Chaos Blogg 62: Beans

As of typing this blogg I have come down with some sort of cold, so yeah that’s a rather annoying thing but luckily in terms of anime and games it’s been a fairly good time. And yeah this title doesn’t make much sense at the moment but just go with it. On with the remixes.

Mario and Luigi: Super Star Saga (Wii U VC):

My history with the Mario and Luigi games has left me with opinions that often go against the common consensus for fans of this series. I had tried Super Star Saga years ago but didn’t find much value in the early parts of the game. Fast Forward in time a bit and that’s when I played Partners in Time the second game in the series (the first one on the DS and to my shock the most disliked in the franchise) which was followed by Bowsers Inside Story. I enjoyed Partners in Time quite a bit, it was simple and a little short but pretty much every moment was fun for myself and I didn’t feel restricted. Bowsers Inside Story though is a game I didn’t quite enjoy much at all. Certainly the ideas were interesting but the core gameplay was split into many pieces and neither one was as polished as I would’ve liked (Although to its credit it had an impressive soundtrack and witty dialogue). Super Star Saga though is pretty much puts both of these sequels to shame. For starters it’s a more cohesive world which allows you to explore and discover, in fact you could probably compare it to 2D Zelda games in some aspects. The core gameplay is fun and is expanded upon (instead of being chopped into pieces), with gameplay variety being saved for various mini-games throughout the adventure. Visually it’s fairly good for GBA and the animations are excellent with presentation that reminded me a little of Super Mario RPG at time. The writing and characters are excellent, as is the standard for Mario’s RPG spin-off’s. The wacky writing also influences the gameplay and there’s some pretty cool moments that stuck out to me (Mainly involving Luigi). The music is also rather nice but this is one area where I think Bowsers Inside Story trumps this game, there’s also excellent sound design overall and the game feels like a tribute to the entire series from (the Arcade days to Mario Sunshine).

In terms of complaints well the early game is a little boring and that made it difficult for the game to peak my interest years ago. The locales are also a tad bland in comparison to other RPG’s Mario has been in. Of course there some exceptions and due the games level of polish it’s not much an issue, in fact it’s probably more to do with personal preference and exposure to video game clichés. I do have a bit of a problem with the collectibles since there are so many damn beans in hidden spots that aside from some special equipment (which is pretty sweet and involves Professor E.Gadd) and a bunch of stat boosting items feel rather worthless. In fact they’re more currency disguised collectible now that I think about it, since you can find an island at the end of the game that pretty much lets you grind a ton of beans of all types (there are 4 types of beans you can collect). So in that regard 100%-ing this game is pretty easy but it’s still fun and kind of useful to go searching around for secrets especially since they often lead to rare equipment that is rather useful. The battles have the same charm as you’d find in any Mario RPG, mixing turn based combat with a more responsive flare. Pressing the jump button when jumping on an enemies head will cause max damage and jumping can be used to dodge enemies and counter-attack them. Outside of Pokemon I’d say this is a great way of introducing players to the RPG genre and may even appeal to players who don’t typically enjoy RPGs to begin with. This game is a blast in gameplay and writing, it’s nothing award winning but it’s a fun comedic romp and one I do encourage others to play. Of course I don’t think my words do it justice and I feel like I’ve only scratched the surface.

Senran Kagura: Shinovi Versus (Vita):

Straight off the bat purchasing this game really depends on your stance on anime-styled fanservice, do you find it gross and want nothing to do with it? Then stay away from it with a ten-foot pole and you’ll thank me later. Do absolutely love the stuff and embrace your desires? Well then this might be right up your alley. My personally stance is somewhere in the middle and really does depend on context. As you may know I find anime that overdo fanservice and sacrifice plot, story, characterisation, and comedy in the process to be quite rubbish. For example the fanservice in Grisaia no Kajitsu (an anime from last year) was poorly placed, unnecessary and killed what little credibility it had. Funnily enough though the source material had plenty of fanservice moments they could have used if they wanted to but they didn’t (no clue why). With Senran Kagura there’s a lot of stuff here that is to my personal taste (hopefully that doesn’t shock any of you), but there are also many things that just didn’t sit well with me at all, and I have a really difficult time recommending it because of that (I don’t really want to elaborate on this, if you’re all interested in the game I suggest doing some research prior instead of jumping in).

Visually it’s not overly impressive and I could easily see this game working on inferior hardware, the artstyle itself isn’t bad. It’s not close to the best but it does carve out some identity for itself and if we compare it to pretty much all DOA games it dose a better job of not falling into that gross uncanny valley territory that I can’t stand. Some of the character designs are nice while others are just kind of “What the fuck were you thinking” and that becomes a pain whenever the game forces you to play with certain characters. Of course you can customise all clothing, so you can change most elements of design yourself. However this feature also hosts the games most fanservicey mechanics that are most likely going to make you uncomfortable to some degree.

One thing that didn’t make me uncomfortable is the games rather excellent soundtrack, which I honestly wasn’t expecting. Some of these tunes are memorable but even the ones that aren’t too memorable are suited to the characters and gameplay. In fact the soundtrack was probably the most consistently awesome thing in the game and if you’re not interested in the game I could still recommend listening to the music bellow so you can see if it’s to your taste or not. Voice acting is solid as far as I can tell, it was in Japanese and I don’t think I can quite determine quality because of that reason. The story is quite odd as these seemingly cliché characters are actually given some backstory and layers of personality and character. I feel it contradicts a lot of the shallow elements that are a part of the core of this game, and the overall plots (there’s 4 different plots just like sonic heroes) are just poorly written so the depth added to characters doesn’t have much to back it up most of the time (I would say there are some good moments but the bar was set fairly low). Any long term engagement depends on the dialogue and humour, and the gameplay itself. I was honestly surprised that I even found some funny moments here since a lot of the jokes were one note, and over-used by the end of the game. However characters like Murasaki and Hikage were able to bring me laughter quite a bit and they helped make the experience above average (fyi the character Yomi is obsessed with bean sprouts which helped with the weird title of this blogg).

The gameplay is an odd mix of fighter and hack n slash. You’re in closed arenas fighting either an enemy Shinobi (one of the other characters) or a horde of random goon shinobi. It’s not a very complex affair and after I finished the first of four stories it began to grow more and more stale until the harder AI started showing up. Like any hack in slash it’s fun in small doses and it can be quite cathartic at times, in fact it took me so long to finish since it was only fun in such small doses. Honestly the only people I see enjoying this type of gameplay for long periods of time are people who like ANY hack and slash game they find, but even then the one on one battles don’t feel like they fit nicely into this genre and they remind me more of that one DBZ game I played on the wii but with less characters and less to do since you only have a few special moves and “combos”. Which leads me to my final point, just don’t bother and if you’re still curious wait for permanent price drops and stuff like that. I have most certainly played worse games in my life time, but I’ve also played far better. I don’t want to completely shit on this game though, as there’s certainly potential for improvement and it was overall above average. Anyway NEXT!!!

Junketsu no Maria (Anime):

This anime which roughly translates to Maria the Virgin Witch kind of flew under the radar last season however it has some connection to Code Geass (I think a writer maybe?) and takes place in middle ages France sometime after Joan of Arc. Of course this takes place in world of magic, angels, witches and demons so don’t be expecting a large level of realism here. It’s blatantly sexual at times but rarely did it feel like fanservice, and as the series goes on some really dark themes and events are introduced. Not Kara no Kyoukai levels of dark but quite dark none the less, and it’s quite a contrast to the first few episodes. The ost is fairly nice and adds to emotional impact but I can’t quite remember any specific track at the moment. Visually well it’s slightly lower quality than a lot of stuff I’ve watched recently but it’s not a big drawback and the artstyle is fairly nice. There’s a lot of great characters as far as I’m concerned and a lot of interesting themes that suit the setting. There’s also some cool action sequences but I’d say they’re not the focus of the anime. I honestly don’t have much to complain about or discuss without delving into major spoilers. The conclusion felt rushed and many interesting side characters felt like they didn’t go anywhere, like they were just kind of wasted. Aside from those points it’s a decent and rather short anime that you may want to consider checking out at some point.

The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D (3DS):

This was a game I kind of wanted to put into the long forgotten Chaos Vault category but considering the game has been changed quite a bit I feel it doesn’t quite fit into that category. I don’t think I made it a secret around here that Majora’s Mask was one of my favourite Zelda games and I think this version has cemented my love for this game. While I may not have felt the same level of emotions towards the games story and characters (because I already knew what to expect) it still made sure I felt it’s darker tone. The music is pretty much the same, and by that I mean it’s fan-FUCKING-tastic, although I think it would’ve been interesting to see it all remixed in the style of the ending credits which are beautiful. Visually the game is upgraded and I’d say it’s better than OOT 3D, though that’s more because Majora’s Mask was a later N64 title and had more polish to begin with. I haven’t felt this relaxed in a while, exploring familiar territory with various changes and realising just how much of the game I remembered since I last played it 5 years ago. Of course I ended up forgetting some things and the stone masks location change really confused me, so it wasn’t all perfect. Funnily enough they really did improve the Great Bay temple which I didn’t expect at all, and really only Snowhead temple gave me trouble in this run. Boss fights were also changed to some degree, with Gyorg acting far more like a certain Metroid Prime 2 boss than he did previously. The two giant worms have changed significantly so I recommend paying close attention to your fairy this time around since failure to do so may result in you running out of time.

The game has been streamlined to be far less cryptic and more helpful but it never felt like it was hand holding since the original was often considered a challenge compared to the rest of the series. If there’s a harder mode I have no idea, but perhaps they should consider a more hardcore mode for people who want to punish themselves. These changes made the game far more addictive and combined with my own knowledge it was really fun and quite quick to 100%. No longer did I have to wait an entire cycle if I fucked up the Anju and Kefei sidequest because of a single fuck-up, and I appreciate that quite a bit. They’ve also added a new 7th bottle which makes a certain useless mask now useful for something. At present time the only thing that I can think of that I didn’t enjoy was the fishing stuff and that’s because I knew it was pointless, and honestly I didn’t even try it due to my phobia of fish. There’s some glitches here and there but this is a damn fun game that has been quite improved by this upgrade. I highly recommend it for both newcomers and veterans, and I hope you all have a great time. Also this game has Magic Beans so it gets a 10/10 AND WE’RE DONE HERE.

Death Parade (Anime):

Most of the anime I’ve watched this year so far has ranged from slightly bellow average to good, however not much has gone past that point so far. Death Parade may be the best anime I’ve talked about for months, and it is one that I can easily recommend off the bat. In fact I’m so very hesitant to talk about any details for fear of spoiling it for you all (under the assumption you have not seen it yet of course). This anime looks really good in my eyes and the way things are animated reminded me of Death Note to some degree, of course I might be completely wrong in that comparison but that’s what it reminded me of. The soundtrack is pretty good, but pales compared to the opening theme for the show which is excellent and really gets the blood pumping. The story is done really well and for such a short series it does a great job of targeting the emotions. Pretty much all the characters are well written and I found myself quite caught up in the questions presented by the series. I do encourage you to check it out since I’d rather not sit here gushing vaguely about the series and I would prefer to talk about certain aspects of this series in the comments bellow instead.

The Unfinished Swan (Vita):

As of this moment I think this game is still available for free on PS+ and for that I’d say it’s worth downloading and playing. The Unfinished Swan is a first person puzzle game that starts off with a really interesting idea. Your world is an empty void of white, and in order for you to make progress you must throw black paint all over the place in order to make sense of your surroundings. It’s a really fun idea and the game is quite beautiful for this, but the problem is that obviously saw that the idea would lose strength over time and the game shifts over to other ideas that aren’t quite as fun or interesting. For example you can’t do much of anything for a big chunk of the second chapter until you the power to make vines grow which is kind of interesting in that it allows you to climb around and explore a bit. The mechanics of the third chapter are pretty much fairly standard light based “puzzles” that don’t involve your projectiles. That is until you reach a couple of sections that allow you to create blocks and similar objects that allow to traverse. It’s not a terrible mechanic but it is a bit tedious and looks like something from the game Metrico instead of belonging to this particular game. These aren’t terrible ideas but as the game progresses it feels like it loses it’s core concepts more and more over time. Perhaps this is to reflect the narrative about a King that is narrated to you throughout the game? I’d like to think the game should have tried more with the 3rd part at least to incorporate the painting idea more.

Anyway enough on the negative since this game is still quite fun to play, and looks good throughout even if it sets its own bar too high. The story is interesting and a little moving although it’s quite heavy on symbolism, and if that’s your thing then this might be to your tastes (I liked it but didn’t find too moving). Outside of the main gameplay you can search around for balloons which for me was probably the most satisfying part of the game. Thankfully if you miss any the game gives you a Balloon radar so you can go back and get the ones that got away. In fact the balloons unlock all sorts of neat things like abilities, concept art, a sniper rifle and a Prototype level which is interesting but certainly lacking in beauty (mainly because there’s no music). Speaking of music this game has a pleasant soundtrack and I hope you give it a listen bellow, I don’t know if I’ll remember any particular piece but it’s certainly a crucial part of the experience. Overall this game is worth playing for the experience, but I don’t recommend paying full price for this and I encourage you to make good use of you PS+ subscriptions.

And that is the end of that chapter, it’s bean maybe a week (or it at least feels like it) since I actually started typing this but I pretty much spent the last week with a cold that made thinking about this stuff difficult and annoying so I instead just watched some DVDs and decided to start up the backlog tournament which is still ongoing. Anyway thank you so much for reading, I’ll leave you with some pictures.

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Note: I always find it funny that I end up talking more about stuff that is flawed then I do about stuff that I actually really enjoy.

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