Zassy

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About Zassy

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    怨霊も恐れ怯む少女

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    Torinoko City
  1. Given the expanding assortment of meta-ish games, wouldn't stun for a future game to use "placeholder icons" for some sorta satirical/postmodern statement. Anyway I only flipped through the page but the icons look darn neato & the list appears of adequate heft. Honestly can't say more of substance yet, will head in as blind as a bat not named Rouge if I play anytime soon. ^^ Had a former British pal (ex-pal...presumably not ex-Briton) absolutely enamored w/ Omori's PC release, and two of you sagacious chaps can't rightly be wrong. Although I do literally know next to naught about the game beyond its neato artstyle & a small spoiler-free(?) synopsis so - bracing myself if that time comes, in case of...surprises. Meep.
  2. Va-11 Hall-a (PS4) In the name of beauty! [Win a video game.] A hectic shoot-'em-up minigame, in *my* easygoing booze-'em'-up visual novel? It's...more likely than I thought. O.o Nearly all tips suggest hugging the lower-right corner for the first ~60% of the stage, which I concur, apart from one brief separation to take down the first wave of red eyes (who'll clip Julianne if left unimpeded). From there, as with any busier shmup, I advise the usual: fixate on the bullet patterns, not the foes. Bob, weave, and entrance one's eyes into a zen state; seriously, when played to a suitable distance, the gaps between bullets tend to emerge as their own navigable patterns - then for the little boss imp, make quick zags diagonally behind her final bullet pattern before the loop, 'cause her assault's cycle repeats real damn quick chasing the diagonal spray. Good gravity is Va-11 Hall-a one rich joy thus far. Could see myself marinating within its confines for a great while, aye-aye. ^-^
  3. Usually UR > SR for raw might, usually. I've mained New Jersey since her launch & damn does she obliterate foes, highly vouch for her if you haven't yet decided. ^.^ (Also the number of NPCs piling up truly is climbing high, yow. o.o) Shipgirls: Retrofits: G'lucks to everybody~ o/
  4. 40-platinum.png #19: Touhou Double Focus (PS4 via PS5 BC)

     

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    2D Touhouvania dual coverage

     

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    Reading Rainbow, Wishbone, Between the Lions, Adventures from the Book of Virtues - American public television funded no shortage of children's literacy programs. I myself glued inseparably to the first two. Only later in life would I learn that moderate aphantasia thwarted further attempts of mine to dive into the oceans of novels awaiting my aged self. My mind just can't readily visualize like most brains can. ^^;; That's okay, though: video games got me covered, weaving fairy tale tapestries within Folklore, Odin Sphere - and also this, Touhou Double Focus, a doujinsoft 2D Metroidvania. Its hallways and vistas made for solid company as I solved and resolved its incident. But first, a preemptive primer, in expectation of recurring statements of fact such as "I know nothing about Touhou but-" - friend, consider your "but" modestly educated. B']

     

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    This man's indirectly responsible for 326K+ illustrations at Pixiv alone o3o

    Jun'ya Ota, aka ZUN, created his debut Touhou video game - an Arkanoid clone, at that - in 1996, for the long-since defunct NEC PC-9800 personal computing line. Not until 2002, however, would ZUN (by then a programmer at Taito) shift his hobby projects onto Windows rigs, releasing the 6th Touhou video game (and 5th shmup) at Comiket. Successive installments succeeded within the shmup niche then started to expand beyond, owing in no small measure to the series' comparatively lax fair-usage standards that ZUN himself had woven. Drawing from all manner of Japanese mythologies and fables, ZUN likens his character creation to "remembering what time forgot" in populating Touhou's dimensional realm of Gensokyo. Allowing liberal usage of his cute cast of fetching, mythology-derived maidens fostered a fanbase growth quite unlike most other independent IPs of its era. As the official games continued, fangames and music remixes for numerous genres kept arising, to say nothing of the veritable tsunami of fanart. Today the mainline Touhou Project stands at 17 shmups and counting, alongside a pocketful of 2D fighters as well as more esoteric spinoffs. Amazingly, ZUN creates all facets of the official shmups, from engine and level design to artwork and music. The hype train may have peaked sometime during the late '00s to mid '10s, but Touhou ain't goin' anywhere anytime soon! It funds ZUN's beer money, after all. :P (That's not even a joke, damn!) And this is one of those small fangames right here: Touhou Double Focus.

     

     

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    Touhou Double Focus ambles through its colored-pencil intro to entrap its dual tengu protagonists, the crow Aya Shameimaru and the white wolf Momiji Inubashiri, within the stuffed pages of a mysterious (sapient?) book. Several other Touhou gals, including the cheery and informed Kosuzu Motoori from the canon manga Touhou Forbidden Scrollery, wind up yanked into the Book Realm alongside them. Ever the intrepid reporter, Aya springs at a silver chance to chronicle the sudden incident and persuades the less-enthused Momiji to tag along. As the duo unravels the origin of this incident, they'll bump into the aforementioned other residents of Gensokyo, not all of whom will appreciate said entrapment - and not all of whom will permit peaceable passage. But what could cause a storybook to devour its readers? Why'd certain residents of Gensokyo get sucked in, yet not all of them? Will a sly crow tengu stoop to *any* journalistic low to bag a thrilling and at most 45% factual scoop!? That's what Aya's on the case to find out, Ayayaya! 0v0

     

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    Aya subscribes to the Adol Christin school of adventuring :>

     

    Developed in 2014 by AQUA STYLE, who also churned out the better-known Mystery Dungeon doujinsoft Touhou Genso Wanderer and its successors, and localized by NISA in early 2017, Double Focus largely replicates the standard 2D Metroidvania framework, skewing closer to Metroid yet tapping into the duality ore of Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin. Aya and Momiji share one wider health pool as they navigate DF's 4 major zones. No EXP is gained, only new abilities, cure and key items, and max HP boosts. Abilities come in both active and passive flavors, whether joint or individual, and each gal can equip 3 swappable trios of skills comprising anything from melee and ranged attacks to damage reduction and passive HP regen. Since each gal operates differently - Aya can hover, air dash, and wind blast from afar; Momiji can scale vertical walls, block with her shield, and slash for melee scraps - the game's fairy foes and platforming obstacles keep the player switching between its two leads at a regular pace. All active skills are tied to the girls' stamina meters....aaand therein will lie the focus, as it were, of Double Focus: stamina bars.

     

     

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    Truly, what springs to mind about Double Focus is that it sticks rather tightly to the basic Metroidvania formula, save for that one stark deviation: the stamina bars. One's fuller enjoyment of DF will almost certainly hinge upon a tolerance for those stamina meters. Stamina means that neither Aya nor Momiji can attack incessantly; stamina at times necessitates careful planning to surmount environmental challenges - stamina regulates the flow of the game itself. Can't just block or evade at whimsy, herein. (The 'Dark Souls of Touhou' indeed. ;)) Unlike max HP, max stamina can never be increased, either. Now, if this were a fiendishly difficult / lengthy video game, the stamina regulation might've eroded my enjoyment across the hours. It is neither of those. Certainly not the latter, what with its Time Attack gold trophy (more on that challenge below), and not especially the former once one starts learning enemy patterns and techniques. That doesn't mean that the game becomes a pushover: common foes /can/ still KO the girls if left untended, and the bosses mean serious business at first blush. Rather, I myself adapted fairly early to the stamina meters' constraints, and subsequently began to succumb to their limitations less blindingly, by virtue of familiarization and practice. That doesn't make the design decision a positive one per se. :o Simply means that I adjusted and felt adequately cozy as I settled into DF. Many other players doubtlessly grit their teeth at the stamina system, and understandably so.

     

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    Don't squawk the squawk if you can't awoo the awoo~ ;3

     

    Beyond the contentious stamina system, I found plenty to enjoy within DF. Metroidvanias appeal to me intrinsically, and I've a fondness for those that don't too wackily attempt to deconstruct the foundation. Thanks to Aya's and Momiji's nimble mobility, travel quickly became a treat. ^.^ Quite unlike a number of VG leads, each tengu feels suitably capable from the outset. This in turn enabled AQUA STYLE to counteract them from the same outset, which manifests in an opening castle region that doesn't pull punches - or spears, or fireballs, or oversized frickin' axes. ò.ó With only a half-dozen stages and bosses to contend with, no toil is allotted toward reskins or ill-placed puzzles. What few puzzle rooms were included generally make decent use of the pair's dexterity. I will allow that the devs sprinkled in entirely too many "ehh, nah" skills - the basic attacks work splendidly for DPS already, and only a couple of pickups receive ample places to shine. =s Nonetheless, as a competent Metroidvania, Double Focus unfurls a cozy little map and nudges the player to fill it out, scoring that savory, tasty 100% completion. Yummy~ owo (Cue the Mighty Switch Force! track of the same name.) All throughout, Aya's camera can snap pictures of any encountered character, from flunkies to friendlies, and stash info about them in the game's Snap Archive. More voiced commentary appears inside the archive, alongside nifty illustrations of each photographed victim entry. (Oh, ah, yeah: the camera snap deals damage. More damage than Aya's basic wind burst. Figure that one out. o.o)

     

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    Reminds me of the "twisted" Monkey Fables from Ape Escape 2! >:3

     

    As for the game world proper, Momiji's straight-woman observations and slightly frazzled emotions play nicely off of Aya's lighter-hearted go-getter determination, in a plain yet decidedly less frantic iteration of the Manzai comedy staple, the Boke/Tsukkomi routine. This being a Touhou fangame, I expected predictable popular character inclusions, yet DF's newer selections halfway surprised and impressed me. :) It isn't every day that a Touhou fangame releases without the entire damn cast of Embodiment of Scarlet Devil! - even if said cast does contain a half-dozen of my TH favorites, eh-heh. .w.'' (That said, The Strongest™ appears - as uselessly as ever. Ohh, Cirno-chan.) Kosuzu in particular blesses DF with her bookish reassurances. And let's just say that the final boss is, ahh, foreshadowed uniquely. (I'd name-drop a similar villain but that'd prob. spoil it outright!)

     

     

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    DF's backdrops ably reflect its storybook entrapment. The fortress zone flickers brightly, torches and chandeliers illuminating Touhou-inspired statuettes and famous artwork knockoffs. (Veteran Touhou fans will spot the largest volume of Touhou references here.) The nifty fairy forest hides more secrets, including an obvious edible homage, within its corridors. My favorite, the Water City, sparkles amidst aqueducts, gondolas, and other Italian / French / Spanish architecture (seriously, Book Realm, pick one xD). The colorful character sprites pop and how, thanks to vibrant hues decorating their chibi-esque frames. Fortunately no clipping issues arise, this being a small-budget indie project. Animations look quality, too, for the scope of the game (albeit a sharp eye will spot a few obvious rigging joints). It's a simple look yet a pleasing one. ^.^

     

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    Ahh, yes, a gorgeous Venetian-style canal, with its...uh, cadre of horror fairies o.O

     

    Game audio being my great lifelong passion, I'll try to stay "brief" - as in, not topple the site's code. >w< Most sound effects suit the game fine. The girls' footsteps actually sound calming, in an odd manner. One late-game slashing sound kinda pierces the eardrums, but it mercifully only arises for one clash. DF provides Japanese voiceover alone; to wit, the bulk of the voiced lines are reserved for Aya's and Momiji's seiyuu. Aya's eager voice comes courtesy of Hatsumi Takada, whose limited portfolio includes Hilda of Under Night In-Birth Exe (and by extension, BlazBlue Cross Tag Battle); meanwhile, Momiji's slightly more reserved voice comes courtesy of Yoshino Nanjo, probably best known as Eli Ayase in Love Live! yet also a contributor to e.g. Ar Tonelico and Final Fantasy XIV. But ahh, those who meet me meet a cyclone of VGM fervor, and that's where the jukebox resides! \o/ Aizawa, of the doujin circle Hachimitsu-Lemon, handled all musical duties for DF. (Their music's also heard in Touhou Lost Word, one of my two mobile gaming darlings.) DF's synthesized symphonic soundtrack largely stays tidily mid-tempo, uninterested in unleashing Touhou's typical busy sonic patterns upon serene environs. Nonetheless, a couple...surprises...lurk. None of the tunes grated, either. Below you'll find a handful of my faves:

     

    Dawn of a Parallel Universe - The base area's soft woodwinds tenderly soothe between bouts of combat.

    Vs. Seiga Kaku - 'The Wicked Hermit Who Passes Through Walls' literally pulls her punches... 'Cause she bombards our pair with countless energy orbs instead! A danmaku battle...mm, truly, the Touhou of Double Focus. *nod*

    A Palace Near The Sky - Now this, I like, its accordion granting flair and elegance to the sterling Water City.

    Two Hearts, One Flash - Yeah. Surprise. Foreboding, ominous, for 28 seconds...then, WHAM, fuckin' Lord Daisuke Ishiwatari takes over!! This spoiler-y boss theme shreds, flat-out slays it~♪ (Seriously, Ishiwatari didn't compose this jam? 0.0 Far out, man, far out.)

     

     

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    Being on the shorter side, and not a Kaizo, Double Focus will not pose much toil to the average achievement hunter - outside of Time Attack. The map displays rooms with unobtained items, and pretty much every secret area has obvious signposting. 100% item completion might prove stickier, if only because our pair receives several of their upgrades from fellow Gensokyo maidens. Talk to everyone, and aid them every time. Snap Archive completion will require more care taken, since a couple of characters change locations and/or actions as the plot advances. Each boss has a pair of trophies for a no-damage clear and a speedrun clear, yet all of those can be obtained on one 100% file since the base area generously opens a boss rematch room. Since the plot spans a mere 4-5 hour trek per playthrough, even for 100% completion, not much is at stake to lose at any given moment. No conclusive written platinum guide exists (yet), but the speedrun videos on YouTube cover damn near everything by now. You're looking at a range of 13-16 hours for Platty, at least for those like me who snap screenshots aplenty. It's doable in under 8 for those who rush. (Just be sure to :gold:Help a fairy!)

     

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    Sharply and keenly, Aya sees through the *bullshit* of unrewarding fetch quests -3-

     

    And then we come to the Time Attack: :gold:The Fastest In All Of Gensokyo . This gold trophy enforces a sub-one-hour clear, savefiles disabled, 5 minutes added to the running timer per Game Over. The overarching game map isn't vast by any measure, and a decent bounty of cure books are yours for the pilfering, yet DF's small window of i-frames can result in Aya and Momiji getting very rapidly drained of health, right down to zero, particularly against bosses with multi-projectile attacks. (To say nothing of stage hazards, which I stupidly died to, once, during my successful 0:51:07 clear.) Employ your memorization and knowledge of the game's devices to prevail at Time Attack! I'll suggest a few:

     

    • Aya's backdash phases through any source of damage except lethal thorns, plus it carries a few i-frames after she halts. She can backdash again before the final few i-frames run out, provided she has sufficient stamina. Absolutely harness this greatness to backdash through all manner of hazardous perils!
    • The Barricade passive skill halves damage received if it's inserted into all 3 skillsets of a particular girl. This will absolutely keep the girls' HP upright during lengthy stretches w/o substantial healing pickups or warp opportunities back to the Jizo statue at base. Furthermore, boss attack patterns tend to increase in RNG later into the plot. Here, again, Barricade can mark the difference between a safe heal spell and therefore prevented death - or a guaranteed KO.
    • Reisen Inaba shows up later in a distant corner of the map, neither telegraphed nor foretold, to bestow a seemingly unimpressive late-game attack skill for Aya. This is deceptive as fuck. That very skill can and will chip the hell away at the final bosses' health meters whenever they impolitely opt to maximize their attack windows and minimize yours. Deploy the Lunar Rabbit, and deploy her with abandon and aplomb, and a bunny turret shall cover you.

    Lastly, yet certainly not least-ly, Double Focus' trophy arts all link together into one continuous vertical tapestry of cuteness. To snap neither this post *nor* a spoiler tag, I'll simply link it: behold. =]

     

     

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    Questionable design decisions be damned, I *highly* enjoyed my trek through Touhou Double Focus. =D I mean, you'd think, of course she would; Zas has a Touhou bias as clear as Aya's eyesight. I mean, I kinda do?? Doesn't damn near everybody favor This or That Franchise, X or Y Product? Yet that need not preclude the capacity to dislike all or a portion of a game based on any number of facets from vital to minuscule. I relish my lovelies yet strive to avoid fangirling. I like wot I like for sure, yet I try to give a fair shake, whether that pans out favorably or deflatingly. I wouldn't fancy a total dogshit game, Touhou or no. And I can declare with confidence that my ~16 hours trod through Double Focus satisfied me with a smile. It definitely exudes the scent of a smaller budget; it absolutely does little to innovate or to astound. And that is okies, that is. That is okies. ^w^ I had a really nice time with DF. May you likewise savor your video games, sailors~

     

    Peace and love, and thanks for reading! <3

     

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    1. Show previous comments  7 more
    2. Raidou Kuzunoha XIV

      Raidou Kuzunoha XIV

      The Touhou series has always seemed a tad too confusing for me to really care enough to get into (not to mention, it seems to have one too many bullet hell games for my liking). I'm into enough confusing Japanese video game/multimedia franchises already anyway, lol.

       

      But despite my lack of interest in the series, that's certainly one amazing and beautifully structured write up. It's always a joy to see people enjoying and sharing their passion for something.

    3. Yuber6969

      Yuber6969

      Congrats on the plat, and great first status update! That was such a thorough review.

       

      I'm not a fan of metriodvanias, so I'll probably pass on this one, but it does look interesting. I do like that Hilda's VA made it to the game; Hilda was really hot had a nice voice. You were already telling me about Time Attack, but it sounds even worse now that I've read the details here. Off the top of my head, I don't think I've ever played a game that required you to do a speedrun, and the thought always seemed daunting to me as my playtime is usually longer that the guide's.

    4. Zassy

      Zassy

      Thanks sincerely for your remarks, everyone! ^.^ They're highly appreciated. <3

       

      @Honor_Hand Aye, since the Genshin Impact platinum's nowhere nearby (damn the fortified Spiral Abyss) and I chickened out on unfinished platties such as Neptunia vs. Senran's (and damn Yomi Training there!!), Touhou felt cozy. =] But it comes laden with "don't know much about Touhou" & I certainly occupied that non-participant demographic for years after first blush with it - thus - a modest intro was in order. (Seriously though, as you're learning, Touhou Project has grown vast. o3o)

       

      Exxxxxcellent, hope you roundly enjoy DF, great friend! =D Game's worth the full ten for those in the Touhou and/or Metroidvania market, yet little entices quicker than a gigantic discount~ $.$ Cute gals, cute platforming...

       

      Plus that insanely GG/BB-esque boss tune, good grief. xD Like a merger of BlazBlue's rhythm tapping licks with Guilty Gear chord transitions and guitar chunk. Clearly Aizawa listens to Lord Daisuke & rightfully so~. ♪ And that pair of quips makes me chuckle even now - I think it's the thoughtful deployment of bosom over chest or boobs or breasts etc. Aya boasts journalistic sophistication. Nya~

       

      Oh & since I neglected to denote it above - everybody who aims to play Double Focus, turn the Respawn option on. Access it by sliding the touchpad upward. Access the Snap Archive by sliding the touchpad downward. None of this (and more) is explained in-game. I wasn't being entirely facetious w/ that "Souls of Touhou" label. :V

       

      @CelestialRequiem hallo, um, Zassy checklist never - of course I resisted the status updates for months too, and TBH my anxiety's still spiking even this moment. x.x'' Give it some more months & we'll see. At least mine'd turn fairly unique covering Armored Core 6 + Sakura Succubus 6 alike...? X3

       

      Admittedly I haven't kept pace w/ the fanbase discourse buuut I kinda sorta grasp their aversion to Touhou & to danmaku at large. I def. enjoy the traditional Gradius / R-Type model. ^.^ (also I suck less at traditional than at bullet-hell, shhh) Thanks for listening tho', that accordion track grew on me hard as I repeated this game. And yeah, trophy art warrants thoughtful design like those!

       

      @nestamar5 Ditto ain't got nothin' on Neppers. :D

       

      @ihadalifeb4this Don't mess with lil' red musketeers, mmhm.~

       

      @AihaLoveleaf Status updates? Hell nah, status essays. :> As you well know, and have blessed us with. Had to girlify mine a tad, is all. uwu It fits; 2hu's girly as eff~

       

      Yup yup, ZUN's a 45-y/o old-timer by now, awash with beer cash from all these Touhou profits. I seriously fear he'll boozehound himself to early death, ouch. As for eroge, every so often I kinda sit back and blink at the reality of its (relative) proliferation on the very mainstream Steam, and I realize: the world's wild. o3o

       

      Hmm, I've viewed the basic Game Maker utilized for a number of small platformers. Not heard of a dedicated software for the genre tho'. Yeah, I couldn't really identify a proper term but they're deffo depicted "chibi-esque". If you fancy contemporary Japanese call-and-response humor then you'll surely dig the dialogue and archive entries. c:

       

      Sire, I much prefer Patchouli adorably clutching that Osu! sign than getting devoured in a Patchyburger. ;w;

       

      @Flubberwunked Ahh, my dear thanks, Flubber! ^w^ I actually stumbled across your DF forum post & added its knowledge to mine own, as I cruised through a second 100% clear (to mark each item pickup on the full map, then optimize a Time Attack route). Big congratulations to you too & appreciate your input! o/ Yeah, no joke, Aya's backdash cures a multitude of sticky danger zones.

       

      Mmhm, yep, the other reason for that 2nd clear: the final boss(es). Yow. Since the rematch room excludes them, I undertook 'em at a slow-arse pace in order to attempt to partially decipher their attack RNG. Didn't greatly succeed at that but did discover the efficacy of Reisen's bunny pew-pew turret *so* mission achieved...roundabout...?

       

      Oh, goodness, you overestimate my VG talents. ;w; Only been using this solo PSN for approx. 2 years but I did clear Azure Reflections on my prior shared acct. - yet came nowhere close to Platting it. Phew. OTL Lunatic difficulty flat obliterated me as Marisa and as Cirno. Somehow overcame it as Reimu, once! High-quality Touhou fangame, that one, in any event. =]

       

      Flubber, Flubber... Even only shortly into the life of mixing drinks & changing lives, you have the absolute right of it. "Enjoying" and then some! :) Savoring, marinading - Vally holds potential to become an all-timer for me, too, aye. @[email protected] And, like, I most frequently blast the hard-rock music - the Guilty Gears, the Ys, the Sonics - but am open to most genres of VGM and hoooooly smokes, wow. Gorgeous soundscapes within. Been sitting on the in-game jukebox merely soaking in several magnificent tunes. More on Va-11 Hall-a after I platty it but - yes, yes, gimme more, gimme more.

       

      Glad to have you around as well, sailor. ^o^

       

      @MrGarland Thanks pal!

      @Raidou Kuzunoha XIV Great to hear from the capital's finest tube-slinging detective, hehe. :3 (Raidou 3 when, Atlus?)

       

      Can't fault you at all - too damned many multimedia franchises, nowadays, to keep pace with. Beyond the mainline shmups and canon fighters, Touhou has snaked out into all manner of genres and platforms through its fangames like this one - I absolutely cannot claim commanding expertise on the franchise 'cause it's so g'damn large. But thanks sincerely for your encouragement! ^.^ You're low-key one of my favorite forumites here whom I hadn't yet interacted with. A pleasure, truly.

       

      @Yuber6969 Aye-aye, you know me adequately: if it isn't a novella, it isn't Zassy. u.u At least, online - far more of a wallflower face-to-face.

       

      Surprised me when I researched that Aya's / Hilda's seiyuu hasn't received more roles than her small portfolio includes. I find her perfectly capable & she occasionally excelled in her role here. Ah, but yeah, Time Attacks / speedruns and I...also do not harmonize well. Brrr. Cleared DF's first go but dang if it didn't make me quake. ;-;

  5. Hoo, now this somehow catches me off guard - in a positive fashion. 0.0 I've got mixed recollections of Crisis Core, primarily since I played it piecemeal across like a dozen weeks using my brother's PSP, but hot dang upon initial reflection am I strikingly unopposed to a contemporary rezzed-up release. Bring it on! Also that BGM now of all times evokes mad shades of Frank Klepacki's C&C jams.
  6. Highly appreciate the direction that Omega Force took Samurai Warriors 5, from a painterly artstyle redesign to the narrative reboot in order to rewind into Nobunaga's past, to unveil the genesis of the Fool of Owari. This strong appreciation immediately extended to its music as well. 'Soaring' plucks out an almost soothing mid-tempo melody for the game's character select, demonstrating yet again that menu music can be most vital. Hideyoshi's half of the final clash propels with vengeful urgency, both in traditional shakuhachi flute and in modern guitar - hell, its later measures halfway emulate the prog-rock chord progressions from Mega Man Zero 4, courtesy of Shin'ichi Itakura. And then EXILE slams home SW5's kickin' theme track. Damn, I should retry for SW5's Platinum. Makin' me hanker for last year. ;-; (Unintended consequence: all posted tunes use the key of D minor, same as The Witcher 3's OST - neato. )
  7. #16: Wing of Darkness (PS4) ** Played on a PS5 via PS4 BC ** Aerial mecha games seldom take flight anymore; I had to check out Production Exabilities' WoD (at a steep discount, -not- its MSRP $30 entry fee) in memoriam of their heyday. Decently enjoyable yet scarily brief, WoD serves as an uncommon example of a game that should've overstayed its welcome. WoD's small budget shapes a minimal backdrop. Klara Ernst and Erika Loerzer are two young women - our playable protag, Klara, the overwhelmed yet determined newcomer; her senior, Erika, the wearied yet stubborn veteran - who become Fraulein, aerial specialists equipping mechanical exoskeletons, to combat an unnatural foe. (Strike Witches much?) The ladies' appropriate conversations belie much left untold, much less shown, across WoD's half-dozen missions. Said missions *are* a fair blast between Klara's rudimentary loadouts, but WoD /really/ would've benefited from a couple extra stages to unveil its narrative and expand its repertoire of mission objectives. =\ In-flight itself, weapons feel acceptable & the dodge-boost zips along nicely; only lock-ons can frustrate, what with the surplus of small-sized, zippy opposition. 'Least the score matches the action; Mission 6's urgent electronic BGM stood out highest to me. Trophies pose little labor. The considerate @The7thINFANTRY posted a beneficial thread that covers a couple of the grindiest golds. I'll chip in for a couple others. For the trio of shot count golds, the Saw will bag the secondary gold in one mission flat. The Stapler machine gun and Klavier missile battery tally the highest respective shot count for the primary and tertiary golds; I especially advise Mission 3 and its wide glider targets to rack up the missile battery's tertiary shot count. Lastly, one *can* accidentally exit a stage's area of operations (i.e., fail a mission) yet successfully earn Wings of Steel by merely replaying the flubbed chapter from Chapter Select - I learned from experience, having foolishly flew outta the zone early into Mission 2. OTL Whoops.... Zassy's PS4-on-PS5 Report: No hiccups, no crashes, nothin'. Loading times shrank, albeit not drastically. Never encountered the increasingly taxing (re)loading that 7th reported inside that tips thread, come to think. WoD looks slick on a PS5, too, although draw distance remains more or less equivalent - and 'ocean water' still resembles a wavy blue carpet. -3- #17-18: Sakura Succubus 4 & 5 (PS5) First expectation, met; second expectation, upended. Sakura Succubus 4 definitely felt unnecessary and frivolous, adding next to nothing to this Smut SaGa either by characterization or by succulent (ha) CGs. It also recycled the same damn dull title menu tune, which had worn out its welcome before completing Sakura Succubus 1, and littered a handful of commonplace scenes with unexciting branching dialogue choices when, in my estimation, the first entry already functioned the most tidily out of all its sultry sistren in unfurling as nearly a kinetic novel. Glad I took a chance on Sakura Succubus 5 (& its 4x less irritating title screen tune) tho' 'cause, in addition to its breezy locational shift to central Europe /plus/ its return to 'modestly' more substantial plot sequences, as a pseudo-reboot of Winged Cloud's longest-running VN subseries, 5 succeeds markedly better as an actual continuation of these dalliant Hiroki Harem Hijinks - which, to quote Penny Arcade, are so high, you'll need an altimeter. ...okay, not really~ Honestly, beyond funding Gamuzumi in their quest to further ecchi-fy consoles, as well as "rebelling from within" for 2022 fan service on a 2022 Sony service - a damned frickin' PlayStation 5, no less! ò.ó - I could largely leave or take Sakura Succubi. Other service-y video games arose earlier and, to this gal (who def. fancies her anime ladies), supplied superior. Moreover TBH this effortless subseries merits 100%s, not Platinums. But eh, heckles. Go figure that 5 rekindled my investment into the cast just adequately enough to continue future entries. Well, that, plus - ...too garish, mayhaps, for this MRP thread. .3. Peace~ *vanishes*
  8. Goddang, ~9 years after release. Talk about post-launch support. Always fancied Kati so eager to play her added content in earnest if localized. =] Go figure that I play & platinum Trip 2 at last in '21, only for it to receive a DLC route in '22. Wild occurrence~♪
  9. Can't shake a glum inkling that Frontiers will wind up the Dynasty Warriors 9 of Sonic the Hedgehog. And yet, much like DW9, I -will- play Frontiers for sure, and will probably like a *lot* of the game regardless of any of its substandard design decisions. I am unshakably part of the 'problem': Sonic, whether 2D or 3D, auto-appeals to me, right to my core. Tails and Knuckles would rule in a modern-day hub world game. I have no expectation of their inclusion into the base game here, but a fool and her cash are eventually parted in that I *would* shell out for Tails/Knuckles DLC.
  10. Irritants: KHBS = "Kingdom Hearts Bullshit": when a game script(writer), esp. for a game of some weight/sincerity, flings consistency & harmony out the window in favor of piling up increasingly WTF (and, nearly always, unexplained/unjustified) antics. Man, does that burn me up. -n- Also, escort quests - glaring at you, Nier Automata & Yakuza Zero. Perks: All-gal casts. Yeah, that's on me; I've favored playing females since I was a preteen girl. Still counts. No matter if the ladies are played straightforwardly and plainly (e.g. Touhou) or sensually and exaggerated (e.g. Senran Kagura), I gobble most games of this breed. Doesn't mean that each game clicks, yet I gravitate toward 'em by nature. Also, voiced and defined protags - including those who began silent and thinly defined, such as Adol Christin of Ys. Kinda odd to qualify as a 'positive', yet I've p. much run my course w/ silent protags, and so therefore any *inclusion* or *addition* to a protagonist's personality and motivation appeals outright. Voiceover = a double plus.
  11. Burned 90 rolls in Azur Lane for ~38 minutes at lunch, whereupon the RNG Goddess opted to bless my unplanned dedication - shipfu aplenty: Motivated as ever to chug through this event's plotline - I dig the increasing interconnection w/ the META ships. My longtime gal pal Warspite takes larger lead, much like trusty Georgia from Rainbow at Rondo's End. Again, I dig it. The regal soundtrack energizes, too. We'll see how this Siren sequence unfolds. Great fortune to all~ o/
  12. Fully back in my Touhou fixation again, might as well kickstart the TH Rock mixes again -
  13. WELP- Now they've gone and done it. 8D Since I have gone easy on Azur Lane for a short stretch, I have the Cubes stockpiled to guarantee Vanguard. ♪ Not only is that all but certain, IMO, but to bring the fanbase wholly to its knees, next could come UR Loli -> UR META Loli. Prob'ly Shinano but NJ wouldn't surprise me either. If Shimakaze already qualifies as quasi-loli then a META Shimakaze would be radical to foreshadow that Idea Factory Crosswave console followup. Would totes dig META inclusion into that game. :> Been a brief while, here were my results - Shipgirls: Retrofits: Outfit: Super keen to see Memphis & Repulse receive META! ovo Plus a Unicorn Retrofit, dang. Great prospects. Will continue to take it light in the Azur realm for a tad longer yet, but come next event....boom~♪
  14. Oh cool, cool, I am majorly down for this. Both the kawaii and the business-sim facets. It can't be as brutal as the real deal, thank Shiki. And heck that's an affordable pricepoint for digital - typically swing physical, but it's worth consideration on the cheap. - jeez, flashback, reminded outta nowhere of the earliest 'moneymaking' game that I ever played: 'Wall Street Kid', NES. I have no bloody idea why my parents purchased that for us sibs; our family weren't even middle-class. Never won that game, its RNG stock market bamboozled me. x.x;; I'll take fifty-seven idol managements before even a whiff of stock brokerage again.
  15. #15: Xuan-Yuan Sword VII (PS4) ** Played on a PS5 via PS4 BC ** Thankful, am I, for the ever-increasing deluge of Western localizations, once prior unsent. The Taiwanese RPG Xuan-Yuan Sword franchise stayed landlocked in Asian languages until 7 broke through, on Steam, among the mainline entries. Kindly, 7 trickled over to PS also, whereupon it met understandably little fanfare - despite beginning in 1990, none of the games had crossed the Pacific as noted, and beginning with the 7th entry in a franchise (unless it stars a spiky-headed chap with a Buster Sword) spells "uncertain reluctance" for many. Furthermore, despite over 5,000 reviews on Steam, scarce little guidance for XY7 has seeped into English avail. To slightly rectify that opacity, I'll reflect upon my ~27 hours with it, from opening to platting. XY7 begins in the deep past, as perhaps befits the first localized mainline Xuan Yuan. Rapidly, however, the plot hurtles into its present age, that of the Xin Dynasty, 9-23 AD (CE), which predates the popularized Three Kingdoms (of Dynasty Warriors) by a few centuries. Our protag, the steadfast and composed Taishi Zhao, seeks only a placid mountaintop existence beside his young sister Taishi Xiang. An organized military campaign interrupts this duo, to say the least, and once again, rapidly Zhao hurtles into a string of incidents which span from tactical to supernatural. The game stays much more grounded in tone than might be expected, even with its inclusion of a few fantastical powers, and I sorely appreciated 7's adherence to careful, straightforward storytelling. Since the game follows mostly linear zones, the plots remain focused and un-obtuse. Once our playable band becomes a trio, their sensible character interactions utilize both their strengths and their flaws. It was a real treat traversing the fetching midlands of ancient China with Zhao, Xiang, and their third companion. ^.^ I'll look back on them with fondness, for sure. Gameplay kinda reminds me of the PS2 era, dolled up in an 8th-gen engine. Think, hmm, Onimusha with a zip? Zhao can ably slash, evade, and block to counter most standard foes. Weapons, armor, and accessories can be purchased, crafted, or enhanced. A nifty (if sleepy) scroll art allows Zhao to capture weakened enemy souls, including both monster /and/ human - damn, talk about impartial. o3o Said souls can forge additional spirits that benefit the party in any number of fashions, from stat boosts and status protection to health regen and crit rate. I particularly liked the shoulder-activated skills for each combatant; for Zhao himself, Tiger Stance's swift air-kick proved great fun, although Bear Stance's spacing / crowd control wound up more vital against swarms of foes. As you can see, XY7 lays somewhat heavily into the 'RPG' component of an action RPG. Against stout bosses, all of these assorted enhancements -will- come in handy; what few impede Zhao tend -not- to mess around. (One late game boss lays on BS real thick, to my supreme annoyance. -.-) Outside of combat, it's kind of nice to overhear villagers' chatter or sit down for a cozy round of Zhuolu chess - hardly a chess-alike at all, yet by far one of the most enjoyable minigames that I've played outside of stalwarts like Final Fantasy and Yakuza. Visuals look sharp on the main cast and primary players, plus some of the water and mystical effects, but don't expect a lot from secondary models, nor from the game's uneven draw distance. The game's audio conversely tends to satisfy at nearly all angles. Chinese voice acting may require more adjustment than by-now familiar Japanese voiceover, yet its sharper tones and syllables suit the struggle against both the Lijun army and the Blackflame miasma. In particular, Zhao's and Xiang's more pleasant voices contrast skillfully with the calm yet foreboding speeches of General Mo Huang. *One* semi-essential character, however, maddeningly screeches like a choking lark, and I could've entirely gone without that arse. o.x The soundtrack managed to impress me somewhat, with its artful (if quite restrained) mixture of traditional Chinese instrumentation with more routine symphonic flares. Kudos for the heartwarming reprise of the game's primary motif, after the tale's end. ^.^ Xuan Yuan 7 indeed makes a fine impression in several facets, makes a fine impression indeed. Bites, then, that it's gotta be a pain in the neck at times. =\ For a veteran studio, Softstar...incorporated questionable, baffling decisions, sprinkled throughout. Fast travel operates more like The Witcher 3's than Skyrim's, but unlike in TW3, travel poles in XY7 come both very far between and *often* far off the desired route. Since the game's continual upgrades necessitate semi-frequent trips to a merchant or takedowns of a specific foe, hopping around the otherwise-linear game world slows considerably. Zhao can't jump by button, either, and for a 2020 release, yeah, that mildly gobsmacks me. I would've scrapped the "trendy" arbitrary handholds for a dedicated jump command. Take it from Neptunia: everybody loves jumpin'. Maps are disabled in dungeons, which wouldn't be so painful if half of them weren't scarily convoluted. Here, especially, a dedicated jump command would've solved that issue damn near by itself. >:| It annoys Zas when my dude can't hop over a bar of scrap metal, just because. Finally, right at endgame, XY7 drops a couple whammies: The game's 44 trophies shouldn't overly trouble anybody, but take heed: damn near all completionist info about this game exists in Chinese guidance only. Little is useful on Steam outside of the game's native-language posts, and very few YouTube / nonverbal sources emerged for English - in large part, due to the game's pittance of PS players. It's sitting at a scant 238 N.A. PSNP players, at time of posting. As such, keep multiple save files, and play with eyes open for crafting materials, new foes (for new souls), and side quests for journal log entries. Of note, the game's bonfire chats might have a few missable amongst their lot. My advice is thus: chat with everyone available, keeping abreast of whether the game enables the Circle button to skip dialogue. If not, then you're viewing a /new/ chat. Gotta hear all chats to obtain Seen It All. As for other collectables...I didn't actually craft all armor/weapons, nor take down 7's pair of optional superbosses. Fairly sure that a routine playthrough will unlock all 'collectable' trophies - but if reluctant, best to wait for any measure of a guide. *nod* Zassy's PS4-on-PS5 BC Report: No issues, no hiccups, no troubles whatsoever, huzzah! \o/ Load times decreased, but not drastically so. That seems to be the case for a notable number of PS4 titles, in my limited experience. The game looks more or less equivalent on each console, graphically. Xuan Yuan 7 is a partial enigma, for platinum pursuers, owing partially to its comparatively smaller English playerbase. I would not dismiss anyone for awaiting sturdier guidance, nor would I roundly implore passersby to rush to the PSN storefront or their nearest VG merchant to snatch it up. Do I regret XY7? Heck nah. Actually, I'm pleased that I trod nimbly, with only limited input, to obtain its platinum trophy. I genuinely appreciated its straightforwardness, its core trio, its soundtrack, its minigame - there're sure facets to cherish. ^.^ Just be aware: it isn't notably outstanding, superior, awesome - it has a more tempered aim, more modest goals, for a 20-30 hr. VG. It may not ever catch on outside its home region. Glad I took the swipe tho'.