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Posts about games. There’s bunches.

RISE FROM YOUR GRAVE

RISE FROM YOUR GRAVE published on

I’ve actually been fairly active on The Twitch lately trying to plow through the Hyperdimension Neptunia series sitting in my Steam backlog, but there’s not really an easy way to automate links to the live streams so if you’re interested in joining in, please follow me at Twitch and/or watch the Twitter box in the sidebar for channel feed updates since it has a handy auto-sharing option for statuses.

I alternate programs every so often, though I’ve been trying to make a little more of an effort to see games through instead of do them as one off things, hence the live shitposting phenomena I like to call Nepstream. I’ve already finished Neptunia Re;Birth with little ‘intermissions’ demonstrating Hyperdevotion Noire and Megatagmension Blanc + Neptune vs Zombies (seriously, that’s the title.)

Of course, I also like to stream my doodling/warmup sessions as an excuse to BS with followers in chat. I’ve been better about hooking my mic up, but I still prefer not to cam during streams since I look like a Moai with a center part. Basically, I do it to unwind, so feel free to join in and chill if you happen to see that little streaming light on.

I mostly come at early afternoon. Mostly.

Nepstream Finale

Nepstream Finale published on

I’ve been streaming Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;birth (I don’t know why they add the semicolon either) on Twitch lately and am nearing the end of the game, so I thought I’d give a little heads up to that and also toss out some thoughts about the game itself while I’m here. Until I figure out a lazy way to automate posting more places, I’ve mostly been keeping my stream notifications to Twitter and Tumblr, so feel free to follow @thethreetwo on the one and third-half at the other. There. Plugging done.

I have a little bit of history with Neptunia in that it was actually going to be the subject of the never-finished [+/-] animated pilot. That is to say, the original release for the PS3 was. It was pretty mediocre all around, but I went into it lured by a weakness for Anime Girls in Armor and the concept of an RPG based on the gaming industry. The lukewarm reception seemed to reach back to the company, though, and they tweaked things over the next couple sequels, steadily improving it. Eventually, they got Neptunia 1 and mk.2 ported to the Vita plus some new bonus material like characters from later games as unlockables and DLC as the Re;birth series, followed soon a Re;birth version of the third game, V.

So what we have in Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;birth is basically the ultimate edition of a game constructed out of almost pure fluff. As a friend put it, it’s chock full of ideas that would be great in other games. On a technical level, it’s been really fun other than a tendency to put a sharply difficult boss at the end of a dungeon that otherwise felt like a cakewalk. As such, I don’t feel especially bad about using broken DLC equipment to power level my party in the Colosseum and steamrolling the latter half of the game.

The other thing I think really hurts the game is its defiant stance to never be succinct in any situation, ever. A large portion of whether or not this game is going to appeal to anybody is how they feel about the concept of cutesy personifications of games industry entities going on quests and getting into other hi-jinks. Speaking as someone who *is* into that, even I kind of have my limits when they halt progress through a dungeon to have a little comedy bit play out about how tedious it is to have to find a thing in a dungeon. Calling attention to a cliche doesn’t exactly excuse you if you’re still going ahead and doing the thing, especially not for the length of an SNL bit. But at least you can fast forward cutscenes whenever you want and skip the longer attack animations. I think they could have pared the dialogue down a ton and still kept the characters’ personalities pretty clear, and I *know* they could have probably cut the script significantly if they cut out every instance of a character butting in to say something like “Yes, I agree!” to remind us they’re in the scene.

But seriously, if you can get past the veneer of cotton candy fluff, there’s plenty to enjoy. I particularly like the way the Remake System works, letting you craft alterations to the game at large like opening up new dungeons, increasing your jump height (not as useful as it sounds, btw) and permanent boosts to EXP and status resistance. It sort of assimilates the item discovery and scouting sub systems from the other games. The market sharing mechanic is kind of interesting in that you can’t simply grind up your desired nation without lowering the Shares of another one. There are also plenty of cosmetic upgrades to decorate the characters with, which is almost to be expected with the overall aesthetic of the game and characters. All the game references are pretty fun too, especially the ending credit sequences that mimic the styles of a bunch of old games and make me wish instead they’d do like a Wario Ware style spinoff in the future.

Hey, It’s That Time Again

Hey, It’s That Time Again published on

After a lot of butting my head against the wall as to how to add some depth to my old card game rules without making it too baroque, I finally got a semi-workable third ‘build’ run off and played with a while tonight, and for the most part, it seems ok. Emphasis (literally, there are em tags around it) on the “ok-” the solo run was a bit too easy with a party that wasn’t even complete. I was trying out a point-buy sort of party formation this time, and in my randomly slapping numbers on, I actually *couldn’t* afford a full team with the starting allotment. I need to be stricter with hand size for items too. Basically, my Hero/Mage/Cleric trio romped through about 20 rooms and only dipped into dangerously low HP once. I’ll have to try again with a friend some time to see how the balance is with the added chaos of a second hostile player.

Overall though, it seems like the basics *work,* so I’ll start tweaking from there and hopefully have another version to share for download soon. Ish. I won’t subject you to the test build this time since I really just printed multiples of the same sheet a few times.

Something Old, Something New

Something Old, Something New published on

I’d loaded up and messed with StarTropics 2 early in my messing with NES emulators, but didn’t play very far into it. It’d been a long time, so me being me, I just kind of assumed my old self stopped playing because they had gotten bored of it and moved on to pirating something zanier. Turns out I probably ran out of patience!

To properly describe my beefs with StarTropics 2, I have to lay out a bit about the mechanics of the original. StarTropics has a very strict tile-based movement system, and making your way through the game means mastering that particular quirk. While restrictive; the game is designed with it in mind- enemies aren’t usually super aggressive, those that are are typically slow… in general, there’s a lot more of a feel that each room is a puzzle to solve beyond ‘kill all the enemies and the door opens.’ Even when you do get a room like that, it’s usually done to make sure you know how to deal with a certain type of enemy or that you know your way around a special weapon. (In particular, the Asterisk, a.k.a. throwing star is given to you then you pass through several rooms where using its splitting ability is needed to take out paired enemies in tricky locations.) It certainly has its share of dick moves in later stages (as anyone who was watching my Twitch stream of the game can attest to) and rather unforgiving general design choices (if you die in a dungeon, you always start your next life with a meager 3 hearts, and some checkpoints are placed in a way that makes it impossible to refill your health to a decent level before the boss.)

What I’m getting at is StarTropics is awkward and fairly hard, but it checks a lot of the ‘good game design’ boxes. StarTropics 2 attempts to be more of a standard isometric action game, and it feels like a case of something that’s not broken being ‘fixed.’ Mike can move and attack diagonally, and isn’t restricted to full tile movement. You also seem (oddly) to be able to jump farther diagonally than straight across gaps, as well as alter your airborne course a little.

This is actually kind of a problem! Particularly coming straight off of the first one. Jumps across tile-wide gaps was easy the first time around, as your movement was ‘locked’ to a grid, but in more intense platforming segments like the three-lane boulder dash in the Wild West mine section, I find myself falling to my death way more often than I would have under the old system. In fact, the same basic obstacle was IN the first game before the fight with the ostrich mech. The challenge was about timing there, and more of a standard placement issue in the sequel.

So, at least part of my problem is that I’m used to the first game’s controls. That’s on me. But Mike retains just enough of his old movement habits that he’s not quite as responsive as he could be either. You can still kind of spin in place if you rotate the pad fast enough, trying to walk him in a circle around the room, however, you can feel that he still hangs a bit when changing direction. You still have more freedom of movement to be sure, but it feels less precise and measured.

Let’s talk about what it does well, though! It’s more deliberately funny than the first one. The graphics are definitely nice, more detailed. Dungeons now have multiple elevation levels, which is used to interesting effect in parts. Leaping from higher levels adds an extra ’tile’ to your jump length, and the height of yourself and enemies factors into who can hit who. It’s also kind of neat how you’re giving a telekinetic shot as a permanent secondary weapon, and your two main weapons receive upgrades throughout the story.

I’ll keep picking at the game off and on- my Twitter (@thethreetwo) and Twitch widget should say when. Currently picking at the card stuff again though.

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