Saturday, February 28, 2015

Long day.

Kayla and I spent all day running around getting stuff ready for our move next week.  We're both exhausted, and I'm going to bed.

I'll do my best to get The Order review up tomorrow.  Forecast: lengthy.

[update - four-and-twenty hours later] Today was a yet-longer day, characterized largely by furniture assembly and work as a sentient beast of burden.

I'll do my best to get The Order review up tomorrow.

No promises. [/update]

Friday, February 27, 2015

Worth Watching - the Mortal Kombat X story trailer.

There seems to be a great deal of plot to this fighting game.  I've - weirdly - watched a lot of stuff for MKX, and I'll admit... I find myself getting hyped for a fighting game.

Maybe I'll reinstall Injustice on my PS4 and see if I can get its mechanics to click.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Check out the announcement trailer for We Happy Few.

This is being made by the team that put Contrast together, which I'll admit earned them no credit in my book - but watch this and try not to ear echoes of BioShock.  It's hard.

Oh, and if you're in to fighters you should watch today's Mortal Kombat X stream - they show off Cassie Cage and brutalities.

Eight supercool PSN games are coming in the next eight weeks.

PSN's Spring Fever thing is a pretty pleasant treat.  Usually when these indie showcases come along, there are - at best - one or two games I'm interested in .  Here, I am interested in all but two - Jamestown+ holds no great appeal for me and I lack the nostalgia to appreciate Metal Slug in any way beyond its luscious animated sprites... the rest?  The rest are gettin' bought.

...except for Bastion and Axiom Verge, 'cause their Vita versions won't be available at launch.  But they will be bought when their Vita versions appear - so here's what we got!

March 3rd - Helldivers.

Four-player friendly-fire-is-always-on co-op, top-down shooting and an awesome trailer to back it up.  It's cross-buy, so you get the game on PS3, PS4 and Vita for the low-low price of $20.  Or eighteen with PS+.

March 10th, Hotline Miami 2.  Which should need no goddamned introduction - again, cross-buy across all three Sony platforms, but for the low-low price of fifteen bucks.

March 17th, Jamestown+ - a bullet hell shooter, PS4 only, twelve bucks.

March 24th, Metal Slug 3, cross-buy on all three platforms, fifteen bucks and...

*you actually turn into a zombie in this level and can projectile vomit incredibly destructive blood. 

...okay that looks pretty awesome.  I mean... watch this - this looks pretty awesome.

I'll think about it.  But it's not like I won't have enough games to buy this month, I mean, yeah, I'm probably skipping...

March 31st - Axiom Verge - retro-styled Metroidvania, PS4 only, $20 (call me when it lands on Vita).


April 7th, Bastion, which is totally awesome, but PS4 only - $15 - I'll day-one it when it lands on Vita.  What I won't skip is...

April 14th - Titanl Souls.

A top-down indie darling in which you take on a bunch of colossal and beautiful bosses (and nothing else) armed with nothing but a bow and a single arrow that returns to you when you call it.  Ten bucks, cross buy on PS4 and Vita.

Looks supercool. Finally, this digital affair comes to a close with last year's most-celebrated indie, Shovel Knight.

April 21st, fifteen bucks, cross-buy on all three platforms, Shovel Knight is one of Kickstarter's great success stories - a game that seriously delivered on its promise of NES-styled action-platforming goodness and earned a lot of critical acclaim last year with its PC and Wii U verisons.

So let's do some math here.  I'm going to assume fifteen bucks for Olli Olli 2 on the third, plus we've got Bloodborne at the end of March - that's at least another ninety - so...

$15 - Olli Olli 2
$20 - Oreshika: Tainted Bloodlines
$18 - Helldivers  
$13.50 - Hotline Miami 2  
$90 - Bloodborne...

...that's... a hundred and sixty bucks before the end of March.  ...maybe I'll skip Helldivers...

Good thing I didn't buy Cyril.

...damnit, Helldivers looks so cool...

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Get your bloodlust ready. Hotline Miami 2 drops in two weeks.

Mannn I am gonna' be so disgusted but I will not stop playing.

Also... it's very strange that an announcement like this comes without a press release or a new trailer.  Granted, Hotline Miami was incredibly popular and the name certainly has cache, but... it's almost a Rockstaresque move.  "We don't need to show you a trailer or write a bunch of stupid words.  Here's the only words you need - Hotline Miami 2, March 10th."

Olli Olli 2 drops on March 3rd!

That's in one week!  Launch trailer!

So... Olli Olli 2, Oreshika: Tainted Bloodlines and Hotline Miami 2 all landing on my Vita within a week of each other?  Sorry, sexy new smartphone.  I won't be gaming on you for much longer.

Batman: Arkham Knight - Gotham is Mine trailer.

Oh we're already hyped.  No need to re-hype us.

...not that it hurts.

That was a close one.

Yesterday, my buddy Kris let me read a graphic novel called We3.  It's about a dog, a cat and a rabbit who were turned in to living weapons by the government, and it's probably the best graphic novel I've seen since V for Vendetta.  So, yesterday, Kayla and I went to our favorite collectibles store to procure a copy.

There it was - softcover, twenty-six bucks... but for some reason I demurred.  We're trying to save money lately, and maybe I'd feel a bit better about spending it on the book in the future.  Kayla, meanwhile, found herself smitten with the four hundred and fortieth Nendoroid - Suigintō, from Rozen Maiden, which I've never seen.

I had no idea she was in to the gothic lolita thing, but there you go.  I, for my part, am thrilled she went out and bought herself a Nendo with her own money.  She has, in doing so, tacitly enabled my own predilections, and there was in fact a figure I really wanted to find in the store.

Cyril Brooklyn.

She's a "cast off," for those of us who know what that means, but I prefer the way she looks just like this:

  • glasses
  • short hair
  • conservative, professional blouse
  • military markings and a bullpup sub-machinegun. 
I love all these things - and obscenely long legs don't hurt, particularly when the piece is such an excellent representation of Shirow Masamune (Ghost in the Shell)'s style.  I thought they might have her because they have an older Masamune fig - a cowgirl in a bikini - and so I asked about Cyril. 

No dice.  

Kayla and I milled around the store, and I bought the Hannibal FunkoPOP. 

I love that Hannibal TV series.  I turned to FigureGAF for help, and they almost-instantly found a Cyril Brooklyn for sale for about ten thousand yen, from a seller who we can be assured is not hawking bootlegs (for bootlegs do indeed exist of Cyril).  

I went to the site they directed me to.  I signed up. 

I paused.  

I didn't order Cyril Brooklyn.  

Do I want that figure?  Yes I do.  But maybe that's a line that shouldn't be crossed.  I can't... defend her purchase to myself by saying I love the anime or I love the game she's from.  She's just a super-sexy figurine, and that... 

That is perhaps a first step I'd rather not take. 

Monday, February 23, 2015

Scram Kitty DX looks like my cup of tea.

Eurogamer reviewed the Wii U version last year and had some pretty kind words for it.  A shooter/platformer with very unique mechanics?  If it feels in the hand how it appears to... I could dig this.  I could dig this very much.

It's landing on PS4 and Vita (cross-buy) in the UK this week - no word on a North American release, but c'mon.  We're the biggest market in the world - we'll get it.

The first trailer for Y2K is definitely worth watching.

The media has been uniformly positive in its treatmeny of Y2K, and it's not hard to see why - a cell-shaded post-modern psychedelic RPG?  Yes please.

This is (probably) the wierdest thing you'll see all day.

Can I successfully write a post from my phone?  Survey says... yes!

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Just finished The Order: 1886.

It is a benefit, I often find, to go into a game with lowered expectations.  I expected The Order's cutscenes to feel endless - they didn't.  They were entertaining, and I love the game's world and characters.  I expected the gunplay to feel stilted and uncomfortable - it wasn't.  It's Gears of War: Steampunk, complete with the roadie run.  I expected its short length to feel like robbery, when I paid eighty bucks for it.

It doesn't feel that way.  Chamberlain will, no doubt, take issue with the game's boss-fights-as-quicktime events, but I do not.  I still remember fighting Liquid Ocelot on top of Outer Haven and how fucking awesome that was, when every particle of a game's energy was pointed at making this confrontation as beautiful and cinematically epic as possible.

I'll get in to a nice, detailed review after I've put some time into the game on hard mode, but yeah.

I have very little ill to say of The Order: 1886.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Kayla gets it.

Kayla sends me an email at work today, consisting - in its entirety - of a picture,

and the phrase
"what do you think of these tables?"
These tables are clearly objects that someone is willing to part with, I deduce.  But whose?  A friend's?  If these tables are free, I like the price.  But these are suppositions - I must have proof, so I respond,
"I don't mind 'em.  Whose are they?" 
The tables were $80, all together, from some Internet swap group Kayla follows.  I advised her I don't go in for these back-alley shenanigans - but still, if it's what Kayla wants...
"Do these really grab your attention?" I asked.
"The price for all three did, but if I’m thinking long term then they wouldn’t do."
"I think we can cobble together placeholders for a lot less than $80.  I mean, for eighty bucks we could buy a five-hour game with awesome production values. Now that’s an investment I can get behind lawlawlawlyou’re dating an idiot."
"You’re not an idiot – you choose to want to believe in games when others say they aren’t worth the price, and sometimes they end up being real gems."
And it was like awww.  She really gets me.

And here's the kicker - I am enjoying The Order: 1886 so far.  With about two hours put in, I like the story, I like the world, I like the characters and yes, I'm having fun with the combat.  It's nicely brutal.

And speaking of overlooked gems, remember Resonance of Fate? 

*this is actual gameplay of this JRPG.   It's so awesome.

I hope you got it while the gettin' was good, 'cause you won't see its like ever again.  Or at least, it's incredibly unlikely that developer tri-Ace will make a sequel, because they were just purchased by a mobile games developer.  It is to cry.

Oh, also, Danganronpa: Another Episode has been confirmed for North American localization.  It appears just crazy enough for me to overlook its overly simple environments.  Plus, it's an action game for Vita, and that alone is enough to pique my curiosity.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Finally, Not A Hero gets a real trailer.

And it's awesome.  Plus it comes with what is probably the best press release I've read in months, so I'm going to post that whole thing too.   It drops on PC on May 7th, and will come to PS4 and Vita "later this year."

"The charming lads of developer Roll7 (OlliOlli) and almost-as-charming folks at video game label Devolver Digital are proud to announce indie cover-based shooter Not A Hero is set to launch on PC May 7, 2015 and on PlayStation 4 and Vita later this year. To celebrate the announcement, Roll7 has collaborated with the Committee to Elect BunnyLord to launch a new, ostensibly democratic website and a new politically charged campaign ad sure to swing a few votes in favor of BunnyLord.

Not A Hero follows professional assassin-turned-amateur campaign manager, Steve, who is charged with cleaning up the city by an anthropomorphic rabbit and mayoral candidate from the future named BunnyLord. Now Steve and his expanding roster of dubious heroes must wield their unique skills to shoot, slide, dive and take cover behind a political platform built on ethics, accountability, and an inordinate amount of gunfire. 
Eliminate the criminal underworld of the city’s three major districts and persuade undecided voters to your cause, tackling the issues that matter by putting a gun in the mouth of those issues.

“The Roll7 team really wanted to embrace the indie developer lifestyle by delaying the release of Not A Hero on several occasions for no discernable reason,” noted Roll7 creative director, John Ribbins. 
“Unfortunately, we also have a publisher so we have to stop messing around and release it. So, May 7 I guess.”

Not A Hero is powered by ISO-Slant™, a new proprietary technology that allows game developers to reach the sweet spot between 2D and 2½D perspectives with minimal effort. Through the liberal, almost irresponsible use of ISO-Slant™, Not A Hero developer Roll7 is able to radically alter the standard 2D pixel art action game into an unbelievable 2¼D visual tour de force and creates a unique new genre sure to entertain for years to come.
“Through extensive market research we were able to establish that the ideal indie game combines subtle political satire with intense, unrestrained violence from an anthropomorphic rabbit from the future,” said Devolver Digital CFO Fork Parker. “Extensive market research.”

Not A Hero will be launch on PC via Steam, GOG, and Humble on May 7, 2015 and gamers will get a chance to go hands-on with the beta version at PAX East, SXSW Gaming and Rezzed throughout March."

Oreshika: Tainted Bloodline drop March 3rd for... $20?!

Well this is pretty out-of-the-blue.  Finally, Sony will release Oreshika: Tainted Bloodlines in North America.  Specifically, on PSN - no physical release - and for the low-low price of $19.99!

Now, on the one hand, yay!  Oreshika isn't a port of a PS3 game or a mobile game - it's a dyed-in-the-wool Vita game, built from the ground up for Sony's handheld - and actually the first triple-A Vita-exclusive JRPG.  Period.  It's the platform's Folklore, if you remember Folklore (Folklore was sooo gorgeous).

On the other hand... the fact that it's digital only and the fact that they've dropped the price to just above what you'd expect to pay for Guacamelee or Hotline Miami waves a huge red flag that Sony don't have much faith in the title - but that's fine, because it doesn't always pay dividends to have faith in Sony's taste.

After all, they famously passed on publishing Demon's Souls in North America, and they've been hyping The Order: 1886 to the ends of the earth - so what do they know, anyway?

(Enough to get Darkest Dungeon on Vita - woo!)

The Order: 1886 launch trailer.

I read some of The Order's reviews today - Eurogamer's and GameTrailers in particular - and while the game has (generally) received some rather tepid or downright ugly reviews, GameTrailers' keeps my hope alive.  Like many, I considered not picking up my preorder tomorrow (Lord knows I could use the money), but the game GT describes - one whose value is found in its remarkably well-rendered world and striking technology - still has meaning and still promises hype, despite the trouncing the game has received in general.

Yep.  Still pickin' it up.  And if I breeze through it in a weekend?  Well, heck - I've still got Dying Light on my plate, and that game is frickin' awesome.

Bloodborne story trailer!


Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Let's chat about The Order: 1886 for a second.

-the cast of The Order: 1886-

I'd be feeling pretty burned, right now, if I was a member of Ready at Dawn.  You spend the last half-decade of your life sharpening the most gorgeous console game the world has ever seen, you're primed for release, and someone drops a speedrun on YouTube showing the game can be beaten in five and a half hours - and the internet at large gets all pissy.  "The game is only five hours long - that's not worth my money!" The game's not even out yet, and people be hatin'.

Well, whatever.  Fallout 3 can be beaten in twenty-four minutes - that's no indicator of a game's quality.  You can zip through an Uncharted or a God of War if you know what you're doing - and rumors around the YouTube upload indicated that the player was blitzing the game, running past combat, not sniffing around for collectibles, et cetera.  Not that I know for sure - the account's been killed, so I can't verify the playstyle of the uploader.

But let's assume "the worst."  Let's assume that you or I, playing The Order: 1886 for the first time, enjoying ourselves with the game and not rushing, will beat the game in five and a half hours.  I'll admit - I'd feel a bit burned, myself.  Probably.

There is a precedence for the existence of short, high-quality games which are still worth your time.  Consider the Supergiant titles - Bastion and Transistor.  Perfection in miniature.  Consider Portal.

The difference being (1) those games were nigh-perfect and (2) those games did not cost what The Order: 1886 will cost.  If The Order is indeed a mere snippet of a game with incredibly high production values, I think it'd be fair to denounce its lack of content when compared to other high-profile story-driven titles like The Last of Us or Uncharted, each of which permits the player dozens of hours of gameplay while maintaining excellent narratives.

At this moment - three days before the game's release - this is what we're talking about, when it comes to The Order.  Nobody's talking about its gameplay design or the quality of its story presentation - perhaps because nobody really knows what the truth of its ambitions is. Instead, we're fanning the flames of this short-length rumor.  Until the game is released and the enthusiast press at large are let off their chains, this rumor is the most-interesting tidbit we have to discuss - and again, if I beat the game on my first playthrough in 5.5 hours, I'll probably feel a bit burnt.  But not definitely.

'Cause what if?

'Cause there is a precedent for a game being incredibly short and incredibly worth it.  There's Limbo and Hotline Miami and Mark of the Ninja.  Classically, short-and-sweet games like that aren't triple-A by the longest of shots - but if The Order manages to be sublimely fun and intensely immersive, if it's narrative is up there with Naughty Dog's best work, if its mechanics are perfectly on-point - it could easily be "worth it."  It could be one of those singular experiences you've just got to see for yourself.

It could really be the game Ready at Dawn intended to make.

Or it could be kinda' meh.  We'll see.

Oh also there are some sweet sales up on PSN right now.  Of note:

  • Olli Olli for $2.60
  • Muramasa Rebirth for $12.49
  • Hohokum for $7.49 (which I may need to look in to, myself)
  • Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc for $19.99
  • Danganronpa 2 for $23.99
  • South Park: The Stick of Truth for $14.99
  • Far Cry 4 and Dragon Age: Inquisitionfor $36 (PS4)
  • Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor for $25
  • Mercenary Kings for $8 
  • Wolfenstein: The New Order (PS4) for $24 
  • and Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition for $14
That's a lot of quantity and quality. 

Monday, February 16, 2015

Confirmed - Darksiders 2: Definitive Edition is coming to PS4.

GameSpot reached out to (now-owner of the Darksiders IP) Nordic Games for confirmation of the rumor, and in a reversal of any and all gaming publisher standards, they actually confirmed it.

Now, here's hopin' they release it in like mid-summer when nothing else is happening.  Then I'll play the crap out of it.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

REVIEW - Atelier Ayesha Plus: The Alchemist of Dusk.

Atelier Ayesha Plus: The Alchemist of Dusk is the Vita port of 2012 PS3 title Atelier Ayesha, which itself was the kickoff of the Dusk trilogy (merely the latest trilogy) in Gust's eighteen-year-old franchise of female-friendly JRPGs.

JRPGs as a general rule adhere to certain tropes and tenets, and in many ways, Atelier adheres to them as well.  Battles are turn-based and there are quests to complete - but in so many other ways, it feels very much its own creature - and very separate from many of the clichés and problems its genre is often heir to.

How is Atelier Ayesha Plus?

Picture, if you will, the bustling plaza of a small town.  A picturesque and sleepy burg, the town is perched atop a massive scar in the earth - a great canyon so large that "canyon" does it a disservice, as it fails to suggest the world-cracking calamity that collapsed the Earth into a bottomless nothingness as far as the eye can see, just beyond the town walls.

Through the gates of its plaza come old couples on their Sunday walk, energetic youths desperate for bigger and better things and tired craftsmen, yearning to create a masterpiece that will offer some real financial security.  Into this throng of normal-looking folks prances a teenage girl in an emerald dress that appears to consist largely of frills, ribbons and the wings of the fairy folk.  She walks up to each and every person in that plaza, in turn, and greets them with a smile.

Sometimes, she shakes her head and looks a bit disappointed, for a half-second, before she beelines for the next citizen to strike up a conversation and perhaps reach into her satchel to hand something over, and receive something in return.

"Who's the blond?" remarks a stranger to the town.

A citizen, nearby, shrugs his shoulders and says "Ayesha," as if no further explanation is required.  Soon, the girl walks up to the stranger and greets him with that giant smile.

"Hello Sir - how are you today?"

And before long, he's told her how he's doing.  He's told her that he's in danger of shutting down his company, which has a contract clearing the rail tunnels to the east, because his supplier of dynamite has gone out of business and he'd give just about anything to-

"Will this do it?" she asks, offering an explosive device the size of a wagon wheel and a guileless look of optimism.  He stuffs his coin purse into her hands and takes the colossal bomb, unable to believe his good fortune.

The citizen steps forward and asks if she'd found the Angel's Tears he needed.  She holds out a glittering vial of some otherworldly liquid, and smiles as she receives payment.

"Made it just last week, so it's fresh!" she chirps.  And then, she's gone, followed closely by another girl with a miner's pick slung over one shoulder, and a preteen in a witch's hat three sizes too big, gliding just above the cobblestones on a little broom.

The stranger watches this miniature circus of absurdity leave, shakes his head and looks down at the earth-shattering ordnance she'd handed him.

"I'm saved," the stranger mutters, still in shock.  "I'm saved!  Who is that girl?"

"That's Ayesha," the citizen shrugs.  "She comes and goes."

Ayesha's childhood pal, Regina, is a dab hand with demolitions.

So it was that Ayesha would travel between the towns of her region, providing supernaturally-produced produce to the townsfolk.  She kept a small, clean and humble room in each town - always given freely by one of the town's denizens, seemingly in exchange for nothing more than the blond supermechant's good will.  She travelled hither and yon, and when she found her way blocked by the colossal creatures that call the dark corners of her world home, she relied upon her bag of mad tricks,  childhood friend, Regina (handy with a pickaxe) and secret witch-in-training and miniature con woman Wilbell voll Erslied, whom she meets after Wilbell stole her wallet and tried to sell it back to her.

Wilbell quickly realizes that despite Ayesha's intellectual handicap (Ayesha is an idiot when it comes to anything beyond her craft, with no concept of guile, dishonesty, betrayal or even romantic intentions), she can likely turn quite a profit with the blond at her side, and ingratiates herself into Ayesha's circle - so long as Ayesha promises never to reveal to anyone that the little girl in the pointy hat, riding a broom, is a witch.

The game has a lot of character, is what I mean.  It gently sweeps the player through quaint little towns, meeting zany folks like Marion, the diminutive agent of a foreign power, attempting to track down an errant criminal and Linca, Marion's nothing-but-business bodyguard who really, really wishes Marion would let her cut her hair and maybe wear some pants.  There's Fred, the baker in the region's largest town who is just insane about bread - like, super duper insane about it.

He's also in love with Marietta, the clerk at Harry's store (Harry's nuts about collecting the odd and the obscure), but Marietta is obviously crushing on the brusque Keithgriff, Ayesha's sometimes-mentor in the ways of alchemy - not that Ayesha has any idea.  She's either too stupid to pick up on stuff like that, or too completely dedicated to her discipline to keep room for it in her pretty head - but we, the audience, do.

I could tell you the story of the time Marietta came in to Fred's shop when Fred was in the middle of telling Ayesha about his new kitten bread (shaped like, not containing), and then he stands at attention like a soldier and can barely get two words out before Marietta left - or the time Ayesha and Regina kicked the crap out of all the miners in a monster-killing competition in Regina's home town, and won some choice liquor for their trouble which Regina promptly got proper fucked on.

Atelier Ayesha is a game bursting with life and cheer and character,  You'll find yourself swinging by Harry's shop just to see what Marietta's up to, or permitting your party makeup to be dictated entirely by which of the game's heroines you find most entertaining.  For my part, I could not endure the thought of relying on a hero who didn't dance around her witch's hat before lobbing a pumpkin bomb into a throng of enemies.

The game's combat is earnest and pleasant, as far as turn-based RPGs go, with a lot of smooth additional systems thrown in for good measure.  Beyond the ability to use an action each turn, each hero has an action gauge that can be used to perform additional moves in concert with their allies - which, in turn, is affected by their position on the battlefield.

An ally can block an attack on a friend from almost anywhere, but will only perform a "pursuit" follow-up attack when both heroes are standing side-by-side.  They can pull off "back attacks" - guaranteed crits - when they are positioned behind an enemy, and their action gauges will fill to the point that they can perform some seriously game-changing feats if a fight goes on long enough... but not many fights do - and not many of those fights are very memorable.

It has one of those nice systems where, if you whack an enemy on the field before it whacks you, you start with initiative.

The only one I clearly recall was the single boss-esque fight in the entire game - one of those fights you're designed to lose - and otherwise, you do battle with a motley crew of mostly-adorable enemies who tend to be pretty susceptible to the effects of high explosives.

Ayesha herself, it should be noted, is simultaneously the weakest and most powerful character on the field, with a melee attack whose impact shares its profile with the gentle dab of a kitten's paw, and a backpack full of insane shit that no one outside the military should have access to.

Your strategies, therefor, are never so much about how you're going to survive this fight and kill these monsters, but almost-entirely about how much of your arsenal you're prepared to part with in the process.  The Himmel Schenk, for example, detonates with teeth-rattling power once a round or so - but are you sure this fight will last more than one round?  These enemies look tough - but are you sure if you drop one of your big bombs you won't just take them all out at once?  That's kind of a waste of a bomb, when you've got Regina and Wilbell here, ready to help out.

And you don't want to waste those bombs, salves, environmental powers and buffs - they cost rare, high-quality ingredients to craft, and even more precious, your time.

As Keithgriff tells her upon their first meeting (and, as in every Atelier title), Ayesha has a limited amount of time in which to complete her quest - three years - and nearly everything she does eats up days of it.  Travel across the world map burns up days at a time.  High-end, high-production alchemies can require a week or more, and gathering reagents in the field can take hours.

The clock is always working against you, and when you fail your quest on your first playthrough, you'll feel slightly betrayed that the game didn't nip at your heels a bit more.  You just get to the end of year three, the game ends with a puff of pink smoke, rolls over into New Game+, and you have the opportunity not to muck it up, this time - if you wish.

I'll admit - I didn't wish.  I didn't feel compelled to spend another three in-game years with Atelier Ayesha's pleasant but ineffectual combat, mostly because the narrative - beyond being absolutely charming and stuffed with characters you'll grow to love - doesn't instil a real sense of urgency or meaning into its proceedings.

Ayesha isn't off to save the world or her beloved homeland - nothing that clichéd and mundane - she's just trying to rescue her sister.  Certainly a noble goal, but not one that's presented in such a way that it grips the player by their lapels and drags them along, desperate to ensure Ayesha ends up happy.  I have no doubt that, whatever happens, Ayesha will end up happy - I don't believe she has the capacity be anything less than cheerful for the span of five minutes.  The entire game is a frothy, light-hearted thing, and while it's a pleasant nosh it's never... meaningful.

Still, it's different in a lot of meaningful ways.

The game is a beautiful, gentle, water-colored thing with lovely set pieces, lovely environments, lovely heroes.  This is a JRPG in which there is not a bad guy.  There is no single evil person in Atelier Ayesha, unless you're counting that one weirdo who set up a fake stall at the monthly Bazaar in Vierzeberg and tried to hustle Ayesha into buying some crap, but Marietta shut that right down.

There is nothing particularly dark or unpleasant in the entire game.  It's just lightness and cheer and comedy and character - and it's a story that's dominated entirely by women.

I think it might be possible to get some men into your party, but I've no idea how.  Instead, all its heroes are of the fairer sex, and they never feel exploited or subjected to fans service (within the game itself).  They're never treated as objects, and it's pleasant to play a game (particularly, it's worth noting, a Japanese game) in which you never feel like a woman was placed in front of you for the titillation of a male audience.  It's a game about girls for girls.  It's like The Babysitter Club or How To Make an American Quilt.

You don't see many games like that, and that's really cool.

There's also something... classically feminine about the fact that Ayesha and the hero of every Atelier title are women whose craft is that of creation.  That is either a brilliant championing of the traditional domestic practices of women, an incidental byproduct of the series' (nicely deep) crafting systems, or a distressing stereotype.

And why is it that the only costumes I can change Ayesha in to are a swimsuit or a wedding dress?

Clearly problematic.  But I've heard there are other costumes you can unlock that are a lot cooler.  Costumes you'd actually want to see Atelier Ayesha's heroes wearing.

...which I never unlocked.  Similarly, I've heard people talking about boss fights - which I've never seen.  I didn't know you could finish a JRPG without a boss fight, but Ayesha has gone and done it - and these whispers clearly suggest a game of greater depth and scope than I experienced in my single playthrough.

I may return to Ayesha one day to ferret out its secrets, drop bombs on some bosses and perhaps get Ayesha into a prudent little jacket-and-capris ensemble - but that will require a certain appetite.  A desire for the lightest and fluffiest of JRPGs, with the most languid pace and the most endearing casts.

If nothing less, there is nothing ill to be said of Wilbell voll Erslied.  I'll play the next Atelier game just to see more of her hijinks.

"Looks like I got stronger again - hahahhh!"

Friday, February 13, 2015

Darksiders 2 on PS4? Yes please.

Despite its flaws, I love Darksiders II.  I do.  It's one of those games I actually have two copies of, because what if something happens to one of my copies?  Obviously, I'd need a backup or I may never be able to play Darksiders II again, which would be an affront to all that is good and holy - so news that I might be able to purchase Darksiders II again and play it on my PS4..?

Well, that's a rumor I can get behind.  This was discovered on Amazon today (click to embiggen) - which is, classically, a pretty good indicator of what's coming.

...wouldn't it be awesome if it also included the first game?

Ohhh that would be awesome.

I should play those again.  But if I did that, I wouldn't be playing Dying Light or Darkest Dungeon, which is obviously an affront to all that is good and holy.


Helldivers drops March 3rd. Here, have an awesome trailer.

Seriously the best trailer of the day.

The first Just Cause 3 trailer is nothing but slo-mo prerendered explosions.

But they're very pretty slo-mo prerendered explosions.

Until Dawn's Valentine's Day trailer actually... makes me want the game.

Plus the stuff the devs are spouting over at the PS Blog about how much of an impact you'll have on the narrative.

On the one hand...
"Choice is a central tenet of Until Dawn. Your actions not only determine who lives or dies, but will also directly influence the relationships between the characters (romantic or otherwise). You will even influence how characters react to each other. If you are mean to a friend, they may or may not choose to save you later in the game. The narrative will always continue forward, adapting to your decisions throughout the game – meaning that your game will be noticeably different from anyone else’s."
...sounds awesome.  On the other hand I've heard that shit before.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

I totally don't hate the Hitman: Agent 47 trailer.

Though I don't appreciate him stealing Rorschach's line.  I'll definitely see this... though maybe not in theatres.

Also in Hype Movie Trailers of the day, Amy Schumer is starring in a romantic comedy with Bill Heder.  In other news, for the first time in like forever I want to see a romantic comedy.

[update] And a trailer dropped for Guy Ritchie's The Man From U.N.C.L.E.  We're lousy with trailers around here!


Game Diary - on my phone.

Thus far, XCOM: Enemy Within on my phone is exactly what I wanted.  It controls well - or as well and as quickly as a touchscreen tactics game can - and the graphics are nothing to sneeze at.  When you have a decent overhead view of the field, the textures on items look... well, phenomenal, actually.  It's only when the camera really zooms in that you can tell they're using lower-res art, and - most importantly - this doesn't hurt the experience of XCOM.

My soldiers are still very human, they can still freak out and get panicked, and it's still crushing when they take an irreparable plasma blast to the face.  It is an absolute boon to have this game on the go, and given that my phone is likely to stay very near me for a very long time, I may actually finish the Enemy Within expansion, this time.  Yay.

I'll admit, though, the way the game scratches the Roguelike/tactics itch just makes me doubly wish I had a portable version of Darkest Dungeon's Early Access.  I'm at work and I'm still thinking about Darkest Dungeon.  I'm checking patch release notes on my phone (something I haven't done since my World of Warcraft days) and feeling super-disappointed that they've nerfed the Hellion.

I mean seriously - what is the point of nerfing Breakthrough?  It's literally identical to Grapeshot Blast!  If you wanted to nerf it, bring its crit chance down so it's in line with Grapeshot - don't make it add a two-turn -20% damage -10% dodge debuff on my Hellion!  That just means I'll never use it, like Bleed Out.

Honestly, who uses a DoT that renders their character all-but-useless for two turns?  The point of a DoT is that it takes time, and in that time, I'd still like to be able to do shit.

Ahhh.  Passion.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

You can be so cruel.

Got some super-shitty news at work today and I feel like an exposed wire of emotions, so listen to this song I listened to repeatedly.

Also, this one,

It's literally impossible for me not to bop my head to this as I'm Duelist Advancing on some swine in the Warrens.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Check out Children of Morta, if you haven't already.

It reached its initial Kickstarter goal today.  Another nine grand and it comes to PS4.  Ten K beyond that and it's on Vita.

...speaking of gorgeous fantasy pixel art games, I wonder how Hyper Light Drifter and Eitr are coming along...

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Personal note, game diary, variety.

May I tell you something shameful, Internet?  Do you promise to keep it a secret?  I know you're good at that. 

I've never had a cell phone

I had a little burner phone I bought for like fifty bucks when I was a dumb kid who let his phone bill get cut off like ten years ago, but that's it.  That little POS lasted about a week before I ran out of minutes and money and it went into the trash. 

Since then, I've been a bit proud to not have one, particularly as the devices becomes ubiquitous. I'm the guy without a cell phone, I'm (still) the guy without a Facebook account. I hear about way too many fights that happened because of Facebook to ever sign up for it. 

Similarly, there's a lot I don't like about cell phone ownership.  I don't like that it's another sixty bucks out of your pocket each month and I don't like that people occupy themselves with cell phones instead of their lives. I see people ignoring each other at social engagements - whole tables of hip, sexy young people at hip, sexy restaurants, silently flipping through their phones instead of, y'know, talking to each other.  

Which makes me feel old as shit. 

I bring this up because, if all goes to plan, Kayla and I will be sharing a house within a month.  This has raised any number of questions about how life's logistical problems will be managed, with one such quandry being "what are we going to do about a phone?"

Kayla's had a cell for years, and my first reaction was to say we'd just get a cheap land line and that would be plenty... but my rationale for having a land line isn't simply because it's cheap - it's because it offers security in extreme situations.  

Or did offer it. Once. 

When there's a power outage, classically, an old wired, corded phone would still work when nothing else in your house did - the phone lines are on a separate grid - so when the power went out, you could advise the power company and anyone else who might need to know ("honey?  Pick up candles on your way home.")

But that was in the old days.  Nowadays, every phone provider is also an Internet provider, and you aren't getting an Internet and phone setup in your house without one of their cable routers.  Your phone signal (or ours, at least) no longer goes into the wall, into the phone lines - it goes through that cable router.  And that cable router requires a powered connection in your house.  Thus, when the power goes out, so does your phone. 

...but not with a cell.  In today's mixed-up, crazy world, a cell phone is a safer, more reliable option than a classic, wired home phone.  

And about twice as expensive.  Kayla has nothing but positive things to say about her service with Bell, so - contrary to how I buy pretty much everything - with absolutely no research into other carriers or options, we went into a Bell store yesterday and I left with an LG G3.  

I've long felt that my reticence to get a cell phone would pay off one day - that if I could hold out long enough, I could get a cell phone that appeared after the uncomfortable adolescence of its technology without paying through the nose for it - and time, it seems, it has paid handsome dividends. 

I wanted an Android phone, not an Apple, because I've heard too many people complain too much about their iPhones, and ninety-five percent of what I do on my home computer is through some sort of Google service (image search, Google itself, YouTube, and of course this blog itself). I've long been a fan of LG products - particularly their TVs, which I find are reliably cheaper than Sonys or Samsungs while being just as good.

The LG G3, it turns out, is LG's flagship phone which received all kinds of crazy-good reviews in 2014.  It's not precisely the New Hotness - they'll have another newer, hotter phone coming out in 2015, no doubt - but it's still quite warm, and it boasts the single feature I require most in a mobile phone.  

Specifically, it can run XCOM: Enemy Within

Long have I lamented the absence of Firaxis's XCOM on Vita while folks with smartphones are able to get their tactical alien takedowns on the go, and the very first thing I did upon arriving home and jacking in to my wifi was to give Google thirteen bucks and download the two gig game.

It looks fabulous, it runs well, and the controls are very much good enough for a touchscreen - or at least, I haven't yet made a move I didn't intend to.  Whether or not Enemy Within is actually a full-featured version of the game I so adore on consoles remains to be seen, but at this point it's very pleasing.

Also, the thing can make phone calls and text and it has Google Maps and YouTube and a very capable internet browser.  It's got this handy thing where it can turn on instantly into camera mode and silently take pictures, if (in my cellphone crime-fighting fantasies) I suddenly find myself witness to a crime.  It's slim, it's light, the screen is huge and sharp and I can customize it with Justin Currie art.

Lock screen.                                                                                   Center page.
Left page.                                                                                               Right page.

And long have I turned up my nose at smartphone gaming, but with a superphone in hand, it looks far less irritating.  They have fucking Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic on the Android store.

That's something that may bear looking in to.  A can of worms has been opened, and a whole new, broad swath of gaming opportunities have been laid at my feet.

Kayla and I should have moved in together a long time ago.

In other news, that Persona 5 trailer got me all kinds of hyped - and the world at large, it seems.  I'm most curious about the movement systems we saw - something that the Persona team has never really gone after, before, if you're not counting Catherine's puzzle-platforming.  It's a JRPG you can get just silly-hyped about without Final Fantasy's dull, gnawing reminder that the last five games in its series weren't all that great.  It's Atlus.  It'll rock.

And no, I haven't picked up Dying Light again since Darkest Dungeon happened.  The thing is, I love Dying Light.  Dying Light is everything I wanted it to be, and it lives up to its #3 placement on my hype list - it just had the bad fortune to release a week prior to my #1 most-hyped game of the year, which is similarly everything I wanted it to be, plus debuffing guitar/lute shreds.

There aren't enough hours in any given day to spend the time I'd prefer to with Darkest Dungeon, but I think that may be a bit of a plus - I'll have less of a chance to burn myself out on the game before it comes to my Vita.

More than that, I find myself fascinated to be in so close to the ground floor with a game's development.  By all accounts Darkest Dungeon's Early Access is in fact an unusually-finished game, when compared to the low Early Access standards most other titles have subjected players to, but I'm still eminently curious to see how the game will change and evolve throughout its development - and how different the final product will be from the game that is already so completely absorbing.

Ahhh life is good.