Jul. 8th, 2012 05:15 pm
joiedecombat: (just shoot me)
"Oh well, as our contract is official, verbally abusing you isn't going to help matters any."

...why do I get the feeling that's not going to stop you, Archer?
joiedecombat: (Hakuouki)
Some more thoughts and further analysis of Hakuoki, mostly regarding the individual routes of the game and the interesting effect that resulted from the order in which I, mostly by chance, played through them.

TL;DR serious business analysis of samurai romance game with vampires in it. )

Edit to add: Almost as good as playing the game myself? Reading a blind Let's Play by a straight adult man and watching his reactions as he succumbs to an overwhelming case of the feels:

Oh my God.

My breath catches in my throat, and I feel a rush of blood through my body, warmth starting in the pit of my stomach and spreading through my chest and up to my face. It’s the kind of adrenaline you get in a moment of shock, where the body floods the system to be ready for anything, fight or flight. I am stunned. There are no words for this — I never expected this to happen. I never thought something like this would happen. ... not to anyone I knew. Even when everything was at its worst, even when we were under fire from artillery shells as we desperately attempted to evacuate Kyoto, I never thought anyone would die.


But [Chizuru] was prepared.

All that up there? All those feelings, those physical reactions, that adrenaline?

That was me in real life.

Oh my God.

joiedecombat: (Hakuouki)

For an anime adaptation of a romance game, Hakuouki really has very little romance in it. This is not really surprising since the visual novel it's based on, for all that it is a romance game, is much, much more about Japanese history and samurai politics and philosophy than it is about romance. There's romance in it - although my first pass through, I somehow managed to avoid all of it - but it's really not at all the point.

The point instead is mostly this: a handful of farmers' sons and other rejects and misfits collected around a dirt-poor dojo devote themselves to becoming warriors, forming themselves into a fighting force with the intention of earning recognition and attaining their culture's samurai ideal, and to hell with anyone who says they can't. They claw themselves up from the bottom, get within spitting distance of their goal...

...only for the times to change. The cultural goalposts get moved on them; the skills and the way of life they devoted everything to become obsolete, and the goal they sought to achieve is suddenly meaningless. The government they served loses its power and collapses, throwing them under the proverbial bus of a war that can't be won.

So, you know, what do you do?

'I am not going to battle to win. With the Tokugawa government about to collapse, it would be a disgrace if no one is willing to go down with it. That is why I must go. I will fight the best battle of my life to die for the country.' -- the actual historical Hijikata Toshizo, to Dr. Matsumoto Ryoujun, according to Wikipedia )

All of this Bakumatsu period stuff may inspire me to finally get around to watching Bakumatsu Kikansetsu Irohanihoheto. We'll see!
joiedecombat: (Shepard lives!)

Now that I've calmed down some, let me discuss Mass Effect 3.

Stuff I did not like: )

The Ending )

Now, with the negativity out of the way, Things I liked: )

As I gain some distance from the ending, I think, overall, it has not ruined the experience for me, and I'll be able to do another play through, perhaps through the trilogy as a whole. I'm just going to... turn the console off after the last talk with Anderson, and imagine my own ending from there.
joiedecombat: (surmounting obstacles)
I finished a complete replay of Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2 yesterday, in preparation for ME3 coming out tomorrow. TL;DR about plot structure ensues. )

In the meantime, I've started playing Final Fantasy XIII-2, which is extremely pretty but seriously, wtf is going on? I have no idea. I like Noel, though. I choose to believe he's somehow a descendant of Squall - he looks a lot like him with no scar and slightly longer hair, and he's got that wing pattern on the back of his shirt, and it's not like Final Fantasy fandom hasn't embraced any number of theories on less evidence than that.

(Don't you dare try to fix Noel and Serah up into a romance, game.)
joiedecombat: (surmounting obstacles)
I've had the opportunity, earlier this month and again this weekend, to participate in weekend beta tests of Star Wars: The Old Republic, and since the NDA has been lifted, some thoughts:

Read more... )

Meanwhile, on another note, regarding Persona 4 The Ultimate In Mayonaka Arena, aka the Persona 4 fighting game:

Akihiko. What have you been doing?

joiedecombat: (♪)
Damn, but this game enforces its headcount limit with an iron fist.

I can't help but feel that Cecil really is the derpiest FF hero I've encountered thus far. Yes, even moreso than Vaan.

Baigan: "Cecil! I was kind of an ass in the first fifteen minutes of the game but I am totally on your side now. Let me help!"
Cecil: "Great! You can walk right behind me! :D"
Palom and Porom: exchange sidelong glances.


"...Say, Rosa?"
"Yes, Cecil? ♥"
"Why do you have a spell that teleports you into my bedroom?"
"...oh... no reason. ♥"
joiedecombat: (♪)
Picked up a copy of Final Fantasy IV: The Complete Collection for my birthday, so I'm finally getting around to playing my way through after starting an emulated version ages ago and... not getting very far.

I remember very little of what I did play, so now I'm just past the Antlion's den and observing bemusedly that Cecil is, thus far, the biggest babysitter of any FF hero I can think of.

It's kind of adorable. (Or would be if Edward's uselessness weren't so annoying. Rydia gets a pass since she's like seven years old and it's not her fault that ethers are like hen's teeth.)
joiedecombat: (Dragon Age)
I finished Dragon Age II this weekend, so... my observations, let me show you them.

First, the gameplay. Cut for spam, no spoilers. )

About the storyline. May include some minor spoilers; I'll try to be vague about anything major. )

Companions and other characters. Again, may contain some spoilers. )

There was probably more I meant to say, but this is spammy enough for now and it's stupid o'clock, so I'll let that be it.
joiedecombat: (Dragon Age)
  • The graphics are improved from the first game. It's not the most gorgeous game I've ever seen, but the character designs are mostly more polished, and the environments are a lot more interesting. I'm not far in enough to have an idea of how much variety there will end up being, but Kirkwall makes the inadequacy of the Denerim maps from the first game really glaringly obvious - it's more like something out of FFXII.
  • Not sure about this new elf design, though. Ridiculous anime ears and odd noses aside, they are spindly as hell. Merrill looks like she's liable to snap like a twig at any moment.
  • The primary difference I'm noticing in gameplay between the first game and this one is that the PC no longer chases enemies automatically when they're targeted; abilities have ranges outside of which they're not available for use. This is kind of annoying (although it does prevent me from accidentally pulling a Leeroy Jenkins). There's also no easy way of switching targets.
  • The rogue's abilities are great fun. My favorite so far: Back To Back, which allows the rogue to ninja vanish and ZHOOP across the battlefield to any companion. It's proving highly useful.
  • Combat animations in general seem to be more exaggerated. I am okay with this; my dual-wield warrior from DAO never seemed this much like a walking Cuisinart.
  • Aveline is my buddy.
  • Other than that, though, I haven't gotten a lot of opportunities to chat with my companions, which I'm hoping is just because I'm still fairly early in the game. Bethany and Varric are both still kind of opaque to me.
  • On the other hand, the fact that Varric calls Bethany "Sunshine" is adorable.
  • I have run into a couple of callbacks to decisions from the first game, the most notable of which was a random encounter involving the ramifications of the Brecilian Forest sidequest.
  • I am okay with not being able to change companion characters' armor, on the basis that having to micromanage everyone's gear gets tedious and it allows for them to put more detail into their designs. I'm sure it pisses some people off, though.
  • Damn but there's a lot of vendor trash. I really hope I'm not going to need this stuff for sidequests or crafting in the future, because even with comparatively less gear to wrangle, my inventory fills up awfully quick.
  • I love having a fully-voiced player character. I do not love how tiny all the text is.
joiedecombat: (triumph)
Laguna in Dissidia 012 Duodecim: hell yes.

I hope to see him pester Squall to no end.
joiedecombat: (AWESOME)
Recently finished playing Jade Empire. It was unexpectedly short, but still a BioWare RPG, with all the usual trappings: a karma meter, an assortment of endearingly dysfunctional party members, dialogue trees with plenty of opportunities for snark, a major third-act twist, and a male love interest who not only has no problem taking orders from a woman but is generally more concerned with her mental health than the chances she might get hurt saving the world (indeed, he pretty much takes it as given that she'll kick everything's ass handily).

I found the gameplay of the PC version kind of unwieldy, but the combat system being built around various martial arts styles was fun, and I kind of want to replay a bit and experiment more with it, since I ended up relying heavily on two or three out of like two dozen possible styles. (Admittedly, the ones I used were really badass - the longsword style, which basically made me a walking cuisinart, and White Demon, which is straight up just hitting things really hard until they die. And occasionally some Paralyzing Palm for variety.)

The flyer minigames were freaking annoying, but fortunately mostly skippable. It really is an awfully short game, though; I did every sidequest I could find and still finished it in just a couple days. I didn't get all of my party members' backstories out of them, though, so there's still some replay value in that as well.
joiedecombat: (Rinoa)
Also, last night I finally finished Odin Sphere, which involved playing through Armageddon three times doing everything wrong in order to unlock the best ending. Which is still pretty traumatic, by the way.

Overall I ended up enjoying the game a lot. The gameplay, never my strong suit, took some time to learn, but by the endgame I had enough of a grasp on it to use it more or less effectively (aside from never mastering Cornelius's spin attack ever). Note that using the gameplay effectively quickly gets ridiculous when it involves, say, painkiller + unlimited power + overload and things like Oswald's Shadow Form or Gwendolyn's Shadow Ally. Especially Gwendolyn, who somehow ended up a couple of orders of magnitude more badass than any of the other playable characters. (Bad endings with her were kind of ridiculous, considering the way she tore through the actual boss fights. I cannot escape the impression that her deaths in the bad endings were pretty much just destiny reaching down and bitchslapping her for not being the one prophesied to win those particular battles.)

Also, since I haven't mentioned before: the artwork is gorgeous. My biggest complaint about the game is that everything is so lovingly rendered that combat can unfortunately slow down to a crawl if too much is going on at a time, as inevitably happens during, for example, all of the Odette boss fights. (You could have done away with the jiggle physics in the name of conserving processing power, guys, really. I am just saying.) The character designs are occasionally improbable (see: Gwendolyn's battle tutu, and just how is it that Ragnanival women are all so dainty but the men are all so huge?) but always adorable.

Further natter about storyline and characters, with spoilers. )

Next up... I am not sure. I'd like to try out Tales of the Abyss sometime, but I don't have a copy immediately accessible.
joiedecombat: (Default)

So I said I'd try to have an interesting story to post after I got back from Dragon*Con. what I actually came back with was a week-long case of con crud, and I'm still kind of stuffy. As a result, I've been pretty much brain-dead since I got back. Whoops!

The con was fun, overlooking the egregious amount of time I spent standing in lines - four hours on Thursday to get my badge, and then what seemed like most of the day on Saturday for one thing or another. I got to see [livejournal.com profile] yang_wenli, which was cool; got my badge and my copy of Storm Front signed by Jim Butcher, saw Adam Savage's panel (and sat two rows back from the Rifftrax guys), saw Lips Down On Dixie's performance of Rocky Horror (which would have been more fun if the audience hadn't been trying really hard on the callbacks and failing equally hard), attended several dances (mostly not my thing, but the Last Party on Alderaan was kind of fun), stayed up until all hours and generally ran around a lot.

Did not make it to any of the panels Jim Butcher was on, to my disappointment, mostly because by the time they happened I was thoroughly over StandingInLine*Con, and also his main interview panel was at 10 am on Sunday and I was, uh, up until 4 am. So yeah.

Didn't buy much swag - just dice from Chessex, so as to finally have my own set for gaming, and a birthday/thanks-for-feeding-my-cats present for Jack. There were various things I considered, ranging from LSH art prints in Artist's Alley (if there'd been a Magno I would have bought it, but who am I kidding) to Metropolis PD/Gotham SWAT patches and UNIT parking tags; in most cases I ended up deciding that I could probably get them online later.

So that was Dragon*Con. I probably won't go next year, not because I don't want to so much as because I'm planning a major trip in spring that will use up a bunch of vacation time and probably tap me out financially, so I expect not to be able to afford it and aside from that I would like to have some actual time off for myself at some point in the year. 2012, maybe, if the world does not end!

The con crud emerged during the drive back on Monday and I spent Tuesday and most of Wednesday sick in bed, whee. Then I went back to work. Between one and the other, I have completely failed to have enough focus for things like tagging in online RP (which, er, really sorry about that, guys), continuing my play through of Odin Sphere (about which I'm sure I'll have more to say later), or making this LJ post. I have instead been reduced to playing a ROM of Tokimeki Memorial Girl's Side, the for-the-ladies version of a Japanese dating sim of the most G-rated type.

Maybe it's the NyQuil, but I'm finding it hilarious. Especially since, of all the guys in the game, the one I ended up with on my first try was not any of the main guys but instead my teacher.

Then again, he's an emotional repression case with the voice of Takehito Koyasu, so my flist will probably not find this very surprising. Stupid sexy sensei.
joiedecombat: (heroine)
So, I recently finished Persona 3.

I'd actually picked up the game quite a while back and never quite got into it at the time... I got a little bit past the Yakushima summer trip and then just never picked it back up again. I found some things about the premise interesting, but the whole dating sim/dungeon crawl setup kind of dragged.

But I was looking forward to the PSP re-release, which adds the option of playing as a female main character - always a plus. And, indeed, it made a world of difference for my level of interest in the game's progress, not only because of playing as a female protagonist, but because unlike the male one she gets Social Links with all of her teammates, not just the girls.

For the record, the period from between October 4 through about December 20ish makes P3P the most depressing video game I have ever played.

The one thing about P3P that I don't like in comparison to the PS2 version is that all of the animated cutscenes are gone. The original version has cel-animated sequences for important cutscenes and animates the rest with the little 3D character sprites; the PSP version does everything except the dungeon crawl / combat part in full visual novel mode, with a couple of stills capped from the anime cutscenes mostly as backgrounds. Which is a bummer. No actual content seems to be lost that way - mostly - but after I finished the game I looked up the ending of the original to make sure I wasn't missing something, and having the actual visuals really gives it a bit more emotional impact. I can't tell if this was done because of the PSP's different capabilities, because they couldn't be bothered / didn't have time or budget to re-do the cutscenes for the girl protagonist, or both.

Some other stuff, with various spoilers. )

Overall, I ended up enjoying the game pretty well, in spite of (or, probably more likely, because of) the emotional wringer of the last third of the storyline. Naturally I am immediately beginning a replay to try to actually max out all the S.Links this time.

Favorite character: Akihiko, which is not surprising; he was my favorite the first time I tried to play the game, too. The little sister issues pretty much did it.
Times a teammate flung themselves across the screen to shove Protagonist-chan out of the way of a death blow: about three.
Hours spent making the entire female side of the team run around Tartarus in maid outfits: too many. This wasn't intentional, the maid costumes were actually the best armor that they had for quite a while there. Go figure.
Times I paused in the middle of Tartarus to chat with Akihiko just to watch him fluster over the maid outfit: also too many. At least I didn't actually buy the swimsuit.
joiedecombat: (Rinoa)
I beat FFXIII! Shockingly enough, the boss fights get a lot easier after you spend about 20 hours of play time tooling around Pulse cleaning up Cieth Stone missions and racking up ridiculous amounts of CP. Who would have thought.

I have to say, the ending of the game seemed kind of anticlimactic to me. Upon contemplation, I think the emotional climax of the game may really be somewhere around Chapter 9 or so. After that the characters mostly have their act together emotionally, but the plot gets pretty loose, in comparison with the much more effective storytelling of Chapters 7 and 8. Even without the last-minute time out for extensive sidequesting, the endgame therefore kind of dragged, and lacked the impact that I got out of FFs VIII, IX, and X.

Also: this thing they've been doing in FFXII and XIII about not having a single clear main character is not really doing the storylines any favors. I liked all the main characters in FFXIII, but I think if they had decided early on whether the main character was going to be Lightning or Vanille or Fang (or whoever), it would have allowed for a much stronger resolution. It's not like they have to sacrifice characterization on the rest of the party to do that - FFX didn't.

The game also never gets around to bothering much with the secondary characters either, sadly, which disappointed me. I'd have loved to see more of Cid Raines, Rygdea, and Yaag Rosch. (Especially Rygdea. I choose to believe he's okay out there somewhere after the end FMV, helping out with the cleanup or something. Why only three scenes for Rygdea, Squeenix?)

Overall, I liked it, but it didn't grab me the way earlier games have. I'm still debating as to whether I like it more than I liked FFXII or not; I'm inclined to say yes, at least slightly, by virtue of having a better-developed main cast and a mostly more interesting combat system. (And Snow's shirtless scenes, which they were kind enough to flash back to in the end sequence.)
joiedecombat: (KLONK!)
Someone explain this one for me: Lightning and company can all jump like crickets, high enough to repeatedly whack an ENORMOUS MONSTER TURTLE THING upside the nose... but none of them can manage to actually jump up onto its head and stab it in the eyes until it's dead, instead of dancing around underneath its ENORMOUS FEET getting trampled into paste? Really?


Sigh. I'm not sure I'm going to get past the Adamanchelid. [livejournal.com profile] kasumi_blue's Army of One: Commando Edition trick helps a little with damage, but I just can't seem to time jumps to avoid getting stomped to death. I'm having to conclude, after struggling with most of the bosses from That One Guy in Chapter 9 onward, that I just kind of suck at this game. Which is sad because I enjoy the Paradigm Shift system, I am just... clearly not using it right. Somehow.

On an unrelated note, I really wish Rygdea had more scenes.
joiedecombat: (hot)
Dear Squeenix,

Thank you for Snow's shirtless scenes.

[livejournal.com profile] joiedecombat

Okay, but aside from that, now that I am getting further into the plot I am noticing that where FFXIII is succeeding with characterization on all six of the party characters, it's sort of falling down on the supporting cast. Which is to say that I still don't really know who the main villain is going to end up being, and while Cid is pretty and Rygdea cracks me up, they are mostly not around, so it's hard to get a feel for their characters. And Rygdea might just be eye candy and not intended to have much depth (I am not sure yet, he's been in all of two scenes), but Cid needs more screen time to fill the role they've got him playing. Jihl Nabaat, likewise, could do with a bit more fleshing-out, and so could Yaag Rosch. Remains to be seen how that'll turn out.

The six main characters, however, are absolutely winning at characterization. I love Lightning, I love Snow, I love Fang, Sazh is cool, Hope is becoming cool, and Vanille isn't irking me like she was at the start. (And [livejournal.com profile] annwyd, when you get the opportunity to play, I suspect you might enjoy the subtext between Fang and Vanille.)


joiedecombat: (Default)

August 2012

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