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indigozeal
- Akari Funato has a new 20-page digital manga up in her Booth shop. Entitled "Peko no Suke," it appears to have something to do with traditional Japanese cuisine. I haven't attempted to order it yet, so I don't know if customers outside Japan can just roll up & plunk money down without additional rigmarole, but I figured I'd spread the news in case someone out there had the time to check it out before me.

- Speaking of Booth, I just discovered the very similar Chamela, which also specializes in selling doujin goods. The site's older and kind of a mess, though - the search engine is largely useless, and you're better off using Google and "url:chamela.com" etc. Granted, I haven't found much - a Baten Kaitos binsen, a couple Silent Hill 4 11121 doujin, a horror doujin compilation that includes stuff on Rule of Rose, of all things - but, hey; maybe you want to window shop for your favorite franchise.

- Suruga-ya's online shop has gotten in just a ton of old game magazines. Oh, dear.
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indigozeal
OK, let's bring this to a close before I start talking about Retour. CutCollapse )
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indigozeal
09 January 2016 @ 11:35 pm


A while back, I posted about an excellent Humble Bundle deal on Neo Geo games: 25 of the system's headliners for $10. I picked it up mainly due to fond memories of the candy-colored shooter Twinkle Star Sprites back in my Gametap days, but I was also curious about the library of an odd system with which I was almost completely unfamiliar.

Part of this is due to how the lion's share of Neo Geo games are fighters, a genre at which I am all thumbs. (The Neo Geo's ultra-hefty price tag back in the day was also a factor.) And, indeed, the Humble Bundle featured a great many fighting games - but it also featured the first three titles in the Metal Slug series, 2D shooters with spectacular sprite work that have produced many an impressive gif on VGJunk (like the one above).

I ran through those three games, one per night, and had great fun. The games are entirely dedicated to spectacle, and spectacle they are: there are so many detailed enemy sprites just bursting with life, huge & tiny & everything in between. There's an emphasis on overwhelming presence, but also a great attention to the finer details, making for a real visual treat. The games in motion also trend toward shock & awe; the Neo Geo's horsepower allows so much on screen at once that the game space is often just an utter pandemonium of bullets and explosions. To add to it all, each individual enemy death is surprisingly - and, to be honest, needlessly - gory; in the thick of the mayhem, though, the blood barely registers. And you get to commandeer a lot of neat-o heavy machine guns and tanks and ROCKET LAWNCHAIRS and fighter jets that produce equally unsubtle hails of bullets and carnage.

All the action at once is a big adrenaline rush, but it handicaps the games somewhat as shooters. Like in Contra, a single hit will kill you, but, as you can gather from above, it's much more difficult here to see from where those hits are coming. As a result, there are sections of the games where it feels like you have no choice but to die constantly. In a way, the difficulty doesn't matter, because the game's in endless-continue arcade mode - but it's a big hit to the flow of the games, to be constantly taken out of the action, if only for a few seconds at a time. I really do wish that they were tilted more to the gameplay side, that getting into a groove had a chance of keeping your high going, that you were allowed to prove yourself in some sort of legitimate challenge - that would provide a satisfying feeling of accomplishment to go along with the constant fireworks. As it is, all you can do is watch the number of continues used in your playthroughs slouch from mid-double digits to low double digits with replays. There's ultimately not much to say about the game - you just sit back, pump A, and watch the show. But it's a show you won't see in any other series.
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indigozeal
05 January 2016 @ 06:04 pm
Yet more complaining about video games. This time, it's games that I made an earnest attempt to complete last year but where I didn't get past the finish line.




I picked up The Vanishing of Ethan Carter on sale several months ago against promises of a beautiful walking simulator combined with an atmospheric mystery. When I finally got around to playing it this holiday, I discovered that it was a little heavy on the beauty: it's an extraordinarily demanding game specswise, and I had to turn every graphical effect off or to its minimum settings to get the game to run at a blistering 4 frames per second. Turned out that that was only the beginning of the frustrations. First, this is another goddamn game that breaks saving, with no manual saves allowed and checkpoints that are very infrequent, the first coming about an hour and a half into gameplay, leading to my initial 45 minutes going down the drain when I took a break before apparently doing anything the game deemed noteworthy. Second, the game's paths are so poorly-marked that finding anything you're required to find is an exercise in pixel-hunting frustration. Third, the "atmospheric mystery" is more of a "stupid gory horror story" in the vein of The Hills Have Eyes, with the family of the titular vanishee being possessed by a demon that turns them into bloodthirsty psychopaths and the first plot vignette revolving around a murder committed via severing of the victim's legs. Fourth, the ending is so trite and renders what came before it so pointless that the designers were prompted to write an extensive defensive apologia for it. Not that I came close to reaching that ending, though; points 1 to 3 were enough to send me to the internet and see if pushing through all the above aggravations would be worth it. Turns out: definitely not.




Besides the PS & Lunar series, I haven't dabbled much in 16-bit Sega RPGs, so I thought I'd fire up the Sega Genesis Classics Collection I have on Steam and give Wonder Boy in Monster Land a try. I'd seen it on a Giant Bomb Quick Look for some retro collection and was drawn in by its adorable Duplo art & animations. (Your healing fairy friend, for example, will continually whap enemies on the head with her little wand when she's not on Curaga duty.) But there ain't enough of that. The cute elements begin to wane around the halfway point, whereas the gameplay weaknesses are constant: your pathetic little butter knife has a range of about 2 pixels, and you have like zero invincibility frames (and a low health bar, with big leaps in damage from level to level). I eventually wandered away when I reached the ice castle, with whose slippy, slidy floors and rampant enemies the "zero invincibility frames" combines smashingly, let me tell you. I tried using a walkthrough, but even it got confused here. I actually got about 80% of the way through the game, so I might go back, but I'm not chomping at the bit.




I've been playing Legacy of the Wizard even since I was a kid - I even remember the commercial on TV for it. I was charmed by the central idea of an entire family on a quest, with Mom, Dad, son, daughter, and even the family dog (er...monster) pitching in. This was my first real, earnest attempt at it, though - and it apparently is a legendarily difficult game due to its sheer size, as these Nintendo Power counselors will tell you. What deterred me, though, was that the game, in the words of this rather annoying article, is somewhat "poorly programmed." The very last section of the girl's stage depends on making a jump that in essence depends on glitching out the game, as it's not a move that can be made normally. (It took 30 attempts before I got it the first time - and I then lost nigh-instantly to a boss who for this character requires an item that you get in another family member's part of the dungeon.) I went on to the father's stage, but it features these block puzzles with really unreliable and frustrating block-pushing controls. Apparently, Dad's stage can be cheesed by his daughter, so I'll have to try that in the future; the game has interesting ideas, such as the truly versatile sets of powers possessed by the various family members (the "dog," for example, is weak but does not take damage from colliding with his fellow monsters, which allows him to ride them to reach new areas), but for right now, I just want a break.
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indigozeal
04 January 2016 @ 06:50 pm
Up here. I motored through the remaining portion of the game in one night a few weeks ago. I haven't gotten up the gumption to detail what happened yet because I'm done with the game. It proved itself to be stupid and not worth the trip. It's all over but the eBaying.
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indigozeal
Fooling around on Wayback and discovered that the defunct Japanese Spy Fiction website was hosted on Sammy's old domain as well as Sega's. Archive.org's preservation of the Sammy mirror is more complete than that of the Sega original and includes some of the Range Murata production sketches. Unfortunately: most of the sketches for the main characters are missing (no Nick, Sam, or Michael; very few of Billy or Sheila), and none of the "vocabulary" pages I wanted to translate are present.

IIRC, the missing sketches weren't revelatory - no great shots or drastically different designs (save for Sheila, who, as expected from Range Murata, got a passel of sketches and a variety of designs being the female lead, but the quality on all of them was rather rough). The vocabulary was also mostly duplicated in the in-game Garbologies and in the official guide. It's the principle, though. And I do remember one tidbit from the vocab about how Kelly Wong's guards were called "Black Butterflies" because they all consisted of handsome men and were meant to conjure the image (expressed in a Chinese four-character phrase) of "black butterflies around a red rose," the red rose being Wong. I like little world-building tidbits like that, and it makes me wonder if there were any others I missed in the now-vanished webpages.

Sigh. Always back up your files, kids.

There was, however, salvaged a early sketch of Dietrich in a more sedate design:




He looks like a watchmaker.

Also on archive.org: Parts of the U.S. Spy Fiction website. Access Games took it over after it lapsed, so there's newer, Japanese-language content mixed in with the vintage stuff, but if you sift through and mind the dates, you'll find a Flash animation where Nick gets a kinda nifty intro (not prudent to focus on his eyes so much there, though) and an old Swery Q&A where he weighs in on the "pirate vs. ninja" question.

Anyhow, while we're at it: Here, have a fanart of Dietrich.
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indigozeal




Merry Christmas to you and yours.
 
 
indigozeal
21 December 2015 @ 10:34 pm
- The Neo Geo Humble Bundle offers 20 defining titles for that impressive oddity of a system for only $10. Now, you'll want an XBox360 controller (or an "Xinput controller" - Google for a list) to play most of these, as many come only in an emulation shell that's finicky about controller inputs. That said: the first three Metal Slugs (vanilla, X, and 3) are Steam-enabled and worth the $10 on their own.

- There's a bunch of game soundtracks up on Amazon Japan for 399 yen - that's a little more than 3 USD. See here for details. I grabbed RE2 & 3 plus Demento (Haunting Ground) myself.
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indigozeal
My return to Shattered Memories featured the return of Lisa Garland and the game doubling down on its incest themes. CutCollapse )
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indigozeal
I wish I were back in the halcyon days of having nothing to report.CutCollapse )
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