Been a pretty busy couple of weeks after a slow start. Went to my 3rd Distant Worlds concert on Saturday and Selvaria is making incredibly quick progress due to her being a Charagumin kit. Even running out of paint and not getting more until the middle of last week didn’t slow her progress down. In fact, I would wager that she will be complete very soon, although not too soon as I have been spending a lot of time on Freedom Wars on my PS Vita!
The game is the latest full game release on the Vita (something we haven’t seen in a while) and is basically a monster hunter type game. There are a few available on the Vita but I never really got into Soul Sacrifice and God Eater 2 was never released outside of japan. I fell into God Eater burst quite late but went in quite deep when I bought it on sale for my Vita a while back. There was something compelling about going to complete all the missions and Freedom Wars scratches the same itch for me.
There is a plot but it doesn’t really mean much in the game. It’s the far distant future and people are divided into 2 classes, citizens and sinners. Citizens are basically the upper class who are deemed to have specific skillsets which help their city while sinners are considered a drain on limited resources and are given a mandatory 1,000,000 year prison sentence once they are born. It’s not all cushy for the citizens though as they are considered resources and so are frequently captured by rival cities to help them maintain their systems. As a sinner, you find yourself with your long prison sentence and no rights at the start of the game (seriously, you’re not allowed to sleep lying down initially!) and any infractions means additional years on your sentence but they don’t really add to much in the long run. An addition of 10 years means little to a 1,000,000 year sentence! As you progress, you earn points which can be spent on privileges such as sleeping lying down, running for more than 5 seconds and being allowed to leave your cell! That’s when the game properly takes off.
There’s not much to say about the hub, it’s pretty basic and drab with its main purpose being to give you areas in which to proceed with the story. The missions are where things really heat up! You pick missions to complete and can have up to 3 other players which can be AI or your friends. Each character also gets an “accessory” which is only AI controlled but basically acts as a secondary character to support you. There are 3 basic mission types, rescue citizens, destroy all enemies and a domination type game where you must capture certain points on the map and hold them at the end of the stage. Enemies come in 2 main forms, other sinners from other cities and mechanical enemies called abductors which vary in size from small pods to massive behemoths which have several parts and can capture citizens, your accessory (if incapacitated) or even yourself! If you lose your accessory, then you need to complete a special mission to get it back, and those can be rather tough!
The game has both ranged and melee weapons available and you can take up to 2 into a mission while being able to pick up a 3rd while in the mission. Ranged weapons like pistols and assault rifles are very effective on other sinners and small abductors but pretty useless on larger ones while heavy weapons (like miniguns and rocket launchers) and melee weapons are good against large abductors but terrible against smaller enemies. Some melee weapons also allow you to sever parts from the large abductors and diminish their effectiveness by depriving them of weapons and providing you with extra materials to collect. The game also has an additional weapon called the Thorn which has multiple uses. The primary one is that it latches on to most surfaces and can then be used to traverse large distances in a short space of time, kinda like web-slinging if you’re spider-man. Another use (and the one you’ll probably use most) is that it can be used to latch onto parts of an abductor and drag it down to give you and your team some time to really smack it down. Thorns come in 1 of 3 types, an offensive binding type, defensive shield type and a healing type. By charging your attack, you can access special abilities unique to that particular thorn. Shield thorns can create barriers which prevent enemy projectiles from going through but allows yours to pass and a fully charged bind thorn attack can stun enemies and stop them moving for a period of time. The ability to move using your thorn adds some verticality to the maps and really helps make the battles with larger enemies more dramatic as you can latch onto their shoulders and try to sever their arms for example and it helps make the game stand out.
That’s pretty much it for the description, how was the game?
Continue reading Mini Review: Freedom Wars
Sometimes, you just need to know when to take a step back for a bit. After lots of procrastinating and work on Homura which basically just led to the discovery of more faults which needed to be fixed… Volks finally put my ass into gear this weekend when they unveiled their 1/4 scale Selvaria Bles at Hobby Round 12! I’m definitely going for one of those, but that does mean that I have another selvaria which should be completed before I get the new big hotness and that would be the 1/6 scale charagumin Selvaria which I purchased a while back. Initially, I was really feeling like finally working on my 1/4 scale Volks Bayonetta kit since the sequel is due for release at the end of this week but Selvaria won out since it’s much easier to find space for a 1/6 scale standing figure as opposed to a 1/4 scale figure with a straddle pose!
Anyway, I firstly tried to get do a “before” shot of the figure before I started to paint her but wasn’t really successful as the parts fit were good but the balance was awful so many of the parts won’t stay together unless you glue them…
So the prelim build is missing a lot of parts, especially the cape but that will be present in the finished version.
One good thing about the charagumin line is that, since the parts are already coloured, you can technically do away with the priming of the parts as the paint will stick reasonably well after washing and the underlying colour should be pretty close to what you’re trying to achieve anyway (unless you’re going for a variant colour scheme, in which case, priming is needed again) but this particular kit still needs tonnes of detailing so that’s what I started on. Most of the detailing on the boots are easy but the problem comes when you get to the tights as they’re black with gold trim…
… which means that I had to spend a lot of time with thinned gold paint to get the colour into all the crevices which led to a lot of overspill. Once the gold paint dried, I had to go over the raised area again with black paint to tidy up the detailing, which took forever!!! On the plus side, unlike with Homura, the effects were immediate and it didn’t just highlight more problems which needed to be fixed so I only needed to do a once-over.
And this is the current situation with Selvaria. The left leg has been painted and detailed, including the skintone for the inner thigh and belly. The right leg still needs to be painted though and then I can start working my way up. The shot above was mostly to show the contrast between the painted and unpainted parts. Sufficed to say, it’s a REALLY good idea to paint Selvaria (or pretty much any Charagumin kit for that matter). We’ll have to see how quickly she progresses but she’s already way more fun to work on than HomuHomu…
The only problem is that Bayonetta 2 is waiting on the horizon…
Blimey, this season is going to get really busy! There are quite a few must watch shows for this season and I’m still wrapping up a couple of ones from the previous season! Have to admit that there were a few surprises from the summer season and not all of them were good. Still, lets take a look at the season just wrapped up first before Moving on to the new stuff!
Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun
HANDS DOWN the best show of the season. I was reading it before the anime aired so I already knew some of the dynamics and mini-stories but there was something about watching them animated which made all the jokes fresh and new! Definitely a keeper!
Continue reading Anime Roundup: Autumn 2014
YAY! An actual modelling post! And trust it to be KOS-MOS who broke me out of the funk! It was the ver 4 Plamo from Kotobukiya before and this time, it’s ver 1!
KOS-MOS ver 4 is the darling of the series. She’s the best known design and the one which gets all the attention but I have a real soft spot for the original Ver 1, which simply came out at the wrong time, before the figure scene was booming. There were a few figures made of Ver 1 but not many. I own 2 and this would be my 3rd.
Continue reading The Alpha and the Omega
It kinda feels that this blog is drifting away from its original purpose… Oh well. It’s not too often you find direct sequels for JRPGs and those which do get made are often though of as inferior to their predecessor and the series in general. Just think of FFX-2, or FFXIII-2 (though XIII was a turd anyway). The tales of series can’t escape that fate either. We’ve had Tales of Destiny 2 (a decent enough game but not as good as Destiny) and Tales of Symphonia: dawn of the new world. The less said about that, the better!
And so we come to Tales of Xillia 2, a direct sequel to Tales of Xillia which was released a year ago. Does it break the curse of the poor sequel? Erm… no.
The story of Xillia 2 takes place 1 year after the events of XIllia so all that stuff you saw in the epilogue in the first game happened with only Leia really being markedly different from what the first game showed (she’s a journalist now instead of helping out at her family inn). The main character this time is Ludger Kresnik, a man with a mysterious power which allows him to go into alternate dimensions and destroy distortions within those dimensions and effectively wipe them out of existence. That kinda raises an interesting question about whether he’s destroying worlds or “merely” eliminating possibilities. Anyway, early on you meet a little girl by the name of Elle who joins up with you and you journey together. You also find ludgers brother being blamed for a terrorist attack and, due to a major event at the start of the game, you’re saddled with an immense amount of debt which you need to pay off in order to progress in the game.
Gameplay-wise, Xillia 2 keeps most of the systems from the first game. This is a very good thing as Xillia is definitely one of the better entries in the series. If I took the time to get the platinum trophy for it, you know it’s doing something right! But there are some changes here and there. Not all of them for the better. Now, the game limits you to 4 characters in dungeons and the world map. You can only change your party members (assuming they are available) at towns and you can no longer swap them out during battle. Lillium orbs have been replaced with allium orbs which allow you to accumulate element points which will unlock skills and artes when you gain a certain amount of them. Some are unlocked when you have enough of 2 different elements and it’s generally less linear than the lillium orbs in Xillia but it makes it very difficult to plan your characters growth too far ahead. Attacks are now also split into strike, slash and gun attacks with enemies being strong and weak to these new attack types as well as elements.
And then, there’s the debt. At certain points in the game, you need to make a payment towards clearing your debt before you are able to progress in the story. A job board allows you to take on sub-quests to bring in money to pay the debt if the main story didn’t provide enough. a neat enough idea but it tends to hinder more than make things interesting… The battle system is pretty much identical to the one seen in Xillia along with link artes and sacred artes returning for another round. The areas you visit are the same as the ones seen in the first game, although there are a few new areas and others have been expanded. Still, seeing the exact maps again in the game does feel a little lazy on the part of the devs.
Tales of Xillia 2 had some really big shoes to fill and it didn’t manage to do so but there were some bits which were worked well…
Continue reading Mini Review: Tales of Xillia 2
Thought I’d do something a little different for this weeks post. I’ve been playing around with my various video camera equipment while trying to find the best options for a different video review for something else which should appear soon but as a test, I was using the camera which came with the Call of Duty Ghosts Prestige edition (which I got for free last year at the Eurogamer Expo) to try an unboxing video for the special edition of Tales of Xillia 2 which was released last week. So, here’s the video!
I haven’t gotten very far in the game so I’m not in a position to review it yet but so far, I’d say it’s enjoyable enough but inferior to Xillia (and by extension, vesperia and Abyss). But the trinkets in the limited edition were cool!
I had planned to make this post an update on HomuHomu (she’s coming along, albeit slowly) but over the weekend, I went and picked up the Humble Bundle Japan edition and within that bundle was this real gem of a game which has been out for a while but I think really deserves a mention as it’s easily my favourite game from the bundle. That game is Astebreed!
Astebreed is a japanese doujin (read:indie) shmup which can be purchased via the English publishers website or on steam. The plot (yes, there is a genuine plot in this game!) sees mankind at war with an alien race (as usual) and fighting for their survival. The aliens are some kind of collective conscience and the prologue in the game has you playing as the father of 2 girls who is fighting to rescue them from the aliens. Unfortunately, you’re too late and they have been incorporated into 2 advanced but incomplete mecha. The dad jumps into one and fights his way out to return to earth while promising to come back for the other sister but dies enroute. Fast forward 6 months and the girl/mecha who escaped has now been completed and has been partnered with the main hero of the game and an earth fleet is sent with them as the vanguard to take on the aliens. No prizes for guessing who appears as their enemy while they make their trip… Yup, the other sister but *twist* she’s not on the aliens side either!!
As far as gameplay goes, Astebreed is closer to Panzer Dragoon than traditional bullet hell shmups. You get 3 types of attacks, a wide range shot, forward focused shot and a sword which does a lot of damage but has little range. However, if you hold down the shot buttons, you activate the lock-on attack. Again, the wide shot lock-on allows you to all enemies around you within range while the focused lock-on only allows you to lock onto an enemy within a small range, though you can change the direction using the directional keys. It’s the lock-on which you will be using the most in the game and bullets don’t come too thick and fast which makes them easier to dodge. Your mecha also gets a regenerating shield to protect you and it’s very lenient on easier difficulties.
One cool thing about the game is the perspective change which can occur seamlessly within the gameplay. Most of the game plays as a horizontal shooter but at times, the camera will pan to either above your mecha (forming a vertical shooter scenario) or behind (which forms something akin to the “behind the player” section in the NES contra game. Controls are identical throughout so there’s no jarring disconnect and the shift won’t affect the gameplay other than change the direction from where the enemy comes at you. It’s a neat trick and helps keeps things a little fresh.
The game itself is quite short (only 6 stages) and your mecha gets an upgrade around 3/4 of the way through the game. Finishing the game then allows you to select the upgraded mecha from the start. There’s also a boss mode and stage select for those who are more interested in high scores. How is the game tho?
Continue reading Mini Review: Astebreed
Bit of a late post this week as I’ve been working on the Tomopop GK coverage. You can check them out for a more complete gallery of the GK at this years Summer Wonder Festival but for this post, I’ll be focusing on the ones which I liked the most. Starting with the 1 kit I wish I managed to get…
Man, I really like this Noire kit!! Going to have to double my efforts next time!
Another kit I really liked the look of was this Cecilia kit but I have to admit that part of the reason was because it was Cecilia! She’s just too awesome and I don’t think Laura would work as well in this particular style. Houki might tho. There was a Charlotte kit which made an appearance at a previous event but screw Charlotte!
Continue reading Wonder Festival 2014 Summer garage kit highlights
Well, this is a difficult one. I had planned to post this last week but wanted more time to progress more into it to ensure that I had a good grasp of what the game had to offer… Then the Destiny beta happened. Oh well, I did progress a fair bit so here goes with a mini review of Battle Princess of Arcadias.
Now, this is where things gets wierd because it’s very hard to peg what kind of game battle princess is. It’s published by Nippon Ichi Software but lacks a certain polish to its designs as well.
First, lets go into how the game looks. The story is presented in a stage like setting so if you’ve played puppeteer, it’s very similar. Graphics are drawn similar to waterpaintings for the backgrounds but with more vibrant colours. Characters are very basic but distinct. Overall, the look is pretty good in stills. It’s when they start moving where there are problems. The characters in particular, are oddly animated. They move as though they are puppets on strings so the arms and legs appear to stay stiff and rotate around a specific point to appear as though they are moving on the spot.
Gameplay-wise, it gets weird. Basically, it’s a scrolling fighting game with RPG elements. At it’s core, it’s most similar to the PS2 Game Odin Sphere with some major differences. Chiefly, there are three different types of stages; Combat, skirmish and Siege.
Combat is the one closest to odin sphere. You control one character and move through the stage and kill all enemies. However, at the start of the stage, you pick 3 characters from your available cast and can freely swap between them in battle. Most characters have different weapons with different properties but there are a couple of duplicates who use the same weapons as other characters. They still retain original moves though.
Skirmish is a different take on things where you take on an enemy army with your own. Each weapon type allows you to command a unit consisting of users of that particular weapon and their levels are determined by how much money you use to upgrade them and the level of your character which uses the same weapon. So if one of your characters is level 10, you can raise the level of the unit to level 10. This is important! Combat wise, it’s fairly automatic as your units will automatically march in the background and attack the enemy. You can give them basic commands just as all out attack or defend as well as swap to the next unit in line but you are also in control of your own character who is attacking units in the foreground. Defeating these will provide small bonuses to your unit. Overall, most of the work is done by your units rather than yourself.
Siege is basically a boss battle. You send 3 of your characters to battle a large enemy and are accompanied with 150 units from your army. With this army, you need to break the shield surrounding the boss and deal direct damage until he dies. If you lose all 3 of your characters or all your units, then you lose. However, your units are replaced at a steady rate so it is possible to keep going even when you have few units left.
Storywise, it’s a mixed bag. Many of the individual characters act in tropes and stereotypes (they’ve even put in a chuunibyou sufferer in there) which makes for a lot of comic relief yet the story, at least later on, gets rather dark. Oh, and the king of the country is a Duck. Thought I’d throw that out there.
That’s it in terms of game description. From the world map, you pick a stage, which will be one of the three battle types mentioned above and work your way to the end. Characters get experience when you use them and you are able to buy/sell items and weapons from your home base as well as upgrading your troops. There’s also a limited scope for upgrading your weapons using items gathered during battles but aside from a few special skills which can be unlocked on certain weapons, I haven’t really found a use for it yet.
So, how is the game?
Continue reading Mini Review: Battle Princess of Arcadias
The new anime season is upon us!! And this one actually has a few big names to it despite it being the summer season, which is usually one of the more dead seasons. And now, with spring anime winding up, now would be a good time to do the usual roundup! So first, as always, we look back at the previous seasons anime.
Hitsugi no Chaika
I’m not going to lie. The main reason why this show gets top billing is Chaika herself. There’s just something so endearing and loveable about the girl with her broken sentences and facial expressions. The show also gave me a strong Scrapped Princess vibe, which is good because scrapped princess is a great show which I would wholeheartedly recommend if you haven’t seen it yet!
Runner up: No Game No life, Kenzen Robo Daimidaler
Continue reading Anime Roundup: Summer 2014