Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Blazblue Central Fiction - Jubei Only Lives On Hype



Couple of weeks ago almost a month. Jubei dropped as a DLC character for Blazblue. After so many years of fans begging to have him we finally have him. But man, he's probably the most lackluster in terms of DLC characters that have dropped for this series. Almost if not every character that's been DLC for this game that's dropped has been pretty much the destroyer of tiers, the most ass whooping character to exist and definitely need a nerf. Jubei doesn't get that. Visually he's great but playability is where he lacks.

Looks

Jubei is pretty much exactly how I remember the guy. There are complaints rolling around that he's been made too tall than his actual size. Yeah he's supposed to be a little shorter than Platinum but that made complaints saying that fighting games should never have short characters. All I can say to that in response is, fighting games shouldn't have giant characters. The argument goes that because a character is too short then moves and combos will whiff making things a lot harder to fight and somehow make the game unplayable.  Honestly if you actually dig into the game you find that this argument is rather null and void cause such situations already happened when it comes to characters like Platinum and Carl. It's a really dumb argument that for me holds no water since it's just a thing you see in fighting games. However I'm too old and anything I say in regards to things such as these are moot, since I come from the age of fighting games where you just deal with it or play another game (the 90s).

So Jubei was made slightly taller and can get away with it as he is a cat so he's just standing on his hind legs and when he's running can low profile some moves. Not all. He's not pulling a Taokaka who can actually low profile tons of things with the simple press of a button.

I love the fact that you actually get to see his claws unlike Taokaka and actually see what's under his hoodie during certain moves. The calligraphy paint effect on certain moves is a bit much IMO but it works.

Gameplay

Jubei's HP is obviously on the low end. Being short and all that. His damage is iffy. But not bad. I mean compared to that of Tsubaki or certain other characters who have to bend over backwards to get damage. His damage output isn't bad. What I like best is that he's one the better characters to easily take advantage of an opponent who recovers wrong. Especially with his supers.

Jubei's normals leave a lot be desired. Having 2B (Crouching B) be his longest reaching and safest normal. But it's still very short. In fact all of his normals are short. I get a bit of Persona 4 Arena: Ultimax Sho from him when it comes to his C buttons since they hit twice. He actually has certain combos that want you to hit with his C normals only once before cancelling into something else.

WTF Counter

What makes you go "Why is this a thing?" and what I may consider this some sort of anti-mash thing brought into the game. Jubei doesn't have a 6A or 6B (Forward+A, Forward+B). Well he does but unlike everyone else in the cast they don't function like the other guys. Instead they're command counters. 6A for middle and high(?) attacks. 6B for Low attacks. The problem is that these counters have a very short window (hahah I made a funny) of active frames. Meaning throwing these out can spell pain for heck probably death for you. Where Hakumen can easily get away with it a few times. Jubei can't due to his low HP. You pretty much have to know your opponent is going to throw out something you can counter with these and commit to it without hesitation. Even then it may not work.

Don't expect to land the first attack at round start. Jubei's attacks are too short to just throw out and expect a hit.

Unorthodox Moveset

Where things range from awkward to WHY?! From a straight casual standpoint you wouldn't much care for this especially if you never bother to check the command list. Jubei has some awkward specials and supers. One being 632146C (Half Circle, Forward + C) being a special move which for the longest time in Blazblue and Guilty Gear series was generally reserved for Supers.

His D Button doesn't do much but strike and mark the opponent. An opponent who's marked can be attacked from behind only by Jubei's 2 of 3 supers. Feels like minimal thought was put into this when you have characters like Azrael who can mark you and turn certain moves into unblockables and even gain tons of damage off of. Or previous DLC character Mai who's only function was throwing her spear and making it change direction charging it made it unblockable if you didn't redirect it.  It would be nice if Jubei had some special moves with this but he only has 3 different D button normals. 2 of which seem to be the exact same.

He has another super which changes how his D Button works. Where before it was a single strike that marked the opponent. Now turns into 4 hits. This would be great except getting it to work properly is a chore. You can simply press the button and Jubei will look stupid for a few seconds or you can press a combination of buttons to get different results as to where the cat will strike. What sucks is the game doesn't let you know what each button will do. Just tells you to experiment. Which there are apparently a ton of combinations.  This mode change super also last throughout the entire round duration. So unlike Bang, Tsubaki, Izayoi, etc. You're stuck with this awkward mode. This led me to not using the mode much if at all.

His other special moves can be considered as enders if anything else. Or just ways to open someone up. Assuming that your opponent's response isn't an instant DP. 214B can open up someone who's crouching on your blockstring while 236B can work in cases of someone mashing out moves that aren't DP. 632146C has guard break properties if charged. and 236C is a fireball designed for oki pressure (when the opponent wakes up leaving him/her little option but to block).  He also has a command air dash which can force the opponent to guess what you're doing sometimes. However I find this gets in the way of his 2nd Super that has to be done in the air.

The Big Problem For the Short Guy

The major problem with Jubei is that most if not all of the cast has something they can use to stop Jubei from pulling off anything. Worst case scenario would be matching him up against Nine who has tools for virtually every situation. But what's hurts in that fight is that she easily out ranges her husband without breaking a sweat.  Bullet can stop him or trade depending on the situation. While Jubei is built to be a great rushdown character getting in the opponent's face is his main problem. I find that Jubei will pretty much lose match after match unless the opponent instantly panics when something doesn't work. Even then he just has a hard time winning.

**It doesn't help that Jubei is considered to be always crouching when hit. While this doesn't mean much for those that play on a casual level. What it does mean is that combos that don't normal work on most opponents will work on Jubei.

Overall

I like Jubei and glad he finally got added to the game. But I feel he's an afterthought...no not an afterthought like Team Blue was sick of fans asking for Jubei and decided to throw a character together without much effort. He looks great yes. But honestly Jubei feels like an all style, very little if any substance character. If I actually see a Jubei player that stays a Jubei player that'll surprise me.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

The Sly Collection - Sly Cooper & The Thievius Raccoonus



So I have generally the same thoughts I had when I first originally played this game. Which is good and bad. Thankfully some of the rumors were dispelled when I played the collection for myself. I played Sly 1 over 15 years ago. It's hard to recall much significant from the game that stood out to me. I can generally remember the negative points a lot more. Not to say it's a bad game. But it definitely has it's low points.

I think everyone knows the story of Sly Cooper at least the first one. Sly, a raccoon was child who comes from a long line of Master Thieves. Suddenly a bunch of evil thieves bust in and kill his parents and rip apart the book that's been kept in the family for generations, "The Thievius Raccoonus". Sly made orphan then grows up making friends with a Hippo named Murray and a turtle named Bently. The 3 together makes there own thieving crew. Murray the getaway driver, Bently being the brains, and Sly being the guy who does the real work. After working there way up to be great thieves Sly decides it's time to take on the crime ring that took away his family and get The Thievius Raccoonus back.

Gameplay

The game does a nice job of giving a tutorial and doesn't care about breaking the 4th wall. It treats things like the circle button as a natural thing in it's own world. But it doesn't bring to attention that it's breaking the 4th wall. It's also kind enough to let you listen to the tutorial prompts again. This does sometimes get in the way if you're close to that spot and you're trying to do something else.

I do find some of the power-ups useless in the game like using a decoy or a mine to distract or defeat enemies. Actually you can beat the entire game without getting any of the optional power-ups. I can't even say for sure if these make the game any easier. They often feel like after thoughts. Some of the power-ups are generally useless as well.

The game doesn't really have a standard as to what levels you come across. Just have to make note that once you encounter such a level for the first time you're likely to see it again in some form. Such as Murray racing, Collecting or destroying a set number of objects in a select time frame, Protecting Murray from enemies by playing sniper, etc.

The worst kind of level gameplay change happens at the last hub-world. You're not given any real time to practice or get used to the fairly new style of gameplay. The first being a rail shooter section similar to that of what you did with Murray but now instead of protecting the Hippo you're protecting yourself. Having to shoot almost everything in your path or die. Next having to break computers faster than your enemy pushing them out the way demolition derby style. After a short familiar style stage with just Sly. You run in with Bently playing a game of asteroids. After doing another sniper portion, Your given a bit of a familiar test run of your thieving skills which is more race to the finish. Then for something you've never done before at all in this game. Fly a Jetpack. You have to defeat the first 2 phases of the final boss while flying this thing. Then you're given one last hurrah of everything you've been used to. If you die during this you back to the start of the boss fight. -_-  I hated this level as a child too.

These require just good old trial and error. The game is generous enough to give you horse shoes which counts as extra hits you can take before you die. But being thrust into levels pretty much different from the normal format is pretty much the same as Crash Bandicoot. This was how a lot of older games did things from time to time. Usually throwing instructions for the "different" kind of levels in the game manual. This is problematic now as games in this era rely far more on tutorials and various websites to give out instructions and very vague ones at that. The Sly Collection has no such manual. At least when you download the game. This could also be seen as a cheap way to increase replay value to many.

One of the rumors I heard about this game was that the frame rate doesn't match up with voice lines. Which it's supposed to rear it's ugly head during the Ms. Ruby boss fight where you have play a game of Simon Says making it harder than it needs to be. However I find that to be false. The frame rate and sound match up quite fine and I had no trouble in that level.


Sound and Music

Well the voice work is nice. But the music...what can I say about the music that's so bad? Well I can barely hear it. I had similar issue with this in the Megaman X Collection on certain games where the music volume was much lower than the sound effects and voices. I can hardly hear the music at all in this game unless I turn my TV's volume up and there is no Music Volume adjustment option. Just turn it on or off. While it fits the aesthetic of being a thief. It really turns me off to just barely hear the music in the game. I may as well just put a different song over the whole thing.

Graphics

Well for a game that's to be upscaled to 720p it worked out nicely. Usually you see a lot of strange things when upscaling games which is why I avoid doing that with my videos. It just doesn't look right when you do a quick or forced upscaling on a game that wasn't meant to play at that high a quality.

Bad Examples of Upscaled Graphics On Older Games

  • Persona 3 FES
  • Marvel vs Capcom 2 - Xbox 360/PS3
  • Game Gear Sonic Games

Good Examples

  • Crash N-Sane Trilogy
  • Odin Sphere
  • Tales of Destiny
Overall I didn't notice any problems or hiccups with the graphics. 


Overall

Obviously the 2 major problems that stand out for me is the music being at such a low volume. And pretty much the last world hinders the game as a whole. The difficulty spike is expected but having to deal many gameplay changes has me view the game not as highly as others. 

At least the game doesn't get to the point that it's a classic SEGA or Nintendo game and make everything unforgiving. 

Other than that the game is alright. If possible I would like a soundtrack to the game so I can listen to the music I missed. Well time to move on to the 2nd game which I'm hearing is the hardest of the series.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Pharaoh Rebirth+ - What A Great Curse



First off I have trouble spelling the word "Pharaoh" lol.  I spell it Pharoh or some other spelling. That doesn't help Youtube search algorithms. Yet at the same time. This game obviously came out some time ago and people don't care about it. Especially now. I mean Sonic Mania is out and such.  Oh well. I had this game on my Steam Library for a long time. Need to knock it out.

Pharaoh Rebirth+ gives me heavy reminders of Cave Story. Likely due to the art style.  But they're by 2 totally different companies. This game is described to be a Metroid-vania style game (Castlevania with Metroid style exploration).  I guess that's one way to look at it. But to me it's a stretch. This is more like Castlevania 3 or any of the level based Castlevania games. Not like that of our current Castlevania where you explore one huge castle, temple, or whatever.  You find treasures that power you up. And you fight a boss at the end. This game does have it's issues. I think the main one seems to be on my end. More on that later.

Story


You start out as Jonathan. An archaeologist/adventurer exploring some random ruins in Egypt related to some guy called Sehur I. Oh yeah I should mention, Johnathan's a rabbit????? As you're exploring you're introduced to Jack. Your partner who gives me heavy reminders of Otacon from MGS. He's your support but he's very clumsy. So clumsy that he spilled coffee on the computer. Not too long after you meet your rival. A turtle-man????? Eh it's a videogame. At least that's the general reasoning you give seeing these 2 characters. Anyway this guy's name is Andre. He comes flying in on his obviously expensive military armed chopper to shoot you down and take whatever treasure there is before you get to it.

After your skirmish. Andre's knocked out on the ground. I decided to hit him for fun thinking it wouldn't do anything. The minute I do. Jack calls me to scold me for beating up on a man while he's down. So I stop and move on (Big mistake Much later on).  So entering the ruins. Jonathan finds a coffin and at a very convenient time Jack's computer goes on the fritz due this coffee spill earlier. The most you can make out over the communications is that you shouldn't open it. But Andre rushes and does that very thing. Cursing the both of you with a 7 day curse.

Now the real story begins. After fussing with Jack about his clumsy coffee drinking he explains that Jonathan and Andre both have 7 days to live. Once those 7 days pass Sehur I will awaken to kill them both as a sacrifice. The only way to break such a curse is to find the 7 Holy Chalices. These Chalices once gathered, have the ability to grant eternal life. This is said to be the only way to counter Sehur I as a resurrected Pharaoh can't kill an immortal. Now can he?

Well the story from here get's interesting. As it turns out that it's not only a race against time and your rival Andre to gather these 7 Chalices. But you also end up involved in an ancient war, and tied up in someone else's greedy scheme. Even the US Government gets involved.

The rest of the story plays out like a typical Castlevania game. You randomly meet people in hallways who give out some exposition. Or contribute to the plot. But to keep you from being bored during your travels. The game loves to mix in comedy as well. Such as when Jonathan finds a Lint Roller and Jack insists he takes it with him. Cause Jonathan leaves rabbit fur all over the van. I welcome the comedy especially in certain stages that overstay there welcome.

Gameplay


Well if you wanted Castlevania. You got it here. Jonathan plays an awful lot like a typical Belmont from Castlevania. He uses his ears as a whip and pretty much copies the classic moves of the Belmont clan. Even his subweapons function the same as a classic Castlevania game. Whip swing across platforms via an obvious looking post. Checking for foot holds and secret areas using holy ash.

While the weapon names are different you can easily relate these subweapons to anything in Castlevania. I almost want to say that this game is one huge reference to Castlevania tropes. There's even a secret move that you can input (which strangely represent Akuma's Shun Goku Satsu/Raging Demon) to annihilate everyone on screen.

The gameplay is pretty simple. Explore ruins looking for a new power-up to progress and eventually if you feel like it go back to previous stages and explore with your new power-ups. Bosses are not that difficult once you learn there patterns (except the secret boss).  In fact the game can be pretty much on the easy side of things especially after you collected every item in the game to boost your stats.

The game does love it's instant death spikes. A lot of people in today's time would probably complain about this saying the game's too hard. It's not. Pretty much once you figure out what to do the game is pretty easy to finish.

My only problem was the driving stage. I feel this stage overstayed it's welcome. While you have a jeep that has hydraulics and shocks any person with a lowrider would pay there life to own. You have to react with some rather precise timing jumps or instantly die. Not to mention shooting down enemies. This stage is way too long IMO. I'm reminded heavily of Megaman 8's auto-slider segments but take that and make it 10 times as long. It's worse cause there's collectables on the way that make you go, "Welp guess I better die to get this."  I honestly wouldn't be surprised if people quit the game because of this stage. While it's not too hard it's too long with it being unforgiving for making a mistake.

The One MISSABLE ITEM

If you're one of those completionist. I'll tell you right now. There is ONE miss-able item in the game. And I actually fault the game for this one cause it's stupid. After you defeat Andre in the prologue stage you're supposed to continuously hit him to make him drop an item. What? This is stupid cause the game actually tries to stop you by having Jack call you telling you to stop hitting him. If you don't make him drop the item your inventory will never be complete cause you won't get another chance to pick up this item.


Graphics


Well the game's looks give me a heavy remind of Cave Story. Now I never played Cave Story but what I saw was generally interesting. Pharaoh Rebirth+ uses the same graphic styles as that game.  As for enemies some are rather unique. I honestly would never think I'd see an Anteater wearing a leotard. Boss fights and there animations are pretty good as well.

My Own Framerate Issues

My one problem which I believe this to be a fault on my end is that when I was recording the frame rate dropped considerably. I didn't notice this at first cause I thought this was the game's original frame rate. Then I played without recording and found it to run much faster at 60FPS. I tried multiple settings to fix this problem but found no working solution. Maybe I should have V-Sync off?  I don't know. But it's a nice reminder that the graphics card in my PC sucks compared to today's standards.

I do find it strange however. Some games run perfectly fine I mean Freedom Planet never chugs for me. Yet Sonic 4 does???? And I can't run Rocket Knight on fullscreen 1440 x 1080p without it slowing down and have to reduce the resolution to get it to play?  Ugh I don't know Graphics Cards. I hate this....


Music and Sound Effects

The music is very welcoming and always ready to fit the mood. The sound effects work for the kind of game it is. It's not hyper-realistic sound effects but more exaggerated.  The end credits theme will probably go unappreciated as it's 2 actual songs playing.

Replay Value

While the game is pretty easy. There is apparently a hard mode. What I hate that you can only have one save data at a time. While I can workaround this by just copying the files to a different folder. I rather not do so. The game should have multiple save files and different play modes. While you unlock the ability to play as Andre. The game can definitely use some more modes.


My Only Wondering Thought (Spoiler)

I couldn't check to see what would happen but at the end once you defeat the final boss you're asked to make the final blow. But it looks as if you could hit Dr. Mahone instead of Sehur I. So I wonder what would've happen if I did? Would I get a bad ending? Or would the game scold me?


Overall

Definitely worth the money I spent and then some. As I got it when it was on sale.