Rundown (3/06-3/12) Procrastinating the Busty Police Quest

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Wherein I discuss why I’m not putting out TSF VN reviews, Atari continuing to ruin video games, a legendary localization, the success of Souls, and a pleasantly plump PlayStation presentation.


So, I started playing Max’s Big Bust 2: Max’s Bigger Bust back in January, only to put the game aside when Pokémon Legends: Arceus came out. While I intended to return to MBB2 after I finished my review of PLA, I’ve found myself procrastinating my playthrough. First by writing a TSF Series #013. Then by writing a 15,000-word short story called Weiss Vice, which is eyeing a 4/01/22 release. And now I am creating the outline for The Dominance of Abigale Quinlan, my 7th novel tentatively scheduled for a 11/18/22 release.

Why have I been prioritizing my written work over playing this game? Well, it’s not because I think MBB2 is a bad game. I actually think it is a considerable improvement over its ‘pretty good’ predecessor. But because it is one of the most mentally exhausting visual novels I have ever played. 

I’ll get into this more with my review, which I’ll try to squeeze out in March, but MBB2 is one of the most lore-loaded sequels I have ever encountered. I’ve been constantly overwhelmed by the sheer deluge of persons, places, concepts, and things the game expects me to comprehend. It is a dense title that expects players to have played the spin-off title Alluna and Brie, does little to remind people of the details of what happened in prior games… and it apparently makes references to games that are still in development.

There is no in-game codex, no PDF full of lore, no fan wiki to consult, or anything to really help guide players through this world. The most they get is a brief jokey summary of the second and third games in this series, which helps, but just barely.

This is such an obvious flaw that I think just about anyone, even fans of the series, would encounter within minutes of play, and it is so pervasive that I struggle to focus on any other aspect about this game. I know it seems like a lot of extra work, but when writing a non-episodic sequel like this, you NEED to include critical information in the text itself. That’s why I decided to include flashback sections and chapters in Psycho Bullet Festival 2222. Because if I didn’t explain the background for every major character, then the story would be damn-near impenetrable to new readers, and I don’t want to put people through that experience. 



Huh. How about that? Two weeks after making this a regular segment, I finally whipped up some basic start and end banners! Though, this is a pretty weird week to debut such an addition, as I only have one acquisition story lined up. A story centered around none other than the company who owns the rights to call themselves Atari.

Atari is the undying ghost of the video game industry, and no matter how many times it’s killed or near bankruptcy, it finds a way to crawl out from the grave, relying on its name and nostalgia to cling to life while putting out very little of worth nowadays. I could point out how they are using their name to sell vanity cryptocurrency with their Atari Tokens and NFT loot boxes. How they spent 4 years working on a crowdfunded vanity mini PC presented as a console, when it is really just a Linux-based emulation and streaming box. And how they are… pretty bad at releasing games, all things considered. They published a re-release of the 1997 cult shooter Blood and the throwback arcade shoot ‘em up Tempest 4000, but aside from that… the past decade has been a deadzone for them.

I do not like Atari. I view it as an entity that is being used by business people who want to profit off of an iconic name. They are not driven or profiting off of creators who want to put out good or meaningful contributions to the gaming industry. They are just profiting off of their name, nostalgia, and I do not like them one bit. As such, you can imagine how pissed I was to learn that Atari acquired MobyGames. For those unaware, MobyGames is one of the most comprehensive databases of video game developers, both people and studios, and one of the best places to find high-quality video game box art. 

MobyGames is a fantastic resource, one I use at least once a month, but they gave up their independence for $1.5 million, as they apparently needed funding for a site-wide reconstruction. While Atari says that they want to preserve MobyGames as is, I have absolutely zero confidence in their words, and fully expect MobyGames to be shut down within the next 5 years. That might be cynical, but I say it is just being realistic.



Tokimeki Memorial is one of those grand titles in gaming history that you regularly see as listed amongst the best Japanese video games. But despite playing a pivotal role in the history of dating sims, visual novels, and adventure games as a whole, Tokimeki failed to make much of an impact in the west, precisely because it was never released outside of Japan. As for why, it stems from two core reasons. It would have been an expensive game to localize due to the large amount of text and Japanese voice acting. And it would have come out during the mid-90s, when there was a basically 0% chance that a game about talking to girls would do much better than break even.

Despite this, the title remained a semi-known quantity in the west thanks to the efforts of those fluent in both English and Japanese, but I don’t think Tokimeki became particularly relevant until January 2021. When the title experienced a resurgence of popularity thanks to a mini-series-length review by Tim Rogers of Action Button, which has garnered over 920,000 views over the past year. I can only assume this was seen as a call to action by fan translators and now, 14 months later, the folks at Translated Games put out a full English translation of Tokimeki Memorial: Densetsu no Ki no Shita de for the Super Famicom. Which they have localized as Heartthrob Memorial: Under the Tree of Legends.

I am incredibly glad that this title is now available to English-speaking audiences after nearly 28 years, and this translation appears to have gone all out. They incorporated the enhanced music, opening sequence, confession scenes, and the ending song of the original PC Engine CD version, added English lyrics to the opening song, changed the logo, and so forth. It all appears to be a very professional package, and I’m glad that so many people will be able to experience the game this way… but not me.

While I respect games like Tokimeki Memorial / Heartthrob Memorial, I get anxious when I need to deal with managing stat growth, maintaining relationships, and fussing around with scheduling mechanics. I get the appeal of playing with a complex clockwork system like this, but I honestly just want to see the relationships between the characters evolve. So I guess the most I would do would be watch a condensed playthrough of a route to get a better idea of how the game works, because I know I would enjoy that more than actually playing the game.


Anybody who has been at least tangentially invested in gaming these past two weeks has assuredly seen oodles of discussions about Elden Ring. It was bombarded with critical praise. Has become the talking point for everybody working in games. And it has the now-arbitrary backlash that followed the release of a ‘culturally significant piece of media’ because we live in a digital engagement economy, and hate gets more engagement than praise.

But what struck me as most remarkable was the sales numbers. While no figures have been released by publisher Bandai Namco, Elden Ring has sold over 10 million copies on PC alone. Which goes beyond the realm of impressive and becomes full-on crazy in my book. I knew Souls was a popular series, but I always assumed that the core fanbase was capped at 10 million people. Because that’s how many people bought Dark Souls III. So, I have to ask how this is even possible, and if Elden Ring is simply the first Souls game for a few million of its players.

It is entirely possible that a lot of people jumped onto Elden Ring due to FOMO and hype, which is great for the developers and publisher. However, seeing the game garner so much success… makes me not actually want to play the game.

I like the Souls series, but despite having put a good 250 hours into the Dark Souls trilogy, I never fell in love with it like many other people. I don’t like how its story is told. I think every game has room for improvement in tiny yet significant ways. I think that the formula is not as golden as many people consider it to be. And I dislike the online elements to the point where I exclusively play these games offline. I respect the heptalogy, which makes me look at Elden Ring not with ravenous hype, but rather a sense that I should probably just stay out of the conversation and let the kids have their fun. 

Based on my history with this series, and knowing how I play open world games, I can reasonably assume what my thoughts would be on Elden Ring. I would like the game a fair bit, but I would do something wrong in the gameplay progression, and I would not be a huge fan of its desaturated environments. So… I’m probably not going to bother playing this game. Instead, I’ll just do taxes and write an outline for a novel that lowkey plagiarizes an unfinished Korean comic from the late 2000s.


Moving onto bigger news, Nintendo and Sony announced they are suspending all sales in Russia due to the ongoing war in Ukraine. This move follows in the footsteps of Microsoft this past week, and shows a collective effort from the game industry to distance themselves from the ongoing war in Ukraine. I’ve already said my piece on the war last week (that it’s destructive, disgusting, and deplorable) so I’ll just jump ahead to the State of Play event that went live a few hours after this announcement.


Focusing on the games shown in the showcase, things kicked off with a new IP from Capcom known as Exoprimal. A sci-fi third-person-shooter set in 2043, where the world is being plagued by… trans-dimensional portals that spit out thousands of dinosaurs, who must be killed to prevent the destruction of cities and the Earth’s modern ecosystem. To combat this threat, the forces of the world created a special task force of exosuited individuals with the weaponry needed to fend off these relentless waves of scaly dinosaurs.

My first thought when watching the reveal trailer was that this game was Dino Crisis 4, because the Dino Crisis series is incredibly versatile and the only requirement for a Dino Crisis is that it features both guns and dinosaurs. Both of which Exoprimal has in ample supply. I would call this a wasted opportunity for an unconventional revival, but then I learned more about the premise and… I think the game is just a waste to be honest.

As alluded to in the trailer and elaborated on in subsequent coverage, Exoprimal is actually a 5v5 multiplayer game. …Except, instead of being a team-based competitive game, both teams are given a series of objectives to complete, and whichever team completes them first is the winner. So it is a team-based PvE game where two teams are judged against each other and… I fail to see how there is any appeal in that. Why not just make it a 5 player PvE game with a PvP mode? Why limit it to an audience of people who want to play on small teams when the market for premium multiplayer games is rapidly shrinking in this engagement-driven game economy?

Perhaps it will make more sense when a full gameplay demo is shown leading up to its 2023 release on PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series, and PC. For the time being though… I’ve got to hand it to Capcom. They made a dinosaur game with a premise somehow even more bizarre than Dino Crisis 3. Which, for those who forgot, was an acrobatic shooter with fixed camera angles involving dinosaurs invading a space station that came out exclusively for the Original Xbox.


Speaking of reptiles in unusual places, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Cowabunga Collection was announced as the first proper compilation of the TMNT series since… ever, pretty much. The compilation features various improvements and new features, including save states, online multiplayer, concept art, and all that standard stuff. But what I find the most remarkable is how… conclusive this collection really is, as it features the following:

  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, TMNT II: The Arcade Game, TMNT III: The Manhattan Project, and TMNT: Tournament Fighters for NES. 
  • TMNT: Fall of the Foot Clan, TMNT II: Back from the Sewers, and TMNT III: Radical Rescue for GameBoy. 
  • TMNT IV: Turtles in Time and TMNT: Tournament Fighters for the SNES. 
  • TMNT: The Hyperstone Heist and TMNT: Tournament Fighters for Genesis. 
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and TMNT: Turtles in Time for the arcade.

With collections like this, you typically see omissions, like the GameBoy games being shafted for being GameBoy games, or the arcade games not getting greenlit due to ‘emulation issues.’ However, this collection is pretty much everything. Sure, they are missing out on some DOS and electronic handheld games, but this is just about every game that fans of the classic series would be interested in.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Cowabunga Collection is set to debut on PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series, Switch, and PC sometime in 2022.


Next up… let’s talk about JoJo for a bit! Over the past decade, JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure has gained a lot of popularity around the world. Throughout the 90s and 2000s, it did not have much of a presence in the English-speaking world, due to a lack of official localizations and a lack of quality fan translation. While the series did have some western releases in the form of the 1998 Capcom fighter and a DVD release of the Stardust Crusaders OVA series from 2003 to 2005, it was something that you really had to dig for in order to find much information about. Come the 2010s, things changed dramatically. The David Production anime series, localized manga, and deluge of memetic elements of JoJo allowed it to rise in popularity, to the point where it is among the most popular anime series around. Or at least it feels that way.

However, right before it saw this international resurgence, CyberConnect2 developed a crossover spectacle-driven fighting game by the name of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: All Star Battle. A title that was many burgeoning JoJo fans’ first experience with anything after Stardust Crusaders, and one of the few titles to get the (theoretically) elusive 40/40 score from Japanese gaming publication Famitsu. 

…The problem was that JJBAASB was a PS3 exclusive released in 2014, right after the PS4 came out, meaning that a significant portion of the fanbase either didn’t or couldn’t play this game, despite it being an undeniable love letter to the entire series. Now, CyberConnect2 tried to remedy this with 2016’s JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Eyes of Heaven for PS4. But that title did not appear to be received as warmly as the first one, so… re-release time! 

JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: All Star Battle R is an updated version of the PS3 original, with an extra 9 characters, presumably from Eyes of Heaven, various balance adjustments, and gameplay overhauls. The title will come out in early fall of 2022 for PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series, and Switch, where it will almost certainly find a larger audience than it did back in 2014. 


Square Enix… is probably one of the most inconsistent publishers in the industry. They are a developer and publisher who have never seemed like they fully understand what they’re doing, and for every hit they put out, they follow it up with a stunning dud. Just a casual glance at games they put out these past few years shows titles like Left Alive, Balan Wonderworld, the cloud versions of Kingdom Hearts, Babylon’s Fall, Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles Remastered, and more. They have put out so many duds that it’s a wonder they are still in business and not adopting more conservative development policies. However, they have also put out Neo: The World Ends With You, Final Fantasy VII Remake, Nier Replicant, and more titles that deserved all the success they got, if not more..

They clearly have plenty of brilliant people working for or with them, but how they approve, direct, and support their B-tier projects will forever baffle me. And nothing exemplified that more than these two reveal trailers.

The DioField Chronicles is a strategy RPG set in a European fantasy world featuring three nations emerged in a burgeoning war that threatens to ravage the continent. As tensions boil, it is up to a group of young people to quell this conflict, restore order, and all the usual… stuff. Conceptually, it immediately reminds me of the recently released Triangle Strategy, with the only immediately notable differences being the combat and presentation. 

DioField features “Real-Time Tactical Battle” which means that combat is real-time, but you can pause it at any time to change the orders of your party of four characters. Which is a fairly novel concept that could work, but would probably work better with a larger party. One of my favorite things about SPRGs is having an army of people at your disposal, and seeing that reduced to the de facto four is pretty underwhelming.

As for the presentation… DioField is aiming for a look between cel-shaded and realistic, but everything looks… wrong. Like the game’s art style changed partway through development, and the best they could do to give the game a semi-appealing aesthetic was to lather a smeared filter onto everything. I get that this is supposed to mask how low-fidelity the assets are, but… it doesn’t. It just makes them look worse. But what really just kills this game’s presentation is the color-balancing, as everything is desaturated, gray, and brown. 

There is clearly something wrong with this game, something that went wrong and that does not add up… and I think the answer is pretty obvious. Square Enix is not the primary developer on DioField, and the title is instead being developed by Lancarse. 

Lancarse is probably best known as a support studio with Atlus, Bandai Namco, FuRyu, and even worked on the recently released SMT-like Monark. They have been around since at least 2004, but have shipped very few games where they were the lead developer, with the last one being 2014’s Lost Dimension. A not-particularly-good tactical RPG for PS3 and Vita that had a vaguely interesting premise where characters could betray the protagonist at certain points in the game, but it was doomed for obscurity as a niche Vita anime RPG… that eventually made its way to PC.

Or in other words, The DioField Chronicles is the second HD project from a support studio, was developed during the COVID-19 pandemic, and is coming out for PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series, Switch, and PC… Yeah, this game is going to be another Square Enix published disaster. I know that is a rude way to look at things, but I would genuinely bet $100 on this game being a critical and commercial flop… if anybody were willing to take me up on that offer.


The Valkyrie Profile series is one of those niche anomalies that Square Enix simultaneously wants to keep around, but I do not get the impression it has a large enough fanbase to warrant consistent releases. The series was home to a cult hit 1999 PS1 RPG with a unique and influential battle system. A 2006 sequel that I have never heard anybody talk about, probably because it was overshadowed by Final Fantasy XII. And a tactical RPG spin-off for DS, because back in the days, just about every niche RPG series got a tactical handheld spin-off. Hell, even Ys and Blue Dragon got tactical spin-offs. 

After the release of the aforementioned DS spin-off, the Valkyrie Profile series was put on hold while series developer Tri-Ace took on contract work for whoever was willing to pay. This led the IP owner of the series, Square Enix, to bring the game to mobile platforms with Valkyrie Anatomia: The Origin, which was shut down in 2021. Then they ported the PSP port of the original game, Valkyrie Profile: Lenneth, to mobile in 2018, and decided to not bring this well-regarded console game to modern consoles, because… reasons. 

Point is, Square Enix kind of dropped the ball on keeping the series relevant, when they could have just re-released the first two games as a budget remastered collection. Instead, they decided that the series needed a reboot from a different developer, and to ditch the Valkyrie Profile name. 

Valkyrie Elysium is a soft-reboot of the series that is being developed without Tri-Ace’s involvement and takes the form of a single-character action RPG. Watching the trailer, two things immediately stood out to me, with the first being its color palette. The Valkyrie Profile games have never been the most vibrant or saturated, but while its color schemes were muted, it never looked like there was a gray filter lathered over everything, which is exactly what they’re doing with Elysium, and it looks just awful. Colors make your game world more memorable and digestible. They make your combat feel better. And they add to a player’s desire to keep playing your game. So why, in the name of all that is good, would you make this game so dull and uninteresting looking? Why are magical doodads the only thing with a color saturation level above 50%? 

The second thing was the fact that the gameplay is a bit too character-action-like for Square Enix, which led me to do some digging to find out that Valkyrie Elysium is being developed by Soleil. A studio whose name I recognized for three reasons. One, they were acquired by Tencent back in November 2021. Two, they absorbed Devil’s Third developer, Valhalla Game Studios, back in December 2021. Three, they employ Hiroaki Matsui, director of both Ninja Gaiden (2004) and Ninja Gaiden II (2008)

The Tencent connection makes me not want to pay attention to this game at all, but depending on the people who are behind the gameplay end of things, I think there is some potential here… albeit potential that kind of squanders the cool premise of the Valkyrie Profile series. Having a crew of four characters who you control using the face buttons. Hell, all this trailer really did for me was remind me that Valkyrie Profile 2: Silmeria exists and looks WAY too good to be locked away on the PS2. Just the little shuffle that your party does when hopping through the battle environments and the flashy combat effects make the game cool enough to try out. But I guess it does not meet the Square Enix remake criteria.

Also, I think it is strange how Neo: The World Ends With You basically took the core concept of Valkyrie Profile’s combat, controlling a party of characters with one button per character, while the actual Valkyrie game looks to be a more standard action RPG.

…Okay, I went on a tangent again. Lovely. Valkyrie Elysium is aiming for a 2022 release on PS4, PS5, and PC. …But maybe don’t buy it though, because screw Tencent. This ain’t no Square Enix game, it’s a Tencent game!


Back in the delisted archives of 2013, I reviewed the anime adaptation of ChäoS;HEAd, and I found it to be a promising, ambitious, yet woefully lacking rendition of what sounded like one of the coolest stories ever. There was a fan translation released some years after that, but I never checked it out… and I don’t have a really good reason why other than I was hoping for an official English release, which is finally happening after 14 years!

Honestly, I want to check the game out simply because of how much stuff I stole from the anime series. The term Real Booting, the stylized nature of some of my titles, the relationship between a protagonist and an imaginary waifu— there is a lot of stuff in this game that is distinctly me. And because of that, I think it is only right that I play this game, the original and purest origin point of these ideas, and milk it of whatever creative inspirations I can.

Now, the announcement was technically only for a Switch two-pack of Chaos;Head Noah and its successor Chaos;Child, but there is reason to believe that Chaos;Head Noah will be released on additional platforms, namely PS4 and PC. But if I need to bite the bullet with the Switch release coming out on October 7th, then… sure, I’ll do that.

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