Archives for category: The Bad

I’ve made my way through the first few levels of Too Human, and wow if it isn’t the most Final Fantasy styled game I have played since, well Final Fantasy XIII.

Everything feels so incredibly Japanese. Characters, scenario, gameplay loop, and the level design all feel like their creation could have been overseen by a Japanese studio.

Fairly certain this is a Tetsuya Nomura design

Lets be clear, Too Human is not a good game. The monotonous combat serves no real purpose other then extending the playtime of a stilted (at least when playing the game single player) action adventure that doesn’t quite know what it wants to be. It is Part MMO, part Diablo, and yes Part Final Fantasy, but with no one aspect done to the standard of the source material, Too Human is a muddled game with good ideas but poor execution.

Funny enough with the lawsuit of Silicon Knights v Epic Games coming up I would have expected Too Human to be a technical mess riddled with bugs and a clawing framerate, but that just isn’t the case. While it easy to criticize so much about the game, the graphics and visual style are actually pretty great. Cyber Viking is an absurd aesthetic to chase, but it makes for a few interesting designs that make the game stand out even 4 years later.

So yeah, Too Human is bad, but I’ll probably keep playing it.

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Via /v

RPG Maker VX.

 

VX…hmm. Last time I checked VX was not a Roman numeral, but a neurotoxin. [insert lame pun about the VO being some kind of nerve agent itself]

Katawa Shoujo is not so much a game as it is an experience. When removed from the expectations that calling something a game implies, Katawa Shoujo flourishes and fails due in part to an ability to ignore popular conventions in service of that experience. The experience, much like any product classified as a visual novel, is predominantly filled with a whole lot of dialogue, static images, and… not much else. Simply put, it is a power point presentation with a story.

With such a simplified presentation in addition to existing in an age where expertly directed CG cut scenes are the norm instead of the exception, the success of a visual novel hinges solely by the virtue of the narrative. With such a limited focus, the probability for catastrophic failure is high. Characters, setting, and scenarios have to be borderline perfect in order to have any hope of breaking out beyond the niche audience that most visual novels typically cater to.  By this merit, Katawa Shoujo could be considered a success – just not in the way in which it was intended to be.

Truth.

Literally translating as “Disabled Young Girls,” Katawa Shoujo is a game that takes place at a school for disabled high school students. Almost crudely offensive even in name, the game owes its existence to the Internet denizens occupying the black hole of morality that is /b on 4chan – a claim few games if any could echo. Instead of being held back by such a strange genesis, Katawa Shoujo manages to expertly incorporate the schizophrenic message board without feeling beholden to it, an achievement nothing short of miraculous.

Having to fight the expectations that where heaped upon it, Katawa Shoujo always faced an uphill battle throughout its development and release. The aforementioned link to 4chan, coupled with the entire premise which ensures that at some point within each of the game’s five narrative arcs you will have sex with a “disabled young girl,” sells Katawa Shoujo far too short, but is also a completely valid notion or consideration that needs to be addresses when analyzing the game. With these events taking up a scant five minutes over a five-hour playtime they are definitely not the intended focus of the game, yet are still a crucial part of it.

Clothing choice in this scene is all /b's fault

The oversexualization of high school students is nothing new to any American with a passing familiarity of television focused at an adolescent audience, but even still Katawa Shoujo seems to go out of its way, much as it probably had to, simply to avoid being labeled as cheap and tawdry.  The moments when the game slants to the more mature end reminds me of a time when I read Penthouse forum aloud with a group a friends. In bringing up this anecdote, it is clear that in all but one of the encounters, the emotional weight of these scenes was almost laughable when viewed through a lens of objectivity – but hey, I think most portrayals of sex in any form of media are usually laughable; it is just the kind of person I am.

There are wisps of brilliance in the writing of Katawa Shoujo. There one minute and gone another, settling on thematic consistency seems to be the game’s biggest shortcoming. In a game that only requires minimal player interaction, it is shocking at how different your character will become given the influence of one of the leading ladies. It isn’t simply a self-realization brought about under a different set of circumstances; instead they are all completely different realizations. By lacking a coherent narrative thread it becomes laborious with each play through to become invested in the kool-aid it is trying to get you to drink.

So what does that leave us with? Katawa Shoujo was successful in creating a game out of a ludicrous idea, but beyond that superficiality it unfortunately missed the mark. But I also played it for around 25-30 hours, so take that as you will – if it was unbearable I would have stopped. To save face i’ll call it morbid curiosity, yup…lets go with that.

Agile you say?

…And if you are just looking for 4chan humor, I think Christine Love did it better in don’t take it personally, babe, it just ain’t your story.

 

Save for DJ Troopers – There’s a title I can put my stamp of approval on.

So yesterday, I bought Dragon Age Origins. Being a fan of Mass Effect, and up until now lacking a PC to play Dragon Age on its native platform, I decided the deal Amazon was running on it was too good to pass by. I am really quite enjoying my time with it so far, save for a few little quirks – mainly that following battles your entire party looks as if they spent an afternoon in Dexter’s blood splatter room while he did his best Jackson Pollock impression.

I know I’m late with this criticism, as I remember this specific element being mentioned when the game was first released, but it is just as baffling now as it was in 2009. Every time a character appears as a bloodied mess, it takes me immediately out of the world as I am starkly reminded that I am playing a video game. Does the reality where Dragon Age exists not have familiarity with towels? Whenever someone fails to mention the blood covering every square inch of your party I get utterly confused as the first thing I’d say is “Well I have something important to tell you, but you all look like blood thirsty maniacs. If you need me I’ll be cowering in the corner.” It is almost as if everyone in Dragon Age is really just Harvey Keitel in disguise.

The narrative tone and world that the writers at Bioware were able to craft is simply amazing, but to preface almost all dialogue with a laughable moment is an utter waste. This isn’t an isolated problem as I also had some of the same immersion breaking problems in Mass Effect with your helmet carrying over into conversations. Dragon Age does away with helmets in cutscenes, but doesn’t really solve the problem because of the buckets of blood that they are replaced with.

Be it to make the game seem more “edgy,” or simply to create a world where dudes covered in blood is just a part of everyday life, Dragon Age doesn’t do a very good job, narrative wise, of justifying such a common occurrence. The alternative of having characters freak out at your appearance would more then likely become just as annoying as them staying silent, which makes the case for leaving it out alltogether. Which makes the blood all the more baffling.

So yeah, Dragon Age is pretty good. The blood effect is not.

I reviewed Conduit 2. It was real bad. Not even in the fun kind of way that this blog is inspired by. Just shitty, plain and simple.

But the ending is a different story entirely.

Yes, Abraham Lincoln. I would worry that I was going to spoil an amazing reveal, but actually seeing it would require playing Conduit 2, and no one is going to do that…ever.

However, if Conduit 3 decides to keep rolling with super soldier Presidents, then I think I may go and preorder/sell my soul for a copy right this very second.

1. “Bitch took my motherfuckin’ skull”

That bitch did indeed take 50 Cent’s motherfucking skull

2. See Above.

3. See Above.

4. See Above.

5. See Above.

Sure it might be defined as Eroge, but if the trailer is any indication, this thing has got to be equal parts dumb and ridiculous. A few thoughts:

– What is up with this deep voiced announcer – Is this just a sequel to Daddy Day Care?

– Did the aliens move the White House to Japan – or did they build one? I am unclear on this point.

– Pretty sure this is a Jerry Bruckheimer joint.

– Evil space Pope. Panda with spectacles.

– Hold up. Is she your girlfriend, or just childhood friend? I am getting conflicting messaging here. Someone really fucked up with this branding.

– This game cost 8,800 yen. That is like 100 dollars.

– I feel like this game probably does not have a happy ending – there are too many nuclear missiles. Did the aliens also destroy the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty?

– I looked everywhere at Walmart for a copy, but couldn’t find it. “For sale across the Universe” my ass.