Awesome New Fighting Game Site: Betting Included

If you are wondering, Saske wins because HE IS CHEAP

So for a really long time there has been an open source fighting game engine out there called “mugen”, which I am told means “infinite” in Japanese, where people can create their own character and basically make the fantasy fighting game of their dreams play out in a 2D sprite based game.  I am not really one to judge, but whatever.  The reason I bring this up now, as this game has been out for years at this point, is that someone decided to start a twitch channel running the game with every single character they could find–then allow people to place fake money on who will win.  It sounds like watching a crazy MS Paint version of what someone thinks Trunks+Vegeta at level 4 super sayen will look like, but it is even better to watch that character get destroyed by Barney’s power of love.

The site is free to sign up for, although it has a paid option if you want to basically either donate or raise the min. amount of fake money you can have at any point.  The chat room is your standard insanity and worthlessness fest, even though it is hard to turn off because they do randomly through out good advice about characters–even if it is hidden in thousands of posts of garbage.

You can find the site here.

Review: Shin Megami Tensei 4: 3DS

A new, true, mega ten game?!?!

There are some game series out there that seemingly get better with time; which apparently is against the norm for the industry that is only be interested in driving every idea they have into the ground.  The overarching Shin Megami Tensei has not only managed to evolve and improve its story telling since it was introduced, but the gameplay and interface doesn’t seem to be afraid to mix things up enough to make it simply not the same game presented a year later.  The only real downside that can be mentioned is that the series seems to have an arbitrary naming convention, which when it comes down to it is probably the least of things to fault a JRPG with.

Demons, lots of demons

It wasn’t that long ago that almost every SMT game to come out rightfully earned the moniker of being only for the hardest of the hardcore gamer.  Over the last decade the series has been slowly stepping away from that, and while some of the challenge remains in additional content or side story quests, most of the game is not much harder than many other classic JRPGs.  With this newest addition there is even more of a modification as the game has introduced the ability to change the difficulty level if needed, allowing newer players to reduce the game to an easy mode.  The game is now allowing players to continue even after they are killed by buying their way out of Hell with either Macca (in game currency) or Play Coins from their 3DS, although seeing as how it is now possible to save anywhere in the game it seems like it would just make sense to revert to a recent save then shit through the process of losing money.

I mean... kissing is still an option though, right?

Mega Ten 4 is also rather well written with an interesting mechanic of fading in and out of focus whoever is talking.  The style of the story telling works rather well on the 3DS, and most segments are fully or partially voiced in some way.  While the story focuses on several new recruit Samurai, basically the local cops of the area, it quickly spreads from that and establishes the world around it as something that is living and breathing.  It isn’t enough to follow the heroes as they stumble through the world, the game also introduces a weird dichotomy between haves and have nots in society, and even a world where people don’t know about literature. It isn’t so much painting a story about strong willed heroes going on an adventure in a new world, it is a fantastically realized world in which these people find themselves on an adventure.

5star alone
My death is assured.

The battle mechanics of the game are relatively similar to what they have been in the past, turn based combat where the player’s goal most of the time is to hit the enemy’s elemental weakness to cause the most damage and gain an extra move.  This time around the heroes’ team fights first, then the foes have a turn, and back and forth until one side either dies or is recruited by the player.  One of the larger differences this time is that the NPCs that will randomly escort the player through an area will join in the battle, although they only engage in random attacks.  The largest change is the way that merging demons works, in that the game presents “recommendations” for what it thinks that the player should have at that moment, strangely most of which are normally pretty good about being very useful in a given area.  It is possible to look through a list of possible fusions, but it does normally require a little digging to find it.

For anyone who is a fan of JRPGS with a 3DS should run out and buy this game, and anyone who doesn’t own a 3DS and enjoys the genre should really start considering buying one.  Not only are there enough great games out for the system, but the entire venture has officially reached a tipping point to where it is easy to point to one game and declare that is why you bought the handheld.  That game is Shin Megami Tensei IV.  It is out now and it is worth every penny that they are charging for it.

Review: Class of Heroes 2

What I assume all make sounds like

If I ran down the list of games that Class of Heroes 2 reminds me of it would sound like some of the more obscure releases in the last couple of years. I could probably also say something like taking that niche appeal and putting into a blender with the difficulty that has long since become unpopular in the mainstream and you would probably get a substance that resembles Class of Heroes.  I could say all of that, but it would do an injustice to the game—only because I really can’t stress enough how difficult and rewarding and kind of wonderful this game truly is.

Because everyone needs maps

Anyone who plays this game long enough to venture into the first dungeon type maze area will notice, very quickly, how oppressively difficult it gets very quickly.  Enemies are nothing to joke around about, they can and will do devastating damage to those poorly equipped and change level range very quickly and quite dramatically.  If almost not surviving the first couple encounters isn’t enough, most of the enemies drop meager amounts of experience and gold—both being things that are desperately needed in the early moments of the game. Beyond that reviving characters at towns/school costs a nice chunk of money, as does any form of healing that needs to be done.  At some point it seemed like it was decided that this game would just not play nicely.

Because you have to have side kicks

Although at times it might seem like the game design is akin to someone talking their ball and going home instead of being approachable; the truth is the longer one plays the more rewarding all of the challenges become.  Sure, shops in the game can sell out of equipment—that is ignoring the fact that new items seem to drastically alter the amount of damage characters both deal and receive.  Small ideas like that save the moment to moment gameplay from being the standard forgettable shield upgrade for the 30th time and turn it into almost cause for celebration.  Doing something right goes from smashing the X button to having to weigh options between fleeing from battle, which comes with several of its own risks, or standing to fight and possibly losing a character.4star alone

The only real gripe apparent in the game, aside from the difficulty sometimes feeling more bad hard than refreshing hard, is that the user interface is kind of terrible.  The most current example of a first person dungeon crawler that has done this type of thing correctly would be one of the Etrian Odyssey games using the DS’s two screens, one to map the dungeon and the other to display a view of the area itself.  Having the map as a transparency in the area that is being explored feels cumbersome at best and at worst can feel almost broken.  This is, of course, without bringing up any of the inventory or shop menus that seem to have more of a mind of their own than any functionality.

A lot of the time it also feels like the game doesn’t explain anything, which in all honesty is a nice change of pace from modern games that smash you over the head with tutorials until the end of the game.  To have an experience that will reward exploration, within reason, simply feels entirely shocking when compared to modern games.  But fundamentally that is what this game is, a competent retro experience veiled in a semi-current handheld title.  Considering that it can be picked up for cheap on the PSN store, 25 dollars, it is hard to not recommend this to anyone with a PSP who is looking to change things up a bit.

Review: Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Summoner: Soul Hacker: 3DS

If all of Japan is insane, Mega-Ten is a special kind

When you want to talk about prolific Japanese Role Playing game series there are several that can be discussed, but by far the winner in sheer number alone is Shin Megami Tensei (Mega-Ten).  The problem with this has always been that most of those games are never really seen outside of Japan.  Over the last several years this has stopped being the case in many instances, to the point that Atlus is even going through their back catalog and releasing, before now, Japan exclusive titles.  This is how a game that came out 15 years ago, on the Sega Saturn has managed to occasionally make me wonder if the 3DS has been glued to my hand.

Most plots in the series fall into one of two categories; nonsensical, overly-complex, and vaguely lacking explanation and the later Persona titles.  While the writers involved seemed to have gotten better at both of them, leaning heavier talent on the latter, Soul Hacker does not seem to the lessons that they have learned since its initial release. Unlike current Mega-Ten games the information dump that takes place in the first hour or two isn’t really that enjoyable as the game throws strange concepts around without every really explaining what is happening.  A large chunk of the story involves the main, speechless, character reliving the last adventures of other summoners—although it isn’t really explained what is going on until sometime after the first experience.  The first time this happened I simply thought that this was something currently happening, and I was done playing as the other guy for a while.

Odd writing issues aside there isn’t really a ton to dislike, for the devote JRPG fan.  When the game finally does take its hands off the player and allow them to roam free is exactly the moment that the game starts to feel like it has something to say.  For all the back and forth between two characters it really is the time spent exploring a dungeon, or going on rescue missions, that helps build the affinity with them instead of being told that they are import people in the life of the main character.  It the pacing and feel of the game are something that take a little to find their feet, but after the first couple of wobbly steps it seems to take off running with little to no effort.4star alone

The graphics haven’t really been upgraded from what one would consider state of the art 15 years ago.  This has the odd sensation of making this a game that would have been completely comfortable on the DS instead of its more powerful bigger brother.  The 3DS manages to handle the pixels rather well, which considering is most of the graphics helps out in leaps and bounds, but the problem becomes the moment that the game tries to become fancy and force some kind of CGI, unskippable  cut scene down the players throat.  The illusion that was carefully crafted with well-drawn pixels is shattered and gives more of the impression that, oh yeah, this is kind of an old game.

The problem isn’t that Soul Hackers hasn’t aged well, besides some oddly shaped bruises this is a pretty shiny JRPG, the problem is that it seems to be too beholden to the fact that it is.  The bottom map on the touch screen is a nice addition for a game that takes place mostly in first person, if they had managed to continue slight and system specific tweaks like that this game would seem to be more of a re-mastering instead of a polished port.  Granted, some of these gripes are less than small, please don’t take that to mean that this isn’t a wonderful game.  If you have this system and are a fan, in any way, of the Mega-Ten series you owe it to yourself to purchase this.  Even those who own a 3DS should probably do some research on it before writing it off, it will be worth your time.

The New Wife Agro System

Some of you will notice that of late we have a new grading system on the site.  I like to call it the “Wife agro system”.  For me this basically describes how angry my significant other got while I was playing/reviewing something.  I implemented it so that my feelings on things would be easy to read and well know, but also so that when I am eventually murder by my wife you know exactly the series of game choices that led to it.  Hopefully this can at the very least save some people out there from video game related slaughters by loved ones.

1. 1star alone

The image of a happy woman.  For the pure sake of argument I should probably point out that Veronica (the woman I married) is never this happy about anything that I do.  Ever.  Based on the joy in her eyes I would go so far as to say this resembles someone else’s wife and not the one that I know and love.  I guess the argument could be made that a game that was given this ranking was so bad I became a better husband because it made me never want to play games ever again and thus the adoring female.

2.When she thinks you are using your cellphone to prove her wrong

In my mind I refer to this one as, “are you trying to prove me wrong on Wikipedia” grade.  This is when one really isn’t that highly involved enough in a game to draw the full aggression, but has just enough that they have noticed us constantly being on a phone or computer. Most of the time cellphone games rank in this area resulting in me not actively taking part in whatever adventure she thinks is happening and she is aware of that, but unsure why.  The above comment about Wikipedia was from one such advent where I simply agreed and allowed things to drop instead of letting on that I wasn’t even listening in the first place.

3.3star alone

This is where I think my wife is most of her life, why she continues to love me is anyone’s guess (I like to believe that she constantly uses the wrong dosage on the poison and I have simply built up a resistance.).  With my buying and playing habits of games it is enough that it annoys her that I am using the TV instead of letting her watch Downton Abbey or something equally not video games.  Generally I get this face a ton with the “just a couple more minutes” line while attempting to blow her off and play a game instead of paying attention.  Please notice the hint of sadness in her eyes as she has realized that, on some level, this is a little her fault too.

4.4star alone

This is the kind or reaction that a game should get from my wife.  See the seething rage?  See how she is about to start bringing up my short comings and stupid things that I did just weeks after we met?  This is the game that completely reducing my marriage to my wife being infuriated at me for completely avoiding basic attempts at human contact.  This isn’t a divorce or attempted murder, because I think that she still thinks there is hopes of “fixing” things.  This is the moment that she has decided to stop being nice, but also knows that she can still break the game disc if needed.

5.5star alone

The things that were said about number 4 no longer apply.  I am either going to be murdered in my sleep or very publicly as she calls her friends over to watch the terrible and horrible things that she does to my once life filled body.  It doesn’t matter, a game that ranks at level five means that I won’t even leave the front of the television during the assault.  When the police come to question her she will get off on the technicality that the jails have become over run with women who did the same thing and they simply can’t be bothered with it anymore.