Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Castlevania Series Run: Dracula X Chronicles

Well it's been a while but I finally did it! I finally got round to beating Castlevania: The Dracula X Chronicles for PSP.  This is going to be another gushy post about this game because it's fucking AWESOME

So for those that don't know, I'm going to explain what this game actually is.  If you remember a while ago, I made a ranty post about how much of a colossal shitfest Dracula X on SNES was.  Well this game was the original game that they butchered, but with a graphical face lift and a ton of other extras. 

So the game itself is basically everything we've experienced with previous Casltevania games, but refined and perfected in order to produce a platforming masterpiece.  The level design for this game is top notch and the bosses at the end of each stage are original and fun to fight against.  The branching paths make a return from Castlevania 3 but this time round they actually have a big impact on the outcome of the game.  Also there is a companion but I'll get into that later.

One complaint about this game is that it's a little bit too easy, but I don't really think that's the fault of the developers dumbing it down or anything.  Whenever I go online and look at forum posts about this game, there is a large number of people talking about how hard this game is.  The reason I probably think it's so easy is that I've been playing so much Castlevania that I've probably just gotten really good.  So to sum up this point, if you're a veteran CV player, you'll breeze through it, and if not, you'll get your ass kicked.  Either way it's still really fun.

But now we have to address something that is quite a glaring problem with this game, and that's your companion.

 That's a picture of Maria from the original PC-Engine version of the game, you can see her redesign on the box at the top of the page.

Anyway, this bitch right here, is too fucking powerful for her own good!  You can get her really easily, really early on and after you get her she will just destroy the fuck out of anything Dracula can possibly throw at you.  Compared to the main character, Richter, her attack is faster, she has a double jump and her item crushes are so overpowered it makes my face melt.

Now this isn't a bad thing, it doesn't ruin the game, but I have some problems with her from a storyline point of view here.  Richter is supposed this seasoned vampire hunter, with a legendary whip made for killing Dracula.  He's supposed to be a bad ass, but in the context of the game, his combat power is dwarfed by a small girl who shoots doves.  I'm aware that Maria is also supposed to be a vampire hunter too but c'mon, talk about stealing the spotlight here. 

Once you get her there is basically no reason to use Richter AT ALL unless you're doing the secrets.  Her attack is faster and you get no sacrifice in power, her double jump is extremely useful and shes a hell of a lot more nimble than Richter is.  The only disadvantage to using Maria is that every time she attacks, she makes this annoying "EY!" sound.  I think she might also have less health, but shes so fucking fast you'll never get hit anyway.

Well I'm not going to talk about Rondo of Blood itself, because it's not really all that different from any other Casltevania game prior, but what I am going to talk about, is the insane replay value in the PSP version.  There is SO MUCH SHIT here that even if you paid full price for it, it's worth every goddamn penny.

So lets go through all the big shit that you get with this game.  You get the Rondo of Blood remake, then you get the original PC Engine version of Rondo of Blood.  On top of that you get a full version of fucking Symphony of the Night! I mean holy shit that's another HUGE game just packaged in with an already meaty Castlevania game.  Finally you get some piece of shit parody game called Akumajou Dracula: Peke, but that takes about 30 seconds to play.

On top of getting an extra 3 games on top of the game you originally paid for, the remake itself contains a shitton of extra music CD's to collect that all count to a completion %age.  So if you're like me and you can't put a game down without getting the 100%, then you'll love finding all these discs.  Plus the music is awesome so they're worth getting anyway and you do need to use Richter for a couple of them, so just roflstomping your way through everything with Maria is not an option.  Finally there is a hidden ending after you fulfil a few requirements, so once you've beaten the game, you have a reason to go back.

To cut a very long story short, this game is fantastic and is easily one of the best games for the PSP.  So go pick it up and give it a whirl, you won't be disappointed at all.  If you don't have a PSP, then go emulate Rondo of Blood or some shit, because if you've not played it you're missing out.

I'll end this post with a picture of my 100% game just because I'm a dick and I like to show off



Monday, 30 July 2012

Reset

While I was clicking around the Internet today, I came across a trailer for a very mysterious game indeed called Reset by Theory Interactive.  Here, take a look

The reason I say it's a mysterious game is because I can barely find any info on this thing at all.  There is this trailer, a facebook page and a blog, but none of this stuff contains any info on the game itself.  What I have found out, according to the facebook page is that Reset will be a "Single player co-op first person puzzle game with emphasis on story and atmosphere."

The reason I decided to blog about it, is according to the information section for that youtube video, everything in that trailer was done with the in-game engine!!  Holy shit, is this going to be one pretty fucking game.  I think we're going to be looking at the next benchmark title for graphics when this gets a release so start saving those pennies so you can run this thing at launch.

The release of this thing is yet another mystery as the game isn't even in alpha yet, so we will probably be waiting quite a while for this one.  Let's hope that Theory Interactive takes its time and gives us something really special here.

Sunday, 29 July 2012

A Dark Day for My Game Collection Part #2

If you remember a while back, I made a post about a large chunk of my game collection going missing and the disaster of a situation being caused by the courier company that was supposed to be shipping my stuff.  Well there has been a little update on that situation that I wanted to share.

So there was this box that was stuck in Germany that I could track and had not yet been delivered and I was fairly convinced that it was that box which contained all my shit.  Fast forward about a month and we still have no word.  So contact is established with the company who then tell me "err yeah, we can't find it".  So what they're telling me, is that a box full of 4 games consoles and a heap of games has just vanished into the ether?

Yeah fuckin' right!  I don't buy this for one goddamn second!  The whole reason the box wasn't shipped from Germany or whatever was because it was "too heavy" apparently, so you don't just go losing something that fuckin' big.  I don't know what the outcome will be yet so I'll save this info for part 3, but there is also evidence that my stuff got tampered with too, so this whole situation is smelling really badly of someone just making off with all my games.

So to cut a long story short, I'm fairly certain my games got nicked.  Will keep updating on this situation just because it's such a huge fucking mess.

Mahjong!

Well, this post isn't quite video games, but it's close enough so I'm going to talk about one of my favourite table top games ever, Reach Mahjong.

Mahjong is a game that originally came from China, and then when the Japanese got hold of it, they tweaked the rules a bit and it became "reach" mahjong.  The reason for the naming is that when you "reach" it means you're about to win, which is something that you don't do in the Chinese game.

Anyway a typical mahjong game looks like this

The easiest way to describe this game to people who don't have a clue is that it's sort of similar to poker.  You use your tiles to make hands and try to be the guy with the most points at the end by creating certain hands. 

I'm not gonna use this post to explain the rules, but if you google it then there are plenty of websites that can teach you the basics of how to play.

So how is this video game related?  Well the real question is how the fuck is it NOT video game related?  There are literally hundreds of mahjong games for basically every system ever created.  Pretty much all of them are Japan only but the selection is huge.  The best mahjong game avaliable in my opinion is Mahjong 5 in the game centres.

In this arcade version the games are shorter, faster and a single mistake can cost you everything, shit is intense.  The coolest part about these machines is that they are all connected to the Internet, so you end up getting games with people all over the country, no need to worry about finding 4 players.

So that's a very brief overview of the awesomeness that is Mahjong.  For those wanting to give it a go, there is a site called Tenhou where you can play online


http://tenhou.net/

It's all in Japanese but it's not too hard to figure out.  There are also plenty of guides online and I'll probably use the free game Friday to explain it all, so give it a go!  Experience the greatness that is Mahjong!


Friday, 27 July 2012

Free Game Friday: Warning Forever

Today for Free Game Friday I bring you something that has kept me all the time since my time in college.  It's really good and it's really addictive so cancel all those days out because you're in for something special here!

This is a very simple game so this will be a very small post.  The game is a top down shooter that involves the killing of bosses and nothing else.  There are no stages, no power-ups, just you, a timer and a load of bosses.  Every time you kill a boss, you get more time and every time you die you lose time on your clock.  As far as I know the game doesn't end, so the goal is just to get the highest score possible.

The real interesting thing about this game though, is that the bosses will change depending on how you kill them.  I don't know what causes the boss to change the way it does, but killing it in certain ways will make it focus on attacking you or defending itself as well as some other parameters will change.

So download it and give it a go!  the link is

http://www.hikware.com/Prod/index.html#wf 

Kill some time and shoot some shit! you won't regret it!

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Persona 4 Ultimate

Persona 4 Ultimate is the new 2D fighting game to hit Japanese game centres, and, according to wikipedia, came out yesterday for the PS3 and Xbox360 in Japan.  America and the EU are getting it in August.

For anyone who may not know, Persona is a spin-off series of games in the Shin Megami Tensei franchise.  Shin Megami Tensei is kinda like pokemon, but for real men.  SMT is an extremely challenging and unforgiving series and when you do eventually beat one of them it's one of the most satisfying things ever.

However, Persona 4 Ultimate isn't a RPG at all.  Like I said in the first sentence, P4U is a 2D fighting game and contains no RPG elements whatsoever.  That said, the game is actually a blast to play on 2 levels.  The first level of fun is what I like to call the fanwank level.

Above is a picture of the character select screen, and I swear the version I played in the game centre had more characters available.  But my point is, if you're a fan of the Persona games, you're probably gonna get your rocks off to kicking the shit out of the Persona 3 and 4 cast as your favourite character. 

The other level of fun to be found here is in the gameplay itself.  The game is developed by Arc System Works, who gave us amazing fighters such as Blazblue and Guilty Gear, so you know this shits going to be good.  As a result of this however, the characters all feel like characters straight out of Blazblue and there is a little sense of this being an excuse to reskin that game and make a shitton of money off the Persona series popularity.  But you know what?  I'm not going to get angry about that! Arc System Works have done a good job of providing and solid fighting game that doubles up as fanwank, and even though it is very similar to Blazblue, it does seem to be just different enough to qualify as its own thing rather than a cheap Blazblue knockoff.

So warm up those arcade sticks because you're in for a treat with this one.  It doesn't matter if you like Persona or not, if you like fighting games then you'll like this I'm sure.

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Why Japanese karaoke is awesome

Well I went an missed another blog post again because I went out, spent 6 hours inside a Karaoke booth and then followed it up by seeing a movie that was just recently released called Helter Skelter.

Helter Skelter will get its own post later, but for now, I wanted to do something short letting everyone know about the joys of Karaoke in Japan.

For any readers who don't know how this shit works over here, it's very simple.  In England, most karaoke is done in pubs and bars, where you have to get up in front of a whole buildings worth of people and sing a song.   This immediately turns some people off as they get nervous singing in front of so many onlookers.  However in Japan, they have these huge buildings filled with little rooms, and you rent out one of these rooms with your buddies and just have a grand old time with people that you feel comfortable with.

I would just like to point out, that above picture is not from one of my local karaoke places.  I lifted it off some other dudes blog after a quick image search, but it's a chain called Big Echo and they all look exactly the fucking same anyway.

"But Tau, this is a gaming blog, why the fuck are you talking about singing goddamn pop songs?!"

Well let me fuckin' tell you!  Inside the data banks of the various types of karaoke machines in Japan, there is a shit ton of video game and anime music.  I barely watch anime, but some of my standard go to songs when I'm out at Karaoke are Suteki da Ne (FFX), Real Emotion (FFX-2 English AND Japanese), Hikari/Simple and Clean (Kingdom hearts) as well as a shit ton of other assorted video game tracks.

But then what really blew my mind, was this!

That's right! They had fuckin' Snake Eater from MGS3!  Not only is this one of the best video game songs EVER FUCKIN' WRITTEN, but nothing feels more awesome than blasting this out at karaoke, while the video shows clips of Snake being a badass in the background.

THAT people, is why Japanese karaoke is FUCKIN' AWESOME!

UPDATE: It's not a big echo in the picture, its a Karaoke Kan, they are all so tightly packed in Nagoya I thought they were the same thing.  THE MORE YA KNOW!

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Silent Hill: Book of Memories pre-release impressions

Writing about this game is very hard for me, and not because there isn't really all that much information about it, but because I can already tell that it fucking sucks.  I'm a big Silent Hill fan, I loved 1-3 and even 4 despite it's flaws.  I was even willing to give downpour some credit for somewhat being a step in the right direction, but this? this is a fucking joke, it's a mess, a disaster, and it's not even come out yet.

So just what is Silent Hill: Book of Memories?  Well it ain't a Silent Hill game I'll tell you that.  The story line follows some prick that you design yourself, and you find a book or some shit where your entire past is written, and then you can bend reality or some nonsense in order to change your past and....WHAT THE FUCK HAS THIS GOT TO DO WITH SILENT HILL?! someone please tell me the link here?  also it's on the Vita, thought that was worth mentioning.

You know, if they changed to art style to something more original, and just called it "Book of Memories", maybe I wouldn't be flying off the handle, but why in the name of Jesus thorny butthole does it carry the Silent Hill name?  From what I can tell of the one video I've seen about it, it doesn't even have anything to do with Silent Hill. 

But the story isn't my biggest issue here, Silent Hill's story has been getting fucked every which way since Origins so it's something I've come to expect now.  But the gameplay? oh god does the gameplay look shitty.

First of all, did anyone ever play THIS fucking game?

If you did, your basically looking at the same sodding game.  From what I can tell of the gameplay footage the game focuses on multiplayer dungeon crawling, where all the dungeons look like rusty Silent Hill buildings as opposed to caves.  So first of all, Silent Hill is supposed to be a fucking horror game franchise right? so why the fuck has it suddenly turned into a loot based hack n' slash.  The only difference between this and Baldurs Gate is that the loot now doesn't drop as much so that it semi fits in with the whole survival horror thing.  Secondly, why in the name of holy cock shitting hell does it have a multiplayer focus?  What made Silent Hill really scary, was that sense of being alone, that sense that the only things that exist in the town are you, and shit that wants you dead.  But now its OK! You have up to 3 other friends to cover your back and make sure the nasties don't get you! 

Newsflash! THATS NOT FUCKING SCARY!  Good lord how do you fuck this up so bad.

Just let Silent Hill die, please, for the love of God.  All these western developers have no idea what the holy fuck they are doing and every new game just makes me want to hurl every member of the development teams into an active volcano.  But to be honest with you, even if you got the Japanese to take a crack at it, it would probably STILL be a shitty game.  The stroke of genius with this series has long gone, and it ain't comin' back, just put it to rest and lets look back fondly on what were truly some of the greatest horror games ever.  Stop destroying the legacy of Silent Hill!


Monday, 23 July 2012

Lethal Enforcers 3

When I do posts for this blog I try to write about stuff I've played fairly recently or news I've heard about within the last week or so, but all this having a job stuff is getting in the way and if I stick to doing that I'm going to run out of shit to say in the next few days, so today I'm going to write about a game I beat about a month ago.

So I was in this sports centre type place called Spoccha in Japan.  I think it might be worth doing a blog post on Spoccha itself because it's actually a really cool place to go, but the best thing about it is that they have a free-play game centre right slap-bang in the middle of everything.   Usually the games found in this free-play area are old games or shit nobody ever wanted to play.  Unfortunately, Lethal Enforcers 3 falls under the shit nobody wanted to play category.

I'll give you a little background on this series before I go on.

Lethal Enforcers 1 and 2 were old school arcade light gun games that later got ported to things such as the Megadrive (Genesis) or the Super Nintendo.  Now when I say old school, I really do mean old school.  The game had this weird digitised graphic look so all the enemies looked like actual people but aside from that, it was standard light gun game stuff, shoot the baddies and don't hit hostages or fellow officers.  If you play it now the game is kinda ass, but back in the day it was pretty good I guess. 

I would just like to point out at this point, that due to being from a pretty poor family, I never really got into light gun games properly until House of the Dead came out on the Sega Saturn, so I don't have all that much experience playing these really old shooters when they were new, couldn't afford the gun peripheral.

Anyway, back to Lethal Enforcers 3.  I'm going to admit right now that upon playing this game in the free-play game centre, I didn't even realise it was a Lethal Enforcers game until I got home and looked it up.  In Japan it's called 正義のヒーロー (that's Heroes of Justice for the non Japanese speakers) and it doesn't really play like any other game in the series.

Also unlike every other game in the series, Lethal Enforcers 3 is FUCKING BORING!  I played this shit through to completion in the two player mode but holy crap is it a dull game.  There are about 6 stages, all of which are EXACTLY the same.  You and your partner start off and your character begins running and moving your gun away from the screen will make you stop and defend yourself with a riot shield.  If you are playing the two player mode, the game is kind of like a race so whoever makes it to the checkpoint first wins.  When you reach the end of a few check points, you fight an extremely easy boss and then move on to the next bad guy.  Rinse and repeat until the end of the game.

This game has so many problems it doesn't even deserve to be a shitty downloadable game, let alone an arcade game.  First of all, it's not a nice game to look at and not because the graphics are ugly exactly, but everything is just so bland and boring it puts the player to sleep.  Second of all is the difficulty, this game is way to fucking easy.  Enemies don't use cover or anything like that and they'll just stand in open space taking potshots at you (and usually missing) until you cap them in the face a few times.  Also the bosses are a complete joke,  blocking their attacks is so easy that it's actually more of a challenge to actually try and get hit by them, and this leads me into my next problem.  The racing mechanic is fucking stupid and it's a waste of time.  You can beat the level without killing all that many enemies really, as long as you don't stop running forwards, you'll get there pretty quickly.  On top of that, the enemies are so fucking stupid they barely ever hit you so you may as well just be shooting at wooden targets for points.  The whole check point thing really sucks some of the fun out of the game really.

The exception to the difficulty is the final level where the enemies aren't hard because they are more accurate or anything like that, it's just that the level is fucking dark and you can't see shit.  You'll be running along and then BAM! a wall of bullets come at you, but they won't hit you, you just put your shield up and then spray wildly into the blackness and move along.  It's just a pain in the ass to have to do that every few seconds, so it's not really hard, just really fucking tedious.

To cut a long story short, go emulate Lethal Enforcers 1 or something or go dig out your Megadrive and play it with the gun, just don't go hunting down this piece of shit.

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Now thats some bullshit #3: Mosquitoes

First of all, apologies for missing the post yesterday, I had consumed my own weight in meat and was not in a particularly good mindset for writing anything, but after a good nights sleep I'm ready to go again!

However today, I'm going to have to put the controller down and do a little rant about something that has been bugging me (lol) ever since I arrived in Japan and that's Mosquitoes.  These little guys piss me off so much I feel like I have to rant about it somewhere, so here I go!

So last night, I was pacing around the room trying to walk off my extremely full stomach, when I thought I'd load up my washing machine to do the laundry when I woke up.  In my apartment, my washing machine is located on my balcony so I obviously have to step outside to put anything in it.  Now, in Japan, the balcony door comes with another door behind it known as a bug door.  It's basically like a thin net that stops little nasties flying in your room.   I was only stepping outside for about a second to throw the used cloths into the machine, so I didn't bother with the bug door, but within that short span of time, I was unlucky enough to have a mosquito fly into my room.

So I'm sat here playing Grimrock when I see the little bastard fly past my computer screen.  I clap at it in an attempt to kill it but I missed and then the little bastard was gone forever, or so I thought!  I hit the hay and wake up again at about 4am to the worst itch ever on my hands, side and feet!  Not only did that little cockstain bite me, but he bit me 3 fucking times!

This isn't the first time it's happened either, I've been getting bit by these arseholes since day one, and my god is it the most annoying thing ever.  If there was a way to do it, I'd love to collect every mosquito on earth, put them inside a big container, and have that container fired into space.  I'm no scientist, but as far as I can tell, the only purpose these creatures serve is to piss everyone off, and they should be eradicated from existence.

It's not like the mosquitoes in Japan are dangerous though, you don't need shots or pills in case of bites, but they are still really fucking annoying.  Gosh, I really wish they would all just buzz off!

Saturday, 21 July 2012

Dark Escape 3D Pre-Release impressions

If you remember my post a while back about game centres in Japan, you probably know that I love me some coin-op games.  One thing back from my childhood that I used to play a lot of was light gun games such as Virtua Cop 2, Time Crisis and House of the Dead.  Unfortunately, these games have become a bit of a rarity even in Japan, and maybe I have the case of the old nostalgia goggles but the newer light gun games just don't seem to be as fun anymore.

The last light gun game I had a good amount of fun with was Time Crisis: Razing Storm

A fun little arcade game in the Time Crisis franchise that drops the pistols and lets you go nuts with machine guns killing huge robots and whatnot, it was a solid game and was worth every Yen in I dropped into it.

So while browsing some gaming websites today, I came across Dark Escape 3D, a new lightgun horror game due to hit game centres some time soon I think. Take a gander at the trailer below

My Kanji dictionary is dead so I'm unable to give a full translation of it (given the fact my ability to do Kanji is awful) but you can get the general idea with the visuals anyway.

Just to give you all a little bit more detail, the game is one of those sit-down shooters like Deadstorm Pirates and the machine comes kitted out with vibrating seats, surround sound, 3D Specs and things that shoot air at your face, neck and legs in order to really try and immerse you in the game.  Sure, it doesn't look that scary, but trying to combine the light gun shooter and horror genre together is a cool idea and if done right I can imagine the arcades rendering the old haunted house idea obsolete.

The big gimmick with this game though, is the heart sensor in the gun that makes an attempt to gauge just how scared you are while playing.  Sure, we all laughed at the heart sensor that popped up at E3 a few years back, but I guess now they've finally found a way to put it in a proper game.  Sure it may sound like a crap gimmick, but if you play this game multiplayer, then not only can you test your shooting skill, but also who's got the biggest balls.

When this game comes out and I eventually find it, I'll try and get some footage for it, so watch this space.

Friday, 20 July 2012

Free Game Friday: Beneath a Steel Sky


What the hell are you doing here?  The Steam Summer Sales are still going, shit is like $2.50, and still, here you are, looking for some free shit to play anyway.   But that's not a bad thing, because sometimes its the free shit that is really awesome, like in this case!

Beneath a Steel Sky is an old as shit point and click adventure game that was released in 1994 for stuff like DOS and the Amiga.  The plot is really good but I played this a while back so I don't really remember.  What I do remember is that you play a guy called Robert (I think) and you get taken out of your home in the wastelands to be executed or something.  Anyway, you manage to get out of that and then you and your sass talkin' robot have to find a way to escape the city!  

OK so the plot is way better than that, but I beat this back in December so gimme a break.  The gameplay is standard point and click stuff, you find items, talk to people an solve puzzles until you uncover all the mysteries.  The setting and plot is engaging, the puzzles are interesting and the fully voiced dialogue is funny and well written.

What I'm trying to say is that this game is a fuckin' classic so just shut up and go play it for crying out loud.  

This game is available for free from Good Old Games (www.gog.com) along with a load of other classic games available for free and for purchase, brilliant website.

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Legend of Dance Dance Revolution

So this morning I'm playing through some Legend of Grimrock to pass the time before work when I come across a very strange room.

First of all, I have to take a little moment to explain what I was even doing in this room at all.



These big iron doors are found in every level of the Grimrock dungeon.  You are not required to go through them in order to beat a floor, but behind them is usually some kind of item that will be extremely helpful later on, so it's a good idea to go out of your way to get them open.  Every door has a different opening method, usually some kind of puzzle, but the solution to this particular door is not exactly what I would call conventional.

As soon as you step into the first tile of the room, the middle face statue shoots a magic bolt at you.   The bolts do no damage to the player, so it's OK to get hit by them and if they hit the wall behind you, they activate teleporters that take you back to the entrance of the room.  So the solution is pretty obvious, don't let the magic bolts hit the teleport switches, but holy shit, I didn't expect them to flow as fast as they did.  It's times like this I really wish I was recording because the speed at which the bolts were coming down was like something straight out of a rhythm game.  Luckily I'm pretty darn good at Rhythm games so I beat it pretty quickly.  When you do beat it you get an achievement in Steam
So obviously this was a reference to the widely popular rhythm genre (even more obviously Guitar Hero).  A fun little distraction and an unexpected little event in my dungeon crawler.  Just felt like sharing.

OK Tekken...What the hell are you doing?

I love me some Tekken, with the punching and the kicking and the boom boom POW! It's great!  The amount of hours me and my buddies at university spent kicking the shit out of each other, the amount of assignments left unfinished due to the online mode of Tekken 6, it was a good time, and then Tekken Tag Tournament 2 got announced and I was excited as all hell.

I've seen it running in the Japanese game centres near me, but I've yet to have a go as I was more intrigued by all the rhythm games and that Persona fighter that just came out recently, but Tekken Tag 2 looks like more of what we love.  But then we have a problem, not a huge problem that will stop me from playing the game, but a problem none the less.  I was browsing Gametrailers late last night when I came across this video


http://www.gametrailers.com/videos/17bpoj/tekken-tag-tournament-2-big-bikini-bundle-trailer

This is a video for some pre order bonus you get, that involves putting the entire cast into swimwear.  Now you may be asking why is this a problem?  Well first of all, I don't mind the concept, it's not like the women in Tekken have ugly designs, and putting them in swimwear just makes it even easier on the eye.  It's also not some feminist view that doing this demeans women in video games, because it ain't that either, the men are just as scantily clad as the women here, so take your "boo hoo women in games" bullshit elsewhere.

No, my problem is that this kind of thing just doesn't really belong in a Tekken game in this form.  Sure, sex sells, I get that, everything will use sex appeal to push copies but Tekken was one of my go-to games when trying to explain to non-gamers that fighting games aren't all about just mindlessly punching the shit out of people.  Tekken is a game that does require some semblance of skill to be able to play well with learning combos, juggles and making sure your timing is right so you don't get your head kicked in by the other guy.  But now it feels to me that it's starting to slip into that stupid Dead or Alive mindset, where the only way to push sales isn't to have a good fighting system, but to just put lots of pixiliated women in swimsuits and if I'm trying to use this as an example of gaming being a good thing to any naysayers, this isn't helping!  Leave the bikini fan service shit to Dead or Alive and keep the focus on the fighting here in Tekken, thank you very much.

Maybe I'm over reacting here, I mean the game is still really good and the fighting engine is as solid as it ever was, but if this new direction does start to bring in new players, then I have a fear that future games will be dumbed down to accommodate the newer audience, and that would be a shame.  We don't want Tekken turning into DOA basically.

But that's not my only problem here, right at the end of the trailer there is this!

So let's look carefully here.  4 playable fighters, sure that's fine.  Big Bikini Bundle...don't like the direction your taking Tekken here but OK, I'm sure there are many people who will like it. Snoop Dog Stage?  FUCK. OFF. with your Snoop Dog stage, now you're literally pulling anything you can out of your ass to make this game sell.  Is Namco Bandai so worried about sells of Tekken Tag 2 that they start having to pander to people who like rap music?!  What place does Snoop Dog have in a Tekken Game?  Also, if he has a stage, does that mean the game is going to have Snoop Dog's shitty rap music in there too?! Fuck THAT!  I'm not anti-rap, but Snoop Dog is just garbage.  Why don't they focus on making the home version of the game even better for all the loyal fans that have been buying this shit for years by giving us more features to make it seriously competitive or something?  We suffered through Tekken 4, we don't deserve this shit now! 

The arcade version looks really good, but I have concerns for whats to come...

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

The Legend of Grimrock

This is a post I've been saving for a while, because I'm going to flat out gush about this game, holy shit is it good.

So, to give a little background on what Grimrock is exactly, first of all you have to understand the roots of this genre.  A long long time ago, on the old computer systems that most of today's gamers have probably never even heard of, there were games such as The Bards Tale and Wizardry.  Wizardry is the example I will focus on here because this is what's most similar to Grimrock.  Basically, in Wizardy you had a party of dudes, and you had to fight your way through a maze like dungeon to complete whatever the objective was for the scenario you were playing.

Like a well aged cask of wine
These games were really quite difficult and lacked an auto mapping feature, so you had to sit there with a stack of paper and draw the maps yourself, or be doomed to getting lost in the dungeon forever.  Then the genre just kind of died off for a long time, or at least for a significant portion of my life I didn't encounter any of these kind of games.

But now, in 2012, the old school maze dungeon crawl game is making a comeback!  I can't really explain why but Japan seems to have a huge love for this genre of game.  Huge numbers of Wizardry remakes have been released over the years as Japan exclusive games and on top of that we've had some really good ones come out for portable systems over the recent years, most notably Etrian Odyssey and The Dark Spire (which even had a setting to make it look like a Wizardry game)

Then in April of this year, we were given The Legend of Grimrock, and good lord Jesus Christ on a stick is it really fucking good.

Holy shit even the menu screen makes me wet my pants with excitement.  Where it says Dungeon, you can only select Grimrock right now, but in the future there is plans to release a map editor so people can create their own scenarios, which sounds fucking amazing, something I'm going to drop on ASAP.  The difficulty setting we'll come back to later.  Then there is the obvious option to make your own party, and then the really cool feature, to turn off the auto map!  That's right folks, if you're a die hard pen and paper dungeon crawl kinda guy, break out those old maths workbooks and get doodling because you're gonna have a crap ton of fun plotting the dungeon here.

So the game itself follows your party of 4 prisoners as they get thrown inside the mega jail known as Grimrock.  It is then up to you to guide your 4 characters to the bottom of the dungeon and escape from the damn place, a feat easier said than done.  The one thing I really love about this game is the atmosphere, the tower of Grimrock is actually a really intimidating place to be, and when you start out basically naked and with no knowledge of whats ahead, every step feels dangerous as fuck.

Of course, there isn't much plot aside from "get to the bottom" but it still manages to throw in a bit of mystery in the form of strange text based dream sequences that pop up occasionally when you sleep.
I still don't know who or what it is, I have an idea but I really won't know until I get to the bottom.  Is it a trap? is it salvation?! Holy shit it's so fucking exciting!

Despite what I'm going to say in a later paragraph, the games design is really good too.  Grimrock feels alive, it feels like it's swallowed countless people before you and the horrible creatures that lurk the corridors can't wait to get hold of their next meal.  The game is also filled with puzzles that really make you feel like whoever built Grimrock, really didn't want anyone to get out.  The whole journey feels futile, but you MUST press on, you MUST not be another namless victim who just rolled over and died and the prospect of an seemingly unescapable dungeon.  Basically what I'm trying to say is the game does a really good job of immersing the player, and everyone fucking loves immersion, it's all you ever fucking hear about nowadays.
Wall face demands you solve his easy puzzle!
That is not to say the game is flawless, there are some glaring issues here.  First of all the way the game looks can sometimes be a bit dull.  Sure the dungeon changes wall texture the further down you get, but it just copy-pastes the same wall textures over and over and over and over and it can get a bit tiring to look at sometimes.  Sure, I mean you're making a game in a genre where the graphics used to be wire frame, but c'mon, in this day an age you can do a little more. 
What most of the game has looked like so far for me

 The puzzles are also an issue with this game with none of them being really that challenging at all.  Sure, a room with a maze of teleporters may look daunting when you first come across it, but the solution ends up being a cakewalk.  Hopefully this will be remedied with people designing some really fiendish dungeons in the map editor.  My final issue with this game is the enemy design.  You will fight the same snails, skeletons and crabs so often that it begins to lose all meaning after a while, the same strategy will work every time so combat becomes just a little bit of a bore in prolonged play sessions.

Which leads me to say, if you are new to this genre and are interested in Grimrock, avoid talking to die hard dungeon crawlers like the plague.  The game is really, REALLY good, but you're hardcore player will scream "casual" at Grimrock and may do everything within his power to have to play other, more skin rippingly difficult games in the genre.  I agree that they've made it a lot easier and more accessible, but that isn't a bad thing really.  The more people playing this great genre the better, and the casuals of today will be designing your super fiendish dungeons tomorrow, so deal with it.

So with the steam sales in full force, pick it up and give it a go, it's well worth the $15 you pay for it, and even more so if you manage to get money off during the summer.  If you're looking for a modern take on an old school gaming experience, you can't go wrong with Grimrock.

Below is a load of screenshots I took that I didn't use in my gushing session.  Will post updates as I play more



Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Japan dropping the game ball?!

So I was talking with a buddy about some of the latest releases as we were sweating our balls off in the Japan summer when he said to me "Yeah, Japanese devs have really dropped the ball with game releases over the last few years" and while we moved on from that point fairly quickly at the time, it got me thinking about if that's actually the case or not?

Sure, if you're a fan of Japanese games and you live in the UK or America, you may find that the latest releases from the land of the rising sun have been a bit lack luster, and sure, you're probably right there, but to say that the Japanese aren't producing good games anymore is a bit unfair.

You see, the problem is that Japan actually has a shit ton of good games.  Walking around the various game stores I always find something that piques my interest and has me wishing my pay day would come sooner.  Plus you see all these booths for stuff coming out soon and it looks like there is some quality stuff on the way too.

So really, it's not a case of Japanese developers dropping the ball, but it's a case of Joe Bloggs westerner just not being aware of most of the quality Japanese titles!  That's not a case of me being "oh the uneducated masses aren't aware of the gems to be found in glorious nippon", it's more the fault of the big companies here than it is the consumer.  You see, Japan makes all these really cool looking games, then gives them no exposure or no mention in the west at all, and it's a bit bullshit really.  It's a shame that there is this huge selection of games to be found that most people will never even hear of due to this fact.

So why is it all like this?  I'm no industry expert, but my guess is that they just don't have the staff for put this stuff into English.  I mean, it's not like it wouldn't sell, I think the whole Xenoblade Chronicles thing proved that there is a market for Japanese games, but I think the amount of people who know enough Japanese to translate these games for a western audience are just far too few.

I mean I studied Japanese for 4 years, and right now, the best thing I can think of doing with that ability is to come here and teach English.  The work isn't too taxing and the pay is pretty good and I think this is the view that a lot of Japanese language students end up having, but the reason for that is something else entirely.  The people who do decide to push themselves into more language heavy work, aren't going to use those skills to translate video games, they will want to work for big companies as interpreters or whatever and earn metric craptons of money that way.

So to sum it all up, Japanese games are as good as they always were, if you enjoy the kind of stuff that comes out of this country, then you'll still love it now, but the people willing to bring you that stuff are a minority, I think.

As a disclaimer, this isn't really based on facts I've been looking up, this whole post is me basically musing to myself, but you never know, maybe I'm right....but I could also be completely wrong and the above text just makes me look retarded, but whatever.

Monday, 16 July 2012

A little update, twitter n' stuff

So basically the last few days have been quite busy, but busy in a fun way.  Hopefully I won't be missing days on the posts for much longer, but the 1 or 2 day break between posts that's been happening recently has at least resulted in some interesting game purchases, which I'll cover later.

The other little update I've got is that I now have a twitter! so follow me at

https://twitter.com/Taurinensis

if that's wrong can someone let me know, I don't actually have a clue how to use twitter at all.  Once I return home from work this evening I'll be covering my latest buys in Japan, so hopefully that'll be interesting for you.

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Castlevania Series Run: Castlevania Bloodlines

OK! This will be the last update in my Castlevania Series Run posts because today I finally got round to starting the PSP remake of Rondo of Blood! This was the last game I played before I took my little break but now I'm back to vampire killing in full force!

This, to me, is probably one of the most interesting Castlevania titles out there.  First of all, it was on the Sega Genesis (or Megadrive if you're not American) which is a strange fact on it's own since every other Castlevania game up to this point was on a Nintendo console at that point.  But what's really interesting about this game, is the fact that it tries to tie in Bram Stoker's Dracula book with the series of games.  Of course, the tie in is a very loose one and there are lots of problems with what's written in the manual and what actually happened in the original story, but it was a cool idea to try and pull off something like this.

So in this game, you get to choose between two guys, John Morris (Whip dude) and Eric Lecarde (Spear dude).  The game isn't designed so that it's easier with a certain character, so playing with both of them is pretty fun.   For the run is just completed, I opted for John Morris because how many games are there where you can whip things to death?  They both play in distinct ways and each character will have to tackle certain situations differently which gives the game some replay value for a while.

The level design is also really good here.  The whole game isn't set inside Dracula's castle, instead you go around most of Europe whipping the shit out of whatever nasties are being thrown at you, and the stage traps are fun and interesting without falling into the realms of bullshit.  The most famous example of this is probably the "mirror" room right near the end of the game.
The whole room starts to split up and it really fucks with your sense of where you are in relation to the platforms, but it doesn't feel like an unfair challenge.  Everything can be figured out with a bit of thought and careful planning, but the game does a good job of making you think on your feet.

My one real complaint about this game is the difficulty.  Good lord is it an easy game, I'd imagine even people not that familiar with the challenge of the past games would be able to breeze through it without too much difficulty. 

That said it's still a good laugh and worth at least a single playthrough, so give it a go!  The next post will come when I beat Rondo of Blood, so expect a bit of a gush at that time.

Friday, 13 July 2012

Free Game Friday: Chalk

You know what? I don't even know why I'm bothering to do a free game Friday this week, the Steam summer sale just started and most people are going to be balls deep in cheap as shit video games, but even so, free stuff is never bad!

So today I'm going to do a short little post about a free game I discovered quite a while ago called Chalk, for PC.  The game is kind of like a side scrolling shooter, but you don't really shoot anything.  You move your little flying thing with the WASD keys and then use the mouse to draw lines of chalk to connect points on enemies and obstacles in order to kill them.  Also the artwork is pretty too, nothing spectacular but the style reminds me of stuff like Dynamite Heady for some reason (completely unrelated really but that's the vibe I get)

It's an extremely simple concept, works extremely well, the game is a ton of fun and best of all, its fuckin' free!  There isn't really much else to speak of for chalk, it's an extremely simple and addictive game that can easily kill a good few hours.  I'm actually surprised this didn't get swallowed up by Nintendo and put on the DS as it's the kind of game that would lend itself very well to a touch screen.

So yeah, give it a go, the link to download the game is http://www.konjak.org/index.php?folder=4&file=9 so have at it and have some fun!

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Castlevania Series Run: Castlevania Dracula X


What another horrible night to have a shitty fucking castlevania game! Ho-ly shit this game is fucking TERRIBLE, I hate it so damn much.  If you have been reading these posts, you can probably guess I'm a big Castlevania fan, but this? this is just fucking crap.

Now, if you're not a big castlevania fan, and you've played Dracula X: Chronicles on PSP, you're probably wondering how I can hate such a good game?  Well I don't, that game is awesome, and the original Rondo of Blood is also awesome, but this game is a fucking abomination and I want to punch it's development team in the goddamn soul.  Fuck this game.

So first of all, what is it exactly?  What Drac X is, is a shitty "port" of a awesome Castlevania game that was originally for the PC Engine known as Rondo of Blood.  This game was originally never released outside of Japan, so back in the day, the closest you could ever get to playing Rondo was this hunk of rotting anal leakage.

So what is it about this game that makes it so vomit inducingly awful?  Well, anyone who saw the original Rondo of Blood back in the day was hyped as shit for this getting a release over in the west.  The original had multiple pathways (like CV3) and a different character to play as (like CV3 but she didn't suck ass this time round) and all sorts of good stuff.  Instead, we got a mess of a game where the multiple pathways were pretty much cut, the graphics weren't as good, at the second character got demoted to yet another damsel in distress despite being a hardcore beastmaster death machine in the original.

So what the Super Nintendo players got in the end was a semi-remake of the PC Engine game, that was really fucking hard, and I don't mean the good kind of really fucking hard.  I mean the horrible, shitty kind of really fucking hard where every time you die you want to tear out your own eyes and throw them at the wall just so you don't have to look at this shitty game again.  Bullshit death pits, bullshit enemy placement and bullshit level design, none of which were an issue in the original game.

Sure, the music was nice and there were some good graphic effects, such as the fire in level 1
See look, it's fuckin' pretty! But you need more than just pretty fire effects in one level to make a good game, and this game doesn't have anything going for it outside of that.

Oh yeah, and the final boss is bullshit too.  It's Dracula as usual, all you have to do is smack him in the face with your whip, but this time, you have to fight him while bouncing around on columns over instant death pits.  It renders the whole purpose of your life bar fucking useless because if he hits you ONE FUCKING TIME that it, you're fucking dead. GG no re, fuck off back to the monastery with your whip shithead.  As soon as I beat this pool of stale spunk I instantly had to take a shower because I felt dirty after wasting all that fucking time.

But you know what?  If it wasn't called Castlevania, it would have been a passable platformer.  Hell, even if it was another CV game it would have been OK, but it was SUPPOSED to be Rondo of fucking blood.  How do you fuck Rondo of Blood up this goddamn much?!

Luckily we got Dracula X: Chronicles for the PSP a few years back, giving us a remastered version of Rondo, the original version of Rondo AND Symphony of the Night all bundled in.  Now that is an apology I can accept.

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

UPDATES! Sexy new banner and my game collection

So this is going to be a pretty short post since I was going to be raging about Dracula X on SNES, but then stuff happened.

So first of all, the reason you're not getting a picture with this one is because I've just been provided a sexy new banner by my buddy HKM, so big thanks to him for actually giving this blog some originality outside of the standard blogger template.

Now, the reason I'm not doing a proper post today is because I'm in the process of trying to figure out WHAT THE FUCK is going on with my game collection back home.  The post company have managed to lose track of the boxes so they may or may not be stuck in Denmark or something, god knows what's happening, I can't ever get any proper info about anything in this situation.

Tomorrow will be back to normal, for now, enjoy the new banner

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

The Japanese Game Centre

This is a topic I'm actually surprised I've not covered up until now since these happen to be my favourite hangout spots when I've got some time to kill as I'm milling around the streets of Nagoya.  But what makes them so damn good and why don't they exist in the same way that they do in the UK and other countries?

First, let me tell you a story about a game centre from ages past, Sega World in London!
That there, is a promotional picture for what was probably the only real game centre in all of the UK.  Sure, I'm aware that there are coin-op machines dotted round the country at bowling alleys and cinemas, but they aren't proper game centres, THIS was the real fuckin' deal.

Sega World was some hardcore shit back in the day, it had an amazing atmosphere, almost like a theme park for gamers.  The place was about 5 or 6 stories of just games, shittons of fuckin' games.  On top of that, every floor had some kind of ride or attraction to go on so that even if you weren't
 much of a gamer being dragged around by your buddy, you still had something fun to do.

Then guess what happened?  God shit on my soul and pissed in my face, Sega ran out money or some shit and the whole place got closed down.  But the dream wasn't over!  Segaworld basically got downsized and given a shit name, Funland.  Despite the shit name Funland was still pretty good.  The game selection was actually pretty solid and the machines were well maintained most of the time.  The atmosphere had kind of died a bit, it felt more like a seedy underground bar that you see in a post apocalyptic sci-fi movie than a proper game arcade, but there was still funtimes to be had at Funland.

Then once again I get a huge kick in the nads when Funland shuts down unexpectedly, and now what was once the greatest game centre in the UK is now home to a few fucking air hockey tables and it's full of bastard children running around breaking everything.   Actually I think it may have a In The Groove machine too, but fuck that game I quit playing DDR a long time ago.
Fuck you Air Hockey
Since then, every English "arcade" I've been to is a fucking mess.  The machines barely work, its full of bastard kids breaking everything and the only remotely good game any place ever has is DDR, but like I said before, fuck DDR,  I've played the shit out of it and I don't want to play it anymore, we need more varied rhythm games for crying out loud.

So after moving to Japan, I've been hitting the Japanese game centres, and holy shit, it's like my childhood all over again.  Sure, the vast majority of them are not as big but they are all basically like the London Segaworld.  They are clean, have a fun atmosphere, a good selection and best of all, everything fucking works.  When I say the selection is good, I mean it's really fuckin good, lots of innovative stuff that really capitalise on the fact that they are not limited to what home consoles can do.  You have games with interesting control schemes like Jubeat or Reflec Beat and then you have really cool ideas like Sengoku Taisen (something I'll blog about tomorrow maybe) there is basically something for everyone.

Please note this is not Sengoku Taisen but they are basically the same fuckin' thing so shut up
So why is this shit so popular in Japan but not in the UK or basically any other country for that matter?  I think there are 2 factors at work here.  First of all, gaming is a hugely popular past time here, huge amounts of people play these things.  There are more people willing to drop a couple hundred yen into a tekken machine than there are in the west.  Second, and the most important factor, is the busy lifestyle of your everyday working man.  If you are a Japanese Salaryman and you enjoy video games, you probably don't have time to be going home and diving balls deep into the latest console releases.  If you were a Salaryman you'd probably want something that you can drop a coin into, play for 30 mins to an hour, and then fuck off home to cry and prepare for the next day of boring, grey routine.

I'll probably spend the next few posts covering some of my favourites, dig through the archives and there is already info on one, Sound Voltex Booth.  So more to come soon!  If you do get a chance to come to Japan, a game centre should be one of the first places you go to, it'll blow your fuckin mind.

Monday, 9 July 2012

That Final Fantasy 10 Laugh Scene

We all know that horrible scene from Final Fantasy 10, the one where Tidus forces out a laugh that sounds both incredibly stupid and horrible.  Well, surprisingly I have only just discovered that scene in the original Japanese version, and somehow it seems even worse than the English dub version, here take a look.
Good lord I mean what is this really?  Sure he sounded stupid in the English release of the game, but here he sounds like a Seagull with a bag of gravel down its throat. 

So yeah, I wanted to share, I actually quite like FFX although there is plenty of rage to be had regarding the games plot and design.  However there has been so much collective fan rage over the years towards this game that me doing it right now would be like spitting in the ocean.  So just enjoy the video

Tokyo Jungle pre-buy impressions

You may be thinking right now "why the fuck is this guy writing an article about a game he barely knows anything about" and that's a fair point, why the fuck am I doing that?  Well let me tell you why!  This game has far too interesting a concept for me to not at least comment on right now.  More people need to know about this game just for the idea alone.

So the plot of this game seems fairly straight forward, and without playing it I have no idea how this comes across as a story or how it works in the game, but whatever, here we go.  To put it simply, all of mankind has fucked off and all the animals have swarmed into Tokyo and now have to fend for themselves in the new environment.  That's it, or at least that's all I can acquire from the trailers and the wikipedia page.  In terms of plot, the other thing I can gather is that there is some kind of super dog wearing priest robes or whatever, and he's hot shit for some reason.  Game looks weird as fuck but good lord does it look fun.

Gameplay wise, it appears to be a beat 'em up, platformer and mating simulator all rolled into one package.  I don't think you play as one animal only for the duration of the game, so when you're playing a lion or something your kicking the shit out of things and when your a deer your platforming on things.  Then when you play a panda, from what I can gather then objective seems to be to just fuck everything.

Anyway, hopefully I'll be picking this up soon and writing something a bit more in depth about the whole thing.  I'll link the trailer down below so you can check it out here.  If you live in Japan or have easy access to imports and can handle Japanese, give it a go.  There is a English version on the horizon but the wiki page isn't showing any dates for it, so you're gonna have to break out those Kanji dictionaries for this one.


Sunday, 8 July 2012

Castlevania Series Run: Super Castlevania 4

With the 3 NES games done and dusted it was time to start whipping Dracula's face in 16 bits!  The first game on this list was Super Castlevania 4 for the Super Nintendo

Although we have a problem right here, I gushed pretty hard about castlevania 1 and 3 and this is pretty much the same stuff again, but now in 16 bits.  The level design is clever and makes good use of that Super Nintendo hardware, the bosses are cool and the game is challenging as usual so there isn't really much to say that you havn't already heard before, generally speaking.

However, when talking about the challenge in this game, I'm not talking about the bullshit NES Castlevania challenge, where the game will kill you for some bullshit monster placement or flying back into insta-death pits.  Super Castlevania 4 is all fair challenge, and if your die it's your fuckin' fault.  It's an incredibly simple innovation that gives the game this sense of fair play, and that's the ability to whip in 8 different directions.  No longer those Medusa heads get a cheap hit in because they were underneath you.  No longer do those annoying as shit crows get to peck chunks of your life bar off because they were too high to hit.  Being able to whip 8 ways is a simple yet effective way to make the game feel fair, but without making it easy.

Don't think that just because Konami didn't want to fuck you over on mechanics that the series has lost it's challenge.  Chances are you're going to get your ass kicked a few times, but I don't think fans of castlevania would want it any other way.

So yeah, this post is a little short but it's hard to say a lot about a game this good when I've already said all the good stuff in previous posts.  Anyway just check it out, it's a fantastic game and if you haven't played it already, SHAME ON YOU! go do it right now.

Friday, 6 July 2012

Free Game Friday: Pandora Saga: Weapons of Balance first impressions (Level 1-10)

So another Friday means another free game for you to piss away those weekend hours on.  This week I bring to you a free MMORPG available on Steam called Pandora Saga: Weapons of Balance.  Due to the fact I've been playing other games and I've been keeping busy with my job and such, I've only had a chance to reach level 10, so I'll give you the story so far.

First, this is a game developed by Atlus Online, the company that also gave us the likes of Shin Megami Tensei: Imagine Online.  Quite frankly, last time I played SMT: Imagine, it sucked so fucking hard I wanted to rip my own fingernails out.  I'm a huge fan of that series and even I was bored to death grinding through its boring world and uninteresting dungeons.

Luckily for us, Pandora Saga is nothing like SMT: Imagine and the first 10 levels have actually been pretty good so far.  So the story so far is as follows, I started playing on Monday and I created a elf spellcaster.  Now here lies my first issue with the game, not a huge dealbreaker but a issue none the less.
This is what a male elf looks like.  The reason I picked an elf is because they are naturally adept at magic, and being a spellcasting class I thought this would be a good choice.  The only problem is, all the elves look like fucking children and there is no way to de-shit a Pandora Saga elf.  That said there are quite a few playable races (off the top of my head I think it's 5) and the elf is the only really stupid looking one.  For those that have played the game and are reading this anyway, yes, the elf has a shitter design than those silly little dog bastards.

Anyway, so when you fire the game up you don't get bogged down in stupid long winded tutorials, your in town, surrounded by a load of high level players selling shit, and your only direction is to go talk to the city guard guy and get a quest.  The game basically tells you nothing and has you figure most of it's shit out for yourself, which SOUNDS like a bad thing, but it's not so involved that you can't figure it out with a bit of common sense.

So the quests in this game are standard free MMO fare, "go kill X amount of bastard Y for item Z" etc. but what more do you expect from these kind of games really?  For the first 10 levels that's all I've really been doing, but it doesn't feel like a grind because you're never asked to kill huge numbers of monsters and the rewards are big enough to give you a level each time.  However I have run into a few technical issues with monsters clipping into the scenery and when they do that you can't hit them.  It's just been a mild annoyance now but I've got a horrible feeling it's going to fuck me over hard later.
 Also, this picture is a little small and it's kind of hard to see, but that is a level 44 stray wolf just milling around the first quest area.  Sure, this doesn't seem like much of an issue at first but putting an enemy this high level at the start of the game makes me question how big the world is going to end up being.  I can't seem to find a complete world map, but then again I've not looked very hard for one.  Aside from that, the gameplay is smooth and it plays a little bit like Lineage 2 which is a game I used to have a massive MMO boner for but even if you weren't part of the old L2 crowd I still think there is some enjoyment to be had here.

The other thing I want to touch on here is the skill system in this game.


 It's a pretty cool idea where every level you get a certain number of Stat and Skill points.  With the stat points you can really fuck yourself over if you go drooling all over your keyboard and put them into parameters you don't need.  But if you don't have severe brain damage this really isn't a problem.  The real cool thing is the skill points.  Every level you get a skill point to apply to one of your abilities, in my case the various schools of magic.  Once you learn a skill from that area, you can then level up that area further by using those skills.  This means, that even if you go make a load of stupid choices early on with your skill loadout, it can be fixed with enough grind.  It's a cool idea and I can't wait to see how it plays out later on.

There is also a shitton of other systems such as horse mounted combat and a warring nations as well as guilds and PVP etc.  but I've yet to try any of this out so hopefully I'll have more on that when I do another post when I hit 20 (providing I don't quit before then).  There is also a cash shop but I've not even looked at it, no idea what's in there or how it may help/break the game or whatever, but I've been doing fine without it.  Finally, the game is plagued with gold spammers that sometimes makes chatting to other players impossible.  Luckily these fuckbends come and go so it's not a problem that is present 100% of the time and hopefully ATLUS will do something about it eventually (Not fucking likely).

Anyway, that's a little overview of Pandora Saga, check it out, it's worth a chuckle or two at least.