Monday, March 31, 2008

Kainton School for Boys

Cube's troubled past.

I guess Cube and Palomcid were in juvey together.

Man, and you think y'know someone.... Ya learn something everyday, I guess.1


1 Contrary to recent events, I promise Reviewiera is not turning into an Animal Crossing site. For 1 thing, that's been done, wayyy better than we could evar hope to do. Its just, well, Animal Crossing, especially the shit the animals say, and the crap you can put in thier letters and still have them write back all excited, just really, REALLY appeals to that strange part of my brain where my "tastes" live. Its the same part that wishes Ryu would stay in Dobuita FOREVER in Shenmue.

Monday, March 17, 2008

After Hours in the Valley of Downs

So, Fat brought his lil' Palom Cid (and the accompanying town of Kainton) over so he could visit my town, Ivon (and so my darling Asa could likewise visit his municipality: Kainton). There was the customary exchanging of fruits, naturally, but we were mutually impressed with the elements of Animal Crossing opened up by visiting another player's town.1

Kainton, however, is not for the timid. Especially late at night.

Cesar sleeping issues

Cesar get on home

That Cesar is a persistent fella. It'll be awkward if he ever moves to Ivon....


1 What I recall finding of interest, in no particular order...
  • Animals show you letters the other player has written to them. Maybe not a big deal but all the jokes and what not you've written into your letters finally gets an audience! Same goes for the bulletin board and your diary.

  • After your visitor leaves, one of your animals will move from your town to the other town, and vice versa. So, Maddie left Kainton and moved to Ivon, and Dotty left Ivon and moved to Kainton. Their departing letters say as much, and I've since been asked to deliver items to Dotty in Kainton. The losses of Maddie and Dotty were mutually mourned since they were favorites of both of ours.

  • The custom catchphrases you assign to your animals finally have an audience (see attached photo above).

  • Kapp'n is lewd in different ways to different genders. En route to the Ivon island (Taggart), he queried Palom Cid if he'd ever spent the night in a Hyrulian prison. No joke.
  • Wednesday, March 05, 2008

    idolizing yr kills with Suda 51

    Ey!  Occupado!

    Two of the most interesting writers on these 'nets are Leigh Alexander and Alex Kierkegaard.

    Alexander says this:

    a glorious exercise in simultaneous reverence and irreverence

    Kierkegaard says this:

    This game fucking sssssssucks and I fucking hated almost every moment I spent playing it.

    Is this the garden of madness?

    Predictably, they're both talking about the same game: No More Heroes. As far as reviews go, Kierkegaard wins on points, mainly for the above sentence, perhaps the greatest opening sentence in the history of reviewing. On the other hand, Alexander is right: No More Heroes is an absolutely fabulous game. I just finished it, and turned right around and started a new campaign on Bitter (=hard).(1)

    I like long walks on the beach...

    Reviews abound for this piece, and I don't care to rehash them. I just want to heap a little praise on the best game I've played in 2008, and point out two things nobody seems to have mentioned much.

    Got something for you!

    The first is that while this is a savagely violent game, with blood fountains that'd make Samurai Assassin's creators blush, a lot of the boss battles feature genuine emotional content. Yr protagonist, Travis Touchdown, is a complete prick about most of these moments, which actually only adds to the feel. --I'm at great pains to avoid the dreaded SPOILER here, but I will say that the final cutscene of Holly Summers touched me more than any videogame moment in my career.(2) And there's a lot of laughs, as well: the game intro is presented like a movie, a Tarantino movie, actually, and there's a couple lines in it that brought forth my trademark gleeful cackle. Quite a few lines and gags brought this forth, all the way to the end of the game.

    The second is that the game is simply drenched in women. The plot is driven by Touchdown's (desire for a sexual) relationship with the delightfully batty Sylvia Christel. A couple of the best bosses are women, and the best cutscenes, pre-and-post-fight, involve these characters.(3) You buy your weapons from a contemptous Doctor Naomi, and if it's not clear already, this little game is going to inspire some seriously pervy cosplay.

    She can build (for) you.

    I suspect strongly that these two game elements are related.

    A couple other notes. There's a set of cat-interactions--not quite minigames--that I think are an explicit nod to Shenmue. Then there's a couple minor features that are absolute trademarks of Grasshopper Manufacture (Suda 51 & Akira Ueda, afaik), a couple features I am a HUGE SUCKER for. One is a whole lot of visual character customization.(4) Nearly 100 shirts, a dozen jackets and pairs of jeans, a bunch of belts, a couple pairs of sunglasses. I spent around 27 hours on the game, and a surprising portion of that was playing dress-up with Travis. Another killer feature is on display with the customization: huge inventories of items, many with flat-out-funny item descriptions. It's these little touches that make Grasshopper originals must-buys for this kid.

    Anyways, this game was thoroughly fun to play, and masterful at doling out rewards. I dunno if I'll play a better new game this year. If I don't, I won't be sad in the slightest.

    Play a sappy song.  Please.


    Well, admittedly I did start it up on continue mode, so that I have all the unlocked stuff. So it's still pretty easy.

    The emotional content is accessible because of a beautiful localization job--the script (translations) and the voice acting are both outstanding. The game is admittedly unpolished in some other areas, as every review proclaims, but the work in these areas is without fault.

    No offense, Destroyman, but you just don't rate next to Shinobu, Bad Girl, or the SPOILER. Rest In Peace, Holly.

    Confidential to Suda 51: accessorizing is important. Changing belts and sunglasses is crucial, and I'm glad you built this in. (Jackets, shirts, jeans, anybody can do this--it's yr attention to accessories that makes us know you love us.) But's gotta be the shoes. I want to change Travis' shoes! Next game, you best make this happen.

    Okay, okay. The Eurogamer review is excellent. And it occurs to me that I was led to Alexander's work by the most interesting writer on Kotaku these days: Maggie Greene. Worth noting.

    Tuesday, March 04, 2008

    to-day in retail and radd

    So to-day I went Shopping. Not a big spree or anything; I was a hair manic, fought through it with a bunch of writing, then rolled on down to the mall for a bit. Not an exciting trip (because I bailed on buying myself a copy of Guitar Hero III), but I did score a new copy of Touch Detective 2 1/2. Fifteen wing-wangs! --I stalled out on Touch Detective a while back, but it's a far better series for me than the hideously overrated Phoenix Wright crap(com). Plus, when given a shot at supporting Atlus at retail, I usually will.

    The funny part of the mission was when I plopped down my copy of Ghost Squad. The register biscut said "you know...this didn't review very well.(1) It''s pretty short." I laughed at him. "It's an arcade game. Length is not the point."

    Now, for the uninitiated, Ghost Squad is a light-gun game. I'd bought the Wii Zapper a while ago, and found it a most acceptable accessory, and its pack-in game, Link's Crossbow Training, was great fun for the hour it took me to beat it, and the hour or two I spent on grinding away for better medals later. Mainly, though, the Zapper and Link's shooting-gallery hijinx made me realize how many glorious hours I'd invested in arcade light-gun games. Usually rail shooters.(2)

    At the moment, there are two of these gracing the market. One, as is clear, I bought. The other is the rather well-reviewed Resident Evil: Umbrella Chronicles. But, as I told the monkey at the store, "I'm about a hundred bucks into the Resident Evil series without actually liking any of them, so screw those clowns."

    The argument I wanted to make, but spared the poor retail minion, was "Dude. It's Sega. It's AM2. I think this'll be an okay purchase." Two and a half hours in, I still haven't quite beated it, but I'm dang close. And it's fun!

    Now. If you'll excuse me, I'm off to beat No More Heroes. After that, more Ghost Squad.(3)

    Check this out! This is the very store where I have picked up, by game and Metacritic score:
    Animaniacs: the Great Edgar Hunt 65
    Final Fantasy: the Crystal Chronicles 80
    Robotech: Battlecry 74
    Star Trek: Conquest 51
    and a couple other things. (Most of the handheld collection's in storage--preparing for the move. So I can't inventory the entire collection...)

    Sos you start sweating the fucking review scores? After I buy fucking Star Trek: Conquest? (Which, for the record, I thought was...sorta fun. Obviously unfinished and shipped early, but sorta fun.)

    Area 51 was probably my favorite, but the House of the Dead series was always good, and Sega cranked out a couple games with these GIANT fixed guns and HUGE screens that never failed to entertain the living bejeezus outta me.

    Look for my inevitable march up the leaderboards!! As a tribute to one of my loser buddies, my screen name is "Collision".

    Tales From... (Issues 1-3)

    The first issue of Tales From... opens with Leo at his favorite cafe. He is somewhat concerned but no longer really worried about the fact that he can see an anthromorphic manifestation of the archetype of Love, and is curious why she's crying into a bloody mary on the rocks. Leo is deeply "in tuned" to the forces of the universe and the human spirit, which is normally considered a noble and even saintly virtue. Leo finds it hellishly annoying, however, as being in tune with these Powers of Existence means being able to SEE them as human-like figures, who follow you around ALL THE TIME. Usually Leo ignores them.

    He's never seen Love cry before, though. But he'd seen lots of things he'd never seen before. He'd seen Chaos organize a utensil drawer. He'd seen Justice cheat orphans at cards. Still, asking Love why she was crying was a sharp violation of his Not Acknowledging the Powers of the Universe (hereafter referred to as "Powers of the Universe" or simply "the Powers") policy. So instead he kept working on his coffee and studying his self-hypnotization book (so maybe he could make himself just not see Love sitting there).

    Niveck the Ever-Bleeding commences Issue 2 by striding through the cafe door. Slopping onto the stool next to Leo's, Niveck describes to Leo in ponderous detail and thick sarcasm the morning's stroll and all the "bullshit aside glances" he received in progress: the "bitch" old lady on Union, the "cock-sucking" dog walkers on Hemlock, the "no doubt a pedophile" trolley operator near Ankeny, and, lest we forget, the "Nazi-fucking" priest near Foster. Such a torrent of profanity and vitriol was always almost enough to make one forget that Niveck had the poor luck to slowly secrete his own blood from every pore of his body.

    As a child, this didn't bother him too much on account of the spoiled attention he received on account of going to Catholic school. But the onset of puberty and the stern refusal of his female schoolmates to, as he puts it, "slip it up their skirts" led to his eventual expulsion. A few weeks was all it took for him to end up on the streets, where he did learned to defend himself (he's a dead eye with a semi-automatic pistol). Niveck enjoys Leo's company because Leo didn't even look up the first time he saw Niveck. Leo (mistakenly) assumed he was another archetype of some sort, and automatically Not Acknowledged him. Niveck immediately wanted to befriend this "chump with a wank haircut" because everyone patently Acknowledged him all the time. Leo was just glad Niveck was human.

    Leo told Niveck about Love sitting invisibly nearby crying soundlessly, and Niveck made a rather predictable but extremely vulgar suggestion about how Leo could make Love stop crying. Leo rolled his eyes and started to submit to Niveck his latest plan to Stop Seeing Things using self-hypnosis, but was interrupted when Niveck spotted the Rose spotting them through the window.

    Introduced in Issue 3, the Rose, or just "Rose" is a time traveler. 150 years from now he and his band of poet ninja resistance fighters had just slaughtered the very flower of the civil and military administration of the Char'r Empire which was occupying Earth. This moment was the endgame of a 6 year conflict of cat and mouse between the resistance and the Empire, the product of some good fortune for the Rose (he was banging an Imperial high priestess who let slip the big congregation) and untold hardship by the poet ninja army (they had lost 88% of their number since their uprising began). At the moment of his supreme triumph, a Char'r "geometry fold" had back-fired and Rose found himself in the present-day of Leo and Niveck.

    Initially Rose figured it was just a bad-luck accident but then found a note from his alien lover that something very important happened 150 years ago and that he needed to be there and make it happen. Rose personally thought Char'r Geometrical Mysticism was bunk, but curious signs and portents led him to think there might actually be something to it. Problem was, he didn't know what IT was, and thus was forced to meander about the city like a madman hoping for destiny or fate or history to carry him along.

    In the meantime he bored the holy hell out of Leo and Niveck recounting to them painstaking detail the Poet Ninja Army's struggle against the Char'r Empire. Worse yet, he pined extensively for his leather-skinned Char'r priestess - her isocelean eyes, her angled cheeks, her rhomboid breasts - which sounded to Leo and Niveck about as romantic as fucking a desiccated dead horse. The issue concludes when Rose remarks "what's that lady crying about?" at which point Niveck comments that he, too, can now see Love crying.