Archive for October, 2008

I’m alive!

October 29th, 2008

Just have been quite stressed at work the last couple days, which is why I haven’t gotten the Vitamin Z post up yet (but I do have the pics scanned!)

In other news, Hakarena Heart for the PS2 from Russell is being released as a ‘best of’ version, which means a good price! Around $30.

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December mag news

October 25th, 2008

Yay, I got the December magazines! Quick updates:

That’s about it!

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Little Anchor – The first sci-fi otome game?

October 23rd, 2008

I finally got around to reading through D3’s site for its newest game, Little Anchor.

The story sounds very interesting – the main character is the captain of a spaceship! Awesome!

More about the setting: In the near future, the founding of a city on the moon allows science and our knowledge of space to improve rapidly. A worldwide organization, EUG, is founded to organize the new space activities, but like today, powerful countries decide things to their advantage. Another group forms in protest, the ICSEO, and war breaks out.

Several years (generations?) later, the EUG wants to make peace with ICSEO, and prepares to send a large spaceship as an olive branch. The main character, as the daughter of a hero, is chosen as captain, and a crew is chosen, all with their own peculiarities. However, as they’re preparing to launch, ICSEO starts a large attack on EUG, and the ship has to make an emergency take off.

Can the main character win the war and bring peace to the world, which is what her father wanted? That’s the object of Little Anchor, which is scheduled right now for Spring 2009.

I should be getting the December (really November but w/e) mags tomorrow, so maybe they’ll have some more info!

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Kanuchi! After finishing

October 22nd, 2008

Iyaaa, nagakatta~ Well, I finished two routes in Kanuchi (Mitoshi and Ukitsu), so now I’m pretty sure what most of the routes are like.

After finally finishing, I understand the complaint I’ve heard the most, about the main character. Aki is a normal girl which is pretty normal for an otome game, but here in many of the plot scenes it’s Kayana at centre stage, and often Aki’s not even around. Kayana, whom I really like, is a very strong character with an interesting backstory and she makes a strong impression on everyone she meets. Aki…not really.

Having said that, after playing two routes, and being able to skip a lot of the repeated plot points, it doesn’t seem as bad as it did in the beginning when I was expecting a typical story arc of someone falling for Aki. Maybe it was because of the different route, but I could believe that Ukitsu was starting to like Aki. Maybe it was because I knew what to expect. In this game, the story and relationships are just starting – even at the end of the game, you’re just starting to get a feeling of where the love plots will end up. And at the end, it’s a cliffhanger – like a season finale. If you hate loose ends, you might want to wait to pick this up until the second half comes out.

It’s interesting and rewarding to do repeat playthroughs as well. When you finish someone’s route and use that save to start over, you get several scenes involving them and showing some of their backstory that you didn’t know when you played through before. It’s a little weird because of course now you’re going for someone else, but those scenes are just enough to break up the loong long stretch to where the next character starts getting their specific events.

Oh, now…the gameplay! Yes, this is an Otomate title and it has tons of dialogue. But there’s also the smithing mini-game (is it still a mini-game when it’s a big part of the game?). I love gathering and crafting games. I’m a total nerd for them, in WoW I’m attempting to have one character with each skill maxed, and in this game, it was really fun to complete all the possible weapons and cooking recipes.

How it works is that every day you can go out to an area and gather until your bag is full or your energy is gone. Then when you gather enough, you can make something – though if your smithing skill isn’t high and the item’s difficulty is, you’re likely to fail. You gain skill by smithing easy stuff. Weapons start off using common ingredients and gradually move into rare item territory. You also use these weapons to fill orders. The orders are sometimes for finished weapons, sometimes for ingredients, and the harder they are to get or make, the more money you make. Then you can use that money to buy bigger bags, a fast horse to carry you gathering in a shorter time, or medicine for your grandfather. It also increases your ‘trust’ statistic, which has a couple effects on the game (I only know of one so far). And of course, you have to make enough money to pay your rent etc. to the guild.

There are over a hundred smithing ingredients (I’m not sure how many, but a lot), and each area has only certain items available. What I did was actually draw maps of each area, because ingredients show up the same places all the time. For example, there’s a beach area where pearls are found in a certain empty spot on the beach. If you go into the cave there, you can gather gold. And in the farthest area, there’s a ruin where you can pick up Parthenon Stone and Rune Stone, very rare. It’s annoying on your first playthrough, because it takes a long time to figure out where things are and gather enough for a certain recipe, but one great thing, a total lifesaver, is that you can carry over your money, ingredients, bag and horse into another playthrough. Now that I’m on my third, I have a bunch of each ingredient and probably won’t have to go gathering at all (though I will to get ready for my fourth run through :P) Also, you can gather food items and then cook food (which never fails) that you can bring to recover your energy on your outings and keep gathering.

I don’t want to talk too much about the story because a big part of the game is finding out what Kayana’s history is and about each character. I’ll just finish and say that though I can understand why some people might not like it (Aki’s lack of story, and the very low level of romance), I’m really enjoying it now, and I’m pretty sure I’ll do everyone’s route. Then I’ll start waiting for the second half to come out in a few months…

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Kanuchi First Play!

October 18th, 2008

Hm. So, I haven’t finished Kanuchi yet, but I’ve gotten a ways through it, so I thought I’d put my first impressions down.

Production is good – all the technical functions you expect in an otome game are here – already-read skip and forced skip, quick save/load, replay of dialogue (it works the same way as Hiiro no Kakera, where you actually jump back to that point in time), having a chart of where you are in the story, etc.

There’s quite a bit of dialogue to get through before you first make a choice, and so far (maybe 30-40% done?) there’s only been a handful more.

The story is pretty good so far. Aki is a normal girl who grew up with a foster grandfather who found her on a battlefield beside her dead parents. Her grandfather is a blacksmith in a small village, and when the story begins, she’s 17 and looking around for work to do her share. Her grandfather refuses to teach her blacksmithing, and she can’t seem to find anything near the village. Her friend Seki finds something in the capital city, but Aki doesn’t want to go that far.

One day a guardsman comes to the village searching for a blacksmith and has a run-in with Aki. She doesn’t tell him about her grandfather, but when he comes back, she blurts it out unintentionally. He visits her grandfather and asks him to become the smith for the castle guard, but he refuses and won’t say why. Aki gets mad because they have a promise not to keep secrets from each other, and runs outside. Her grandfather and the guardsman, Clato, search for her because a storm is coming, but her grandfather ends up getting sick. It’s pretty serious, and Aki is told that the doctor and medicine to help him recover fully are quite expensive. She decides to get work, and manages to get a shop in the capital city already set up for blacksmithing.

Unfortunately, though she’s watched her grandfather smith, she has no experience, and is getting depressed. One night she has a strange dream about a long time ago, with a woman who is getting ready to be crowned after a battle.

Aki continues to gather materials and try to smith (unsuccessfully), also meeting the other members of the castle guard.

One day suddenly another consciousness appears *in* Aki, announcing that she’s Kayana Takamahara, who Aki knows as the first monarch of the kingdom and a goddess of war. Aki doesn’t believe her, but doesn’t really know what to think of her new ‘tenant’. Kayana sometimes does things with Aki’s body, so it seems to people watching like Aki is having weird conversations with herself, and is also acting totally unlike her. However, one good thing is that Kayana is very good at smithing, and helps teach Aki so she can actually make things.

A few days after everyone has started noticing this, Aki gets summoned to the castle. The ‘star reader’, Mitoshi, who’s also a member of the castle guard, has recognized Kayana in Aki and has told the prince to call her on the night of ‘Rua’. It turns out that this is the one night where Kayana can exist outside of Aki’s body in her own form, so Kayana goes to the castle alone.

As befits an ancient monarch, one who won her place in battle, Kayana is very straightforward, confident, and expert in swordsmanship. The castle guards, expecting a humble blacksmith, try not to let Kayana through, but she easily beats them and appears before the prince, Kugami. She states that she’s Kayana Takamahara, and Mitoshi says she’s here to stop the war that’s been going on forever. Kugami takes down a royal treasure, a sword that no one can unsheath, and Kayana recognizes it as her own. She easily unsheaths it, and says it’s hers, so Kugami says she can have it (above the protests of his steward).

Kayana knows why she has beein reincarnated, but it’s not too clear right now what that is. She has to wait until a certain time where she can get her own body, so until then, she and Aki coexist in Aki’s body.

That’s as far as I’ve gotten right now in the story.

The gameplay, other than talking to people, involves taking orders and making things for people to get money. Every day you wake up and can move around in your house/shop. My usual routine is to go downstairs and straight outside, where you choose where to go gather materials. Depending on the place, you may take more than a day to get there and back. Once you’re there, you move around on a map and choose to gather materials where you can. At the beginning your bag has only 5 slots, so once they’re full, you have to either stop or choose to throw something out to make room for more. However, you can stack items of the same type, so you can keep going trying to get more of something. Each time you gather some of your energy disappears. When you’re done, you head home. Usually I go straight to the cupboard to dump out my bag, and then see if I can make anything with the materials I’ve gathered so far. After 30 in-game days, I’ve only been able to make one thing eheh.

I also go to the counter to check requests and see if I can fulfill any orders. If not, I then go upstairs and go to my kitchen to see if I can cook anything with ingredients that I’ve gathered (nothing so far). Then I take a bath to renew my energy and give something to my pet. The pet, whose name is Koro, will eat any extra material (food or smithing ingredient), and will lay an egg with something different after a day or two, so it’s good to get different things in exchange for whatever you have an excess of.

Some good, bad, and interesting points: