January 28, 2016

Oni Chronicles - End Game

Luck is one of those stats that usually does it work hidden to the naked eye, content to weave its threads in isolation and solitude.  I've always considered myself a lucky manchine, but I've never been sure of how high that number is.  My 18's in intelligence and charisma are self-evident, as everyone always tells me within seconds of meeting me, but luck is a little harder to peg down.  It's got to be up there, though, or I'd never have made it through Oni Chronicles.  So, I couldn't get beyond that stinkin' rock and had to take a rage break.  I was still in an Inconsolable mood, though, so I read some older posts (well, not some, more like a lot (I was quite rage-y)), when I fortuitously happened upon my second post for Destiny of an Emperor.  I got stuck in that game as well at a dialogue box, where I had to wait 5 seconds without pressing a button.  *bing*  Well, shit, that rock has a dialogue box that always ends with a "Nothing happened.".  I thought it was because I didn't have whatever item I needed but really it was waiting for me to enter the dance sequence I learnt at the village.  I was led to believe that it was the turtle hermit who would enjoyed that dance, not his pet rock.  Well, maybe the hermit had a scrying device of some kind and was watching my flawless and irresistibly hot dance from the safety of an interior cave (probably jerkin' off too, the perv).

But please tie your robe up first, good sir, I implore you!

Sighing relief at finally getting past that area, I was rewarded with more of the same stuff I complained about in the first post.  Nothing much interesting really happened the rest of the time.  The game certainly tried to add some flavours but failed miserably every time.  I briefly met my sister who was in love with one of the oni I was beating on and I think she married him or something.  I learnt the identity of the fearsome end boss right near the end of the game but can't recall her motives for evil at all.  The weakness of this soup stock of a game really hit home when I opened my notes binder and saw exactly three entries.  Now, entries can be anything from clues or directions to a comment on a game mechanic to just something to talk about/make fun of.  For contrast, a game like Megami Tensei II had almost three pages full.  So, I'm going to put as much effort in my end post as OC:G put into itself.  Consider half the content to be wrapped up in this sweet monstage.

The word monstage patent pending.

The oni form that I could transform into didn't amount to much.  All it had was special attacks that used AP points instead of SP points, effectively just expanding my magic pool.  There were a few instances where the oni attacks did more damage than its normal form counterparts, but not enough to be a big deal.  The final dungeon was much longer than any previous but was still a snap to get through due to the ease of gaining levels whilst plumbing its depths.  Every level attained refreshes HP, SP, and AP to full and I didn't even need to use any items before reaching Dakki.  Oh right, that's what her name was, the great and fearsome Dakki, whose plan to do something or rather was about to ruined by the mighty Shenmaru!

Aaaaand she uses the same sprite as one
of the random monsters.  Just lovely.

Since the game had been so cake up to this point, I strode confidently into combat only to be given a harsh lesson in Dakkionomics.  She trounced me something good, so next time I opted to gain a few levels before attempting her again.  I did this all in her presence, mind you, and I respected her confidence and poise as I slaughtered piles upon piles of her minions while she didn't flinched even once.

And I twerked her like I had
never done twarked before.

She fell this time, said her piece about eventually coming back, then died and a short epilogue later I was all done.  The total time I spent on this game was only about seven hours, but I feel like it overstayed its welcome by about seven hours.

Shut it, Saizo, the brevity is all
this game has going for it.

At least the ending screen is pretty sweet... sike, sike, super sike!


January 15, 2016

[Game 056] Oni Chronicles: Genesis (GB - 1990)

Translation by Pennywise & aishsha

One thing I like about being the manchine in the 21st century is being able to experience some of the gems that Japan got to but that never made it to my home and native land.  Of course, this is a double-edged sword as there was a lot of boring crap, which is totally the case here.  So far, it's been a sleepy ride on the generic train, with straightforward battles and linear plot.  There is a small taste of freshness in that I'm able to transform into an Oni form, but all it's done is get me into a palace that I otherwise couldn't.  Hopefully this aspect will be developed a little more — and soon, before I slip into sleep mode.

*yawn* Whatever, just shove over and
make me some room on that futon.

The story is hardly worth getting into but since I need to fill a certain quota of words, I'll summarize.  Orphan boy raised in small village turns out to have special abilities and becomes the chosen one.  Village is attacked, sending chosen one out to fulfill his destiny.

Which apparently is just killing hundreds of monsters.

For skills (i.e. magic), the standard fare is served up; there are plenty of damaging skills, some healing, and a warp skill.  All skills fall under one of six categories (fire, shuriken, recovery, nature, flight, or special) but I'm not yet certain whether resistances to these come into play or not.  One skill I wish I had that I don't is the "center the bloody screen on the bleedin' character" ability.  This game likes to wait until I'm two tiles away from the edge before starting to scroll.  It makes navigation a real pain in the ass, especially for a turbo-worthy game such as this.

It's almost acceptable for a dungeon... almost.

Does that dungeon look a little lacking?  Well, it's not a fluke of the screenshot, all dungeons are empty (other than the standard random encounters) except for the singular item/NPC that I'm there to get/attack in the first place.  A chestless dungeon?  Look at that little dead end up there in the screenshot — it's just crying out for a chest to be there.  I don't even care if all it has is one golds — give me a reason to explore you, game!  The void of content doesn't stop there, though.  Oh no, it's just as bad in the towns as well.

Come and experience our fabulous open air
experience, completely free from the annoyance
of any member of the animal kingdom!

Over half the buildings are completely empty; there's
never been a better time to buy!  This spacious
bungalow has an old world charm with lots
of potential.  Includes all appliances.

The few neighbours you will have won't bother
you with pointless chitchat or vital clues.
It's an introvert's dream!

Explore the endless wonder of the nearby wilderness
and — SIKE! I'M STILL IN A TOWN!

Seems like the only thing worth talking about in this game is how it irks me, so here's some more examples.  After completing the retrieving of a MacGuffin and the killing of local boss, I am whisked away to the next area, quite often with a huge seam blatantly showing.  For instance, after getting a boarding pass for a ship, do you think I would get to control the ship?  Nope, but fair enough; lots of linear games just show a little interlude of the ship sailing to its destination.  Don't even get that here; just dumps me right into the next area without so much as the music even missing a beat.  Stranger still, the warp skill comes preloaded with a town so I don't even have to seek out my "base of operations" for the new area (though I do anyway because that's just how I roll).

Quit messing with me then.

The roster of enemies is a joke as well;  there's just a handful of sprites being used.  Sometimes a single sprite representing two different creatures will be used in the same area.  It's like the game thought it could palette-swap the sprites but forgot that it exists in monochrome.  The names are all in romanized Japanese as well and I often would already be knee deep in battle before realizing I was fighting a tougher version of a creature I had just fought.  With some enemies I can apply mnemonic techniques, but these are few and far between.

Who's the boss now?

Right now, I'm stuck at a point where I need to move some damn rock so I can reach some idiot hermit and do a stupid dance for him to get some dumb item.  *sigh*  Back to the grindstone, I guess.

That's a good question... that's
a good fucking question.

January 06, 2016

Dragon Ball Z - Ranking

Story & World

I am most impressed with how close this game keeps to its source material; a rarity amongst such titles.  Even if it meant sacrificing gameplay balance, DBZ:AotS gave zero fucks and kept it real.  As a fan of the show, I'm going to be giving a lot of extra points here for just that reason; someone unfamiliar with DBZ would undoubtedly rank it lower.  It's been awhile since I last did a run on the series, but the memories are still strong and helped me tremendously enjoy the role playing aspect while I gamed.  Normally, I'm more of a fan of silent protagonist(s) so that I have a blank slate to project all my insecurities into (yeah right, like the impeccable Nung has any insecurities).

Exploring the world was far more enjoyable than the first DB installment, at least for the first half of the game.  While the second half still had the grid system, the map layouts were more linear and, coupled with the Z fighters being together in a single group and having to use all available cards in combat, meant that the highest movement was generally always used (but more on that in the combat category).  17/20

Character Development

I bitched about the hundred fights in the opening chapter being a little excessive, but the rest of the game wasn't nearly as bad.  Also, based off subsequent battles, I probably overkilled it at the beginning and could have got away with less fights by working the "consumable" character cards more.  Still, there's no choices to be made in developing any character.  Everyone comes with their own set of ki techniques which doesn't change throughout the game, except for Goku who gets a bunch more after his training with King Kai.  One interesting aspect of the leveling system is that characters don't increase in power just whenever they gain a level; it's based off the BP (i.e. XP) itself, which is quite unusual for an RPG.  Again, this is how it works in the show, so here's even more props to the developers.

The special character cards are quite diverse in their effects and the game is very generous with them (I didn't need to hoard them like I did in the first chapter).  Some are clearly better than others (e.g. full healing Shenron instead of partial healing Bulma), but it's still fun to collect them all and trade with your friends.  In the third chapter, I raced towards the boss fairly quickly with undeveloped characters and relied heavily on these cards to sustain myself during the fight.  I burnt through most of my cards, but it made for quite the intense battle.  6/20

Combat & Monsters

A mixed bag with combat as the earlier stages require good card management due to the inherent weakness of the beginning characters, but gets pretty stale later after everyone teams up and all the cards have to be used up every round.  However, all the boss fights are a gas, even the finale where the non-Goku/Piccolo characters could barely hurt Vegeta at all (again, staying true to its roots).  While the special ki attacks consistently turned my nipples into diamonds, they mostly all just did damage of varying degrees.  I'm also kinda pissed off that I didn't manage to get Gohan to go all Oozaru on Veggie's punk ass — that would been hella cool.

There's not a lot of variation amongst the minions fought, visually or otherwise.  They will occasionally employ a ki attack but, just like most ki attacks, this just does more damage.  No, it's all about the major opponents here... who still just punch, kick, and ki, albeit much harder.  Even my fanboy-tinted glasses can't hide the fact that under the glitz and glamour of DBZ lies a set of uninspired and predictable enemies.  5/20

Graphics & Sound

The variation in combat animations stands out as one of the most pleasing aspects of the game.  It does get tiresome in the end due to their length, but for the first few chapters, it was great to see all the characters whooshing around each other combined with much face punching and groin kicking.  The ki animations are even more impressive and may just have brought a single tear to this grizzled old curmudgeon's eye.

The music was okay but didn't feel DBZish.  I know that's a pretty nebulous statement but I guess I can say that is does sound action-y enough.  Sound effects are kinda on the sad side but I suppose there's no possible way the NES hardware could actually impress me here.  12/20

Gameplay

A game like this is really focused on pleasing its target audience; players outside the DBZ fandom will probably find little merit in the game other than the oddity of the card mechanics.  Due to its accurate modeling of the show, there is little gameplay balance which, again, will probably please fans but no one else.  Without a turbo function, watching the lengthy animations from hundreds of fights would grind the gears of even the most staunch players.  Even without turbo, the game would still be fairly short, so it may be tolerable for certain player types.  Perhaps the tournament mode would add some extra value, but I'm fairly certain it would always result in Goku always winning and Piccolo coming in second.  10/20

Final Ranking:  50/100

January 04, 2016

Dragon Ball Z - End Game

Keeping each team of two Z Fighters the same as the show ended up being tactically unsound a bit.  I neglected to mention the purpose of the symbols in the middle of each card.  One of the symbols (that looks like an X with the three dots) is used to execute the special ki attacks of each fighter.  The rest of the symbols come into play when they match up with the symbol of each character, giving the combatant a boost to their attack.  Well, wouldn't cha know it, each team I made shared the same symbol between the two fighters.  That's okay, though, it's only a small boost and I'd rather have the original teams together, because it pleases me to do so.  Anyway, after Goku completed Snake Way (it actually didn't take that long) and began his training with King Kai, the rest of the Z Fighters finished their respective missions and retrieved a dragon ball.  The last dragon ball was being held by Garlic Jr. and required all the heroes to team up together.  They were all grouped together under Piccolo's icon, so there was no need to worry about keeping them close together.  At first, I was totally pumped for some massive skirmishes with all my boyz getting in on the action.

Leeeeeet's get ready to rummmbbblllleee!!!

Unfortunately, having five cards meant only five attackers per round.  That isn't so bad, but what is is being forced to use all five cards in every battle.  Gone is the strategy of keeping badass cards for the tougher encounters or balancing movement rate versus attack power.  Even worse, ki cards have to be used, wasting BE on enemies who don't need it.  The option to use less than five fighters would have been nice.  Running was always an option, but, come on, no Z Fighter worth his merit is going to flee from any peon.  Eventually, the sextet made their way to Garlic Jr., where they unleashed all their most powerful attacks, relying heavily on the Oolong card, which refreshes the current set of cards with five new ones (looking for dem ki attacks).  Predictably, Garlic Jr. wasn't about to give up his dragon ball easily and powered up for battle.

Couple of Makanko Sappos will put out that fire.

Garlic Jr. fell fairly easily, but before Piccolo could get his hands on the last dragon ball, Garlic Jr. showed us his final form, Super Garlic Jr.!  I knew this was coming however, and instructed Pickles to hit 'em in his weak spot.

Well, the same weak spot all males have.
Whatever, I'm a tactial genius, shut up.

Back at King Kai's, Goku finalized his training and waited for his friends on Earth to get all the dragon balls together and summon the serpent we all know and love — that wizard lizard that makes wishes his bitches — Shenlong!

Err, I mean Shenron!  Whatever, as long
as there's a Shen in there, shut up.

Goku was now joined with his buddies, bringing with him an impressive 9000+ BP, far outstripping anyone else in the group.  This game isn't called Assault of the Saiyans for nothing, and the final confrontation with Nappa and Vegeta was close on hand.  I was super pumped to get at Vegeta since I had a tail card that was given to me by Gohan's mother, Chi-Chi.

Oh, Chi-Chi, how many late night fap
sessions did you fuel back in the day?

The tail card would allow me to transform Gohan into his Great Ape form, bumping his BP significantly, enabling him to take on Vegeta, just like in the series.  It didn't work though, as (I discovered later) I also needed a moon card in order to activate it.  Instead, I had to rely on Goku to dish out most of the damage.

Yeah, this x4 Kaioken Kamehameha
is pretty tough... I guess.

Surprisingly, the real star of the show for any of these major encounters was not Goku, Gohan, or even Piccolo.  No, it was that little alabaster bastard, Chiaotzu; weakest of all the Z Fighters and only having two ki abilities.  One of those ki attacks, however, was Psychic Attack, which stuns the opponent for a few rounds without fail.  Vegeta managed to get one or two attacks in between stuns but spent the better part of the battle just sitting there, taking his lumps.  I don't want to marginalize the other bros though, so here's a montage of everyone getting their licks in.

HNNNG, DBZ fanboy overload!

With Vegeta beaten and fleeing back into space, King Kai congratulated the Z Fighters on a victory well earned and gave me a password for each character.  At first, I completely creamed my panties thinking that I'd be able to carry them over to the next game but, nope, they're just used for a tournament mode the game has.  Since the game has a regular save function, the passwords seem unnecessary but I suppose it was so you could take your characters over to a friend's house.  Although the Z Fighters are quite pleased with their triumph, they collectively have a foreboding feeling of a terrible danger that still lurks in the vast unknown of space.  Hmmm... I wonder who it could possibly be?