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I Can Stop Playing Music Games Now

March 23, 2015

…because I’m almost certainly never going to out-do this:

sadisticmusicfactoryexcellent

Sadistic Music Factory is the “Boss Fight” of Project Diva ƒ, and in keeping with series tradition it’s yet another super-high-BPM cosMo@暴走P song.  It was also the last song keeping me from getting a “Great” or better on all songs on Hard difficulty.

Great requires a score of 90% or better, and I kept getting 89.x, where X was at one point 9.  That was also the run where I had my best combo, a 264-note monster, and not getting the Great on that run had me *this* close to giving up for the day.

sadisticmusicfactorystandard

SO MUCH HATE

Two more tries later, everything came together and I got the very satisfying score above.  As a 40+ year-old guy, I’m not physically able to press buttons fast enough to make more than a casual attempt at most of the songs on the Extreme difficulty setting, so Hard is going to do quite nicely.

In Which, I Try Another Elder Scrolls Game

March 22, 2015

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I have not had a particularly good history with the Elder Scrolls games.  The first one I tried, Arena, was so long ago that I actually had to install it from 1.2 MB 5.25″ floppies, and my experience with the game consisted of struggling through the godawful long install and then promptly being killed by the first rat I ran in to in the first dungeon.

The second one I tried was Morrowind, on the original Xbox, and I got a little further in that before I got swarmed by mudcrabs and died horribly.

It’s apparently been long enough for me to forgive both of those, because I decided to give Skyrim a try this weekend.

My first impressions were not good. The opening is dreary at best, the controls weren’t clicking, I didn’t like the character models, and I was pretty sure that this was going to be strike 3 for the Elder Scrolls… and then I decided, well, everyone talks about how amazing the mod community is for this game, maybe I’ll give the internet a chance to make this game something I want to play.

So, I found some high-res texture packs, and a new ragdoll engine, and some enhanced character models, and realized that I could use an Xbox 360 controller, and that let me put up with the game to the point where I made it through the introduction and got out into the world, at which point it pretty much hooked me good and proper.

…and then I installed enhanced water and snow effects, and hi-resolution foliage and lush grass, and reskinned versions of the first couple of towns, and a new skeletal engine, and found a way to turn off helmets and replace the standard armor textures with “high fantasy” (read: bikini armor) versions, and added environmental sounds for towns and dungeons and wilderness, and on and on and on.  I’m at the point where I probably shouldn’t go adding any more mods because they are at some point going to start fighting with each other, to be honest, but the end result is that everything UNDER the hood is the same, but the visuals and audio have been pumped up nicely.

I also get now why people get so sucked into the world.  I get that there’s a story and all that, and I should probably get on that, but in the meantime I just walked past a cave full of bandits and bandits always need killing.  I’ll get back to saving the world once that’s sorted out.

 

I’ll feel guilty about this once I stop giggling.

March 18, 2015

Occasionally, I find a move in a fighting game or brawler that is so insanely silly that I can’t help but try to use it at every opportunity, even if it makes little to no sense.

For example, in the second “Darkstalkers” game, there’s a Yeti character.  He has a special move where he swallows his opponent, chews a couple of times, and spits them out.  I am very bad at pulling this move off, but I can not help occasionally putting in the disc and trying to beat computer opponents by doing nothing but eating them.

I have found, in Dead or Alive 5, the latest move to make me giggle – and, true to form, I’ve been trying to use it in online matches, failing miserably, and usually getting locked into a long stun / juggle combo that winds up with me crying on the floor in defeat.

Basically, Marie Rose can, if you roll towards your opponent AND chain it into a throw at just the right time, AND he or she doesn’t swat you away like a fly, you jump onto them, wrap her legs around his or her waist, and use their chest like a pair of speed bags.

This motivated me to make another animated gif to highlight the insanity:

marie_v_mila_600

Side note: DoA may get a lot of flack for focusing on bounce and jiggle simulation, but that is some surprisingly neat hair physics.

The Enemy of my Enemy or something like that

March 17, 2015

I’ve watched a lot of truly irredeemable love-polygon anime over the years.  You know the sort – hapless nice guy sort of character finds himself surrounded by cute girls who are occasionally also mystical creatures or aliens but who are for some reason haplessly besotted with our resident male audience surrogate.

The Familiar of Zero isn’t ENTIRELY this, but it does have a definite love polygon thing going on in addition to all of the wars and politics and betrayal and stuff.

For the first two seasons, it’s pretty much just your garden-variety triangle, where the main character – Saito – is being fought over by two girls: Louise, a mage who can’t cast spells and whose personality is generally explosive and Siesta, a maid at the magic academy who often has to patch Saito up after he’s been whipped by Louise or give him food when she sends him to bed without supper as punishment for looking at other girls.

The third season introduces the Third Girl, which sets everything up beautifully for the One Beautiful Moment when Girls A and B suddenly realize that, while they certainly still have their differences, they now have Girl C to contend with and – for the moment – they should work together.

More below the “Read More” bit as it spoils the end of an episode in season 3:

Read more…

Demon Gazed

March 15, 2015

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I finished Demon Gaze last night, and according to the in-game timer, it took me a hair over 42 hours.  I started it back in mid-December, so I’ve obviously taken some breaks from play here and there.  Some of that was because it was the game I was playing in an attempt to convince myself that I didn’t actually NEED to go to the emergency room and that I would be fine if I just toughed it out…

…yes, I’m stupid sometimes.  I’m a guy and I’m allowed to be an idiot now and again.  Anyway, it did make for an unfortunate association that took me a little while to get over.

As I expected, the fan-service level dropped pretty quickly after the first few hours – specifically, just after the first Big Plot Twist.  There’s still a fair amount of skin on display, but nothing truly eyeroll-worthy.

I haven’t played any games with the same mechanics since Eye of the Beholder back in the late 1980s, so the genre has obviously evolved considerably.  You still have the grid-based map, the first-person perspective, the ability to customize your party to the point of possibly not being able to finish the game, but amenities like auto-mapping, auto-move and the ability to retreat to a safe inn at any point make it a much less vicious game.  There were, admittedly, a couple of really nasty bosses, and the final encounter of the game violates almost every rule of polite game design: a) there’s no save point before you get to it, b) there’s a massively long talky cutscene bit, and c) you have to fight two bosses back-to-back without being able to save between them.

Demon Gaze goes into my book as an overall good time.  I liked the characters, I enjoyed the story, I found myself really sucked in to the loot-collecting aspect of it, and I can’t even kvetch too much about the grinding I occasionally had to do to beef up for later bosses.

Of course, there’s always ONE thing I’m going to gripe about, and that would be that the penultimate dungeon is huge, to the point where I’d estimate that I spent half of those 42 hours just getting through the one dungeon, and it really wasn’t a very interesting place to look at.  I very nearly gave up on the game a couple of times while I was trying to get through it, and the only way I eventually managed to tough it out was to stop trying to power through and instead just play for 15 minutes at a time and make a little progress each time.

Next up… no clue really.  Maybe I’ll start taking the 3DS to work instead of the Vita.

The Eternal Spinning Maid

March 14, 2015

So, there’s a bit in the opening credits of The Familiar of Zero where several of the secondary characters are doing this little hop-spin thing, and I decided that Siesta’s pirouette needed to be made into an animated .gif.  You know, for science.

Siesta_Spinning_300

I don’t think I got the timing quite right, but otherwise I’m happy with the outcome.  It was a fun way to get some ffmpeg practice.

I Bought This Game for the Plot

March 13, 2015

Lot of Dead or Alive posts recently, sorry about that.

I could talk about The Familiar of Zero instead, since that’s the show I’m currently using as a distraction from spending 90 minutes a day on the exercise bike. I don’t know if I’d ever sit down and binge on it, but I’m a fan of the comedic light-fantasy genre and it features Kugimiya Rie getting her tsundere on. If I had any complaints, it’d be that it tends to go a little heavy on the panty gags and that the main male character is changed to pump up the lech factor between seasons 1 and 2.

That wasn’t a lot of words. So, back to Dead or Alive.

I haven’t been doing any more online matches yet, because I decided that I’d sit down and play through the story mode. It’s something of a novelty to me to have a fighting game with a story mode, to be honest – I’m used to the old-school thing where you pick a character, they fight between 8 and 12 other characters including a hopelessly cheap final boss, and then you get a single screen which explains how winning this fighting tournament has helped them grow as a person.

Dead or Alive 5’s story mode, by contrast, is 71 chapters, some of which are just cutscenes but most of which feature at least a couple of fights, and it took a solid hunk of time over three nights to finish. It’s an interleaved story, where the main story deals with the wacky ninja family fighting the Big Bad of the series and trying to foil his attempt to, once again, take over the world by cloning Kasumi and making an army of unstoppable ninja warrior assassins. The rest of it is all about the characters who are NOT part of the wacky ninja family (and, thus, generally secondary to the actual plot) as they enter the most recent iteration of the Dead or Alive tournament for a variety of personal reasons. I mostly tried to ignore the tournament bits, to be honest, because I can only stomach SO much “I wanna be the strongest in the world!” and “I wish Hayate-sempai would notice me!” before I want to turn the console off.

The wacky ninja family bits were OK. There’s one particular bit which I won’t spoil but which features Ayane getting out a good 17-years-worth of frustrations re: her half sister, so Ayane fans will probably get extra enjoyment from it.

During all of this, you spend an AWFUL lot of time playing as the male characters, which was a novelty. Not a particularly welcome novelty, mind you, because it’s very weird when you’re used to picking the smallest, fastest characters in any fighting game and suddenly you’re made to play the lumbering brutes.

Still, I guess Team Ninja puts guys in the game and wants to make it so they’re not completely ignored, and making those characters a mandatory part of the story mode accomplishes that.

Oh, and it does have a fantastically cheap final boss, so that part is true to form.

Next up, I’m going to take a crack at some of the tutorials and try to get some online time in this weekend.

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