Spontaneous Saturday 6/28: Water

Front image_drinking-water

Yes, water. Can I just take my time to appreciate this simple yet marvelous substance? I mean, water is one of the main components of life itself. Without it, a good bulk of other drinks wouldn’t exist, swimming wouldn’t be a thing, and, well, life itself would perish. Water is also used for cleaning; sometimes it is called the “universal solvent”, and not only does it clean things like windows and whatnot; it also cleans people. You know, that’s what showers and baths are for. I’m personally more of a bath guy, but that’s beside the point. I may not be the most fit person around, but I consume at least 5 half-liter bottles of water every day. Gotta stay hydrated, you know what I’m saying? To be frank, though, I consume less water when I’m on the go because I don’t 100% trust water that comes from anywhere but home and I’m not a fan of public restrooms. Honestly, those people who leave the seat down when they pee in the toilet really need to show some respect.

Anyway, point is, drink water. It’s good. Overall rating: 10/10 because why not.

 

Top Three Thursday 6/26: SGDQ 2014 moments (so far)

This review will cover what I have witnessed in SGDQ 2014 as of June 26 at 2:00 PM EDT. To catch a GDQ, follow http://www.twitch.tv/speeddemosarchivesda on Twitch or visit their website at http://gamesdonequick.com/

3. Super Meat Boy “Forest” world blindfolded (boss included) by MattyIce3131

MattyIce3131 ran Super Meat Boy 106% (all levels (glitch levels included), bandages, and warp zones) two days prior, but what really caught my attention was the donation incentive that ensued afterwards: a blindfolded run through the entirety of world 1. I cannot imagine what it would be like to be deprived of sight, let alone for an outrageous platformer like Super Meat Boy. Sure, it does require trial and error to at least some degree, and the runner must have memorized the layout of each level after continued runs of the game, but still, it’s hard to imagine.

2. Trials Fusion run by TheBlazeJP (and bonus ninja level by TheBoshos)

Prior to this, I’d only played Trials Evolution (and the old Trials games online, but that’s all a blur), but I can’t say I don’t like the sequel. As mentioned throughout the run, TheBlazeJP makes it look so easy, but it does require intricate inputs as far as accelerating, decelerating, and leaning, especially for the “extreme” levels. The run did have some interesting moments, like the cyclist’s screams (which was also a thing in Evolution), the background voices with subtitles (which TheBlazeJP left on but TheBoshos turned off), some of the tricks involved, and the butthole-clenching moments during the “extreme” levels (and the ninja level as well). There was one moment in particular, though, that had me on the edge of my seat. I can’t recall the details too vividly and I don’t know what the level was called, but it may have somehow involved water. Anyway, it was a jump from a lower block to a more elevated and slightly more distant one, and he bounced off the elevated block onto the lower one, and while it looked like he was going to fall backwards, a fender bump set him level on the lower block and gave him another chance, which he seized without error. To summarize it in one Twitch emote:

(not to mention owl hype)

1. Cosmo’s ZZT run

My goodness… I can never get a clear-cut idea of what this game is, and it doesn’t help that 1) the donation reader was completely confused during the whole run, and 2) the run was so fast-paced that Cosmo had extremely little room to explain what was going on. All I know is that you get purple keys to bust into a palace or something or other. Another mystifying thing about the run was that, despite his run on YouTube being 10:25 and his estimated time being 15 minutes, his actual time was 6:41. He did say he was using some “hold pause” glitch which he didn’t implement in the YouTube video, but it’s all over my head. Heck, this game is over my head.

Throwback Tuesday 6/24: Donkey Kong Jungle Beat

Donkey Kong Jungle Beat is a 2D platformer that uses a unique bongo controller (engineered primarily for Donkey Konga) for gameplay. The controller has four controls: two pads (left and right), a clap sensor, and a START/PAUSE button. The pads are for movement, the clap sensor converts noise input to clapping, and the START/PAUSE button is for…well, you know.

The game has some familiar platforming concepts like running, jumping (by pressing both bongos at once), wall jumping, backflipping, ground pounding, and swimming. However, it also has some unique concepts like midair combos (I guess you could call them “parkour combos” because DKJB is not a fighting game) and uses for clapping, of which I will start with the former.

Parkour combos are achieved by jumping in the air and performing a series of tasks such as backflipping, ground pounding, swinging on a vine, activating a kitty parachute…well, just watch the video below to see the many things that can raise your combo.

More combo means more score from bananas, and more score is always better. However, if you’re in the middle of a parkour combo and get hit, your combo and all the bananas you have collected during said combo will disappear in a flash.

The uses for clapping are numerous. First off, clapping creates a shockwave that consists of two main parts: the inner shockwave and the outer shockwave. The outer shockwave does minor tasks like bouncing fruits and popping bubbles, while the inner shockwave does more powerful tasks (although I can’t think of an example off the top of my head). Clapping also allows you to grab stuff (most notably bananas and grab monkeys) within a small radius.

Overall rating: 10/10. Like Skyrim with bongos. In all seriousness, the game does have one heck of a fun factor, especially during the boss battles (mainly the other Kongs and Cactus/Ghastly King). Optimizing it takes ridiculous effort, though. Hurts, too.

Spontaneous Saturday 6/14: Conceptis puzzles

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Conceptis puzzles is my go-to website for passing time, teasing my brain, and having fun with logic puzzles. The website (which can be accessed by clicking on the header image) provides some starter puzzles and releases new puzzles weekly, one per category for free and several more per category (some higher in difficulty) that can be bought. You can’t go wrong with free-to-play, and that is why I am a frequent visitor to the site.

There are 16 different puzzles to choose from, but three of them I just completely don’t bother with: Sym-a-pix, Dot-a-pix, and Maze-a-pix. Those puzzles are so self-explanatory that a child could do them and have no fun factor to them whatsoever. As a matter of fact, I say these hardly qualify as logic puzzles; rather, they seem more like preschooler activities.

4/11/15 EDIT: This was a shallow judgement on my part. Refer to: http://wp.me/p4GI1b-6c

Rant aside, there are 13 puzzles I play regularly, but I will only cover 5 due to the tedium of having to explain all 13.

7/12 EDIT: I cover 5 more in my most recent Spontaneous Saturday, viewed here: https://vouivreview.wordpress.com/2014/07/12/spontaneous-saturday-conceptis-puzzles-part-2/.

Yes, the logic puzzle we all know and love: Sudoku. The aim of the game is to fill squares in with numbers 1-9, but not in a completely haphazard manner; only one of a certain number can be in any row, column, or box. Notice the illegality of the placement of the brown 3 (two in the same row), 8 (two in the same column), and 1 (two in the same box) in the image below.
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Variants include Mini Sudoku (smaller boxes), Mega Sudoku (bigger boxes), Irregular Sudoku (oddly shaped boxes), Diagonal Sudoku (only one of a number 1-9 can be in any diagonal line of symmetry), Multi Sudoku (multiple Sudoku grids overlapping each other), Sum Sudoku (there are fields within the board which specify a required sum of numbers), OddEven Sudoku (certain tiles are restricted to either even or odd numbers), and Chain Sudoku (like Irregular Sudoku but with more freedom in shaping). Unfortunately, only regular Sudoku offers free-to-play puzzles every week.

 

These puzzles are what got me into Conceptis in the first place (I was a OneMoreLevel frequenter before I became a Conceptis frequenter). You could say it’s kinda like Sum Sudoku but not. There are no boxes to be factored in, but the “no duplicate numbers in any columns or rows” restriction still applies. However, there are fields that specify a number and an operation. The numbers within the field must be able to equal the number when the operation is applied. For example, a field labeled 45x with three empty spaces would require two 3s and a 5 (5 * 3 * 3 = 45), while a field labeled 3- with two empty spaces could either contain 2 and 5 or 1 and 4 (5 – 2 = 3, 4 – 1 = 3). Puzzles are distinguished in the following types: SingleOp (only one operation; operation label omitted for obvious reasons), DualOp (Addition+Subtraction or Multiplication+Division), or QuadOp (all four operations).

 

Kakuro is a puzzle with a board shape much like that of a crossword puzzle, with a sum specified for each “Across” or “Down” field instead of a clue. The aim is to fill in those fields with numbers that add up to equal the sum without repeating numbers. It’s much easier for me to teach with a visual aid, so here’s an image of an already solved puzzle.
Screen Shot 2014-06-14 at 1.59.44 AM

 

I’m sure you are familiar with the board game Battleship, where you pick a tile and the opponent says “Hit” or “Miss” depending on whether you hit one of the opponent’s ships, and there are multiple lengths of ships. Well, this puzzle is a single-player spinoff of the game. The first thing you may notice is the numbers on the right and bottom, which specify how many of the tiles in the corresponding row or column are part of a battleship. You are also given already-filled tiles (sometimes), the ships that are hiding in the water (so to speak), and the restriction that ships cannot be adjacent to each other (even diagonally). Below is an unsolved Battleships puzzle, along with its solution.
Puzzle: Screen Shot 2014-06-14 at 2.08.20 AM  Solution: Screen Shot 2014-06-14 at 2.08.08 AM

 

Skyscrapers is a really hard-to-get puzzle at a glance, but thankfully, Conceptis does provide rules for their logic puzzles, and within the Skyscrapers rules, I found the following helpful image:

Looking at this image, you may or may not notice that the number in front of the person is how many of the towers on the grid they see. That’s the point of the game: you have to imagine that the numbers on the grid each have a certain height and that higher numbers can obscure lower numbers from an arrow’s vision. Also, this puzzle does have the “no duplicate numbers in any columns or rows” restriction involved in Sudoku and Calcudoku.

 

Overall website rating: 9/10. The only thing I could ask for Conceptis to change is to either set Sound to “Off” by default or to allow account-based defaults so that they apply no matter the device used (my computer’s data got wiped once and I had to turn the sound off again for every single puzzle). Also, more free-to-play puzzles would be nice. (Come on, just one per category per week?)

Top Three Thursday 6/12: Katawa Shoujo heroines

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So, I just 100% completed Katawa Shoujo recently, and I figured now is as good a time as any to discuss my top 3 favorite heroines. (Note that the term “heroines” only encompasses Emi, Hanako, Lilly, Rin, and Shizune.) For those unfamiliar, Katawa Shoujo is a downloadable visual romance novel with a decision-making element and a focus on disabled people. If you do not want spoilers, complete the game before reading. Without further ado, here is my top 3 list.

3. Lilly
Screen Shot 2014-06-12 at 12.21.12 AM
Lilly, known as the “blind character” in layman’s terms, has a calm and collected personality (and can be playful at times) and uses her active senses (mainly touching and hearing) to get by her blindness. While she may seem close to Hisao (the main protagonist) during her arc and acts as a mother figure to Hanako, she occasionally gets distanced by urgent business with her family in Scotland. The quality that I like best about her, though, is her slight similarity to one of my all-time favorite manga characters. Also, her good ending was, in my opinion, the most emotional of all five (and is slightly similar to the ending of Love Live season 1).

2. Shizune
Screen Shot 2014-06-12 at 12.21.04 AM
Shizune, the “deaf character,” is the de facto leader of the Student Council (of only two people, three if Hisao decides to join) and has a competitive nature, but does not have the voice to express it—and thusly has Misha, her interpreter, communicate her message to others, which is problematic due to the dissimilar personalities of the two. During Shizune’s arc, due to the inconvenience of having an interpreter around at all times (especially during intimate moments), Hisao is made to learn sign language to fill the void in communication. Qualities that I like about her are her competitive nature, her glasses (impaired not only in speech and hearing, but also in sight?), and her eccentric family (the androgynous Hideaki and the pompous Jigoro). Not to mention it was Misha who got me into Katawa Shoujo in the first place.

1. Rin
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Rin may not be able to use her arms, but she gets by using her feet and mouth (mostly the former) and relying on Emi for basic needs such as getting dressed and undressed. In spite of her lack of arms, she took up becoming an artist as a means of “speaking her mind.” Speaking of her mind, that is the part of her that I like most. If I could describe it in one word, it would be “abstract.” She thinks of some of the most random things, to the point of becoming somewhat humorous to me, and tends to go through lines of questioning (like a philosopher) that sometimes go nowhere fast. Side note: Rin is the only character of whose path I did not get the good ending first try but, at the same time, the first character I got to Act 2 with.

Throwback Tuesday 6/10: Metroid Prime Hunters

Metroid Prime Hunters is a 3D platformer for the Nintendo DS that involves finding upgrades, shooting down aliens, and not dying (of course). Admittedly, this is the first Metroid Prime game I have ever played, and I’ve only ever played two (the second being Metroid Prime 3: Corruption), so I cannot compare this game to any of its prior installments.

Before the official release of Metroid Prime Hunters, there was a “demo” version of the game known as Metroid Prime Hunters: First Hunt. This demo version consists of three types of games: Regulator, Survivor, and Morph Ball. Regulator consists of earning as many points as possible (you earn points by shooting enemies) in ten minutes or until your health runs out. Survivor consists of getting as many kills as possible before dying. Morph Ball consists of rolling around in Morph Ball mode and collecting tokens in a sequence until time runs out. This prototype, which had wireless multiplayer capabilities, merely scratched the surface of the game’s overall potential.

In the actual game Metroid Prime Hunters, there is a solo and a multiplayer mode. The multiplayer is what really got me into the game; you can play as Samus or one of the six other bounty hunters featured in the game (Sylux, Trace, Noxus, Spire, Kanden, Weavel) and there are numerous multiplayer options (although the free-for-all was the only one that appealed to me at all). Unlike First Hunt, which is exclusively wireless in multiplayer, the real deal allows you the option of fighting bots (that is, AI-controlled players) or anyone online. The online play was quite a charm until people started hacking DeathAlts out of nowhere. (A DeathAlt is a power-up that locks your character in alt form, grants invulnerability, and allows you to kill anything you touch.) Before then, it was basically a Team Fortress 2 before I had Team Fortress 2.

The charm of online play was being able to toy with the bounty hunters, their weapon repertoires, and, best of all, their alt forms. The types of weapons available (besides the Power Beam, of course) are missiles (Samus’ main weapon), Battlehammers (Weavel’s), Judicator (Noxus’), Volt Driver (Kanden’s), Magmaul (Spire’s), Shock Coil (Sylux’s), and Imperialist (Trace’s). Missiles fire straight at blinding speed and home if charged, Battlehammers travel in an arc and don’t charge, Judicator rounds bounce off of surfaces and freeze targets if charged, Volt Driver obscures target’s vision when charged, Magmaul sets targets on fire when charged, Shock Coil drains HP at close range, and Imperialist is the de facto Sniper Rifle of Metroid Prime Hunters.

As for their alt forms, Samus turns into the famous Morph Ball that drops timed bombs, Weavel separates from his pelvis (creating a Sentry Gun with his legs) and walks around on his arms, attacking with jump slashes, Noxus turns into a spinning top and can extend his arm until it hits an enemy, Kanden turns into a worm-like form that drops bombs similar to those of Samus but with the ability to home in on targets that get too close, Spire turns into a jagged rock form that can climb up walls and separate its rocky body into pseudo-fists to attack enemies, Sylux turns into a speedier Morph Ball that can create snares with its first two bombs, and Trace turns into a red spider-like form that charges into enemies for massive damage. Back in the day, the alt form was my only form of attack, and I grew on Noxus because his alt form does not require aim, only movement, and does quite a lot of damage.

The solo mode follows the adventures of Samus and her experiences in exploring alien planets, finding upgrades, and encountering many enemies and the aforementioned fellow bounty hunters along the way. Nothing too complicated, outside of a few odd puzzles here and there, not to mention unlocking the secret final boss by hitting colored objects in a certain order.

Rating: 9/10. I do enjoy platformers and upgrade-based games, but what sets me back from rating it 10 is that it’s a shooter (not really my cup of tea) and that getting 100% requires using the Scan Visor on everything (which is inconvenient if you defeat a boss without having scanned it, meaning you’ll have to start a new game to get 100%).

Teaser

Since I just created this website and want to get in the groove of editing it (and writing reviews in general), I will start with a little teaser post that contains samples of the types of things I will be doing. Regular activity will start on June 10, 2014.

 

Throwback Tuesday sample: Amazing Island

“Think of it as Pokémon meets Mario Party. What could be a better combo than that?” This tag line by Game Informer on the back of the case provides an okay description of it, seeing how the minigame concept of the game is very Mario Party-like while the vast array of creatures with special powers is very Pokémon-like. However, the creation of monsters is an aspect that is in neither of the games and, in my opinion, the distinguishing feature of the game. When you first start creating, you will only have default parts to work with, but as you complete minigames and trials, you will unlock more parts, allowing for even more creation possibilities.

The creation process starts with establishing the body shape of the monster. This can be done either through a personality quiz (which it will inevitably be for first-timers) or from scratch. From scratch, it starts by choosing a frame, which will serve as the skeleton (examples of frames include Dragon, Horse, Cat, Human). After choosing a frame, you determine the thickness and shape of the “skin”. Then, once finished, the result will appear with random Eyes and default Pattern (Maboo).

That’s not all. If you took the personality quiz, the game will change your monster’s accessories for you, but you will still be able to edit them. There are four different accessorial things to edit: Accessories, Eyes, Pattern, and Voice. Accessories are little objects (like wings, missiles, tails, beaks, horns…all manner of trinkets) that can be applied singularly or in pairs, with a limit of 8 per monster. Only two Eyes can be placed on a monster, but they do not have to be on the head. The Pattern of a monster determines the color of its skin and can be painted if you feel artistic enough. The Voice determines what sounds a monster makes while idle or in the middle of a minigame. With all of these traits that can be modified, there are so many possibilities that they may fill your memory card before you can come up with another, and that is what really got me into the game.

Overall rating: 9/10. The monster creation was definitely immersive (more so with further progression through the game) and the minigames are by no means boring. The main setback is that there is not much plot, and the final boss was more of a timing game than anything. I feel that greater things can be done with this game concept through the use of online features (a global leaderboard and online multiplayer, for instance). Unfortunately, though, the game was made in 2004, so I don’t expect it to be revived after that long of a time period, let alone being as unpopular as it is.

 

Top Three Thursday sample: Anime series

3. To Aru Majutsu no Index (and its side series)

This series (which I like to refer to as the To Aru series) is action-packed sci-fi with an okay dose of fanservice (i.e. not complete overkill). Majutsu no Index is centered around Kamijou Touma, a headstrong kid with power in his right hand to destroy illusions (Imagine Breaker) with the downside of being unlucky, and Index, a loli nun with 100k+ books stored within her brain. Its side story, Kagaku no Railgun, is more science-centered (where Majutsu no Index is more magic-centered) and is centered around Misaka Mikoto, a tomboyish tsundere who is the #3 Esper (title given to one with scientific powers) and an electricity specialist. Both series intertwine with each other (i.e. Majutsu no Index contains events that happen in Kagaku no Railgun—the Level 6 shift project, for example), but at the same time, they have their own distinguishing qualities.

My favorite part about this anime series is how Touma, a seemingly powerless boy amid a world of science and magic (dubbed Level 0), can stand up against enemies who the viewers assume would leave him in tatters and come out victorious with a trip to the hospital being his only penalty.

2. K-On!
K-On! OP
K-On is a typical example of carefree, plotless slice of life anime, and for a good reason. While it does have something of a plot, given that the main characters are progressing in their musical talents and their synergy as a band, it is mainly just a comedic slice of life anime with cute characters. Admittedly, though, that is what I like about it. The comedy and the characters are the main selling point of this anime.

Speaking of the characters, the main four are schoolgirls with unique personalities. Yui Hirasawa, the guitarist, is carefree in personality and depends on her little sister, Ui, for a majority of the problems in her life, but she can get things done (academic or musical) if she really puts her mind to it. Mio Akiyama, the bassist, is admired as a beauty and, despite usually playing tsukkomi for the airheads of the group, has a shy side and gets spooked easily. Tsumugi Kotobuki, the keyboardist, was raised in a rich girl environment and is interested in how commoners live out their lives. Ritsu Tainaka, the drummer, has a tomboyish personality and likes to tease people, mainly Sawako (their teacher and advisor) and Mio.

All in all, K-On is a great series to kick back to, laugh along with, and enjoy the music of. It also has some surprises every now and then, but I won’t spoil anything (even though the anime is like 7 years old).

1. Mondaiji-tachi ga Isekai kara Kuru Sou Desu Yo?
Mondaiji
Mondaiji, despite only being as short as 10 episodes, is action-packed and has a riveting plot, as well as a good dose of fanservice. (I will use the word “fanservice” a lot when talking anime; get used to it.) Three problem children—Sakamaki Izayoi, Kudou Asuka, and Kasukabe You (pronounced “yo”, not “yu”)—who come from different parts of the universe are sent a letter saying the following:

“This letter is for those of you with many troubles and extraordinary powers. If you wish to see how far that power of yours will take you, cast aside your family, your friends, your possessions, and come to our ‘Little Garden.'”

This letter brings the trio to the Little Garden, as promised, where they meet a busty humanoid rabbit, Kuro Usagi, who is in desperate need of the trio’s help to rebuild her community by challenging other communities to Gift Games and winning glory back. The problem children are willing to help, as long as they can have fun, which Kuro Usagi confirms. They do have the aptitude to essentially serve as the community’s backbone, with Asuka’s ability to control creatures, You’s tree stump necklace that allows her to call upon the aid of her animal friends, and Izayoi’s superhuman combat abilities and tactical expertise.

My favorite thing about this anime is how Izayoi can make it through any situation, no matter how grave, and come out on top, whether strategically or by force. Asuka and You have their redeeming qualities as well, but Izayoi is indisputably the most capable of the trio.

 

Spontaneous Saturday sample: Thoughts on the Spring anime lineup

Keep in mind that this “review” is only based on the spring anime that I regularly watch. Feel free to recommend any other series that are worth checking out and are not already on the following list: http://myanimelist.net/animelist/VouichecWeegee.

Seikoku no Dragonar: Pretty much a combination of Machine Doll wa Kizutsukanai and Zero no Tsukaima. The main character, initially considered lowly, ends up being vital to everything that happens in the anime despite his recklessness. He has a loli partner who is averse to his accidental perversion and the harem around him. Also, fanservice.

Mahouka Koukou no Rettousei: Much like To Aru Majutsu no Index, the main character (Shiba Tatsuya), while portrayed at a low level, has anti-magic capabilities and the ability to stand up to massive threats. Mahouka is mainly defined by its battles that involve the use of magic with technology and the theme of discrimination between “Blooms” and “Weeds” (Tatsuya is a Weed).

Mangaka-san to Assistant-san to: The comedic life of a perverted mangaka and his attractive assistants. Not much to behold; I just follow it for the humor (and the fanservice, as such is the nature of a teenager).

Love Live second season: Love Live to me is a lot like K-On, with its unique characters, light music, and bits of comedy, but Love Live is more serious (and has more characters). The second season is not much different from the first, outside of that all nine characters are in the group from the start, but the lack of change is for the better.

Black Bullet: The darkest anime I have ever watched. While it does have some light humor and bits of fanservice, it does involve the zombification (or, in this case, Gastreafication) and killing of humans. To me, it’s one of those things that, while it is horrid at times, I just cannot stop watching. Also, the opening theme song is just amazing.

No Game No Life: This anime is a lot like Mondaiji, maybe (and I mean maybe) even better. The main characters, Sora and Shiro, are two problem children who are dragged into another world with no intention but to make it to the top (and defeat the god, Tet, who shockingly is a guy). Additionally, the relationship between Sora and Stephanie is much like the relationship between Izayoi and Kuro Usagi. Through these similarities, however, there are differences: the animation styles are different, NGNL has more fanservice, and Mondaiji involves more combat.