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WW #06 Record of Agarest War(‘s box)

I’ve mentioned before that I will buy pretty much anything if it’s marked down to ten bucks. I’ve privately referred to it as the “quarter compulsion”, as, when I was child and had a quarter, I would immediately spend that quarter on whatever useless crap the supermarket foyer area was selling. And I’ve got a collection of bouncy balls to prove it! As a responsible adult (lie), I treat a Hamilton roughly in the same manner, and that couples poorly with my tendency to hang out in videogame stores. This is just a longwinded way of excusing myself for owning this…

It's a box!

That’s Record of Agarest War. It’s a TRPG that I played for maybe ten minutes before outright quitting forever. I’d love to write a full review or something, but… nah. TRPGs take way too long to do anything, and there doesn’t seem to be anything compelling about dialogue box after dialogue box relaying the War of the Who Cares.

However, despite purchasing this videogame ostensibly to not play it, I do not regret the ten bucks I blew on this purchase. Why? Because this is the box that caught my eye…

WW #04 Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse

Due to the subject matter of this entire week, some items may be NSFW. We’ve got some PG-13 screenshots here, but, given everyone has a different threshold, anything potentially offensive will be behind the “Read More” links du jour. Just so you are aware

Here's everybody!I’ve mentioned my buddy Matt before. Matt has two sons, one of which is prime video game playing age. As Matt and I are both tremendous nerds, no one disparages the child’s hobby, and while Uncle Goggle Bob may have had to unlock some of the more difficult content in some games (“Thanks for unlocking the weird mushroom, Goggle Bob”), the kid is pretty good for playing games to completion. Not too long ago, Matt’s kid dug up his father’s old Gameboy, and started playing Metroid 2. And, despite the game having the same graphical fidelity as a damp tissue, he enjoyed it. So, knowing that I’m a giant videogame nerd, Matt asked me what would be an ideal, similar game for the 3DS (his child’s general system of choice). Two games came to mind.

  1. Shovel Knight, because, while it may be difficult, I know the kid also enjoyed Duck Tales, so, ya know, if he enjoys Samus Aran and Scrooge McDuck, this seems like a slam dunk. Might be a little too difficult though, so I also considered…
  2. Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse which, while it may rely on the Link’s Adventure formula of exploration, was still very close to Metroid 2 metroidvania gameplay. It also featured another fierce heroine (as opposed to hero), which is probably a good thing for boys to see every once in a while.

So, after deliberating on both choices, I decided to only recommend Shovel Knight. Want to know why? Well, in, say, Metroid 2, how do you get deeper into the game? You “land” on the planet, grab some powerups, shoot some blocks, discover the Alpha Metroid, kill it, and then proceed downward past some receding lava. This is some pretty typical video game advancement, so maybe we’ll look The Legend of Zelda 2: Link’s Adventure. In that game, it’s not unusual to have to deal with a villager that is claiming they have some spell or item you need, but you have to perform a fetch quest to obtain whatever this puissant peasant wants. Go to the Deadly Cave, obtain the Trophy, drag it back to Tom, Tom forks over the Jump Spell, and then it’s time to leap over that ledge in Frightening Cave and head onto Second Dungeon. This is much closer to how Shantae works.

Actually, let’s be particular about how Shantae “works”…

WW #03 Senran Kagura (Franchise)

Due to the subject matter of this entire week, some items may be NSFW. We’ve got some PG-13 screenshots here, but, given everyone has a different threshold, anything potentially offensive will be behind the “Read More” links du jour. Just so you are aware

So I’ve covered a number of Beat ‘em Up games over the course of the FGC. I went back and reviewed a couple of those articles before writing this, and I realized something: Beat ‘em Up Heroes rarely wear shirts. Haggar has a suspender strap, Billy and Jimmy Lee are wearing (as far as I see) ab-bearing vests, and when Liu Kang took a vacation from Fighting Games, he didn’t think to pack a top. This tells me two things: one, that Beat ‘em Up Heroes are ripped as hell, and two, they’re generally men. Yes, there’s usually an alternative choice that features the fairer sex, but nobody ever talks about wanting to see Final Fight 4 so we can get closure on Lucia’s story. Does she even piledrive anybody?

I already discussed Senran Kagura Bon Appétit, the rhythm-cooking game from the Senran Kagura franchise. As mentioned, I enjoyed that game’s gameplay (but not aesthetics), so I decided to give the rest of the franchise a try. Senran Kagura Shinovi Versus was technically the “origin” of the spinoff title, and I was rather lacking for new Vita games at the time (and forever), so I tried it, and, what’s more, I enjoyed it. It was more gross pandering, yes, but it was a fun little beat ‘em up. Also, thanks to the camera being more controllable than in the “pretty much cutscene based” Bon Appétit, I didn’t have to stare at some random cleavage all day long. I mean, obviously the cleavage is there, but it isn’t like the camera is eternally investigating the valley.

In time (and mostly thanks to sales), I tried the rest of the Senran Kagura series. The “original” Senran Kagura Burst (technically not the original, but basically the Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo to Senra Kagura Skirting Shadow’s Street Fighter 2) for the 3DS is basically a “classic” beat ‘em up to the bone, and comes off as almost a gender-swapped Streets of Rage. Its technical sequel, Senran Kagura 2: Deep Crimson, adopted the 3-D feel of Shinovi Versus, but maintained the more “technical” aspects of the Burst gameplay, making for a more difficult, but ultimately more rewarding, entry in the series. Senran Kagura: Estival Versus, meanwhile, follows the Shinovi Versus format and…

Christ, what the hell am I writing here? This is Wankery Week, dammit, not Gameplay Week.

Let’s try this again…

FGC #204 Dragon’s Crown

Due to the subject matter, this article may be slightly NSFW. Nothing too dirty, but you might get some raised eyebrows. Just so you know.

Creative endeavors have always been important in my family. Both of my grandfathers were engineers in one way or another, but both also produced a surprising number of paintings and other artistic works. My maternal grandfather was a lot more prolific… but, then again, he did live about thirty years longer than the other guy. He (that is to say, the grandfather that lived to see 90) painted wonderful portraits, like this representation of my backyard…

And, before his stroke, he also carved a good number of birds. Maybe “whittled” is the word? Whatever, check out this blue jay…

How did he make birds? We just don’t know.

My father seems to be more creative/effective in the kitchen, but my mother picked up the art gene, and has been producing reasons to purchase a bunch of frames since well before I was born. She recently started distinctly taking art classes at the local college (ah, to be forcibly retired), so she has been producing quite a bit of new material at the behest of a rigid grading system. This piece was apparently made with coffee grounds? I don’t understand art.

I, unfortunately, did not inherit the… let’s call it “drawing” gene. No, that’s probably wrong. I probably did inherit the proper genes, I’m just the kind of guy that has absolutely no patience for anything that doesn’t come out perfect the first time. I probably could be a wonderful artist if I were willing to put up with sketching and erasing and moving lines and starting from scratch and ugh I’m just going to go play Pokémon. Maybe I can blame videogames for this, or maybe I’m just an incredible narcissist, but I feel like I don’t have the endurance to level up so that I can draw something better than a crappy hand turkey.

But I appreciate art in its myriad forms, even if I feel like the best I can pull off is every other day essays. As a result, I immediately gravitate toward any videogame with an “interesting” art style. I can… deal with the cavalcade of plastic polygon people drifting around any given AAA title, but I will grant a lot of latitude to any game that indulges an interesting “style”. Frankly, I don’t care how realistic graphics can get, I still want that “playable anime” I was promised back when I first played Lunar (and Guilty Gear Xrd is doing pretty well in that department). Mad World, Limbo, and even Fez are all games that I likely would not have given another look if not for their elegant presentations. Well, maybe “elegant” isn’t the word I’d use for any game that involves a buzzsaw…

So Dragon’s Crown naturally got my attention…