I played a dungeon that ends in three boss battles with Dialga, Palkia and Rayquaza, back-to-back. My teammates must have fainted at least 15 times. If I didn’t have Ally Reviver, I’d’ve lost to Dialga within the first four or five turns, mainly because Dialga has a dumbass overpowered move called Roar of Time which hits everyone, and it always one-shots my teammates and can one-shot me if he gets a critical. But because I had Ally Reviver, I beat all three of them. RETARDED! It’s more overpowered than Awakening, which is supposed to be the über-ultimate mega-Emera, since that triggers Mega Evolution in Pokémon that can do so, and blocks all attacks from the front. But Awakening has a turn limit. Ally Reviver doesn’t. What’s more, if you have a Trap Immunity Emera at the same time, the last thing that you have to worry about (Emera Swap and Emera Crush traps) just… totally vanishes.

Oh, by the way, this plays during the boss battle with Dialga in Super. You might recognise it if you’ve played Explorers of Time/Darkness/Sky. It’s that game’s final boss battle music, against Dialga at the top of Temporal Tower. I nearly blew up. You also get this one against Rayquaza; it’s the Legendary Pokémon battle music originally from Red/Blue, played during that game’s final boss battle against Rayquaza. Great throwbacks. 😀

But maybe those throwbacks show a bit of a problem. I’ve noticed that Super just refuses to let go of the previous games. When you meet a Pokémon that was in a previous game, there’s an extremely high chance that they’ll act like the same character. Kangaskhan’s not in charge of storage any more, but she speaks in pretty much the same way as in Red/Blue and Time/Darkness/Sky. Duskull says he used to run a bank; I think Persian mentions something like that, too. Chansey says she used to work as an Egg caretaker. Rampardos says he used to run a business called Box Buster, and wonders how Cinccino is doing. Victini says he didn’t bring the V-Wheel. Swanna specifically mentions that she’s from Post Town, even though you can’t go there. Hydreigon acts as if you’ve already met him, exclaiming “You don’t remember me? Oh no!”. Munna says she did horrible things in the past. Quagsire has his verbal tic, hmm? Pokémon that were part of teams from Time/Darkness/Sky (AWD, Skull, Charm, etc.) either mention this, or act in basically the same way (Eg: Zubat, Koffing and Skuntank still have their unique ways of laughing: “Heh-heh-heh!”, “Whoa-ho-ho!” and “Chaw-haw-haw!”). I don’t even want to meet Grovyle. And I bet Celebi will mention Grovyle and how she feels about him, even though she won’t be a shiny like the Celebi from Time/Darkness/Sky. I finally met Grovyle and Celebi. The Celebi is a shiny. Grovyle’s mission was to help him rescue Celebi from a really easy dungeon. She fainted there on purpose so that Grovyle would come and rescue her. It was pretty fun. 😀 But still… why can’t they just let them be new characters? It feels like they’re hopelessly stuck in the past. The only thing that appears to be different is that Wobbuffet doesn’t just say “That’s right!”; all he says now is “Wooobbbufffeeeettttt!!!” 😛 Or was that a reference to Red/Blue? No, of course… the Wobbuffet in Sky was female, and this one’s male…

Bah, I think I’m reading too much into this. 😛 They’re just some harmless references, and they’re great for fans of the previous games, but I can’t help but feel like they might’ve been too attached to the old games to concentrate on making a new one. I mean, the gameplay of Super is definitely the best in the series, I really enjoyed the story, and the endgame is pretty good, too, but that balance… sheesh. It’s like they weren’t paying attention. Oh, and the team system was annoying; sometimes you couldn’t use team members because of reasons. Also, some Pokémon (Rayquaza, for example) were marked as “Gigantic”. This was already a somewhat quiet feature in Sky; each Pokémon had a fixed “Body Size” stat, and the total Body Size of your team had to be 6 or lower, so this effectively meant you could only have a three-Pokémon team if you wanted to take most Legendaries with you. However, that was fine, because in Sky they didn’t take up four tiles instead of one! I want to use Rayquaza. I want to use Dialga. And if I find that Yveltal is playable, I’m damn sure I’ll want to use him. But I can’t bring myself to put up with it, because playing with them in the team makes everything a pain in the dick. Regardless of whether they’re the leader or not, gigantic Pokémon just get in the friggin’ way all the time, especially around the corners of corridors, and this causes the other team member to lose line of sight of their allies, which puts them into “I’m lost” mode and makes them start wandering around randomly, which is hyper dangerous! (Uh, well, unless you have Ally Reviver, heh. 😛 ) And it isn’t like gigantic Pokémon are immensely powerful or anything.

I’m pretty sure that this game is a send-off, too. Given the surprising success of the series, it might not be, and I really don’t want it to be, but since it’s touted as the “definitive” Pokémon Mystery Dungeon game, that makes me believe that it’s the end. But all these issues I’ve found with Super just make me feel like the series could’ve ended on a higher note than this. Rgh, I dunno. Maybe it’s Explorers of Sky’s fault. 😛

Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Sky

“Um you’ve already played this twice why are you”

SHAHTAAAP!

Explorers of Sky was retardedly good. It’s one of my favourite RPGs. It has awesome characters everywhere, good yet admittedly repetitive dungeon-crawling, an epic soundtrack, and fuck ME, it has a masterfully-written story. The only thing wrong with the story is that it foreshadows events too obviously. When the player Pokémon exclaims (in his head, because he only speaks at the very end of the story) that he saw Dusknoir smile a little when he said he hadn’t heard of the player Pokémon, that, and the way the dialogue was presented, completely gave away that he was the bad guy. Things like that. Unlike the newer games, in Sky, you can see some things coming a mile away. But in my opinion, the story was about as close to perfect as you can make something. Interesting, mostly unpredictable, surprisingly mature, sometimes fun, sometimes moving, and it has a great ending. Honestly, when the ending theme began playing, I’d been so enthralled with the story that I actually cheered. And the attention to detail is so fine, it’s nearly impossible to notice. For example… like every game in the series, you pick a partner Pokémon. The difference in Sky? There are several slightly different sets of dialogue for your partner. Seriously. For example, when your partner sees the Krabby blowing bubbles near the start of the story, Torchic exclaims that it’s a “beautiful” sight. Bulbasaur exclaims that it’s a “pretty” sight. Totodile exclaims that it’s an “impressive” sight. And no, it isn’t just a one-off thing at the start; it continues throughout the entire story. I shit you not. It’s absolutely psycho! Almost no-one is going to notice this, and yet they did it anyway! Holy shit!

That… pretty much sums up Explorers of Sky. Probably Time/Darkness, too. That attention to detail, taking that much care over the dialogue to give some partners a slightly different voice even though most people will never notice, it shows that a hell of a lot of love and thought has been put into it. That’s why it’s so special. And that’s probably why I couldn’t find Sky for less than £18 second hand.

Yep, I bought it for realsies, and I’m playing through it for the third time. 🙂 I’m even experiencing things I didn’t before. Like… what the hell’s with my storage? I’m playing through like I normally do, or at least I think I am… but I had a massive issue with storage space. I was completely full for quite a long time. I kept recycling stuff I didn’t really need, then after a couple of adventures I was full again, then I recycled, and eventually reached this point where I couldn’t really bring myself to recycle anything, but I had to, because I had a full storage and a full bag. It was suffocating! I’m at the part just before Temporal Tower and I had to backtrack to town and rank up to Gold just to increase my storage space. Yes, even though the world’s basically about to end, I’m doing some missions to increase rank. 😛 I never had to do that in my previous two playthroughs!

But the game is as joyful as ever. I love it, I want to hug it, and I want Chunsoft to announce like 600 expansion packs for it. 😛 But you know what the fun thing about second hand games is? Seeing the previous owner’s data!

Before I wiped it for all eternity, I decided to compare it with the save I have on my emulator. If I hadn’t played this before, I would have just wiped it without looking to avoid spoilers, and besides, I probably wouldn’t have been able to judge because I wouldn’t have understood very much. 😛 Glad I’ve played it before, because this time I was… honestly, bewildered. Completely brainfucked. 😛 Why? Well, um… let me explain with some pictures:

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The one on the left is the physical copy before I wiped it, ie: the previous owner’s data. The one on the right is my data from the emulator. I believe the most interesting statistic there is “Fainted in dungeons”. I fainted once throughout the entire game, probably because I quit and reloaded my last save whenever I fainted, rather than saving my progress with all my money and most of my items gone, so it was never logged because it never technically happened. But this guy fainted 178 times. 178?!? WHAT THE CRAP?! That’s insane! It’s like he never thought “oh, shit, I lost loads of important items there, I’d better just reload and try again”. Christ, he’s fainted in more dungeons than he’s cleared! And he’s cleared more dungeons that me, yet he’s got less than half the Pokémon I do and has acquired 111 less types of items! What is this?!

(Next screenshot has a spoiler, and my Ultimate Text Blackening Strategy won’t work for obvious reasons; avert your virgin gaze if you haven’t played this but plan to play it in the future! 😛 ) (OH MY GOD MY SPOILER WARNING CONTAINS AN INOBVIOUS SPOILER)

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And it’s not like he didn’t clear the game, either! This doesn’t show it, but he finished the whole story. But finishing the whole story and only recycling ten times?! Maybe he didn’t get that selling items is kinda pointless unless it’s equipment or TMs, because you usually get 1p for it (literally)? Or, er… maybe he didn’t have many items? That sounds likely. 😛

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Here’s where shit gets really really odd. Check his stats. Now check mine. Mine’re better, yeah? Now check level. He’s ten levels ahead, yet he has worse stats in every area. WHAAAAAAAAAT! HOW YOU DO DIS?! And it’s not like he hasn’t been eating Gummis! Gummis give you IQ, sometimes stat boosts, and always stat boosts if you give it to Spinda and make it into a drink. But look at his IQ! It’s friggin’ two stars higher than mine, which is significant, but his stats are worse! HOW?!

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“Okay, let’s check the bank.” I said. I opened it and just started laughing in disbelief. You’ve finished the game and only have 1,077P?! Seriously?! How the hell do you even do that?! And one other thing I noticed from this pic? He’s playing as Blaziken. As far as I know… that’s impossible! Ignore that! I thought that it was impossible that he was playing Blaziken because… well, one: the personality test it gives you ends by asking if you’re male or female, and depending on your choice, this prevents you from being assigned certain Pokémon, and the borders of your chat windows are permanently coloured blue or pink for the duration of the game. And two: Torchic is marked as female in partner selection, and Torchic evolves to Combusken, who then evolves into Blaziken. Therefore, I assumed that he couldn’t have ever been a Blaziken because his chat windows are blue. I was totally wrong, though; Torchic can be assigned to either gender, but she’s always female if chosen to be the partner. As for player Pokémon, I looked it up and found that you can’t be Eevee, Skitty or Vulpix if you’re male, and you can’t be Riolu, Phanpy or Shinx if you’re female. Anyway no matter. The main point was that this guy had 0.6% of the money I had. 😛

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This one solidifies my thoughts that he may have had a bit of trouble playing this game. Well, more than a bit. 😛 He had a total of nine items in storage. Uh… the key’s useful, I guess? But no Exclusive Items… no equipment… not even any Reviver Seeds. His bag had more items, but most of it was utility stuff like seeds and semi-useful orbs. I think there was some equipment, but it wasn’t equipped. I don’t have a clue how he got through the story in this state. Massive respect to his tenacity! 😛

What makes his state even more difficult to comprehend is his rank. He can store 320 items, which means he’s Gold rank. In my current state (not the emulator), I’m Gold rank, and I haven’t even finished the primary story yet. He’s finished both parts of the story. How did he end with such a relatively low rank?! On my emulator state there, at the end of the story plus a bit of endgame, I’m Master 3 Star rank. I’d’ve expected him to be at least somewhat close to that! This is why second hand games are so fun! 😛 (In contrast, the data on my second hand copy of Advance Wars: Dual Strike was impressive. They nearly had half the medals!)

Also, why do I have a Gold Ribbon in storage? Well, this is a fun fact! If you take a bunch of Gold Ribbons into a dungeon, along with either a Pure Seed or a Trawl Orb… when you find a Kecleon shop, what you do first is sell all your Gold Ribbons and any other high value items in your bag. Then, if you have a Pure Seed, you tell your team members to wait a distance from the shop (for safety reasons), then pick up all the items in the shop and use the Pure Seed. You’ll warp to the stairs, and the Hyper Fast Kecleon Army will then move to annihilate you because you stole from the shop. Simply walk onto the stairs, go to the next floor and poof. You’ve just generated several thousand Poké. 😀 Alternatively, with the Trawl Orb, walk to the stairs with your team, then use the Trawl Orb. It’ll attract all the items on the floor, including the ones in Kecleon’s shop. This is classed as stealing, so the Hyper Fast Kecleon Army will assemble. Pick up everything and get to the stairs before they reach your room and rape you. Poof, several thousand Poké. Terrible exploit! Probably why you can’t do it in Gates to Infinity and Super! 😛

I don’t have a picture of it, but his team was quite… interesting, too. Several of his team members were named after characters from Mortal Kombat. No idea why. None of the Pokémon he named had any particular resemblance to the character he named them after. 😛 He didn’t name his partner. The player Pokémon’s name (or at least the controllable Pokémon) was called “JACK”. All caps. Speaking to the partner Pokémon was entertaining for a second. “Let’s do our best as always, JACK!” 😛

UPDATE: Going back to what I said earlier, about the slightly different dialogue… I remember taking a screenshot on the emulator after selecting the negative option in one of the game’s many pointless choices, when your partner asks “Should we go into the nightmare?”. My partner was Totodile. This time, my partner is Bulbasaur. When I reached the same point in the game, I took a picture of the same bit of dialogue. Here’s the comparison:

Pokemon Mystery Dungeon Explorers of Sky USA_58_2118.pngimg_20170212_201225.jpg

I know it’s such a minor thing, but that’s the point. This attention to detail was completely unnecessary. The vast majority of players would never notice, but they still did it. The only reason they did so was because they cared. If only more devs cared as much nowadays. Sigh.

Anyway… that’s that, methinks. 🙂 Speaking of second hand games, though…

Fire Emblem: Awakening

So, after playing Project X Zone 2 (still haven’t finished that, actually) and Advance Wars: Dual Strike, I remembered that other turn-based strategy game I hadn’t played yet: Fire Emblem. I dunno why, but it never really appealed to me. Maybe I was under the impression that it was too slow or too serious or too annoying. By “too annoying” I mean that if one of your characters dies in Fire Emblem, they’re gone for good. Unless it’s the main character. Then you just get Game Over. 😛 Maybe “annoying” is the wrong word. “Stressful” is slightly more appropriate. 😛

Anyway, I went through a bunch of demos recently. Most of them were junk (fucking Puzzle & Dragons Super Mario Edition, fuck me, what is that bullshit, and what were Nintendo smoking to let that no-name fail mobile company shit all over the place and combine two IPs that had absolutely nothing in common, okay I’m done now), but Fire Emblem: Awakening was among them. I was… very impressed. The whole thing stank of quality. “Stank of quality”? Kind of a shit way to put it, but yeah, it felt like a quality game. There wasn’t much to the demo, some dialogue, a couple of maps and some stupidly good FMVs with some surprisingly good English voice acting. But I was impressed, so I had a look online to see if I could still get it second hand. It’s quite an old game, so I thought it was either gonna be unavailable or quite cheap.

Oh, it was available. But on Amazon at least, it was nearly as expensive as friggin’ Pokémon Sun and Moon! Even on eBay it was expensive. Not like I really buy anything off eBay auctions anyway because they’re always sniped and tend to go for way more than you can get the item elsewhere.

So I turned to Cex (heheheh cex shop), the place I bought Explorers of Sky from. No stock in any store near me, but I could get it delivered for £24.50, and that was pretty much the cheapest I could find. I bought it because I think it’ll be worth that, but Jesus, that’s really steep for a nearly three-year-old game. Rhythm Paradise Megamix cost about that when it was brand new. I figure it’s so expensive because Awakening was so well-received. After reading about it, it feels like this game’s a bit of a legend. It was basically the developers’ last shot at keeping the Fire Emblem series going. Nintendo told Intelligent Systems that if it didn’t sell 250,000 units, that was it; Fire Emblem would be cancelled. In the face of this pressure, they absolutely nailed it, got 90+ on Metacritic and sold like nearly a million copies in total. Awakening’s the only reason Fire Emblem still exists, so maybe that’s why it’s so expensive.

I haven’t got it yet; I only ordered it today (I only got back home from my parents’ yesterday 😛 ) but I’ll probably write about it. As a draft. Then find it again several months later and post it. 😛

Anyhoo, I think that’s all for now… okaaaay yes, that’s now 7407 words excluding the “word” “7407”, so let’s leave it there. 😛 Buh-byyyye!

ow my fingers

Post Deliveryyyyy!

Phwoaack, it’s been a li’l while since I last posted. The last time was back when I PERFECTED MATRYOSHKA ON SUPER HARD LOOK LOOK LOOK:

Matryoshka (Button, SH) Perfect, 443,207

WOW! LOOK AGAIN!

Matryoshka (Button, SH) Perfect, 443,207

Ahem. So, how’re thingz? 🙂

What’ve I done since I last posted? Well, I’ve mainly been working, aaand it’s basically making me lose the will to live. 😛 Our previous project was good, I mean, I didn’t really like the game as a whole, but it was interesting to work on, and the features we were implementing were well designed and interesting to play, even if the core game was pretty dull. That was about 2 years ago. Since then, we’ve been working on a new project. It was fairly decent when we began, but as it progressed and other people got involved, I slowly began to realise that this game we were making… I didn’t like it. Like, REALLY didn’t like it. I also slowly began to dislike the other people who were getting involved. Since then, it’s escalated into a huge tornado of fuckshit. The lack of communication is ultra-annoying, the organisation is so bad I actually think the teams I worked with at university did a better job, people have meetings when I’m pretty sure they don’t need one and they overrun literally every single time, and some of the decisions made by the project leader are so stupid they go beyond what I can comprehend… for example, our game is free-to-play with in-app purchases (IAPs) like 99% of mobile junk, but the difference between all that junk and this junk was that our IAP shop was constantly pushed back in favour of much less critical tasks… so our game cannot make money. When we go for a meeting to determine our next set of tasks, the project leader always seems to have picked more tasks than we can all possibly do, insisting all of them are critical for the next build, and then it usually turns out he’s actually just picked stuff he wants instead of stuff we need. And it’s not just him; a lot of the other people I have to work with are so stupid I can’t help but wonder how the hell they got into this industry, and I can’t believe some of them have been making games for way longer than I have. Several of them don’t even care about gaming! I worked my ass off and racked up a massive debt to get here and do what I love doing, and there are people like this?! ARGHH! AND it’s summer, my least favourite season, and there’s no goddamn air conditioning and the wind speed is less than 10 mph, and conveniently all of the fans in the room appear to be situated near the lead staff, but they were saying they were going to order more, maybe, at some point, or not, probably needs a meeting. Two weeks after they mentioned getting more fans, they still haven’t, so they obviously don’t care.

The result of all this pain? A game I really really hate which I would uninstall in less than five minutes. I actually hope it bombs harder than anything has ever bombed before. I hide my opinion of the game from the other staff because it doesn’t help anyone to complain and there’s nothing that can be done about it now, but also because I’ve recently found out the project leader has this fucked up mentality that anyone who has made negative comments about the game is an asshole and 100% wrong. I hate people who can’t take criticism.

Anyway, that’s FAR too much whining, sorry. This post wasn’t supposed to be about ruining your day by mimicking the average Facebook feed. 😛 So, other more better stuff I’ve done… well, I’ve been playing a few games, of course. 🙂 I quite enjoyed the Overwatch Beta, so I ended up getting it, but after about 20 hours of game time I realised it was getting pretty boring. Slowly, it stopped being fun and became more annoying, then I questioned why I was playing it, and then I stopped. I probably won’t play it again until they… I dunno, add a new map, or a more interesting mode, or something. It’s quite annoying and doesn’t fully make sense why I’m bored of it, because I’m still up for playing Rocket League now and again, but that’s even more repetitive, and I’m worse at it than Overwatch. I guess Rocket League is just more fun. 😛

I’ve also been playing Disgaea PC, a port of the first Disgaea, a crazy tactical RPG with hilarious dialogue and mechanics. I’ve played it before on PSP, but never finished it. This time, though, I finally completed it after 60 hours, but didn’t get the good ending. The condition for getting that is to get through the story without killing a unit on your team… which is pretty easy, and I actually don’t remember killing one of my own units. Must’ve been a badly targeted skill. 😛 Anyways, I want to go through the story again to get it. Then I need to play the bonus episodes and extra stages, and get most of the achievements. Lel, it cost a third of what Overwatch cost and I’ve played it at least twice as much, and it’s made me laugh a hell of a lot more. I never liked buying multiplayer-only games, and after this, I’m probably never gonna buy another one again. Unless… I dunno, unless it’s Quake that plays like Quake III and doesn’t suck, or something. Man, I’d love to play that again; I had so much friggin’ fun with Quake Live. AND I was getting pretty good at it. 😛

Speaking of tactical RPGs, I also got Project X Zone 2 for 3DS, which is massive fun. The story is crazy and almost throwaway, but it’s funny. The dialogue is hilarious, too, full of insanity, references, weird Japanese humour and just plain funny shit. 😀 Here, have some screenshots I saved to Miiverse:

Ooh WordPress decided to make them into a gallery for me. How nice. Probably doesn’t work, though. 😛

Strangely, the game itself is kinda meh. The tactical part of it is just laughably not tactical at all. Enemy attacks tend to do a negligible amount of damage; the only real threats are swarms of enemies (say, about 6 units), enemies that attack multiple units, or bosses when they have enough EP. That’s “Enemy Points”, shown like a super ability gauge. The player has one too, called XP, which is “Cross Points”, not eXperience Points. Experience is EXP in this game. 😛 Anyway, when the enemy team’s EP is at 100% or more, their boss-class units can spend it on special attacks which do some real damage. You basically only have three options to counter this: defend to reduce the damage by half, spend some XP and use Full Defend to reduce damage to zero, or take out the boss before they have a chance to use their special. Getting out of their movement range is kinda pointless because you have so many units that the enemy’s probably gonna get one of them, and enemy bosses tend to have a movement range equal or greater than all of your units, so… yeah, all I’ve been doing for the entire game is attacking and not really giving a toss about defensive play, and I’ve only ever had two units go down. 😛 Another reason why it’s not a very tactical TRPG is because of the sheer freedom you have with items and skills. Items can be used by any of your team mates on any other team mate, no matter how far away they are, and you can use basically as many as you want until you run out. It doesn’t even cost a unit its turn or anything. Same thing with skills; any unit that hasn’t already taken its turn can use as many skills as they can afford without losing a turn. Quite a lot of units have healing abilities, too. I mean, off the top of my head, I know Felicia has one which restores 100% of a unit’s HP. 100%. It’s like “oh no, that unit just got beat on by about half the enemy team and it’s pretty low on health… Felicia, Feline Grooming, problem solved.” No SP? Use an SP restoring item, because I have about 90 of them that I picked up along the way, then use Feline Grooming. Or just use someone else’s healing skill. Problem always solved. 😛

The way you attack is pretty fun, though. You go into a side-on battle screen where you can use three normal attacks, a “solo” attack, sometimes a “support” attack, and if you have 100% XP, you can finish with a special attack. The aim is to juggle the enemy and hit them as many times as possible to do as much damage as you can. Hitting them with a new attack when they’re about to touch the floor gives a Critical, which increases damage for all the hits in that attack. At the end of your attacks, you’re given bonus gold for every 10 successive hits and bonus EXP for every Critical you get. It’s a really cool idea, and it feels great when you time everything right and pull off a massive combo. 😀 It’s not often that you do, either. My max combo is 106, and I think that was the only time I exceeded 100. I’ll probably get stupidly and pointlessly excited if I manage to beat it. 😛

Probably the most notable thing about Project X Zone 2 is that the characters are all from a bunch of different things by Sega, Capcom, Bandai Namco and Nintendo. I’ve never seen anything like it. You’ve got characters from Resident Evil, Yakuza, Tekken, Darkstalkers, Ace Attorney, Shinobi, Space Channel 5, Street Fighter, Streets of Rage, Devil May Cry, Megaman X, .hack//, God Eater, Shenmue… and there’s original characters, and I’ve definitely missed some. Christ, it’s like… the biggest crossover game in the history of ever. No wonder the story is insane. Must’ve been super-difficult to think of something.

The soundtrack is so good, too. There’s music from each of the games involved, and a different one plays depending on the character you’re currently controlling. It’s awesome when the game plays a track for the first time and you recognise it… like for me, the “Objection!” and “Investigation: Cornered” tracks from the original Ace Attorney, Jin’s theme from Tekken, and “Go Straight” from Streets of Rage 2, for example. (On a side note, I can’t help but giggle every time the fully-voiced Axel does his attack and says “GRAND UPPAH” and “ARRRRRRGH” :P) The song that totally got stuck in my head, though, was a track from Yakuza that sometimes plays when Kiryu & Majima are selected, and always plays during their special attack… this one, “Funk Goes On”. That’s the original track; the one played in X Zone is slightly different. I’ve never played Yakuza, but that track is just epic. Makes me want to do special attacks with Kiryu & Majima just for that music, even though their special doesn’t feel as powerful as other pairs’ specials. 😀

Even though the “tactical” part of it is questionable, I’d totally recommend it for the humour, characters and the battle system. It’s a pretty big fan-service game, though, so it might not be as fun if you don’t know or like any of the characters. 😛 It’s long, though; I’m at 30-something hours and I feel like I’m only just getting close to the end.

Ah. Crap. I did it again, sorry. This post wasn’t supposed to be about Project X Zone 2, either; I went into yammering mode again. 😛 I don’t think there’s anything else that I’ve played, game-wise, anyhoo. Oh yeah, Starbound, the “finished” version, but it’s okay cuz I’m already bored of talking about it. So let’s move on! 😛

Now, back to the topic of whiney Facebook feeds. Why? Well, gizza minute, will ya?! 😛

My sister was slightly-but-not-really whining about me not posting for a while on Bookface. The last post I made there was about two months ago when I posted a picture of a OnePlus 3 that I’d just received, along with Pro Wrestler, the best action figure ever. 😛 I don’t post there much any more because Facebook’s just become the world’s biggest advertisement and a place where people just post photos of themselves and other things I just don’t give a shit about, and I’m pretty sure only 10% of my friends list actually has me unblocked because I’m sure they feel the same way about my posts. 😛 Oh, and every other post recently has just been about Pokémon Go and no I’m not saying ANYTHING about it other than I’ve started blocking everything from anyone who posts about it. 😛 It’s like the zombie sheep apocalypse made real.

Ooooooh, the actual intended topic of the post is approaching fast!! 😛 So, in response to my sister’s complaint that I haven’t posted in a while, and because I haven’t posted here in a while either, I decided to cook up a little render all about POSTING! BAM:

Maw Mail (2K)

A post of a dragon postie delivering some post that you COULD print and use as a poster, for posterity! Letter me tell ya, it’d be a postitively unique poster. Hm, what’s mailing you? Am I not getting your stamp of approval OKAY ENOUGH good GOD that’s enough, that was a near-toxic level of crap puns just now. 😛

So, whaddya think? 🙂 This is my first proper attempt at using Iray, a renderer by NVIDIA which’s been in DAZ Studio since 4.8. I didn’t have much of a desire to use it until now because I never really understood it. And I still don’t. 😛

There’re a couple of flaws, methinks… Iray has a built-in bloom filter, which is great if you just bin the default settings first. 😛 It’s worked well, but it’s gone a bit rogue on his horns. It’s because the light is hitting his horns at an angle which makes them shine basically pure white. And no matter how high I put the bloom threshold, it probably won’t disappear from his horns, and even if it did, the effect would probably disappear from the sky, the place I actually want the bloom. Maybe it’s best to do bloom myself in post-processing after all… 😛 Also, that white stucco around the green door… the texture is friggin’ awful. 😛 I tried to tweak the material settings and improve it as much as possible, but there’s only so much you can do before you have to mess with the texture, and I’m not an artist. 😛 Kinda weird, though. That’s a 4096×4096 texture, which is pretty standard, so… I’m not sure why it looks so stretched and poopy. :S Ah well.

Overall, I’m pretty happy with how it came out, especially since I didn’t actually spend much time on it; the scene only took about 2 hours to assemble. I also didn’t need to make many tweaks; I only rendered the full scene three times before I was satisfied. For comparison, I have 25 preliminary renders stored for Dueling Dragons. Some of those were because my PC was being a dick, but still… 😛

So, Iray’s great? Neh. Not really. It’s a bit rough. It friggin’ loooooves to leave grainy bullshite in your renders in weird areas, usually outside of focus. I had to do some noise removal on that brass letterbox because it was absolutely ridiculous. Dark areas also tend to come out crappy. I also feel like I have no control over lighting. You can use a HDRI, basically a 360° image which the render engine looks at and magically generates scene lighting from that using MAFFS. “Maths”. Not an acronym. 😛 HDRIs are cool, but that requires that I have an HDRI image that roughly matches my scene. And it gives no control. You can go to the next level of control and use the built-in generic Sun-Sky environment mode, but the complexity is just OTT, and despite the stupid complexity, I really don’t feel like it’s that accurate. I mean, you can specify a latitude, longitude, time of day, date and UTC offset. The first time I used it, I gave it a test by putting in the latitude and longitude of my location, setting the UTC offset to 1 because daylight savings, setting the date to today and setting the time to about 6pm. Apparently NVIDIA thinks that England at 7pm UTC in summer is PITCH BLACK! 😛 So, all this complexity is wasted because I just don’t bother to touch the date, latitude or longitude any more; I just change the time of day, then rotate the dome to get the correct direction. As for custom lighting, like what I do easily in DAZ’s default renderer, 3Delight? Hahaha, forget it. Lights need completely dumbass settings like 50 THOUSAND lumen just for a dim light, AND it looks terrible.

But it’s fast, right? Well, no, actually. It’s really speedy at getting something rough you can use to gauge how the final render will look, but that final render took two GTX 970s… 3 hours 41 minutes 20.95 seconds to finish, and it’s not even that complex. And when I say it’s speedy at getting something rough… sure, setting a viewport to the Iray mode is useful because it gives you a live preview of your render, but eventually it starts making DAZ Studio pretty much unusable. It uses all of your GPU’s power and leaves nothing for anything else, including DAZ Studio. It also re-calculates every time anything changes. “Did you just move your perspective camera one inch to the left? Ooop, gotta recalculate! Whaddya mean the perspective camera’s position is irrelevant since I’m not rendering it or even using it to render?!” And if you change the scene enough while enduring the workspace slowdown with every change? Boom! DAZ Studio crashes either by itself or by crashing your graphics driver. Probably a memory leak! Oh, oh, speaking of memory? Iray EATS the HELL out of it. I can’t even render some scenes in Iray because it obliterates ALL 12GB of my unused memory before going “uhgh don’t have nuff memory bye now”.

I’ll probably end up going back to 3Delight with this scene to see if I can make it look better using my traditional methods. Iray seems to make stuff that looks more realistic, sure, but realism doesn’t always make things prettier, right? 😛 I’ll update this post with a 3Delight render at some point. 🙂 Even if it’s worse. 😛

Anyway… I guess I’d better post this on Bookface for my sister now, then get to bedz. 😛 Nighty night!

UPDATE!!

Someone on Facebook responded in an entertaining manner with a picture of his own, and I thought I’d share it with you here:

Maw Mail Response.jpg

😀

Also, I added a link to a video of my best match in Quake Live around the part where I mention it, because why not. 😛 The quality’s terrible because I was testing out settings for streaming and didn’t realise I’d set the bitrate way too low, but man, I was having loads of fun, calling out “DOUBLE KILL” in stupid ways, nodding my character’s head when something ace happens, and yelling “QUAD” when getting kills with Quad Damage. 😀 And a net of +34, awwwwww yiss. 😀

UPDATE 2!!

Basically nothing at all to do with the rest of this article but OH MY GOD I JUST GOT A PERFECT ON ROMEO & CINDERELLA ON SUPER HARD

HNI_0014.JPG

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA

パーフェクト!!

Aside

Hi, how’re you?
Good! Or “oh no!” if you said you’re not good. 😛
Soooo… what have I been up to recently?
Not much!
Apart from what happened today at lunch.
I nearly had a nervous breakdown.
And a heart attack!
Why?
Because I was playing Project Mirai DX (yes i still play it)
And I was just doing some songs and stuff
Grabbing a few Perfects on easy charts that I haven’t played yet
And then I went and played something a bit harder
By “a bit harder” I mean “Matryoshka on Super Hard”

And then
 I got a Perfect on it
A Perfect on Matryoshka on Super Hard
A PERFECT ON MATRYOSHKA ON SUPER HARD
A!
FUCKING!
PERFECT!

You want evidence, Mr. Edgeworth?!
TAKE THAT!!

Matryoshka (Button, SH) Perfect, 443,207.JPG

NINETY-NINE PERCENT!!!
YEEAAAAHHAHAHAHAHAAAAAA!!!
I WANTED TO YELL SO MUCH IN THE OFFICE!
BUT I COULDN’T BECAUSE THAT WOULD HAVE BEEN WEIRD!
SO I’M LETTING IT ALL OUT HERE!
OOOOOOOHHHHH YEEEEEEAAHHH!!!

HAHAAhahahaaa okay… okay okay, I’m okay. I’m okay, really. Really!

When I hit the last note knowing I hadn’t made a mistake, I nearly dropped the 3DS. It was just… unrealistic. 😛 I’ve had an SP All on Matryoshka on Super Hard before, and I’d been going for a Perfect every now and then, but I never thought I’d actually be able to do it. See, the longer my perfect streak goes on, the more I freak out, and on extremely hard songs, I almost always get bitten by my nerves and mess up before the song ends. It happens in all music games I play. But this time I somehow kept hitting notes even though I was basically crapping myself at how close I was, and actually friggin’ managed it! 😀

NO, I meant “managed to get a Perfect” not “managed to crap myself”. 😛

Matryoshka on Super Hard is probably the… second hardest chart in the game. In fact, no… third. Gaikotsu Gakudan to Riria is second. That note chart is crazy, and it’s even more insane it’s that hard even though the note chart is only classed as Hard. But Invisible on Super Hard? That’s just… impossible. IMPOSSIBLE.

Well… let’s see if I can do Invisible next, eh? 😀

チョコレートバスタブ!!

(That means “chocolate bathtub”. I’ll get to it. 😛 )

So, I got a few new games for the 3DS recently. Well, when I say “recently”, I mean “within the last three months or so”. 😛  I got Paper Mario: Sticker Star for my birthday. I friggin’ love the Paper Mario series, and I’d been wanting to get Sticker Star for a while now.

Before I headed up to my parents’ place for my birthday, though (before I had Sticker Star), I was wondering what to play on the journey. I’d stopped playing Monster Hunter because all of a sudden, the difficulty pretty much doubled and the item grinding got utterly stupid, a combination which slowly made the game more frustrating than fun. I mean, come on; a 3×1% chance of finding a Monoblos Heart? So, with those odds, if I had exactly average luck, and with my skill level and equipment, I would have to fight the same monster repeatedly for 8 1/4 hours. And I hadn’t even reached G level yet, where I imagine it gets even more retarded! So no, fuck that shit! 😛

I’d finished Mario & Luigi: Dream Team, too, and I didn’t really feel like playing that on Hard mode. Buuuuut, the night before my trip, I found a game on the eShop that I’d never even heard of before: Project Mirai DX. It had a demo, so I gave it a try because “why the hell not, it’s free”. It went beyond my expectations and I friggin’ loved it, so I went ahead and bought it for the journey.

So, Paper Mario: Sticker Star, a game I’d been really looking forward to, and Project Mirai DX, a strange game I’d never even heard of. Which one have I been playing the most?

Sticker Star, of course!

Just kidding. Project Mirai. By a LONG shot. 😛

So… what is it, exactly? Well… it’s a rhythm game… mainly. 😛 It’s centred around Japanese “vocaloids”, which are… kinda difficult to explain. The best description I can think of is that they’re “virtual singers”; computerised “instruments” that can “sing” whatever you want, however you want. I don’t know much about them, but it appears Hatsune Miku is the “original” vocaloid, or at least Sega’s original vocaloid. It’s pretty amazing, actually; they’re effectively specialised text-to-speech engines, but they sound really, REALLY good. 😀 Japan seems to agree; Miku is apparently like a superstar over there, and she doesn’t even exist. I mean, she’s just a piece of software. 😛

The “core” of the game is the Rhythm Game. It’s fairly simplistic; you have a ring which follows a line automatically. Notes appear on the line, and all you need to do is hit the correct button when the circle lines up with the note. There are a few extra gimmicks thrown in to make things interesting, such as double lines, where you have to use the D-Pad to hit the notes on the other line, and long notes (which require you to release the button with good timing, too). Long notes can also be rainbow-coloured; in that case, you can spin the Circle Pad for bonus Mirai Points (the game’s currency). Also, you’ll come across strings of notes which are sat on a on a gold line. These are “SP Sequences”, and hitting all of the notes in the sequence with good accuracy scores you a bonus. Each song also has a “Tap Mode” note chart, where you have to use the touch screen to tap on the colour that matches the note, and Tap Mode also features slide notes, where you have to slide/flick the stylus in the given direction. Sure, the controls and mechanics may be fairly simplistic, but… somehow, I find it REALLY fun to play. 😀

Your accuracy is rated with a series of interestingly-selected descriptive words: Cool, Fine, Safe, Sad, Miss and Awful. “Awful” is especially interesting; it’s technically “Miss”, but it’s seemingly only there to rub in the fact that you didn’t even bother trying to hit the note and just let it sail past. 😛 Hitting a note with an accuracy below “Fine” breaks your combo, despite the fact that “Safe” sounds like it would keep your combo… safe. 😛 If you make it to the end without ever breaking your combo, you’ll get a Perfect. If you don’t do that, but manage to hit every SP Sequence, you get an SP All rating. Along with your score, you also get given a percentage; breaking certain percentage barriers increases your grade, from C to S+. The percentage will probably never reach 100%, unless you’re unrealistically good, or unless you’re playing Tap Mode, in which case, your final percentage can end up being quite… peculiar, like… like this one, for example:

Finder (Tap, Normal), 138,609, 101.81%

I think I can explain why you can get percentages like this, actually. The game drops you a hint after you play enough Tap Mode, telling you that you can get more points if you hit several slide notes in a row without removing the stylus from the screen. However, I’m pretty sure there’s a bug where if you tap a normal note before a slide note but don’t remove the stylus from the screen before you hit the slide note, it counts it as a 1-Chain, but it shouldn’t count a 1-Chain until you hit two slide notes in a row. This makes the game give you more points than it should, and if you do it enough times during a song, you can break 100%, sometimes even if you didn’t get a Cool rating on all your notes! Yay bugs! 😀

Since the game’s characters are all vocaloids, every song contains vocals sung by up to three of the seven vocaloids featured in the game. And holy SHIT I’ve just realised, you can switch the vocaloid(s) in some of the songs. 😛 There are quite a lot of songs, about 44, I think. Each of these songs has a Tap Mode and a Button Mode, so that’s 88 note charts… if you just play on Easy. 😛 If you include Normal and Hard difficulties, there’re a total of 264 note charts. Nice! 😀

Similar to DJ Max, Beatmania and DDR, each of the difficulty levels has a rating. Project Mirai uses a rating from 1-9, 1 being pretty easy and 9 being HOOOOOOOOLLY FUCK THIS IS CRAZY. There’re only a handful of songs with a rating of 9. First one I played was “Matryoshka” on Hard, which is 205BPM, and boosts up to 295 near the end. Second was “Invisible” on Hard, which is “only” 192BPM, but you often find two notes right next to each other, so I end up using the D-Pad for one of them. 😛 Further down the list, there’s Kimi no Taion at 220BPM, but that only feels like a 9 for a small part of the song. But personally, the most painful one has got to be “Gaikotsu Gakudan to Riria”. It’s 130BPM, but the rhythm is so crazy it plays like 260BPM, and it FREQUENTLY puts notes right next to each other and I failed it five times in a row when I first played it and I still can’t get an S+. 😛

About the difficulty range, though…? Actually, I lied. 😛 See, I wrote part of this post while I was still midway through the game, but now that I’ve cleared every song on at least one difficulty… the game told me that some songs contain Super Hard note charts, much to my disbelief. But oh yes, they do. Super Hard songs have a difficulty of “MAX”. And they are all completely psycho. Romeo and Cinderella on Hard (difficulty 7) has enough notes already (788 to be exact; I nearly exploded when I perfected it), but it has a Super Hard chart with EVEN MORE notes. Matryoshka has a Super Hard chart and it should really have a health warning on it. But Invisible? That also has a Super Hard chart, and it should be friggin’ illegal. I reckon I’m at my peak skill level, and I can’t even get an S on it. 😛 Strangely though, Gaikotsu Gakudan to Riria doesn’t have a Super Hard chart. Maybe that’s because it’s hard enough as it is. 😛 Anyway, songs with difficulty 9 or MAX all make me cry inside because I know I’ll never get a Perfect on them. 😛

That’s the core of the game. Thankfully. You see, the core is good. The rest of it is… pretty odd. 😛

When you start the game for the first time, you get to pick a “partner” out of six vocaloids, and a place to live. Hrmmm. After that, you’re treated to a two-page menu with all sorts of stuff in it. If you want to play the Rhythm Game, the core game, the game… you select the darkest, smallest option on the first screen: a piece of paper with “Rhythm Game” written on it stuck to the wall with a drawing pin. It’s like they don’t want you to do it, or something. 😛

IMAG0570

(Yes, that is a Dress-Up option you see there.)

When you complete songs, you get MP, Mirai Points. What can they be used for? Upgrades? Stuff for the Rhythm Game like maybe new note skins, new button sounds, that sort of thing? Nope. Hey, maybe you can buy some boosts or assists or something, kinda like DJ MAX? Nope, you buy those items with Play Coins, and the only slightly useful one is Do or Die (which gives you an instant Game Over if you break your combo (you also get double MP if you clear the song, but that’s just gravy)), although Role Model (which makes the note chart play itself perfectly, doesn’t count as clearing it, obviously) might be good if you can’t seem to get the timing on really hard songs down and you want a demonstration. No no, you use MP to buy furniture for your home which does nothing, outfits for your partner which do nothing (you can use them in the Rhythm Game but the default outfits match the theme of the song anyway), and food/drink to give to your partner, which is not only pointless, it’s also weird. I mean, when you give them cake, you watch them eating said cake for nearly a minute. Sorry, did I say watch? No, you staaaaaaare at them eating cake. And then you find out you can even take pictures of them doing this.

Miku SHORTACAKEY

Want some tea? LET ME TAKE A PICTURE OF YOU DRINKING IT

Miku TEA

It’s so creepy, it makes me laugh. But then you start to realise… it’s a Japanese game with cute anime girls in it. Of course it’s gonna have weird content like this. 😛

That picture taking function is available basically everywhere outside of the Rhythm Game. If you leave the game hanging for long enough in the home screen, your partner might do something other than walk around aimlessly, and you can take pictures of whatever it is they do. Look, here’s a picture of Miku sitting down in a strange way:

Miku Sitting WEIRDLY

Here’s a picture of her lying down on the floor to use her super-high-tech-transparent-tablet-of-the-future instead of sitting on the sofa I paid for:

Miku NOT USING THE SOFA

If you buy a fortune box and set it in your room, your partner uses it to get your “fortune” every day. Yes you can take a picture. Funny thing is…

Miku NO IDEA WHAT THAT MEANS

It’s not localised, and as much as I’d like to be able to understand Japanese, I don’t, so I have no idea what that means. From the way she’s smiling massively, I’m guessing it’s good. 😛 (UPDATE: I’ve learned that it says “daikichi”, meaning “great luck/fortune”. So yeah, it’s good. 🙂 )

Then there’s the ultimate picture. If you spend 100,000 MP on a plane ticket you can go to the Villa for a week. It’s no different from the standard houses, apart from being able to set every type of item. Oh, and the beach. If you give Miku a swimsuit and leave the game alone long enough, OOSH:

Miku OK THAT'S PERVERTED

Oh, Japan, you so predictable. 😛

You can also give MP to your partner. They seem to like you when you do this, especially if you give them the maximum amount. Yes you can still take pictures while they celebrate:

Miku YAY MONEY

They then use the MP on STUFF, keeping it in a log for you to perv over. 😛 They might buy room items or outfits on their own volition, or waste it on shit that does nothing apart from maybe giving you a chuckle when you read the log. You can’t actually take a picture of this cuz it’s on the bottom screen, so here’s a picture I took with my PHONE:

IMAG0571

I feel that the developers wanted to make some form of metagame, something for the player to come back to and chill with after playing some songs, but couldn’t really think of anything other than this. At least… that’s what I guessed several weeks ago when writing this post. But today, I booted up the game to see this:

IMAG0588

Yes. Seriously. My virtual girl was pissed off because I hadn’t played the game in about 3 days. I was asked to use the microphone and say “I’m sorry”, but this was my lunchtime at work, so I opted for the infinitely less embarrassing option of pressing a button labelled “I’m sorry…” about 50 times before she got over her period. 😛  I now feel that the developers wanted to make a romance simulation but weren’t really allowed to. 😛 Maybe the Eastern audience can see the point, but I can’t. This whole metagame might as well just not be there. 😛 Although… heh, well, maybe it does have a point in the West. It’s a bit of a laugh, a distraction, maybe even a welcome break for your 3DS’ buttons. 😛 It’s the kinda thing you might share for a laugh, on a blog, for example, saying “hurhurhur look how pervy and stupid this is, but actually it’s a really friggin’ good music game at its core”. 😀

As for the post title, that’s actually a line in the song “LOL -lots of laugh-“. The song has a fair amount of English in it, and this is funny to me because Miku sounds like a proper upper-class Japanese person who’s lived around the south of England for years but hasn’t lost her Japanese accent. 😀  The lyrics appear on the bottom screen so I had to use my phoneage for this one too:

IMAG0507

Yes, in Gallery mode you can do all sorts of pointless stuff like leave microscopic comments, which I think is shared through StreetPass. No idea, because I’ve only had one StreetPass hit for this game, and even that was surprising. 😛

That’s Project Mirai DX. Demo’s on the eShop. 🙂 If you’ve got a 3DS and like music games, I massively recommend it. Just ignore the metagame. Unless you’re… I dunno, Japanese, or something. 😛

“Oh, but wait, what about Paper Mario: Sticker Star?” Hmm, it’s… well, I wouldn’t recommend it, sadly. It’s super-disappointing. I got near the end of the second world and just haven’t had much of an urge to play it again. It’s really annoying, because I’ve loved all the Paper Mario games up until now. :/

The battle system is weird. It’s not an action RPG like Super Paper Mario; it’s gone back to a turn-based system, but there’s no levelling or badges or abilities or secondary party members or anything. To attack, you use stickers you find in the field, which have different effects. Sounds unique and interesting, but it just doesn’t work. The battle system is so watered down that you can’t manually choose your target, and sometimes you don’t have a sticker suitable for the situation. It’s okay if you get hit, though; the game is so goddamn easy that I eventually stopped bothering to carry stickers that recover HP. Oh, and normally you can only use one sticker per turn, but you can use up to three… if you pay coins to spin a friggin’ roulette and use epic timing to get three-of-a-kind. Yaaaaawn.

It’s not just the battle system. It’s the story, and the characters… and the dialogue. Those things are basically half the point of an RPG, and the old Paper Mario games nailed every one of them. The Thousand Year Door (my favourite Paper Mario game) contained all sorts of awesomeness. Hooktail, for example! She’s a dragon boss who you can weaken with a badge that makes the sound of a cricket (she hates crickets). Then, when she’s low on HP, she tries to bribe you with coins (more than you can actually carry, lel), a badge (Really Ultra Rare!) and her feet (no, seriously), and after all that, she suddenly eats the audience to regain HP. It’s so good! 😀 Oh, and the moment where a character suddenly breaks the fourth wall out of nowhere (YOU, IN FRONT OF THE TV!), and that bit near the start with the contact lens, and that part where you can get an instant Game Over by reading a diary. 😀 In Sticker Star? Pfft. Your helper character is boring and a bit irritating. And… well, because there’s so little story, that’s basically all I can think of. Maybe I haven’t played it enough to find some good dialogue, but that’s ridiculous. Meh, oh well, never mind. Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam Bros. is great so far, so at least Alphadream’s still got it. 😀

Man, the 3DS is so great. I’ve got Paper Jam to finish, along with Elite Beat Agents which someone at work recommended to me (he mainly recommended the original game, “Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan!”, but Elite Beat Agents was wayyyyyyy easier to get hold of for a good price). There’s also Project X Zone 2, a tactical RPG which I’d never heard of but is apparently quite popular; I played a demo of it and found it pretty fun, so I might consider getting that too. But most importantly, Pokémon Super Mystery Dungeon finally lands over here in mid-February!! I really can’t wait to play that one! 😀

Right, enough shite from me. I’mma see if I can perfect Matryoshka on Hard. Heheheh, yeah right. 😛

UPDATE!!

WOW GG WORDPRESS, it actually just posted this in the PAST, in October 2015. I copied it and deleted the old one so it would show up that I posted it TODAY, not THREE MONTHS AGO. HERPADERPDERPDERP

And OH MY GOD THIS NEW CRAP EDITOR THINKS UNDERLINE IS AN ADVANCED OPTION

This swan song made my ears bleed.

Call me retarded (I am), but I have… practically a paranoia when it comes to buying games nowadays. 😛 I think it all began with Starbound, a game I decided to back because it looked amazing and the devs really looked like they knew what they were doing. It turned out to be a huge turd, flying wayyyyyyyy past its planned release date and still flying. “Stable” updates are released randomly (once every six months if you’re lucky), and the incompetent devs act like it’s no big deal, probably while rolling around in their money. I haven’t played it since the first patch which completely changed the damage system (the original system was so idiotic I couldn’t comprehend that someone actually thought of it). It’s especially embarrassing and frustrating because I got others to back it with me, so they got screwed as well. I also backed Carmageddon: Reincarnation, which looked really promising but turned out to be quite disappointing. It was funny, but idiotically easy even on hard, and it didn’t really introduce anything new. And then there was the optimization which… well, it sucked. Framerate starts out okay and slowly gets worse as you play. These games (mainly Starbound For The Recycle Bin) put me off Early Access so much that nowadays, I just say “Not Interested” to almost every single game in Early Access. One exception was Crypt of the Necrodancer, which was actually pretty good, but… they kinda ruined it in the last burst towards release. They added some random announcer voiceovers before boss battles and when unlocking characters, and they sounded completely idiotic. That, and the final area wasn’t really that interesting. It feels like they rushed it.

Sounds like I only hate Early Access, but it isn’t just that. There was Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel, a game that just… didn’t really move me. The new oxygen mechanic was interesting and it was fun to jump around, boost and butt-stomp in low gravity, but the story made almost no sense, and it just threw so many horrendous jokes and references around. By the end of the game, it felt like they were so desperate to get laughs that it made me think the writers were total morons. 😛 The only reason I had fun with it is because I played it co-op, and although we finished it, we never really wanted to do the second playthrough. Also, there was Shadow Warrior, the new one. It was entertaining for a short while, but… it just completely lacked the charm of the original. That, and the map design was awful; sometimes I could barely figure out where I was supposed to go. Oh, and Bit Trip Runner 2. I picked that up again recently, but I can see why I stopped playing. I was expecting a rhythm game, but it’s not, it’s just… pfft. It’s like they only made it because they somehow got Charles Martinet (who most famously voices Mario and Luigi) to do some voicework for it. He sounds completely out of place, maybe even a bit bored. After hiring him, it feels like they didn’t have enough money left to make something interesting. 😛

But hey, on a positive note, Freedom Planet is the best platformer I’ve played in a hell of a long time. Probably the best platformer I’ve ever played, but that’s a pretty huge claim and I’d need to think long and hard before making it official. 😛

Anyway, now, the actual reason for the post! 😛 Metal Gear Solid V was released a few days ago and, predictably, pretty much everyone says it’s amazing. But thanks to my “paranoia”, I didn’t believe them for a second. I no longer listen to anyone’s opinion, because I’ve realised: there’s no point. Everyone contradicts each other and everyone forgives (or totally overlooks) different problems, usually without mentioning them. I read through the Steam reviews (the 5% of reviews that are actually reviews, not fucking anecdotes or unfunny jokes) and found one positive review said the AI was great. Two minutes later I find a negative review which completely nullifies both reviews’ validity by saying the AI is stupid. Didn’t take long for me to stop looking for other reviews. There’s hype, as well; people who get too excited for a game generally don’t notice how bad it is. I used to get affected like that. I mean, I was so excited for Spore way back, and when it came out, I said it was the greatest game I’d ever played. Lol? No it wasn’t. It was nowhere near. 😛 Most unique, yes, probably. Greatest? No, that crown is still held by Diablo II, and probably always will be.

Still, I’d always liked Metal Gear Solid (not Rising, Jesus Christ fuck no get the hell out). The original is legendary and MGS2 was really good, too. MGS3 wasn’t so great but the remastered version was seriously good, and it was all due to them fixing the biggest problem with the game: the friggin’ camera. 😛 I actually enjoyed Metal Gear Acid but I could understand why others wouldn’t. MGS Peace Walker was the best game on the PSP (just edging out Patapon 3), and I hate the fact I could never play MGS4 because it was on a console I think totally sucked. A pretty damn good history then, eh? Why not give them a shot and just go for it?

Hahahaha! What, you think I’m going to throw away £35 on a game I’ve never played? £35 on a game that offers no demo? No! Fuck that shit. Not these days. I don’t care how good the previous games have been or who developed the game in question, my trust in developers is totally shot nowadays. Take Metal Gear Rising. That hateful game was made by largely the same people that made God Hand, a totally awesome game of the same genre. 😛 I have to try a game before I buy it. Videos, reviews, whatever, nothing helps. The only way to know if I’ll enjoy something is by trying it.

Usually, my first port of call is the game demo. If there isn’t one, if possible, I torrent the game. If I enjoy it, I delete the pirated version and buy a legit copy right away. If I don’t enjoy it, I delete the pirated version and forget all about it. The only person that can possibly lose out is me, by wasting my time. 😛 Sadly, heh… Metal Gear Solid V is protected with an apparently very tricky anti-crack technology, meaning a crack will take quite a while to develop.

So, I’m out of options, right? Well… not really.

Steam now allows refunds within 14 days of purchase for any reason if you buy a game directly through Steam and play it for less than two hours. I was originally planning to avoid buying directly through Steam because for some retarded reason, this specific game costs £11 more. So, my plan was to buy the game through Steam, make absolutely sure I didn’t play it for more than two hours, and refund it immediately afterwards, regardless of whether I liked it or not. If I liked it, I would repurchase it from somewhere else for £11 less. 😛

So, the plan began. It hurt my common sense when I hit the purchase button but I shrugged it off knowing it wasn’t actually going to cost anything. 😛 As the game downloaded, I set up PlayClaw to overlay a timer on top of the game so I knew exactly how much time I had used, and also recorded the game footage with it. I’m going to talk through my experience with some screenshots from the video. 🙂

Note that this spoils pretty much most of the first two hours, so you’ll wanna skip it if you’re planning on buying the game and want to experience it yourself. HERE WE GO, YA SPANNER!

(First time using a WordPress gallery. It kinda sucks as expected, so here’s some instructions. 😛 Click on an image for the full gallery view. You can scroll through the gallery with the arrows. To exit the gallery click the tiny X button in the top-left corner. Why is it in the top left corner? Cuz WordPress sucks. 😛 )

And that’s that. A 65-minute-long cutscene with five instances of deus ex machina, followed by barely enough time to get used to anything. Ten minutes of the cutscene were interesting because they had a point and explained what had happened to Snake. The remaining 55 minutes consisted of Snake running away and repeatedly getting blown up by a firey man. And then, from what little gameplay I managed to experience, it felt watered down and dull. Looking back, it feels as if it was trying to make itself seem really complex when in fact it… wasn’t. I mean, I was going so slowly, trying to be stealthy when I could’ve just… popped them all in the head real quick. The overload of information just made it seem really difficult. But above all else, it didn’t feel like a Metal Gear game. At all. Hideo said that Metal Gear was a game about running away, hiding and avoiding conflict, but in this, I don’t feel like I need to, or even want to. There’s no life and no stamina. Camo Index is gone. You can get serious wounds like in MGS3 but healing them is way easier. All you do is get into cover… ah wait, heh, the cover system’s broken. 😛

Oh, there’s one other thing. It doesn’t really affect the game, but it’s still pretty major. Wanna take a guess at how many lines Snake, Big Boss, the main protagonist of Metal Gear said in those two hours? Three. Three. They were (vaguely) “What happened?”, “Who the hell are you?” and “Afghanistan?”. Not kidding. Oh, and he’s no longer voiced by David Hayter, the one who voiced Snake in every game previously and basically shares Solid Snake’s real name. He’s now voiced by… er… oh, I can’t friggin’ remember. I actually can’t. He’s supposed to be famous, I think. Maybe he’s so famous they couldn’t actually afford more than one line per 40 minutes. 😛

Soooo… would I recommend it? I’d say no, not right now… but… this is the annoying thing. I can’t possibly come to a definite conclusion. This is clearly a huge game, and I don’t think two hours was enough time to fully evaluate it, especially since most of it was a cutscene. Maybe it gets better. Maybe it doesn’t. I don’t know. I can tell you one thing, though: no way is it worth £46. Other games that cost a quarter of that managed to entertain me within the first 15 minutes, yet this failed after two hours. If it takes that long to get going, like hell is it worth £11 more than the standard PC game retail price. You can get it cheaper elsewhere, but keep in mind that if you do, you don’t get the ability to refund it on Steam.

For now, I’m going to forget about it, and just wait patiently for a crack. If one ever does appear, I’ll give it another try to see when, or if, the game hits its stride. And I’ll let you know. 🙂

Of course, you shouldn’t really listen to me. My opinion is probably different to yours. 😛

UPDATE!!

That anti-crack tech bought Konami about a week. MGSV has already been cracked. 😛 Thanks 3DMGAME. Now I can evaluate the game properly before what I consider a major purchase, cuz for some people, £40 is pretty expensive for a game, especially if it has a risk of being dog shit. 😛

I skipped the prologue because there’s currently a problem with the crack where the game simply hangs about 70% of the way through the prologue. Besides, I’ve played it already and it was shit. 😛 I continued from the start of the first chapter, and played through for 4 hours, completing a bunch of missions and a Side Op. So, what do I think now?

…eh. Just… eh.

So yes, it’s an improvement from “I think it’s a bit shit but I’m not sure”. But not really a big improvement. My main gripe is… that it just doesn’t feel like Metal Gear. It just… it doesn’t have that same feel. There’s some tension, but it’s not as strong. You feel powerful, and the only reason I didn’t just start shooting everything is because there’s a 10,000 point bonus if you don’t. And it’s super-serious almost all the time. The only time it isn’t is when you try to shoot Ocelot in the face with tranquilisers or punch your staff members. Oh, and the first time you use the Fulton Recovery device, but I was pretty much used to that because of Peace Walker. I mean, even Metal Gear Solid 3 started with a joke that trolled players who hated Raiden, and you soon started finding plastic frogs that you could shoot (which unlocked a game-breaking item if you shot them all). 😛 Even the characters sound… wrong. Apart from Kaz, he sounds fine, because his voice actor is the same guy. But Snake doesn’t sound anything like Snake, and Ocelot doesn’t sound anything like Ocelot. When they’ve had the same voice in every game I’ve played, and then they suddenly CHANGE… I dunno why, but it kinda breaks the experience a bit.

The open world setting ruins a lot, though. Enemies are sometimes around where you don’t expect them, and they end up seeing you before you can react. I’d gone through an entire mission without being seen, and made a stylish exit by nicking a car. Felt cool! I was just about to get out of the hotzone and complete the mission totally unseen when I passed by a guard post I barely noticed and got seen, which damaged my mission score and just pissed me off. That’s a problem as well, the rating system. In a game like Geometry Wars 3 where the aim is to get as many points as you can, it’s perfect. I didn’t actually mind it in Peace Walker, mainly because the missions were fairly short, so I never really paid attention to my rating. In MGSV, missions can last about half an hour, so… that’s a large amount of time required to fix a one second sort-of-mistake. Another one was similar: 26 minutes of perfect stealth ruined by a single second where a freak patrol sees me as I was running away on my horse. Bad luck = -11,000 points! Rank B! 26 minutes of wasted time! Too bad! Fuck off…

Escaping enemies is super-easy when it’s a free-roam world as well. Never feels like you’re being chased. And because missions have “mission areas” (and you lose if you move outside the area for too long), it clearly didn’t have to be free-roam. And the open world setting makes you wait for longer as well. Gotta wait for extraction, gotta get far away from the base to finish a mission, gotta wait for supply drops, gotta wait for the chopper to take off… all of this artificially extends the gameplay. There aren’t really any indoor areas, either. And the whole world is just… boring and samey.

I dunno. The whole thing just feels more like Call of Duty or Gears of War, or Battlefield, or some weird amalgamation of the three, not like Metal Gear. I mean, I’d say there’s a lot of gameplay in it. Some rough estimates suggest you’ll probably get about 40 hours out of the main missions, 80 hours if you go for all the mission goals and Side-Ops, and maybe even more if you go on a super-dull collection spree for 100% completion. But will you have enough fun to hit any of those three goals? Sheesh, I dunno. Maybe not. If the game kept up the way it was going, I’d probably end up just doing the main missions and about… half the Side-Ops? Maybe not even that. I mean, the core thing that was bugging me is that this feels like a generic war game with a bit of stealth, not Metal Gear. Hell… no. No, the main problem is that the game is just… average. It’s one of these friggin’ games that is so average that I’d probably have to play about half the game to make a decision. Ace Combat: Assault Horizon, Skate 3, Batman: Arkham Origins, Saints Row IV… all of these were the same deal. Couldn’t decide until the moment the game’s averageness started to bore me.

So, again… would I recommend it? £46, fuck no. £40, no. £35, sort of maybe, if you’re a fanboy? £30, eh, yeah, might be worth that if gameplay videos and stuff make you interested. £25, hmm, yeah, I’d probably pay that. £20, yes, even if it’s just a timekiller you don’t finish, it’s worth that. If it was less than that I’d probably buy it now. Yeah, go ahead, call me cheap, but the game hasn’t moved me yet. I don’t know how long it’ll take before it does. 😛

Oh, by the way, I forgot to mention this: I heard from several sources that the final mission was cut from the game, so the game has no ending. I feel that spending money on an unfinished-yet-released product is like backing an Early Access game, which is why I can’t bring myself to buy it until someone confirms this is a lie. 😛

FINALLY, they got this monster right.

Well, I’ve had a 3DS for a couple months now. Not regretting it even slightly. Even if I’d bought it for full price I wouldn’t be regretting it. 🙂 It’s so nice to have a portable console with more than 4 games on it. 😛

I got a few extra games since I last posted. The first one was Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Gates to Infinity. I bought that because of Explorers of Sky, its predecessor, that I played on an emulator. Twice over! I quite liked the gameplay; it was a pretty simple dungeon crawler, but occasionally, it got quite brutal, and you had to stop and think about what you were gonna do next or you’d get hammered. It almost felt like a roguelike at times. Almost. 😛 Its strongest point by far was its story, though. Explorers of Sky had such a great story and such good characters that I can’t actually think of a game that surpasses it. It’s almost embarassing to admit that, and I feel like there has to be a game with a better storyline or better characters, but I don’t know why I can’t think of it. 😛

The new one, Gates to Infinity, didn’t disappoint either. The gameplay is almost the same, but a bit easier; they disabled the hunger system in all dungeons apart from the uber 99-floor endgame dungeons, they removed lookalike items (dangerous items that had very similar names to helpful items, eg: Oran Berries heal you, whereas Oren Berries cause damage), and Monster Houses (random rooms that contain more items inside than usual might turn out to be almost completely rammed with enemies) seem less frequent since I managed to get through more than half the game before I stumbled upon my first one. I mean, I only wiped out twice throughout the whole storyline, and one of those was due to insanely bad luck; an enemy used Peck which steals and uses a random item if it hits, and it just so happened to pick a Blast Seed I had lying around in there which does big damage to anyone in front of the item user. 😛 But despite the lower challenge, the story and characters were the highlights once again. I just found the characters so great that I actually ended up caring what happened to them. And okay, I’ll say it; I was that close to losing it at the end of the main story. 😛  Why? Why can this spin-off do it and pretty much no other game can?! I mean, even my most favouritest game of all time, Diablo II… the story was goodish, and some of the characters were good but I never really cared about them. It’s weird, especially when you consider I don’t actually like the vast majority of Pokémon, so it’s nothing to do with the fact that they were Pokémon or anything. I guess the Japanese are just better at making heartfelt stuff. 😛 The game time in Gates to Infinity was a little shorter than Explorers of Sky; I clocked 50 hours on the storyline compared to EoS’s 61 hours, but that’s not exactly something to snort at, especially when EoS has a much longer secondary storyline. I really hope they make another Mystery Dungeon, but judging by the sales and general reception of GtI (even in Japan), that really doesn’t look likely. Interest in it looks like it just divebombed from Explorers of Sky. 😦 No idea why, I mean, Victini could sell it on his own:

V-WHEEEEEEEEEEEL!!

I also got Phoenix Wright: Dual Destinies. It took me friggin’ ages to realise it was a download-only title. 😛 I was a bit wary of it for some reason, but it turned out to be really fun as usual; completely ridiculously convoluted cases, over-exaggerated speech, a guy who is allowed to throw shurikens at you in a courtroom, the same overworked judge presiding just like almost every previous case, it pretty much has it all. 😛 Although, I dunno if it was just me, but it felt like there was much less interaction this time. Like… there was much more reading and less actual thinking and cross-examination than usual. And the end of the final case was kinda strange and felt kinda unfulfilling. That, and I never really got stuck. Made some mistakes, but I never got stuck like I did with some of the previous games. Still, I reckon it was pretty good. Lasted quite a while, too. 🙂 The one thing that pissed me off about it the most, though? The sheer. Amount. Of spelling errors. I cringed the first time I noticed one. “Nggggggg, a spelling error in a visual novel?! Noooohohohooooo, that’s bad.” But then they just kept appearing again and again. And again. It eventually went beyond human error and beyond a joke. It was just flat-out careless. I started taking pictures after the fourth mistake; here’s a few samples:

The truth will always WIN*...You cannot POSSIBLY* overturn my claims...In which WE* live...To OVERLOOK* critical symptoms...

Since I have about 15 more, I’ll just leave it there before I post way too many. 😛

Despite the immense spelling errors in that one game, I have no regret for buying the console. But that’s just because of the games, not because the system is any good. The 3DS itself is pretty average. Well, no, I’d say below average, actually. There are a bunch of issues that just annoy me. Take the ergonomics. I’ve already mentioned how uncomfortable the system is to hold before, but it’s really annoying now. If you’re not playing an action game, it’s fine. However, if you are, you tend to grip the console a bit harder than normal, and it starts to hurt pretty quickly. This brick of a console presses into the bottom right of my right palm really firmly, and the bottom left of my left palm too. Whatever you call those locations. 😛 After it presses too much, it gets quite uncomfortable. :/

Another annoying thing is the 3D effect. I’ve gotten used to it enough now that I can have it on max. But eventually, I noticed something was wrong. Certain objects, usually objects that stand out amongst their surroundings, seem to appear appear “ghosted” quite strongly to the left and right. At first I thought it was my eyes, and tried turning down the effect. Then, after noticing the issue on the setting I used to use, I started to think it was a calibration issue. I’ve recalibrated about 4 times and messed with the manual calibration (whatever that’s supposed to do) to no avail, so it can only be the crappiness of the effect itself. I still like the effect and think it makes a pretty significant difference, but this ghosting issue ruins it almost completely. Faulty device, maybe? I doubt that; it seems like this kinda thing would be a software bug.

Other gripes include the stupidly low pixel density yet significant frame drop when using the 3D effect which, in combination, demonstrates the device’s idiotically low power. And despite this low power, the battery life is fairly short, meaning that the battery is probably cheap and low-capacity. Nintendo can’t seem to let go of the past, either. In this age where it’s common for a 6-year-old kid to know what kilobytes and megabytes are, Nintendo still insists on using blocks as a unit of measurement. Fucking blocks! What the hell is a block?! The last non-Nintendo console I know of that used blocks as a unit of measurement was the Xbox, and I’m pretty sure even they don’t know why they used it. I mean, Sony had already dropped it and switched to KB after the PS1! One other thing? Nintendo sucks at the Internet. I mentioned in a previous post that you can only save three sets of wireless access point information, which is unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. But the amount of time it takes to connect to various online things is amazing. No, I can assure you it’s not my connection. 😛 Connecting to the server to browse DLC for a single game takes about 40 seconds, which isn’t much less than the amount of time it takes to open the entire eShop! Oh, and about the eShop? It can either download one file at a time while the console is open as long as it’s not interrupted, or it can queue a bunch of stuff to download, but only if the console is put into sleep mode! What the hell? Why can’t it download while I’m doing something else with the system?! Christ. Even the new C-Stick is pretty shoddy. It’s weird and completely devoid of feeling, and because it’s so small, it has a microscopic range.

Hah, YES. Finally. Been waiting to find the right place to mention the C-Stick for ages. 😛 Since I’ve mentioned the C-Stick, that means I’ve got a game where I’ve been able to use it, and that game was supposed to be the focus of this entry but I DO THIS ALL THE TIME SOMETIMES. 😛

This game has pretty much been my nemesis ever since I played it way back when. The reason why it’s my nemesis isn’t really because of the gameplay or challenge or because the game was crap. It’s because it’s the only game I seriously wanted to like, that I couldn’t like. It had an awesome concept, but it’s like they made the game without thinking about anything important at all. It was a great game hidden behind layers and layers of artificial challenge, a terrible learning curve, stupid choices and tons of catch-22s.

Monster Hunter.

Fuck you Kut-Ku. And fuck you Kushala Daora. 😛

So from my words, obviously, my experience with Monster Hunter has been pretty rocky. The first one I played was the original on the PS2, but I can’t remember it that much. All I remember is that I gave it a try out of curiosity, but it pounded me into the ground somehow and I gave up. Some time later, after I managed to get custom firmware installed on my PSP, I thought I’d try out Monster Hunter Freedom 2, which I’ve actually posted about a couple of times before. I went through the tutorial quests and did pretty well, and started to think they’d greatly improved their game’s difficulty curve from the original. Nope. 😛 After I left the tutorials and started on the quests, I immediately noticed something. The weapons provided in the tutorial were different from the ones you start with. “Different” as in “WAY more powerful”. I had serious problems with the Velocidrome, which is a… well, guess. It’s a velociraptor. 😛 Wait, was it the Velocidrome? Nonono, it was a Giadrome; that’s it. Although it’s pretty much the same thing, just a texture swap and possibly different spit. 😛 Anyway, it’s the first large monster. It took me 20 minutes to beat it. And no, I didn’t complete it first time.

I didn’t really understand why I was having such a hard time. I mean, it was the first quest. I didn’t have the materials to upgrade my weapons or craft any armour. Eventually, I made some headway by switching to the Light Bowgun and suddenly ended up destroying the Giadrome. I start riding the wave, clearing quest after quest, but then all of a sudden, the Yian Kut-Ku turns up and wipes me out. It’s the first wyvern you come across, a quite-scrawny-definitely-looks-kinda-like-a-chicken wyvern, but a wyvern nonetheless. 😛 It nuked me. Absolutely nuked me. No matter what I did, I couldn’t beat it. Because you don’t know exactly how much health your target has left, I was convinced the AI was cheating by switching areas and recovering most of its health when I wasn’t looking. This was the monster that made me give up.

It wasn’t just the Kut-Ku. It was that absolute spastic learning curve that gets you used to the power of weapons you don’t own before suddenly dropping you against the same monsters with dramatically weaker weapons at your disposal. There was the complete inaccessibility of multiplayer, too. To play with your friends, or anyone, you need to be in the same room at the same time, which isn’t really possible when you live so far away from each other. Not many of my friends owned a PSP, and none of them really seemed interested in Monster Hunter anyway, but I reckon it would’ve been way easier with a team-mate, even some other random nooblet like me. 😛 I believed that having two targets would make the AI lose the plot completely. 😛  My biggest problem with the game, though? The controls. On the PSP, they didn’t make any sense at all. There’s no lock-on, and I can’t really see why not, because lock-on eliminates the “camera wrangling” layer of Fake Difficulty; making the camera impossible to control makes the game more difficult for no good reason. In Monster Hunter, you can make the camera look in the direction your character is facing by tapping L, but if you wanted to move the camera to look at the monster you’re targeting, well, the camera controls are bound to the d-pad. Which, on the PSP, is above the analog stick. So to control your character and move the camera at the same time while still having access to the rest of the controls, you needed 2 left hands. -.-

Or, well… so it seemed. But I’ll get onto that in a bit. 😉

About a year after dropping Monster Hunter Freedom 2, I was playing Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker when I discovered to my complete surprise that it contained secret missions based on Monster Hunter. 😀 After I made Snake cook a Well-Done Ration and shoot a Rathalos about 30 times in the face with a rocket launcher, I thought I’d give Monster Hunter yet another chance. Why? I dunno. MGS Peace Walker may have had Monster Hunter missions but it played completely differently and I only just hesitate to say that I reckon it was the best PSP game ever (I only just hesitate because Patapon 3 was also immense 😀 ). I mean, I found it possible to use the camera while moving for one thing. 😛

MHFU annoyed me when I started it up because it looked exactly like MHF2. 😛 It turned out that it was an expanded version of MHF2, meaning it was exactly the same apart from at least two things: G-Rank endgame quests against stupid monsters no-one in reality could ever kill short of using many many anti-tank missiles and/or a nuke, and when playing solo, a Felyne companion (they’re epic anthropomorphic kitties 😀 ) who was completely useless at dealing damage but amazing at taking hits by distracting stuff away from me. 😛 But no, soon, I noticed something else. I cleared most of the quests to the end of 2* and only fainted twice. One of those faints was “uber-cheap”, as I explain here:

Fighting Velociprey, took two of them out. As I was gathering from them, the camera screwed up and got stuck near the wall, and the sound of the Felyne throwing bombs at the other Velociprey drowned out the sound of Tigrex entering the area. I heard the danger music start, thought “What the fu…?”, spun my camera around, and saw Tigrex’s grill right up in my grill. He fired an ice blast, which knocked me down and took out a massive chunk of my health bar. Got up again… but the Random Number God said “you’re stunned”. Couldn’t do shit. Tigrex then bit my head off. Screwed by the gayness that is the RNG.

Yep. Sounds pretty cheap. 😛 But despite this… I was doing alright. And it didn’t make any sense, since it was exactly the same game as MHF2. Either they had dropped the difficulty dramatically, or I had improved by not playing it for about a year. 😛 I kept piledriving through the quests all the way up to 4*, and ended up switching to the Long Sword midway through. I also ended up mastering a technique I later found out to be called “the claw”, allowing you to both move and control the camera. Basically, while you have your thumb on the analog stick, you bend your index finger back and curl it forward like a claw. This is generally incredibly uncomfortable, but it places your index finger on the d-pad, so you can control the camera. 😀 Hell, I was doing so good, I even ended up making a complete mockery of my old rival, the Yian Kut-Ku, by accidentally killing one with a kick. 😛

But then, just as I thought I was really “getting” it, SPLAAAT! I ran into a difficulty cliff.

There were two quests that stopped me from breaking past 4*. One was to beat a White Monoblos, which is a sort-of-wyvern that frequently burrows underground and just moves around aimlessly with its fin poking out of the sand, and there’s no point in running after it because it can move about three times faster than you. The standard Monoblos took 25 minutes for me to beat, and apart from rendering the quest as cleared, it was actually detrimental because I used a lot of items but didn’t get any materials I needed. The other one that stopped me? Kushala Daora, the first actual dragon you encounter. Er… “actual dragon” as in “not a wyvern”. Even though wyverns are dragons. Oh whatever, what I meant was that Kushala’s a Western dragon, not a wyvern like nigh on everything else in Monster Hunter. 😛

Kushala Daora was Fake Difficulty personified. Or… well, dragonified, if you prefer. 😛 He has a wind shield that makes you stumble if you go anywhere near him, making close combat insanely difficult. But since insanely difficult isn’t hard enough, he’s ultra-fast, and his scales are so hard that the very few attacks I managed to land using a weapon with green sharpness usually ended up bouncing. I couldn’t GET anything higher than green at the time! I didn’t actually understand what the game wanted me to do about it!

But wait, there’s more! I haven’t told you about the catch-22’s! Apparently, if you attack Kushala’s head and break his horns, the wind shield completely disappears. However, you can’t, because the wind shield knocks you back if you get too close! In the event you DO land a hit, it bounces, because the sharpness required to cause meaningful damage is higher than is available at that point in the game! Now, you can poison him to stop the wind shield temporarily, but I hit him with five poison throwing knives and nine poison smoke bombs and didn’t poison him once, so I’m pretty sure he’s IMMUNE to poison. The only way I can imagine beating him is by being a distraction while a team-mate with a bowgun/bow shoots the crap out of him.

I even tried looking for some kind of guide. Just a few hints on how to deal with the wind shield, what weapon and armour people recommend, how to go about attacking, any tell information, whatever. Best recommendations? Use a weapon made from unobtainable Rathalos materials, and a full set of armour made from unobtainable Tigrex materials. WHAT. THE FUCK. They were monsters that appeared in THE NEXT TIER UP, or maybe even higher! That made me feel like the game really was impossible, because they’d obviously had to hack that equipment into their game just to beat it. Either that, or I was playing some broken version of the game or something. What’s more, because Capcom are stupid as hell, you only unlock arena missions against specific monsters for practice and bonus materials until AFTER you beat the monster for the first time. DURRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR

I deleted it and swore I’d never play another game from the series. Monster Hunter 3 came and went, and I laughed at it because it came out on the Wii, an even less suitable console for it.

I’m crap at keeping my word, though. 😛

Ever since I got the 3DS, Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate has been breathing down my neck. I kept seeing it on the eShop store, kept seeing it in the recommended list on Amazon because it probably knew I had a 3DS, kept seeing it advertised by Amazon in the sidebar on Facebook because Facebook is fucking creepy and spies on my browsing habits, and I kept seeing it in newsletters from GAME and ShopTo. It was all over the place probably because it’s basically The Game That Sells The 3DS. 😛 I kept thinking “No, I’m not playing it. It’s screwed me over way too many times.”

I can’t remember when I did it or why, but I eventually buckled and downloaded the demo from the eShop. 😛 It was a pretty bespoke demo. The first thing it asked was whether you were new to Monster Hunter or not. The first time I played the demo, I said I was a beginner. That option makes you stronger than normal and gives you two missions, one to fight a Great Jaggi (a bigass dinosaur), and another to fight a Tetsucabra (a bigass frog but it’s quite a badass bigass frog 😛 ). I did them in order using the weapon I remember the most from MHFU; the Dual Blades. The fight with Great Jaggi showed off the new mounting system, and the fight with Tetsucabra showed off the insane vertically-inclined environments and your protagonist’s legs of steel. 😛 Great Jaggi was beaten in a blink and Tetsucabra wasn’t too hard either. So, I switched to experienced, and not at all to my surprise, a third mission appeared; one to take down Gore Magala, a completely badass black dragon who definitely hates you. 😛 I got him using the Dual Blades on my third try, which was way faster than I expected. I actually kinda enjoyed the demo, but I was still super-wary. I mean, you were given preset equipment and items. I wasn’t convinced that the equipment the demo gave you would be obtainable at that point in the real game. Still… Monster Hunter was back on my radar. I thought “Well, I’ll consider it if I find it cheap somewhere, but £35 is way too steep to take a chance on it.”

Guess what was on sale recently? 😛

I picked it up for £20 a couple weeks ago now. And I can barely believe how much I am BULLDOZING everything.

Seriously, I’m at the end of 4*, where I was blocked in MHFU. I’m about to fight the Gore Magala that I fought in the demo and I am completely confident that I’m gonna win. On my way here, I’ve fainted ONCE, and that was because I couldn’t fucking MOVE. It was during a mission where Gore Magala appears for the first time, shows off, and attacks your boat. Since the dragon takes about 60% of the space on the boat when he’s landed, there’s pretty much nowhere to move when he does. I got pinned against a corner underneath Magala while he did some attacks that I couldn’t really see as I desperately tried to run or roll THROUGH him somehow, and eventually I just gave up and let him drain my health. But that’s literally the only time I’ve fainted. What the hell? Have I just gotten better at games or something, or is MH4U just easier?

I think the main reason why is because I did some proper weapon tests and found a new favourite. I went through the majority of the weapon training, getting used to each of the weapons before entering the arena with a Great Jaggi, timing myself from that point. I logged 4 minutes 16 seconds with the familiar Dual Blades, and finally proved to myself that I’ve been wasting my time with that mediocre weapon all along by posting a time of 2 minutes 56 seconds with the Long Sword. Then something unexpected happened. I picked the Insect Glaive, one of the two new weapons. Without fully understanding what I was doing, I FLATTENED the Great Jaggi in 2 minutes 17 seconds. What. Thinking it was a fluke, I tried again. 1 MINUTE 53 SECONDS. Holy crap!

Understandably, the Insect Glaive became my new weapon of choice. This overpowered-as-hell I-can-do-literally-everything-except-block-but-why-would-you-waste-your-time-with-blocking weapon has nuked every single anything that’s gotten in my way so far. Was that my problem from the very beginning? I’d been using the wrong weapon? It must’ve been at least part of it. 😛

But anyway, now that I can actually play the game properly without being butt-raped by the weakest monsters in the game, I can progress through the game and attempt to enjoy it for once. And as for the biggest, most immense improvement MH4U has over the previous games aside from the more reasonable difficulty? Wanna know? Go on, guess.

It haaas… A NARRATIVE.

Top lel, yes! It actually has an additional sense of progression outside of the number of stars shown by the name of the quest. There’s a STORY. It only took them THIS many years to realise Monster Hunter didn’t have one despite the fact it’s a role playing game and could easily have had one from the very start. 😛

It’s not the best story in the world, but because it has one and it’s interesting enough, I want to know what happens next, and it’s cool to make the story unfold. “Hey mate fuck up this Gypceros because we need its stuff to make a boat!” Ooh, where’re we going? What’s the boat gonna look like? Ahh, I’m not gonna know until I help out the village by splattering this bigass Nerscylla first! OHHHH SNAP I’M ON A BOAT, take a good hard look at the motherfuckin’ boat, yeaaaaaaah! OH SHIT, WHAT THE HELL IS THAT THING OH GOD IT’S A DRAGON WITH AN EYE FOR CRAFTSMANSHIP AND IT HATES THE BOAT A 13-YEAR-OLD-GIRL DESIGNED, BOOOOSH SMASH WHAAAAM oh damn we barely made it to land. Gore Magala, I’m totally gonna smash your face for messing up my boat BIIOOOOTCH!

*ahem* Yep. So because of the things I madly wrote down in the previous paragraph (if it even qualifies as that) without re-reading them yet, Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate is actually a good game for once. 😛 It has a story, a unique vibe and good sense of humour, a camera that can be controlled properly, a deepish combat system with a large selection of weapons that feel unique, and a realistic difficulty curve. Finally, I can enjoy the game I’ve always wanted to enjoy.

Obviously, there are some flaws. The most obvious one is the weapon balance. I can’t believe that the Insect Glaive is that powerful. It’s overpowered. Hell, even the Charge Blade is overpowered, because I still don’t understand what I was doing with it when I managed to rank it second fastest at mullering a Great Jaggi on my second attempt. Hell, it was faster than the Long Sword which I know how to use already. I’m gonna have to go back through the weapon training at some point and post a list of my best times with each weapon.

Another flaw is their inability to teach new players properly. Going through the weapon “tutorials” feels like trying to cram for an exam; it gives you ALL of the information while the game is paused. You can’t move around while the dialogue appears in the corner and try out the weapon as he explains the controls. -.-  Also, some of the tutorial messages only appear when you do what the tutorial message teaches you. I ran off a ledge and was immediately interrupted by some dialogue that said that you can run off a ledge (or evade off a ledge if you have your weapon drawn) and attack for a mid-air attack that has a chance of knocking down monsters and opens up a mounting attempt. I’m pretty sure I could’ve figured that out for myself eventually. 😛 Thankfully, you mount your first monster automatically in a cutscene, so I learned how to do that before I did it for myself. However, it still felt like a cramming session, because the game was paused while it explained what buttons to press while mounted.

I don’t like this looming feeling of needing to grind for equipment, either. Well, I say “looming”, but it already happened, actually. I spent about 4 hours a day for the past three days trying to get TWO friggin’ materials I needed to complete a set of armour that I wanted before taking on Gore Magala. I needed two Gypceros Heads to trade for Basarios Scalps. Now, if this game made any sense at all, this would be no problem. I mean, you just kill two Gypceros and take their heads, right? Noooooo! You see, item drop chances and conditions are hidden from the eyes of normal players. After killing about 12 Gypceros and capturing another four without a single one dropping a Gypceros Head, I had to turn to the Internet where people somehow have this kind of information. You know what the drop chance of a Gypceros Head is when you carve its body? One percent! ONE!! Despite the fact that I can see its head riiiiiight there! Goddamn it, no fucking WONDER I never found one! It turned out that the best way to get one was to go for the much more realistic 30% chance when you break the crystal on its head and then complete the quest, because breaking its crystal means you can cut its head off, obviously. 😛 Anyway, this was kind of a good learning experience because I decided to try the Hammer after finding it does big damage to Gypceros when you hit it in the head but reduced damage everywhere else. I thought that would reduce the chance of accidentally killing the monster before breaking its crystal. After breaking one of their crystals but failing to kill either of them and almost running out of potions and antidotes after 25 minutes, I gave it up to recover my items, registering my first ever failed/abandoned quest in MH4U, and concluding that while the Hammer may have a massive damage value, it’s actually a steaming pile of shit and I will never touch it again outside of training. 😛

I got the two heads in four kills after switching back to the Insect Glaive and being more precise. 🙂 So, with this armour, I’m pretty much ready to kick Gore Magala’s badass tushie and bitchslap that “Ace Commander” after he says “WHOOOOAOOAOAOAOAAHHHAHHAHH”. 😛 If I do that, I’ll reach 5* for the first time. 😀

Well, fuck. 5000+ words. Sorry, I’ve written waaaaaaaay too much. I’ll shut the hell up now. 😛 But I’ll probably be back tomorrow at some point to update this monster of an entry to tell you about how I smooshed Gore Magala which will make it EVEN LOOOOOONGER! 😛