Hello everyone! Last weekend, I saw the new Studio Ghibli movie, The Wind Rises, which was really terrific! It was a lot more adult than any of the other Ghibli movies I've seen, dealing with issues such as terminal illness and balancing work and social life. The story was centered around building airplanes; it seems like Miyazaki explores the topic of airplanes quite often in his films. Of course, the airplane designs were really cool; some of the dream planes reminded me of the weird aircraft seen in Howl's Moving Castle, while some of the more realistic planes reminded me of Porco Rosso. I also enjoyed the sound effects they used for the planes, which were all made with human voices. You could tell they weren't real, but they were still impressive, and kind of charming.
I still haven't seen From Up on Poppy Hill, which came out in the States last year, even though I've been meaning to for a while now. I should get around to finally watching that one soon.
As for the recaps, today was a rather ho-hum day for blogs. Kind of unfortunate, but it happens. Hopefully things start picking up soon, with all of the interesting games coming out in the next month.
At this point, Ace Attorney: Dual Destinies is starting to become pretty damn brilliant. Last week I had only played the first tutorial case. It was alright for what it was, and if nothing else it managed to get me hooked on the grand scheme of things in this game. And really, what else was it supposed to do?
This second case was a bit of a step down in some ways. I liked how the classic Japanese demons ("yokai") were integrated in the story, but beyond that it had some noticeable flaws. The defendant was not particularly likable (not unlikeable either, but still), some of the witnesses could get grating and I found it kind of difficult to visualize how exactly the murder occurred. Our understanding of the murder changes at the drop of a hat in this case, which makes it way too hard to keep track of what I'm supposed to think happened at any given time. Finally, this case had way too many glaring typos. I mean, I get that in such a text-heavy game as Phoenix Wright some typos are unavoidable, but there's no excuse for having so many obvious ones. "I think this is very importantly!", Apollo? Really?
Still, the second case wasn't bad per se, it just fell kind of short. Fortunately, the third case is making up for that and then some. For me, it's managing to hit all the high notes time after time. The set-up is interesting, you get to play as Athena, the characters are fun and have some shocking secrets even early on, one of my favorite Ace Attorney characters makes a return, and so on.
But you know what my favorite thing about this case is? It takes place in law school!
- Not this one, fortunately.
As an honest-to-god IRL law student, I've always been fascinated by the Ace Attorney games and how they portray the law and lawyers. Don't get me wrong, I don't hold a grudge or anything. In fact, I think it's brilliantly ridiculous. Still, there's a lot of little things I notice in these games that are very weird and/or interesting from my perspective. I've even thought of writing a Cblog on the subject, but just never got around to it. Maybe I'll do that after finishing this game.
At any rate, I hope you can imagine how fun it is for me to be strolling around law school Phoenix Wright style. The school where they offer only three programs: Lawyer Course, Prosecutor Course and Judge Course. The school where one of your classes deals exclusively with the angle of your pointer finger as you accuse someone of being the murderer. And another about your air of confidence when you present evidence (that you totally nicked from the crime scene but don't tell the prosecutor that until the trial). Because who needs to learn about how the law actually works, right? And come now, who honestly cares about commercial law, administrative law, constitutional law and what have you? Nah, murders and the accompanying pointer finger is where it's at. Priorities firmly in place.
If the rest of the game is going to be anything like this, I'm in for fun times indeed.
Oh, also. Prosecutor Blackquill is great too. Even though it's a tradition for these games to have great prosecutors (please don't ask me to pick a favorite), he still managed to surprise me. At first I thought he wasn't all that, being kinda quiet until making a sword metaphor or two, but he has definitely grown on me.
With the Xbox One and PS4 blooming and Titanfall ready to drop, a gamer left behind in the previous generation can't help but feel a little left out. I've been gaming mostly on my 3DS for the past few months while my Xbox3 360 has been lamenting as just a streambox for things like Crunchyroll, Youtube, Netflix, and Hulu. I've bought a lot of deal making games at slashed prices but I haven't gotten around to playing them. I needed something absolutely new. What's there to play?
How about Garden Warfare?
I decided to take the plunge since there wasn't too much of a gameplay difference from the Xbox One version. The only thing that really stands out is Boss Mode, or commander mode for Battlefield purists. I'm a big fan of class-based shooters though and I doubly love games that don't take themselves seriously. I've held Remingtons, HKs, AKs, Saigas, Brownings, and everything in between. But Garden Warfare combines the unlikely combo of Plants Vs. Zombies and class-based shooters.
After all, it lets me hold a miniature dolphin that has gun barrels attached to it and shoot gross fish guts at my enemies.
So who is this game for? Certainly not PvZ purists. Most are casual gamers who would be lost in a fast-paced shooter environment.
Shooter fans? Will they like the idea of playing as a plant that shoots exploding peas? Or zombies shooting weird paintball guns? Most CoD nerds probably can only get erections off guns based off of real firearms.
You see, as Mike Fahey from Kotaku put it (of course its Kotaku), this game is for weirdos. And I'm ok with that because 99% of the time, weird is actually fun.
Usually in a class-based shooter, you figure out who you want to play and play them most of the time until your team is unbalanced. Like, hopefully not your entire team in BF is comprised of medics. God forbid its a team of recons. So I usually play as the sunflower, the medic of the plants. Or the zombie's engineer, the, um, engineer for team zombies.
But surely a fun little class-based shooter is just it. I hate Battlefield actually, so why would I play Garden Warfare? The secret is Mass Effect 3. MULTIPLAYER.
I get hot flashes of ME3 multiplayer whenever I earn those sweet, delicious coins to open up sticker packs. Just like in ME3 when I open up reinforcement packs hoping for ultra rares, I'm being strung along to earn coins and open up sticker packs once again for ultra rares. Instead of hoping for Krogan Warlords, Geth Trooper Soldiers, or Cerberus Harrier rifles (mine is still IV thank you very much), I'm hoping for parts comprising a Fire Chomper, Power Engineer, or various upgrades increasing each individual class and variants' damage and reload speeds. Instead of unlocking new classes outright and subsequent unlocks opening customization options, Garden Warfare has you finding 5 pieces to a sticker puzzle before you unlock something like the Toxic Pea Shooter or Artic Zombie Foot Soldier.
Geth Collective for lyfe bro
These incremental unlocks are really keeping me in the game. Just one more game and I'll have enough to buy a sticker pack and be one step closer to maybe unlocking the Camo Soldier or the Hot Rod Chomper. the good news is that there tends to be a pattern of unlocking one variant when you first find one piece. For example, I got a piece to the Super Commando and most subsequent sticker packs yielded pieces to the Super Commando set. It helps that the assymetrical gameplay feels interesting. The Sunflower for example can directly heal teammates, keeping their defense alive longer. The Scientist for zombies on the other hand can only drop heal stations with long cooldowns but they can also blink and blow plants away with a shotgun weapon.
I usually hate how long Rush is in BF but Gardens and Graveyards feel like epic push and pull matches, leading to strong emplacements and big finale set pieces. Certain maps favor one faction over the other, leading to big pushes. For example, the Driftwood Shores beach map favors plant defense and usually stops zombies cold. Once in a blue moon though, zombies can make a big push and make it to a huge Mega Flower siege set piece on the final objective. Meanwhile, Wallnut Hills is difficult to defend and zombies usually push all the way, with the finale very difficult to defend against an incoming zombie push. Every now and then though, a strong defense at the main chokes can lead to surprising victories.
If you'll excuse me, I'm trying to unlock a Chomper that replaces it stock melee attack with an acid spit.
Yeah but hamsters don't have to deal with fucking zombies do they?
Last night I had the chance to hit a Playdium style arcade with my GF. It's been YEARS since I've been to a big arcade funhouse, and while I was salty that there was nary a Street Fighter cabinet to be seen (or any old school stand-up arcade cabinets for the matter), we did have a great time. Most of the games available were big attractions, giant wheels you could spin for tickets, a four player version of Pac-Man where you devour your friends on a 90-inch screen, motorcycles to straddle, Batmobiles to command.
But Deadly Escape 4D stole the show.
A spooky arcade shooter that has you mowing down near endless waves of zombies and other crawlies, similar to something like House of the Dead, but with an interactive twist – the game is rigged to be as immersive as possible. You climb into your chair, strap on 3D goggles, and feel the breeze of subtle fans move air across the bench as the wind howls in the game. When the action picks up your seat rocks and shutters with impacts, compressed air punches you in the face again and again as zombies invade your personal space. The guns are equipped with heart rate sensors that tell you how "panicked" or "safe" you feel.
As a game, it's a pretty ho-hum, standard light-gun affair. As an experience, it was something else! While I wouldn't call the game scary, it certainly was exciting. Light-gun games are such an old and worn genre at this time, even the addition of co-op mechanics (both players can cross the streams to make the bullets do more damage, bosses and some tough enemies require coordinated attacks on weak points and such) aren't going to do too much to spice things up. But Deadly Escape was genuinely exciting! I feel like a bit of a rube for letting some cheesy 3D effects and a little compressed air overrun my sensibilities, but I can't help it. I had a great time with the GF and we ended up blitzing through three of the game's lengthily levels before calling it quits.
It makes me super excited about the future. Imagine strapping on an Oculus Rift and going into that game, completely blocking out the cabinet and lights and distractions. Imagine the same effects used on a game with actual production values and creativity, that wasn't just aping House of the Dead with a bit of the Saw films mixed in.
Ok, well, it's about bosses that fight you at your own level - and still manage to beat you. I'm pretty proud of it, so give it a read if that sounds fun. I've really enjoyed getting back in the regular blogging groove and hope to keep it going.
So check back next week when I'll be in a combined Titanfall and Dark Souls II pleasure coma and won't have written a damn thing.
Hello everyone! I haven't played anything new this week. I did play a ton of games though, in preparation for a Tumblr blog I've started, which was inspired by this blog about foliage in video games. Mine is about marine life in video games. I started it last week, and I'm planning to update it once a day, so there's only a few entries so far. It's a lot of fun to put together though, and it seems like it's already gotten a good bit of attention. My first photoset, from Link's Awakening, has been the most popular so far, with over 50 notes. I didn't realize it would be so easy to get noticed on Tumblr. Anyway, you can check out my blog here, if you want!
In other news, Dark Souls II comes out this month, and I'm totally ready to become absorbed in that game! If it's anything like the first two games, I'll probably play it for about a week, get stuck on a boss, get fed up with the game because of that boss, stop playing for 2 weeks or more, then come back and beat the rest of the game, falling in love with it. For Demon's Souls, that boss was the Tower Knight, and for Dark Souls, it was the Capra Demon. Both were early bosses, and I just needed to overcome a few hurdles and grow accustomed to the game's mechanics. Let's see if I can keep up the tradition in Dark Souls II!
Second, did I ever mention that I fucking love my 3DS? I think I did. You know what, let me do it again just to be sure. I fucking love my 3DS.
As can be expected, this week I spent even more time with the little handheld that could, playing some more Pokémon, finishing up on The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds and beating Crimson Shroud. Although for the latter I suspect that there is a New Game+ mode, and I suspect that it has an alternate ending, so I might have to take the time to play it again. The ending I already got was pretty satisfactory and unique if nothing else, but I’d like to see what else the game might have in store.
One other game I started playing only yesterday is Ace Attorney: Dual Destinies. Both it and the latest Professor Layton game where 30% off in the 3DS eShop in honor of the upcoming Professor Layton vs. Ace Attorney (that will be here in less than a month!), so I couldn’t very well resist now could I?
So far I’ve only played the first case, but I like what I see. Much like Pokémon before it, the transition from 2D sprites to full 3D models serves to bring much more life to the characters, as you can see and appreciate all their little quirks much more with their newfound animations. While the previous games already managed to make you love their silly characters, Dual Destinies seems to bring it to a whole new level. I hope Trucy Wright, my favorite Ace Attorney character, will make an appearance beyond her quick cameo at the end of the first case, because I love to see her cute magic tricks fully animated and modeled. The same goes for Maya, who has been noticeably absent for a while now. Here’s hoping!
In the mean time, I’m going to be projecting that appreciation onto Athena Cykes. The second Wright & Co. attorney named after a greek god, she brings an interesting new energy to the table, as well as some neat gameplay elements. You may have noticed by now, but I’m a sucker for the kind of sassy, spirited and energetic lady she seems to be (both in real life and in fiction), so she’s already quickly becoming my favorite character. I like her design too, including her ridiculous anime “how does that hair even work”-hair.
- Seriously though, HOW?
Since she’s a character in a Phoenix Wright game, it goes without saying that she has some kind of dark and troubled past, which the game starts hinting at very early on. In the first case I’ve come across one scene about her troubled past, and I was already struck by how dark and disturbing it was. For a series that’s all about murder all the time, it’s saying something that any scene could still take me aback, but hers definitely did. I don’t know what the previous games were rated, but I know this one is rated for audiences 16 and up in Europe: that scene alone would justify this. If nothing else, it got me really eager to find out more.
Other than that, there’s not much more I can say about the game. It’s still Phoenix Wright in all its glory. On top of that, it feels like the perfect appetizer to the upcoming Professor Layton vs. Ace Attorney. Now there’s just the matter of whether or not I want to shell out €5 for the DLC bonus episode in which you defend an orca with a moustache and pirate hat.
YOU GET TO DEFEND AN ORCA WITH A MOUSTACHE AND PIRATE HAT. Why am I even questioning this?