xyzzysqrl: A moogle sqrlhead! (Default)
Last time on Pokemon Omega Ruby we met Team Aqua, an Abba-inspired peppy eurodance group famed for songs like "Cartoon Heroes" ... Wait no I'm sorry this is a gang of weirdos cosplaying men/women of the sea who want to flood the planet. A very easy mistake to make.

Anyway they showed up to stop Team Magma and Brendan showed up to stop Team Magma and Lime showed up to stop Team Magma but somehow Team Magma didn't get stopped. Is it in fact possible that Team Magma is more competent than two teenagers and a group of Danish music pirates led by a community college swim instructor?
THE ANSWER AWAITS underneath the cut. )
NEXT TIME: ... Let's go home, shall we?
xyzzysqrl: A moogle sqrlhead! (Default)
Last time we walked around a shopping mall/apartment building and I discovered my pun game is nowhere near as clever as I thought it was. I briefly considered retiring in deepest shame to a far-off island and becoming a hermit, but y'know I'm already set up to blog about Pokemon on the internet so I guess I'll just keep rolling with that.
It's a good option. )
So next time, we might actually get up that mountain I've been talking up! STAY TUNED.
xyzzysqrl: A moogle sqrlhead! (Default)
When we last left our intrepid heroine, she had relentlessly mocked Team Magma (Did you know humans stand on the land? It's true!) and moved on to Mauville City.
It's a giant mall! )
See you next time!
xyzzysqrl: A moogle sqrlhead! (Default)
It is almost impossible for me to overstate how suspicious I was of Kemono Friends at first, thanks to the current landscape of anime.

An anime with an all-girl cast airing late at night ("Otaku-o-clock") with obvious mysteries surrounding the landscape and identity of one of the primary characters, with nebulous monsters involved? And it's all sweet and innocent and gentle, to the point where critics were calling it "mind-sapping" or "intelligence-draining"? Yeah.

I was 99% sure this would be a cunning trap designed to lure in viewers and punch them in the face with "deconstructions" and "oh look everything you loved about this show was secretly evil and gross haha".

Kemono Friends never does that.

What looks sweet and gentle stays sweet and gentle through the whole thing. The mysteries are tied up well but just vaguely enough there's an opening for a season 2. All through the 12 episode run, it remains a Nice Show about cheerful anime-furry girls. Every one of them is a Friend. However, there's this new girl. She doesn't know what animal she is, but she's very good at solving problems. What kind of Friend could she be?

It is not perfect. The fact is, this is a tie-in show to a mobile phone game that was canceled before the show came out. They basically just handed some 3D rendering software to a VERY small animation studio and went "Whatever, do what you like."

Visually, this is ratty-looking. Vehicle wheels will forget to spin, Friends will skip along the top of the grass instead of walking on the ground, the action scenes are mostly just big jumps, characters "fly" like they're being click-dragged across a Windows desktop and one character (Plains Zebra Friend) in the background of a shot was so poorly rendered the fanart imageboard tag for her is "Savannah Striped Giant Slug".

So it doesn't look great and it's chirpily sugar-sweet, but... I feel like this show just has so much heart. Somebody cared, and that snowballed. Kemono Friends has a loving sense of humor, it treats its characters with respect. It knows what to leave unsaid. The big moments it has are predictable but treated without irony or a wink to the audience. It's earnest and I loved it.

It's still really clearly for kids (WHAT was this doing in a late-night time slot?!) but I enjoyed it as a weird furry adult, and I'm not alone. Kemono Friends was a smash Japanese hit, to the point where not only will there be a season 2, there will also be a new mobile phone game, one based on the anime this time.

It honestly warms my heart to see that happen. I look forward to season 2.

(If you're going to try it, please note episode 1 is maybe the weakest and reflects -all- the problems I mentioned. By episode 3 and 4, the series has hit its stride and if those do nothing, it's worth moving on.)
xyzzysqrl: A moogle sqrlhead! (Default)
In the very early AM, when the sky is dark, a friend tosses me an egg. I tuck the egg carefully in position behind the plant-lizard, masked seed bulb, mushroom, fluffpuppy and green lumpy thing and run around in tight circles for a while to give it a start at hatching. Then I go to bed.

When I wake up, the power is out. It takes me another day to get this update finished.

Good morning, everyone. I'm playing Pokemon Omega Ruby, and it's time to Dewford Town. ... do Dew... Dodew... go forward to D... township of Dewforwarding...

We're going into Dewford Town okay. This pun was poorly thought out.
Just get in here. )
It is beautiful and heaven help me, I want to move in. Next time, we'll explore if that's an option. (I am guessing no.)
xyzzysqrl: (Challenger)
So! Remember when I said this:

"It is while doing this gym that Mint starts trying to evolve. I have JUST ENOUGH Pokemon knowledge to whap the B button a couple times and stop him. If I don't evolve him, he'll learn a cool move. I'll explain why in a different post, it's not just that I want him small and cute forever, I promise."

...in today's post? Well, we're at that different post now.
This is a sidebar, and you can skip it but I think it's interesting. )
xyzzysqrl: A moogle sqrlhead! (Default)
When we left Lime, she was parked outside Rustboro City. In we go!
The adventure continues. )
With that it's back to zip across the sea to Dewford Town, which is where we'll pick up next time. Please look forward to it!
xyzzysqrl: A moogle sqrlhead! (Default)
Last time, we got things off and rolling and I was a bit surprised by the narrative structure of this particular game. By which I mean - so far there isn't much of one. By now in Pokemon Y we had been introduced to some distinct characters and given a heartwarming speech or two about free will from Professor Hug-Me.

Maybe we'll get a speech and/or a hug later. I've never played original Ruby, Sapphire, or Emerald. I dunno any specifics about what's coming.

Onward. )
See you next time, as Lime and Mint challenge their first gym. Are they prepared? Ahahaha I have no idea.
xyzzysqrl: A moogle sqrlhead! (Default)
Greetings, loved ones. As you may be aware I recently climbed into a bright yellow bucket and rode it down a deep dark pit into Pokemon Hell, which is where certain kinds of adults go when they are bad and another very different kind of adults go when they are on vacation.

I am the latter.

I figure... I'm back in the fandom hard. I installed the Collectable Card Game client on my PC and I've been muddling with that some against the AI. I've been glancing thoughtfully at the anime. I've even considered looking up some scans of Pokemon Special, AKA "That manga where everything is batshit insane".

Y'all have no idea how long I have spent looking up fanart of SPECIFIC SCENES in PMD: Explorers of Sky on like Pixiv or whatever and just letting my excess empathy splash down my face in the form of SOBBING AND WHIMPERING.

It's time for me to just go ahead, relax, and do another Pokemon playblog. Sorry guys. Pokemon Hell demands my sacrifice.

I always say I'm gonna keep these blogs short and then blurting out like the entire life history of random NPCs, but I really am gonna TRY to do a fairly low-effort cruise through my game of choice: Pokemon Omega Ruby. (SPOILER FROM THE FUTURE: I failed in the first entry, but maybe I'll shut up more as time goes on.)

Good friend of sqrls Alicia gifted me Pokemon Moon recently and I DO need to play through that (hopefully before Ultra Sun/Moon come out) but I haven't done Omega Ruby yet and it's been on the shelf long enough. (I hadn't even broken the plastic before now.)

If you're not familiar with it, Omega Ruby is the remake of "Pokemon Ruby", which was the start of Generation 3 of Pokemon. I have no strong feelings about generations. I love all the pokemon, even gloriously ridiculous ones like Honchkrow have a place in my heart.

That said, this one was made after the focus of my previous gameblog, Pokemon Y and so contains data for every little monster that was in THAT game. I could drop some Pokemon into Y via the Bank application, breed myself up a small army, drop the eggs to whoever I end up playing in OR and go through the game with a ridiculous team.

(Incidentally, remember I was surprised about 92 hours in PMD: Explorers? Try 130-ish hours in Pokemon Y. This series, guys, geez.)

Will I? I do not know. I'm really open to anything here, I'm just looking to have a good time. That's what Pokemon is for, isn't it? Still, a journey of a thousand scampering little creatures begins with a single step. Now that I've yammered for like a page and a half...
Let's get started. )
NOW IS THE BEGINNING OF A FANTASTIC JOURNEY -- I'm really looking forward to it. We'll see if I can keep my notes any shorter next time. Sorry, everybody!
xyzzysqrl: (Play with me.)
Oh where do I even start...

Explorers of Sky is another in the Mystery Dungeon series, so you can expect a nigh-fetishistic focus on exploring randomly generated dungeons populated with dangerous pokemon. Your character is a member of a guild of explorers, adventurers who sally into the unknown to discover new lands or chase down outlaws normal pokemon are too distressed or weak to deal with. As hybrid defenders of justice and mappers of the realm, you'll be shuttled around from dungeon to dungeon, recruiting new pokemon and collecting items to help you survive.

I chose to name my partner-to-be "Wattson", as he was a Shinx, an electric-type pokemon. Ahaha it is a joke. And then, running with it, I chose "Sqrllock" as my Eevee stand-in's name and we became Team Deduction.

By the end of the game I was treating these two like a married couple and the game was doing NOTHING to put me off the idea. Actual Sherlock shippers would be side-eyeing me like "Whoa there dial it back a couple ticks?" but NO I WILL NOT. Horrible plot things would happen and these two little fluffs would assure each other that they cared for one another and would never give up or surrender, never let a moment of doubt come between them. I mean, geez, normally I would be off drooling over other pokemon because I'm a goddamn furry but in this particular case no. Aside from one special guest star who stole my heart and a trio of charming explorers I was faithful to my chosen partner the whole way through the game.

Also, the Mystery Dungeon series is where you go to get punched in the heart by masters of the Emotional Heart-Punch Combat School of Creative Writing. If I wasn't breaking down in heaving great emotional sobs at some tragic twist of fate I was getting all teary-eyed over the Power of Friendship. There are lines in here I'll never forget, the context around them is too meaningful, too powerful.

"It's just not possible for either of you to be unwanted in this world."

I'm sorry, I broke like glass.

*ahem*
Now, all that said...

I spent -ninety two hours- on this game.

I don't DO THAT.

Like, unless it's an MMO or something, I am usually OUT by hour 30 or 40. So I was SUCKED IN. You know why I stopped playing it, after 92 hours? Because I have ordered the sequel, Pokemon Super Mystery Dungeon, and I want to play THAT without suffering burnout. I am so hungry for this game I bought a second game to keep gorging myself on.

Maybe it's a sign that I am a jumbo-sized baby person, I don't know. What I do know is I desperately needed this game. I needed it to exist and I needed to play it.

(Also, now that I've read her post, Celine wrote something very similar to what I did when SHE finished it. Makes sense since we talked the HELL out of this game on IM. Like, hours and hours of picky scene-by-scene analysis. If I have become trashy fandom sludge it is her fault.)

This game reignited my Pokemon spirit. Expect to see a lot more Pokemon for a while -- I am seriously considering an Omega Ruby gameblog.
xyzzysqrl: (RUN AWAY)
One of the things I wanted to do in the upcoming days was another Nancy Drew playblog, however the heat and light and general fatigue has been wiping me out lately. I don't want to run the risk of leaving another one unfinished, so I'm going to postpone that a while.

Still, the reason I wanted to post a playblog at all was to celebrate the birthday of Mildred Wirt Benson, which is on the 11th of July. The original Drew ghostwriter under the name Carolyn Keene, she is responsible for defining much of what the character was and would become: Not afraid to stand up to adults, a bold truthseeker and a curious girl who was allowed to like "girl things", but without the passive nature of some of the female heroes at the time. (Remember, this was around when the original Wizard of Oz film had just been released.)

This article on her death goes into far more detail, and amusingly enough makes me think that perhaps NOT posting a playblog is the right choice after all. As far as it goes, Ms. Benson was rather sick of Nancy by the end of her life.

I don't think I'll ever be, though.
xyzzysqrl: (Sqrl Barbarian)
Or as I played it, "Wonder Girl". Changes the title screen and everything. A nice touch.

So here's what I DIDN'T like about Dragon's Trap:

A: The challenge rooms were really very challenging.
B: The momentum from running and jumping was still a bit slippery.
C: Maybe the level design is a little biased towards flat planes.

That's it. The rest was gold.

So you're already starting off with a great game: 1989's "Wonder Boy 3: The Dragon's Trap" for the Sega Master System. Linear stages but lots of reasons to revisit them and grab collectables, with an exploration-focused hub structure and several different cursed forms to play as: Dragon, Mouse, Piranha, Lion, Hawk. Each with its own talents, lots of collectible weapons, hidden secrets, okay that's all in the original game.

Then you paint over it with absolutely gorgeous drawn backgrounds and character sprites and play wonderful beautiful mixes of the level music over all that. There's a button that toggles between updated and original graphics, and I kept switching back to the original to go "But... how did this become THAT?" and then I'd sway back to the updated visuals and just... let it WASH over me.

I want to speak objectively about this, but I can't. This game was part of my childhood. I got a Master System and a crate of games (bought from the local rental store when they went out of business) well after I had a Super Nintendo. I didn't have a lot of inherent bias at the time -- a game's a game, right? -- but I quickly learned that a lot of that crate was kinda crap.

Wonder Boy 3 wasn't. It was special and fun and weird and silly. The remake is all of those things, maybe moreso. It fills in the blanks the way my imagination USED to, by showing a big world surrounding the events of the game. Instead of a simple blue horizon there's deserts and forests, mountains and beaches. It reminded me a little of why I started loving video games in the first place and why I still love the medium today.

Those challenge rooms will probably make my blood pressure skyrocket though, I'm not kidding. They're hard.
xyzzysqrl: (Message for you!)
I am not particularly a fan of Game of Thrones. I think I started reading the novels and got to ... around book three before I realized suddenly I didn't know who anyone I was reading about was or what they were doing or why I should care. That's in part my awful memory and in part "too many characters and sideplots" but nope, sorry, I'm out.

(I WAS a Wheel of Time fan and then Perrin fucked off into the woods for like four solid books never to touch the plot again and I didn't care anymore, but that was where my loyalties ended up in the Great Epic Fantasy War that never actually happened.)

I am a fan of Telltale's games, although it's a little embarrassing to admit that. By now everyone knows that they have just the one trick, right? They do basically interactive television, you walk through an episode and it plays the story at you and you pretend your choices mattered and you never ever replay it because you will see they did not.

When I'm away from Telltale's stuff for a while I convince myself I can see the Matrix and I know where all the strings are and so on. They won't get me again. Then you hand me one and I actually start to think what I do matters again.

Maybe it does matter. I always advocate for dialogue options and narrative choices, even if it's ultimately a branching funnel that goes to the same destination. The illusion of mattering is more important to me than actually mattering. I said that back when I played Star Billions and I say it here too.

Anyway my total lack of investment in the pre-existing universe let me play this game like I had two fists full of dynamite and wanted a hug. I chose whatever selections looked narratively interesting, not what selections I thought would bring about the best outcome. I roleplayed Asher Forester as having an erection for murder bigger than would fit in his pants and I played Mira Forester as a butt-kissing magnet looking for the biggest power-booty she could smooch.

Everyone largely died, because hey! Game of Thrones! It's the meme! Still I would be down for a theoretical season 2 for two reasons:

A: It would be interesting to see what minute ripples were caused.
B: They didn't fucking finish the FIRST one, it ends on a couple of cliffhangers. Thanks, Telltale.

In short: This game was free on PS+ and I absolutely got more entertainment out of it than I have other free games on there, but I still don't want to go binge-watch the books or read the TV show. I was just here to kick over a couch or two, suplex the serving staff and pour wine into Tyrion. Call me up when there's a second season but I'm off to greener, less bloody pastures.
xyzzysqrl: (Lex Luthor)
Technically finished this last night, but I was tired enough to just crash nose-first into bed and explode. Now I am reassembled and awake, so:

inFamous 2 is one of those games that seems to have been written to fix most of the problems I had with the first game. Cole is no longer an angry potato, he's a generically chipper and snarky Bald Smirking Video Game Protagonist which I find at least more tolerable. We mix in some weird genetic monsters and ice-power-having bad guys into the blend of "hoodie dudes with rifles" that were the main bad guy in the previous game.

The open-world jumping around improves, the story is a bit less flat and dull, and the introduction of The Beast is kind of excellent. First thing he does is destroy Empire City, so y'know, goodbye all the shit you did in game one. The second thing he does is beat Cole senseless. You escape down south to Mardigrasland Amusement Park (I'm sorry, I can't remember the actual name of the city, it's New Orleans okay?) and the game informs you solemnly that THE BEAST IS 1800 MILES AWAY.

From then on, every time you pause the game, it shows you the map where the Beast is charring a gouge in the landscape, a smoky charcoal trench that sweeps down the east coast and out to where you are. It's beautiful.

...except then THE BEAST HAS REACHED GAMEPLAY CITYLAND and -- uh you just kinda... sidequest it away for a few hours so the plot can finish dealing with the local villains and ugh no.

Pacing, damnit. The open-world stuff did them no favors there. It felt like it was supposed to be a REALLY BIG DEAL but if it was actually really big deal you couldn't freeroam anymore and players might COMPLAIN, sooooo...

Mh. What else. I really liked Agent Lucy Kuo, NSA. She gets super-powers in a somewhat traumatic experience and the moment she realizes she has ice powers she nips off a while and comes back with her black hair dyed a frosty dark-blue, icy makeup on and a black top with sparkles and a snowflake on it. Yeah it's kind of pandering but if I ever got elemental-themed superpowers I would thrift-shop my ass to a matching outfit as priority one.

There are some things in life you just DO, okay, and if you're gonna have powers here today you NEED A THEMATIC OUTFIT or I'm sorry, I just don't want to interact with you? Like Cole is still in a workout t-shirt and some pants that vaguely SUGGEST lightning with a pattern and that is like the exact minimum of what I'll accept. Cole would it kill you to find like a fist-with-lightning-bolt top or something? Maybe something with a gradiant? Some cool fingerless gloves instead of electrical tape wrapped around your fingers? People are lookin' up to you, man, make a fucking EFFORT.

So yeah Kuo's outfit-swap was excellent and when she showed up I had my first moment of genuinely RELATING to anyone on screen in a game and a half. Good job, inFamous 2.
xyzzysqrl: A moogle sqrlhead! (Default)
It's interesting to me that inFamous made as much of an impression as it did, because it feels pretty standard nowadays. Then again, it was a different and earlier time and open-world games have come a long way even now. Infamous (I'm not doing that case thing every time) had great traversal for its time with a gliding and railsliding system, it had a decent mission variety, a big city with plenty of collectables... but it's sort of been outdone by other games now.

Still, this is a superhero story, and I have an interest in those. It's not the kind of superhero story I PREFER, mind. Cole is a straight-up killer, most of his enemies are dudes in ponchos with assault rifles, and even in the most optimistic/full-hero-points ending Cole still ends up brooding on a rooftop about all he's lost and how he's the only person he can trust.

That said, it does do a couple of fun superhero things like fighting giant golems powered by telekinesis or leaping from rooftops so you can destroy blimps floating through the city spraying mind-control gas. I mean, that stuff is great. What isn't great is being hounded through the streets by mooks with 100%-accurate rifles that fire from slightly beyond the draw distance and are smart enough to hide when you turn around and aim at them, so you need to run over and chase them down. (During which time the OTHER mooks with aimbot accuracy are headshotting you from the Everglades. Buy a goddamn helmet for your bald-ass targetlike head, Cole.)

There are also moral options. The game tries to frame them as "be selfish and get more or be selfless and brave and heroic" but really it comes down quite often to "be stupidly selfish for no reason or actually participate in the goddamn plot". In some cases you get the "Hero" karma for just standing there and NOT fucking it up for everyone. Truly this is wish fulfillment. "Congratulations, you stood there and didn't break anything. A++ have a trophy."

Spoiler Country )
xyzzysqrl: A moogle sqrlhead! (Default)
Well, this had a story mode so I beat the story mode. The story mode is basically "hit from audio node to audio node", so I did. In theory you're supposed to get under par, but I didn't care, so I finished most of the story courses at like +109 strokes or whatever.

Basically a long audiodrama about The Steampunk Revolution, which tangentially involves VR mind-transference golf. The writing was serviceable, the voice-acting was... existent.

Also there was golf. There's still a lot of golf even with the story mode done.

... Well. In conclusion that sure was a video game.
xyzzysqrl: A moogle sqrlhead! (Default)
I distinctly remember saving my game all the way up the clock tower, past the second boss fight, with a final save on the Tropical Island ruled by a volcano god. Unfortunately my emulator disagrees and plunks me back about 6-8 hours, and I really really do not feel like going through any part of this game twice.

In a way it's a massive shame. Robotrek has a number of very interesting ideas, all of which are unfortunately gated behind THIS GAME. You're a begoggled kid fighting a dangerous army of Hackers with your home-built robots. Your adventure takes you all over the world, into weird and varied situations and even through time and space. It's intensely creative ... but all the humor and weirdness is kind of blocked by a godawful translation job.

I do still love the one dude who earnestly informs you that "Evil is good. Evil is the job."

The combat system is unfortunately pretty weak too. Your robots can do a variety of special moves (which don't really work against bosses) and level up their weapons (which is either expensive as fuck or time-consuming as fuck as you either pay for extra copies of said weapon or grind in battle until you get weapon-leveling capsules)... and you can only have one robot in combat at a time, which is frustratingly anti-diversification. Why not just have one basic "robot" with three layers of hit points?

I want to say this is like a stunning betrayal of my nostalgia or whatever but really I don't remember having a lot of patience for Robotrek the FIRST time around either, when I was young and playing it on the SNES. It would be a great beginner RPG if not for how clunky and god-awful SLOW everything else. It would be a great comedy RPG (the Japanese title is Slapstick, after all) but the jokes are too mistranslated to actually be funny. As it is, it isn't a great ANYthing and that's a great shame.

It does let you play as a mouse for a while though. That's pretty fun.
xyzzysqrl: A moogle sqrlhead! (Default)
I was in a depressed mood this morning and decided to do something mindless and doofy to cheer up, so I put on a Hidden Object Game. Unlike the last time I tried doing that, I didn't feel insulted or pissed off at all by the end of it.

That's not to say it was great, but it killed some time.

A family of four are touring a museum when their pet cat (which the daughter brought along because otherwise this story wouldn't have started) escapes into a real Egyptian tomb. Centuries ago, the EVIL PHARAOH sealed his GOOD PHARAOH brother in the tomb as a mummy, and cursed him to stay there forever unless I guess four dorkshites pass through and free him somehow.

Each family member has a thing they can do: The brother can use goggles that detect the mystical metals pharaohs make puzzles out of, the daughter has a time amulet that lets her see what a room looked like when the puzzle in it was solved correctly, the dad has a shovel, crowbar, and sledgehammer making him the most useful son of a bitch ever to enter a hidden object game, and the mom has a diary which has the hint system in it.

I am a little worried about the brother though. He takes one look at the old "Weigh your heart against a feather" routine and...

Sister: "They weigh your heart and if the sins you've accumulated are greater than this feather, you can never pass on."
Brother: "...well I'll never be able to pass that test."

Dude you're fucking TEN what have you DONE?

So you... go and solve a bunch of stuff and the daughter can see ghosts and assures you that the good pharaoh has passed along to wherever good pharaohs go at the end, and that's that. Like I have the feeling the framework story was sort of grafted on at the last minute because "A bunch of dorks get stuck, then unstuck from a temple" wasn't really enough of a plot even for a hidden object game.

Whatever. I do feel more cheerful now, so goal accomplished.
xyzzysqrl: A moogle sqrlhead! (Default)
At the end of your time in The Hero of Kendrickstone, the game generates you a bardic ballad to tell of your exploits. Which is honestly legit pretty cool, I wish more games did that! So let's pick through that, and I'll spell out the tale behind the tune...
Big Spoiler Country beyond this point. )
I gotta experiment a lot more, I think, to see just how flexible the game structure is but it FEELS LIKE it's hard to get away from the role you assign yourself at the start. That said, I've now got a save waiting on my drive I suppose, and if there's another 'book' in this particular series Choice of Games will email me so I can import in.

It was a fun couple hours!

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