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Posts about games. There’s bunches.

Well, This Was Overdue

Well, This Was Overdue published on 1 Comment on Well, This Was Overdue

Years ago, I had a handful of Game Informer magazines. I didn’t have a subscription, as much as I enjoyed it, especially the section they dedicated to oddball import titles. Of them, for some reason, possibly just due to the sheer awesomeness of the title, one particular Japanese PlayStation game stuck in my brain for years, quietly lurking until the chance came to make itself known. So, after finally remembering how to get a PS emulator to work (don’t laugh; the only time I ever used one was before I found an actual copy of Misadventures of Tron Bonne) so I could stream MegaMan Legends for RGLtv, I got the crazy idea to finally take that game for a test drive.

SPEED POWER GUNBIKE! God, just say that out loud. Doesn’t that feel great? Gunbike is actually the first game made by IntiCreates, currently one of the best developers of “new retro” style games like Blaster Master Zero, Azure Striker Gunvolt, and the later MegaMan titles. Interestingly enough, this game uses a cartoony low-poly style that kind of makes it look a little similar to Mega Man Legends at a glance. I guess they’ve just always had that kind of style. History lesson aside, I’ve found Gunbike to be seriously entertaining once the initial awkwardness of the controls was… mostly past. Make no mistake, this gem is cut rough around the edges. A fair amount of it can probably be blamed on being a pre Dual Shock PS1 title, which basicaly means a lack of precision movement and the camera is your cruel and uncaring master. Each character has a unique set of special attacks from mostly-undocumented controller inputs that aren’t… esoecially useful for the most part. But still, the core idea is gold and with some adjustment it’s a load of fun to play.

In the far-flung year of 2097, an alien race known as the Michi have invaded, and conventional weaponry is useless against them. To combat the alien threat, Gunbikes were developed as a means to combat the Michi by turning soldiers into living bullets and slam into them. I assume this is some kind of life energy/chi thing, but I can’t be sure since information on the game is surprisingly hard to come by, even on the Internets age. Most of what I know of the storyline comes from a friend giving some manual scans I found a once-over, an old IGN article that says the game “will be” released in November 1997 and Hardcore Gaming 101’s article on it. I would love to learn more about the storyline because the ending is really weird and I want to know how things escalate to the heroes flying naked though space surrounded by 2001: A Space Odyssey slabs. (Is it still a spoiler if it’s not coherent?)

Regardless of which of the three drivers you choose, the basics remain the same- Zoom around levels on a transforming super motorcycle, smashing enemies and roadblocks on your way to bosses. The bikes can transform from bike mode, to a wider-stanced Rally Mode, to Robot Mode, where your offensive powers are pretty much all based. The bike is the fastest, but taking damage in this form will fling the rider off the seat and force them to run back to it, like Excitebike. Wasting time is a Very Bad Thing in this, because your supply of “Anergy” (sic) is constantly ticking down, and depletes in chunks when you are hit by enemies as well. Since your life and timer are one and the same, the emphasis of the game is on moving as fast and efficiently as possible. Ippei is the easiest to use, a hot blooded former biker gang leader who wants to avenge his brother’s death to the Michi and also seems to really bond with his Gunbike’s computer. Ami is an artificial human created from a mix of human and Michi DNA, with some mental issues. Major Nouno rounds out the team as the ‘cool senior’ type character, at least until he loses it and turns on everyone.

So yeah, that’s been one among many sidetracks lately. Here, have a sketch dump!



Randomizer Encounters and Other Twitchery

Randomizer Encounters and Other Twitchery published on


Been pretty busy the past few weeks between settling into the new place and participating in RGL stuff, but still setting aside time to draw where I can and am not spazzing out. Luckily the things I was stressing most about didn’t come to pass (owing money for repairs and junk on the old place since it was a little junky since day one and four years of single guy dwelling didn’t help it out much, and some dickery involving the utility company0 and I’ve been back in a much more productive kind of headspace. My own channel and work are doing pretty decent right now, I’m now among the first bunch of streamers invited to Affiliate status, so if anyone catches me streaming and feels like, feel free to toss a Bit tip my way. I need to do some work updating this site to better show off my projects since WordPress was originally just adopted as an easy, more streamlined way to get text posts and articles online. It’s a bit trickier to get comic page layouts and gallery updates up and going.

So, on the subject of projects, I’m still planning to do the card game and set up a proper page for it to give an overview of the rules and general setting for the sake of gathering some interest, though the thing that I’m about to start seriously picking away at is, of all things, a re-imagining of Revolver Knight! It’s a drastic overhaul, but it should be a pretty massive improvement as a story too. I could gripe about the old one for hours (though I still don’t hate it enough to just pull the whole thing down) but the chief problem with RK, IMO was I just tried to jam too many ‘cool things’ into it. It was kind of intended to be a pastiche or mashup of stuff I thought was cool in various games and anime at the time, which¬†probably should have been a warning sign from the get-go, but it was received decently in the beginning so I ran with it. Over time though, I kind of ran out of steam and the later chapters are rushed in an effort to show off more of the world but not really afford time to flesh them out by much. One of the biggest things I think will help is focusing more on the small-level story, sticking with the characters and their homeland and how things are affecting THEM and not forcing an ‘epic’ cross country trek. I’ve been roughing out the first chapter already and may release it as a stand alone .pdf or something to see how people enjoy it to see whether to continue it or focus on something else.

On another topic, I’ve been pretty interested in game randomizers lately, though the only one I’m really playing is The Guardian Legend one, TGL Worlds. It doesn’t have a very robust set of features compared to the Zelda ones where you can toggle some features for the seed, you just insert a rom and it spits out a randomized version of it. It also doesn’t really seem to check very thoroughly that it will give you a completable version of the game. But it does do the chief thing I want and actually alter maps, vs. just shuffling item placement between chests. It does some pretty wacky stuff and tends to cluster items and rooms of a same type together, making it easy to get overpowered (and overly costly) weapons early on… or create chains of 3-4 save chambers end to end. Still, it’s a pretty cool way to breathe new life into an old game I already like, just like trying to adopt some of the tricks speedrunners use to make some of the more aggravating bosses and stuff go down all the faster.

Wiping All Out~

Wiping All Out~ published on

2016-11-03-ether I’ve been slowly revising and testing Irrgarten lately, but mostly watching/broadcasting entirely too much gaming content on Twitch. I do hope to have a new playable demo uploaded fairly soon. I look to kind of ‘generify’ the character stats for balance’s sake and each player basically get the same overall ‘guild’ to work from with cosmetic differences. It’ll be easier to pick up and play than using a drafting system and a mess of unique characters, as much as I sorta hate giving that up. Maybe I’ll still figure out some way to have ‘advanced’ heroes you can recruit further into a game.

Been tweaking Ether’s design a bit more, especially trying to come up with a weapon that suits her. The one thing I kind of had ‘set’ from the start in designing around a Guardian Legend inspired game was having a weapon that could believably perform a variety of different attacks without like, transforming or something, so a ‘gunblade’ felt like the best pick for the main character to wield. I’d sort of like to go with a system where you can swap parts to change shot types and keep spells as special attacks for the second button. I guess the thing is I basically have two ‘split’ stories at this point (see; Radona’s perky looks), one bright and goofy and another that’s darker (Ether having to rescue her besieged homeland from a family she never knew she had) and they’re like, similar enough that doing both and pretending they’re unrelated would be strange. Oh well. GameMaker stuff is on the burner behind Irrgarten for now.

Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth (Or How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Laugh at the Moe)

Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth (Or How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Laugh at the Moe) published on

When I get into a game, I have a habit of talking the ear off anyone willing to listen about every minute thing I notice. You would think I would channel that into articles and reviews on my website more frequently or something. Well, ever since I started doing those comics, I kind of got in the habit of clamming up and trying to ‘save’ my thoughts for those, but at times a game comes along that gives me more to talk about than can gracefully fit into a comic panel layout. And as text dense as some of my worse strips can get (if I’m self aware of the problem and call attention to it, it’s totally forgiven right!?), that’s probably saying something. So that brings me to the Neptunia series, which I have sort of a history with already.

A few years ago, my friend Steve and I were trying to put together an experimental-style animated short/pilot of an Eishi n’ Dixie video series, getting as far as getting a script and dialogue recorded. The subject was a niche PS3 RPG, as I tend to wind up acquiring, and it was called Hyperdimension Neptunia. And it was dullllll. Going in, all I really knew was that it was supposed to be full of little in-jokes about the gaming industry, so I was kinda curious about where they’d go with that. Apparently, not very far- extended visual novel style dialogue sequences, soundly meh music, a battle system that kind of felt like Xenogears but less good… overall, I wasn’t particularly impressed with the game as much as the general idea. I didn’t really pay the sequels much mind beyond “how in the fuck did that get a sequel?”, until I got a half decent rig and started down the Steam Sales hole. Among the things I wound up with by the end of the 2015 summer sales were Neptunia Re;Birth 1 and 2; PC ports of the enhanced Vita port that were supposed to be vaguely “better.” And yeah, they kinda are. The battle engine had been refined through the sequels then applied to the ports to make them well, better, as well as attempt to fix some story problems, to limited success. I’ll save that part for later because complaining is fun and I don’t like to start with dessert.

Combat lets you move characters freely around within a set range circle during their turn and attacks are tied to a ‘hitbox’ area that you can fine-tune the angle of so you can catch multiple targets in your swing. Normal combat consists of combos made of slotted skills, split into Rush, Power, and Break types, which respectively build up combo hits (meh), focused strong attacks, and attacks that more quickly wear down the enemy’s Guard gauge, leading to a weakening Guard Break. These include spells in addition to physical attacks, so each turn you can choose the slotted commands that best suit the situation. Then, you have the EXE gauge, which stores power stocks and not only enables Limit Break style attacks, but adds EX Finishers to the combo chains of the party. It sort of makes you have to think whether that extra attack per turn is more useful than a flashy super move, since using an EXE depletes the gauge by one or more chunks and cuts your overall options back down. It might seem like kind of a shallow looking system, but between the free movement, targeting and the almost fighting-gamey inputs, it’s a surprisingly fun system, especially when you’ve got a boss on the ropes and finish them with an over the top special attack.

The Re;births include a new mechanic called the “Remake System,” which is kind of a crafting system that lets you not just unlock items for the shop, but ‘craft’ changes to the overall game. You can add dungeons, alter the items and enemies within them, ‘create’ bonus characters, and even affect overall game balance like permanently reducing the effectiveness of status ailments or allowing you to kill weak enemies on the map with a sword swing instead of going into battle. It’s a pretty cool setup, and I don’t even get especially annoyed gathering materials since it’s usually pretty clear what monsters drop what. (It’s a little harder to keep track of Harvested items on the maps themselves.) The other system that’s neat but not quite as important is the market share system, where doing Quests not only gives you money and items, but also pushes one faction’s market share up a percentage while lowering another. Getting different endings and unlocking all the non-DLC characters requires you to game the market to certain levels, and when shooting for the True Ending, you need to make sure that the enemy has 0% of the Shares and all four of the friendly lands are pretty evenly spread.

Which brings me to a category I like to call the Tangible Flaws. Re;Birth 1 seems to really love lulling you into a false sense of security then throwing an overpowered boss in your path, more or less mandating you re-evaluate your slotted skills and more often than not, grind for a good while until you can brute force it. It happened frequently enough early on that when actual “supposed-to-lose” fights happened, I was wasting Revives and SP Chargers trying to cling to dear life. It was irritating enough that once I progressed enough to go through the Fairy Fencer F collab fight and get some utterly broken gear from it, I squatted in the Arena until Neptune was Level 99 and took care of the last few chapters without breaking a sweat. Neptunia Re;birth 2 seems to have toned it down a bit, but in all honesty, I’ve been playing from the start with another free dlc collab weapon because I wasn’t in the mood to get brick walled every couple hours again, so it may just be me putting a band-aid over the problem before it happened. So, if you’re interested in the game, do be prepared for the occasional level grind.

The thing that I think hurts the game the most is the sheer volume of drawn out, visual novel-style portrait plus text cutscenes in it. It ties in with the more subjective problem of “How Much Fucking Kawaii Uguu Can You Stand?” Neptune and her pals are all relentlessly ‘quirky’ and chatty as hell. The actual storyline isn’t groundbreaking, but the novelty of Fantasy World Plus Video Game References is buried below giant bags of pink packing Styrofoam. Technically, you can skip about everything (even long attack animations), but if you’re fast forwarding through an RPG, it’s kind of failing in a major area. If the dialogue was edited down by a lot, you’d really end up with a pretty breezy, fun game. Hell, it would probably cut an hour off the run time if you just omitted the times a character who’s not really in on the conversation pops in to go “yes, I agree” to remind you they’re in the party. The characters aren’t without their charm, but you’re given it in way too large of a dose at a time.

In the end, I’m still having fun, so I guess that’s something. Streaming it with friends so we can groan and riff our way through the lame parts is fun, and there are some decent ideas and jokes scattered in there. It’s a fun game that I think does deserve a bit more attention, but needs to learn just a little bit of restraint in subjecting the audience to fifteen minute sequences of being stared at by doe eyed, pink haired paper dolls with Newgrounds-esque ‘breathing’ animations. Re;birth 2 has been mostly more enjoyable other than the annoying little twin girls and a certain giant pedophilic robot with a six foot tongue… so hopefully it keeps that up as I enter the last chapters. The enjoyable part. Not the tongue part. The tongue part can fuck off to hell.

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