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([personal profile] xyzzysqrl Sep. 19th, 2017 03:15 pm)
It is of course a well-known fact that if you establish a residence near an existing cartoon, there's the exciting chance of being allowed to guest-cameo on said 'toon and perhaps eventually get a spinoff show of your own. This is why Tiny Toons, Animaniacs, and Taz-Mania had so many characters: Taz alone had at least a dozen close neighbors in proximity and guests kept cropping up.

I was therefore on a boat, sailing down a string of islands looking for a house to call my own that bordered tight on an existing 'toon. Except Cartoon Network had been through, so all of the good locations had already been taken, used, and canceled. Which was really irritating, because I'd swing the boat towards a nice looking place and oops no wait that's where Sheep in the Big City lives, they're in retirement and nobody's gonna produce a cartoon on top of that anymore.

No particular ending to that dream, it sort of dissolved into a mess of "Hey, remember the Kung Fu Creatures gag from Garfield and Friends?" and ... then I woke up, because leg cramp.

Wonder where all the new cartoons live. Maybe there's a Netflix Apartments I should try to sneak into, next dream.
Code: Realize ~ Guardian of Rebirth is one of those sprawling multiple-route otome ("man-dating") visual novels. They gave this one away for the Vita on Playstation Plus (uhm-?) months ago and I was playing it quite avidly ... sometime in January? I remember it was before we moved to this current apartment...

VNs live and die based on their characterizations and storylines, and... this one is pretty strong. It helped a lot that instead of a sort of "Your Character Here" main character, we got Cardia. Cardia is a girl who lives alone in a run-down mansion because she is literally straight-up acidic poison to anyone she touches. Like her actual touch melts through metal kind of acid.

For the first chapter or two she's rather passive and moody, but around Chapter 3 (of 13 per route) she gets a change of outfits and she starts actively participating in things.

From there she goes straight-up action heroine in a couple of routes. Lock Cardia in a room and leave her unattended? She'll melt off the lock and kick the door down. Door is treated alchemically to be unmeltable? She's learned to lockpick from Arsene Lupin. Turn your back on her? She knows kung-fu. She can co-pilot an airship and she's never really treated like the group's waif. Everyone treats her like the person she wants to be, instead of the monster she thinks herself to be.

I found Cardia deeply refreshing and she's maybe my favorite character in this thing, which is great because no matter which guy's route she was on I was cheering for her happiness, instead of thinking "Man I wish I was on that other dude's route, he was so much better".

There was a little of that though. 8 of those chapters are identical aside from the "Today I want to go with (GUY YOU ARE PURSUING)"/"I think (GUY YOU ARE PURSUING) has the best suggestion" forks, so you get a long common route to introduce and set up everyone and then it goes into personal stories.

Uh, let's meet our lineup.

ARSINE LUPIN - Gentleman thief, the first guy to be introduced and the last one to unlock a proper plotline. Lupin's route is tough because it has to be a strong canonical ending AND resolve every loose plot thread involving Lupin AND resolve all Cardia's business AND because it's the final route unlocked it has to deal with the shit that came up in everyone ELSE'S route, so there is SURPRISINGLY little time for actual LUPIN in the Lupin route, so the WEIRD thing is that Lupin on this route path actually feels like he has less personality than he does on OTHER PEOPLE'S. I cannot account for that. Whatever. Lupin is all bluster and pride and thiefly ways.

IMPEY BARBICANE - Engineer of hearts and also steamships, ornithopters, secret weapons, you name it he can build it. Impey is Lupin's partner and an incurable romantic who swoons over Cardia at first sight and spends the rest of the VN either A: flirting with her desperately, B: being the butt of everyone else's jokes, or... interestingly, C: once you're locked into other people's routes and it's clear he has no chance with you Impey pivots and becomes the loudest possible cheerleader for Cardia and her chosen. His route is all about Jules Verne SUPERSCIENCE and AIRSHIPS and CHASING YOUR DREAMS and MAKING FUN of CAPTAIN NEMO. He's the light and fluffy character and probably my favorite of the entire crew. I like Impey.

ABRAHAM VAN HELSING - The guy who wears little glasses and goes "Hmf." a lot and is scary-ass prepared in combat. Hero of the Vampire Wars, wields twin shotguns, is basically a weapon in human form. It's hard to warm up to Van Helsing because he does not warm up to anyone else, but there are hints he cares. I think one of his unlockable CG illustrations is just him doing a tiny-ass little smile. His route is all about his PTSD over vampire genocide and also about stopping Jack the Ripper and other serial killers from terrorizing Steampunk London, so hey if you like lots of blood BOY HOWDY we got a route for you.

VICTOR FRANKENSTEIN - Yeah I know, but this one's just an Alchemist. No giant corpse-men in sight. Frankenstein is the shy dude with a soft voice and a soft touch and a DARK SECRET IN HIS PAST and yeah that's an archetype. He is probably my second favorite character in this thing. His route is about his DARK SECRET PAST and also about Queen Victoria going completely bugnuts and trying to start a megawar for British expansion. As one does.

SAINT GERMAINE - nnnnnhhhhh I just did not like this dude that much. He's the "always has his eyes closed, always has a little smile, is fake as hell" archetype and when his secrets start spilling out they just DERAIL this plot into a spiral of "What the hell. Really. What the hell. Why. Really?" ... so I can't say anything about his route because it's just... so many miles out into left field that it makes this sound like a TOTALLY DIFFERENT DAMN GAME. And Lupin's route cements that yeah all of that is canon so ... nnhhhhhh I dunno whatever.

ANYWAY I really got into this one even if it did take me the better part of the year to complete. Distractions and all, y'know. I realize all that crap up there doesn't make a lick of sense without the game, but I'm half-asleep and have been plinking at this all night so ... butt noises whatever I'm done writing.

Good VN. Had fun.

[EDIT] - Oh right also this is getting an anime adaptation this October! I hear otome VN anime adaptations are kind of ass most of the time, because A: It's hard to compress five routes into 12 episodes and B: in a visual novel your heroine can stand at a window and monologue to herself in 69,105 lines of text about her situation but in an anime you have to trim that down to her eyes half-closing as she says "I wonder..." and then smashcut to end credits.

But there is the chance we will see an animated version of the Van Helsing Cannon.

So it may not be any good but I'm gonna watch it anyway.
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([personal profile] xyzzysqrl Sep. 15th, 2017 08:24 pm)
If I talk too much about Nier Automata, I will inevitably convulse violently and let out a stream of raw emotions peppered with giant-ass spoilers. It is a difficult game to talk about, but it's a difficult game NOT to talk about.

So...

Nier, the original, may be what I consider the strongest game ever made. Not the best or most fun or anything like that, although it DOES have one of the best soundtracks in gaming. I mean it overwhelmed me with emotions and feelings and all kinds of things. It is the 'most game' in my personal history. The gamest.

Nier Automata is not better than Nier, or stronger, or more fun. It is different in many ways and similar in many ways, and by the time I was up to the second ending I liked Nier more, and by the time I was finishing ending E I was in big blanketing sheets of tears and my hands were shaking and I was just so intensely, powerfully grateful that I live in a time when games like this are being made.

I don't know if I will ever play it again, but it affected me deeply and will stay in my memories a long, long time. In this it is like the game that came before it.

It is something very special.

I hope they keep giving Yoko Taro work.
After Undertale got big, a whole bunch of games came out where a central conceit was the ability to confront your adversaries in non-violent ways. It became a trend-bubble in gaming for a little while, though it's still up to minor debate as to if it made a lasting impact or if it was just a flash in the pan.

Thing is, very few games went further with it than "do a violence" vs "don't do a violence". They gave you skill checks to avoid conflict (West of Loathing, Bioware games), or made it purely dialogue-based. Or they were things where "oh, the things you're up against aren't actually bad and just want to give you milk and cookies".

This is a lot of words to say that Renowned Explorers is the very first game I've played, maybe ever, where nonviolence is a tactical decision instead of a moral one.

Taking inspiration from the 19th century explorers of the British Empire (and the pulp fiction based off of such), Renowned Explorers is kind of like a mix of a 4X game and a standard turn-based strategy game, where you explore regions one node at a time with limited resources (there's that FTL similarity again, I don't know what to call that genre in particular), but conflicts are played out like a normal TBS.

Thing is, each of the characters you can choose in your team of three has one or more of three kinds of attacks: Aggression (aka actual violent stuff), Deceit (taunting, emotional abuse, etc) and Friendship (encouragement, compliments, ego fluffing). These three types interact constantly, and set a kind of field effect to the battle based on the tone of the fight, and one sort of action will always have the upper hand over another - violence always bowls over peace, but gets worn down and misled by trickery, which is no match for encouragement. The way your team and your opponents are both "feeling" work together to create the Mood. In other words, if both sides are boasting the powers of friendship, they're both vulnerable to sudden backstabs, whereas if one side is violent to a still-peaceful opponent, they'll have a bonus that makes them harder to subdue, that sort of thing. It's surprisingly intricate for a game where you can offer a peace treaty to a monkey.

I mean, I don't really know what to say about it that isn't oddly detached "reviewer-ese" or just me saying "hey this game is good and if you like TBS stuff maybe give it a try", but when I say that, keep in mind to take it with a slight bit of caution - the difficulty curve gets pretty sharp near the end, and the main story mode has permadeath, in a game that takes maybe 4-6 hours to push through if you're working at a brisk pace. It can be frustrating to lose progress like that, and lives (or "Resolve", as it's called in-game) are hard to get more of in the span of the game. You lose one every time one of your characters is KO'd or disheartened, and can lose them for failing particularly harsh random events, too, so it's kind of rough.

Definitely a game you could put the time into to learn how to master, though.
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kjorteo: Portrait of a happy Celine hugging a big plush snake. (Celine: Plush)
([personal profile] kjorteo Sep. 13th, 2017 08:29 pm)
We briefly interrupt your not-really-regularly scheduled gameblogging because this is still my all-purpose journal and sometimes I write about life stuff too. I mean very very rarely, but it can theoretically happen! This DW is still like 95% games and I'll Poke more Mons as soon as I can, don't worry.

So, I have this plush snake, Snakey. I've had him literally since I can remember (you can tell I was young when I got him because his name is Snakey) to the point where I don't even remember where he came from--as far back as my memory goes, he's just always been there. Between seeing The Brave Little Toaster way too many times as an impressionable child and growing up into someone whose fursona is a literal packrat, suffice it to say that childhood things like Snakey are very, very important to me. To the point that I've commemorated him in a couple of my commissions here and there--that's him in the icon for this post, for example. And here he is IRL after being repaired and restored with fixed seams/more stuffing/new felt eyes and mouth/etc. as a Christmas present in 2013, which was one of the most special, meaningful presents I've ever received.

Today, I happened to get curious about where did he come from, since I couldn't remember, so I asked my mom. It turns out that he was originally a Christmas present from my grandfather to my mom, when she was around 10 or 12. My grandparents had the foresight to hang onto things like that in case grandkids ever happened, and I ended up inheriting him.

I don't have much of a point to this entry, I guess (this is one of those things you write under the "I can dump whatever's in my head because it's my journal" excuse) but I'm just... wow, Snakey is, like, fifty. I had no idea he had so much history, you know? Toy Story 3 fucked me up hard and now I've just kind of been sitting here Feeling Things all day.

I'm gonna hug him so much (gently though!) tonight.
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swordianmaster: montblanc would explain it, but (supernerdy)
([personal profile] swordianmaster Sep. 13th, 2017 03:53 pm)
What happens when Oregon Trail meets FTL, they have a baby, and that baby becomes fascinated with the subtle charms of a bag of dice?

Yeah, that's this game. Honestly, I have no better ways to describe it. It's about three parts Star Trek tropes, two parts Oregon Trail resource management, and fifteen parts RNG.

How is it like FTL then, you might ask? That's easy, the FTL similarities come in two forms:

1) You choose your next destination from a spiderweb-like set of branching paths, though in Oregon Trail style you can only ever go forward, never double back, and
2) Your ship is constantly on fire and crew members are dying hideously.

Past that it's little more than a series of skill/RNG checks at each destination, with good/bad random encounters between them. You pick a crew of four members generally named as bootleg sci-fi characters (yeah, the game embraces its funy, though I admit I had a bit of a chuckle at the Borg Analog refugee's name, Seven of Eleven) with stats distributed amongst five qualities: Combat, Tactics, Diplomacy, Science, and Bravado (the latter being your ability to Leeroy Jenkins your way into and out of scenarios in one piece). At every junction/skill challenge, you're asked to pick a few responses based on the scenario, each keyed to a different stat (or, rarely, all keyed to the same stat with different penalties for failure). Each point you have in that stat changes another negative result on the RNG wheel to a positive, and once you run out of negatives you can change (you can't remove critical failures, and there's always at least one) you start changing the positives to critical successes. Thus, a lot of the "strategy" of the game is "reduce how much you can get screwed over by luck via jacking your stats up as high as possible and favoring your high stats in choices". It's a pretty simplistic game, but that also means it's a nice little casual romp, albeit one that is far more about rolling a dice and praying the RNG favors you this once.

And speaking of the funy, the jokey references and crap - remember back in Saturday Morning RPG's writeup where I mentioned that one of the ways to do it right was to own it as hard as you can? Yeah, Orion Trail does that. Everything is holograms and synthetic food, there are several scenes which poke at the concept of "space typhoid/dysentery/cholera" and how those are totally different than the earth versions, honest, one of your necessary resources is redshirts, which act as a buffer protecting your actual important crewmembers from getting hurt (and yes, every last one of them dies with a Wilhelm Scream), even the nudge-nudge-wink-wink Geico Gecko joke turns out amusing because it turns out "saving you money on your insurance" means "the space lizard mafia will only break your legs a little if you don't pay your 'protection money'". It takes the references and plays around with them, as opposed to just going "HEY LOOK, A THING".

Also, you can have a bear as your captain. More space games need Captain Space Bear.

My one complaint is that it's going for $8 on Steam, and with only five "maps" to go through, that's maybe a bit too pricy for it. Wait for it on sale, as usual.
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I've been trying to keep up with this project, I really have. And I'm technically not behind if we consider the year starting when I started this, so I don't feel like I can really complain. I'm 4 games behind "current" by my tracking, and have been so consistently for about three months, thanks to a combination of seasonal depression, life stress, and an obsession with phone games and games I've already played to death for years.

But I've been slacking on one thing I said I'd do, and that's chronicling the games that get the better of me, that I give up on. I haven't mentioned a single one, though it's happened several times. So, instead, I'll go down all of the "no, fuck you" in detail here.

HOLY POTATOES! A WEAPON SHOP?!
There wasn't really anything wrong with this one (well, there were several things wrong) but it just failed to keep me interested; I got bored and wandered away. Aside from leaning pretty hard on its funy (as an example, one of the first workers you get is a chesty green-clad potato named "Laura Craft", there is no reason for this, it just exists, because), the game also is basically an unholy fusion of idle clicker and stressful time-management simulator. Things are chill and relaxed until they aren't, but it doesn't really change the stakes any, just makes you confused as to why you should care. So I stopped caring. I may eventually go back. Maybe.

SONIC THE HEDGEHOG 4: EPISODE I
I tried to install this mid-May, it refused to run, saying it needed the newest version of Java to run. Not the Java Runtime Environment, no, but full-blown Java.

I laughed and promptly uninstalled the game. I'm not gonna put my computer at absurd amounts of risk (Java is notorious for having security holes big enough to shove a StarFox macro-fur's dick through) just for a mediocre Sonic game. Call me when you're Sonic Mania.

ANOTHER METROID 2 REMAKE
This is a real good game but fuck trying to hit a five pixel large vulnerable spot on a large, otherwise invincible enemy. And fuck having to do this some one hundred or so times over the course of the game. Hopefully the titular metroids in Samus Returns won't be so bullcrap.

SONIC & SEGA ALL-STARS RACING TRANSFORMED
This game singlehandedly made me change my opinion about tutorials and handholding in video games. Sometimes, it's important to have any idea at all of what the fuck you're doing. ASRT doesn't tell you fuckall, which is why Steam has no less than three "YOU NEED TO LEARN HOW TO PLAY THE GAME, HERE'S HOW" guides on its servers. On top of that, I suck at racing games and was expecting this would have as gentle a learning curve as Sonic Riders Zero Gravity.

Needless to say, I was not given such.

LOOT HOUND
I went as far as I could through this until it became obvious that I would need to grind tens of thousands of experience points, 400 or 500 at a time, to get any further. Then I used Cheat Engine to give myself that EXP. Then I realized it didn't really help the game get better.

The problem is, the game presents itself as a goal-oriented casual game; it tells you "your dog(s) can find things, go find things" and then it promptly shrugs and becomes... a dog-walking simulator. The dogs in Loot Hound are incredibly realistic, which is to say that they don't do anything you want them to do, pee constantly, and end up leading YOU around instead of the other way around. It doesn't help that the "loot" starts out in apparently predetermined spots, but that those spots are maddeningly hard to find, especially when your dog wants to bark at a squirrel or pee on a bush or piss off a security guard. Not helping matters either is the fact that levels become vast expanses of flat green or flat white after a while and it becomes incredibly hard to orient yourself.

I know for a fact I played this wrong. I played it as a game to be beaten and it put me in the doghouse. If I just treated it like a dog-walking simulator I would probably not feel ripped off of the buck fifty that chrono.gg asked for it.
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([personal profile] xyzzysqrl Sep. 11th, 2017 02:26 am)
So because I'm playing kind of a rough game (Nier Automata, a game about pushing all your emotions into a pile and setting them on fire) and the BF's been distant since we spend most of our time in separate rooms (not purposely, it's just how the apartment is laid out) we've decided to set at least one night aside a week to sit out in the living room and watch some anime.

I don't watch a lot of it anymore because I'm usually too busy with games, so I picked some stuff off Crunchyroll to make a queue with and off we went.

We have some stuff already in the queue...

- Log Horizon
- Jojo's Bizarre Adventure
- Maoyu
- Mobile Suit Gundam 00 Season 2
- Ace Attorney: The Anime

but we decided to go for a run of all episode 1s this time. I've jotted down my thoughts on what we watched beneath the cut.

This cut here. )

So it turns out everything we picked was a success! Now we just have to get back into the other shows we were watching, too.
Last time: Azalea Town was a perfect feel-good nostalgia trip, except for all the strife.

Let's un-strife the place a bit, shall we? )
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([personal profile] xyzzysqrl Sep. 9th, 2017 03:11 am)
By the end this got a little tedious, but then it was a very long dungeon crawler. Before I started playing this I noticed that the BF had racked up about 90-some hours by playing the Early Access version. (I won't play an early access game no matter how good it is, if I can help it.) That should've been my clue that this was going to be A: pretty long, and B: pretty good.

It was both, really. Amusing writing, good mechanics, strong clear interface. I haven't played a dungeon crawler this sharp since Etrian Odyssey Untold, although that was a rather harder game.

Actually, this one started out quite difficult (I assume because of my class choices, I picked four of the eight in-game classes and stuck with them) and got easier. By the endgame I was basically untouchable due to my build and weapons. When I said in the comments of the last post that there was a scarcity of healing... well, my builds were kinda messed up I suppose. There ARE ways to heal and regen if you ferret them out. My Soldier was regenning big chunks of her health every time she taunted enemies, and The Prototype was tossing out regens with haiku, and my little Chaos Muffin's armor had a "heal if you..." condition that I kept triggering...

I just had a really good time with this one, good enough that I kind of want to go through again with a party composed of the OTHER four classes someday.

Not right now, but someday.
This started off as a pretty innocuous 3D physics platformer. You run around with a booster rocket, a rock-cutting laser, and a steel cable, and you tear apart rocks and move them around.

Then the underpants came out.

See, apparently the plot of the story is that two brothers, Tiny (that's you) and Big (the main antagonist) are fighting over a pair of underpants they inherited from their grandfather. These pantaloons go on your head and grant you magical powers and to be quite honest, Big is kind of a douchecanoe.

Thus, you get to the third level (out of six) and suddenly the rest of the game ends up involving dodging rocks being violently hurled at your face (or cutting them in mid-air with your laser, but that's a lot harder) as a powermad little man with tighty-whiteys on his noggin tries to squish you with the landscape. But it's still a physics platformer and you're expected to carve up the landscape yourself to use as platforms over bottomless pits.

It's a relatively short game, but it was still a little long for my tastes, as it had every last one of the problems endemic to the 3D platformer genre - the camera was constantly an adversary, the controls were both too touchy and wildly imprecise entirely depending on how fidgety I needed them to be, and quite honestly, I had some hitbox issues where something would whiz past my head and despite missing me entirely, my little man would freak out and die.

It has good music, at least! And if you can handle the starched briefs aesthetic it's a nice game to look at. Definitely worth a look if that sort of game is your thing.

Sadly, that sort of game is not my thing and the last hour or so of a three hour game was spent screaming and cursing.
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What do you get if you cross the Dirty Pair, Gall Force, Wizardry, and Shadowrun?

Apparently you get my Starcrawlers campaign.

Starcrawlers is a mostly-randomly-generated (the story missions are fixed) sci-fi dungeon crawl game. Your team of four disenfranchised mercenaries for hire get wrapped up in a tale of political and corporate manuevering. They also shoot a lot of space pirates on board ships and shoot a lot of security robots in corp office buildings.

It's not ALL shooting. For example, my engineer carries a sledgehammer.

Really though, the turning point for THIS run of the game came before I started, when I decided that I was not going to take this overly seriously. To aid in my quest to not take this game seriously, I yoinked an anime picture pack off ye internet, because nothing says unserious like adorable anime girls with heavy weaponry.

(I gotta be 100% honest: Yes. I looked for furry art FIRST.)

Armed with stolen anime and my own dumb dumb dumb sense of humor, I rolled some characters. Let's meet the team.
Cut in case you don't care about my dumb anime fanfiction. )
So that's the team. Lunatics fighting for the right to be free of corporate control but also to shop at Galaxymart for all your shopping needs, to rid space of the yolks of biopharma corps but also to get nifty tote bags when they donate to that animal rights group that runs all those ads, to stop oppression in space but also for free concert tickets and an autographed poster with every few missions they run for that social media site.

They really need a Megumi Hayashiba theme song is all I'm saying..
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