I finally got to play Ranko Tsukigime's Longest Day last week. The lovechild of Suda 51, Tokyo Jungle director Yohei Kataoka, Silent Hill sound director Akira Yamaoka, and a bunch of other Japanese development talent, I've followed Ranko Tsukigime closely.
So I was excited to finally get to play it. But I couldn't talk about it until today. Despite the fact that it decided to up and release in Europe last week. Even though it doesn't have a firm North American release date.
Whatever. I'm going to go see Short Peace in theatres this Thursday at least.
Ranko Tsukigime's Longest Day (PlayStation 3)
Publisher: Bandai Namco
Release: Spring 2014 (NA)
Each of the four shorts in Short Peace are set in a particular part of Japanese history. It was a clever transmedia stroke by Akira's Katsuhiro Otomo to have the concluding piece, which is meant to represent modern Japan, be a videogame. Videogames are big in Japan, after all.
And so this weird project began, with Suda 51 tapped to write the scenario. It was "the only way that we could compete with the four other movies," Crispy's Yohei Kataoka explained through a translator, possibly not joking. Kataoka handled the overall direction of the project, using the collaboration to bring Suda's story to life.
And it's a weird one. There is a game under those colorful, screen filling graffiti effects that explode like you're taking a baseball bat to light bulbs.
The game opens to Ranko and her school friends. The stylized 3D models move against some gorgeous backdrops that look like hand painted anime backgrounds. Ranko gets out of karaoke despite one friends' insistence. The other stumbles over her words and trips a lot.
Ranko makes it home to an automated parking garage, walking between the shipping containers that make up her neat living space, and we're treated to an exposition dump while Ranko changes clothes (uh, tastefully and obscurely) and prepares to work on killing her father, the parking garage magnate, to avenge her mother.
Then the game opens to a bad tutorial that writes out letters, like "square" in "press square," and puts these directions at the bottom of the screen, generally making it hard to learn and play at the same time. Not that's there is anything too outlandish to learn. Run, jump, sword, gun. The latter is mostly used for shooting behind you at the wall of gropey arms that chase you through levels. You can also shoot forward, but I found the sword more useful for that.
It's not an endless runner. You can stop. Sit for too long and the hands get you though. There are also frequent branching paths which likely differ in their efficiency, but I did run into what appeared to be a collectible or power up or two. The crazy spinning laser is fun.
It's all about running, jumping, sliding down inclines, wall jumping. Typical platforming trappings, but with weird polygonal enemies that almost seem as obscured in screenshots as they do in frenetic fast motion, especially when you kill one thing and an explosion of colors takes over the screen (and kills most of the things next to it).
The end of levels gives you your time and kill count, but nothing in the way of ranks. The abstractly put together levels, which feel like random geometry, are actually representations of story-based settings; for example, one level is apparently a bank and you are running towards the vault at the end.
I'm actually still not sure what's going on. I mean, I understand the plot. The rest of the game is just so weirdly abstract. There's a giant, evil Pomeranian. But I'm excited to play more. Every time I died I was itching to have another go at it.
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