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About
Greetings and salutations, folks!

Zetta's the name and gaming is my game. You'll probably find me commenting around far more often on my Disqus account (same name as this), but make no mistake! That handsome devil and I are in fact one in the same.

Despite my wordiness and tendency to be a little more critical than a person whose favorite show is Kamen Rider probably should, fear not! I'm actually a very easygoing fellow, and so I implore you, never confuse the length of a post for what emotions may or may not have gone into them!

As for gaming, the Vita is my current console of choice, though the 3DS and even the PC steal me away on occasion.
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When the topic for this month's Blogger's Wanted was posted, I knew I wanted to participate right away. Games have been a huge part of my life from very early, and having lived over two decades of said life already, I think I'm a pretty good judge of what has and hasn't influenced it. Sonic got me using computers and electronics when I might have done something crazy like played outside instead. Together with Pokemon, I helped teach my brother how to read, and throughout the years, thanks to the series I've gotten to know and interact with all kinds of people. Thanks to games like Super Smash Bros. and local multiplayer in general, many of my best childhood memories were spent passing controllers back and forth between friends. Returning to the blue blur that started it all, as well as the "man" that brought me here today, good old Sonic was also my gateway to the internet.

What? I had never needed it before I needed that walkthrough. You didn't think I meant something else, did you?
What? I had never needed it before I needed that FAQ. You... didn't think I meant something else, did you? 

Through all kinds of RPGs, I started becoming more interested in stories games could tell and the characters that lived in them. The GBA in particular was what really got me into them, but I suppose you could trace this back to Pokemon too. Through the Mega Man franchise (you kids today probably haven't heard of it) and to an extent Sonic again, along with guys like Mario and the rest of the Nintendo crowd, I came to really appreciate the idea of big franchises and spinoffs. Dynasty Warriors turned my budding interest in history into something much more, and there are visual novels out there that I consider to be some of the best, and at times, most thought provoking things I've ever read in any medium, game or otherwise.


Picture totally unrelated... Right? R-Right?! Why are you looking at me like there's somethind behin--

With all of that, then, surely I could pick someone much bigger, someone much more influential, someone far less "controversial" to write about and give thanks for than silly old Compile Heart (or Compa, as the personification of the company likes to go by), couldn't I?


Seriously, look at her bedside manner. She seems to be aiming to tie up everywhere except the parts that have the little bandaids on them. Who's thankful for blatant malpractice like this?

And you'd probably be right in thinking that. In the grand scheme of things, I've only been familiar with the company for a few years, and even then, I've only played a fraction of their games. I don't think they've particularly influenced me in the same way the likes of Sonic has, and it's possible they never will. Even for an admitted and, dare I say it, happy fan of theirs like me, it really just doesn't make sense that I would choose them to write about over the far more influential things in gaming that I've come across and experienced over the course of my life. Their games are niche, they aim for a... let's just say certain demographic that is none to popular and aren't afraid to show it, they work under the mindset that breaking even is a job well done, and 30K units sold is a success story for them. Many use them as the go-to example of the kind of thing that is leading to the death of the JRPG genre, and to say reception of their games is mixed around these parts would be putting it nicely.


"Is... Is this where you actually start the 'giving thanks' part...?"

Well, you know what? It doesn't have to make sense and I don't need to write about how I'm thankful for someone or something just because of how they've influenced me. I don't even necessarily need to be thankful for being influenced in the first place, technically. You know what else? I am thankful for Compile Heart. I'm thankful for their games, their additions to gaming, and really, I'm just thankful a company like them is able to stick around and flourish. Truly, I am. What's more? I want to write about how I'm thankful for them. Should there be any more to it than that?


"How stupid does he think we are? He's totally been stalling for time! He's got nothing! Zilch! Nada! Squat!"

Some might be wondering what there even is to be thankful for here considering the various things I laid out against them earlier. If you were asking me, and since you've made it this far despite the lame jokes and the wall of text that still hasn't actually breached the topic of this blog post, I can only assume you are asking me, I'd actually tell there's quite a lot to this company to be thankful for. 

The obvious thing to look to first would be their games. As I mentioned earlier, they're niche games. Even if you've never played a Compile Heart game (and in hindsight, all mentions of "Compile Heart" up to this point and those after should probably be addended to include "and Idea Factory," but I'm primarily familiar with Compile Heart titles, so I'll stick to writing about them like this - please just assume it's there, dear readers!), you probably already have some kind of idea or opinion about them. Shameless, perverted, lazy, shallow, pandering, sexist, uninspired, cliche; I've seen and heard it all.


"A-Any time now..."

Maybe to some of you, that really is all Compile Heart and their games are. The first CG in the Neptunia series was that one with bandages I posted earlier, and I think most people who frequent this website remember Monster Monpiece on the Vita and its card rubbing shenanigans.

So if you've seen some of their games, or maybe even if you've gone as far as actually played them, that certainly is a conclusion someone could possibly reach in their search for the truth. Well, guys, guess what? I actually disagree with most of you. And yet, you know? While some of these topics probably warrant blogs of their own, for now? That's fine. I'm okay with people not liking the things I like, and getting to the heart of this matter, Compile Heart seems to be too.

Think about it. 

This is a company that is happy selling 30,000 copies of their games on release in a market where a new Pokemon game breaks a million the week it comes out. Sure, most games don't sell like that over in Japan, but you would think developers would at least aspire for that sort of thing. While Compile Heart does seem to be trying to reach out more to the mainstream with the Fairy Fencer F games, what is mainstream for them still doesn't compare to the main mainstream, and their Neptunia titles still seem to be embracing what they are. Slowly but surely, that series has grown. Every game shows improvement over the last, and now it's able to bring spinoffs to the table and further reach out, to give their fans new ways to play and new things to do.

To be honest, I haven't always liked everything they've done, but I'm only one fan. There are other fans besides me, and they've responded well enough to the things I didn't like. In other words? Their games make people, some people at least, happy. They know what they're doing. Yes, they're obviously making money, and of course, profit is always a factor here, but it has to be: You need it if you want to keep making games. Considering their low numbers and low budgets, profits probably aren't exactly huge for them anyway. They just deliver, and to those waiting and wanting, that's more than enough.

You guys who may not be fans may not like their games, even I may not always like every single thing they do, but surely you can respect that much, can't you?

It's a bit silly to say, but if you get right down to it, if you were to ask me to think of a company that has the biggest heart in the industry, Compile Heart (and Idea Factory by extension) would be close to the top of that list, in the top ten easily. For me personally, in regards to the companies that make the games I deal with and play most often, they'd probably be in the top three. Crazy, right? Those are some seriously big hearts!

 
Pictured: Big, big hearts.

It's not even exclusive to their dealings in Japan. The fact is, despite our perception of things out here in the West, this is something you could say for companies like SEGA that seem to do a lot for their fans in Japan, but as you may know, noooot so much for us still waiting to be able to play the new Phantasy Star Online over here in... well, basically [insert pretty much anywhere other than Japan].

Compile Heart, though? Well, this time, Idea Factory, though? When a localization company didn't just pick up one of their games, they "took to the streets," so to speak. You may know now that Monster Monpiece got localized, but remember that very few people really expected it. They reached out to the masses twice basically going "Hey! This game isn't being localized, but we know there are fans overseas who want to play this game, so we'd love for someone to localize it!" through YouTube and other social media. Sorcery Saga, that goofy dungeon crawler about making curry, was actually in a similar situation. It was even posted alongside Monster Monpiece at one point. Anyone else remember this? I'm not kidding. They wanted to deliver their dish to their overseas customers, even when no one on our end seemed interested in serving it.

Now, eventually, Aksys picked up Sorcery Saga, but Monpiece was left in the dust. You'd think that that would have been that, right? As you obviously know, that's just not so. They recently established Idea Factory International here overseas, which, despite initial claims to only exist for the purposes of promoting their games, has since basically taken over all Idea Factory and Compile Heart localization projects, with three set to release early next year already. Monster Monpiece, by the way, was the first of such projects.


And at long last, people got to play the highly controversial cramping minigame that is, quite frankly, one of the least interesting parts of the awesome tower defense-card game hybrid that was Monster Monpiece.

tl;dr?

When no one was localizing their some of their games, even companies they had been working with for years, but instead of giving up on their fans overseas, what do they do? Do they leave those games in Japan forever, like SEGA? Do they stop making those games, like Namco Bandai or Capcom?

Heck no! 

They opened a new company to get those games out there themselves, and now they're getting the games that other companies were doing out there that much faster. Neptunia PP for the Vita took nearly a year after announcement to get locaized, but we're getting significantly less time between all the announcements and releases IFI has prepared.

Sure, it's not like they're giving these games out for free, but it's not like they're going to be hurting for sales just sticking in Japan. They'd certainly be free of backlash like Monpiece's censorship brought them if they had decided to take that route, which people were all too eager to throw their way despite the fact that no one else was bringing the thing over. Baby steps, people. 

Now compare that kind of dedication to SEGA, Capcom, or even Namco Bandai, who people are gushing over for bringing one new unexpected Tales of game over (after years of pleading and missing so many other games in the series - and let's not even get started on the Digimon situation). SEGA of Japan doesn't let much of anything out of Japan anymore, and they don't even make many of the SEGA games we get. The Sonic Boom games and the All Stars Racing games were all made here in the West. All Stars Racing, in fact, didn't even get there for two years. You can bet that wouldn't happen with IFI.

Of course, it's not just that they care about their fans or that they localize stuff, though that's definitely a part of it. I haven't talked much about the actual games themselves, since this was more a blog post about a company rather than their specific games, but really, despite all the flak? I really do like their games.


"Here it comes...! The good part, at long last...! The part about me!"

Maybe the stories aren't epic or super original, and maybe you've seen the character archetypes they like to use before. Maybe they're not hyper realistic, maybe they don't tear at your heart, maybe they don't portray the horrors of war or whatever, and maybe they don't even take full advantage of the very concepts they're using to make their games in the first place. Maybe the gameplay isn't enough or maybe it's too much. Maybe you dislike how they reuse assets the way they do because of the budgets they work with.

For me, though, and presumably for many other fans of their titles, Neptunia in particular, it's just right. For me, what's more, I can't feel right faulting a game for not doing something it never set out to do, and their games just were never even trying to do the things people often criticize them for not doing. That makes no sense to me. 

Do you know what their games do try to have, though? They try to have some of that budget brand Compile Heart "heart" I was talking about earlier, and gosh darn it, I say they do that just fine. Maybe you've caught on to it, but life... kinda sucks sometimes. Life can be just hard. These games, conversely, are very... soft.


No, I don't care how perfect the timing is, I am not making a boob joke here. You can't make me do it! You can't!

That's just how they are. They don't take themselves particularly seriously, the characters just goof off most of the time, and overall, their games can be pretty laid back and easygoing, or at least the ones I'm thankful for and the ones I've played have been, anyway. If your sense of humor clicks with the series' or if you enjoy the art, music, or whatever else, all the more stuff to like. For all the things people say how raunchy and dirty games like Neptunia are, quite honestly? I've been around the block. Not only do I say that that's just not so, but you don't even have to be drooling over that kind of thing to like their games anyway. I'd have played Monster Monpiece if it was about collecting different beetles (though I would probably play anything from Japan about beetles, to be fair) and I'd probably be sticking with Neptunia if everyone dressed like it was the Middle Ages.

Don't get me wrong though, I'm not trying to convince you to convert to Lastationism or anything. If you don't like their games, that's okay. There are other companies out there you can follow, other games you can invest your time in, and no one in the world should make you play a game you truly don't want to play. The fans can have those games, and in turn, you can have yours. Maybe you'll find common ground with them in another series, maybe not. We're all thankful for something, and on this site, we've all got different games and companies we're thankful for, and I think that's common ground we can all get behind. Live and let live, people, that's the message I want to end on here.

 
If the PSP and DS can get along like this without the PSP leaving in a body bag, surely fans of these games can drink and make merry with Nintendo fans, Call of Duty fans, and fans of everything else, right? 

I think I've strayed a lot from my original topic here, so I'll get to wrapping it up. As I finish writing this, I've added "and Gamers" to the title, since I think that somehow ended up being a large part of this blog when it was originally just going to be about Compile Heart and Idea Factory.

Gamers, to you out there who have tastes that are aren't the same as mine, I'm thankful for you as well. You existing means there are different things for me to play, just as me existing means the same for you. We'll never get bored when there's so much out there. If you didn't exist, I wouldn't have even discovered Compile Heart's games in the first place. They might not even exist! I was a Sonic kid when this all started, remember? Going from platforming cartoon mascots like Sonic and Gex to niche JRPGs like Neptunia is something of a leap, to say the least.

In the end, Compile Heart and Idea Factory may not be the best in the business. They're definitely not the most respected, and I can't see that changing any time soon. They're not trying to be any of that either as far as I can see, so I suppose that evens it out. 

However, if there's one thing that you absolutely can't say about them and if there's one thing that I will fight all claims to the contrary about, it's that they don't care about their fans. Maybe they don't care about all of them at once, but even within fans, there will be fans who want some things and fans who want other things. Even so? They try and they try and they keep trying some more, continuing to improve bit by bit all the while, and that's so much more than a lot of other companies are doing these days. In a time where beloved franchises like Mega Man have their foot in the grave, where childhood heroes like Crash Bandicoot have been MIA for years, here is a company that continues to care and to deliver enjoyable games that people like to the people who like them all around the world. 

With alllllll of that in mind, really, how could I not be thankful for them? 


And if absolutely nothing else, I just do not have it in me to not be thankful for the people that made this possible.









I'm sure we've all heard about Pokémon on some level. It'd be pretty hard to not have. However, hearing is one thing, and seeing is another thing, but maybe as you watch the internet explode with mad bouts of violence over these upcoming remakes (remember when "HOENN CONFIRMED!" was just a joke?), you're thinking you want to know what all the fuss is about yourself.

Maybe you've seen some of the anime. Maybe you've just seen internet videos parodying the series. But you've never played the games.

Well, if you're sitting down and thinking about starting the series, then maybe I can give you an answer. Or about seven hundred of them, at least until the next generation comes out.

So you think you want to play Pokémon. It's a huge series though, spanning nearly two decades now. Naturally, that means there's a whole lot of games, with all kinds of spinoffs and side games to boot, and you have no idea where to start!

First, we need to ask an important question: Do you want to play Pokemon because you want to play Pokemon, or just because you've never done it?

If the latter, look into the series in general until your answer becomes the former. If it never does, you probably shouldn't play Pokemon - I will never tell people to buy things they don't think they want/will enjoy. Money doesn't grow on trees, and Nintendo games in big franchises like this rarely drop to a price that makes them worth it if you end up not liking the game at all.

Okay! So you want to play Pokémon. To start, let's set aside all of the spinoff titles, like Mystery Dungeon and Conquest and focus on the main games.

Now, a lot of suggestions people usually give are based on having experience in the series already, though this isn't necessarily always the case - it may well be everything I'm about to say is completely off base with the opinions and experiences of others, but for the sake of sharing, I'll share it all the same.

For instance, I think HGSS is probably the worst set of Pokémon games (which does not make them bad games exactly), but it does provide a lot of nostalgia for the first games - and if nostalgia isn't your thing, if you won't think it's super awesome to go back to that one place you were at in another game a long time ago, then a good deal of that will be lost on you. HGSS also has other flaws to it, flaws I'll bring up further down, but for now let's just leave this as an example of the whole suggestions based on experience thing.

Personally, if you want to start the series fresh, with no experience at all, I would say you have a few options here - though you probably already know that.

If you think you might like the series and just want to try it, not worrying too much about things beyond basic aspects like collecting and battling, then I would grab X or Y to try it out. It's got all the updated mechanics and features, plus you'll be able to experience all the current online stuff (whereas going into any older game cuts you out of that). X and Y is really good for this because it's quite a bit easier than many previous games, makes breeding and battling competitively online more accessible than ever before, and it has a ton of Pokemon in it... though that could be overwhelming! X/Y's Pokedex uses 400+ Pokémon altogether, and that's not including the Pokémon you can get through other means in the game, though that's for another time.

Another option is the remakes of the first games. Very, very solid games that still hold up, but they're missing a lot of the mechanics that have been added since (being over ten years old and all). You might get a very enjoyable game there and really have a lot of fun, but then if you jumped into a current game afterwards, you could, again, get overwhelmed. That shouldn't stop you if you want to see where this all began, however, but do keep in mind a lot has changed since then, and those remakes went for accuracy in a lot of places, meaning certain features even from games up to that point weren't included.

Next, there's Black and White, which I personally find to be the best games in the series - which could be a bad thing for newcomers, because if you end up agreeing, you'll be biased against everything else forever if it doesn't hold up. Now, B/W has very up to date mechanics (only a couple of years old, being of the most recent generation before X/Y), a great story and cast of characters by Pokémon's standards (comparatively, X/Y's isn't even there for most of the game), and only uses the new Pokemon it introduced until the post-game - for old players, this was either great (I'm in this camp - I want the new games to be all about new things like this) or terrible (others don't like venturing outside their comfort zones and using Pokémon they aren't comfortable with, which is understandable enough). It's also pretty challenging, like the original games, and it and their sequels have a hefty amount of post-game content, which will make up for the lack of online. However, the designs can be hit or miss with fans (I love them) - as a newcomer, this may not be an issue with you, but you probably won't recognize most of them since marketing of the series tends to be of the ones they can bank nostalgia on, so keep that in mind. However, there is one thing to consider with these games: These games are good, and another thing you could think about doing is saving them, BECAUSE they're good. Save them for if/when you feel "done" with the series. Many fans were brought back to the franchise with these games. They give a new and "fresh" feeling that games that rely on older Pokémon and older regions don't have. Of course, this will partially be lost if you play games that came after it anyway, but it's something to keep in mind.

Then, of course, your last option is waiting for the upcoming Ruby and Sapphire remakes - I can't comment too much on them since they're not out yet, but I can say that these games (the original versions anyway) are pretty great, and it looks like they'll be adding a ton of new features for online (so if you don't like some parts you can at least entertain yourself with that) and offline, plus you'll be able to talk about it with everyone else once it comes out (socializing is always fun), whereas you've missed the boat for the most part with X and Y. They'll also, of course, be the most current games, so any of the advantages getting X/Y had will also apply here, with the added bonus of the game not being super easy (like X/Y) if it's an accurate enough remake, and if it adds in elements of their followup game (Emerald), there's going to be a lot of post-game content to look forward to as well.

Of course, with the good, there is the bad. There aren't many I would say to flat out avoid, but there are some. 

As I mentioned earlier, a popular choice is Heart Gold/Soul Silver. Ignoring the whole "nostalgia" thing I mentioned earlier, these two games (and the original versions) are unique in that you can travel to two regions (a new one and then the original from Red and Blue) and fight two sets of gym leaders - on the tin, that sounds like it would therefore be a bigger and better game. However, this is just simply not the case. Because this game was made to be playable on an original Gameboy (and because the remakes prioritized being accurate over fixing the game's flaws), the new region is really, really small. This wouldn't be so bad if there was a lot to do in the second region in the game (the one from the first), but this isn't the case either. While the remake stuffed in some legendary Pokémon to go after, ultimately, the "big" region is devoid of much of anything to do at all. You dash to a few towns and fight the gym leaders in them - and with how the levels are scaled to account for there being two regions, despite the maximum level having not changed, your journey through these 16 gyms will still ultimately not be too far from a journey through 8 in another game, and I would argue the first game is much more satisfying as that bigger region is filled with adventure and challenge and things to do in that version. The Pokémon distribution is also rather messed up, among other things, but in my opinion, considering the staggering amount of flaws this game has, I have a hard time telling people who like the series to go for this game, so I just can't in good conscience tell people who have no experience at all to go for it - except perhaps if I instill the knowledge into them that it'll be only up from there if they choose to continue.

Moving on, the original Diamond and Pearl had a lot of flaws, such as only one Fire type Pokémon outside of the starter and a lot of lag in battles, that Platinum later made up for. Now Platinum is considered one of the best in the series, so while that might be another place to start, it got really annoying with HMs (so-so moves you put on Pokemon to use effects in the overworld, such as moving rocks or traveling across water), which can be off putting, so I would hold on that one too for now. Also, obviously, don't go for the original Ruby, Sapphire, or Emerald since you'll have updated versions of them in a few months for... about the same price, given Nintendo game prices and all.

All in all though, it's a huge series with a huge fanbase, and there may well be someone out there who disagrees with everything I've said here. The easiest thing might be to just ignore everything you've just read, and instead go look at which Pokemon are available in which games. From there, pick the one that has the most ones that you think you'd like, and get that.

If this helps you, I'm glad! If this confuses you, then I wouldn't be surprised. Sorry about that! If you vehemently disagree, as I said, it's quite possible. Regardless, I do hope someone out there could get some use out of this, and if that happens, then that's good enough for me. Take care everybody!