Cross Story E

I made only one resolution this year: To write more. So in order to keep on top of that, I’m going to try and bang a weekly post on the various things I’ve been checking out. HERE WE GO!

Anime – Level E: This show is by far my favorite show of the new season, and it kind of came out of left field. Life’s looking up for Yukitaka Tsutsui. He’s a first year high school student, who’s moved to a new town thanks to a preemo baseball scholarship. But when he shows up to his new dorm, there’s this long haired blond pretty boy there, wearing his clothes and refuses to leave. By the way, he’s also an alien amnesiac who crash landed to Earth is an entitled asshole. You see, aliens have been living on Earth all along, they just disguise themselves as humans and said humans have no clue they’re there. Thankfully, it tuns out that Yukitaka is a total punk and the result of the show is hilarity by way of MiB with a dash of Cromartie. Unlike most anime comedys that tend to rely on references or puns to get their humor across, Level E instead uses bizarre situations with really clashing characters that horrible to each other, but are perfect for each other. Crunchyroll is streaming it.

Manga – Cross Game: I finally plowed through the second volume of Mitsuru Adachi’s latest baseball manga the other night, and god damn do I love this series. (Although really, this should come as no surprise to anyone that knows me.) In this volume we finally get to see the “portable” team take to the field against the actual Seishu High School baseball team, built from the ground up by Coach Dickface Daimon from around Japan. Daimon thinks this game is easily in the bag, but hey they’re just srubs that would only get in the way of his ace ringers, right? Ko Kitamura and company then go out and show him just how wrong he really was. I’ve always said Cross Game was more a character drama that just uses baseball as a setting, and Adachi once again knocks it out of the park. From Aoba giving commentary in the bleachers, to the players interacting on the field and in the dugouts, you see the characters grow and change over the course of the game, and signs for things to come start taking shape. Awesome volume.

Video Games – Cave Story: I recently discovered that Cave Story had already come out on DSiWare. While I already owned the Wii version, I really wanted to try it on my DS. As it turns out, that was a good idea as I’ve found that I like it way more as a portable game than a console one! Is it because I can play it in chunks wherever I go, or the pixel-y old school graphics just look nicer on a smaller screen, I don’t know. But I do know I’m coming right in on the final boss, whereas I only got halfway through the game when I was playing the Wii version. Although, I noticed that as I’ve been playing the game, there have been characters that I figured I could talk to as I played through the game that wouldn’t really talk to me. Since I knew that I was about to beat the game, I went back to see what I missed, and it turns out I missed a lot, including the path to the best ending.

Now, that sort of bugs me. You see, this game has an example of awesome design, and not so awesome design. Awesome design: Earlyish-on in the game, you are given an option to switch your basic weapon to a way more awesome version. However, if you keep a hold of it, you are given a chance to make it into an even more awesome one. And if you wait yet still, you have a chance for arguably the best weapon in the game! However, the first weapon you can switch for is probably the best weapon for a first time player, so it would make sense to frontload that choice, and then in subsequent playthroughs maybe the player will get curious as say no, just to see what happens. Not so awesome design: In the later half of the game, you will see a character lying on the ground right in front of you. If you talk to them, they give you an item that increasing your mobility. However, if you ignore this person, you can later get a better version of that as well, and it also gives you a chance to get the best ending. But why in th e world would you not want to talk to this character? The character is your friend, and it’s just plain common sense to interact with them. And the game never, as far as I can tell, gives you a reason to NOT do so. In say, Symphony of the Night, the game gives some pretty obtuse clues to find the better ending, but you can figure it out. Cave Story doesn’t, and that’s kind of lame. If it gave me the choice to take the item or not, even that would have helped. That said, the game is still super fun! And considering it was a homebrew game to begin with, I can give one disappointing design issue a pass.

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Because Ghost Treat wouldn’t be as much fun.

Way back in the heady days of 2005, a video game developer by the name of Capcom tossed out a lawyer-theme adventure/visual-novel game for the Nintendo DS called Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney. It was an incredibly clever game, with interesting if not kooky characters, catchy music, and for many gamers, a fun underlying story and gameplay that most gamers either had never experienced before or hadn’t in some time. The initial release of the game was incredibly small, and quickly sold itself out of print due to more people actually wanting to play this game than Capcom realized. As people looked into the origins of the game and it’s history of development, it turned out what new and interesting for us English-speakers was but old-hat to our Japan counterparts. The 2005 game for the Nintendo DS turned out to be a port of a 2001 game for the Game Boy Advance. Which got people thinking, if the director Shu Takumi and his team at Capcom was able to pull off this fun stuff on the Game Boy Advance, what could they do with improved capabilities with the Nintendo DS? We thought that the answer was in the extra fifth games in the first Ace Attorney game, or possibly the eventual DS-only sequel Apollo Justice.

But no.

The actual answer, was a game called Ghost Trick.

(more…)

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