Sunday, 31 May 2009

shmup it up

Ten minutes of bright lights and explosions.

plants vs zombies

I have played a little of it. Strangely, I find the 'minigame' levels much more fun than the normal story progression. It's cute, and it's certainly playable, but it lacks something special to really come out and WOW me (like the writing in Bookworm Adventures, or the end-of-level effects in Peggle which were totally unexpected the first time I saw them).

I suppose I might get it if nothing else comes along that interests me more.

pinkety pink

Natsume's announcing another girly rhythm game for the DS (in English that is)

Cheer We Go! (DS)
Take on the role of a cheerleader in this exciting rhythm adventure
game! Use your stylus to guide your cheerleader through increasingly
complex dances and cheerleading routines. The game's story mode takes
players on an adventure through school as they try to work their way
up to star cheerleader! Players can completely customize their
character, enjoy a variety of mini-games, and may just find a little
romance as they strive to become the best cheerleader in the school!

While Princess Debut was much better than Imagine Figure Skater, I think I've had enough of that sort of thing. For now.

Especially since I suspect customising my character and enjoying minigames will mean repeating a lot of boring stuff over and over again in order to raise my scores and unlock costume pieces. :)

Thursday, 28 May 2009

Science Girls Launch Into Action

Which means that you can finally seek an answer to one of the greatest questions ever raised by an RPG...

(Webpage, Free Demos for Windows/Mac/Linux)

Free Speech? Or not?

So, an update on the whole Rapelay mess. Apparently, after being hassled about it by Westerners for a bit, the Japanese sexgames industry is feeling a bit sheepish about all their violent rape games and is instituting a voluntary member-policy discouraging them. (So it's not a law. It's just red faces.)

EDIT: Apparently there was an incorrect news story somewhere and this hasn't actually happened.

EDIT AGAIN: Okay, now it has.

I don't know what to think. I'm capable of telling the difference between fantasy and reality, I know that most people who play these creepy things would not hurt a real person, and I'm not generally pro-censorship. On the other hand, if the industry is pressured to make more games about consensual relationships instead, I can't help but feel that's kinda a good thing...

Of course, the creepiest stuff is probably that made by doujin circles, who the anti-Rapelay movement has never heard of, and who won't be affected by a policy in an industry they're not officially part of.

not vapor after all

A Witch's Tale has been spotted for sale (in Japanese).

Monday, 25 May 2009

Star Trigon

For arcade fans or just anyone desperate for a little more variety in their gaming than the standard casual portal genres, Gamezebo has a review out of a cute little action-puzzle thing...

Thursday, 21 May 2009

life, video games, science fiction

Interesting article on how attached human soldiers become to their robots, even though these aren't making any attempt at being personable androidy things.

mission architect

So, City of Heroes has been playing around with user-generated content. And I, at least for a little while, am back in the game. These things are only indirectly related, the mission stuff re-enthused someone else who begged me to come back and play, I don't really care that much about it myself.

How is it working out? Well, like every other bit of gameplay in MMORPGS, it's prone to exploits and doesn't work out as planned.

There's a wired article on the subject and related slashdot article, from which I pluck one comment:

The loopholes here is "players can create content, and rate others' content, and gain rewards from the content itself and getting good ratings." The inevitable result is:

* People make stupid powerlevelling farm stuff
* The farmers and powerlevellers love it, and rate it highly
* Actual stories with actual plots are, with rare exception, rated poorly or ignored - "this is too hard, i'm not getting XP fast enuff"
* If you know 50 people in your guild, you're getting 50 top ratings, no matter what kinda crap you churn out
* Rating trading for the rewards
* Revenge-rating players you don't like
* Extreme polarization of those opposed to powerlevelling and farming, in response
* Much QQ
* Boo Hoo.

Honestly, it's not the system, and it's not even a lot of players. It's the tools who come in, pay real cash for IG money and levels, and will soon get bored and move on anyway. Screw them.

The slashdot review suggests "OH NO USER CONTENT IS A DEAD END" but the thing is, the user content is still full of interesting stuff.

There are two major problems. One being that there was a massive exploit discovered to allow people to get WAY more xp than normal... which isn't that big a deal in my opinion because the devs can remove that once it's noticed, and if somebody manages to grind up a level50 character in a day using a cheat, who cares? They didn't have that much fun doing it, and it won't affect their future charaters once it's fixed. (Now yes, for people more into guild/PVP stuff this is probably more important. I'm not, it means nothing to me.)

The second problem, which is getting less attention but is actually more important, is that letting users rate content sounds like such a simple plan and it TOTALLY DOES NOT WORK.

More on this topic later, I've hurt my eyelid somehow and need to wrap up this post.

Sunday, 17 May 2009

and speaking of...

I'm a bit dismayed by the announcement of 'Science Papa', a game that supposedly resembles Cooking Mama in terms of minigames and coaching, except that cooking is for girls and science is for boys... or, more likely, the difference being "We're blatantly trying to make you think of a popular trademark that we don't have the rights to use!"

How dreadfully tacky.

Friday, 15 May 2009

Science Girls taster video

(Not a trailer, just a taster, at super-speed.)

pointless but cute

another successful Wandering Willows quest...

bouncy bouncy

I think it's Touhou-related, but the basic idea is fairly obvious - character jumps on platforms, arrow keys move.

Thursday, 14 May 2009

darn you, ebay!

... so after failing to find cheap copies of the things I was looking for I somehow ended up buying a copy of Revenant Wings.

(Someone else in the house actually played FF12, I didn't. If I get bored with it, it should find a home easily enough.)

Bionic Heart

Another game in development, out later this year...

Monday, 11 May 2009


As seen on Play This Thing, it is a dreamy, surreal platformer. Although that's probably all the description you need - reading the rest of the description there will just bog you down with the weight of it. Exploring the strange game/world is often better if you're not expecting anything in particular.

Sunday, 10 May 2009

dark wind - car combat

If you're in mourning for Auto Assault, apparently there's a new (hard) online game to slam each other around and blow each other up with flamethrowers. Gametunnel review here.

Friday, 8 May 2009

"cool, but a bit demented"

(Says the trailer, not me!)

Looks like the kawaii fairy goth A Witch's Tale may not be complete vaporware after all. Yay!

As for my conundrum of what to do with my Amazon US gift certificate, I... spent it on a book and some manga, and then bought a copy of the Japanese-only Witch Touching Game elsewhere, even though I won't really be able to play it.

Things I'm checking ebay for: Lux Pain, Rhapsody
Things I insist I'm going to buy when they come out: Devil Survivor

Monday, 4 May 2009

something awful on old D&D

If you've somehow never heard of Something Awful, be assured that you will encounter some rude language upon following this link, which is talking about Ye Old D&D - The Tomb Of Horrors.

time travel gives me nosebleeds

By the final chapter of Time Hollow I have lost any ability to make sense of the plot (at least, all of the interacting timeloops within the plot) but am beginning to get a sort of popcorn glee out of sharing my reactions with people "OH LOOK HERE COMES THE PSYCHO AGAIN!"

easy mode plz!

Mevo and the Grooveriders is almost such a cool game.

But while the difficulty to pass a level initially isn't too bad, after only two levels you basically have to go back and do the levels PERFECTLY before you can get any new levels.

The pain in my wrists tells me that's not terribly likely.

I have a sneaking suspicion that with the cool content they have in the game, they couldn't actually make very many levels, so they made the levels super-hard and forced you to replay them a lot, to keep buyers from running out of game too quickly. Which just means that I don't want to buy the game at all, so they lose that bet.

Sunday, 3 May 2009

i can has graphics?

The power of cutting-and-pasting to put games together doesn't end with Limbo of the Lost. Of course, it didn't begin there either. More games than you may realise are guilty of a little bit of asset borrowing somewhere or other, sometimes because of legitimate mistakes (a placeholder that accidentally stayed in the final build, a contracted artist who passed something off as original when it wasn't), sometimes because of low budget or lack of imagination leading to "Just try to make something that looks like this, okay?" that comes out pretty obviously referenced.

But what Limbo of the Lost taught us is that if you find one egregiously blatant bit of art theft, you'll probably find more than one in the same game.

Something called 'Civony' has apparently not only been stealing their sprites from Age of Kings, but stealing their ad banners from costume sites.

If the code for the browser 'game' itself turns out to have been lifted as well, I doubt anyone will be surprised...

made of fail?

It's not every day you see a PC game with a review score of 1.5/10 on Gamespot!

Saturday, 2 May 2009

get funky

For those who despair that casual portals only ever offer the same hidden object game over and over, here's something a little bit different:

From the screenshots, you might think it was a platformer. It's not... you don't have to control the character running and jumping and dancing and spinning, the game does that for you. Your job is to play a rhythm game, and tap the Left or Right key just as the character hits the appropriate arrow. To a groovy soundtrack, of course.

Like many rhythm games, apparently this gets insanely hard, and it's not doing very well on Big Fish (which isn't exactly a big draw for people looking for games that require reflexes!)

Friday, 1 May 2009

Romance is a Special Need

(Blogging Against Disabilism - The main page of which can be found here. I'm not officially submitting, though.)

What a coincidence that the Katawa Shoujo demo just came out!

The game, which iirc was originally devised as something of an art joke on 4chan that some people decided to run with, is a "disabled girl dating sim", which sounds creepier than it actually is. Each girl is 'unusual' in some way - one's blind, one's deaf, one has no legs, one has no arms, etc. The player character is also suffering from a newly-diagnosed disability, a serious heart condition requiring a lot of medication and monitoring.

But other than that, it follows a standard high school romance game formula. The girls fall into the traditional romantic archetypes and - with one exception, which I'll get to - their disabilities really don't make a bit a of difference. Sure, they come up in text, sometimes in unexpected ways, when a character goes about some task in an unusual manner. And the main character wrestles with not wanting to admit his problems (even to himself) and not knowing how to talk to other people about their abilities. But players will generally end up liking and choosing a girl based on her personality, not fetishing the disability. Simply interacting with the characters makes the case for 'differently' abled more clearly than words. (I'm not saying the game is some shining beacon of a tolerant society. It WAS originally designed as a 'silly' fetish, after all, and some people have a big problem with the whole concept of dating games, and it's obviously only scratching the surface of ability/disability. Just that it's more positive than you might think.)

Now, while it's not based on a real story or setting in any way, so there's no such place to criticise - it did start to feel odd after a while to have the idea of a school for the disabled, when they're all so very different and many of them are meeting their needs with the help of other students, not the staff. Sure, a large number of people with extra needs might want to have a nurse on hand and some extra equipment for physical therapy... but really, ANY boarding school should have at least a staff nurse (isn't that legally required in most places). And more specialised medical care would be problematic to provide with, as noted, everyone having such different needs. Mostly, what the school provides is an environment where everyone's aware that their fellow students have varying levels of ability in different ways and might need some extra allowance once in a while.

Stepping outside the world of the video game - Shouldn't ALL schools have that? Is it really so difficult for us to look at each other and agree that we have different strengths and different weaknesses? That one person needs extra time to get to classes because she has trouble with stairs, and that another person can't eat carbs because they make her sleepy? And that your needs do not make you a 'freak'?

The exception - the character whose disability does overwhelm all interactions with her, and who seems problematic within the story - is Shizune, the deaf Student Council President. Apparently, she can't speak or lip-read, and no one in the school except for one other student seems to have bothered to learn sign, and that student follows her around constantly interpreting both directions. Since the game developers cannot animate proper signing, it can be difficult for the player to get a sense of Shizune's communication.