Chaos Blogg 57: Shovel Knight

With the new year around the corner I figured it was time to do the last Chaos Blogg of 2014. It hasn’t been a productive year for me but at the same I’m certainly doing better than I was this time last year. As the stuff featured today, well it’s a mixed bag. Some of it’s amazing, some of it is average and there’s a couple of huge disappointments as well. So lets get this show on the road I guess.

Shovel Knight (Wii U):

I was waiting for Shovel Knight for quite a long time as the game took it’s sweet time getting onto consoles in regions such a Australia and Europe. It was certainly worth that wait though as Shovel Knight is certainly one of the best games of the year 2014. It’s a old school styled platformer and while a lot of titles have tried to capitalise on retro aesthetics and gameplay in the indie scene, Shovel Knight is far more polished. The game looks amazing, the sprites are beautiful and the art style is charming (If I were to describe it would be like Megaman crossed with Shantae but in a medi-evil setting, of course that’s probably not accurate at all but that’s what comes to mind when I look at it). Then of course there’s the excellent music, so damn catchy and pleasing to the ears. It’s obviously reminiscent of the Mega Man series and due to technology advancements I’d say it might even be better. Even just the standard sound effects are pleasing to the ears. They also integrated the music into the gameplay with collectable music sheets that you collect by finding secrets. It adds a nice incentive to explore and search for secrets and the like (And when you hand the music sheets in you get some dialogue, some gold and the ability to listen to the track in game when you visit the bard). The game is also fairly well written with plenty of quirky characters with somewhat funny dialogue, it’s really easy to accidentally skip the dialogue though which is a little annoying when it’s your first play-through. As for the story itself, well it’s incredibly simple, in order to fit with the retro style I’d assume. However it’s surprisingly heart warming at times and there’s a clear effort at some sort world building, not everything is as straightforward as I’d thought it’d be which is very much welcome. Of course what makes Shovel Knight worth playing though is the gameplay, which takes elements from the likes of Megaman, Castlevania, Zelda II, SMB3, and Duck Tales. You go through somewhat linear levels but it’s relatively easy to find hidden areas and what not in order to collect more treasure which you can use to purchase upgrades. These upgrades are new weapons that are for the most part useful in a least capacity, however there are also permanent Shovel upgrades, Health Upgrades, Magic Upgrades and optional armours. Be warned though as the armours are fairly useless, or at least the most expensive one is. Treasure is also an important part of the punishment system within the game, as when you die you lose a percentage of your total treasure meaning it’s possible to lose all you hard earned loot. You can then go back to where you died and try to collect your loot again but the treasure disappears if you die again before collecting it. This adds an element of tension to failure without actually resorting to game over screens and continues, of course it’s not perfect as sometimes treasure bags would just end up in impossible to reach locations which is a dick move. To be quite honest I’d much rather you all check out this game for yourselves, it’s an amazing experience and one that I don’t think my description would do justice. Other than my small complaints about the armour and the treasure bag system there’s not much of anything I want to complain about. Well there is one stage that was a pain in the ass as it had wind based platforming challenges, and if you die on the final boss you can’t get your treasure back, it doesn’t show up once you revive so the only way to avoid losing your gold at this point is to not die. Overall the gameplay is amazingly fun (and addictive), it keeps things fresh from level to level without ever feeling too gimmicky and there’s plenty of optional areas that keep the game from being too short. It’s just all so beautifully polished that it could easily join many of the great classics and perhaps even surpass them. I’d say this is a must play for most people.

Escape Goat (PC): 

If Shovel Knight shoots for the stars then Escape Goat is quite content with staying on the ground and accomplishing its goals on Earth. Escape Goat is another indie game that goes for a retro visual style and unfortunately it kind of blends in with a lot of other games at the moment, of course that doesn’t mean it’s without merits though. It’s still a good looking game and it has a pretty nice soundtrack that I probably won’t remember. There’s an attempt at some sort of narrative but it’s probably the weakest part of the game and isn’t exactly interesting. All you need to know is that you’re a goat that needs to escape. In order to escape you must rescue some magic sheep who somehow open the exit for you. Escape Goat is a puzzle platformer where you go through individual rooms pressing switches, and collecting keys in order to open the way to the next room. It gets progressively more difficult but each set of rooms has it’s own particular theme and challenge, and there is some degree of choice in which order you complete these room sets. Overall the puzzles are fairly simple and so are the controls, you charge with the goat to break blocks and move faster, and you can use your mouse friend (Whoops forgot to mention you have a mouse as a companion) in order to activate out of reach switches and what not. Some levels have magic hats that let you switch places with the mouse which gives some variety to the puzzles which is rather needed. While I can’t point out anything major that I disliked during my time with the game, I can’t really point out anything that amazed me either. It’s a short and simple game that has its challenging moments. Unless you want to tackle the achievements or really difficult bonus content (which is pretty freaking hard), there’s not much replay value. In many ways it’s an average game, but it’s functional and still fun. You’re also highly likely to find it on sale on steam and for those prices it’s a good deal.

Psycho Pass 2 (Anime):

I was somewhat excited about Psycho Pass 2 when I first heard about it, as the Psycho Pass was an amazing anime that really stood out from the crowd for me. It had amazing pacing and character development, and unfortunately those aspects didn’t really carry over to the new season. To be blunt Psycho Pass 2 is a disappointment, and the major reason why it’s a disappointment is its length. For some reason it’s only 11 episodes which is really short in comparison to the first season, in fact I didn’t even realise it was over until about a week after it finished airing. Of course you can argue that Psycho Pass 2 is just one story instead of multiple but the problem with that is Psycho Pass did a lot of character building in that time and also did a great job of establishing the villain before the final confrontation. Psycho Pass 2 on the other hand has all the building blocks to be amazing and for most of the anime it is pretty amazing, with fast paced action but also slow tension building. There’s some pretty great characters here and if they had been properly fleshed out enough they could even rival the cast of the first season (As it is though only Akane is amazing). The soundtrack is pretty neat with an opening that really stuck out to me, and I was pleased with the visuals although it sometimes feels a bit off. However the last few episode really drop the ball as they pretty much explain almost all the mystery away in one huge exposition dump and once that happens the pacing goes out the window. It speeds through what should be a really tense process of discovering the truth and some events aren’t even given a proper explanation when they should. It screams “We needed more episodes” and it’s such a huge waste of amazing potential, of course having a poor ending doesn’t automatically make something crap but it does drop the overall quality. If it had gone on longer I think they could have revealed things at a better pace while also allowing some of the more impacting moments to have a greater impact towards the end. As it is, it’s good enough to be passable but I don’t recommend it as highly as the original and if you do check out just brace yourself.

Aaaaand that’s all I could find that was decent enough to use for this since the OP is being hounded by copywriter shit.

Big Hero 6 (Movie):

The internet is a difficult place when it comes to knowing what movies are actually good or not, for example something as mediocre as Frozen has received stupid amounts of recognition. Big Hero Six has also received a ton of praise and I was quite apprehensive to watch it, however this apprehension was unfounded. Big Hero Six is a fun family movie that is filled with comedy, action and emotional drama. The setting is incredibly unique and it takes a while to adjust to the strange mix of eastern and western culture present here, however it’s an interesting location and suits the story and characters. I was impressed with the movie visually and while I personally don’t think much of the soundtrack it has plenty of great moments and I’m sure it’ll appeal to some people. I think the real strength of the movie is the characters, in particular Baymax who very much steals the show. The amount of personality in the character is excellent and provides for comedic purposes while also being one of the main emotional points as well. The other 5 heroes are also somewhat noteworthy however they don’t really get much development, and are there to support the protagonist, and provide comedy and action. Of course it takes a lot of effort to flesh out this many characters in just one movie so with that considered they did make a very charming and funny cast of characters (If there’s a sequel they could probably expand on them I guess). As previously mentioned there are some very touching moments in the movie and this really does change this from an average superhero comedy kids movie thing into something with a little bit of depth. Of course it’s not on the same level as The Incredibles but I felt it got pretty close. The plot itself though is a little predictable but takes some odd turns and doesn’t end up where I expected it to. The one problem I remember having though is that after a certain point the movie seems to rush a little after it spends quite a while developing the protagonist and Baymax. All the character development gets completely reversed after one emotional scene and it’s suddenly time for the finale. A couple more scenes could have this transition work better and could also given some more time to work on the antagonist. I also found some of the lines said with the action sequences absolutely horrendously cheesy and generic, luckily I didn’t notice these often but that did make me cringe on occasion. Overall with this movie I consider these pretty small complaints, it’s worth watching and I can certainly give it my recommendation.

Grisaia no Kajitsu (anime): 

Do not watch this anime, for goodness sake don’t do this to yourself. Grisaia no Kajitsu was originally a Visual Novel and one that I completed this year but didn’t bother to talk about due to the shit ton of sex scenes within the game (over 10 of them) and I really didn’t want to recommend that kind of thing on here. What I will say though is if you want to experience this story you’re far better off going for the visual novel, as the anime is a poor adaptation at best and at worst a fucking train wreck. Things start out relatively okay as the anime foreshadows some of the darker/emotional stuff but for the majority of 3 episodes it focuses on comedy and character building. Then they go down hill as they tackle one of the character routes (which would take a long time in the vn) in about 2 episodes which results in a lot of great scenes from the vn being cut in favour of shots of characters peeing themselves (well just one shot at this point in time). In what could only be described as a “THEY ANIMATED THAT OF ALL THINGS?” feeling, I was worried. And sure enough the next 2 character routes are butchered almost completely and shoved into a single episode each. That’s hours and hours of story shoved into 20 minutes and it is awful, even on it’s own merits the new changes to the storyline still lack depth and it just feels awkward.

The source material did have an interesting almost uneasy contrast between sexual content, humour, and depressing story-lines however in this anime it just feels off. Especially when in the final episodes about such horrible topics like survivors guilt, starvation, and hostage situations there are several out of place underwear shots and even more shots of urine. Is this some kind of fetish? I mean I know there’s a fetish like that out there but why the fuck are you catering to it is my question. WHY? You didn’t bother animating any of the cool shit, any of the emotional shit and just straight up went for poorly timed fan service and pee shots. *ahem* It’s just bad, and it’s a shame since it could’ve been good, if they had better focus, time and directing this could’ve been great. But the way it is, this anime is just barely mediocre and it only gets that because of Michiru and her comedic moments. Avoid this one and read the VN if you’re curious, just don’t watch this garbage like I did. (Worst anime I’ve seen this year I think).

I hope you all have a happy new year, this is the last Chaos Blogg of 2014, even though it’s technically 2015 right now. I kind of forgot to do this yesterday but I’m glad it’s over now and I hope you enjoyed or found it interesting. Please enjoy some pictures, I’ve included a winter themed pic this time for you people in the northern hemisphere. Please stay tuned for more blogs coming your way in the next couple of week.

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