Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Memorable Melodies: Let's Have Fun! from Gotcha Force

Song: Let's Have Fun!
Game: Gotcha Force
Composer: Mitsuhiko Takano

I'm a big fan of fighting robots, so when I found out about Gotcha Force I had to have it. I remember looking around the area where I live for it, but it was nowhere to be found. A few months later I found it in a now defunct retail outlet near my Grandma's house an hour or so away from where I live now. I was apparently one of the select few who actually got a copy of Gotcha Force, because it's quite rare now. The cheapest copy you can get on Amazon currently is about $150. It's a shame, because it's a really fun game.

Gotcha Force is one of the five games that Capcom  pushed out on the Gamecube in an exclusivity agreement they made with Nintendo. It's a game about small toy sized robots that land on earth. The robots interact with humans, and ask them to help in the fight against evil robots who have also come to earth.

The game has a very Saturday morning cartoon style, which is part of why I love it so much. There are tons of robots to collect and battle with and most of them are fairly unique. You play as the tiny robots in everyday locations such as a bedroom, or a garden. There's a lot of Anime yelling going on, and everything is very colorful.

Adding to the Saturday morning aesthetic is the music. Most of the tracks in the game are jazzy and upbeat. That's not very surprising, since the composer also did the music for Marvel Vs. Capcom 2. That's about as jazzy as you can get. It set's a happy tone despite the fact that you're fighting robots to determine the fate of the world.

 The track I picked for this week is the one I remember hearing the most. It makes me think back to being a lot younger and sitting with my brother for hours playing the game. There's something about jazzy tunes that makes beating down on robots so much more enjoyable.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Podcast Episode 20 - No Man's Sky

I'm a little late to the party on this one, but I just had to talk into a microphone about No Man's Sky. It's such a cool game that falls short of being amazing. Perhaps someday it will be patched a bunch, but right now it kind of bums me out.

In this episode I talk about my feelings on the game and discuss the studio behind its creation.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Game Time - September 2016

The crisp fall air is upon us, and so are tons of video game releases! As I said in last month's Game Time I had started playing God Eater 2 right at the end of August. I played it a whole bunch, but Sadly didn't finish it. I might go back to it at some point.

On September 6th Trails of Cold Steel 2 came out, and I tried to play it as much as possible. However, the Legend of Heroes series is known for having its games be ludicrously long. I played Trails of Cold Steel a few months ago and it took me around 60 hours to finish. The second game is a lot more open, so I have a feeling it's going to take me a whole lot longer.

On September 9th Ace Attorney 6 came out, so I put Trails on hold. Over the course of a week I put 40 hours into the game, and completed it. At first I was worried, because the game wasn't really grabbing me, but by the end I was super into it.

Now that we're in the heat of fall video games are coming out at a rapid pace. It gets even more crazy, because I actually want to play a bunch of them. I'm using up a great deal of my spare time, and money. Since there's a bunch I should be playing let's get right into this. It's game time!

God Eater 2

I initially played God Eater Rage Burst on the PSP. I played it for hours and hours with a friend. His PSP's analog nub broke and we never ended up finishing all the extra content. I definitely did enjoy the hell out of it though. That was before I had gotten into Monster Hunter, so I was afraid that I wouldn't enjoy God Eater 2 because of that. After playing the real thing I fell out of love with all the less complicated Monster Hunter clones I came across. Luckily God Eater 2 is just different enough to hold my interest.

At the most base level you could call anime Monster Hunter. That's mostly true, but it definitely plays a lot differently. You play as a person called a God Eater. God Eaters are essentially the protectors in a post-apocalyptic world that has been overrun by monsters. The monsters are essentially gods (duh). They were experimented on and given a wrist band called a God Arc. This allows them to summon a huge weapon, which is powerful enough to slay the beasts threatening humanity. These God Arcs can actually eat the monsters to gain power, which is one of the core game mechanics. If the monster you're fighting is alive and you bite into it you'll be powered up. If the monster is down and you eat it that's how you harvest its part.

There are new weapon types like the scythe in God Eater 2

God Eater 2 plays very much like the original, but now there are more monsters and a few more weapon types. Unlike Monster Hunter, God Eater tends to be very forgiving. While animation priority is still a thing, it doesn't matter very much. You can take a lot of hits, and your teammates can easily heal you. I'd describe this as a very arcadey experience. You don't always have to use a lot of strategy and can often just mash your way to victory. Obviously the difficulty ramps up over time, but it never gets anywhere near as hard as Monster Hunter.

One thing God Eater has over Monster Hunter is an actual plot. The first game was great and had a lot of deep characters to interact with. So far the second game is interesting but has not quite hooked me yet. There's a lot of creepy characters in this one, and a ton of religious symbolism. It's interesting, but very little is actually happening. At least it's diving into the back story of every character, but it goes a bit too slow for its own good. There have been times when the story starts going somewhere, but then immediately takes a sharp turn into some weird filler stuff.

This is the crew you'll be rolling with for the duration of the game.

Overall I think that God Eater 2 is a solid game. At the time of writing this you can also get the first game for free when you purchase the second, so it's a good way to get on board with the series. It's a competent hunting game that deals with style over substance. It's not the most complex game around, but it's fun to hold its own.

Trails of Cold Steel 2

Trails of Cold Steel 2 is hard to talk about. The first game takes a hard turn at the end, so any information about the second game, even trailers, spoil a ton about what happens in the first game. The last few hours of the original game absolutely blew my mind. I saw almost none of it coming, so if for some reason you want to play the original, then do not ready any further. You have been warned!

Spoilers start here:

A friend of mine played Trails of Cold Steel at the beginning of 2016 and absolutely loved it. The issue he ran into was he loved it so much, but had no one to talk to about it. That led to me playing through the whole game while he watched. At first I was a little iffy on the game, but in the end it ended up growing on me, The first game focuses on a group of kids at Thors Military Academy that are chosen for a special class called class seven, They were chosen because they come from vastly differing backgrounds. You spend most of your time at the school, but go on field studies as well. Throughout the course of the game you learn a ton about each character in your class. The reason I ended up liking the game so much is that each character is characterized very well. It's not like most JRPGs where only a few characters are built upon, which is great.

We're here to talk about the second game though, and man is it a lot different. The end of the first game has the main character Rean Schwarzer essentially getting his own Gundam. Seriously, he receives a giant humanoid robot, which he can then pilot. So now outside of the regular turn based battles of the original game you also have to fight in your robot, Valimar. These battles differ in that you can attack the enemy robot in one of three places. If you attack the weak point, then you do more damage and can perform a follow-up attack. Yes, there were two of these battles at the end of the first game but you do them much more often now.

Valimar, the Ashen Knight.

No longer are you at school, because now the nation is engaged in all out war. The noble faction has raised its own army, which is trying to take over the entire country. They assassinated Chancellor Osbourne, who was a proponent of making everyone equal at any means necessary. It sounds good at first, but you find out that he's actually done some pretty heinous stuff in the name of equality. It's a good old fashioned class struggle and class seven is at the center. Instead of learning in a classroom you need to travel around the country and try to keep everyone safe. Class Seven decides to remain neutral in the war and just try to keep civilians safe. This means that you go around the country and try to recruit other students from Thors to your cause.

What's crazy is that I've already played the game for 50 hours and I don't think I;m even halfway through the game. While the original was more or less linear, this game allows you to travel pretty much anywhere at any time. It takes a bit to open up, but once it does there is almost too much content.

All of Class 7 gets hot new clothing!

The issue that I'm having with the game is that it's not always holding my interest. The first game was paced rather slowly in order to learn about everyone, so I thought that the second game would have awesome stuff popping off all the time. That isn't necessarily the case. I've taken two breaks from playing it to complete other games, because I don't want to burn out. There are so many new characters that seem cool, but so far they haven't done a whole lot. Things are picking up where I am now, but it's still not making me as excited as I would like. Hopefully there's an insane third act plot twist in this one as well. I enjoy the game's battle system and characters, so I'm excited to eventually finish this game.

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Spirits of Justice

I absolutely love the original Ace Attorney trilogy. I had always wanted to play the franchise, but the DS cartridges got pretty expensive back in the day. Capcom decided to re-release them on the Wii virtual console and I was able to net all three for a reasonable price. Prior to that I had never really played any visual novels, but ended up getting sucked right in. Ace Attorney may be mostly reading, but you actually have to use deductive reasoning and interact with the game. It has gotten me to try out a bunch more visual novel series and I am very grateful for it. However, even after playing other games like it I still think that Ace Attorney is my favorite.

The original trilogy is incredible. It ended in a way that gave me a feeling of closure. However, at the time I started playing the games the 4th entry in the series Apollo Justice had already been released. Most people really didn't like it, so I was hesitant to play it. In the end I did and ended up being one of the few people who really likes Apollo Justice. It seemed like the series was done for, but Capcom decided to try and revive the series with a 5th game. It brought Phoenix back to the forefront, but also had Apollo. It ended up being successful enough for a 6th game to be released, which is why we're here now.


Spirits of Justice is the end of the second Ace Attorney trilogy, and like the first trilogy it did not disappoint. Just in case you have no idea what I'm talking about, Ace Attorney is a game about lawyers. Phoenix Wright runs an agency where he hires people who have special talents. It turns out that included his magician daughter Trucy, and two defense attorneys Apollo Justice and Athena Psyches. Apollo has been around for a bit, but Athena was introduced in the previous game. She's still a bit green, but she seems like she's coming into her own now.

The original trilogy dealt a lot with spirit mediums, spirit channeling, and fantastical things in general, Apollo Justice, and the 5th game moved away from the spirit obsession, but the 6th game i right back at it, I guess with a name like "Spirits of Justice" you probably already figured that out. It's a bit hard to explain if you've never played the series, but Phoenix used to have a partner named Maya Fey. She's a spirit medium in training, She is the head of a village of spirit mediums called Kurain Village. Spirits of Justice opens with Phoenix going to the country of Khura'in to see Maya who is almost done with her spirit training. In order to truly run her village she must master spirit channeling. This sounds really stupid, but Kurain and Khura'in are two different places. Khurai'in is a different country in the world of Ace Attorney.

The new prosecutor Nayuta is from Khura'in

Almost as soon as Phoenix steps off the plane into the distant land of Khura'in he gets ropes into a murder trial. He quickly finds out that the legal system doesn't quite work the same in the foreign land. The royal priestess performs a seance with the deceased, which allows her to see their final moments. From that they determine whether or not the accused is guilty. However, due to a ludicrous thing called the Defense Culpability Act there are no lawyers. This is because under the act defense attorneys are given the same punishment as the accused should they lose. Phoenix being the upstanding guy he is ends up doing the trial anyways, and ends up getting the first not guilty verdict in 23 years!

From there the story spools out into a crazy adventure. Since it's a visual novel finding out the story is the entire game, so I'll refrain from giving away anything else. The adventure runs about 40 hours long, which is almost twice as long as the 5th game. I rarely got stuck, but it does suffer a bit from the classic Ace Attorney logic leaps. Sometimes you can see what the game wants you do do, but you're five steps ahead. It's always a bit annoying, but now you can get hints from the game if you get stuck for too long. That eases the pain of being stuck forever and having to look up a walkthrough.

The divination seance is a large component of trails in this game.

In terms of actual gameplay Spirits of Justice has a lot more going on than the previous games. This is because it uses almost every gameplay system from previous games. Phoenix can tell when people are lying with his Magatama, Apollo uses his magic bracelet to see nervous ticks, and Athena uses her psychology to find inconsistencies, When in Khura'in you have to watch the divination seance, which adds a whole new layer to cases. It's essentially a video that can be used as evidence. It doesn't sound too cool at first, but when you can see a crime from the victims point of view it opens up a ton of new things to look at. They even bring back the forensic science of Emma Skye. There's a lot more going on than than in any other Ace Attorney game, and I don't think that any mechanic outstays its welcome. It's another great end to a trilogy and I can't wait to see where they take things next. The ending means that a lot is going to have to change, which I'm very excited about.


Somehow a year later I am still playing Rock Band 4 at least once a week. What's even more amazing is that Rock Band 4 performed well enough to deserve an expansion. You can bet that I'll be playing that on October 18th.

I'm also kind of interested in trying out the PlayStation VR. One of my friends is getting it, so I'll at least be able to try it out. Hopefully it's good, otherwise I don't know if VR will continue to be a thing in the coming years. Only time will tell.

I took a break from playing Trails of Cold Steel 2 to mess around with Yo-Kai Watch 2 and I've been enjoying myself so far. Originally I was interested in Yo-Kai Watch! from an academic perspective, but now I am genuinely into it. Hopefully I can beat both of them this month, but I don't know if I'll have enough time. It's weird to be playing games that are 40 hours or more back to back.

Somehow I'll make it work! See you next month!

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Memorable Melodies: Fleshy Souls Opening from Yo-Kai Watch 2

Song: Fleshy Souls Opening
Game: Yo-Kai Watch 2 - Fleshy Souls
Composer: Jeff Marsh
Remix: William Anderson

Yo-Kai Watch is an interesting thing. It took Japan by storm and is now trying to take over the U.S. as well. While it hasn't been quite as successful here, it has still sold quite well. There's something fun about collecting odd monsters, which Pokemon has shown us over the years.

What fascinates me about the franchise is how Japanese it is. I mean, Yokai are ghosts and ghouls of legend in Japan. Perhaps you've heard of a Kappa, which is probably the most famous Yokai. It's something that is inherently Japanese, so it's awesome to see it get localized for other territories. What's cool is that it still keeps a lot of its original feel, but some things definitely don't....

There are two versions of Yo-Kai Watch 2. They are Fleshy Souls and Bony Spirits. Each has a different version of the American Yo-Kai Watch theme written by Jeff Marsh. In Fleshy Souls however it is a super odd rap remix. The Japanese version of this game's opening has rap in it also, just it's juxtaposed against a lady singing. 

I'm not saying this version of the song is bad, I'm just saying that it's super weird, I don't even know what to think about it. I'll leave the Japanese version below for comparison.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Memorable Melodies: Law of the Battlefield from Trails of Cold Steel 2

Song: Law of the Battlefield
Game: The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel 2
Composers: Hayato Sonada, and Takahiro Unisuga (Not 100% sure)

For the past few weeks I've been working my way through Trails of Cold Steel 2. It's a direct followup to the previous game, so if you don't want to be spoiled on the first game then I'd suggest you don;t even watch trailers for the second one. 

The first act was decent, but I found it to be a little lackluster. It was in-between the first and second acts that the game finally clicked with me. Part of that has to do with the new enemies who really didn't get much screen time in the initial act of the game. Eventually they're all given motivation, and turn out to be pretty interesting. I'm not here to get into the story of an 80 hour long JRPG though.

I am however here because of this fresh jam. Almost always when your party comes up against someone who is much stronger than them this song plays as they talk in the lead-up to an awesome fight. The song really lets you know that the people you're interacting with are no joke. Every time it plays I get so excited, because this is one of the few games I've ever played where the main characters aren't the strongest people in the world. It's cool to have characters who aren't all powerful and can definitely get trounced in a fight, This song introduces all the badasses who can crush your team and that's awesome.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Memorable Melodies: Character Select from Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World: The Game

Song: Character Select
Game: Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World: The Game
Artist: Anamanaguchi

Most people have probably heard of Scott Pilgrim before. It is an amazing graphic novel series by Brian Lee O'malley, which got its start 12 years ago. Approximately six years ago there was even a halfway competent movie adaptation. The story follows 23 year old Scott Pilgrim as he pursues his love interest Romona Flowers. In order to "be with her" Scott must defeat her seven evil exes. It's heavily inspired by anime and video games, so it only makes sense that the series came full circle and was made into a video game as well.

The game itself falls into the classic brawler style. You pick from a few characters and beat the living crap out of enemies until you get to a boss. Then you beat the crap out of the boss. It's a little deeper than old school brawlers like Streets of Rage in that you can level up and increase your ability to beat down on thugs. 

The creator of the series was able to do all of the art, so everything is very close to the way it appears in the comics, but a little bit more pixelated. To go along with the pixel-art style a chiptune soundtrack was composed by the band Anamanguchi. If you've listened to my podcast I actually use an Anamanaguchi track as its theme song. This game was actually the way I was first introduced to the band, and I quickly fell in love.

I fell so much in love that this very song has been my ringtone and alarm since the game was released back in 2010. What's a bummer is that the character select music isn't actually on the game's official OST, but obviously that doesn't stop it from being ripped onto the Internet in extremely high quality. 

I'd tell you to run out and buy the game digitally, but it is no longer available for sale. In December of 2014 the licence expired, and Ubisoft decided it was too expensive to renew. It's a bummer, but licensing deals are expensive and they don't last forever. Hopefully someday this wonderful game will be put back on the market for new people to discover and enjoy.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Podcast Episode 19 - Monster Hunter

You may have heard me talk about Monster Hunter on the blog before, but now you can hear all about it in Podcast form! Get ready to be regaled with tales of how I've lost hundreds of hours to this series!