Yeah! That's right! Carve it into your soul! tsupertsundere’s profile
Update Three Hundred and Sixty-One: 14 January 2020
I won this a couple of weeks ago from a Playing Appreciated giveaway, so played it I did! And it… was lovely!!
Combining sidescrolling combat with colormatching puzzling and wrapped in a loving, heartfelt adoration of cooking, Battle Chef Brigade is a special game that does just about everything it sets its mind to very well! The game loop is fun and fulfilling without being overwhelming, there’s a good sense of progression, and the art is BEAUTIFUL. Every frame looks like a still from an anime, and the painterly backgrounds serve as the perfect, er, backdrop for the appealing character designs to pop.
As the game progresses and more aspects of the game get layered in, I was constantly impressed by how each mechanic was translated from real-life cooking aspects - preparing ingredients, slow cooking, chopping, flavoring - into engaging, interesting game mechanics to keep an eye on. I found myself looking forward to the head-to-head cooking challenges. I don’t watch much television anymore, but when I do, it’s almost exclusively cooking competition shows (I know!) and Battle Chef Brigade takes clear inspiration from them, with Iron Chef as a principle contributor, down to the handsome MC overseeing the shows, a long, overwrought explanation of each ingredient, and a catch phrase that sets off the competition.
It’s just a fun game, you guys! It’s well made and well loved and I enjoyed playing it. I’d recommend it to just about anyone - it’s not hard to muddle your way through if you’re a weenie baby like me, and there’s a lot of options to go hardcore if that’s what you so choose.
The only place where this game kind of falls down is in the last two chapters, or chapter 5 in particular. Chapter 5 has you playing a completely different person, and takes place in between Chapter 3 and 4. Chapter 4 ends on a very high note that is ready to rocket you into the finale, so having Chapter 5 take place when and how it does is a little… very… momentum-killing. Chapter 5 was good and interesting, just out of place. A little bit more massaging of the story and of the pacing would have been great, but the game works overall as it is.
Next up: I started playing this almost immediately after the New Year, so now I can make it official! It’s just as good as I remember. I sure do love -
See you soon!
Update Three Hundred and Sixty: 7 January 2020
This game’s title is a misnomer - it’s not just one day in London, it’s more like one month, and it’s a month full of crazy shit happening to the main protagonist, Jeremy Mayers. Split up over 5 episodes, four of which are DLC, this game explores the occult and demonic possession in late-19th century London.
For all the time I spent in this game, I don’t have a TON to say. It’s closer to a hidden object game than a VN, which comes with all the issues that entails - there’s a lot of random puzzles that makes skipping difficult, and the lack of differentiation between text you’ve previously seen or new text makes it a challenge to replay chapters to get new routes and endings, which you’re going to have to do a lot. A LOT. That’s where a lot of the time ends up coming in. There were times where I thought I was going to just try to finish it without 100% clearing it, but my stubborn streak won through (and I jumped around to a lot of different games in December so my percentage took a hit).
Besides the engine complaints, the writing is peculiar, too. Originally a Russian VN, the English translation is… very unique, with a certain cadence that I saw people complain about but I realize that I liked. This game is surprisingly funny and wry in a way I don’t see a lot in VNs, and even though sometimes clunky dialogues ruins a serious scene, the plot is meandering and nonsensical enough where I don’t care, I’m just glad for the japes.
The art style is a lovely painterly one, though it can rely too heavily on shadows and gets a little boring to look at after a while. I like that they made Jeremy look kind of girly and be a little whiny - it doesn’t come off as annoying as I was afraid it would be.
Unfortunately, though, at the end of the day the game is a slog and with having to pay individually for each chapter it sets the price point a little higher than I would like. I’m glad I had ANY kind of fun with this, but it’s not goin on the masterpost.
Welcome to Tsupertsundere's "Hindsight is 2020" Edition!
I’ve mentioned it here and there over the past year, but now it’s official! This year, I’m playing (almost) exclusively games I’ve played in the past. I want to use this time to reflect on how my perspective has changed on these games, being a very different kind of person now than I was when I originally played them. I’ll also be mopping up some games I’ve set aside to revisit - some of these I’ll do quietly because I’d rather not do multiple reviews for one game on this site.
I’m really excited for this jaunt down memory lane! I have far fewer VNs to replay than standard games (though since one of them is the second half of Umineko it might take up a big chunk of time, anyway).
Next up: One of the reasons I was so looking forward to 2020 was so I can play these games again!!
See you soon!
Outerlude 5: 29 December 2019
After, I’m not kidding, six FULL months, Madison and I are finally finished playing Yakuza 5. Please forgive me for the lack of time statistics - we’ve left the PS3 running for so long it maxed out the game’s own timeclock and I don’t want to think about how long this fucking game is anymore. (The lack of achievement statistics is because I don’t want to get up and turn the PS3 on again to check and also we weren’t trying for them.)
Yakuza 5 is massive, the biggest Yakuza game by far. It’s EXHAUSTIVELY big. There are 5 protagonists, and there are, I’m not fucking kidding, five games’ worth of content in this bitch. It’s incredibly ambitious, and when it works, it works… but when it doesn’t…
Look, you can’t ever accuse of Ryu Ga Gotoku Studios of not trying new shit whenever they can - they set their games in the same place, yeah, but they’re never done trying for different wacky side- or substories, incredibly in-depth minigames, and finicky little systems waiting for the right player to come along to appreciate them. But when that impulse is amplified BY FIVE… when EACH playable character has pretty much THEIR OWN CITY (okay, Akiyama and Haruka share theirs, but - ) and their OWN fighting style and their OWN incredibly in-depth sidestories and Kiryu has TWO DIFFERENT driving minigames and Haruka’s idol sidestories are SO VARIED AND EXTENSIVE and IT’S MANDATORY TO SPEND SO MUCH TIME DOING FUCKING WILD GAME HUNTING AS SAEJIMA -
It gets to be a lot, is what I’m saying. Madison and I stuck to doing substories only (none for Shinada tho lol we wanted to finish and he was last) and it STILL took us forever. This incredible behemoth of a game is magnificent, but also in ridiculous need of so much editing down. The final friggin chapter itself has four chapters in it, and the game is so big it even spills into Yakuza 6 - a friend who was watching commented that in the first little bit of Y6, we’re STILL wrapping up from the end of Y5. One of the best things about playing through this series is seeing how the studio has learned and grown from each one, and how they took the lessons from this game and turned it around to make Y0, keeping the intense emotional character work but taking a more cinematic approach and making the plot pin-sharp and airtight, cutting away all of the bloat that plagued Y5.
This has been five paragraphs of griping, mostly because I feel like someone who’s been trapped underground for months and has finally been allowed out so I gotta get it all off my chest at once. Now that that’s over, I can try to tell you why I gave this bitch a 9 and why it’s reached rank number 3 in my list of favorite Yakuza games.
It’s about yume. Or, uh, dreams.
That’s the theme of this game - a person’s dream, and how that person doesn’t carry that dream alone. How even if someone never accomplished what they wanted in life, they can still be a beacon or a support to help lift up someone else’s dreams, and how they can live on for others. The five disparate stories slowly come together and coalesce around this theme (and the inevitable convoluted yakuza bullshit, because punching and guns have to happen somehow I’m not being sarcastic I love how ridiculous these plots get) and, especially as the game goes on, it works.
Kiryu finds himself in Nagoya, away from Haruka and the Morning Glory orphanage, working as a taxi driver and keeping his identity secret. Haruka has been scouted and is on track to make her debut as an idol, with the stipulation that Kiryu disappears himself so no one knows she’s been raised as an ex-yakuza. When that path to stardom is imperiled, Akiyama helps Haruka out in the attempt to find out the truth in Sotenbori. Saejima is targeted in prison and must make a daring escape (again) across Hokkaido to come to the Tojo Clan’s rescue… and Shinada is here, too.
Okay, okay, I actually ended up really liking Shinada’s section, way more than I thought I was going to - it’s funny and heartwarming and largely self-contained and ABSOLUTELY could have just been cut with how much it has to do with the overarching plot.
But that’s not how Y5 operates - not everything is in service to the machinery of the plot moving forward, and while it ends up going overboard, it’s something I appreciate very, VERY much. You come to love these motherfuckers (or love them even more) because you have time to get to know them just EXISTING, just reacting to different circumstances and seeing their struggles even separate from The Big Plot. Shinada ended up being one of the most affecting characters, to me, anyway, and seeing his story progress from beginning to end was worth it REGARDLESS of how it served the story as a whole.
While I am VERY excited for Yakuza 6 laser-focusing back in on Kiryu as his story “”””””””””””””””””””””””"”ends””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””, I’m just as glad I got a chance to really get to know all these characters as deeply as I did, on this crazy fuckin train ride like I did. Saejima’s the fuckin best and, because I’m contractually obligated to bring them up, Majima’s scenes, as few as they are, are so fucking good so fucking good so fuckin good. (You know what else is fuckin good? What my wife got me for Christmas)
Next up: Guys I am SO excited for this!!!
See you soon!
Update Three Hundred and Fifty-Nine: 8 December 2019
An uneven but ultimately very good experience, the Endless Journey is by the same team that made PRICE, a short, free VN+ that I adore. They switched it up this time by making a point and click that mixes their themes of magic and making life where there was none with fairy tales - namely, their take on the Musicians of Bremen.
You play as Mr. Valjean and, more often, his artificial daughter Cosette and her unpleasant rabbit plush Eponine. You’re on your way to Bremen to seek work (it’s hard out here for a storyteller/alchemist/necromancer/dollmaker like Valjean) and get sidetracked in a small village on the way. Eventually they meet up with four animals who end up accompanying them on their journey… and are instrumental in stopping the secret they find in the town.
When I say uneven, I mean - the sprite art is so good, I love the music, and the overall story concept is really fresh and interesting…. but also the gameplay is really slow and clunky, and the middle section in the village is SO long and SO convoluted and SO meandering and SO poorly defined that it, unfortunately, drags the rest of the experience down. Getting to know the Musicians of Bremen is really fun and cool and interesting (surprise surprise my favorite is the intensely loyal one-eyed dog) but that really only happens in the second half of the game.
Regardless, I still ended up playing through the game twice nearly back to back (because I fucked up at first and got locked into the Bad Ending). Both endings are more than worth getting, and I ended up getting really into this sweet game.
Next up: The only Spyro game I ever played was Enter the Dragonfly, so this technically isn’t part of my 2020 initiative - but I figured why not get an early-ish head start?
See you soon!
Update Three Hundred and Fifty-Eight: 7 December 2019
This was a pleasant surprise!
I’m not a Woodsy Studios fan - I find the artwork dreadful and the writing clunky. I quit Quantum Conscience unbearable because of how abysmall the thought reading mechanic was, and their penchant for working game mechanics into their VNs to be ill-begotten. They’re not elegantly made, either, with poor UI and more than a couple crashes that lost me progress over my time playing (which is ridiculous it’s a fucking VN, VNs shouldn’t be crashing!!)
And yet. And yet…
I liked this one. I tried playing Serafina’s Saga before, but I stopped because of the above reasons. Serafina’s Crown, however, opened on just enough court intrigue, and was set up in just a certain way, that made me actively enjoy continuing to play, if only to explore the different routes. You play as Odell Perin, a noblewoman fleeing responsibility until she’s brought back to the Head High Bitch Castle and, surprise, is made Regent until she can discover who killed the Queen. The VN+ mechanic in this game is debates, symbolized by a number wheel and a dial. It’s relatively simple - you pick the highest (or lowest) number out of those given to you, hoping its higher (or lower) than the number your opponent chooses. You gain votes based on how much higher (or lower) that number was (or lose votes by the same magnitude). It’s juuuust challenging enough to light some synapses in my brain, but not too hard to be discouraging (or, actually, really being that ACTUALLY important in routes).
This falls just shy of making it onto my VN Masterlist - it’s still clunky, it’s still wonky, and it’s not a shining example of the genre - but I enjoyed playing it and in this, the year of Luigi 2019, that counts for a lot.
Next up: I can hear the clock ticking. Can you?
See you soon!
Update Three Hundred and Fifty-Seven: 2 December 2019
Short game gets short review -
Uhhh… why does this exist?
Starlight of Aeons is a game made up of three smaller games, one of which is an alternate universe of the other two. It’s about… a girl having a dream about a teenager in a rabbit mask… except it turns out it’s the ghost of a boy she used to know… kind of? I dunno, it ended up being pretty dumb.
The translation is serviceable, but there’s not much to service, to be frank. These stories don’t have much of a point and just are pointless, empty words. Also, the story is about a 16 year old falling in love with a 12 year old because she’s… nice to him a couple of times a year… and I’m just
You have to play through the three little games twice each to get all the achievements, but god made the skip button for a reason. I ended up skipping the third chapter outright because it didn’t matter and I was over this shit anyway.
Next up: Come on, come on, mama needs a good VN—
See you soon!
Update Three Hundred and Fifty-Six: 1 December 2019
I’m unfortunately going to be letting a couple of people down when I admit that I played the first, I don’t know, half? of the first playthrough of Pinstripe and was having a good time until I got told I had to backtrack through the three areas I had just worked my way through hunting for some arbitrary amount of currency to go forward, a ploy to pad for time SO blatant that I went from ‘cool’ to ‘u kno wat fuk u’ in three seconds and then spent the rest of the day playing Yakuza 5 instead.
So…. uh. Yea.
The game is very pretty, the controls are nice and receptive, the story is aight, the voice acting is… aight…ish… but it tripped my zero-patience policy so I’m gonna not. Sorry, folks.
See you soon!
Update Three Hundred and Fifty-Five: 29 November 2019
One of the first things that happens in this game is the protagonist wakes up and self aggrandizes and then oggles his sister’s, and I quote, “juicy breasts”, which are poorly animated to ‘bounce’ randomly. Then BLAEO user Cece09 confirms that this game sucks from beginning to end and I promptly decided to just skip through all of it (for fans keeping track at home, you DO fuck the sister in one of the endings).
Avoid! The game isn’t worth the several horny achievements I now get to… ‘proudly’…. display.
Next up: Zelrune gifted this to me, and I’m glad to finally be able to play it!
See you soon!
Update Three Hundred and Fifty-Four: 29 November 2019
Jaffa, thank you SO much for the lovely gift of this game… because it was good! I liked it a lot! Playing it was smooth and easy and fun! I don’t have to be grumpy anymore!
A Case of Distrust puts you in the shoes of a woman named Malone, a female PI in 1924, who is approached by a rumrunner who fears for his life - for good reason. The game is entirely text-based, with a cool, stylized, monotone abstraction of people and places. You talk to people, interrogate them, and explore environments for clues, all to put together whodunit. There’s nothing groundbreaking, no, but this game executes what it sets out to execute very well. Another favorite bit is the vector-rotoscoped portraits that, while aren’t constantly moving like Hotel Dusk</em< portraits, move enough to bring life to each character in a way I was fond of.
The best part about this game, other than I liked the cool feel of how everything unfolds, physically - the way the text unwraps on screen, the transitions to different places, etc - is its characters. You don’t spend a TON of time with each individual ones, and they obviously all fall into their tropes and roles, but there’s enough about them, and their voices are distinctive enough, that interrogating each one and going back and forth to slowly uncover more clues was really fun. Bonus fun tidbits: you have an option every time you travel to talk to your cabbie, and those conversations all reference historical events of that time. It was nice, and there was a surprising amount of them!
While it doesn’t have an entry in the VNDB, to me, A Case of Distrust is functionally no different than something like Ace Attorney… so it’s going on the Visual Novel Masterlist!
It’s such a relief to play a game that’s Just Good. I only have a month left to play new games, so I gotta make it count! Jaffa, thank you SO much again!!
See you soon!
Update Three Hundred and Fifty-Three: 27 November 2019
Lumino City is a perfectly lovely point and click puzzle game with minimal story and maximal puzzles, all cheerfully created with real-life photographed assets. The typography at the beginning is crisp and modern and so stylish, but unfortunately that inventiveness doesn’t stick around. The setting is gorgeous, the animations responsive…
But the puzzles were kind of a drag, there’s not really a through line of a story to keep my interest, and when BLAEO user JaffaCaffa surprised me with some (late) wedding and (early) holiday gifts, of course I’m going to drop what I’m doing to play them!
Next up: THANK YOU JAFFA!
See you soon!