Blaugust Post #21
Grandia 2 came out on PC this week. The publisher is GungHo, better known for Puzzle & Dragons (I have no idea how they got the license). From all reports the quality of the port is passable, but I’m really kind of excited by what this represents. It’s the most recent example of a Japanese publisher digging out of their back catalog and putting games on the PC. I’m not sure which company started this (although I suspect Square’s desire to get all versions of Final Fantasy on everything helped), but it’s becoming a lot more common, and it’s a chance for people like myself to check out classics that were missed.
I was always told that PC games aren’t big in japan, except for Visual Novels. Consoles have traditionally been the place for JRPGs especially, except for the brief experiment Square tried with FF7 and FF8. The next example I can find is Square again, as they released The Last Remnant on Steam in 2009. This was the first game I encountered that fought very hard against being controlled with a mouse and keyboard, and so I didn’t play much of it (I still haven’t finished it). With a controller, I know people who prefer that version over the original (which was released for the XBox 360, a console I did not own until years later). Capcom noticed the PC Market a year later; Namco got in on the game in 2012. The Carpe Fulgur games (Recettear, Chantelise) opened up the doors for Japanese indies to see western release.
The funny part about that is that visual novels are starting to come over too. Our Game of the Month for Aggrochat is Hatoful Boyfriend, and there are lots of others on Steam at the moment. The world is flat indeed.
Blaugust Post #13
Starting today (August 14), the 88th semi-annual Comiket starts in Tokyo. This event, held twice a year in August and December, is one of the major times that Japanese indie games release, and this one looks to be no different. Edelweiss (The developers of Astebreed) put together a trailer of all of the games at this summer’s Comiket; it’s over an hour long. Astebreed itself came out at Comiket 83, about 3 years ago.
Japanese media has a bit of a different relationship with fan works than American media tends to, with games and other media based on preexisting characters existing in a sort of “official unofficial” state. I mention this because the start of that video is about 15 minutes of games using the characters from the Touhou series, itself an example of a Doujin title. The “team” behind the Touhou series, Team Shanghai Alice, is really just one person. The next main game in that series is also coming out at Comiket.
To go along with this, Steam is having a sale this week on a variety of games out of Comiket in years past. It’s also worth mentioning that Playism tends to pick these up earlier, and is even responsible for bringing some of them to Steam. It’s currently the only place you can pick up an actual Touhou game without importing (it’s still in Japanese). Prior to digital distribution, there was almost no way for most of the games shown to cross the Pacific, as actual physical CDs are sold at Comiket. Mostly this has meant piracy is the only way people get to play, but I’m hoping the modern internet can change that. After all, more people are lazy than cheap.
Time for another one of these, let’s get started.
First things first: Extra Life is this weekend, and I’m participating as a member of the Alliance of Awesome team. You can find my page here, and my stream will be active from 2-4 EDT. I’ll be around in chat while the other members are going, so you will probably hear a bit of random commentary from me throughout the day. All proceeds go to the various hospitals involved, so feel free to donate!
This weekend, I get to find out exactly how excited I should get for the FF14 expansion in the spring. (Possible values range from “Super” to “Rae”.) Last weekend the expansion was initially announced at FanFest in Vegas, although the name came out earlier when it was trademarked. This weekend will be Fanfest in London, and I believe they said more information on upcoming classes will be coming out at that time. There are some favorites I’d really like to see make it to FF14 (Blue Mage, Mystic Knight), but this would also be a good time to introduce some new things to the series (or at least rarely-explored things). Dark Knight and Samurai have already been “leaked”, but I can’t help but wonder what else is coming. Geomancer? Berserker? Cannoneer? Calculator?
I feel like it shouldn’t be required to say this, but people continue to prove me wrong. Don’t harass people, and definitely don’t make death threats. One former Steam Developer is finding this out the hard way, when he posted the following on Twitter and subsequently found his game de-listed from Steam.
Valve’s statement was quite simple: “Yes, we have removed the game’s sales page and ceased relations with the developer after he threatened to kill one of our employees.” (via Polygon). I’m glad to see that when possible, actions are being taken to ensure that this sort of thing is Not OK. If we can’t get people to think before hitting post, maybe we can at least get them to stop threatening the lives of others.
The title of this post is a reference to how Nintendo has been titling their 2D game releases lately. Murf, this one’s for you.
Hangeki is a shooter from Pentavera, and as far as I can tell it’s their first game. Hangeki at first glance bears a very large resemblance to Space Invaders, but it plays pretty differently once you get past initial appearances. The objective is to kill enough enemies to earn a screen-clearing super-weapon (referred to as a Hangeki) and then use it to move on to the next wave. Repeat until you face a boss. Along the way, you can level up and earn some abilities that are powered by your chain meter (it goes up as you shoot things and down when you don’t). It’s somewhat moba-like in that you start each stage at level 1 and unlock abilities as you play, but you can choose what abilities to take in each slot. You can choose what abilities to take and in what order. Additional abilities unlock as you complete and perfect stages.
As for difficulty, the first stage is very easy. The second stage is slightly less so. Things ramp up quickly from there, as enemies expand from simple bullets to lasers and bombs and dashing. (Unlike a certain other game, lasers are telegraphed before they fire, to make dodging possible.) Your ship shoots automatically, but if you’re not hitting anything your chain will break and your power meter will drop, so positioning and planning is fairly important. If you destroy a column all at once, you’ll later break your chain if you’re forced to move to that column to dodge. I’m still learning, and I clearly have a long way to go if the global score table is any indication.
Hangeki comes highly recommended if you like arcade shooters. The combination of pretty lights, customizable weapons, and global high-score tables makes for a pretty enjoyable experience. I liked it more than I was expecting to, and at $10, the price is right.
For more posts about… everything, check out the Blaugust initiative. For
why I don’t browse kickstarter anymore a good look at a shooter on Kickstarter, see C.T. Murphy’s post about Hive Jump.
I got this game as a gift during the most recent steam sale, and I was asked about it elsewhere recently. I like bullet hell and someone told me that this game was good, so I figured it was worth a try. I attempted to get screenshots for this, but the game doesn’t play well with the Steam overlay (or any alternate method of taking screenshots I tried), so you’ll have to make do with the few I did take.
RefleX is a vertical scrolling shooter (I don’t think I would actually call it a bullet hell for reasons I’ll get to later) with a bit of a twist. Instead of bombs, your ship has a reflective shield that slowly recharges. Enemy shots are color-coded: blue ones will be reflected, red ones will be destroyed, and purple ones can be destroyed by the ship’s fire (they will also be destroyed on the shield). Instead of lives, your ship has a durability meter. When it runs out, it’s game over, there are no extra lives. In context, what this means is that after making a mistake, you don’t get a life lost and screen clear to recover, and it’s possible to lose multiple hits in quick succession.
Playing this game feels very different from other similar games, in that it feels like it tests your reaction time more than anything else. Unlike most bullet hell games where the difficulty comes from trying to find your way through the pattern, this one throws things at you too fast for there to usually be a pattern. (Some principles still apply, like streaming when there’s a line of bullets aimed at you.) The biggest offenders here are homing lasers that are fast enough that if you aren’t moving when they’re fired, you’ll take damage if not shielding.
Combined with the lack of screen clearing and invulnerability when you do get hit, death feels incredibly sudden and quite cheap. As with most shooters, a degree of memorization is required to know attack patterns and when you need to move in order to not get murdered, but attack patterns here are long enough that this is difficult. I prefer to know what I died to in games like this, and it’s quite difficult in RefleX. I don’t like it much as a result.
For more posts about… everything, check out the Blaugust initiative.