What’cha Been Playin’? July 2017

WBP July 17

July was a slow month. I only played a single new game, and focused a sizable amount of time on older games. Most I enjoyed. One, included in the above banner, I enjoyed much less. It’s shovelware that I own because it was bought for me as a child.


Cave Story

I played a little of Cave Story before through the DSi version, but lost interest after getting stuck early on. This Switch version is my first serious attempt since, and I bypassed whatever thing previously gave me trouble. Then I became stuck a handful more times because I couldn’t find a certain item. There is little handholding, which I appreciated until I wandered around the same area over and over because an item is behind I door I couldn’t access because I need another item that I don’t know the location of. In other words: Metroidvania.

I don’t expect that I’m even halfway. I will say that progress ceased since Splatoon 2 was released.


Fault 1

I can’t explain what changed. I felt sympathy for a young woman named Rune, whose past and identity drive the majority of this story, somewhere towards the conclusion of this visual novel. She’s shown as earnest and friendly, but she’s different and burdened with repercussions for actions she didn’t do. Given my mild annoyance at aspects of the story, I didn’t expect to feel compassion, and this compassion came suddenly. That’s what it felt, anyway. Sudden. And speaking of sudden. . .

Did the story establish and/or foreshadow the development at the end? Without spoiling what happened, a character is changed in a troubling way. My problem is that it came without warning, or so it felt. Did the story set this up earlier and I forgot? Wasn’t paying attention? Or did the writer(s) include it as a surprise to push people into playing the next visual novel?

My thoughts are mixed. I liked the characters and aspects of the world, but the story could’ve been paced better. Too many scenes were unnecessarily lengthy. The script also could’ve used another draft of refinements, but it was adequate. Nothing about Fault Milestone One was outstanding, but it should satisfy a certain audience, especially if purchased for a reasonable price. I expect it’ll be readily available at a cheaper price in most major Steam sales.


Fault 2

Now that’s an opening. Milestone Two starts immediately after the first game, with our trio of heroines facing against a new enemy. Before I describe what happens, SPOILER WARNING. Watch/read at your own risk.

video source: ティアラ Tiara

With a snap of her finger, the antagonist effortlessly slaughters our heroines in an explosion that decimates everyone and everything in the surrounding area. We watch from above as the entire country is engulfed in light before the screen cuts to a television test pattern. Then the game automatically restarts, but the title screen is changed to reveal the antagonist standing alone. The forested area is a wasteland, and the space where our heroines stood is now three darker scrapes of earth.

The implication is obvious.

The menu includes only a single option: “undo”. Like someone hitting the rewind button, the previous destruction is reversed to where the visual novel started, except everyone has a memory of being annihilated. It’s a hell of a start, and I’m hoping that Milestone Two continues to surprise me.


Crash Dummies

What a piece of crap. I might normally complain when a game includes only a handful of levels, but less is best when it comes to The Incredible Crash Dummies. It revels in enemies that attack immediately after appearing on-screen, offering too little time to react. In fact, I recall a few instances of being launched directly into an enemy. I respond to these cheap tactics by moving slower than I appreciate, which is how the timer reached zero before I finished the level.

My movement speed isn’t the only problem. Levels are too long, an impression you wouldn’t get from the two that start the game. The levels that follow should be split into two levels each, or at least given a checkpoint instead of starting me back at the level’s beginning. I did resort to cheating, but only unlimited lives. (I’m not above freezing the timer or using invincibility should I continue to struggle.) After all, I owned this game since I was a kid and I’d love to say I finally finished it.


Zelda 1

I decided earlier in the year that I would tackle the original Zelda once I completed Breath of the Wild, and I made good on that vow. This marks my first serious attempt at playing Zelda, and I’m going through with minimal help from things like online FAQs. I managed to find the first four dungeons simply by wandering around, which naturally led to a few unexpected finds. The third dungeon was discovered before the second, and I accidentally wandered into the eighth and ninth. The fifth dungeon did require looking online, but I made it through each dungeon without looking up answers.

Not that the internet is needed for the dungeons. The so-called puzzles are simple and self-contained, meaning that if I encounter a room without any obvious purpose, there is a block needing moved or a wall with a secret. The bigger puzzle is determining how to reach the boss with most hearts retained. Enemy AI is unsurprisingly simple, so they often have no problem running into Link and draining his health as I slash at them. Hearts aren’t plentiful, especially in dungeons. (The third dungeon, I believe it was, offered zero hearts through numerous attempts to reach the boss unscathed.)

It’s still fun, much in the same way that the original Super Mario Bros. is still fun. Sequels improved and refined ideas, but the original Zelda has a charm that later games lack.


Breath of the Wild

I regained control of the Divine Beasts and tracked down the Master Sword, so I charged through Hyrule Castle (taking a quick detour for the Hylian Shield) to defeat Ganon. (Don’t worry, this includes NO MAJOR SPOILERS.) The battle was suitably epic, but I realized just before delivering the final blow that I didn’t want to stop playing Breath of the Wild. Of course, there’s nothing stopping me from tracking down more shrines and completing side-quests, but the main objective is complete.

Breath of the Wild is the second game of 2017 that I wanted to replay immediately, the first being Persona 5. Man, what was the last game that brought about that sensation? Probably 2013’s Fire Emblem Awakening. It’s been four year since I enjoyed a game so much that I didn’t want to stop after reaching the credits, and 2017 rewarded me with two of such games. That’s pretty damn awesome.


Splatoon 2

Something about controlling the first Splatoon with two analogue sticks and motion controls played with my brain in such a way that the controls felt wrong. I had similar troubles with the Splatoon 2 Global Testfire, so I couldn’t say if I’d buy the full game.

Now I’m having almost no problems with the controls. I still play using both sticks and motion controls, but something must be different. Better. Troubles arise only when I have the Joy-Cons in each hand, but not when using the Joy-Con Grip or in portable mode. And you know what? Splatoon is fun. Online could’ve been handled a little bitter (that Switch mobile app is a joke) and I hate how Salmon Run isn’t always available, but I’m digging Splatoon 2 more than I expected.


ValkChrRem

Not Valkyria Revolution, which I barely touched since last month. Instead, I restarted Valkyria Chronicles. To explain, I recently donated to Greg Sewart’s Extra Life page, and that allows me to choose a game he will (eventually) play. Given his frustrations with Valkyria Revolution, I thought that would be a good excuse to get him to play Valkyria Chronicles for the first time. And I used that as my excuse to replay one of my favorite games.

The first handful of cinematics reaffirm a remark I previously made about Valkyria Revolution: “[Valkyria Chronicles] was developed almost a decade ago on older hardware, yet still makes a much better impression than Valkyria Revolution.” The presentation is still beautiful and obviously had a fair amount of time devoted to it considering the amount of custom animation going on, something that can’t be said about Valkyria Revolution. I love this game, and I will never not champion it to anyone who’ll listen.


 

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