Recent Posts

  • Mini Review: Deception IV: Blood Ties
  • Anime Roundup: Spring 2014
  • A pleasant surprise
  • Mini Review: Titanfall
  • Project: HomuHomu (part 1)

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Mini Review: Deception IV: Blood Ties

It may surprise you that I’ve been a long time fan of the deception series. Heck, I first played it before it was even released in europe back in 1998. Sadly, I did miss the very first deception game from 1996 but I played Kagero: deception 2 while I was in Japan and, after fumbling around for a while, I took great pleasure in seeing what kind of torture I could put the enemy units through. Imagine my surprise when I saw Deception 2 on UK store shelves! I instantly snapped it up and I still own the original PS1 disk.  Things went quite for a while after that until the PS2 game Kagero 2: Dark Illusion was released in the UK as Trapt. Again, I instantly snapped that one up and I was very excited when Deception IV was announced.

The UK may have missed a couple of games in the series but there’s no way I’m missing one which gets a general release on these shores!

deception

All the deception games follow the same basic structure in terms of story and overall gameplay but Deception IV changes things quite a bit, which I’ll get into later. Storywise, every game has you controlling a character who finds themselves in an old abandoned building (Almost always a mansion to begin with) with orders to basically kill anyone who is stupid (or unlucky) enough to wander in. Deception IV follows the first 2 Kagero games in that the main character is remorseless in her attempts to kill intruders while Deception 2 (not released in the UK) and Trapt had more sympathetic characters who ended up bloodying up their hands to defend themselves. In Deception IV, you are killing intruders to draw in descendants of 12 sages who imprisoned a powerful demon many years ago and you want to release it so you need to kill the descendent to do so.

Gameplay for all deception games involve you setting a number of traps in the various rooms in the building to take out intruders. They’re split into ceiling traps, wall traps and floor traps with points gained by stringing multiple traps together to form a long combo and involving various fixed traps within the rooms themselves. Trapt shook things up by adding dark Illusions, elaborate room traps which are very painful but have strict activation requirements. but they are glorious. I mean, look at this!!!

 

Sadly, there are no dark illusions in deception IV but there are similar room traps available in certain locations. There have also been some significant changes to the gameplay as well compared to previous games. Firstly, the traps have been separated into 3 different categories. There’s elaborate, sadistic and humiliating traps now and each type of trap has a demon associated with them. These demons act as your companions during the story and also provide you with additional sub-quests in the form of specific requests. Complete the requests and they will reward you with a bonus points in the category the demon represents. This is important as if you want to unlock more powerful traps, you need to have a minimum amount of points for that particular category. You can also increase them by using traps of those categories in your combos but it’s easier to complete the requests to get large amounts of points.

The next change is more significant. Previously, you were limited to carrying 9 traps into a stage, 3 of each type and you could only set one of each category in any 1 room. This was because each type of trap was mapped to a specific face button on the controller. This meant that you were limited to a maximum of a 3 trap combo unless you made use of the fixed traps in the rooms. Deception IV does away with this limitation and provides you with a a chain of slots which you can place traps into. The chain increases as you progress in the game so you can get rather long combos using just the traps in your repertoire and not have to worry about room traps. The number of traps you can take into a stage has increased dramatically as well. This raises a few new issues. In previous games, you could set traps all over the room and the triggering of the traps could be done at any time since each one was tied to a button which allows you to change plans on a whim. In Deception IV, that is much more difficult as you need to select your desired trap before you can trigger it. As a result, once you have set your traps, you MUST lure the enemy into the start of the chain as it’s not possible to select a trap later on in the chain quickly enough to take advantage of any sudden changes in their behaviour.

Also, since all traps are now triggered with a single button and the order is controlled by the order in which you set them, the newly freed face buttons have new uses in the form of abilities which you can unlock for your character such as a taunt to get enemies to chase you with reckless abandon or perform a heal spell.

That’s pretty much it for the game description. How does it fare?

Continue reading Mini Review: Deception IV: Blood Ties

Anime Roundup: Spring 2014

And yet another anime season is upon us! and probably not a moment too soon. The only thing remarkable about the winter season was pretty much how unremarkable it was. I don’t think a single show got me particularly excited or worked up but there were a few fun ones. Well, the winter season is generally weaker in terms of original shows, with much of the heavy lifting being done by shows which started in the previous season and were continuing on. That being said…

Best Show

Robot Girls Z!

It may have only been 3 episodes long (and separated into 3 sub-episodes each) but there was something really charming about the show, although you really had to know your 70s super robot shows to get a lot of the jokes. Tamura Yukari showing up as Ankoku daishougun-ko as the final boss was comic greatness though!

But if you want a full show response, I guess it would be…

Seitokai Yakuindomo* and Gundam Build fighters

With many comedy shows coming back for a second season there’s a problem where they don’t feel quite as fresh as before and suffer as a result. Not so with Seitokai Yakuindomo*. Rather than feeling tired and familiar, it felt more like it simply didn’t miss a beat! As for Build fighters, I’m very glad that it exists. It may be the shortest gundam TV show in the series history but it was a really fun watch and, after the massive disappointment of Gundam AGE, showed that you don’t need to have massive drama, space wars and ideology conflicts to make a fun gundam show. Sometimes, you can just have fun, like with G Gundam!

Continue reading Anime Roundup: Spring 2014

A pleasant surprise

Back when I did a small preview post for my Grizzry Panda Busou Shinki kits, I didn’t get very far as I explained that I was missing a core piece of the kit as my kit had a duplicate part instead of what I needed. So, I contacted Grizzry Panda and he said that he would send a replacement part, even though I was in another country. I thought that was pretty cool but was warned that it would take a while since it had to be shipped overseas.

Well, last week I got the part… And something extra.

Yup, along with the part, Grizzry Panda also sent me a whole other kit!! I believe that this is Heartbeat Miku, the design which accompanies the supercell song Odds and Ends, which was the main theme for Project Diva f. Not being a Miku fan, that’s about the limit of my knowledge but I’m not going to say no to such a kind gesture. Especially one from such a good GK maker! Incidentally, this kit retails for ¥10,000 at events!!

I did a quick build and, like the Busou Shinki sisters, the kit is incredibly clean from the offset. A huge contrast to Homura, who has air bubbles all over the place. I’m still trying to clean up the guns!! I don’t think I’ll get around to building Miku anytime soon but I’ll definitely be building her. It just took me completely by surprise and gives GK builders one more reason to go the extra mile and buy direct from the makers and not from places like E2046, cos they do awesome things like this!! Consider me SOLD!! (not that I wasn’t already. I haven’t bought a recast in years!)

Mini Review: Titanfall

This is probably the first BIG release of the year. Sure, there have been some large names like Lightning returns but in terms of sheer expectation and marketing behind it, nothing comes close and very few will come close this year! Stand by for Titanfall!

titanfall

I think everyone knows the score when it comes to this game. It’s the first game by Respawn entertainment, a team of developers who left Infinity Ward at the end of Modern Warfare 2. These guys are responsible for the multiplayer system which pretty much defined an entire console generation so it’s safe to say they know how things tick.

The game itself is pretty much pure multiplayer with zero single player elements in it. Heck, you can’t even play the game without an online connection. You play as a pilot on one of 2 sides to a conflict. Setups are very similar to those seen in CoD:MW with 2 major exceptions. The first is a jump pack on your pilot which allows you to double jump into the air and run across walls for an extended period of time. The other is the titan from the title, a large mecha which is airdropped to your location after a certain period of time and allows you access to heavier firepower and armour at the expense of mobility. You play as part of a larger army with AI bots appearing on both sides to give a better feeling of a large scale battle taking place. Having said that, the AI of the bots is dumb as hell. They’re basically fodder so don’t expect them to be able to carry you through a match. They’re there to be shot, that’s all.

The basic game modes are all there. Deathmatch, Capture the flag, domination and a few twists like last titan standing and a mode where only pilot kills are counted. All things considered, the game does come off as a little bare but the pedigree behind the title is beyond solid. So, how does it play?

Continue reading Mini Review: Titanfall

Project: HomuHomu (part 1)

And from the back of one project, I get to jump into the next with no procrastination!! Pretty rare for me but with the purchase of the 2 busou shinki ladies, I now have 3 kits from maker Grizzry Panda and that’s just too many so I’m diving straight into the first kit I bought from his stable, Akemi Homura from Madoka Magica.

It was quite a while back when I purchased her so here’s a pic of a completed version:

But we’ve got a while before we get to this stage. I’m going to start with the weapon stand first as it’s separate from the main Homura kit. I lavished praise on Grizzry Panda for the build quality of the Busou Shinki kits but Homura was one of his earlier works and it really shows!

The parts fits aren’t quite there yet and there’s lots of imperfections, flash and assorted other issues which need to be sorted out first. And this is just for the weapon stand! Homura has her own issues, including some large gaps between certain parts!

But back to the task at hand… Overall, it could be much worse but a lot of work is going to be needed before I can start even putting these things together

Some serious cleaning is needed to be done first and the smaller parts really show some rough edges in the production process for this kit.

It’s a good thing that the process of making these kits have improved markedly over time!

Shot through the Heart, and you’re to Blame!

And so, after a slight delay, (or a very long one considering how long this kit has been in my “to do” pile) here is my third Yoko kit!

Looking back, I’m not sure why I went and purchased her, but having now completed the kit, I’m glad that I did, even though it did mean breaking one of my age old rules of only buying one kit per character version. This is my second vs Antispiralversion of Yoko in my collection. My first one was completed way back in 2008! I’ve come a long way since then in terms of skill…

 

Continue reading Shot through the Heart, and you’re to Blame!

Wonder Festival 2014 Winter Loot!

wonfest winter 2014

Just a quick update for this weeks post. Yoko has actually been completed but I haven’t had the chance to do a photoshoot with her yet, so she’s coming next week. So for this week, I’m showing off the 2 kits I was able to snag from Wonder Festival. I’ve been trying to get the 2 busou shinki kits from Grizzry Panda for a while and was pretty bummed when QuesQ announced that they had the original kits and were making PVC versions of them for general release (What happened to that anyway?) but Grizzry Panda then went and made 2 new kits and those are the ones I picked up. Their colour scheme is based on the alternate releases of Atlene and Altines but I’m going to paint them in their original colours.

A preliminary build has been done but I’ve found a problem with Ines in that I got 2 parts which are the same for the left and right leg for the frame so I can’t actually build it! Luckily, Grizzry Panda has been great and helped me out with a few things and will send replacement parts later, probably when the next time he sells the kits at an event.

However, I would point out that his kits are amazingly well produced. Perhaps it’s because they’re designed and made with a 3D printer in mind but the parts fit is FLAWLESS! every part fits perfectly and there’s no flak or excess resin aside from a few bits of flash. His kits have gone a long way since his early stuff. I took out his old Homura kit and they are leagues apart in terms of build quality! Still, with Yoko out of the way, I’m likely to go on to Homura next, since it won’t be good to keep 3 unbuilt Grizzry Panda kits in my to-do pile.

A whole New World

Well, this was a rather pleasant surprise. A new concert from the makers of Distant Worlds and a premier in London!! Yeah, I went!

The new show was given the complete title “A New World: Intimate music from Final Fantasy” and that was a pretty accurate description. Instead of a full orchestra seen in Distant Worlds, this show was held together by a string quartet, Piano, basic percussion, second cello, second violin, clarinet, Saxophone and french horn. That was it! This gave the tracks a very different feel from the usual music, although some have been done before.

The venue itself was much smaller. It was done at the London Symphony Orchestra Jerwood Hall and there was only really enough space for a few hundred guests at best so this was very intimate indeed.

See what I mean? You may also notice that there were mics on the stage. We were told that the concert was being recorded so expect some kind of live CD to be produced soon.

Continue reading A whole New World

Wonder Festival Winter 2014 Roundup!

Oh god… So… Much… KanColle…

And I thought having a large number of Miku kits was bad, but this was just INSANE!!! It was like every other figure was KanColle related! Still, in the middle of all that, I still managed to find some kits which I really liked and I was also able to purchase 2 new kits this time, something I haven’t done in a while! Here are my 2 successful purchases!

Yeah!! I finally got my Busou Shinki kits!!! These are the version 2 models which Grizzry Panda made after selling the original designs to QuesQ. You can expect PVC releases of the original pair soon but these are all new! Of course, I’ll be painting them in their original colours!

As for the rest, there’s a mix of old and new which caught my eye in the various galleries I check out…

Continue reading Wonder Festival Winter 2014 Roundup!

Mini Preview: Ace Combat Infinity beta

Free-to-play is a rather dirty phrase for video games right now. Mention it and you either think of really crappy games which hold back lots of content and items behind a paywall or games which basically force you to pony up to proceed. Some can work (Team Fortress 2, some MMORPGs) but most don’t and the latest series to go free-to-play is the rather fondly remembered Ace Combat Series from Bandai-Namco

AceCombatInfinity-10

The new game is called Ace Combat infinity and the worldwide Beta was just released on PS3 yesterday to give us a taste of how it will play. In terms of gameplay, it’s a throwback to the  older style of ace combat games. The last game in the series, Assault horizon, tried to spice things up with the introduction of “dogfight mode” and helicopter stages, neither of which were well received so after that, they went back to the simple jet action which has served the series so well.

There is a basic single player option in the game but the meat of it is in the multiplayer. In a little twist to the formula, rather than having you dogfight other players, you’re all sent as a large squad to complete a certain mission. You’re then split into 2 teams and you compete with eachother for the high score. The winning team gets bonus points but you don’t compete with other players directly.

After each stage, you get experience points which goes towards researching additional powerups for your jets as well as new fighters. However, the game doesn’t really tell you how the experience is distributed so if you want a specific jet, you just need to keep playing, and playing… and playing… But at least upgrades are free!

For the beta, everything is free (which is good) but when it fully comes out, we’re in for a bit of pain when the paywall comes out. As reminded by Q, the economy of Ace Combat Infinity is geared towards restricting the amount of play. It was first tried out with the Japan only game Gundam Battle Operation but will go worldwide with Infinity. Basically, each mission played costs fuel, which is a separate commodity in this game. Fuel refills automatically given enough time but the rate at which it refills basically means you’re limited to one mission every 2 hours or so. How do you play more? You guessed it, you pay for it with real money! In a way, it’s basically the old arcade style of economy where you’d just pump a machine full of coins to play a game except you don’t have any cool game specific setup to mess around with and that one of the reasons the arcades died out was exactly because people didn’t want to pump machines full of coins anymore…

You can also spend money on cosmetic changes but the majority of the money will be made on people paying to play the game more. It’s a pretty cynical ploy but it’s not the worst example of free-to-play I’ve seen. And it’s proven to work since gundam battle operation was a moderate hit in Japan. I can kinda see it working for a quick game here and there like the old arcades but it depends on how much they charge for fuel. If it’s similar to the old arcade economy per game then it might work but it’s very easy to overcharge…

As far as mechanics and gameplay, Ace Combat Infinity is familiar and fun but that won’t mean anything if the paywall is raised too high. There’s also the matter of the game potentially becoming pay-to-win as those who pay for more playtime will get access to the better equipment much faster than others but at least it’s not as bad as selling the individual fighter jets for increasing prices or something similar… We’ll just have to see how things go once we know the cost of everything in the game. Still, I’ll likely play at least long enough to unlock the F-14 Tomcat, maybe deck it out with shark decals and play some missions while blaring out “Highway to the Danger Zone” by Kenny Loggins on my sound system. a.k.a the Top Gun effect!!