School starts WHEN?

So school starts Tuesday, a turn of events for which I am more or less prepared.  It’s probably a good idea for me to keep up with my Japanese review, but at this point I may just have to hit class on day 1 and see where I am.

I applied for a couple of on-or-near-campus jobs but haven’t had a great deal of luck.  I suspect that they look at my resume and age and write me off as a bad fit; it is somewhat ironic that I think I’d be able to pick up a job paying $50K+ a year considerably easier than a job paying minimum wage.  I don’t NEED to work while I’m in school, but the idea was that I could pick up something part-time and we could use the proceeds to do some more travel over winter break.

Anyway, I’ve been trying to put my free time to good use while I have it; I added another four games to the “beaten” stack this last week.

I managed to finish Gensou Shoujo at last.  It took a considerable amount of practice and wasn’t a 1cc, but the only shooter I’ve ever 1cc’d was Trigger Heart Exelica anyway so I don’t feel too ashamed of having to continue a couple of times – the game only gives you two continues, anyway; it’s not like Ikaruga where the only way I managed to beat it was by playing it long enough that it unlocked unlimited continues mode.

I also finished a doujin mahjong game from Dominion Alice that I’ve had sitting around for a couple of years.  The title basic’ly translates to Maid Girl Mahjong, and it’s one of those titles that really tells you every thing you need to know.  It seemed like a really hard game – once you run out of points, you’re kicked back to the title screen without any chance to retry – and I wasn’t able to get past the third level… and then I found out that you could save the game at any point and reload it to restart on the last level you’d saved at.  I don’t know why the developers didn’t just put in a “start at the last level you were playing” option to begin with.

Anyway, it’s one of those games where you sometimes wonder if the computer player should really be THAT lucky – it did get at least one first-turn-win – but being able to periodically save and retry various opponents meant that I managed to muddle through to the end.

I’m torn between recommending it to people who want a “trainer” mahjong – it points out every time you can use an opponent’s tile in your own hand and when you can call richi – and not recommending it because it’s a little lacking in, well, personality.  You play versus four opponents: a maid whose outfit is covered with crucifixes, a maid in a uniform that’s kind of a cross between maid and family restaurant waitress, a maid whose outfit is kind of Scandinavian or Germanic, and the obligatory nekomimi maid, and that’s all you can say about them.  They don’t have names, they don’t have dialogue, you throw down tiles until one or the other of you loses, and you play the next hand.  I’m not sure I’d call it dull – I did finish the thing, after all – but it wouldn’t get anyone hooked on mahjong from scratch.

Cutesy shooters and naughty mahjong games gave way to mice and cats and mutant dinosaur zombie alien fairy things eventually; I’ve got a bit of a personal goal with regards to my Dreamcast collection that I’d like to achieve, which I will now detail:

Given that: I bought a Japanese Dreamcast in April of 1999, several months before the US release, and paid a stupid premium for the privilege,

AND that: we recently celebrated the 10 year anniversary of the US Dreamcast launch,

AND that: a friend’s recent Dreamcast purchase has somewhat rekindled my interest in the system,

I have decided that I’m going to try to finish my Dreamcast backlog – which is less than 20 titles deep – before 9/9/2010.

To that end:

I played through the 1P puzzle mode of ChuChu Rocket! – all 100 stages.  I needed to get FAQ tips for about 5 of the levels, but I don’t feel too bad about it; some of the Mania levels are very hard and rely entirely on precision timing.  I realize that by not playing it in online multiplayer mode I’m Missing The Point of the game, but I’m also pretty sure that the servers are down so meh.

It was a good puzzle game, anyway, even if it built its reputation on being a party / multiplayer game.

I also finished Blue Stinger.  I bought the game WITH my Japanese Dreamcast, when it was a Brand New Title, with all that implies, but I’d stalled out at a point that turned out to be about 2/3rds of the way through the game.

The odd thing is that I didn’t think I’d gotten anywhere near that far in the game, I thought that I’d played it for a couple of hours and put it aside, but I kept getting into new areas and realizing that, yeah, I’d played this before.

It’s a very rough game in a lot of ways.  The developers were clearly very enamored of the sheer power of the system, as it compared to earlier consoles, but didn’t necessarily have all the coding optimizations to realize their vision completely, so there’s some odd slowdown in a couple of instances.  The artistic choice to limit the game’s camera to pre-set camera angles is, honestly, annoying as all hell when you start the game and doesn’t really pay off until some really impressive sequences that take place in the last hour or so, and the player is allowed to, for example, leave a building without having pressed a button, the consequences of which aren’t seen until you’re a lot way away from the button, and where getting BACK to the button is a pain in the arse.

It was still fun to play.  It’s not really “survival horror” in the classic sense of being resource-limited and constantly harassed by monsters, because you have access to a more or less endless supply of healing items and ammo, but it does have the aforementioned mutant dinosaur alien zombie things and the mandatory Mad Scientists Meddling With Forces They Cannot Control thing going on, so it’s all good.

So anyway, two Dreamcast games down, 15 to go by next September.  Piece of cake.

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