OK, that was worth a couple of nights of playing Kritika Online.
OK, that was worth a couple of nights of playing Kritika Online.
So, another September, another iPhone reveal. This year, both an iPhone 8/8+ and an iPhone Executive Edition, neither of which I will buy as my 6s+ is still a ridiculously good phone.
Also a new Apple Watch which is slightly more tempting as it is actually a standalone product now instead of something serving as, basically, a remote terminal to the phone in your pocket. Still probably will not buy it.
AND a new Apple TV, which itself is nothing too amazing but which comes with the promise of free upgrades to 4K for any HD movies I own through iTunes.
I have 101 iTunes movies. Mostly from digital copy codes, some from Apple’s regular 4.99 movie sales, a handful bought at full price because they came out weeks before the physical version and I wanted to see it Right Now. 22 of them are SD movies, but that leaves 79 movies that are eligible for free upgrades to higher resolution.
I have been buying movies for far longer than it has really been a good idea – VHS tapes and laserdiscs in the early 90s, DVD as soon as it became available, Blu Ray as soon as it became evident that the HD format war had tipped completely in its favor – but this is the first time that a format bump is coming with free upgrades to the better version.
So… well, OK, Apple, nicely done. I take back at least half the snarky things I have said about you recently, and it looks like I’ll be buying a new Apple TV.
Next week’s iPhone presentation is going to be an interesting one. Apple has never been shy to ditch features (the 30-pin connector, the headphone jack), but it’s known that iOS 11 is going to mean dropping support for 32-bit iOS applications and it’s heavily rumored that the iPhone 8 is going to remove the fingerprint sensor… something I’m going to be very chuffed about if it’s true, as I really rather enjoy the ability to unlock my phone and sign into sensitive applications (banking, etc) with a thumbprint.
Fortunately, the 32-bit application I was most worried about got an update last week, so I won’t need to try to find a new Japanese dictionary. Imiwa? (formerly Kotoba) was the dictionary that got me through four years of college Japanese and still gets frequent use. The developer also updated it to add support for all modern iPhone resolutions and screen formats AND added a feature where it automatically auto-translates anything on the iOS clipboard.
That last feature is a lot more impressive if you manage to get the macOS/iOS shared clipboard feature working, because it means that I can have my phone sitting next to the computer, highlight anything on the Mac, press Command-C and suddenly a translation pops up on my phone.
It’s goddamned sorcery, I tell you what.
I had another application update today, one that was TOTALLY unexpected:
Vay was originally a SegaCD title, but got an iOS release in 2008 and a patch in 2009. I don’t think it’s seen a single update since then, so having it suddenly get a 64-bit patch in 2017 is a bit stunning. It’s a pretty bare-bones port of a super-obscure JRPG, and I doubt they see a ton of sales from it, so serious credit to SoMoGa there.
Sadly that leaves me with a few things under the gun as the days count down to the appocalypse. I do have an older iPad that can’t run anything newer than iOS 9.3.5, so I guess that gives these somewhere to live for now…
…but, if a tiny JRPG house from Florida can update their games, it’s really not a good look for a company like Sega to let things wither and die.
Finally, have a picture of a cat. This is Blue. He’s a colossal bully to our other three cats and a bit of a nightmare to anything small and breakable or large and scratchable, but he makes up for it with cuteness. He likes sleeping on his back a lot and hasn’t seemed to grasp that this is a terribly vulnerable position for any cat.
Of course, trying to rub the exposed belly puts your soft and meaty hand parts directly in reach of all four paws and the teeth, so it’s best not to take too much advantage of it.
It’s no coincidence that my trip to Japan this year overlapped Comic Market. It’s been a solid decade since the last time I went, and that was apparently enough time for me to forget how absolutely miserable it is to deal with Tokyo summer temperatures AND half a million people in a confined space.
I’m never going to Tokyo in August again if I can help it.
Still, one goes to Comiket because you can buy stuff there that you can’t get anywhere else, even if the vast majority of it is stuff that I wouldn’t want to explain to a customs agent on my return to North America. On the plus side, fastidiously avoiding the tables selling naughty manga did mean that I could browse a lot faster and spend a lot less money.
While the middle, mmm, third of Re:Zero was pretty painful to get through, I liked the rest of the series. I couldn’t buy any of the Comiket-exclusive T-shirts, but I bought a handy tote bag featuring everyone’s favorite Oni…
…and a boatload of other small Rem keychains and badges. I bought a lot of small character goods this trip, and no figures – I recently realized that I had way too many figures and they were taking over my office space to an alarming degree.
Ram got a pity keychain. Emilia didn’t even get that.
I really liked Kobayashi-san chi no Maidragon.
…and Konosuba, which is what a Legion of Substitute Heroes anime would be like.
…and Eromanga-Sensei, which regularly nearly killed me with laughter AND a dance-inducing ending theme. One keychain, one mouse pad, one uchiwa.
Speaking of uchiwa, I had a bunch handed to me. They’re both cute souvenirs and actually practical, so I brought them home.
The green one is an ad for “Kaspersky Security”, which is an antivirus company. They had a booth at Comiket promoting their security software, complete with a couple of Kaspersky-tans (live and 2D) to drag in the otaku crowd.
They’re Russian, I think? So I guess that’s why they have a bear mascot.
I legitimately thought that I had bought a TON of Kemono Friends merch, but I think I kept talking myself out of stuff by saying that I would find something cuter later.
Splatoon stuff, with the little cloth being for cleaning glasses. Sadly there was no Marie merch to be found. The original Splatoon idols seem to have already slipped off the radar in favor of the new pair.
Some other random keychains. I went to see a baseball game in Osaka while I was there, and the little tiger guy in the upper right is one of the team’s three mascots.
Despite Comiket being a doujinshi convention, I hardly bought any doujinshi. The three from the same series were published by Kenichi Sonoda’s circle, and I am not ashamed to admit that I stalked the table periodically throughout the day waiting for the man himself to show up.
When he did show, he was kind enough to sign my Idol Janshi Suchie Pai Special cover AND draw a sketch on the reverse for me. My introduction to anime featured a LOT of Sonoda character designs, and this game is responsible for my mahjong addiction, so these are pretty significant to me.
That’s most of the interesting stuff. I bought some other random things, like a doorbell that plays the Family Mart chime and a bluetooth trackball, and I got sent to Baby, The Stars Shine Bright to buy purses, but I think I’ll cut the shopping report off here.
Every time I go to Japan, I tell myself (and anyone who will listen) “Oh, this isn’t just a shopping trip, I have lots of things I will be doing that aren’t shopping.”
And then I add up the receipts when I get back and cringe a bit.
That said, I DID do a lot of things that weren’t shopping, but somehow an awful lot of shopping occurred in between those things.
So let’s go with some of the shame.
I confess that I bought the Souls game mostly because I didn’t have physical versions of them and because I love the Japanese box art compared to the US box art. They’re just so damn bleak. Also they were cheap, less than Y1000 for Dark Souls I & II and less than Y2000 for Demon’s Souls. It did take a bit of searching to find a non-greatest-hits Demon’s Souls though.
Also I bought the Wii remake of Fatal Frame 2, and Fatal Frame 5 for the WiiU. These were less cheap – each of them was Y3950 – but I wanted to own a physical copy of Fatal Frame 5 and Fatal Frame 2 is my favorite game in the series.
I had owned DOA Ultimate for the US Xbox, but it got sold with the majority of the Xbox games some while back. I bought it again now that they’re adding backwards compatibility to the Xbone.
Also: Twinkle Queen and Osouji Sentai Clean Keeper for the Wii, because the idea of eroge spinoffs being made for the Wii is just so damn weird (keeping in mind that with CERO B and C ratings they aren’t themselves all that naughty, just naughty-adjacent), and Toshinden because I have a morbid fascination with the series. Again, some seriously cheap games here – DOA was Y950 and the Wii games were under Y500 each.
Finally, WAAAAAAAY too many Vita games. Thanks to English-language Asian releases and Play-Asia, I already owned Genkai Tokki: Moero Chronicles, but I wanted to own the other three games in the Genkai Tokki series.
I also bought the three Love Live! games despite never having seen the anime; they’re rhythm games and I will try almost any rhythm game. I should probably see the show at some point as well; the amount of Love Live! merch crowding the shelves in Japan is absurd so it probably has some redeeming qualities.
Finally, DOA Xtreme 3 Venus, Bullet Girls, and The Idolm@ster Must Songs blue edition. I played through Must Songs Red a while back and it was a very good rhythm game focused on the songs from the games. Blue’s track list is songs from the anime, so I’m looking forward to it.
All of these Vita games are a couple of years old, so they were mostly in the Y950 to Y1450 range. DOAX3 and Moero Crystal were a little more, but both were under Y3000.
I saw, and passed up, the DOAX3 special edition that came with the Marie Rose mousepad and other goodies. It wasn’t THAT much money, under Y5000, but I wanted to pretend that I had some standards.
So… 18 games. I’m not sure how many of them fall into the “I will actually play this” category, versus the “I wanted to own this in a form that I could touch” category, but I am looking forward to cracking some of these open.
My last post talked about grinding my Tera character, a tiny bunny girl with a giant axe, up to level 65 during the Tera level-up event so I could get her a Pegasus. That went pretty well! It only took a few days and a few deaths, and I got to remember why I enjoyed the game so much – it’s a really pretty game and the combat system is so much more fun than tab-target MMOs.
It’s not the only game En Masse publishes, though. They also publish an online MMO-esque brawler called Kritika Online, and they were running an event in Kritika where starting a new character and getting it to level 20 would get you a mount in Tera.
Specifically, a wolf. A PINK wolf. A PINK WOLF THAT LEAVES A TRAIL OF FLOWER PETALS.
Now, I am 100% macho as all get out, and you’ll just have to pardon me here while I open a beer bottle with my teeth, belch, and watch some football, but OMG OMG OMG PINK WOLF.
So I downloaded Kritika.
It’s… well, it’s a little like Tera in that the combat is all camera focused and there’s no target locking, but it’s a lot more frenetic and spammy. You do a lot of mouse clicking and hitting buttons for your handful of skills, and if I am honest it could REALLY do with some controller support. There are four base classes, and after you reach level 15 you get to do a quest to become one of several advanced classes.
I started a rogue, spent a few hours clicking buttons and beating up mooks, and then had the option to choose between “Catspaw”, “Assassin”, and “Wolf Guardian”.
Catspaw featured “The Killing Power of Cute”, so I went with that.
As you may have gathered from the class preview images, it’s a Korean game, and that means that there are a lot of half-naked women.
No, really. Have a sample of the game’s quest givers, bankers, merchants, and so on:
There are also a few cute animals:
And, of course, the developers decided to put an NPC in the game just for me:
I, uh, I may have gotten a little off-track here.
Anyway. The game. The GAME. In which you have things to do other than stare at the cute girl with glasses and massive… books. That thing. Well, while there are little quest hubs, the majority of the game involves going into very small instanced zones, each made up of little rooms full of enemies, killing all the enemies in each room to open the door to the next room, and repeating until you find a boss room, after which you warp back to town, hand in your quests, and then get sent back into the same instance because you need to kill a slightly different group of monsters or break some boxes that you didn’t break the first time or…
…well, let’s just say that they need to get a few uses out of every instance. About three trips per seemed to be normal, at which point I was generally ready to tackle the next instance.
Oh, one word of advice if you decide to play this? Play the instances on “Hard”, because it gives you a huge XP boost and isn’t really very hard at all. Most of the NPCs in the low level instances seem pretty content to take occasional languid swipes at you and then get gathered up and juggled to death.
Eventually, I reached my goal, took a victory lap around the rest of the instance, and logged off to write this and to await the email with the code for my pink wolf.
I mean PINK WOLF.
So, with the understanding that all I did was make a character and kill stuff until I hit level 20, it seems like a pretty good little time-waster. It’s unusual in the MMO space in that you could easily log in for 15 minutes, go through an entire instanced zone, kill the boss, get some loot and log off. If you are, like me, a VERY MANLY MAN WHO LIKES LOOKING AT HALF NAKED WOMEN AND IS NOT JUST PLAYING THIS FOR A PINK WOLF, it has lots of half naked women. It also has hilarious item names:
I don’t know if it devolves into a horrific grind later in the game – I collected a lot of crafting-related drops, and there IS an “enchanting” system for gear enhancement, which is a huge red flag. I also don’t know how it works as a co-op game. I understand the PvP is broken as all get out and pretty much boils down to which player gets the first hit in so they can juggle the other player to death, but without personal experience I will relay that simply as hearsay.
It’s also free, with the standard caveat that players who pay lots of real money get to kick sand in the face of free players. If you have En Masse Points (“EMP”) from playing Tera, you can even sorta kinda use them in Kritika.
For example, your first purchase in the cash shop gets you a bonus of a pack of healing potions and xp boost items. Since I wanted to hit level 20 faster, I decided to spent some of my EMP.
Specifically, I decided on:
And this was 125 “Kred”, which are exchanged from EMP at a 1:1 ratio… well, sort of.
There was no option to buy 125 Kred, and no way to pay for my Pink Cat Hood with EMP, so my new headgear really cost 200 EMP and I now have 75 Kred languishing in Kritika with nothing to spend them on. This is, of course, WHY these companies use their little points etc.
Still, it was worth the fakebucks to look like this:
And now I really want them to put this hat in Tera, so I can buy one over there as well.
Sooooo… let’s sum this whole post up. I did go into Kritika with specific non-Kritika-related goals in mind, but I still had a good time. I’d say give it a try.
I have managed to mostly avoid playing MMOs since, mmm, January of this year, which has done wonders for my backlog and for my self-esteem in general. I am far too prone to getting in to the loop of grinding and gearing and eventually burning out and wondering what I’ve been doing with my life.
That said, I’ve also been sick for the last week and En Masse Entertainment keeps sending me invitations to come back for a bonus XP event, with the added carrot being that, if I got a character to the level cap (65) I would get a pegasus of my very own.
I last played in 2014, when the level cap was 60, so it didn’t seem like that was too much of a challenge… and Tera’s berserker class is the ultimate in low-brainpower-required classes, to the point where you can credibly run through solo quests by alternating between two of your damage skills.
I did manage to get myself killed a few times doing this, by the way. Among the many changes that have happened in the last three years was a complete revamp of the potion system, so most of the healing items I had stockpiled in inventory were marked as “this item is no longer usable” and I wasn’t feeling smart enough to figure out where to go to get new healing items. Instead, I logged in, got the breadcrumb quest to take me from level 60 to the new-to-me post-60 region, and started killing ten rats, some of which returned the favor.
That’s a little unfair to the game, I admit. The post-60 story is actually a pretty neat affair, where you are part of an airship crew tasked with breaking through a massive storm barrier that has sealed off one part of a continent for centuries and finding out what is behind the barrier, and I actually felt pretty good about my role in it once it was all over.
But there was a lot of killing of rats, even if the rats were massive biomechanical knights.
I also made my goal of level 65 and reaped the promised rewards with glee.
I have to give En Masse / Bluehole some credit for the quality of life changes that they’ve made in the last three years. There’s a lot less nonsense in the gear enchanting system, and the changes I mentioned to the potion system makes it seem like you don’t need to carry around the same crazy number of consumables as you used to. I didn’t feel ridiculously lost, which is a nice feat for a game I haven’t played in three years.
And oh my word it is a pretty game. It did occasionally complain about running out of texture memory and needing to load lower-resolution textures, which isn’t something I’m used to seeing with a 4GB card, but the payoff for being a bit of a hog is some really beautiful fantasy landscapes. It really makes me want to see more of it.
On the other hand, my guild and friends lists look sorta like this:
…and I’m not sure I’m up to the task of building up a social network again.