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5 hours ago - 7:32 PM on 07.04.2015

Has Inafune unleashed two more years of drama on the internet?

Comcept is at it again! RED ASH has been officially announced today, seemingly meant to take after the Mega Man Legends games, and the internet is already abuzz with talk about it... Or maybe I should say aflame?

If you've been anywhere near discussion of Mighty No. 9 over the past couple of years, you likely know where things are headed. As much as I'd like to joke that everyone is being calm, fair, and civil about things, that is not at all the case.

So why is that? What are people saying about this new Kickstarter project, in a time where, even just recently, huge and small projects alike have been going to Kickstarter and being met with generally positive feedback?

It's time, once again, to go through some of the things people are saying about this project and see if these claims and criticisms hold any weight to them. As a quick reminder, I already addressed some more popular issues that people have with Mighty No. 9 in a previous blog, so if the thing you, Angry Commenter #38284, is most angry about isn't present in this blog, check that one and see if I just decided not to go over something I already have before you make that Angry Comment.

MIGHTY NO. 9 ISN'T EVEN OUT YET!
You don't say! While my instinctive response to this is just to ask "And?" and then move on, since so many people are latching onto this, I suppose it's something we'll have to go over all the same.

While it does seem like this might be connected to Mighty No. 9 in some way, given the reuse of the names Beck and Call if nothing else, it clearly isn't intended to be sequel to it. If you look past Inafune's name, you'll notice that there's actually a very different team of individuals working on this compared to Mighty No. 9, to the point that only a few of the people listed to be working on it actually have Mighty No. 9 mentioned as something they've been credited for.

Just look at the list. You don't have to take my word for it. Alongside many apparent Mega Man Legends returnees, we have people returning from games such as Mega Man Battle Network as well. The ones that worked on Mighty No. 9 are listed as such, but it seems like a diverse enough group.

Is that still not enough?

Fine, how about this: So what? Do you really think you live in a magical world where developers don't start working on a new game until the previous one is done, released, and being sold? Do you really think you live in a world where companies aren't already planning their next iteration of hardware from the moment they release a new one?

I've got news for you if you think that. While there probably are quite a few developers who practice this, there are just as many who don't. What's more, I'd even be willing to bet the ones who don't seem like they do it probably do, they just aren't as public about it.

Yeah. That's it.

 
Before anyone gets mad, it's actually not it, it's just that the next point has a lot of overlap with this one.

 COMCEPT HASN'T PROVED THEMSELVES WITH MIGHTY NO. 9! WHY SHOULD I BACK THIS?
Wait... Isn't this kind of the same thing..? Well, alright. This issue seems just as "And?" worthy to me as the last one, but just like the last one, I'll answer it anyway.

I've got a question for some of you asking or saying this. For those of you who backed Mighty No. 9, did you back Shantae Half-Genie Hero? Even though a developer involved with both titles, Inti-Creates, had yet to prove themselves with Mighty No. 9? Did you back either of these, then go on to back Bloodstained, which lists Inti-Creates as the lead developers? It doesn't seem  like Inti-Creates has proven themselves once yet, but projects they're attached to are getting backed left and right, it seems.

More importantly, though, why do they need to prove themselves with just Mighty No. 9? Are people forgetting that almost all of the people involved have had careers in this business for longer than some of you have been alive?

As I mentioned above, developers don't always wait to release one game before moving on to the next, and in this situation, clearly the team involved is fairly different from Mighty No. 9's. Speaking of which, that game is basically done, at least as far as the staff moving on to this is concerned. Are people actually suggesting these people should just not work for a few months so a game many of the people involved with this have nothing to do with can come out and then be reacted to? That the people who did work on Mighty No. 9 but now aren't should just take the next few months off and not work because some people on the internet can't handle the real world?

If you can't tell, I'm not exactly thinking highly of this argument. Look, I'm sorry, but it just seems self-centered to me. Don't back if that's how you feel, by all means, but there's no real basis that I can see for mouthing off about it here.

Oh, and if anyone is going to bring up the whole "I can't trust them!" not-argument, as if Mighty No. 9 has already released and failed miserably or as if these people have never made or worked on another game before, go look at all the other games they've worked on and decide if you'll trust them based on that. Or look around, because despite the overwhelmingly popular opinion, quite a few people have commented on how the game has improved over development.

Considering Chroma Squad released missing a ton of promised features, turned the release into a glorified Early Access, misled backers and couldn't even deliver the backer content properly, but still is managing fairly positive reviews, Mighty No. 9 looks like a diamond to me.

Next!

 

WHY CAN'T THEY JUST USE ALL THE MIGHTY NO. 9 MONEY THEY'LL GET?
Are we on the same internet right now?

I don't know how successful it's going to be, but does anyone really think this game is going to be an amazing success? Does anyone think it will be able to even compare to something like Shovel Knight? People hate it for how it looks, people hate it for a likely-irrelevant-to-development forum moderator, people hate it for so many reasons. Even if it ends up being a great game, for some, just for being not what people wanted out of it, largely due to their own misconceptions rather than any fault of the game's, it will be hated. It's probably going to even be hated for RED ASH, a seemingly mostly unrelated game, being announced.

I'm not sure if it can even turn into the underdog story it would otherwise be because of people's warped perception of Inafune. People have been hating the guy for how he called out the Japanese video game industry, despite the fact that for all intents and purposes, he was, well, not exactly wrong. That's a whole other conversation, however.

Ultimately my point is that they might not end up getting a lot of money from it, and even if they were to, considering how many copies they're giving out for free, combined with the fact that whatever money they do get is going to have to get divided up now, would that be enough even so? And even then, even if it were, that still doesn't address the fact that they shouldn't have to wait for Mighty No. 9 to come out to start on a new project.

Keep in mind that it's not like Comcept is rolling in money or anything. People can say these are rich, successful people all they want, but Comcept is not a primary developer or anything. They create ideas, concepts, and team up with other developers to bring them to life. Nothing they've made, nor likely ever will make, will probably be developed solely by them. They've... basically got my dream job, actually! Too bad you need to make a name for yourself first before you can just be "the idea guy."

They're also out all the time and money they were putting into Kaio, which was cancelled for reasons unknown, though my money is more on Marvelous rather than Comcept as far as who pulled the plug, and I got into why when I talked Mighty No. 9 back in April, which I linked a little ways up if anyone is curious.

Point is, if I were even somewhat aware of the reputation Mighty No. 9 has and I were in Comcept's position, I wouldn't want to bank on it making profit at all right now, let alone enough to make a new game. I'm really hoping I get proven wrong on that, but when I see ten negative comments for every iffy one when it comes to this game, well...

BUT WE JUST BACKED SHENMUE, BLOODSTAINED, AND/OR YOOKA-LAYLEE!
This is less of an "And?" question for me, but I still think that answer would be just as valid here all the same.

Yes, there have been quite a few recent Kickstarters lately for very big projects, and there's surely a fair amount of crossover between them.

None of them were made by Comcept, though. Comcept's last Kickstarter was in 2013. Not to keep throwing them under the bus, but Inti-Creates has been involved with two other Kickstarters since them, and I still don't see any complaints them being in so many Kickstarters, so why is it Comcept can't release another one two years after their first, and only when that one is basically finished at that? To bring up another example, inXile Entertainment has gone through three Kickstarters in as many years, with one game delayed, one not out yet, and the other ongoing, and while I admit that I've never even heard of them prior until today, do you see them getting the same amount of hostility as this has gotten in about a day? Not to my knowledge.

This gets back to what I was saying a few moments ago. Why should they have to postpone their work due to outside or unrelated circumstances? That just seems unreasonable to me.

That said, there is a more reasonable argument to be had out of this, though. People have a finite amount of money, and many of the people who might have been willing to back this in a vacuum are likely less inclined to do so after however much they may have given to those other campaigns.

In fact, even I, the person sitting here defending Comcept and this Kickstarter, probably won't be backing it, or at least not going higher than the $5 tier. Between Bloodstained costing a pretty penny, Chroma Squad coming out and burning me to the whole idea very badly and in ways that Mighty No. 9 hasn't even approached doing, and the fact that I just don't have as much investment in Mega Man Legends as I do Mega Man proper, not to mention the fact that this is money for a game that won't be releasing for two years at the earliest, well... Not exactly a whole lot of reason to.

So with all of that in mind, do I think that Comcept should have delayed the announcement of this based on the timing of those other Kickstarters?

Absolutely not.

Money can be replenished. There will probably be some form of post-campaign backing, as basically every Kickstarter has now these days. They could add to the game later through updates if they don't meet all their goals now as well.

Time is another story. If the Kickstarter fails because people were tapped out, it fails and Comcept and the rest of their team will have to go back to the drawing board, but I can't agree with saying they should put it off for who knows how long so people can recharge their wallets. What if other companies do Kickstarters in the meantime? They have no more control of the other companies and hopeful developers than the opposite is true.

BUT LOOK AT HOW MUCH MONEY THEY WANT!
If you mean in terms of the budget, I think it looks pretty fair right now for the game. Games cost money to make. It's not like they're asking for millions to spend on a marketing budget here or anything, right? It looks pretty fair all around to me.

... Sort of. Things aren't all sunshine and daisies this time around, I'll admit that, so let's check them out. It still has a couple of absurdly expensive rewards people can pick, like Mighty No. 9 did, but the basic stuff seems to have gone up in how much it requires. The game costs more than Mighty No. 9, and really, a quick glance shows that all of the rewards seem to cost more than their equivalents in the other game. So what gives?

I think two things are at work here. Firstly, the game is aiming to be more than Mighty No. 9, if I'm understanding it correctly, so it obviously will cost more to buy and create. That much seems fair enough to me. For that kind of thing, I don't see as much of a problem, especially when they're still letting players put their name in the credits at the basic $5 reward. On the other hand, the price of a sketch signed by Inafune went up from $500 to $2,000.

That's certainly quite a jump, isn't it? I mean, it's not like the average person is going to be buying into that tier, but it's still very easy to notice the differecem.

To be honest, I don't blame Inafune or Comcept for it things. If anything, I think we need to look at some of the other recent Kickstarters, the ones that admit to have or clearly have taken inspiration from Mighty No. 9 and its success, to see why some things have changed between Mighty No. 9 and this.

Yooka-Laylee is mostly innocent, with issues only arising due to different currencies, though if we keep those in mind, they are asking for a bit more there for a few things. The one I really take issue with is Bloodstained's Kickstarter rewards, however.

For $5, you got into Mighty No. 9's forums, you got to participate in a few polls, and you got your name in the credits. To get in the credits and to get to vote on things, you had to go up to $60 for Shantae Half-Genie Hero, though you got other things too. For Bloodstained? You had to spend $100 to get in the credits, and while that netted you other stuff, that basic thing that many other Kickstarters, including RED ASH, offer at a lower price point is being held up on a pedestal.

Nearly 10,000 people went into that tier. And that's not even including the thousands this campaign raised on the tiers that were exclusively in the $1,000+ range. And Shenmue? That has multiple $10,000 tiers, and people are buying in.

Mighty No. 9 may have had some outlandish backer tiers, but compared to these other ones? And the precedent they're setting? I think they speak for themselves, personally.

Does that make it okay to do it now? I'm going to say yes and no on this one. Yes in that if people have the money and want to spend it, that's their call, but no because it's limited stuff that won't effect most of us anyway. At least we know where the money's going with this. Since most of these things don't effect me, and won't effect basically anyone complaining about it, I can't say I'm too invested in talking more about it.

 

 YOU'RE LEAVING SOMETHING OUT!
What? I'm pretty sure I've addressed everything...

I said how I felt about the silly trust issues, I already talked about time's importance over money, and it's not like they're asking for any money for marketing or anything...

Oh, you meant this thing.

I honestly don't know what to make of this. A full animated series would make sense to me, since many family friendly and child-targeted IPs are seemingly unable to get greenlit or take off without there being plans for merchandise or an animated series to get people interested in it. People don't like it or don't recognize that it exists, but it's a thing and one that has proven itself a few times over now when it works.

Regardless, this... isn't that. If I were to speculate a little, it sounds like Comcept reached out to the animation studio to collaborate for a stretch goal for the game's Kickstarter, maybe only planning on a 10-15 minute short if the goal was met, but during talks they decided to make it a separate thing. I... can't say I completely think this was a good idea.

I think it's partially good because people won't be able to say they're using the money of one for the other, which was a big issue people with problems paying attention had with Mighty No. 9, but I can't see it going over well here considering people still have this "Inafune keeps asking for money" misconception in their heads (which was addressed in greater detail in the previous blog) and believe that the things they enjoy grow on trees. Now they've split their own potential base between two campaigns, rather than keeping it in one where it should have been, and done something that isn't going to help Inafune's reputation at all.

If it turns out well, then it does, but I just can't say I'm optimistic.

They did get Yuki Kaji on board to voice Beck, though, so that's pretty cool.

All in all, to me it seems like some aren't even bothering with giving this a chance like we did with Mighty No. 9, which isn't even out yet, as so many are quick to point out. Perhaps it's too soon to tell whether or not this will be a good game, but the amount of negativity this has already garnered, alongside Mighty No. 9, just seems unwarranted. Inafune is becoming an easy target for a lot of people, and far too few of them are thinking about it.

When the money is being asked of them instead of publishers for their favorite games, people seem to lose themselves, and in this case, they seem too quick to blame their favorite scapegoat for faults in something that hasn't even existed a whole week in the public's eyes yet. In regards to the question I posed in the title of this blog, I feel like Mighty No. 9 might be the only thing stopping us all from never hearing the end of this. They definitely need to add some other consoles to the stretch goals sooner rather than later, that's for sure.

But hey!

Maybe I'm completely wrong about all of this. These aren't all things I necessarily want to be right about.

Even if I am, I can still say one thing for sure.


I really hope Beck and Call ZX is next.

  read


1:49 PM on 07.01.2015

Death of the Creator?

Another day, another article asking for an iconic male character to get turned into a woman, or be given the option to, to appease the masses(?) asking for it. It's something that people have been asking for for a long time, or so it seems, but I really just wonder if it's really something that is truly so vital — and more importantly, if it's something that should be done, or if it's something that should absolutely not be done.

Don't get me wrong, I am in no way against the idea of there being a female. In fact, I think a game about a female Link would be a fantastic idea. I would love for there to be a fourth timeline — the next one would be the fourth one now, right? — where the genetic coin toss gives fate the finger, and the hero ends up reincarnated as a girl.

I think it would be a great way to spice up the series, especially if this is worked into the story. Maybe the people think the real hero's older or younger brother is the hero for whatever reason, for instance. They could do a lot just with that simple branching idea.

If you can't tell from this example, I suppose you could say what I'm really against is giving players a choice in the matter.


I am a blue-furred centaur with space that eats out of my hooves. Where's that option, huh?

Perhaps this is strange sounding given how I've been gushing about the freedom Soul Sacrifice grants players in other blogs (the last of which coming as soon as I can restore all my screencaps, insert dramatic crying gif here), but part of the reason for that is because not all games allow this. If all games did, then, in reality, no games would.

So no, I don't think players should have the choice to be a boy or a girl. If they make a female Link, they should go all in. Likewise, if they want to have a male Link, I really don't see why people need to make such a big deal about it. This is sort of similar to what I was saying about how Fire Emblem is handling same sex marriage the other day, though not completely, but regardless, the basic of it is that I feel like the way people are addressing these issues is all wrong.

Rather than "Why can't Link be a girl in this spinoff Legend of Zelda game using the same models of Link with different colors?", why aren't people asking "Why can't they make a Zelda game with a singular female protagonist?" or "Why can't Nintendo make a game with a female protagonist?" — you know, questions that make sense.

Oh wait, when this is being asked, are people forgetting that Nintendo did just release a game with same sex marriage in it? Or that the female Inkling of Splatoon, by far, seems to have ended up far more iconic and popular than the male? Or that, I don't know, Samus Aran just flat out exists?

Okay, I can forgive people for forgetting Samus Aran exists since Nintendo seems to have forgotten that too, but not so much the other things.


Pikachu still remembers her.

The point is, does every single thing that has a male need to also allow a female equivalent? Or a choice between the two? That doesn't seem like it's about equality to me, because I'm not seeing anyone jumping on the new Tomb Raider games asking for Larry Croft or gender options, and I don't at all remember anyone ever saying Metroid needed to be about a guy.

I know, I know, we have Nathan (the) Dick and Master Chief for that, but we all know those aren't the same things.

My issue with choice being there is that it takes away the identity of the character, and worse, that it feels like a blow to the creator. I realize Link is supposed to be the player's "Link" to the world, but at the same time, Link has become a video game icon, and one of the very few Nintendo has left that still gets regular (and quality) support.

If they want to make a game about a male Link, is it really such a crime that they do? If it didn't occur to them to make a female Link, is it really necessary to make it a thing and pressure them into doing it? Because the thing is, while that Metroid petition is probably going nowhere, people forcing their wants on developers over and over for years and giving them hell and bad press for it... probably might have some kind of effect.

And I don't think that that's even remotely a positive thing, especially now when female protagonists and strong female characters, even ones that aren't always "portrayed postiviely," are becoming increasingly more common. It's not like we're living in a world where male protagonists are the only ones around, and even when we were, Nintendo is the last company I'd go to to argue the point given Metroid and how quickly Pokémon got on board with things.

So it's not like Nintendo isn't putting out more progressive games. Does every instance of there being a male or white character need to be erased and covered up with "choice" to make it okay to pick those options? If equality is really the issue, isn't that just tilting the scale in the other direction rather than evening it out?

And so this then raises the question. I know there are plenty of reasons for why he could change, and while I personally would be all for the singular female protagonist, as I said, does Link really have to change at all?


Instead of making the original Kamen Rider a woman, we're slowly seeing more and more female Kamen Riders take the stage. Big progress for a franchise that is essentially a commercial for transformation toys for little Japanese boys.

People always have such a fit when other people get bothered that existing characters are changed, and accusations of sexism or racism are quick to fly soon after. I'm sure you've seen the superhero movie squabbles about it. If that was the case, though, and the people raising the issues were really sexist and racist, you'd think that this wouldn't go both ways, but I feel like these people are really underestimating nerdy types.

People are just as upset that Samus is gone in the new Metroid game, remember.

Maybe not to all, but to many, the gender or race or sexual preferences of characters aren't what's relevant, it's that what they know is being changed. The identity of something is being comprimised, being told it's "wrong," that it's not okay the way it was.  

Imagine if someone walked up to you or a friend of yours and said "sorry, your gender/race/skin color/sexuality/what-you-are is offensive, we're changing it," and then just did that. Wouldn't that be a tremendously crappy thing to witness? To experience?

Hell, I bet a lot of people have experienced something similar on some levels. This is in part why these things are happening in the first place, because there isn't enough representation in the media of everyone. No arguments there.

The obvious problem that arises with this is that a lot of the older things come from a time when, yeah, white males were sort of the go to thing. In other words, people are quick to call racism/sexism/whateverism, but it often happens at the cost of context. In the rising age of "clickbait," context is getting lost constantly.

Backtracking a bit though, if you ask me, this is part of a bigger problem, particularly in Western media, of how we're so hell bent on our nostalgia that new IPs are getting harder and harder to create because everything is getting so money driven that risks are becoming less and less acceptable. So instead of creating a new female protagonist or a new black one, we just take something old, slap breasts on it or change the skin color, and call it a day.

Is that really progress? If so, is it the kind of progress we actually want?


Power Rangers fans, and '90s kids in general, get over your love of the first show! Zyuranger was great, but I want more Super Sentai officially subbed, and your nostalgia only applying to a couple of seasons of a show that's been on the air for decades is really killing the chances of it happening!

When something as inoccuous as a series that has always had a male main character having another male main character, from a company that is releasing titles with same sex marriage and has had female protagonists in their games for years, can be perceived as a problem, that is a problem.

People have been quick to point out that it's Japan, so women in the office aren't going to speak up against things they dislike, and while this may be a true phenomenon, is it really that hard to imagine that maybe, just maybe, women might like Link as a male? From what I can see, there seems to be a tremendous amount of speaking out on behalf of women and not nearly as much listening to what women themselves have to say on the matter. If the best Nintendo can do is get feedback from the female employees who have played the game, or if they just hadn't considered the idea and blurted out whatever, I don't think it's fair to tear their heads off over it.

Considering that Japanese people tend to love cute things (something that Western culture often interprets completely off base) and that, you know, many women tend to be attracted to men, does it not stand to reason that maybe a woman would enjoy having a cute male character to play as in the same fashion so many men (including Egoraptor of the Game Grumps!) enjoy playing as cute female characters?

Or should we just assume that no, women definitely don't like playing as men in any circumstances, and definitely couldn't possibly have their own preferences or tastes in any way, and that those need to be hidden away along with their shameful, shameful bodies?

Admittedly my experience in this area is limited, but most of the female gamers I've known over the years either tended to be drawn to the male characters, or... well, in some cases, despite what popular(?) opinion would have you believe, were ogling the girls right there with the "creepers."

Maybe that sounds like me just wanting to stick up for good old fashioned sexism or whatever, but I just kind of feel bothered on my old friends' behalf more than anything. I don't know if they're in the minority of women or not, I... truly cannoy say, but apparently their tastes don't matter? Whatever. Like I said, my experience is limited, so moving on.


Well, actually, the ratio of female to male friends I've had in my life is probably like... 8:1, but... uh, wait, I mean... DORITOS! MOUTAIN DEW! CALL OF DUTY! MICHAEL BAY!

The other thing that people probably aren't even considering about the whole "well it's Japan" line of reasoning is that... well... In terms of games Japan is producing, female characters aren't exactly rare anymore. Possibly the opposite at this point, even. I'm sure plenty of people will eagerly jump on me for saying so, and I'm sure these same people will happily suggest that the female representation is poor and so on and so forth, but to those people, I have to ask...

Really?

Remember, this is only even being brought up because of a game where the character's gender wouldn't even matter all that much. It's not like this is about a main Zelda game or anything. Unless we're going to be shown some very different info later on, this is about a set of characters that talks in emoticons, as we've seen in gameplay videos already. A game where the multiple characters are already just palette swaps of the same one character.

In all honesty, I'm not sure how them forcing a female option in a game where gender truly does not seem to matter is a good representation of anything here, especially in a market where a lack of choice in protagonist gender, a lack of iconic characters of any kind, and even male protagonists is starting to shrink more and more.

Would it be better representation of women than games like Lollipop Chainsaw or Random Bouncing Breast JRPG Simulator? To some, maybe. To others, maybe not. That's entirely subjective. I keep stressing this when it comes to this topic, but people are different, and we all like different things, and gender isn't some mystical boundary that turns us into two completely different species with two completely different sets of morals.

Culture, maybe, but that's a whole different can of worms.

Considering female gamers in Japan have voted on the matter of what kind of games they like themselves, and the winning entries that year were an Atelier game, Persona 4 Golden, and Project DIVA f, games many people in the West say are for "boys" — of the creepy otaku and/or "weeb" nature, but still boys? That says a lot, I think. And okay, Persona is perhaps a little less so, particularly Persona 4, but the other two? Not so much, I think. They do feature female characters, so that is a point there (not as much in Persona's case), but then you have the runner ups...

And look at the mentioned runner ups! One Piece and Gundam games?


A thousand Japanese women just swooned.

And if you want to get into sexism in the industry, shouldn't it be more important to get women making games? As in, well, in the industry? I'm not saying "go make it yourselves" or anything, but realistically, if there truly is such a difference in what men and women like, doesn't it make sense that to appeal to women gamers, you need women who know what they'll want to buy? Though who's to say women even want to make games that would appeal to the stereotypical "woman" in the first place? I'm sure there are plenty like that in the industry already. Do they not count because of the kinds of games they make? Or worse, are they self-hating women?

I mean, without getting too much into it, some of the most "sexist" (by Western standards) series actually do have a lot of women on board. To throw one example out there, Neptunia's equivalent of Senran Kagura's hyper exploding boobs, "boobs are life and ass is hometown" guy and one of the creative forces behind the series is... a woman! So is the character designer (so something like the Keiji Inafune of the series if you want) and so are, obviously, all the voice actresses.

Okay, obviously Neptunia isn't necessarily being made with female customers in mind (though I recently learned about 40% of the Western Neptunia audience is made up of women, apparently? go figure!), but I just find it odd how people focus so much on the characters rather than the creators. Maybe it's because I myself want to be a creator someday, but... Don't they get a say in things?

I know we don't live in such an ideal world that someone can just make something willy nilly and it'll just happen and sell, obviously not, hell that's becoming the story of my life now, but even so, the things we enjoy are only enjoyable because someone made them and put passion into them. Maybe they might have specific demographics in mind, maybe they might have their own vision in mind, who knows?


Maybe they just have dollar signs in their mind, floating around and having a fantastic romp making more dollar signs.

If we take away that passion, what are we left with? If we take the "creator" out of "creating" and "creation," will the results really be that enjoyable? I know that passion is often completely absent from video games these days, but it isn't always, even when it might seem like it to some.

And I realize video games, as a medium, are all about immersion and personal experiences and so on and so forth, but the point I've really been driving at all along is that, to me, this isn't about male and female or even necessarily equality, really.

It's about quality, without the e.

Does every game need to let us play pretend and dress up? In such a world, characters like Mario or Link or Samus wouldn't even exist. Mickey Mouse? Iron Man? If those mediums had this, we wouldn't have any of them either. The idea of a "character," at least a "main character," couldn't exist, because everyone would just make their own characters. To some, perhaps this is ideal, because then everyone would get to be their own special snowflake and all of that good stuff, but... I just can't see that world as being an enjoyable one to be in.

It's why I can't really be excited for VR either. I know great stories can be told from first person, but for me, I don't want everything to be about "me." I can be immersed in a game fine without having it to be about "me." I can relate to characters, even female characters, just fine without having to "be" them.


Neither of these are my Robin. Nor will they resemble my second Robin, nor likely my third either. My Robins aren't even/won't even be named Robin to begin with. What does that say? Does having a default design fix the issue? Or does it just make it harder to relate to the default when it is used?

I'm not saying making these kinds of games is bad or anything, not at all, but I feel like this push for everything to have it is all wrong. If people are pushing for the identity of everything to be "whatever we want," then... well... Nothing is going to have much of an identity at all.

Books, movies, theater, and television have been getting by without that level of immersion, if it can be called that, for longer than this medium even existed, and they didn't need it to be good. They still don't.

As I said, I'm all for there being games that let you immerse yourselve however you want. For all my issues with Freedom Wars, I can't praise its character customization enough, and I've thoroughly enjoyed my time with games like Fallout 3 and the like.

I just don't want games that want to have personality, even as small as the personality Link has built up over the years, and want to have identity to be lost or treated like something is wrong with them in the process of these things gaining popularity.

In the end, I think my real point is the same as that of a few of my other blogs.

Can't we all just live and let live over things like this?

Can't we all just get along?

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7:50 PM on 06.29.2015

Muv-Luv is possibly getting localized! Kickstart it blind! Don't read this blog!

So out of fucking nowhere, the Muv-Luv trilogy of visual novels is up for a possible Kickstarter campaign this summer to localize the main three games of the series. Now normally this is where I would link to info and encourage people to support the project, but because of the nature of Muv-Luv, instead I'm just going to implore people to stop reading right here, don't go any further, don't look at anything related to Muv-Luv before the official release, and then buy it on the basis that it is great.

If you can Kickstart it without looking at any of the information regarding the game, that would be great too!

So with that said, you are free to close out of this blog. Don't comment on it, don't like it, don't report this news anywhere, just remember that you need to buy and/or throw lots of money at the Kickstarter of Muv-Luv.


For those of you who are bad at following directions, let this serve as your first warning.

If you're the crazy type that can't take Zetta at his word, while I implore you to not read or look at either of these things, here is an article on Gematsu summarizing the release and here is the hopeful team's own site, though it's a bit barren at the moment, and I expect that will change soon enough. Also, if you haven't tabbed over to those links yet, that bolded text wasn't a joke! This isn't all some elaborate ploy to trick you! I'm genuinely pleading from the bottom of my heart for the masses to avoid even the smallest spoilers on this one!

Yeah, I know, this isn't going to go well for me at all, but I can gosh darn try.

If you did listen to directions and not click those links, then I'll start giving some information, but I'll still be holding back to the best of my abilities! For those of you who have seen or heard of the tangentially related spinoff series, Muv-Luv Alternative: Total Eclipse, understand that it is a spinoff to the third game and so your knowledge of it in any way is best completely thrown in the trash right now.

Muv-Luv, or at least the Muv-Luv games possibly being localized, is a trilogy of three visual novels, all centering around the exploits and antics of harem protagonist Takeru Shirogane, and his lovable band of love interests. The first game, Muv-Luv Extra, introduces us to these characters in the best way a visual novel can:

HIGH SCHOOL HAREM HIJINX!

On the surface, Muv-Luv Extra is your standard harem scenario. You've got multiple girls to woo, though you can only pick from the two main heroines initially, and throughout the course of the game, you'll learn about the characters, get to know them, get to be really attached to them, and... well... basically, the ideal situation for a harem sort of game.

What sets Muv-Luv Extra apart, besides for the fact that it's only the first game, is that even on its own, it actually does the high school really well. The characters are all fleshed out really well, even the video game loving protagonist, and they're all really interesting and likable. Some you might like more than others, as tends to happen in games like these, but even then, chances are you're going to like the rest of the cast to varying degrees at the very least.

There's a level of absurdity to the story, mostly drawn out by how filthy rich one of the characters is (and the crazy anime logic perks that come with being so wealthy), but that's one of the things that makes Muv-Luv Extra so enjoyable, and even unique, especially for its time.

All in all, Muv-Luv Extra brings the fun back to the harem "genre" in ways that many modern anime and visual novels just can't pull off anymore. Considering it was first released over ten years ago, this isn't completely shocking. For a 2003 game to be getting attention even now, you know it's got to be good... and while I'm avoiding the topic, this and the later two entries together create a visual novel that I'd easily put in my top three favorites, alongside Umineko no Naku Koro ni and the Fate/Stay Night series.

But obviously, Muv-Luv Extra isn't all that the series has. If you listened and didn't click the link, very good! Props to you! I'd still highly encourage leaving this blog now and waiting like a giddy child on Christmas Eve for the arrival of Muv-Luv to the English speaking world, but if you're really still interested...


This is your final warning! Turn back now, while you still can...!

By the time you finish Muv-Luv Extra, assuming high school romance settings don't completely turn you off on sight, chances are you'll have come out of the experience with a greater fondness for the characters. You'll turn on Muv-Luv Unlimited, possibly knowing that there was "more" to the story from the beginning, or simply just walking unaware into the next entry of your happy, fun little harem story.

Assuming you haven't clicked those links or seen the spinoff anime I mentioned earlier, rather than a fun and happy world of high school harem hijinx, Takeru is going to find himself dropped into the middle of a war between man and monster.

Needless to say, things are going to be escalating from the harem stuff from here.

In Muv-Luv Unlimited, now that we've all gotten to know and love the cast through their high school shenanigans, we get to watch Takeru thrust into another world with no way to return. He'll learn to be a soldier, he'll learn how to put guns together, and go through rigorous training in order to become a soldier capable of fighting off the aliens invading the Earth, who have been doing so for decades in this world. He'll meet versions of his friends who have grown up knowing nothing but this world on the brink of disaster, and he'll soon come to realize that his fate and theirs isn't as different as he might start off thinking. And from what Takeru is told, people don't exactly last long when fighting these monsters. In fact, humanity is almost gone by the time he arrives, though they're not quite dealing with a post-apocalyptic situation.

... Yet.

Prepare for science, politics, drama, and heartbreak by the boatload once you reach Unlimited, and it's going to just go up from there once you get to Alternative. Once the cast has established themselves through Extra, a must read despite how it might seem out of place with Unlimited and Alternative, the emotional roller coaster you're going to find yourself on is one you're not going to be forgetting soon.

I guess what I'm saying is that these three games right here are good, solid games. Novels. Whatever you want to call them. You might think I'm doing a bad job of trying to sell this, but the problem is I know how it feels going into this relatively blind, and it is an amazing experience, and one I wouldn't want to steal from anyone. I don't want to hype them up too much, since obviously everyone has different tastes, but I really just can't stress enough how good I found them to be, and I'm not at all alone in that either.

I won't say any more than this, so I hope, if this at all sounds even a little interesting, you'll do your part (for yourself!) to get the game and maybe even back it! It'll be worth it!


also sumika is best girl

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8:49 PM on 06.28.2015

Sometimes it's the little things

Thanks to Nintendo's recent E3 eShop sale, I was finally able to take the plunge and get Fire Emblem Awakening. While I expect I'll be writing more about the game once I finish it, there's one feature in particular the game has that I wanted express my thoughts about now. As it turns out, I'm still in the point of the game that searching for images still gives me some of the few things I haven't been spoiled for, so if it's just as well, today I'm just going to make do with what I found in the meantime.


Down the rabbit hole we go!

If you're thinking that I'm about to about to unleash a big, gushing spiel about how you can pair off characters and make them have babies with each other like everyone else does, I have some bad news for you!

That blog is going to be the first one I write as soon as I finish the game.

This blog is about a much simpler feature, and I bet it's one a lot of people take for granted. In fact, I bet I'll take it for granted eventually once the novelty wears off or I stop playing the game.

This weekend had been going pretty bad for me. Well, this year has been pretty foul in general, but yesterday was just not that great.

Luckily, I had Fire Emblem there to distract me!

And yet, lo and behold, as I flip open my 3DS at some ungodly hour of the morning, ready to just give up the next day and any energy I'll hope to have during it thanks to throwing the night away on a video game...

I'm greeted with a message from a character in the barracks reminding me not to stay up too late as I'm in the process of doing just that.

It actually made me pause for a moment.

Obviously it's one of many programmed messages from the cast there to line up with whatever time of day your 3DS is set to, and it's not even the first game to have a feature like this, but... You know what, guys? Even knowing all of that, in the mindset I was in and after the day I had had, I did end up putting down the 3DS for the night without playing the game a moment past that point. When I opened the 3DS up earlier today, the message was still there.

I think it helped that I'm using my real first name for the player avatar as well, but it probably works even if your character's name is MegaHero777. Either way, it made me stop everything and shut down for the night, and that's a point in Fire Emblem Awakening's favor in my book.

Strangely enough, today was actually pretty nice too, especially in comparison to yesterday. I got some things accomplished I'd been putting off, I felt more energized than I would have had I stayed up as late as I would have, and while I haven't eaten today (I'm bad at that), all in all I'd say it's a huge improvement over yesterday.

And to think, if I hadn't seen that little message in this silly little game, things could have gone completely differently for me. Maybe they wouldn't have and I would have just done the same things today but been more tired, but who's to say?

It's nice to have little things like Fire Emblem Awakening's barracks to make the player feel like they're really part of the army they're supposedly fighting alongside. Your character, supposed to represent "you," isn't alone in the game, and this touch, something completely irrelevant and incredibly easy to overlook, makes that feel all the more genuine, even if it is very easy to see the same messages if you peek in on the barracks often enough.

Or even if you don't for that matter!

We all eventually come to the realization that when you're a grown up, you have control over when you wake and sleep, responsibilities like school or work allowing. You have control over when you eat too. No one's going to tell you when to do any of it, and no one's going to help you do it like when you were a kid, if anyone even did. ... Well, depending on your living situation or relationship status, some people might, but those situations are a bit different. Chances are you still went through this phase at some point or another.

The short of it is that at some point, your life is all on you, from the big decisions to the little ones, and you've got to bear the consequences of your poor choices, often all alone—

But at least I know as long as I'm playing this game, "I" am not alone.

 
And the climax is never over.

So props to you, Nintendo and Intelligent Systems!

Your little war game got an adult to go to bed at a reasonable hour and write a really weird blog about your easily missable gameplay feature and the not-really-all-that-incredible effect it had on him that he'll likely have forgotten by this time next week.

Anyway, while I'd love to keep talking the barracks of Fire Emblem Awakening, a reliable source close to Miyamoto has informed a friend of a friend of a friend of mine that if someone puts in the Konami Code when Libra and Virion get their support level to A, I'll unlock the ability to take it to S, and I think it's about time I try it out...


Toodles!

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4:43 PM on 06.26.2015

A Certainly Badass Blog

Ah, yes... You've returned to me once more, have you? I knew you would come. I was waiting for you. A world of mystery and magic awaits you within my pages, unlike anything you've ever seen before, and I'm sure you're just itching to embrace it. You've seen the only a small fraction of the depths of its darkness, and now you've had a glimpse of the ways in which you'll be tasked with fighting off that despair.

So what are you waiting for, my dear reader?

Pick up this simple little journal and get started. It's not going to read itself you kno---



This town ain't big enough for two talking books, bub! And I say that it's about damn time your sorry digital only ass got itself back to whatever tablet it belongs on so this badass Best Seller can take the stage!

So strap in, pop the hell out of some corn, put on some sweet tunes, and get ready for the sensual tones of Crispin Freeman to sing you sweet, sweet lullabies, because it's time to talk some Makai Freakin' Kingdom.

At this point, some of you might be asking just what is Makai Kingdom? Or hell, maybe a couple of you are just bitching that this isn't about some dark and edgy hunting game no one except the people who made it and their moms give a crap about.

For those of you in the second group, cry me a river. My freakin' port was never localized! At least you got your stupid edgy magic game! I have a daughter I'll never meet in English in that! A daughter! You think I, Zetta the Most Badass Freakin' Overlord in the Entire Cosmos, could give two craps that you aren't getting your grimdark fix today?

But you chumps in the first group? Yeah... Yeah! I can work with you. In fact, I'm gonna turn every last one of you suckers reading this into my next wave of loyal battle monkeys! If we're gonna get me a sequel before 2020, I'm gonna need all the internet dwelling losers I can get my hands on to pull it off! You guys do stupid crap like making crazy petitions no one reads all the time, right? So why not give the greatest protagonist of all time a new game?

Hell yeah! Let's do it!


What, you think a guy that got tricked into getting turned into a book can't talk? Just for that, you're getting reincarnated into a tree! Now shut up and pull up the title card already!

Makai Kingdom is a game developed by those guys making this other upcoming game that was on the front page today, but unlike that game, this game is about the most badass, sexy, strongest, and awesome person in the entire universe, and every other universe and alternate universe on top of that.

He goes by Zetta.

Overlord Zetta.

Thanks to a bunch of crap that is completely and entirely not his fault in any way shape or form, that badass and awesome person also ends up being this guy.

And man, let me tell you, I thought I ended up looking like crap before, but after seeing the piece of junk you guys were talking to before? Bloody McGrim, I think his name was? Ha! And for good measure, HA!

Just look at that mess of flesh and eyeballs! What kind of jackass designed that thing? If you're gonna make a talking book, it needs to have a certain... something to it.

A certain... me to it.

Muuuuch better!

I tell ya, when the hell did all this dark and edgy garbage get so damn popular anyway? Even freakin' Disgaea's in on it! Yeah, the series that started off about a punk ass prince running in terror from a zombie with a horse dick on it is proudly showing off a new game about a jackass on a quest for revenge.

What is this crap, Hamlet?!


There's an easy fix for that too.

Okay okay, before I start throwing up ink and end up on a Nintendo console, let's talk about my game.

Makai Freakin' Kingdom.


TM

A game about a badass guy doing badass things. The object of the game is to return this amazing guy to his former amazing self. You'd think that'd be easy considering he's a book that grants wishes now, which is a pretty sweet deal, right?

Wrong! I don't have hands anymore, you moron! How the hell am I supposed to write down my own wishes, huh!? Didn't think that through, did you!?

If anyone of you know-it-all types mentions how this information comes up in the game, you don't get to be a battle monkey.

So you go through making Netherworlds for these jackass Overlords I know, gathering energy bit by bit and building up the power to make a world for me and get my body or... some crap like that.


Is there a romance subplot? Maybe. If there was, would it kick the ever loving hell out of those chaste ones about flustered teenagers that plague the Disgaea games? You bet your ass it doe--would! You bet your ass it would! If it existed! But badasses don't need that crap, you hear me!?

Since you're all sold on this, I know I don't need to explain how you play, but since you're all going to be getting yourselves killed in my great name, I figure I can be kind enough to do you all a favor.

Hah! Like I really need to though, right? It's by the Disgaea guys. They do less branching out and experimenting with their games than those Compact Heart bozos! Just expect grids, grids, and even more freakin' grids. What a time to be alive, am I right?

... not!

Ha! You think a badass like me fights on a grid? Please!

In my Netherworld, the last thing you're going to be asking for is a pansy-ass grid! Then again, when you're going to be running around on maps with complete freedom of movement...

... when you have the ability to jump in vehicles like giant robots and tanks...

... when you can jump right out of those and fight on the ground...

... then you might wanna run crying to your little grids before you get hurt.

Oh yeah, and did I mention that you'll even be summoning entire buildings to the battlefield?



Jump inside them to break the unit limit for a stage! Drop them on top of enemies for free kills! Toss enemies inside when they're outnumbered to get easy kills in! The possibilities are limitless when you can drop real estate from the sky like a god!


Wink wink, kids. Wink wink.

So I hope you're ready for this, because where we're going, there aren't excuses. You don't need to be trained in swordplay or have freakin' weapon mastery or whatever garbage that Laharl kid thinks he can spew.

I don't care what you can do or can't do, if you're in my freakin' Netherworld, you play by my freakin' rules.

See that? See that?!

If I can make corn stand up and fight for me using even more freaking corn as a weapon, you can bet your sorry ass that you can pick up a rock and fight that robot over there to the death with it!

There's just a little catch to all this amazing badassery here...

You're on your own, kid.

So, uh, given the whole book thing, my job is basically sit around and drop you losers, your vehicles, and your buildings out onto maps while you make sure I don't get killed, since every hit I take hurts you a lot.


See me down there? I can't really move. Do a good job and that won't be a bad thing. Do a bad job, and, well...

But hey! I'm sure you can handle it!

So what're waiting for? The moon to fall?

Get cracking!

___

Makai Kingdom is available on the PlayStation 2, as well as on the PlayStation Portable if you speak Japanese but only in that circumstance, as NIS America didn't localize the port. It is not available to download on PSN as a Classic title, but it isn't exactly a super rare or expensive game to obtain, so so long as you have a working device that can play PlayStation 2 games, you should be fine.

As virtually none of the awesome features highlighted in this amazing blog carried over to future NIS titles, save for the cancelled-not cancelled-cancelled again sequel that may never have even existed in the first place, it is highly recommended that anyone interested check this game out and show the world that there is still interest in a game like it.

Have a badass day!

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10:36 PM on 06.23.2015

Fire Emblem Fates Conquers New Territory For Nintendo!

As some of you may be finding out right this second, Nintendo seems to have confirmed that Fire Emblem Fates is going to have some form of same sex marriage in it. IGN, Polygon, and Kotaku, among others, have already posted the story, and I expect Destructoid will follow suit soon enough, if someone isn't already writing a piece on the topic up as I myself am writing this blog.


The images in this blog will likely be largely unrelated to the topic, since I'm posting this on short notice but I don't want it to look boring. Sorry in advance! #sorrynotsorry

Before people start jumping for joy, here's the interesting thing about it, if I'm understanding this right. While I'm not looking at the details too much since I'm avoiding spoilers, apparently this feature is being limited to select characters in each version of the game. What this may suggest is that not only has Nintendo gone so far as to recognize same sex marriage, but they're going as far as to include characters having their own preferences and sexual identity.

Or they just wanted to include one character to appeal to people have that whole Tomodachi Life thing while still leaving everything else otherwise the same, but I want to try to look at this in a positive light.


Oh, if this is true, we also now know we're getting two versions, Birthright and Conquest overseas, but that's not what's on the agenda today. Good to know, though!

Why does that matter? Well, Nintendo could have just had Fire Emblem Fates just work under the assumption that anyone can be attracted to anyone, and allow players to have a relationship with every other character in the game, regardless of gender. In this case, we now have some characters who are either bisexual or homosexual, with the rest being heterosexual.

To some, this might sound like the wrong approach, and I can understand why. If your prerogative in playing a game is just to play it and have fun for you, being denied the ability to have a relationship with the character you want because of your gender, even though the game offers same sex relationships, might feel incredibily disappointing. On the other hand, to me, I think this could be something that is much more positive than just having a blanket "do what you want, we don't care, have fun!" option, especially if they expand on it in future games.


But... Games are supposed to be fun, aren't they?

It might sound weird, but it comes off as more genuine to me doing it this way. It's like they're actually giving characters their own identity instead of letting everyone in the game function exactly the same way. I'm not saying these characters should be defined by their sexuality, absolutely not, but that in doing this, these characters, and even the cast as a whole, feels a little more real.

It means, well, there's real recognition there, as opposed to just switching everyone on for everyone like they're not putting any thought or meaning into doing it. If these characters are exclusive to same sex relationships, then that's all the more true, and if they aren't, maybe we'll see that in a future entry if this is met with positive reception from fans.

Maybe I'm totally wrong about how I'm looking at this. I'm just one person, and my experiences in this area have been limited to friends and observations. To say that I'm ignorant, and perhaps even that I don't really have a right to comment on the subject one way or the other, would all probably be true.

On the other hand, I can't help but think how some parts of Persona 4 would have had a much smaller impact if the entire male cast was full of potential candidates for romance. Though this could still be me just talking out of line again. Perhaps it's a symptom of the time we're living in right now. I can't say for sure.

What I can say is that if this ends up being true, then that is awesome, and I hope it's something we see more out of Nintendo in the future.


Either way, I say this was canon.

With all that said, I'd like to ask the Destructoid community, provided I haven't been beaten to the punch already, what they think about this. Are you hype? Is your body ready? Does this bother you? Or are you just disappointed that this is limited to certain characters? Oh, and don't hesitate on calling me out if I sound like a total asshat either.

Now if you excuse me, I have a date with my 3DS. I'm finally about to see what all the fuss regarding Awakening was about...

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7:53 PM on 06.22.2015

Nintendo's Got Themselves a Big One Here!

Earlier this year, Nintendo released a delightful new game for the world to enjoy. This inspired game, filled with sea life and adorable visuals galore, has been some of the most fun I've had on a Nintendo console in years, and like many of you out there, I can never bring myself to put this gem down!

It's just got that special something, you know what I mean?

Anyway, as I'm sure all of you are aware, I am, of course, talking about Ultimate Angler for the 3DS.


If you have no idea what I'm talking about, it's this thing.

Ultimate Angler is one of two games added to the StreetPass Mii Plaza on the 3DS back in the Spring, the other one being a silly zombie battling title called Battle Ground Z. I got both of them when they came out, and going into them, I was sure I would enjoy the zombie fighting game more.

You can guess how that turned out.


If being wrong feels this right, can I really say I was ever truly wrong?

I'm honestly not sure just what one thing it is about this game that makes me love it so much. The whole package together is full of so many great parts, after all!

The cute visuals contrasting the nice looking models of the sealife certainly helps. The fact that I love love love sea life and that kind of thing in general, to the point at one point in my life I was gearing up to become a marine biologist, might be a factor in that. Just the fact that I have a game where I can have all the stingrays and manta rays I want in personalized aquariums is in itself pretty dang neat.


In another life, I'd be calling 'em like I sees 'em at this very moment, as happy as can be.

Since it's StreetPass game, I can only really play it to the fullest extent that it allows a couple of times a month on average, which is actually pretty good for most people. That means I can go a fair amount of time without playing it for a while, before I can come back and get splashed in the face with a load of the game's charm all over again.

That might sound like a bad thing, but considering how much genuine fun I have with what is basically a fairly simple fishing game, I'm not complaining. It's the only game I'm happy to blow those Play Coins on, in fact! This is a rare moment where I am all for the touch screen integration too. I don't think I'd care nearly as much if I wasn't really reeling stuff in with my stylus, but that part of the game is just... Well... It's fun!

On the other hand, I sometimes actually find myself only bothering with Battle Ground Z because I don't want to waste the StreetPasses when I leave the Mii Plaza, usually saving Ultimate Angler for after so I can close out of it on a high note.


In other words, no matter how much you might like to experiment with the undead, you should always remember to wash yourself off afterwards.

And last, but not at all least, is the soundtrack. Oh man, what a soundtrack!

To be honest, I don't even think just linking the songs alone can properly convey the feeling of having a catch trying to get away while they play in the background, because man, it's such a perfect mix!

Be that as it may... I don't even think any reaction image in the world can properly convey the feeling of how incredibly dorky that previous sentence sounds.

So instead, how about I just offer a link to one of my favorite tracks from the game before we set sail?

Just don't forget to bring your bait!

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8:31 PM on 06.21.2015

A Certain Sorcerer's Blog: Just Sacrifice Me Already!

Have you gotten used to this wretched world you've found yourself in yet? Today we'll be going through a little customization, and even a battle! Yes, filled to the brim with beasts of all kinds for you to fight, I'm sure you've all been waiting on pins and needles to learn just how it is you'll be taking the lot of them down. Well, if you and your bandwidth are ready, then I believe it's time to finally...


Oh, I will.

Welcome back to the world of Soul Sacrifice and Soul Sacrifice Delta! In today's exciting installment of this excitingly-boring-multiple-part blog, we'll be briefly covering how gameplay works in these exciting hunting games! And also Zetta's inability to restrain himself, it seems.

As I've already covered the game's premise, story, and so on, forgive me for not doing much of that here. Between this and the first entry, I've decided to turn this series into both an introduction as well as a bit of an instruction manual for newcomers, so I'm going to try to be a little more in depth, whereas I was kind of vague with the story before.

That also means that this is not going to be the last part of this surprise miniseries. I'm aiming for the next one to be the last, but I could see it hitting four depending on if I can't be more concise next time. I'll try!

With that out of the way, let's hit the music and get down to business!

As I explained in the previous blog, players explore the world of the game by exploring the journal itself. When it comes to fighting, they literally relive the events that have been written down in the journal, finding themselves transporting to all sorts of mystical lands, each having its own story to tell. In these lands, they'll fight anything from the terrible Hydra or the ferocious Werewolf, even to enemy sorcerers...


... but before we get too far into that, you have to make your character!

While Soul Sacrifice is no Freedom Wars when it comes to character customization, particularly in the first game, you do have some level of customization to yourself. Let's have a gander at just what we can do in Soul Sacrifice Delta for now, as due to, well... let's call them "technical difficulties," I am unable to show as much from the original game in this area as I'd like. I'll touch on why that is soon, don't worry.

For now, let's start by opening the book up to the table of contents we saw in the first blog entry and hitting on the Portraiture section. For added fun, the game features complete touch screen use during the book sections of the game, so feel free to tap things and even turn pages at your leisure instead of using buttons.

Now let's see what we've got to work with here...

Good god, that's a lot of information to take in all at once! Offerings? Arm? Allies? Faction? Black Rites? Just what the hell have I gotten myself into!?

Okay, let's go through these one at a time, and for this entry, we're just going to look at customization, since for new players, most of this is nonsense in the beginning, so let's just hit on our appearance for now, shall we?

Simple, right? Gender will let you swap between male and female characters, the Head option changes factial features, and Voice will let you choose what kind of grunts you'll hear during the game. As an added bonus, in Soul Sacrifice Delta, you can even unlock the voices of different NPCs to use for your character. You too can grunt like your favorite character!

Since that's all pretty easy to understand, let's just look at what we can do with Raiments. It should be noted that in the original Soul Sacrifice, your options were just to pick a complete Raiment set, its color, and whether or not you wanted to wear the matching hat or hood that went with. Many of these were unlockable as the game went on, at least, but it still only extended that far. As for in Delta...




You'll need to do some unlocking if you want some of the things you're seeing here, but as you can see, the range of customization isn't awful, especially when you start adding in accessories. You kinky types will have plenty to work with. Even better, if you want to change your gender, the game will remember the previous gender's costume settings and vice versa. In other words, waifus galore!

Fabulous! Now that we've gotten ourselves looking pretty, we're going to briefly toss it all away and take a little trip in time to the first Soul Sacrifice game to start looking at some gameplay in action, since explaining the rest of the Portraiture section would be, well, pointless to do if none of it makes sense. Cue the Doctor Who theme!



You probably noticed right away that the table of contents not only looks different in the first game, but there's a section completely missing. If you didn't notice that, well, now you have! I'll explain what's missing in a later entry, but for now, let's check in on what sort of handsome devil we'll be taking into battle and then we'll be on our merry

OH SWEET CHRIST, KILL IT WITH FIRE!

Wait, that's me.

So remember those technical difficulties I mentioned a little while ago? In the first Soul Sacrifice, if you maxed out your level either on the Sacrifice side or Save side, your body would take on a permanent transformation that would only go away if you lowered your level. These transformations are still present in Delta, but you can turn the physical aspect of them on or off at will.

Sadly I'll get more into this system later. I'm mostly explaining now this because my gameplay screenshots are going to look really off if I don't stop to point out why that sexy man in the goggles was replaced by this, er... thing. I'll point out for those of you who are worried that while you may be a naked monstrosity who can no longer wear clothes...

... you can also be a girl monstrosity too! You can kind of see the boob there if you just turn your head and squint and, uh... you know what, forget it.

Moving on!

When players aren't interested in the main story, in the original Soul Sacrifice, they have the option of choosing to go "Inside Avalon," as seen here. From there, you can choose Fellow Sorcerers, where you'll explore more stories, or simply picking Avalon Pacts, where you can fight monsters and tackle other missions in battles unrelated to the story in different chapters based on rising difficulty levels.

In Delta, this is mostly the same, but rather than Inside Avalon, the section has been renamed Sorcerous Deeds, and features story sections for sorcerers for all three factions, while the section for pacts unrelated to the story has been renamed simply to Pacts.

There's also something about an Eternal Maze up there in the corner, but that's probably not important... You know what is important, though? Knowing just what kinds of pacts there are and what we're about to get into! Now, are all pacts the same, you ask? Surely that would get boring! Well... Most of them are of the monster killing variety, yes, though there are a few other types, and the monsters themselves come in a very nice variety anyway.

The main type is a traditional monster slaying quest. These will drop you in an area requesting to kill a monster. Usually, the monster won't have actually "awakened" yet, as is the case in the pact we're about to play now. Instead, it will be a human shaped mass of sludge wandering around, moaning and sounding miserably. Sacrifice or save the human that pops out after you win and the victory is yours.

Sometimes, you may find yourself simply clearing out smaller monsters. In these pacts, it's the same idea as a monster slaying pact, but you'll be running around killing little things rather than a big one. At other times, you might have to fight a pair of monsters at once, and in these situations, the monsters are already transformed and will attack you immediately.

Lastly, there are pacts will you'll need to run around and find hidden items on the ground. These can be either "real" pacts, or they can actually be fragmented memories taking the form of a pact that you need to restore, which will then transform into a new pact you can play.

In Delta, you may also be tasked with specifically saving or sacrificing the human that rises from a fallen monster depending on who makes the request of you, and doing the opposite will still result in a fail even if you down the beast. What's more, in both games, there will be pacts that might time you or limit how many things you can bring with you into battle, increasing the challenge.

By the way, when you're playing online (or with NPCs that have different opinions), beware that even if you choose Sacrifice or Save, if the majority vote is the opposite, that's what will happen. It's a cool feature for the game, I think. Just make sure to be there when this "vote" happens, or you won't get anything.

Now with alllll of that explanation out of the way, let's just jump back to the first game and kill some monsters!

Okay, a pact of the highest difficulty? Should be a cake walk!

Helpful as always, not only does the game show me what I'll be given as a reward if I achieve high marks on the quest, but I'm also given links to the relevant lore of the quest and even given a tab that will take me directly back to the Portraiture section of the book, should I not be properly armed for the upcoming battle.

Having already set myself up for this fight, I'll hit confirm, and confirm again when it asks if I want to use the allies I have selected to tag along, and then we can finally enter our first battle...

I'm going to warn in advance that this next section is going to be lengthy and not so much be involved with what kind of things we can do as a player in terms of fighting, but rather, just how the game actually works. Maybe I'm weird like this, but I just don't think it would be helpful of me to start explaining what weapons do or how the equipment functions without first showing the gameplay itself off so that stuff actually means something.

The game actually does something similar the very moment you open up the book, throwing you right into the action, so hopefully I'm not too off in doing this like this.

In any case, with that lovely, and extremely brief, loading screen out of the way, we're in! Because I was trying to take a shot of Magusar giving one of his little pre-battle intros, I didn't get a good first shot of the area before I got started, so to make a long story short, I'm in an ice or water kind of place and there's water around.

Now that we're really in, the first thing I want to do is hit down on my d-pad and activate what's called the Mind's Eye. If you've played Toukiden, there's something in that game that is similar to this mechanic. What this does is show off hidden things in the area as well as give some indicators as to how your friends and foes are doing in terms of health.

There's not much to see right now, but one thing that sounds out is that glowing blue thing. If you investivate it and turn off your Mind's Eye, you'll see you can hold X to pick it up. Do so and you'll get the "item," which is actually... a shard of someone's soul!?

Well, considering my body is all fucked up right now because of how many souls I've absorbed, that's probably not the weirdest thing that's ever happened to me.

Okay, see how the lower right corner has a big ol' R on it as well as different pictures assigned to some of the buttons on the Vita? If I hit R, I can scroll through two pages of offerings, the things that are used as weapons Soul Sacrifice.

At a glance, bits of bone and tree roots or shards of ice and coal may not seem like much, but in the hands of sorcerers, this is all you need. To start things off, since I'm getting cold, what with my naked self walking around a waterfall, I'm going to use one of my offerings to give myself some armor.

Look at that sexy... plant... thing.

Well, I'm now resistant to Venom, which is one of the five elements in the game (as well as the one belonging to the beast I'm about to tangle with), and my defense has gotten a boost. See the levels in the upper left corner? The blue level is your defense and the red level is your offense, and those go up as you save or sacrifice things.

Now look at what my level is for defense.

Yeah, Imma be needin' this armor. Luckily, the monster still hasn't transformed yet. You can see him there behind me, wandering around, crying in pain and all of that good stuff.

Let's ignore him and keep wandering around the level while I deliver this terrible tutorial! I'm sure my allies will be able to handle this fight fine!

So while the monster started attacking us off screen, using Mind's Eye again, I've discovered a strange circular area. Turning it off and stepping inside, I can see now that this area gives me an offensive boost at the cost of my defense.


This is going well!

Okay Zetta, we can make a comeback from this. It's not like anyone is dying or anything here...

Oh, fuck.

Well this is a crowded screenshot if I ever saw one. I'm standing on top of a labeled corpse debating what to do with it while someone else is bragging about how healthy they are and because I just walked into the circle again, i'm being told what its effects are. Bad timing on my part, but I do assure my readers that it's not as bad as it seems.

Anyway, I'd say my best option here is to sacrifice. Why? Well, this is the guy holding me hostage and all in the real world outside of the journal, and when you sacrifice someone, you unleash a super powerful attack! So long as nothing kills me in the split second between my sacrificing him and Magusar's corpse unleashing hell on the world, everything should be juuust f

uck.

Luckily, my other ally is still alive, and I can actually give out commands that, were I online, other players would see (or I can just choose to let my character die) and hopefully listen to.But will my NPC ally survive long enough to save me...!?

You guys have no idea how possible it was for her to just die right there. Luckily, I made a comeback, and after spamming my magic fire arrows, I've put the beast into a status ailment, this one called Infernal Hell. The basic rule of Soul Sacrifice status ailments, despite the five extremely different elements, is this:

You do thing to make it happen.
They stop moving.
You be happy.
The end.

From here, you can choose to do one of two things. You can spam attacks on the trapped monster, which usually works, but if you brought something that has an elemental advantage against the element that has an elemental advantage against the monster you're fighting, then...


This picture is out of order. Sorry!

You'll perform what is called a Skillful Attack, creating a blinding explosion of incredible damage, as seen above, and briefly knocking the monster down.

If this still doesn't make sense, I've come up with an easy to understand diagram to explain it!

Just replace the cute things with horrible things and it works perfectly.

We should probably get back to the fight now, though, shouldn't we? And... oh dear. Amidst all my explaining, I seem to have destroyed one of my offerings!

Though I've got a bunch of the same one right now, something that isn't actually possible in Delta without certain things equipped, you can see which one has been lost pretty clearly. It's been grayed out, and when I hit the button assigned to it, nothing happens. This is a core part of Soul Sacrifice's battle system, which I think I've done a pretty miserable job of explaining so far, if I do say so myself.

You see, offerings can only be used a certain amount of times. Once they're gone, they're gone forever. The world of Soul Sacrifice is such that there is a sort of permanence to all of someone's actions. In this case, I have now lost this weapon forever because I wasn't taking care of it.

In other words? Ladies and gentlemen, always remember to polish your lover's sword before they head out into battle! They might not come back with it still working if you're not careful!

In Soul Sacrifice, when the game warns (or whenever you want), I can restore weapons that are running low by sacrificing a weaker monster (or an ally!) to restore the power of my offerings, or by using Mind's Eye to locate somewhere that has a bit of magical energy in it where I can give myself a similar effect. You can also use Mind's Eye to see if any weak monsters have been killed that you might not notice without having to run around, which is pretty handy.

Buuut, doing any of that now isn't going to do me any good, unfortunately. The thing's just plain busted. And to make matters worse, while I was putzing around taking screenshots, poor, poor Sympatha died...

Let's kill her!

In Soul Sacrifice, sacrificing an ally gives you the same kind of attack every time, but in Soul Sacrifice Delta, the character's allegiance, their faction in other words, will determine just what happens when you sacrifice them. It's a small touch, but it's a nice one all the same.

Let's see how ugly over there is doing.


Low on health according to Mind's Eye, and even without it, he's stumbling around and in general looking like he's about to die. You might have also noticed the random text on the screen. As you fight the big monsters, they'll scream and yell in a not-quite-a-language, with their feelings appearing on screen briefly as well.

It's a nice touch, and it shows just how hard the developers at Comcept and Sony's Japan Studio worked on incorporating the lore into the gameplay. They worked hard on creating this world, and by George, you're going to see it.

You may have noticed that ugly little stamp looking thing on the screen that keeps telling me to touch it. It's been there for a while now. Well, since the fight's almost over, if it's just as well, I think I'm going to give it a little rub.



Holy shit!

So that little stamp was actually my Black Rite. Once you take a certain amount of damage, the game will prompt you and give you the option to use this, at which point you can unleash a horrible attack at the cost of parts of your body. Some Black Rites cost organs, but luckily, I just needed to give up my skin for this one, which halves my defense.

This is an incredibly risky move, especially on a high ranked pact like this one, but if I timed this right...



... that will happen right after I do it.

Now we're left with a man begging for his life and a decision.

You might notice the souls of my fallen allies floating in the background there. While NPC characters don't move around after death, when you play online, or if you have NPC allies remaining after you die, players can run around after they die and influence the game, meaning the game is never over.

You can grab onto things from your surroundings, and use the touch screen to assist your allies and weaken your foes. In Delta, this mechanic is expanded on, allowing you to possess your allies, use things in the area to create phantasmal weapons, and even heal your friends from beyond the grave!

And as awesome as that is, for now, we have a choice to make. Seeing as I've given up my skin, one of my weapons, and two of my weapons for this... All things considered, I'd say that's enough bloodshed for this afternoon.

Luckily, while it may have been when I started writing this, it is no longer the afternoon anymore, so I am free to take that handsome devil's soul into my arm! He can join in on the orgy with the rest of them.

And that's a wrap! From here, we'll be taken to the rewards screen, which differs slightly from its counterpart found in Soul Sacrifice Delta, and evaluated based on our actions during the pact. We'll be judged from how quickly we were even to how much we countered enemies, which is a thing you can do if you've got good timing.

Not bad!

After this screen, we're shown some of the things we picked up on the pact, but perhaps more importantly, we're told that the journal has been rewritten as a result of our actions. This is because according to the journal as I previously had it, the person I just sacrificed was actually someone I saved... but because I sacrificed them, the events following that moment, and the fact that he had been saved and turned into a recruitable NPC, were all erased.

Or that would all be true if I hit Yes here, anyway.

Which I won't do!

So all's well that ends well, right?

Well...



Magusar and Sympatha are still dead, I'm still burned, and one of my weapons is still useless.

Luckily, using the in-game "currency" of Lacrima, you can undo these costs. Magusar and Sympatha revived, my skin restored, and my offering renewed.


Back to my hideous self again. Yay.

But how is this possible? I killed them, after all!

Well, that's the thing. These are all just pages in a journal. Everything that's happening, everything that we experience in the game, it's all in the past. None of it is real.

We can smudge things in the journal out and live out the effects of those things as though they actually happened, like burning off our skin or sacrificing someone that isn't dead later in the journal, but none of that happened.

In terms of gameplay, though, this is a great thing. It's here where what I was emphasizing before returns: This is a book. You can't change huge things, but it gives you a fair amount of freedom in not only how you play the game, but how you see the story, where the things you can just undo with the touch of a button can cost someone their lives.

It can cost you if you're not careful.

For beginning players, this gameplay mechanic can still be just as brutal as if it were permanent. When you're only earning Lacrima in increments of 5 and 10 early on and you need the stuff in the hundreds to restore your skin or your eyesight, with matching costs to gameplay, after using a Black Rite once? That's tough.

That's also, sadly, where this entry of this sorcerer's blog must come to a close, since this one really dragged on despite how little it explained. I'll try to make the next one better. Or, if the people demand it, not do another at all!

As things stand now, however, this is the plan:

Next time, now that you lot have a vague, poorly explained idea of what you're getting into, we'll talk about how you can actually prepare yourself for battle using the different offerings the game gives you, as well as how the game's unique equipment system functions! If you're good, we might even take a trip to Delta's bazaar...

See you then!

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12:12 PM on 06.18.2015

About that FF7 remake... Listen up, Square-Enix!

Like many of us, I was there when Square-Enix announced they were finally remaking Final Fantasy 7. Unlike many of us, I have never finished Final Fantasy 7 and only even played it for the first time on my Vita.

It was a dull, dated experience of a time best left in the past, and with so many people sharing how they feel or think this remake should be handled, I'm here as part of the demographic most qualified to tell you how it needs to be handled if Square-Enix wants people to actually care about it.

So let's start with the basics.

This guy?

He's a pussy.

Fix it.

Luckily, all we've seen of this loser is his backside. We can still do some damage control here. To do that, though, gameplay's gonna need to be fixed a little bit to better accomodate not having an emo for a main character. How are we gonna do that?

By fixing this.

Look at this stupid thing. Why is it so big? Our boy Cloud here's gotta be overcompensating for something, and you do not want the lead character of the biggest game on the PS4 looking like he blows his load before it's his turn.

Now you might be thinking we're stuck with it based on that trailer, but worry not kiddies, this is an easy, easy fix, as I'm about to show you all. See, I've drawn up some diagrams for Square-Enix to refer to using some of the best imaging software on the market to show just how easily they can fix this walking disaster of a protagonist.

As you can see, Cloudy With a Chance of Crying's sword will just be something to throw enemies off guard with how stupid it looks, but then, using a transforming mechanic, 'cause bitches love transfomers, it turns into a mother fucking gun.

This leads me to my next point, and it is a crucial one for fixing this trainwreck of a game and making it appealing to the more mature and educated gamers of today.

This remake needs to be a first person shooter. No ifs ands or buts about it. RPGs are for babies who like to play pretend. Real gamers like to blow shit up.

No more waiting around like a bitch to take your turn. I'm not gonna to wait for nobody to take my ass down! That's not how good games work. What do you think this is, Pokémon? This isn't a game for kids! We're taking charge and blowing holes in everyone we see before they have a chance to penetrate our manly bodies first.

Now that we've fixed the pussy ass main character and his sorry excuse for a weapon, let's get to the important stuff. His posse.

How the fuck did this sell back in the day? What is this, freaking Kingdom Hearts? Are we gonna go take Simba over there to play with that dude from Treasure Planet in the back and go on a magical adventure to make friends with Elsa's sister, whatsherface, over there in the front? Shit.

Okay, okay, we can fix this Square-Enix. We're gonna have to work hard though.

First, animal mascots? Baby shit. Not even kids like that kind of crap anymore.

Get rid of both of them, and make one of them some crazy awesome dude that makes shit explode a lot and the other one foreshadowing for the zombie DLC.

Oh yeah, don't forget, do some zombie DLC or don't even bother with this bull. You gotta bring this game into the modern era of gaming, you know what I mean? Lemme see, how're we looking so far?

Okay okay, looking pretty good, am I right? This game just might get IGN's GOTY yet.

So let's deal with the offensive shit.

Get rid of the creepy underage girls and pervy Japanese stuff, get rid of the Twilight crap, it's not cool anymore, get rid of the pedophile that has no place hanging around with a bunch of young adults and kids, and to be safe, get rid of the stuff that'll make a bunch of important white people think the game is racist.

If you want to be a good game in today's society, you have to remember to be sensitive to your audience.

Once we've done that, let's just see what we've got...

Now that's a 10/10 cast if I ever saw one, am I right or am I right?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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4:16 PM on 06.12.2015

Let's go Supernova!

Hey, you! Yeah, you!


 Boo!

That guy or gal sitting on your computer and/or mobile device looking at the video game website! Yes, I see you! You can't hide from me by switching to that porn tab! You know I'm talking to you! I've got a question for you today. Are you passionate about anything? Do you have a dream? Is there a fire inside of you that just can't be put out?



Yes? No? You don't know yet?

If you do, that's fantastic! if you don't, or you aren't sure, that's fine too. Not everyone does. Maybe you don't have one, or maybe yours hasn't been lit yet. Whatever the case, a fire like that needs to be tended to, don't you think? Maybe you should start gathering wood for it if you don't have it going?

But you're just sitting here, posting on this website? Still?



Why is that? Are you lacking the motivation, maybe? Or is it something else? What is it? Think about it and let it out. Do you just need a break? I get that a lot.

But do you really mean that? I've told you this before, whoever you are, and while I know we all need breaks, I really, really need to ask you... Are you sure about this? How long has the break you've been on right now been lasting? How much longer is it going to last? If this doesn't apply to you, by all means, back away and enjoy your break, but I have a feeling some of you know just what I mean here. Especially if you're a returning reader from our last pep talk!

Though you know what, I'm sure that doesn't apply to everyone. Not everyone stopping to read these blogs is just taking a break. Maybe you are chasing a dream. Maybe you're doing it together! You and your friends could be working towards something even as we speak! Are you making a video game? Are you in a band? Maybe you've got a web comic? If so, I apologize for my presuming, because I've got a different question for you.



Are you sure that it's your dream that you're chasing? Is what you're doing right now really your passion? Or are you along for the ride because you want to help your friends succeed? If that's the case, if you're sure it is... Are you okay with that? There's not anything wrong with doing that, exactly, but is it what you really want to do with your life?



Just think about it, alright? It'll come together in a sec.

Because maybe you aren't in that situation. Maybe you're just another regular person living just another regular life, like me or you or the next Destructoid user, scrolling along the blogs, getting on with their day, waiting for the next big pre-E3 leak. Nothing special.

Are you alright with just "nothing special" like that?

Do you really feel content to just watch other people accomplish the things you wish you could be doing, watching other people seeking out their dreams and aspirations as you just go from day to day living the same routine?

Are you fine being an observer, nothing more than one who consumes the things others create? If you are, and there's no shame in it, some people are, then that's fine. If that's what makes you happy, then please continue - I am not judging. Keep at it.

But for those of you who do want more, could I ask you something? What's stopping you? If you don't have the means to pursue your dream, then that's one thing, and I apologize for that, but for those of you who have those means but just... aren't... What's up with that? Could it be that you're just making excuses for yourself? Could it be that you're scared? Of failure? Of being left behind? Maybe you don't even know what it is holding you back. Maybe you're scared time will pass you by before you can do anything with that flame before you can figure out what you want to do with it.

I'm sure there are a lot of things to be scared of when you're chasing your dream. The world can be pretty rough like that.


... keep a healthy stock of vague screencaps that can apply to any situation...

Maybe you don't even know what it is you want for sure. I'm sure a lot of us can relate to that. Maybe there have been times you've been able to get past even those troubles of motivation, only to find yourself frustrated with a lack of direction. Even if you're driving as fast as you possibly can, will it really help if you don't know where to go?

The thing is... Yes, actually! Absolutely!



Listen, you! There's something you're forgetting!

There's something inside of you, and you might not even realize it's there, might not even realize what kind of shape it has, whether it's musical or artistic, or whimsical or fanciful, or maybe even a little perverted, but it is there.

Don't you want people to see it? Don't you want people to know it? Don't you want to see it and know it?



There's a bright, burning flame inside of you! A little star growing brighter and brighter!  It doesn't matter if you don't know where to go or what to do with it! Just let it out! Make an impact! No one will ever know it if you don't do anything!

If you move forward in some direction, no matter what it is, then that's all you need to do to start. Keep moving, and you'll stop being scared and you'll stop making those excuses that kept you from moving forward before. It might seem hard now, but it'll be okay.

So take that first step! Transform yourself into a new you, one step at a time! We'll all be here to see what you do with that burning hot passion once you get back - the internet isn't going to be going anywhere any time soon.

You don't have to do it all at once, either. But take a step today, even if it's only one. Just one!

They'll get easier as you move along. There's no need to run away from it. If you can't do anything about it now, then hey, that's okay. Just thinking about it is one way to tend to that flame inside of you. So long as you do that, even if all you do is let out that light bit by bit, then someday you'll be able to let it out for sure.

When that day comes, you might find out that that star inside of you will be the one that outshines all the rest.

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2:35 PM on 06.09.2015

A Certain Sorcerer's Blog: Welcome to Avalon!

The world as you know it, an already mad and terrifying place as it was, is in ruin. The end of all is at hand, and you, my friend, have been captured by what seems to be the cause. All you can do now is watch from within the horrible, misshapen bars that keep you from a final, fruitless attempt to flee... and wait.

You've read the books that litter your cage from front to back, but it has done little to help to ease your anxiety, your despair. You know that your final moments could come at any time. So you sit in your cage... Weak, helpless, and alone, all you can do is await your demise in silence.

There is no hope. There is no salvation. You even witness a rebellious prisoner foolishly attempt to escape, only to fall before your very eyes to the cruel sorcerer that is holding the world within his hands. If you had any thoughts of trying to escape yourself, they've surely been quashed now.

And when all seems lost, just as you are ready to give up-- It is in that moment when you find yourself blessed with a chance.

An enchanted book, passed from prisoner to prisoner, has now found its way into your cage. But this isn't just any enchanted book, oh no. This book is... special.

This book is also the only chance you have.

Welcome to the world of Soul Sacrifice, or as it's hopefully better now know, the world of its expansion, Soul Sacrifice Delta. Perhaps even more known to some simply as the first game major hunting game to be released on the Playstation Vita, Soul Sacrifice offers players a different take on the genre, featuring not only a rather unique take on the type of gameplay that these games tend to offer, but a fascinating setting and a story that is well worth the price of admission alone.

Before continuing further, if you could click this link, that would be lovely, though this one is fine too if you want more variety while you read. Also, while it's probably too late for this warning, I should mention that this is going to be an entry that is heavy on the images.

Now, perhaps the first thing one can take from Soul Sacrifice, even before getting to the gameplay, is simply its presentation. While other hunting games feature hub worlds of some kind for you to wander around in, Soul Sacrifice does not. Even the claustrophobic Freedom Wars eventually gave you the opportunity to leave your cell.

In Soul Sacrifice, you do not have such luxury. You can either wander in your cell, crawling around on your hands and knees, and squash the bugs feasting on what you hope are not the bodies of your predecessors... or you can take a peek inside your magical new friend.


You see, this is no ordinary magic book. This book is a journal, and it's not just any journal at that! It is a journal that was kept by someone who knew the very monster that is keeping you hostage. In itself, that doesn't seem like much, but remember, this is a magical journal.

While players of Soul Sacrifice can't leave their cages, they also don't need to. Opening up this snarky book will let them relive the memories of its author, allowing them to learn about how things became the way they are now and, if they're lucky, perhaps how to defeat the terrible sorcerer holding them captive.

I'm sure at this point, you're wagging your finger at me. "Oh, I see now! Once I open up the book, I must be transported to the game's hub world! There, I can magically talk to people who knew the owner of the book, just like I would if I was traveling through time, and..."

No, you can't do any of that, because it's a book! Haven't you been paying attention? What else would be there when you open a book but the table of contents?

Soul Sacrifice never strays far from this concept of "you are reading a book." With the exception of an opening cinematic here and cutscenes enough that I only need one hand to count them there, outside of combat, this game is you in a cell looking at a book. It is a book that you can alter and it is a book that you have all sorts of control over, as I'll get into later, but it is a book through and through. There are some who may spend more time with a book through this game than in real life, depending, which is kind of sad, but a topic for another day.

Because I don't want to spoil too much of the actual story, which I have to say again really is fantastic, I'll offer a summary more of the world rather than the actual events you witness within it, and then follow it up some screenshots out of context. That sound good? Good!

In Soul Sacrifice, sorcerers are people who use their magical abilities, typically on orders from the faction of sorcerers known as Avalon, to fight the monsters that terrorize the world, as characters in hunting games tend to do. These monsters can range in size from beasts the as small as a child to truly terrifying monstrosities the size of a small castle. These monsters are typically slain by sacrificing them, hence the game's title, but in Soul Sacrifice Delta, we find factions who are highly opposed to the nature of sacrifice that Avalon so strictly enforces.

But where did these monsters come from? Are they a natural part of this world? Or is there something else at work...? I wonder...

The world of Soul Sacrifice is very heavily based on a lot of things that you and I are very familiar with. The monsters these sorcerers fight aren't mighty dragons or mechanical tools of destruction, but terrifying monsters directly inspired by myth and fairy tale alike, from the likes of Jack Frost or Cerberus to even Red Riding Hood and Hansel & Gretel. Monsters, factions, and characters are all based on things that you might not at all expect them to be, but for those that no longer bear their "true" name, once you get to thinking about it, they didn't even hide a lot of it. While the first game largely draws inspiration from the stories of King Arthur, the second takes more from Grimm's Fairy Tales for its additions.

But even before getting to the obvious enemies like Red Riding Hood or Centaur, perhaps the most obvious source of inspirations were right in front of you all along... and perhaps they were the ones taken out in the localization process. But among the things removed, the sorcerer keeping the player captive, known as "Magusar" to Western audiences, is known as Merlin in Japan — and alongside the author of the journal, Magusar is a key part of the story told to readers as they relive the tales kept within the journal.

And just what will you find in that journal? Well, I took longer with that buildup than I probably should have, so for now, instead I'll let the out of context journal segments, taken from the main storyline as well as shorter chapters devoted to specific parts of the author's life, speak for themselves:



































One thing that adds exponentially to the experience of Soul Sacrifice is that the story of the journal is completely voiced. Players not only get to listen to the story told to them as the words appear on screen, but can watch animations, illustrations, and even stains flood the pages as they read on, with characters all speaking for themselves when it's time for them to speak.

The game's story, despite being contained to just a book in a video game, is rich and fleshed out like few modern games are, even though it is almost exclusively told through narrated first person journal entries, with exceptions only being found in a few sections in the journal, like the section dedicated to the world's lore. You will feel things, you will enjoy things, and you will want more.

And if you want more, as I mentioned just a moment ago, there is a section for it, which will be the last thing I touch upon in this section of this long, harrowing blog entry. The world of Soul Sacrifice is rich, but a journal can only show us so much. For those seeking more... Why, you need only flip through to this part of your textbook.

This section of the book will offer more than you ever possibly could have wanted to know about the world of Soul Sacrifice, as lore sections in games often do. While many such sections in games often go ignored or forgotten, what makes this section a particular fan favorite is that this section is much more than simply a mere infodump on the monsters and enemies you face within the game or a history lesson about a fictional world. Every monster, even every area, has a story to tell.

In the spirit of SeymourDuncan17's Persona 4 appreciation month, I picked one in particular out to share with you lovely people that feels all the more fitting for the season, so to speak.

That, ladies and gentleman, is based off of the same story that gave us a beloved Disney film about a young emperor getting turned into a llama, in case you didn't catch it. If you're interested in further reading, while I won't clog up any more space than I already have, I did put together three more images of two more monsters and one area compiling their respective chapters in the lore section into single images for any curious readers:

Lake Andromeda
Gargoyle
The Tortoise and the Hare

One last thing before I finally wrap this portion of the blog up: I want to add that the game's dub is fantastic, and while normally I would say to just go with your preference, as the original Japanese voices are indeed available and are quite fine in their own right, unless English isn't your first language, I can't stress enough how good a job Sony did on this game's voicework and bringing this game to life.

And now... Actually, you know what? I think I'm going to actually save the rest of this for another blog entry! This wasn't as long thanks to my words, but I think it might be for the best to save gameplay and other items for its own blog entry even so.

So now that we've gotten most of the story stuff out of the way, or at least most of the story stuff that I'm willing to cover anyway, I'll return with the rest of Zetta Does Soul Sacrifice in its own blog later this month, so keep your eyes out for it! Ironically, despite less words from me in this portion, this actually took a bit more work than the usual Google searching for funny things to slap on and/or minor editing for the pictures besides the writing, and since I'm already pushing it back now, I think I'll get some better screencaps for the gameplay section. So depending on how things play out, a different blog that doesn't involve all that may actually end up being posted first...?! We will see!

In the meantime, if you own a Vita or a device that can play Vita games but don't already have Soul Sacrifice Delta, if it isn't already clear, I highly reccomend it! If this has at all interested you, then by all means, don't wait for my next blog, go on ahead and try it out for yourself!

Who knows what kind of story awaits you within...?

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6:09 PM on 06.01.2015

The eXperience You Don't Want To Miss!

Aw man... Is this for real, guys? A Nintendo Direct right before E3? Probably not gonna be anything special. No reason to bother with it, really...

Wait a second...

Is that what I think it is...?

Could it really be possible after all this time!?


And so it was written, the trailer appeared before the unsuspecting masses like a chorus of angels, but with the sound of ringing bells replaced with the sound of little plastic pieces snapping together.

Either coming completely out of left field or coming right on Level-5's ridiculously way-past-late schedule depending on whose calendar you're looking at, the first Little Battlers eXperience (known as Danball Senki in Japan) 3DS title has been announced for a surprise localization! Coming to the US in late August, this long overdue game will be finally gracing shores outside of Japan and giving everyone a chance to truly see what an eXperience they've been missing.

That, or it will be like the first Inazuma Eleven game in the US and we'll never see any of them past the first one — which, incidentally, is something I really don't want to see happen!

My eXperience with the franchise is admittedly limited compared to what there is to offer, but it's one that has been well enjoyed all the same. Of the three games (and their multiple iterations), I've only played Danball Senki W on my Vita, all through the main campaign and the extra story that they added later through an update. I've watched about half of the last anime of the series, Danball Senki Wars, and I've got a whole shelf dedicated to the models I've built, with some stragglers hanging around with some of my games.


If I could justify getting more Ikaros models, I would probably have a shelf of just the two of them.

Despite that, I came out of Danball Senki W a man truly charmed. In fact, my early 2013 import of Danball Senki W is the game that really got me back into using my Vita again after an off again on again and then off again relationship during its initial launch year. I might not have even considered ordering fan favorite Persona 4 Golden if not for the huge spike in Vita usage this little gem got out of me.

In fact, while I put down Persona 4 Golden when I was done with most of the game only about a month and a half later, I was coming back to Danball Senki W for months. I kept coming back even after Muramasa Rebirth came out, and it wasn't until Dragon's Crown was on the horizon that I finally put Danball Senki W down, though I still went back to it on occasion. Mind, I'm not saying it's "better" than those games or anything, but, uh...

Okay, I guess what I'm saying is I really liked the game a gosh darn whole lot. Simple enough, right?

So it probably wouldn't be that surprising to anyone if I said that I was ecstatic to see the announcement this morning when I'd not only given up on any game from this series ever getting localized, I'd even started to forget about it with how Level-5 dropped it after Danball Senki Wars for its new, monster-themed baby.

And like I said, I like the series a lot.


Like... A lot.

The 3DS title coming out this August known as Little Battlers eXperience is a suped up 3DS version of what is the first installment of the game, which was originally on the PSP. The game is already a few years old (Danball Senki Wars, the last entry in the series, launched on October 31, 2013), but I bet it can still hold up. My personal hope, if they're really going through with this, is that if this does well enough we'll see the second and third 3DS games, known in Japan as Danball Senki W Super Custom and Danball Senki Wars respectively.

Which is, coincidentally, where you guys reading this come in! Now that I've sufficiently built the game up to a level that it can't possibly meet once it actually comes out, I am here encouraging all you 3DS owners out there to make the first installment of this awesome series part of your collection and buy it as soon as you can after launch!

Thanks guys! You're the best!

... What, making ol' Zetta's dreams of finally being able to play Danball Senki W in English and then Danball Senki Wars after that come true isn't good enough reason to buy a game? I have to give "reasons" for it...?

Okay, let's break it down! I linked the trailer earlier, but here it is again. Once it's done promoting the toys and the anime, it actually does do a pretty good job of briefly explaining some of the things I found most fun during the time I was playing W.

Besides for paint jobs, you can pretty much customize your LBX however you want, so long as you have the parts and stats for it. Mix and match parts for your model's body, then add on weapons for how you'll fight as well as what kinds of awesome, over the top special attacks you'll have access to.

You can also go into your LBX and mess around with how they're programmed, giving them different chips and batteries and all sorts of nifty things to better customize how they function. If you ever played the MegaMan Battle Network games, you'll be finding yourself right at home with this part, as it's not unlike how you could program MegaMan.EXE using the Navi Customizer.


Did I mention the awesome, over the top special attacks?

Gameplay is pretty simple to understand. You play out through the story mode as your human hero, starting off in seemingly simple situations that eventually build up into fighting terrorists and even dealing with actual war, dropping your little robots into arenas to do so. Does that sound like a little much? To put it into bluntly, apparently the anime's dub went from 44 episodes to 26 due to removing content supposedly inappropriate for children.

Now, while I haven't actually seen the first game's anime, nor do I know much about its story, considering just one of the many things Danball Senki W pulls at the end that I wouldn't expect to see allowed for the precious babies of the West (consider this a SPOILER ALERT for a game that's a few years old, in Japanese, and may never get localized!), I think I can safely assume that this game wasn't the first time things got really real.

Here's hoping the games don't suffer the same fate!

What about the actual robot on robot action, you ask? It's pretty straightforward, but it's still a lot of fun! Your robots are dropped into wherever the fight is taking place, sometimes with allies and sometimes not, to fight against enemy robots. Areas will vary in size and shape, and when you win, not unlike Medabots before it, you might get parts of defeated robots. It's basic and simple looking at a glance, but you can really feel all your customization coming to life once you get into it.

Admittedly, the actual gameplay can definitely get a little repetetive if you stick with a certain style for a while or if you aren't fighting tough enemies, but the great thing is that you don't have to. Swap out your parts, change your programming up, or even just switch to a weapon type you don't use much, and the game can suddenly feel fresh again.

There are also some other really, really cool things that come up in the games sometimes. The following screencap is of another spoiler for Danball Senki W, albeit a more minor one, but either way, you've been warned! Still, let me just say that there is a boss battle in W that started out as super intense and eventually got to be really, really fun, at least for me personally. It's one that I can't wait to have a second go at should the 3DS version of the game get localized, but the first game's success will probably be the deciding factor for that happening or not!

Most people have probably moved on from this series by now, possibly more interested in Level-5's upcoming (ongoing in Japan) Yo-Kai Watch, which seems to be getting almost all of their attention now. Meanwhile, those still paying attention sound like they've been pretty burned by decisions made for the anime's dub. I'm not kidding when I say I thought I would never see one of these games in English at this point. If Level-5 genuinely wants these to have an overseas audience, they sure don't act like it.

So to for those of you who have made it to the end of this blog, if you're still at all interested in this crazy series about model robots beating the hell out of each other, I encourage you all to follow updates, watch any future trailers that Nintendo or Level-5 decide to offer, and maybe even buy the game once August rolls around!

Assuming I haven't ruined it for anyone by giving it this much hype, I really hope people give it a chance and like it. We may have lost Inazuma Eleven, at least here in the US, but we have a chance to get all three Danball Senki games, so let's not waste it guys!

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