Tag Archives: 999

The Silver Case — A New Phase For Japanese Adventure Games On PC?

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I found the time to try out the demo for the PC remake of Suda51’s The Silver Case, which got me to look at a trend that seems to be increasing on PC these days — visual novels and Japanese adventure games. This has been going on for some time now, but I wonder if we’re starting to see a new phase this year and if Silver Case might lead to similar scenarios in the future. Continue reading

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What Else Comes Out This Week: Zero Escape

I am about to devote a post to giving my high recommendation to two games – one coming out this week, of a genre that I normally abhor.

Fans of DS adventure games like Ace Attorney, Professor Layton, and Hotel Dusk who haven’t yet heard of the Zero Escape brand should definitely take heed of it. Fans of other adventure games like The Walking Dead might also want to at least check them out. 9 Hours, 9 Persons, 9 Doors for the DS and its new 3DS and PlayStation Vita sequel Virtue’s Last Reward are almost the only visual novels that I’ve genuinely enjoyed.

I was curious enough to rent 999 from GameFly after stumbling upon IGN’s glowing review of it. About 10 minutes in as I was reading the 20th paragraph of text I realized “Wait a minute! This is a visual novel!” and thought about immediately sending it back. For some reason I decided to give the game a little more time, and around the point the game described with in-text detail a guy’s insides splattered all over a wall after a bomb detonated in his stomach, I had decided to finish the rental copy.

I generally avoid visual novels because, well, they aren’t really video games. They’re basically literature printed onto a game disc. Each title might have a handful of player choices that split the story, or even some puzzles, but you still spend probably at least 75 percent of your “gameplay” time reading text. If I want that I’ll generally, y’know, read a book, not turn on a video game.

That said, 999 ended up gaining my interest because it turned out to actually be a really good book printed onto a game disc.

In terms of subject matter, the Zero Escape games feel similar to a lot of today’s anime and manga tropes but with an uncommon air of maturity. You can tell they didn’t write the story for 13-year-olds and the localization handles that in stride, not afraid of its M rating despite being very sparse in the area of graphics. Simply put, the storylines in these particular games don’t pull any punches.

Someone very aptly described 999 as “Riven: the Sequel to Myst meets SAW.” Nine people are trapped on a boat and have to solve deranged puzzles in order to escape the grizzly death described above. Through this setup 999 weaves a far better mystery thriller than what you get in most video games. It is rare that I care about the characters in games enough to want to see what happens to them, and 999’s bittersweet ending had me reeling for days after I finished it.

From what I’ve read of Virtue’s Last Reward, it apparently takes all that to the next level. 999 had something like half a dozen endings; Virtue’s Last Reward has around two dozen, and is supposedly even darker. The video above is a short prologue to that game.

999 recently got a reprint and is now around $20. If you want to try out Virtue’s Last Reward and own a Vita, the demo is already on the PlayStation Store.

BULLETS:

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Fall 2012 Battleplan

Borderlands 2 kinda crept up on me, and one look at my fall release chart has let me know that the 2012 gaming crunch season has already begun. Worst of all, this is probably the most broke I’ve been for the fall in years.

There actually isn’t a whole lot that I’m 100 percent ready to buy right now. Mostly it’s games that I plan to rent then possibly buy later. Even stranger is the platform distribution I’m looking at here.

Borderlands 2 is the first such game that I plan to rent first despite the pressure I’m feeling from my Steam friends list. It was the same with the first game too, and after a PS3 rental I only declined on it because I already had enough loot games on my plate what with three Phantasy Star games, Torchlight, and DeathSpank. Now, Borderlands 2’s only competition seems to be Torchlight II (didn’t’ really get into the big DIII), which I seriously need to consider. It’s a third the price of Borderlands 2 and I’m actually intrigued with how different it looks from the first game.

The game that I’m really pulling for but still only renting thus far is Dishonored. I think I’ve talked before about how that game is pushing all the right buttons for me – the designers seen to really understand stealth gameplay and their pedigree is highly auspicious. Arkane (and in a way ZenMax in general) just seems like the kind of company that hasn’t gotten caught up in making games that will sell lots of copies, and just wants to make quality games. Despite that I’m still only gonna be 99 percent sure on Dishonored until I’ve actually played it. A demo would really help me out.

Hitman: Absolution is another one that I’ve become more optimistic for as the weeks have gone by, but I still remain cautious on it. Earlier this year the press and previous made it feel like another Splinter Cell Conviction – an “action stealth” game with the challenge and cerebral gratification replaced by the visceral, or what the developers think of as visceral. The more recent gameplay videos however have begun to restore hope for the open-ended “public stealth” game that Hitman fans love.

Far Cry 3 rounds out the stealth trio for me. Far Cry 2 was a flawed gem in my opinion that didn’t have the impact on the industry that it should have. In a world of increasingly linear shooters here we have a completely open-world first person shooter. It’s one of the only games that really let’s the player stretch out with their own style. Industry trends make me worry that Ubisoft will somehow screw up the formula in the name of accessibility. It’s probably a hard balance to nail exactly what I liked about FC2 while getting rid of that game’s problems, but every preview I’ve seen of FC3 so far suggests the game is heading in a direction that I like.

So far, there are only three new games that I absolutely intend to buy this fall, and two of them are handheld games. Other than Assassin’s Creed III I plan to get two relatively under-the-radar games this fall. They are Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion, and Zero Escape: Virtue’s Lat Reward.

If you still don’t know, Power of Illusion is actually being positioned as a sort of spiritual sequel to the Castle, Land, and World of Illusion games for the Genesis and Master System. Mickey Mouse platformers used to be excellent games back in the day and it’s great that they’re capitalizing on the Epic Mickey IP for a chance to make another one. Does anybody even really care about the console versions?

Virtue’s Last Reward is pretty much the sequel to Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors for the DS – the first visual novel that I genuinely enjoyed. Despite the lack of gameplay, turns out all it took for me to enjoy one was a good storyline. Now I’m invested in Kotaro Uchikoshi’s writing and hope this game can build off of 999’s success.

There are a few other games I plan to buy this fall, but all of them are HD ports of old games. With my bank account in its current condition those are almost all I might be able to afford. Jet Set Radio should be out on Steam around the time I post this. I never got it play NiGHTS Into Dreams, Okami HD seems to be making all the right moves, and Zone of the Enders HD Collection is still slated for 2012 in North America. DOOM 3 BFG Edition is also a maybe.

What I find odd is that no console games are on my list this year.

Other than Okami and ZOE on the PS3, everything I’m buying this year I’m buying on either PC or the 3DS. Oh I’ll rent all those games I’m trying out on the Xbox 360 – one of the top reasons I even own one is because I can’t rent PC games. Despite PC having been my main game platform this generation this is the first year where this has happened.

BULLETS:

  • Hopefully the Vita’s manga reader goes worldwide. Like I indicated previously, it would bring some new content to the platform. On top of that, manga has been woefully behind on the digital front for years now. It’s gotten to the point where piracy is ripping the media apart, and the publishers back in Japan are doing almost nothing about it.
  • This better turn into something: http://t.co/vBZeA15a Patlabor 2 was a great anime film but to be honest about 80 percent of it could have been live action. It’s basically a detective movie where giant robots appear for maybe five minutes. Only the very beginning and very end would’ve needed some special effects.
  • Portal 2: The Animation: http://t.co/DlgJ7yFb
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