Rundown (11/24-11/30) Fast Game BlazerZ

Wherein I discuss Pokémon FOMO, a new VVVenture, a return to the lunar landscape of yore, and the boy rocking up my dragon mobage of choice.

There are three primary reasons why I do not play many games at launch.  The obvious two being the fact that most games are, from a technical standpoint, better after post-launch patches have been applied, and that games tend to depreciate rapidly in price, so it is financially a better option to wait for games to become the price of a sandwich before picking them up… for the most part anyways.  But I do have a third reason why I avoid the launch rush and it’s precisely because of that, the need to rush. I have no idea how some fully functional working adults with responsibilities and such are able to rush through modern releases in a weekend and some change, but as my Twitter feed and sporadic trips into the biggest modern gaming forum has informed me, there are plenty of people who do just that.  It always makes me feel like I am doing something wrong by adopting a leisurely pace as I play most games, exploring assorted nooks and crannies, and smelling the roses.  

The only exceptions to this are games I am not enjoying and simply want to be done with, and the releases of Student Transfer and Press-Switch.  I’ve talked about this before, but I’ve come to greatly enjoy making the flowcharts for these games, as I find it to be a sort of abstract puzzle, but the process of doing so is also frustrating.  Simply because I know that hundreds of people are depending on me, and I can never put all my time into data mining or playing through the latest builds to make my flowcharts. I would if I could, but I need to sleep, eat, practice hygiene, do household chores, and go to work.  Or to surmise this preamble, I just don’t like being rushed, but I will do so if people depend on me.

Continuing my diatrives about my own relationship with certain games before shifting into the news proper, I have a well reported soft spot for the Hyperdimension Neptunia series, and have made it a point to play and review each entry since the series made the gorgeous leap to PC in 2015.  In that time, I have played 9 of these games, and while most of them aren’t particularly good, I am still fond of the series, and look forward to every new entry, such as the recently announced VVVtunia.  A title that, while being incredibly stupid even by Neptunia standards, follows enough of the established naming conventions to sound like the fifth mainline entry, following Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory and Megadimension Neptunia VII.  Because what comes after VII, or V-IIVVV, of course!

But alas, it is yet another spin-off, one centering around the four main characters, Neptune, Vert, Noire, and Blanc, pairing up with a bunch of virtual idols in order to save the virtual world of Planet EMO from the content-destroying Anti.  Which the idols do by singing and dancing, while the four goddesses shoot the Anti’s goons and monster minions with guns and cameras. It sounds sporadic, nonsensical, and generally bizarre… but that’s precisely what I want from my Nep-Neps. That, anime-style shenanigans, and video game references.  So here’s to VVVtunia, which is set to come out in Japan in 2020 for undisclosed platforms, but it will presumably be a PS4 exclusive that later comes to PC. 

Moving onto the second announcement this week, Freebird Games has recently revealed the third proper full-length installment in the To The Moon series, dubbed Imposter Factory.  For those unaware, To The Moon, and its sequel, Finding Paradise are story driven RPG Maker adventure games centering around two scientists who explore the memories of people on their deathbeds in order to ensure that they pass away without any regrets.  The two titles feature gorgeous presentations and compelling stories, but they are unfortunately marred by the deficiencies of RPG Maker as a game engine… and a few odd decisions made across both stories.  Still, I liked them, and am innately interested in seeing what this title has to offer before even hearing the premise for this installment. 

A premise that, based on the store page, is largely centered around a murder mystery set in a secluded mansion where things get Lovecraftian at some point.  Sold. However, I must again express some concern over the game’s ultimate presentation. Because while everything looks great in the trailer and the few screenshots provided, the same could be said about Finding Paradise, and that was a sprite-based game with a native resolution of 640 by 480.  Now, the recent Switch port of To The Moon did fix these issues by giving the game a complete visual overhaul, but that was handled by a different studio, and I don’t know if the same engine or general framework will be used by Freebird Games.  But I suppose that my concerns will be addressed and detailed once Imposter Factory releases before the end of 2020.

That covers it for news that caught my eye, but before closing this week’s Rundown off, I want to briefly talk about Mega Man: Chaos Protocol, an event currently running in the mobile game Dragalia Lost, which I reviewed very positively a few months ago.  Conceptually, it’s just bizarre, as Dragalia Lost is a fantasy action game, and Mega Man is a super fighting robot from the year 20XX, so seeing him next to other characters is a bit surreal given how consistent the art style normally is.  But in execution, it’s even more strange. On one hand, there is a lot of fan service to be had here, with the main menu for the event mimicking the stage select screen from a Mega Man game, health bars being denoted via slivers, and Mega Man himself behind handled with the utmost love.  He has multiple abilities, slides instead of rolling, makes a lot of familiar poses, hops onto Rush instead of becoming a dragon, because robots don’t have souls, and he even beams into each stage as a line of pixels.

However, just about every reference made throughout this game can be directly traced to Mega Man 2, with the game being incredibly narrow in its fixation.  The music, the weapons, the Wily Boss, the art on pieces of equipment, and the Robot Masters whose abilities have been implemented into the recycled ‘brainwashed dragon’ bosses, it all comes from that single game.  Hell, the event even starts with a direct reference to the intro of Mega Man 2.  It makes me wonder if there was some contractual tomfoolery involved in the developmental process, and this was all the developer were allowed to use.  An idea that I think is supported by how Mega Man doesn’t talk in this game, unlike every other character.

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