Saturday, 31 January 2015

Shovel Knight

Gamespot Score: 7.0 (Good)

My Score: 7.5

(+) Pros: - Solid platforming mechanics, controls are smooth and game flow runs well, - Very clever level design, - Lots of unique weapons and abilities that drastically change your style of play, - Challenging without being TOO cheap, - Puzzles and extras serve to lengthen the game, - Great boss fights.

(-) Cons: - Honestly not much replay value, - Huge difficulty spike midway through the game, - Somewhat a bit on the short side.

Gameplay time: Less than 10 hours

"Shovel Knight" is a simple minded game, very much so. It attempts to bring back the joy of the old school 80s-90s platforming games like "Megaman" and "Metroid". Rightfully so, because its so hard to find good platforming games nowadays, the last one that struck me as REALLY good, was freaking "Monster Tale" for the NDS, and god knows how long ago I played that. "Shovel Knight"...isn't really groundbreaking. It IS a good, solid platforming title, but does it really reinvigorate the genre? No really. Its good, but that's that. Its not really as amazing as some make it out to be. It does have some REALLY fun moments, and I credit it for that, but for what it is, it does not really merit anything more than one solid play through. If you're looking to find one of those old school platforming games, you'll find one in "Shovel Knight", but don't expect it to really reinvest you into this long lost genre.

To its merit, "Shovel Knight" actually tries a lot harder than it needs to be in thinking up a story. For a game like this, story plays a decent part in immersing us into wanting to play the game more, but its ultimately the gameplay that holds it up. You play as Shovel Knight (obviously), a legendary knight that used to kick lots of ass together with his one true love, Shield Knight. Together they were unstoppable, and they shared obvious mutual feelings for one another. However, one day, after the enchantress attacked, Shovel Knight was separated from Shield Knight, and after trying so hard to rescue her, he failed. Depressed, he retreated into a life of doing nothing, until something resparked inside him. Now, with the entire world rooting for him, he is determined to triump the knight of no order, to stop the enchantress and her evil plans. Most importantly, to save the woman that he loved.

Get digging or get dumped!

"Shovel Knight" is a fairly simple game to play and understand. Since it imitates the older platforming games, you should obviously expect it to play like one. Its really just a simple affair of you moving from left to right across a 2D plane. Enemies stand in your way, so do pitfalls and spikes, lots of spikes. On the PC, the game feels quite good to play. Shovel Knight is responsive when it comes to controls, and the game runs smoothly. A lot of recent platforming games feel a bit stiff and rigid, "Shovel Knight" is smooth as all hell, so if you fall off a cliff and die, its your own damn fault (or Polar Knight's level being too damn slippery).

Game flow is simple and similar to old "Megaman" games. You select a stage with a certain boss in it, you tackle the stage which is riddled with checkpoints, enemies and a certain theme that the stage has to it, until you make it to the boss. Kill said boss and you clear the level, simple as that. However in "Shovel Knight", you don't get special powers when you defeat other bosses, instead, your new found powers come from a certain Jester that sells them in town or from secret locations in levels. The town acts as a central hub where you can purchase upgrades to your health pool, mana pool, or just chill and listen to some of the game's pretty sick tunes. There's also another town as you proceed later in the game, that one lets you buy armor and special moves.

Watch out for dat spear!

Of course, the currency in this game is gold, which you get by busting open loot crates and killing monsters. Gold is used for...everything I mentioned above. Buying skills and armor especially, as well as those little trinkets with special abilities sold by the Jester. Dieing in this game has you drop some of your gold, and you'll need to go pick it up when you respawn. Die again and the gold that you previously dropped is gone forever. Sound familiar? This game has a semi-"Dark Souls" mechanic attached to it, punishing you for dieing needlessly without proper consequence. Honestly, gold isn't THAT important as you can pretty much finish the game without using those special trinkets or having any skills as long as you have mastered the game inside out. That takes awhile though, so its better to just not die and use your gold on stuff that you need.

The game's level design is superb. Each boss's stage has its own theme, and the themes are well translated into the level that ACTUALLY affect the gameplay, other than just having different visuals for different levels. The Castle is filled with magic grimoires that spawn platforms for you with pages that allow you to jump on them. The ice level is slipper as all hell with frozen statue platforms that spew out rainbows (don't ask). The airship level has currents that force you through incredibly challenging platforming sections and the graveyard level has endless amount of skeletons respawning, forcing you to find an alternate way through other than just killing them.

What an angry fellow.

Of course, there's a lot more to the game than just regular platforming and shoving a shovel through the faces of your enemies. As mentioned, there are other trinkets and accessories that add to your combat arsenal. You can shoot fireballs, use a sword that lets you dash through mid air. There's even a glove that lets you combo punch through flights and flights of blocks. Hell, there's my favorite and the most broken trinket in the game, one that lets you turn INVISIBLE, letting you pass by any and all attacks, even allowing you to walk on spikes, which are instant kill in this game. Obviously, while these spice up the way you can play the game, they are limited to a certain amount of uses, like the special powers you get in "Megaman" games.

There are also the different armor types and skills that you can learn from the different traders in town. Some armor types lets you take more hits, some let you hit harder, some are just purely for show. And of course, there's the armor that breaks the game, the Magenta armor, which lets you use your trinkets at 2 times the capacity. Picking the right arsenal and focusing on certain things can completely change your style of play, which you should definitely aim for.

I hate science.

Obviously the star point of "Shovel Knight" is the boss fights. These are great, and easily the highlight of this game. They are varied, they look different, they fight differently from another, each and every one of them has a different strategy to go around to defeat them. All of them are really well made and have patterns for you to learn, master, and defeat (except for maybe Plague Knight, which was IMO the worse designed boss in the game because he just randomly throws shit around the entire time without any proper means). What I really like though that the game didn't pick from games like "Metroid" and "Megaman", is that the bosses don't have specific elemental or weapon weaknesses for us to exploit. Its way better for us to learn the boss's attacks, properly dodge, counter and eventually defeat them, usually giving off that sense of satisfaction when you best them (the boss gauntlet at the end was quite sick).

You f**king prick!

"Shovel Knight" itself is a short game, easily cleared below 10 hours, maybe slightly more if you go for all the collectibles and extras, but not by much. For its asking price, that's not too bad (I got it for 5 bucks off steam in a sale), but it does hurt that going through the game in NG+ doesn't really give us anything new other than stronger enemies. There's not really much incentive to play through the game again. The game, while fairly challenging without being TOO cheap, has a massive difficulty spike midway through, as the levels are RIDDLED with instant kills (the enemies or bosses weren't too tough in particular, it's just the stage design).

So that's "Shovel Knight" a simple platforming experience that tries to relive the golden days of the genre. Its a good game with solid platforming, don't get me wrong, but there's really not much that bears it to legendary status as many reviewers have been giving it. Not in my opinion, at least. Its still fun, and if you ever wanted a solid platformer, "Shovel Knight" can fulfill your needs for a price that's not too demanding.

Happy Gaming.

Opening Songs
OP 1 - Tokyo Zero Hearts (Faylan)

Ending Songs
ED 1 - Silver Salvation (Yousei Teikoku)

Genre: Action, Comedy, Drama, Supernatural, Romance

Episodes: 12

Espers is a theme very commonly used in anime, and its only natural that people (like me) are getting less and less impressed with how they are using it. From the name itself, you can already tell that "Tokyo ESP" is an anime ALLLL about espers. Look to your left, your right, espers everywhere. There is not a single important non-esper character in this show, so you should pretty much know where this is going right off the bat. While the show might seem pretty ridiculous right off the bat (especially after its epic first episode, only to have you find out that its just a foreshadowing of events to come), it actually gets good towards to end. Its one of those anime that takes quite a awhile to ramp up...which might not be for everyone. Still, the usual applies, give it time and it impresses. If you like wacky action scenes revolving around multiple different types of powers, some (actually well done) conflict via diplomatic issues and a little bit of half-baked romance, "Tokyo ESP" is an above average shounen anime experience that has a lot of potential.

The white haired girl has arrived!

I'll be real here, "Tokyo ESP" has some pretty good theme songs by some artists that I really like. The opening theme is "Tokyo Zero Hearts" by Faylan. While it's not easily as powerful as most of her usual songs are, its still good enough to garner my attention. Its slow and steady pace followed by her powerful vocals are enough to lift it to rather good standards. The ending theme is the killer here, and its "Silver Salvation" by none other than Yousei Teikoku. It's honestly been awhile since I heard a Yousei Teikoku song in an anime, and "Silver Salvation" was just what I needed. Its goth, its fast paced as hell, it has a little bit of metal, it has those demonic chantings that I used to love so much in their songs. It boils my blood when I listen to it, its wonderful.

Rating: 7.5/10

While its pretty good towards the end and it ends well enough, there are some problems that prevent "Tokyo ESP" from jumping to greater heights. It's first episode is REALLY strong, and while you might feel confused, it foretells a battle of epic proportions with some really incredibly music AND fight scenes. It really got me interested in this series. However, the episodes to come were...not so good. A little bit boring, even. That's the first problem, the starting episodes were slow. It ramps up decently, thank god. There are also too many characters (yes, this is one of those shows), and there isn't nearly enough development for some of these characters for us to really care about them. As for what the anime does well...its music and fight scenes. The fight scenes are only good because of the multitude of different esper abilities present in this anime (I'm a sucker for super powers, seriously).  The story, while slow to ramp up, also does a good job of investing us into the world of "Tokyo ESP".

Well, behold the master race.

The story circles around Urushiba Rinka, a regular high school girl with some of the most righteous ideals I have ever seen. Anyway, she runs into a bunch of glowing fish flying in the sky, and one of them swims right through her, knocking her unconscious. Waking up the next day, she finds herself slipping through the floor, the walls, through tables, even through her clothes. She ends up in her neighbor's apartment, completely naked. A man who was with Rinka when she turned into a girl that goes through everything, by the name of Azuma, comes to help her. He explains what happened, and after everything, Rinka realizes that she is now an esper, a special human who came into contact with the glowing fish and has received super powers. With her righteous ideals in check, she realizes that other espers use their abilities to commit crime, and that only espers can stop other espers. With this in tow, she joins Azuma in fighting crime against the bad espers, only to find herself plunging deep into matters that she should not concern herself with.

"Tokyo ESP" isn't exactly what we like to call part of the "norm". Its got some things going for it, the usual good action and fancy powers, its all there. The story is somewhat dark as well, and since the story doesn't exactly end with it resolving everything, I'm betting on a second season, if they ever decide to release it. Well, the manga's 2nd arc is more interesting IMO, so let's hope they animate that.



M is best!
"D-Frag!"! An awesome comedy anime that came out in 2014 that's all about....doing stupid stuff, like in most anime of the same genre. There are plenty of likable characters in this anime, and all of them are ridiculous one way or another. There's is only one way to pick a favorite in an anime that's all about retarded people, pick the one that is the most retarded. That is what I did, and that's how Ataru came out on top. Admit it, no one is more ridiculous in "D-Frag!" than this bespectacled, blond masochistic vice president.

Ataru is one of Kenji's childhood friend, and for some reason he hasn't fallen off the beaten path like his other friends have. He strives to dethrone the current queen of the student council, Chitose, whom is also the girl that he openly admires. Lusts for, in fact. The man is a master masochist, doing everything in his way to get looked down on by the current reigning student council president. His current goal is to become student council president, but who knows how much of that is true. For all we know he just wants to make Chitose beat on him everyday.

He has plenty of awesome moments, such as his magnificent entrance to the series, where he cross chops Kenji out of nowhere in an incredibly dynamic manner, then asks him if he is alright (dude, you f**king cross chopped him in the FACE). Trying to catch Chitose's spit with his mouth, or even his so called epic moment, when he acts as a shield for Chitose, eating all of Tama's attacks head on like a true M-master. He even envies Takao being tied up, giving her an epic thumbs up. Man if I were to go to a japanese high school, this would totally be what I strive to aim for.

Gekkan Shojo Nozaki-Kun


There can only be one. What? I'm serious. Kashima is the best girl of "Gekkan Shojo Nozaki-Kun". Yes, I said best girl. You thought it was a cross dressing guy? Sorry, 100% female here, and yes, I know, she is one fabulous girl. There are so many reasons why Kashima is probably the most hilarious character in "Gekkan Shojo Nozaki-Kun". Hell, she's probably also the character I wanted to see more of the most, and I was practically BEGGING for her to get more screen time. A handsome girl that all the other girls want to swoon over? Yes please.

I might be giving her the title of my favorite character, but really, I think that she's best with Hori Senpai around. Together, they are an unstoppable comedic duel that are funny enough to even challenge the heavens. Being the face of the theater club, she obviously gets all the lead roles, but since she's too busy trying to flirt with the people of her own gender, Hori always has to come kick her ass, which is hilarious to watch. Of course, Kashima acting cool while being dragged away is also pretty darn fantastic.

Her feats? I don't really have to say much, her personality and character by themselves already make me love her so damn much. How she always misunderstands situations or tries her damn hardest to make others love/hate her is just fantastic. Hori and her should just be a couple already, I mean, they can just spend the rest of their lives being comedians. Kashima, of course, being a very handsome one.

Fate/Kaleid Liner Prisma Illya Series

A pseudo evil Illya that tries to kill stuff? Sold.

I could give the slot to her just for her freaking lesbian kissing scene with Miyu that was...surprisingly arousing. I mean, WTF, I do like me some lolis but that was just freaking pushing it! Might as well be soft core hentai at that rate. Anyway, with Illya being the typical hero magical girl and Miyu being the soft spoken girl that just keeps quiet most of the time with the occasional comment, Chloe's addition to the cast was quite solid. The series really needed a cheerful, naughty, tsundere/mischievous hybrid girl like Chloe. She came along, and well, I liked it a lot.

Chloe didn't start off as a cute, happy go lucky little girl that just wanted to have fun. She started off quite as a bitch, honestly. Wanting to kill Illya for the sake of being original (then there's the seal away bull crap, but that wasn't really Illya's fault), blah blah blah...that was just plain stupid, but it still served as good character development. Chloe though, was too slippery for her own good, often slipping out of bindings that were meant to restrict or hold her down with ease. Then she would go around kissing people...under the guise that she was just collecting mana. Right.,...She even tried to pucker up to Shiro, but too bad he isn't into lolis (or is he?).

What made me like Chloe though, was the part AFTER she made amends with Illya and everyone else. She became a strong character, being the "playful little sister" that looks after her friends. She still tries to seduce Shiro from time to time, but it gets harder with Illya around. And the kissing thing, yeah, its still going on. She's also pretty badass, being probably the strongest of the good guys right now. I mean, if you can pull off the moves that archer does, then you're bound to be quite the boss.

Opening Songs
OP 1 - Good Feeling Win-Win Unconditional (Heart Invader)

Ending Songs
ED 1 - Love Is Milk Tea (Petit Milady)

Genre: Comedy, Romance, Supernatrual

Episodes: 12

Another day, another slapstick harem. "Invaders Of Rokujyouma" (I'm going to be short forming it to simply "Invaders" for this review) could easily have been a disaster for another super cliche harem that ends up going nowhere (well, honestly, it still ends up going nowhere), but because of its super ridiculous nature and over the top character setting, it manages to somewhat save itself from being a total snooze fest. "Invaders" throws some incredibly random, over the top, supernatural cliches from modern day animes into one massive orgy of comedy, school life, and just overall nonsense. Its over the top nature makes it enjoyable to watch, while there are many things that could have been further amplified into crazy proportions (I mean, the damn show is crazy as it is, just make it even crazier), its good enough as it is to make for a passing laugh. It may not be the most revolutionary thing ever, but it works, it isn't horrible, and its pretty funny. That's good enough for me.

Here we go, an underground superhuman, a ghost, a magical girl, and an alien.
What could possibly go wrong?

The opening song is "Good Feeling Win-Win Unconditional" by Heart Invader. You'll be glad to know that this is a pretty uninspiring, generic, happy go lucky song that you find all the time in harems. Its not particularly very catchy, and I didn't really listen to it more than I needed to (which was my first time), so there you go. The ending theme as well, with something called "Love Is Milk Tea" (by Petit Milady), you know its going to try and sound cute. Well, it is, but its also not something you can listen to too much...its a little repetitive.

Rating: 7.5/10

I could easily see this scoring higher on my list if the animation was a little bit more well done, but oh well. "Invaders", as another slapstick/slice of life/comedy/harem/romance another, does a few things right. One, if its a harem, you must have some good girls in there. The girls in "Invaders" are incredibly varied, interesting individuals of very different backgrounds. You have an underground living superhuman, a ghost, a magical girl, aliens, and some normal human girls (with not much interesting feats to them) to boot. Plus, they all have their own diverse personalities, though granted, most of them can be cliche (Tsundere loli? Dominant, big boobs girl? Well, we've all seen that before). Two, all girls have their own individual arcs and (almost) equal screen time. Our to be attachment to these girls are also quite well done, as most of them are equally developed. Three, it gets its comedy right. Sometimes, it can be even downright hilarious. Its easily the most redeemable factor of "Invaders". All of these combined makes the mediocre visuals and animations seem to not mind TOO much.

Holy sh*t calm the f**k down! Do we have to?!

Satomi Koutarou is your everyday money saving, lazy ass main character that just wants to live a happy high school life. He had his dad find him an incredibly cheap apartment, and he immediately moves in. However, upon moving in, day one of him living in his comfy new home, he finds out that his room is possessed by a ghost named Sanae, who says that she has been in this room ever since she could remember. Then, a magical girl calling herself Yurika comes in, saying that dark energies roam inside this room, and other evil magical girls will come and claim that magic for themselves. THEN, a girl dressed as a shrine maiden, called Kiriha, shows up from underneath the apartment. She claims to be part of a superhuman race of invader humans that live under the ground, and that she wants the room as her HQ for her invading army. THEN, a little loli brat who calles herself Theia, and her servant Ruth, appear from a portal in a wall. The girl then introduces herself as the princess of a faraway galaxy kingdom, and that this is a strategic spot for her trying to gain the favor of the people of earth. Poor Koutarou only wanted a cheap room....

"Invaders" has an undeniable charm to it despite its mediocre-ish animation and visuals. The varied, insane characters only serve as a catalyst to make the comedy seem better. While there could have easily been more to elaborate on this wildly diverse cast, alas, everything has to end. "Invaders" has the ingredients for success, but is in the end overcome by its shallow harem tropes. At least its a fun ride throughout.


Scorpioness Najka
HP: 5741
Skills: Staff Stab, Staff Slash, Tail Ground Smash, Tail Swing*, Homing Soulmass*, Soul Spear, Burrowing Strike*
Souls: 23000

Difficulty: 3/5
Deaths: 5+

Now that we're finally out of that region of the map, its time to make some progress. With the fragrant branch of yore, you can now de-petrify stoned targets. Head towards the direction of the stoned female who was grabbing onto the lever back in Majula. Head down that path and you'll eventually make it into the Shaded Woods, where the lion headed warriors and giant basilisk await. Triumphing through that area will have you meet the hideous Scorpioness Najka, who guards the way to the Doors Of Pharos.

I don't suppose you can let me go this one time?

Scorpioness Najka is one ugly, ugly woman, that much is obvious. Damn, she's even more hideous than Chaos Witch Queelag from the first game (ugly her lower half may have been, but her upper half was sexy at least). Even so, she can kill you easily with the many attacks at her disposal. She's a lot slower than her counterpart in "Dark Souls", but in a way, her kill potential is a lot higher. As long as you keep moving around, she has little that can really take you out instantly, but you should still be careful. Also, ignore the item that's glowing on top of the tree in this arena, its a complete waste of your time (its a flame butterfly).

Staff Stab - She just stabs straight forward without too much dramatic flair. Does minor-moderate damage.

Staff Slash - A horizontal slash that's easily dodged by rolling backwards or blocking. Does about the same damage as a stab.

Tail Ground Smash - After briefly staring at you for a few seconds, she slams both of her scorpion tails on you one by one. You have time to react, but if you are hit by this one, prepare to get grabbed for some massive damage. If I'm not wrong, this isn't block-able, but is easily avoided.

Tail Swing* - She does a quick swing of both her tails in a massive AOE. Hard to avoid and predict, can be dodged. Does a good chunk of your health as damage.

Homing Soulmass* - Exactly what it says. She casts Homing Soulmass, which causes a bunch of soul arrows to appear above her and home in on you for some massive damage. Even if you block, you'll take a fair amount of hurt if you don't have a shield with decent magic defense.

Soul Spear - A simple projectile forward. Easily dodged by rolling sideways.

Burrowing Strike* - She digs underground, becomes un-targetable, and searches for you from beneath. You get faint puffs of smokes showing her position, and she moves FAST. When she finds you, she unburrows for massive damage.

She has quite the arsenal, but only a few of them are dangerous enough to pose a legit threat to you. She starts off the battle sunk under the ground with only her upper body exposed. She will be launching soul spears at you. Hit her once and she gets up, revealing her true form. From here on out she starts attacking you for real. Her attacks range from simple melee strikes with her weapon using her humanoid upper body, to launching massive, heavy attacks with her scorpion lower body. Either way, as long as you don't get too close and constantly move around, you should be able to avoid most of her moves. Also, all of her moves have a fair amount of start-up and recovery, allowing for some easy attacks on her.

Her 2 simple weapon attacks are Staff Stab and Staff Slash, both fairly short ranged poke moves, one straight, one horizontal. Both are easily blocked, dodged, and will be the least of your worries. Her lower body attacks are the ones you should worry about more. Tail Ground Smash does a massive amount of damage if it connects, engaging you in a grab motion that will leave you on a knockdown state after the attack ends. Thankfully, the attack has a startup time, granting you time to move out of the way and even landing a few hits on her her.

Things aren't going so good.

Though most of her attacks are only useful when facing you, its in your best interest to attack Najka from the front. Why? If you hit her from anywhere else, she'll use Tail Swing, a massive AOE attack that is fast and does a good amount of damage. Its hard to see this one coming, and even if you block it, it does a massive chunk to your stamina. While you are staggering, she'll prepare to hit you with something else. Always stand at a respectable distance away from her, respect her attack range. For melee fighters, this is pretty much all you have to worry about. Sometimes, she'll throw up a few magic spells, which can throw you off your game.

Homing Soulmass is possibly her most dangerous attack. If all orbs hit you (which they most likely would), it does a massive amount of damage, even on block. You either dodge all or you dodge non of it. It has a fairly limited range after she casts it, so you use that to your advantage, once again, range is key. If you're too far away, she'll try to tag you with Soul Spear, which is a straightforward, slow moving projectile that is easily dodged. Other than that, she has Burrowing Strike, which is a dangerous attack that can be difficult to work around with.

Here, she burrows underneath and tries to chase you for a cheap strike that does a huge amount of damage. When underground, Najka moves VERY fast, even sprinting around randomly won't really help since she cuts across the arena very quickly. You'll need to revolve around obstacles around the map, like the stone rabbles and concrete blocks to outwit and possibly even outmanuver her. When she resurfaces, enjoy a few free hits on her before she comes in on you again.

Go get him man scorpion!

Defeating Najka nets you 23000 souls, a pretty neat amount for a boss like her. The path down is only going to get harder, so prepare yourselves before delving any deeper.


Opening Songs
OP 1 - Trigger (Yuki Ozaki)

Ending Songs

ED 1 - Dare Ka, umi o (Aimer)

Genre: Drama, Mystery, Thriller

Episodes: 11

Explosions. Bombs. Terrorism. When you walk into "Zankyou No Terror", you should very well expect these things. Being an anime about terrorism, I didn't actually know what to expect (despite watching anime for so long, I haven't actually seen one that's completely devoted to terrorism)...which was good, especially when concerning this particular title. "Zankyou No Terror" hits hard, hits fast, and the action never f**king stops. Throughout the entire anime, the tension is sky high, the characters are great, the visuals are gorgeous, and the incredibly smart writing never lets up. There's tons of intrigue, mystery and action to keep you interested for the whole ride. Even if you know nothing about terrorism (or have no knowledge about how an anime with terrorism feels like), this is one that you have to try for yourself to figure out. Oh yeah, Shinichiro Watanabe's involved in this, just so you know.

Lisa is super adorable, isn't she?

The opening theme is "Trigger" by Yuki Ozaki. Its actually a fairly mild, simple and chill song for an anime that's so hard on about terrorism. Not that I can complain, actually, because the song is pretty damn good. It gives off a feeling of peacefulness and serenity, which is pretty ironic when in contrast with the overall theme of the anime. Sounds a lot like a Galileo Galilei song, actually. The ending theme is "Dare Ka, umi o" by Aimer. This one is kind of slow. Strong, but slow. Still not my cup of tea, didn't really enjoy it too much.

Rating: 8.0/10

The show is beautiful, I'd give it that. The entire visual style itself is f**king beautiful. The characters, the environments, everything! Even the god damn explosions look fantastic, though that much is a given, if your explosions look like shit, you shouldn't even be making a show about bombs. "Zankyou No Terror" has almost everything right, ranging from its brilliant story telling to its amazing writing, especially when it comes to the riddles. The story telling is great, but the story itself is up to individual preference. While many loved it, I thought it was okay at best (Nine's and Twelve's backstories were honestly rather disappointing), there was too much that they wrapped up too easily. The characters were also pretty great for the most part, though Lisa's part was honestly rather insignificant (I guess she was there because they needed a girl, or they wanted a love interest for somebody).

Hey! Those are exactly what I was looking for in a girl too!

The story stars 2 enigmatic young men who call themselves Nine and Twelve. The anime starts with them enrolling into a local school in Tokyo, calling themselves Arata and Toji. On their very first day of school, they witness a girl being bullied, Twelve decides to help her out. The girl introduces herself as Lisa, and that's all she wrote. Not long after, Nine and Twelve disguise themselves with masks and posts a video on the internet under the alias "Sphinx", predicting that Tokyo would be under a terrorist attack. They also provided a riddle about the bomb, but no one paid them any heed. I mean, who the hell would give a flying f**k about a pair of pranksters trying to scare the world? Of course, a bombing DID take place, placing Tokyo in a state of terror. The bombs were set up by none other than Nine and Twelve. Lisa happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, and found out about the pair's secret. Fearing for her life, she now works under them as their apprentice, to assist in their future attacks.

"Zankyou No Terror" is a great title that almost anyone can just jump into. There's quite a lot to like here despite being short, clocking in at only 11 episodes. Its a complete experience, and while the ending may not work for everyone, its still a worthwhile adventure to partake in from start to finish.


Friday, 9 January 2015

Long Live The Queen

Gamespot Score: n/a

My Score: 7.2

(+) Pros: - Dark story revolving around royal politics, nobles and lots of trials fitting for a young princess, - Incredibly in depth point distribution mechanic revolving around tons of different aesthetics and useful skills, - A lot of tough decision making, not every situation can be resolved, - Tons of different, varied scenarios depending on your actions throughout the game, - Feels incredibly satisfying to finally get past a certain scenario after allocating the right points into the right abilities.

(-) Cons: - Mostly text based, not a lot of game mechanics actually involved (as with most visual novel games), - A LOT of trial and error, very easy to die to random things and you won't know why, - Magic is too overpowered.

Gameplay time: 20 hours+

Never thought I would play this, honestly. I was winging through the anime section of Steam games and found that "Long Live The Queen" was one of the top titles in the genre, which surprised me to some extent. "What the hell is this mahou shoujo esque game and why the f**k is it one of the best anime games on Steam?", I thought. Since it was on sale at the time (for 2 f**king dollars), I told myself, why the f**k not? Of course, I was met with one of the most punishing, light novel experiences that I could ever imagine. "Long Live The Queen" is a hard game. I mean, a HARD game, you'd get your ass kicked every time you boot up the game, I guarantee you. You think this was a happy game where you play as a princess who runs around the castle playing dress up? You'd be dead wrong.

You play as princess Elodie, the heir to the kingdom. Her mother recently passed away, and with her turning of age ceremony, she is about to be crowned queen after 40 weeks. With the passing of her mother, she is depressed, and with all the sudden pressure of her becoming queen, she has a lot to deal with. Royal politics, pleasing the other neighboring countries, and meeting the demands of the people are just some of the things she has to struggle with being the next in line for the throne. Guess being a princess isn't all that's cut out to be.

So...many...things to focus on...MY BRAIN!!!

For a game with Elodie as its cute poster girl, "Long Live The Queen" has quite a dark story going for it. Elodie's mother dies right off the bat, and she starts the game depressed. With her next in line for being queen, there are quite a lot of people out for her blood, even before she starts to do ANYTHING. And if you go through the wrong steps, there will be even MORE out for your blood. So what if Elodie is a 14 year old girl who knows almost NOTHING about building up a kingdom, they don't really care. They just want the throne for themselves, and with nothing but a 14 year old naive girl standing in their way, their job to usurp the throne is an easy one. Of course, since WE are playing as Elodie, we won't let that happen! Right?

"Long Live The Queen" is a conceptually easy game to play. Your goal is to survive 40 weeks to make it to coronation, where Elodie is officially pronounced as queen. That said, surviving 40 weeks is no easy task, as Elodie is likely to die to something completely random and stupid along the way. To prepare for her coronation, Elodie's father, the king, has prepared for her to take classes, teaching her skills that would be useful for her when she becomes queen (Animal handling? Really?). In each of the weeks, you can take 2 classes, choosing between the many different classes available, each increasing a different skill when you finish that week's class. There's a lot of depth here, and increasing each skill to a certain level unlocks Elodie an outfit, and by equipping that outfit, she becomes even better at said skill.

Ah, I'm not sure that's flattery, my dear.

As god would have it, these skills that Elodie pick up along the way will actually help her survive these 40 weeks. Want to impress a fellow royal noble? Some points into flattery or court manners will certainly help in that regard. How about showing off to your friends? Maybe some points into animal handling can show them how good you are with the cute little dogs, or you can show them your princess demeanor by gracing the commoners with your elegance. What if Elodie got attacked by bandits while riding in a caravan? If you actually bothered to train those leg muscles with reflexes, then yes, she will survive. What about if you're challenged to a duel to the death by a fellow noble, then some points into your swordsmanship will quickly put him in his place. But of course, magic beats everything, just fry him where he stands with your mighty bolts of lightning (provided you put enough points into it).

There are a lot of choices in "Long Live The Queen". Do you side by your aunt or your cousin when you see them quarreling with one another? These little things will make a huge difference in the weeks to come, and what choice you pick alongside what skills you managed to master will play a major part. Even during your study sessions, picking whatever skills to hone on is a choice, because whatever comes for the weeks to come, you will need to deal with using what you have learnt. Like, you never know when you will be killed by poison chocolates, or get screwed over in the jungle when monsters come after you and you aren't fit enough to outrun them. In that sense, whatever you do throughout the game has impact on future events, so make sure what you say to that woman at the start of the game counts! Everything can change depending on that one thing you say or do during any of the events.

A princess needs a fitting wardrobe filled with status increasing clothing!

When it comes to its cons, there's just the usual complain about most visual novel games. Most of the game is nothing but text, there's nothing mechanically demanding of you as the player here, and some people might find it boring (though arguably, there's more "game" here than the usual eroge type visual novels). Also, the massive trial and error system means you will be having to die, a hell lot. Like, "Dark Souls" style of death. Also, a small spoiler, I don't like how magic solves almost everything, making everything else that you learn kind of useless (if you don't believe me, add magic, watch how you breeze through the later parts of the game).

"Long Live The Queen" is a good title that's a great deal for its asking price. I spent at least 20 hours to get to the ending, ONCE. I tried all sorts of builds, I noted down the possible events that happen in the following weeks, and I STILL die tons of times. Its a game that's super satisfying when you actually make it to the end. Even still, when you make it there, there are so many more possibilities and events that you probably haven't seen, different spouses for Elodie, different outcomes for different scenarios. If you want to go for the full clear, there's so much time you can dump on to this one. It all depends on how determined you can be.

Happy gaming.

Opening Songs
OP 1 - YES!! (Ayaka Ohashi)

Ending Songs
ED 1 - Piti Pati Sabaibaado (Gesukawa Girls)

Genre: Comedy

Episodes: 12

How much do you enjoy girls doing nothing but screw around all day? Well, depending on your answer, you will find out very quickly whether or not "Sabagebu" is your thing, because it is precisely THAT king of show. Think among the lines of "Stella Jo-Gakuin C3-Bu", but less serious, more light hearted, and in all honestly, a lot more fun. "Sabagebu" brings out the wild in its honestly pretty nifty cast of female characters, doing all sorts of nonsense involving air soft, BB guns, and imaginary military warfare. There's really not much of a proper target audience here, if you like the really soft core/slap stick/pointless but good comedy routine, you can pretty easily get into "Sabagebu" even if you don't really care about guns (look at me, do I look like a guns or FPS kind of guy?). As with all shows that share the similar theme, just go in understanding that you won't get much out of it other than some dumb, good fun.

Oh yeah. I mean, its totally normal to go shoot stuff in your bikinis. 

The opening song is "YES!!" by Ayaka Ohashi, the seiyuu of Momoka, the main heroine of the show. Well, its to be expected that an anime like "Sabagebu" has an incredibly energetic opening theme song, which, to no surprise, works very well. I'm not too big of a fan of these kinds of songs (unless they turn out to be really catchy). "YES!!" is fine, but not to that extent of greatness. The ending theme is generic, cutesy pop stuff that attempts to be catchy but doesn't really amount to much. Its "Piti Pati Sabaibaado" by Gesukawa Girls, which is probably something you've heard before if you've watched tons of similar shows.

Rating: 7.5/10

Its good fun, that much I can assure you. Since there isn't much story involved in the first place and most of the episodes are split into multi-part short stories, there's not really a lot to engross yourself in. BUT, in terms of stupid scenarios, ridiculous jokes, outrageous character interactions and insanely quirky dialogue, "Sabagebu" scores pretty well. There's a lot to keep you laughing and interested. While the main character cast is pretty normal and is somewhat filled with some minor character stereotypes, things can get very enjoyable with the way they interact with one another. Comedic value is over the top, the gun fight scenes are blown WAY out of proportion. But because they are done in such a ridiculous way, these are really fun to watch, especially how blood splatters everywhere even though are only shot with small BB pellets. Momoka is also a totally likable protagonist, though everyone else is too, to some extent. Its just a pity that some of the more funny and over the top characters don't get as much screen time (Karaage Lemon, Momoka's mother and Sakura sensei are all over the top ridiculous, but don't get enough show).

Typical rich ojou-samas, solving everything with money.

Momoka is another regular high school girl with some sort of a hidden temper. She just wants to go to her new high school and earn friends, recognition so on and so forth. Everything was going well, until she went looking for a club. She found the survival game club, which as you can guess, plays survival games. After trying out for a practice shoot, Momoka was scouted by their president Miou, and demanded that she join the club. Momoka refused at first, but Miou kept bugging her, following Momoka around the school. Turns out the Miou is a popular head figure, almost worshiped by the student body, and her hanging around Momoka gave Momoka a bad reputation as the new kid who hogs Miou-sama. Momoka became the subject to a few bullying cases, until Miou gave her a hand, which opened her up in a new light. After deciding to trust Miou, Momoka eats a piece of bread the Miou had prepared for her. Turns out the bread was drugged, and when Momoka awoke, she already joined the survival game club, when they used her to sign the club entry form under HER name.

"Sabagebu" doesn't really accomplish anything during the entire series other than giving us some ridiculously fun to watch run and gun scenarios. There's a lot you can laugh and have fun with here, but in the end, that's all there is to "Sabagebu". Still, its a hell lot of fun, one that I did not regret partaking in.


Saturday, 3 January 2015

A Revisit: Dark Souls

Oh how I absolutely love the smell of death. "Dark Souls" is one of those games you can simply play forever, with the same replay-ability as games like "Demon's Souls". I can just end the entire post and say that this game deserves a 10/10 in terms of replay value, but that would be a waste, wouldn't it? I'm sure many people have already played "Dark Souls", much more so than the amount of people played "Demon's Souls", simply because "Dark Souls" is multi-platform. But it doesn't anyway, I'm going to share my experience (again) anyway, because having to die is all part of the cycle of life in "Dark Souls".

When stepping into Lordran, you know that you're going to have a hard time, even if you're a veteran. Why? Because there's so much that can kill you. There's going to be that one thing that will get you no matter what, even if you know it's coming from a mile away. That Greatsword Black Knight in Undead Parish? The freaking basilisks that curse you if you take even 1 step towards them? What about the horrors of Blighttown? Of course, Anor Londo by itself has tons of shit that can kill you. The dual silver knight archers? The deadly duo Ornstein and Smough? I've played this game quite a fair bit many times before, and up to date, I can still die to these things if I don't be REAAAL careful.

Since "Dark Souls" is a game about experimentation, you can be playing this game as many times as there are weapon combinations. Strength weapons, dexterity weapons...or even intelligence/faith weapons like staffs and talismans. You can go a wide array of builds with different characters, and then again, within each build revolving around a certain stat type, there are many variations surrounding it. You can be a melee intelligence swordsman with a staff as a secondary weapon, or a hybrid dex katana wielder with a staff just to cast great crystal weapon. You can really play around with the builds, and that is a ton of fun, there's never anything that isn't too stupid or far fetched for you to fool around with.

This is a game that can be played over and over again, even if you expect what's to come. With the insane variation of builds, you'll be tackling things from a different perspective at all times as long as you wield a different weapon. Playing  a bow/staff user is a lot different than playing a warrior wielding a great sword, and you'll find that a lot of things that you used to know have changed. Some enemies or bosses that used to be a piece of cake are a lot tougher suddenly, and bosses that used to kick your ass become a cakewalk. Take the Moonlight Butterfly for example. Fight that thing as a warrior and you'll struggle, fight it as a mage/pyromancer/archer and this thing suddenly becomes a walk in the park.

Artorias is another one. Fight him like a man with your melee weapon for a rough, satisfying duel to the death. Swing magic at him and watch as your bolts do close to no magic. There are penalties and rewards for your playstyle depending on what boss you fight, and this difference in the game is what makes it so fantastic to play. Even the world itself is glorious. After playing the game multiple times many years ago, Lordran is still a joy to explore, from the dark, flaming hells of lost Izalith to the sophisticated Duke's Archives. The wide variety of areas and enemies keep me from growing bored when I should be. PVP is also always a pleasure (provided that the ping is okay) but there are obviously a lot less competition these days in "Dark Souls", since most of them moved to the sequel.

I could keep on going, but we all know "Dark Souls" is a huge game, and I'd just be repeating myself. The landscapes of Lordran are always a joy to explore, and the enemies that inhabit it are always enjoyable to take down. The bosses always greet you with menace and provide good challenge (especially the tough ones), there is little reason for you to be bored. With so many builds and character possibilities, you can pretty much play this for as long as you want.

Replay value: 10/10 (Easy full score)

Thursday, 1 January 2015

Great Game OSTs (Part 3)

Brace yourselves because today its Daisuke Ishiwatari day. If you personally like some metal in your video game music, he's your man. I love this guy, he should just compose all music for fighting games. Hell, I find some of his songs quite fitting for RPGs as well!

Song: Bullet Dance II
From: Blazblue:Chrono Phantasma
Artist: Daisuke Ishiwatari

One of the best character themes in the game. It starts off slow, then ramps up into a complete flurry of speed metal and synths, The superb rifts that represent the tints of the original song is still in tact in this second version, though its a lot more high strung and obvious here. Best of all, this song represents Noel's new look, vision and character in "Chrono Phantasma". Gone are her days of her old weak self, and here comes a brand new Noel, no longer a puppet, but a person that thinks for herself. Too bad though, it'll still take a lot more character development for her to shine as a good character. Her theme though, its still f**king good.

Song: Under Heaven Destruction II
From: Blazblue:Chrono Phantasma
Artist: Daisuke Ishiwatari

My 2nd favorite versus theme in the game, right beside "Black And White". I swear, the first "Under Heaven Destruction" was pretty generic and uninspiring, but this improved version just wants to make me break into a mad dance of air sword swinging. It starts off all epic and beautiful with the strong violins, then quickly turns into a mad clash of wills when the drums, guitar and everything else kicks in. Its a strong song, and finally it turns into a song worthy of Ragna and Jin's rivalry. While I feel like the 2 weren't going at it as much in "Chrono Phantasma", it was still a theme to behold when they eventually clashed blades with one another (What would be a Blazblue game without Ragna and Jin trying to whoop each other's asses?).

Song: Writhe In Pain
From: Guilty Gear XX Accent Core Plus R
Artist: Daisuke Ishiwatari

This was the pinnacle of Ishiwatari's songs back in the day. In a game like "Guilty Gear" where crazy character designs all had mad metal themes, "Writhe In Pain" was like the one song that felt legitimately amazing when it played. I swear to god that Milla gets all the good themes, because "Writhe In Pain" is just pure eargasm, even today, I feel that its one of Ishiwatari's best songs. It portrays Milla's character extremely well, the self prestige, glorious woman that she is, always bathing herself in fabulous-ness. I mean, she uses her f**king hair to slash people! Surely she's one of the most insane characters you've seen in fighting games!

Song: The Irony Of Chaste
From: Guilty Gear Isuka
Artist: Daisuke Ishiwatari

I have never even played Isuka (because it honestly didn't look all that great to me), but once again, Ishiwatari's greatness always finds me on the net. "The Irony Of Chaste" is yet another Milla Rage theme (I think it's Venom's  as well), and as I mentioned, its very obvious that Milla gets ALL the f**king good themes. I think this theme sounds a tad bit too evil for her, but nonetheless, its metal and catchy as all f**k, I love it.  The "evil" part of the song is probably meant to fit Venom, but I can't complain.

Song: Common Boss Theme 1
From: Hard Corps:Uprising
Artist: Daisuke Ishiwatari

I never once thought about this game, at all. In fact, I never knew it existed...until I saw Ishiwatari's discography included a game that I've never heard of before. Bingo, its "Hard Corps:Uprising", and when I hit it up on YouTube, the top video was its boss theme. I clicked on it...and oh my god. Its like my heart exploded from awesomeness. For a boss theme, this one kicked major f**king ass, with its loud, powerful and intense sounds. If it was meant to sound menacing and make you feel like a badass while it plays, then by god, it does the job perfectly.