What games are you playing 2: The revenge

DBZ: Kakarot's 2nd DLC finally came out. It was fun and the visuals awesome. The added quests were interesting and there are a few new game mechanics that are pretty cool.

The addition of Super Saiyan Blue is nice, though the transformation borders on "Awesome, but Impractical", though not to the same extent as the SS3 transformation, as the surge mode bonuses alone make it worth using. That being said, for a drawn out fight, stick with SS God or SS2, depending on the damage modifier you want.


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Fading Hearts

One of the worst VNs I've ever played. This game seems to be all over the place. Only one heroine and one side-character is even moderately realised, while everyone else is poorly written. There's weird plot points galore that are never used after being initially mentioned, like how this game takes place in not-Japan, how it had Y2K bug issues that the rest of the world didn't, and two of the main characters are orphans whose parents died on Y2K. The narrative barely holds together with some of the endings, and others just appear to go sideways. I managed to save and quit the game once literally two minutes before an ending, because that's how unexpected the ending was. There's a system where the main character can train his stats that seems completely irrelevant. There's also a lightweight battle system through in because that's not convoluted enough, and the main character learns his magic by buying...light novel books. Seriously. Also, Steam Achievements are completely broken and the dev doesn't seem to care. Strangely enough, reading on this game's history, it appears to have gotten a substantial update several years back, which means it must have been even worse to begin with.
So on a lark, I got the interactive movie "She Sees Red". Not sure if it's on PS4/PC, but it was a nice little distraction. It's similar in format to the Tell Tale games, though there are multiple endings and it is live action. I think the actual language it was filmed in was Russian, but they actually do a fairly good job at dubbing the english. Anyways, I didn't think it was all that bad, though you do have to play the game multiple times in order to get the full scope of the story. A single playthrough will take you all of about a half hour, and getting all the achievements (14 in all) may take around two hours. Getting every achievement in a single playthrough is impossible as some of them are mutally exclusive to certain decisions.

Still, I recommend this game.


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DLC Quest

I get that it's supposed to satire DLC and microtransactions, but at the same time, I would kind of hope that it'd actually be fun to play. It was really more of a slog imo, though I guess being so short makes that more manageable.


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I had seen this game mentioned time to time as being one of the actual best VNs there were. Not just a bunch of positive reviews on Steam, but actual good word-of-mouth. So I managed to snag it and the sequel on sale a few weeks back ago.

Playing through the start of the game...it took me a few minutes to clue in that the protagonist wasn't actually part of an undercover group fighting a secret organisation. Oh my god, the protagonist is a serious chuunibyou, and I love it. Hououin Kyouma, indeed. And the meaning of that name being explained to me made me realise that Ho-Oh is pretty much a direct translation in Pokemon.

It's not outright stated (yet?), but I assume Okabe is some sort of STEM student in university, and Daru is either STEM or computers, or a combination of the two.

After a few shitty generic VNs, I'm also modestly happy with the colouring direction in this game. The backgrounds and character art is reasonably bright, but not garishly so. It's a little more 'muted', I guess. Everybody so far even has an actually realistic hair colour (well, except for Faris...).

As for the beginning of the story, I'm going to guess time travel shenanigans are already happening with the conference, because Kurisu mentioned to Okabe she saw him just a little while ago, when he clearly hasn't met her before. So who knows how long that'll take to pay off, along with the garbled text message, and people disappearing from Akihabara.

A microwave is probably the weirdest time machine I've seen so far. I mean, there's out-there stuff like a DeLorean or a phone booth, but a microwave? Now that's something XD. Considering it seems to be jellifying bananas, there's probably a few kinks to test through before they'll be able to send humans through there. Of course, it's also teleporting the bananas, too...


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Something I neglected to mention previously. With VN games like this, I like to do a completely blind first run through the game. Once I hit an ending, then I will usually look up to see what steps I take to get another testing. Some games that are far more open-ended with many potential endings, I will do several runs first, but this feels more the type that has a few endings, but not with a whole lot of variance. There's no traditional 'options' thus far in this game, but I'm guessing Rintaro's responses to his text messages ARE this game's form of VN options.

Anyways. Another random comment. I'm surprised that Okarin and Daru are even able to afford the rent on that lab. I understand Okarin somehow got a sweet deal, but even still! This is urban Japan! He noticeably winces enough every time Tennouji threatens to raise his rent though, ha.

I mentioned the muted colours of the character art and background earlier, but...the eyes are really whack. I guess I stopped noticing it after a while, but the whole 'scribble' effect they do on everyone's eyes is distracting whenever I notice it.

But really lol, I love just how ridiculous the other half of the story from the time travel is. CERN, I mean SERN, is researching time travel and send assassins and stuff after its opponents? Just outlandish enough to be constantly amusing every time it's brought up. The IBN-5100 being required to decode SERN's secret database is actually based on real historical fact, I guess, after doing a little of research. That the IBN-5100 has its own language that it can interpret, that is. Not SERN having a secret database that can only be decrypted by the IBN-5100. Also, the pictures of the Jellymen are totally terrifying.

Anyways, I pushed through, getting to the point where they send an email to Luka's mother's pager. And Rintaro, being a complete dumbass who can tell the timeline has been changed, doesn't check to see what's happened. He briefly thinks about asking, but doesn't want to do it with everyone present, then blows it off. I'm sure this won't backfire one bit.

I can tell this is a very much a piece with good characters, too. Absolutely loving the byplay between everyone. Rintaro and Kurisu are such an old married couple.


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I'm going to spoil anything else I write for the rest of this game, since the game is a VN, which means it's 95% story talk

Oh hey look, Rintaro not bothering to check Luka's gender completely blew up in his face. And instead of thinking 'oh, right, sending text messages back in time', he doubles down on it. I'm actually surprised how quickly that entire incident blew over.

The IBN-5100 is said to be missing. If I had to guess, it would be Moeka's text message. With Faris and Luka, they actually stay in the same room when they send the message (Luka in the lab, Faris in her house - also, it's very suspicious how Faris' dad only appears after the DMail is sent. I'm on to these story tropes!). Moeka, on the other hand, completely vanishes, and the others don't even know who she is anymore.

Then of course my guess is pretty much confirmed by Moeka being the leader of the Rounders that storm the lab. I saw this coming, honestly. The characters were getting too relaxed in their summer dog days, and I knew the game needed a serious wake-up moment to make things move. I guess that STEINS;Gate time travel mechanics don't work on a closed causal loop. In the original timeline, no doubt Rintaro, Daru, and Kurusu actually got captured and forced to work for SERN, while this time around, thanks to the interference of a time traveller (totally Suzuha, see below), Rintaro is able to successfully use the time leap machine to repeat time.

I also guessed that Suzuha is John Titor, and the reason she hates Kurusu is because Kurusu joins SERN in the future and works for them (likely under duress, given how Moeka basically says the Rounders are going to drag Rintaro, Daru, and Kurusu off to SERN). I'm sure I'll be proven to be true, once Okarin gets out of this repeated time loop of his to save Mayuri.

I'm not that sad to see Mayuri get killed off. It's more sad to see Okarin constantly try to save her and fail, though. And Jesus Christ how horrifying seeing him get the text message with a jellyman Mayuri. That's definitely nightmare fuel.


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So I got out of that loop. Kurisu is the real hero, as she pulls Okarin out of his funk. She and Okarin will make a good couple, whenever that happens to come to fruition.

But then...oh god. Suzuha goes back in time. Then she loses her memory, fails to get the IBN-5100, and commits suicide. What a serious downer D: The story really doesn't pull any punches, does it? Then Okarin constantly loops time for who knows how many hundreds or even thousands of loops to keep her around and alive. He then contemplates letting Daru get hit by a truck and raping Suzuha. This is like Groundhog Day but even more depressing and disturbing since you can see Rintaro's internal thought process.

Rintaro's looping is actually also really weird, because Kurusu keeps going along with the rest of the group on their bicycle trip. Rintaro can only leap back in time 48 hours from when the time-leap machine is built, so he's effectively delaying how long he can leap back by bringing Kurusu along for the bike ride. If he skipped the bike ride, Kurusu would finish the time leap machine quicker, and Rintaro could leap back earlier. Heck, because Kurusu doesn't keep her memories, Rintaro could learn how to build the time leap machine himself with enough leaps, and with practice, build it even faster. Of course, I could just be overanalysing this. There's some elements here of 'you can mess with time, but time has hard milestones' in the idea of convergence points, so it could be Kurusu can never finish her machine any quicker regardless of if she had more free time.

Anyways, Rintaro going crazy after a countless number of time leaps was actually the lead-up to a route ending, for where he and Suzuha both go back in time to try to make things right. In my mind, they succeed, and have lots of babies together, because gosh darn they would make a cute couple.

As I said a few posts earlier, I try to do a blind first run of games like this, which I just did. So now I get to consult a guide for how to get other endings. And holy shit does it look like I need it here, because goddamn is it convoluted. The good ending needs six specific responses to text message prompts. So I replay from the start to keep this in mind, with the intent to deviate with extra saves to get the other branch endings.

Then I get to Faris' ending as well. Faris' ending is...really helluva weird. Going off the timelines here, Faris' dad would have had to die really young for Rintaro to never even have met Mayuri. It almost feels like even if the DMails go to point X, time is somehow retroactively changed around for a little while even earlier than point X. I guess it's as Rintaro points out himself: it's not necessarily the best future, but it's passable. Even if he doesn't know any of his former friends, they're all alive, and he can make friends with them again. Since it's implied that Faris had Reading Steiner like Rintaro did, just to a significantly lesser degree, she may remember the past worldline too. No explanation for the time chronometer gauge thingamajig missing the 0 before the decimal, though.


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So I got through the Luka part of the story. Rintaro finally shows some character development by snapping out of his constant trying to save Mayuri long enough to realise he's been a jerk to Luka, then leaps back in time to give Luka a far better date. Then Luka is the only other person so far than Rintaro himself to use the time leap machine so she can cosplay with Mayuri, at least in the side-ending. Rintaro's been shown to remember things when the worldline changes, but I guess this also means he can remember stuff even when somebody else time leaps, even when it doesn't result in a worldline change? Huh.

And Luka's ending. It seems like she remembered a bit of her male memories, too. But. Oh my gosh. I made that comment one post up above about how I hoped in Suzuha's ending her and Rintaro have lots of babies, and at least in Luka's ending, Luka and Rintaro have a kid. This is like, the first non-H game I've seen where a guy gets genderbent into a girl and then consensually has a kid.

So that was just another 'alternate route' ending, and I continued further in.

I'm getting side-tracked again, but I'm honestly getting exhausted with how idiotic some of Rintaro's actions have been. He never really stops and thinks. He has a machine that he can use to constantly repeat time. He could consult with his friends some more, instead of just blowing them off every time because he's too busy to tell them what's going on or, le gasp, actually tell them the worldline has changed and trying to figure out what's different from his memories.

Anyways. Back on track. After the main story past the Luka arc is finding Moeka. Goddamn is Rintaro savage in this chapter. He just completely loses it on her. I feel like the whole scene in her little apartment definitely has some Japanese cultural bent to it, cuz I can't imagine that would fly as well in the western world. Even if he doesn't do anything past that physically, he still manages to completely break her down psychologically. Well, pick up the pieces and rebuild her. I gotta say, I certainly didn't foresee Tennouji being the leader of the Rounders, but I guess the hints were there. I thought something might be off with Nae given how she accidentally kills Mayuri earlier in the game. It's not really related at all to what's revealed in this chapter about future Nae, but damn, future Nae is scary. Still...since Rintaro changes the worldline, I guess she won't come to be like that, will she?

Then the Future Gadget Lab gets the IBN-5100 back...and somehow I completely skimmed over that breaking into another worldline would mean Kurusu will die. Oh no :( Well, I have a feeling I'm near the end-game, so that'll be tomorrow.


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The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel IV
Man I love this game series, after I finish this one I'm probably going to start on the Trails in the Sky games.


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So, I finished the game. Got Kurisu's ending, the true ending, and Mayuri's ending.

I did Kurisu's ending first, which was really bittersweet. Okarin is extremely torn between choosing Mayuri and Kurisu, and Kurisu makes the choice for him. It has to take a hell of a lot of effort for somebody to choose to give herself up like that, especially since Okarin realises he loves her (and she him). The story was extremely good at making the romance feel organic, instead of just out of nowhere. All those text messages paid off I guess, haha. In Kurisu's case, I guess maybe she was able to logically convince herself she wasn't really dying, since Kurisu herself can't perceive worldline changes. As far as she's concerned, the current alpha worldline is going to continue on. But still. Her bursting in just as Rintaro hits the send key is one helluva moment.

As for the true ending, it doesn't change Kurisu's ending itself, but rather adds on top of it. The whole going back in time in the beta wordline sequence isn't really surprising, considering the hints were there, plus this is a time travel story so of course I was expecting it. Rintaro himself accidentally killing Kurisu did take me off-guard. Holy damn. Fortunately, future Rintaro to the rescue. I had to look up the name of the music that plays here. Skyclad Observer is one powerful track played here, with Hououin Kyouma coming full circle. Very upbeat ending, and it fits well too as both Faris and Luka were hinted earlier to have weaker forms of Reading Steiner. I love how future Rintaro even makes fun of the fact Stein's Gate doesn't have any meaning in itself, but now it does because he gave it that name :p

Then I did Mayuri's route. I...think most players would have gotten this first if they had played blind, since they would have been pretty unlikely to get Kurisu's first romance flag, and if you don't get that I don't think you get any from then on. In retrospect, this would have really worked well as the first ending. It's not a huge downer ending since everyone made their choices, but it's definitely a mood step down from the true ending. Plus, since the auto-skip function skips anything you read before, I don't know if there was any stuff extra in Kurisu's/true ending that isn't there in Mayuri's route. Whereas doing it the other way, I would see those extra lines.

My thoughts on the game? Definitely very much a VN, for one. It's interesting that it uses the phone messages and replies (or lack thereof) in place of route flags, though STEINS;Gate doesn't really have any branch routes, just a relatively straightforward story with spots that you can hop off and have an alternate ending. The time travel mechanisms are fairly interesting, though I scratch my head at a few things (the LHC compressing the data stream doesn't really sound right. I can buy it compressing photons, but that doesn't mean data can somehow fit into fewer bytes). SERN being the bad guys is still kind of an lol concept. Rintaro is an absolute idiot at times, even when he has literally all the time he needs to plan and think things out. Still, it's very much definitely a character story, and I certainly grew to like the characters. I can see why this gets praised as one of the best VNs of all time. I'll play the sequel at some later date.
Just finished the "Kate Bishop DLC" for Marvel's Avengers.

It not only adds Kate as a playable character, but gives her an entire quest chain that introduces Clint Barton and leaves a helluva story hook, as well as confirms that Nick Fury survived A-Day (as if anyone thought otherwise). Of course, where Nick currently is at is still a mystery and the cliffhanger for the Kate Bishop story builds on the cliffhanger from the main story. If the Kate Bishop DLC is an indicator of what we have to look forward to with other characters, I'm greatly anticipating Daisy Johnson, Scott Lang and even Carol Danvers, amongst others being added to the roster.

Also, I finished the questline for Fallout 76's Steel Dawn DLC. That questline was short, but then again, Bethesda did outright say it was the 1st Chapter of the Brotherhood of Steel's story in Appalachia and it does leave me wanting more. I like some of the weapons they added for the DLC as well. Sitll haven't been able to get a paint job for my Ultracite Power Armor though. And I am also wondering when/if Bethesda will ever release more Enclave stuff, because I would really love to be able to access the Executive Suite in the Enclave Bunker.


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Spirit Hunter: Death Mark

Death Mark is a puzzle-horror game. I'm playing this fairly blind outside of the game synopsis, so it took me a little while to get adjusted to the pace and genre. I wouldn't precisely classify this as a visual novel as sites do, though there is a lot of text. It's more of a point and click, except instead of characters moving around in a traditional point and click fashion, it's more a mash of dungeon explorer and puzzles.

Each chapter looks like you go to face a spirit. You have to explore the spirit's stomping grounds to figure out the spirit's origin story, as well as find clues and items related to the spirit. At the end of each chapter, you are forced into a (turn-based) fight with the spirit. By piecing together the items you've received and the spirit's origin story, you can defeat the spirit with items symbolically relevant to its life as a human, either killing it or purifying it depending on your choice of items. The difference is killing even one spirit results in one of your ally characters biting the dust, and you need to purify all spirits to get the game's good ending. The boss fight will never start until you have all the items required, so there's no time limit or anything that can screw you over by forcing you into a fight before you're ready.

In each chapter, you have a choice of a few partners to bring along. One of those little complaints I have in this regard is the game's translation. The translation is actually pretty decent in substance, but there are a ton of spelling mistakes that could have gone through a copyedit. With regards to the partners, they're always referred to as a neutral pronoun 'they' instead of gendered pronoun 'he' or 'she', the other thing that's noticeably off to me about the translation.

Of the two places I have been so far, the school is straightforward. The forest is more annoying and more of a maze. When playing through the forest at least, you need to have a certain partner to get to vital spots, so you have to backtrack to get a new partner. Also, you have to bring certain partners into each boss fight, because some of them will lose you the battle. So you need to save a fair amount so you aren't losing half an hour's worth of progress because you accidentally progressed to the boss battle with the wrong person. For example, in the first chapter, you have to bring either Moe or Tsukasa, because if you bring Mashita, Hanahiko will automatically kill you since you and your partner are both adults.

Still, I am enjoying the game thus far. My only hope is it doesn't become too repetitive for the next few chapters.

There's only a smattering of jump scares. Sometimes, you'll hear creepy noises or laughs in the backgrounds. Occasionally, when shining your flashlight around, you'll see ghosts or blood or other things that will disappear after a few seconds. Very occasionally, when transitioning screens, you'll get a brief one second of a spirit right up in your face.

I love the moderately gothic style that at least the Kujou mansion goes for, and the way Mary is dressed for really furthers that. There's a modest amount of the Japanese setting thus far, but nothing really noticeable, besides the names of course.

The music is damn great. It fits incredibly well to the whole setting the game is going for. I guess my only issue so far is that it becomes repetitive after a little bit, with not enough variety.

There is, uh...a little bit of fanservice. Fanservice in the way of 'erotic horror' mind you, but it's still there. But it's also sporadic. Just one scene in the first two chapters. The amount of gore shots outweigh it by far.


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Death Mark: Spirit Hunter

Talking about Japanese culture and stuff, something that very briefly pops up in Chapter 2 is a torii shrine gate. In chapter 3, the rest of the shrine appears, so there's some more of the Japanese religious stuff, dealing a little bit with Shintoism and a little bit with Buddhism. I'm hardly well-versed in Japanese culture but I do know a little bit lurking at the peripheral. It feels moderately schizophrenic at times, where most of the time this game barely acknowledges its setting, and sometimes it goes in full.

Chapter 3 took a little interesting spin in its story progression, which really helps spice things up. However, it's also disappoingly short. The first two chapters were about an hour and a half each, while Chapter 3 didn't even break an hour. Also, it reuses the forest setting of Chapter 2. Chapter 4 is a little bit longer, but it in turn reuses the school setting of chapter 1. However, there's also a brief visit to an underground sewer in this chapter, which the narrative is building up to be the big area for chapter 5.

The game is nicely building up to its narrative climax. However, while it hasn't outright given away anything on its own design, the law of narrative causality makes things really obvious. There is a black rabbit that has been occasionally popping up to give the protagonist nonverbal guidance, along with a mysterious helpful voice. HIGHLIGHT FOR SPOILERS > Because there is only one reoccurring character other than the protagonist, the doll Mary, and the body of Saya Kujou was found at the start of the game, it's pretty obvious that Saya Kujou is somehow possessing the rabbit, and from there and the lack of other characters, Mary has to be the villain.

Something I find amusing is that at point in chapter 4, the character needs to hunt around for a key to open up a locked door. The door in question is locked, but...the glass window on the top half of the door is broken. The protagonist could literally put his hand through the glass and open the door from the other side.

One thing I neglected to mention in the previous post is the 'LIVE OR DIE' sequences, which are basically quick sequences where you're given one to three quick-actions to make (or answers to give to questions) out of three choices. Sometimes, it's an automatic game over if you make the wrong choice, but other times you only take a hit to a 'Spirit Power' gauge, which you can refill by finding talismans in the searching around. The game is actually fairly lenient with these sections — if you die, you can simply repeat the exact same segment right away with only a modicum of text scrolling.

In the first three chapters, the Live or Die choices aren't too bad. Sometimes you have to remember stuff you've read or seen to pick out the correct response, and other times you have to understand the situation or spirit you're up against. In the first three chapters, occasionally you get thrown a total curveball, like the time I was expected to know how to pronounce a Cyrillic letter (yes, seriously). In Chapter 4, however, things get really haywire, as you're expected to take a series of mock tests to satisfy a ghost who used to be a teacher. The math and science tests are doable with a little bit of logic, and the history test, though based on Japanese history, is also doable with some knowledge of World War II. The art test and music test, however, are absolutely baffling.

There is another fanservicey scene like what I mentioned in the above post.


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Spirit Hunter: Death Mark

And finished, including chapter 6.

Let me say, having the army chanting in the background during the underground sewer section is absolutely amazing. Related to the army, the Live or Die sequence regarding what to say to the spirit captain is annoying. You have to have fairly good knowledge of Japanese World War II 'military glory/honour' to ace it and not repeat it. The sewers fortunately don't really hang around enough to get boring. Chapter 5 also features some of the most intense scenes in the game, which are a lot easier to handle after getting adjusted with chapters 1 through 4. Nifty boss, too.

Mary was evil and the bunny was Saya Kujou, what a surprise. It didn't really occur to me the idea of the protagonist being her brother, though. I guess it's supposed to be 'ironic' when he listens to the tape recording he made prior to taking the seal out. He apologises to whoever lost a family member to Mary's evil, but in the good ending...he is the only one who lost a family member!

I've seen it mentioned on the Steam boards that a lot of people have issue getting into Chapter 6. I had no issue at all. It just went straight to chapter 6 for me after the cutscene. Also, no censored spider scene. Sweet Jesus that probably is the most squeamish moment in the game. Since this was apparently a sort of DLC chapter (and extra voice acting, to boot!), I guess the developers put a little more time into the scenario. It's easily the longest chapter, and it fleshes the spirit out the best of all of them.

With Chapter 6, the Japaneseness of this game is a little bit more to the forefront. There's some talk of Japanese folklore and spider demons. Interestingly enough, I also wonder if there was something that was lost in translation. About midway through the case, when climbing through the hotel, if you try to go from floor 3 to floor 4, it loops you back down to floor 3. You cannot get up to floor 4. 4 sounds like 'death' in some East Asian languages, so I wonder if this was the inspiration here, but it's never hinted at in the translation.

Not specifically the translation, but chapter 6 also feels weird in that HIGHLIGHT FOR SPOILERS > the characters coming back acknowledge Mary as the mastermind, but...they still call the main character Kazuo Yakishi instead of Masamune Kujou. I can understand maybe they're just more comfortable with the former name, but in turn he also acts as if he's still clueless to the spirit world, instead of the leader of a spiritual family for several years with centuries worth of heritage and troves of knowledge.

One tiny thing I forgot to mention. This game is set during the 90s, so cellphones are barely mentioned, and of course there are multiple phonebooths available for the spirit of chapter 3 to call from.

Anyways, I did enjoy this game. Enough to buy the sequel since that is out too. However...there is an issue. Since this was only a 12-hour romp, for me to pay about $20 USD was alright. However, I got it on Steam sale, and its normal price is $50 USD. I'm a little leery about spending that much money per hour, even if NG is longer, soooo...I got to looking, and I was able to get Spirit Hunter NG for the Switch for $30. I might not have achievements, but I will have a physical copy!


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Danganronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls

Playing on the Steam version, and getting a nice large screen to play it on.

So I played through the prologue and first chapter so far.

I'm kind of glad I played both Trigger Happy Havoc and Goodbye Despair before I even knew this game existed, considering the Steam store synopsis for this game already spoils a great amount of THH.

Komaru Naegi is a cute protagonist complete with obligatory idiot hair, even if she does get a little annoying with her 'I'm just an ordinary high school girl' thing over and over. VA selection for her was alright. Nothing outstanding, but easily tolerable. Also, it took me until the cutscene with Yuta to really realise it, but damn Komaru is a pale girl. I guess that being locked inside for a year and a half will also do that to you.

I love just how stylistic the game is. The graphics aren't really anything to write home about, but it's just stylistic enough that it doesn't seem outdated or low-resolution to me at all. Character models are at least moderately well done enough, though I still think they could have been done a little better. I'm not quite a fan of how Komaru is slightly 'hunched over' when controlling her. I remember the series director once describing Danganronpa as 'psychopop', which basically fits the whole silhouette style of stuff in the background in Towa City outside, or the hordes of dead bodies everywhere in blue and red outlines with pink blood. And of course, the absurdity of kids launching a revolution to create an adult-free paradise.

As for the actual combat, it took me a little while to get used to it. I'm playing with the automatic camera control, and it feels a little sluggish at responding to what I want both when turning Komaru around and aiming her gun. Fortunately, difficulty is fairly generous on Normal mode, and the gun itself isn't too bad to use. I might have to try manual control later and see if that works. Moving around is alright. It's taking me a little while to get used to Toko's controls, though, since I'm limited with how often I can use her and have to search up the controls for her special attacks several times.

If I had to say what I dislike, it's probably that the game is a little too hard on the 'setpiece' design. It's basically 'go five minutes, cutscene. Go another five minutes, cutscene', with extreme linearity outside of the random door to go find a collectible. I'd like to be able to wander at least a little bit.

The game fails on one point that is a huge, huge, huge quality of life thing for me...closed captioning in cutscenes. Sorry, but what? No toggle option in the settings that I can find for cutscenes, either.

The Warriors of Hope have some neat eye designs. Not sure if there's any in-story reason for that or just character design.

Going off of Toko's lines so far, I'm going to guess that the Warriors of Hope have somehow subverted her and she's going to betray Komaru at some point. She seems to flip-flop between trying to encourage Komaru and not, so she probably has doubts about whatever she's going to do. Since Genocide Jack is a separate personality with separate memories from Toko, I'm guessing it's something Genocide Jack doesn't even know about.

Also, I guess this game is a lot of fanservice. Over-the-top moments like Komaru surviving a fall from a goddamn helicopter. Characters show up who are related to the cast of THH and GD. Being able to slaughter Monokumas by the hundreds, as well as the mecha boss I fought at the end of Chapter 1 (and which I hope will be the trend for the remaining boss fights). Toko is a joy to have along, even when she's being a total b****. Her fantasy sequences are amusing. Nagito is being, well, Nagito in the background. And, um, random pantyshots in some scenes or if you get knocked down at the right camera angle.


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Danganronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls

Finished Chapter 2 and 3.

So I did switch over to manual camera mode. Both the automatic and manual are frustrating from time to time in that the camera view seems to randomly want to turn me around, when I want it to aim the same direction Komaru is facing. Instead, it snaps me back in the complete opposite direction. It hasn't really screwed me over yet, but I'm playing on Komaru mode. I imagine it could easily annoy people who are playing on Despair Mode or speedrunners and the ilk. I assume this is a lot more manageable to play on PC with mouse and keyboard thanks to the aforementioned camera issues. Some console and handheld games are extremely intuitive with third-person shooter controls (heck, RE4 is still memorable for that), but this certainly isn't.

The Arcade segments are pretty fun to puzzle out. This is where the bullet types really shine through in their variability. It really is a shame the development team didn't try to polish the actual gameplay up. I get this is a big fanservice game for the fanbase, and I'm really enjoying it myself, but goddamn if a little better actual controls wouldn't help out significantly. As I upgrade Genocide Jack some more, I'm also beginning to realise just how easy it is to cheese damage by briefly switching to her to tank a hit, before switching back to Komaru. I don't deliberately do it, but I do use her extensively for crowd control with the larger setpieces.

Something to elaborate on from the above post, re:cutscenes and collectibles. Maybe there's something in the map that warns you against this, but I get annoyed that from time to time, I have a choice of two directions to take, and going one way will get me what is presumably a collectible...while going the other way throws me into a cutscene which locks me out of going the first way after. And I don't mean 'there's a roadblock in the way now', but rather Toko stopping me from backtracking. I assume UDG will be like the regular Danganronpa games and let me replay chapter by chapter after I clear the game, but still not that fun. Looking at the Achievements list...since I like 100%ing these games (I still haven't 100% V3 because great Buddha that's just a chore), it's nice that I don't have to accumulate a bunch of Monocoins to unlock CGs and music after for an achievement.

Given that Komaru was mentioned to have been sleeping for two whole days in the airship at the start of the game, I'm guessing somebody (either Monaca or Nagito) blackmailed Toko with Byakuya's well-being into manipulating Komaru in some way? Given the amount of weird lines Toko keeps dropping followed by 'never mind's, as well as how she didn't tell Komaru basically anything about her own or Makoto's history at Hope's Peak, that's how it honestly feels. I'm guessing this will finally come to a head in Chapter 4. Also, while Toko is outright amusing with her many quips and lines, she's still acting like a huge b**** way too often.

With Komaru and Toko's interactions, and Komaru being the dumb one and Toko the sarcastic, bitter one, I have to wonder if the original Japanese had some boke and tsukkomi routine thing going.

The...Motivation Machine is rather...uncomfortable? I can laugh it off as a gag, but I can imagine a lot of people weren't really happy with that sequence. At least the pantyshots are a lot more low-key when they happen.


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Danganronpa Another Episode Ultra Despair Girls

Completed the game.

I finally picked up the skill power-up that allows Komaru to actually strafe (to move and aim with the gun at the same time. Technically, she could already do that, but she moved extremely slowly before). That drastically changes the flow of the gameplay for the better. When replaying chapters later to grind out Monokuma kills and Monocoins, it made the action a lot more enjoyable. I honestly wish it was a default movement for Komaru. The actual action part of the game isn't really its strong point, and having it the whole game would have probably helped I think.

The arcade segments were actually really fun. As puzzles, they were definitely the best part of the actual interactive part of the game.

As predicted by how the game was dropping hints, Toko betrays Komaru at the shrine. I'm moderately impressed at some of the scenery and symbolic build-up they did here. I half-expected sakura flowers to be falling from trees...and then they had Genocide Jack cut off Komaru's clothes. I feel like that really hurt the moment. Sure, the random pantyshots when she gets knocked over or eaten by a Monokuma are tolerable (I mean, there's a lot of moments in cutscenes where they could have done pantyshots and don't), but this was kind of out there...though that didn't stop me from installing a mod for later, lol

Nagisa is really this game's dark horse for character progression. It's really impressive how they managed to shove so much development in for him in chapter 4. In contrast, Monaca loses out on actual development, but she's already a formed slate. I'm actually kind of impressed how gender equal-opportunity Danganronpa as a whole for the series is. I mean, the big bad of almost the entire series is a (high school) girl, there's a fairly equal amount of male and female murderers, and now Monaca is a big bad with a twisted personality that would normally have been a guy in most other franchises. Speaking of Monaca, I easily predicted she could walk as soon as I saw her secret bedroom was up a ladder.

Komaru has fairly decent development on her own. After her 'pep talk' moment in Chapter 4, I noticed she stops hunching over when walking around. The game never says a single thing about this, but it's there. It's one of those nice subtle bits. Toko's talking about Komaru developing 'wrong' actually surprised me at how much foresight she had. I guess all that literature she wrote really helped her to clue in to Komaru's 'character development' being charted out for her.

Something I realised on seeing the torture room in chapter 5...is that there's actually a fair amount of red blood in this game. It's not obvious, but the Junk Monokumas have dried red blood, and the torture room has red blood in it too. Speaking of the torture room, I'm liable to say Komaru's parents are indeed dead, because we see a scene beforehand where Monaca intrudes on that room. Unless she was breaking the fourth wall, there was no other observer around to psyche out.

So, the end of Chapter 5...this isn't like the main games with the class trials, but good gracious if the game's finale doesn't drag on like the last chapters of the main games. It's certainly no V3-5, but there's still probably a good hour of talking between the last two bosses. Plus a repeat of the same damn choice over and over again, which really gets exhausting after a while.

But other than that, I enjoyed the game. It definitely was sort of a love letter from the development team to the fans to allow us to actually really explore the fucked-up post-apocalyptic world of the series, and flesh out the society picking itself up from the ashes.

Anyways, after clearing the game, I went and swept up all the Achievements. That probably took me a few more hours. 23 hours total. If I didn't use a guide to help narrow down the remaining collectibles locations, it would easily have been 30+ I think. I got all the upgrades at about Level 93 I think, and then had to level up 6 more times for the Level 99 achievement as my last one. Thank god I didn't have to buy every unlockable gallery item for an Achievement.


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STEINS;Gate Zero

I'm so glad that I finished the first game before playing this, considering Zero spoils most of the true ending of the first game in the first five seconds.

Saying that, I get it. In the true ending of STEINS;Gate, Rintaro gets encouraged by Mayuri, and a message from the future Rintaro who devises a plan to 'trick reality' and force things onto the STEINS;Gate worldline. But that future Rintaro had to have come from a timeline who didn't have any future Rintaro to help him out. He would have been on his own, having to stumble through things after the first and only failed attempt to go back with Suzuha and save Kurisu. SGZ is the story of how that future Rintaro developed from present Rintaro into somebody who would save the past. He just has to go through...a brutal amount of hardship and development to get there.

Like having to prevent the Third World War, yeah.

In a way, I kind of wish the game's setting had taken place a decade later than it did. I think STEINS;Gate was set in July/August 2009, and 0 bounces around the year following. In the first game, it's not too bad, and it takes place just prior to the public activation of the LHC in 2010. However, with the high-tech A.I., uploading memories into a database, downloading memories from data into a brain, and implied brainwashing, it feels more like it would work in 2019 instead of 2009.

I'm not much of a fan of the character art in this game compared to the original. They just look very off. Faris I think had the worst transition, and Daru is the second-worst but shows up more often. The new characters in this game are better off because I don't have past character art to compare to in my head. Rintaro probably also looks good, because there were very few times he actually shows on-screen in the first game, mostly CGs. Now, I see him more often, because there's three character PoVs to flip around, and I get to see him several times from the other two.

Speaking of character PoVs, I'm pleasantly surprised the writing team actually decided to break hard from the original game and have three separate viewpoints. STEINS;Gate was entirely from the point of view of Rintaro (maybe I forgot a segment or two, but I'm very certain that's true), which definitely helps broaden the story. It also means character development for all three of them. Poor Rintaro. He's fallen into a huge funk and just really isn't the same person as he was in the first game. Suzuha isn't even the same Suzuha as the first game either, so hers is an interesting change of pace, along with Mahu.

Anyways. With VNs like this, where there's any actual choice to be made, my first playthrough is always a blind run where I get whatever ending I stumble into. Again, it's interesting that they switched things around from the original. With the original SV, the game story was fairly straightfoward, going through one long section of story, with a few choices that would instantly split off to character-specific (romance) endings that would be done in an hour or less. Zero is a more traditional Visual Novel, with actual multiple choices that gives you a different route each time. Well, by multiple, I mean two. It's pivotal to realise what those choices represent in the context of the endings, I think.

So the first ending I got was Gehenna's Stigma. Now. Jesus. That was extremely brutal. Hardcore brutal. That's just downright depressing. I'm a sucker for the original 999 game and I love the outline for Distrust, the prototype for the Danganronpa series that was far more brutal than what Danganronpa became, so I can jive with endings like this. But damn, I'm sure that probably threw a lot of people off hard.

Also, Suzuha's scene wrestling with Kagari after she got out of the shower. Nice :)


Lurking upon the deep
Dual Universe: The game has been unstable as hell the last couple days, and the perma-destruction of ship elements after so much damage they implemented in the big December patch has been pissing alot of players off. Friend of mine bumped, mind you, bumped just barely his medium sized hauler into a building this morning at low speeds and it damaged the living shit out of like 5 or more big ticket items on the ship. A couple other players in the Organization we belong to have had similar things happen or just their ship blow right the hell up for no reason when taking of or landing.

Stardew Valley: Doing a fresh play-thru for the big 1.5 patch and forgot how utterly annoying the game is until you get upgraded tools to make it easier. On the plus side, i got a dinosaur egg out of a fishing chest so i'm going to be hatching that bitch for dino-egg farming.


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I played through again and got Recursive Mother Goose, which is Kagari's route and ending.

"Japanese shaman girls" lol

Speaking of that, it weirds me out that they have Leskinen and the other scientist lady speaking in English, because they both speak in obviously accented English. It's very obvious that they're Japanese VAs speaking lines in English. At least when Luka speaks in English for a few lines and has a slow, halting pace, it fits, because his character is obviously a Japanese speaking in learned English. It doesn't come up very often and it's just me being nitpicky more than anything.

The whole 'Kagari has some of Kurisu's memories locked away' subplot of this arc harkens back to my earlier post about how it feels like this game would work a lot better set in 2019 than 2009/2010, technology-wise.

Maybe I glanced over it, but was Rintaro the one who briefly stumbled upon Kagari the one time she escaped the lab, and she taught him the melody thing? It's a very weird chain of events that almost stretches credibility, even in a game with time-travel and time-travel paradoxes. I guess that's what the 'recursive' part of the route refers to, since nothing else strikes me as being particularly recursive. That, and it makes up the main plot for about an hour. Mother Goose would be Mayuri, I assume.

Then the ending. I guess that was an ending? I dunno. It feels to me like a sort of insubstantial ending that gets filled in by the events of other routes.

Now, it's strange that Kagari completely doesn't appear in Gehenna's Stigma except for an antagonist who never gets unmasked, whereas here, she shows up completely out of the blue with memory loss and no antagonism early on. I think I posted a theory for the previous game at some point that route flags don't just affect the future, but also can retroactively change the past, which works in a game in the time-travel genre. Hence, the first plot-changing choice puts Rintaro in a timeline where Kagari isn't an antagonist at all, and whatever past events that would have made her one don't happen.


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Vega & Altair.

Huh. So this is kind of like Gehenna's Stigma with a lot of the background in the finale, except with a hell of a lot more optimistic and upbeat ending. It explains where Mayuri and Suzuha disappeared to in Gehenna's Stigma too, assuming similar actions. Rintaro at least breaking out of his funk in this route and defying Liskanen and proclaiming himself as the reborn Hououin Kyouma is amazingly epic. Really bringing about that 'phoenix' imagery as he likes to point out as the '-Houou' part in the first game. Yuki being Kagari...I guess it's like my above post, that Rintaro's choices will also retroactively change the past, so even though Kagari would have had to replace Yuki many months in the past, it's kosher.

Then I went to play Twin Automata. Damn. This may be the strongest route in the game (so far). Possibly because Maho is a new character for this game, so she's a blank slate to develop instead of retreading character development from the first game. Her feelings of inferiority are too real, and her relationship with Kurisu is pretty well-done. Then, her live character growth together with Moeka in this chapter is also good. The ending, where she psyches out the villain of this route, not once, but twice is also a couple of amazing moments back-to-back. Also, 'Sergeant Clean'. Also, considering Liskanen has been the main villain in each route so far, it was really a neat surprise for him to get killed within a few sentences and for Judy Reyes to become the main bad guy for this route.
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Well-Known Member
Finished the game. I cleared Promised Rinascimento, then had to scroll back through Vega & Altair to get to the true ending.

Like I mentioned previously, again, this game feels like it would have fit a lot better being set a decade later as far as the A.I. technology goes, particularly with Judy Reyes trying to upload Kurisu's memories into her brain. It's not going to ruin the game for me, though. I'm basically just nitpicking and overanalysing a little bit.

Now that I've completed the game, I have to say, having that brief scene with Kurisu in RMG and PR is definitely a thoughtful point in the game. Both for the player and for Rintaro, it's a breath of fresh air to get the one character we're both desperately missing back, even for a few minutes, and Kurisu is just such a saint that she's able to power through and encourage both of us to keep going. For Rintaro, it's definitely a hope spot for him after months of darkness to see Kurisu again, the real Kurisu.

Seeing the rebirth of Hououin Kyouma for the second time, this time in front of Daru and Maho, definitely brought a smile to my face. So do a lot of the moments in the awesome ending.

I have a little bit of mixed feelings about this game. I definitely think the narrative wasn't as strong. This goes beyond that each playthrough was shorter with multiple routes that focus on different characters. I simply think there was a lot of stuff that really didn't go anywhere or have any meaning to the overall plot. The recursive nature of Kagari's song could have been interesting, but it petered out as soon as we learn that Rintaro passed it on to his mother and is implied to have gotten it from Kagari in the past. If it had been built upon, it would have been a solid case of time travel shenanigans, but it wasn't. Then some characters and some scenes are just downright embarrassing. The Daru-Yuki romance subplot is agonising.

Also, I'm extremely annoyed that when I move from one route to another, there are a couple of scenes that even though I've seen before, such as the shrine maiden dress-up scene, I can't skip already-seen text. Very aggravating.

Finally, I guess I actually don't like how the ending, well, ended. It was building up well, and then it kind of just does a cold stop. There's unfortunately no truly satisfying climax. I understand it plays right into the true ending of the first game, but it still feels like it could have used a more in-depth resolution in this game.


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I watched the CHAOS;Head anime before playing this. I assume it cut a fuckton of the story from the game it was based on, but at least it gave me a bare-bones idea of it. It certainly gives me the background to stuff like the earthquake at the start of this game.

The opening to CC is kind of neat, setting up a character only to instantly kill him off, and then doing the same with another girl. Too bad with VN stills you can't quite get the sort of cold open you can with an animated or live-action show or movie.

And then we get to our protagonist, Takeru Miyashiro...who, lemme be honest, I really don't like him. His whole 'right-sider' shtick is really annoying. His hard stuttering and inability to communicate with anybody new and unfamiliar could work well with some character progression through the story, but his interal voice and character arrogance turns me off from tolerating this for the time being. The school is definitely a new setting, and it's a little weird to be slightly back-sliding from STEINS;Gate. Now we have high school students instead of university-aged students with a few high-schoolers as secondary characters.

Also, an amusing thought...after playing STEINS;Gate and Zero back-to-back, and now playing a third VN with fully-voiced Japanese VA, I'm starting to pick up a lot of the words. Only individual words, mind you. It's the very, very rare full sentence that I can understand at this point.

This 'delusion' system is pretty nifty, though. It's kind of funny to watch the 'positive' delusions, where I'm reminded Takeru is a (horny) teenager boy, and then the negative delusions can be pretty horrifying. Takeru has one hell of a wild imagination. Since I'm assuming he's a gigalomaniac, like the whole set-up in CHAOS;Head, presumably this hints at him being a powerful one since he has powerful delusions. Also, given these delusions seem to be the only 'choices' I can make, I'm guessing they'll be this game's version of route flags. More positive flags probably gives him a better ending, more negative delusions is a worse ending.

Anyways, I got to the end of the hospital visit with Takeru and Serika where they went to follow up on the rumour of the patient who designed the Sumo mask stickers. Damn, what a freaky hospital. Considering it was linked to the Church thing in CHAOS;Head, I'm guessing some shady stuff is going on there.