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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!



Catching Up

Catching Up published on

Oh dear, I’ve been neglectful again. :( Been keeping busy most of the month with work, family, and Twitch stuff, not doing as much actual drawing as I’d like, but I think I’ve cooked up an idea for a livestream routine that’ll let me get my groove back a bit: basically, picking a theme and working off of it for a few hours as practice and chat casual like, so I have something arty to work on that doesn’t fall under ‘work’ in my brain. Tonight I kicked it off with WayForward, I may see if anyone wants to join me on the Discord voice chat for a little topical discussion in other sessions. I have a major remodel idea in mind for around here in the future, so if you wanna run around and save some stuff just in case something go awry.. hey.

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.

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.

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