Murasak-it To Me (Murasaki Baby – Vita – Review)

Despite outward appearances, Murasaki Baby is a pleasant experience. Its cast and setting bring Tim Burton’s The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy to mind, but its story of a lost child looking for her mother isn’t as somber a tale. While the game seems to host a taste for the grotesque, in reality it’s one of the most welcoming puzzle platformers I’ve played.

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Murasaki Baby isn’t a hard game. Its decision to double down on Vita’s touch controls may cause some difficulty towards the end, but an abundance of check points prevents frustration from setting in should you fail. Players take hold of the female protagonist almost literally; by placing a finger close to the character, her hand reaches out and you pull her along. It’s nice, but as with any touch based game, your fingers can block what’s occurring on screen, which is unfortunate considering how terrific the game’s visuals are.

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The touch mechanic extends well beyond that of hand holding. The world’s background can be swapped by swiping two fingers across the back of the Vita. In doing so, the way you interact with the world changes. One background allows rain to fall from the heavens, while another litters the skyline with televisions. As you make your journey, you’ll be changing backgrounds frequently to solve the game’s puzzles. The impact this has on the game is both good and bad. On the positive side of things, Murasaki Baby rarely recycles background from stage to stage. This means that the puzzles are always fresh, and there’s a constant sense of discovery as you uncover just what each new background affects the world. On the flip side, there’s no difficulty curve. Without the game having you revisit similar concepts with added twists, there’s no exploration of older ideas. With every puzzle, there’s never a chance to test your proficiency as you proceed. Just as get used to a mechanic, it’s dropped in favour of another.

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While I argue against it, perhaps that constant want to keep things fresh was the goal of the developer. While the Vita is flush with games (contrary to what you may have heard), there isn’t as many that it can call its own. Ovosonico set out to make a Vita game, and by god did they ever. While other games fumble in their attempts to make use of the Vita’s features, Murasaki Baby succeeds just as Tearaway did last year. It transports you to an odd world and has you conform to its rules of interaction. I never felt as if anything was a gimmick, but instead an attempt to make a strong impression that this game belongs on the Vita. While the game was brisk, it’s one that will stick with me for a long time.

Theatrhythm Interview by Nintendo World Report

My old stomping grounds, Nintendo World Report, was fortunate enough to speak with Theatrhythm’s producer, Ichiro Hazama. In turn, I was fortunate enough to submit a bunch of questions! You can read the interview in its entirety here, and I’ll include a favourite part of mine below. Tell them Tyler sent you!

NWR: How did your relationship with indieszero begin? Why is indieszero a perfect fit for the series?
IH: When I was working in the merchandising department, I had asked indieszero to produce some Final Fantasy-themed trading cards for us. I really got a sense of the care they put into their work, as well as the enthusiasm they have for the title so I asked them to work on Theatrhythm. With that being the biggest reason for working with indieszero, Mr. Suzuki, the president, and I happened to have a working relationship (superior and subordinate) from our previous job. The fact that I fully understood his potential was also a large contributing factor. Even now, I believe asking them to work on this project was the biggest factor to the success of the game.

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Positively Smashing! (Super Smash Bros. for 3DS)

Now that I’m playing Super Smash Bros. like crazy again, I’m facing the fact that my Link is a liiiittle rusty. Like, I need to go in for Tetanus shots kind of rusty.

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When Brawl came out, I was in full on Metal Gear Solid hype mode. I wasn’t on the hype train, I was the train. The Metal Gear Solid Essentials Collection released just 10 days after Brawl, and that was a huge turning point. It led to me beating MGS 1, 2 and 3 for the first time, and cemented my decision to drop Link…and use Snake as my new Smash Bros. main.

So now, 6 years later, I come back to Link with hat in hand, and tail between my legs. I won’t deny that I pined for Snake’s announcement, or that I won’t return to him should Sakurai grant my wish, but until then I hope Link and I can Smash bros…together.

Take A Bow (Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: Curtain Call – 3DS)

Ooooooh, so this is what the first Theatrhythm game could have been. Curtain Call exists not only as a sequel done right, but also as an idea that the publisher finally realized had genuine potential after the original’s reception.
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While this is just a theory, it doesn’t take much to realize just how meagre an offering the first Theatrhythm was in comparison to its successor. I’m not speaking of just the song count; despite how significant three times the amount of songs is, that sort of content growth is expected. Curtain Call’s variety of modes on offer is what blows me away.
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It’s been a long time since I’ve played the first game, but there’s no forgetting its lackluster efforts at keeping my attention. While the songs and mechanics on offer were nice, it was pretty much a time killer; something to dip into for a bit when I had the chance. The Dark Notes were Theatrhythm’s attempt at creating a hook to catch me with, but the song’s it used grew repetitive as the mode built itself with a small selection of the game’s music. It was a drag, and a real stain on an otherwise terrific title.

Curtain Call farts on the first game’s lunch in that regard with Medley Quest, a mode that puts your party on branching paths with various “stops” (songs) along the way. Your team’s health bar is constant from song to song, with the goal being getting to the stage’s boss before dying. The stages are organized by length, meaning the longer the stage the more songs to play (and just one health bar to do complete it with). The rewards are constant, and the branches mean a return trip isn’t quite the same as your first time around.
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Also on tap is a very fun multiplayer mode. While it’s interesting to face off against the computer, it’s thrilling to take on your friends through the power of the internet. Just last night I played a few matches against Qoopa Klub’s Jeremy Johnson, and got my butt handed to me. As expected, you compete for points, but the wrench thrown into the mix is the power ups. While they’re easy to scoff at (and I certainly did at first), they add a lot of confusion to the mix, and the results are hilarious. Maybe those who believe Mario Kart is tarnished by the Blue Shell will take issue, but the power ups in Curtain Call do an excellent job of adding a bit of madness to the experience. The game’s rhythm targets can speed up, become hidden until the last possible second, and even shrink down before expanding back just when it’s time to hit the mark. If there’s a way to turn them off, I want nothing of it. What makes online play so appealing is that whether you win or lose, you can choose a Collectacard, which shows off some character artwork as well as providing an optional stat boost to your party members.

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Curtain Call is rich with content, shaming its predecessor with its collection of modes and trinkets. It makes sense that Square-Enix is billing this as the last Theatrhythm game, as I doubt anyone will be wont of more. DLC is on offer, so there’s even more on the way. You almost expect the cartridge to bulge a bit with all that’s on board.

I think Curtain Call is owed a standing ovation.

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Think Pink

It’s fair to say I really like pink hair.

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Soul Sacrifice Delta

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Destiny…which isn’t a handheld game…

Soooo…what does this say about me? I’m not sure, but I’m really enjoying the option to create a female avatar, and it’s even greater when I can dye their hair such a wonderful shade.

What’s even crazier is when some designer out there feels the exact same way.

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Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: Curtain Call…just wait until I unlock Serah

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The Wonderful 101’s Queen of Rage…Wonder-Pink, ladies and gentlemen.

So as crazy as I am, at least I’m not alone.

I’m not sure of why this is, but it is a recent development. For the longest time I crafted male protagonists, it just felt expected. But eventually it got boring. 99% of what I played cast me as a man or boy, so why waste the opportunity to try something else?

Another reason is my daughters. It wasn’t until I had them in my life that I realized how underrepresented they are in media (well, positively at least). Coraline, Kiki’s Delivery Service, and Spirited Away are my oldest’s favourite films, and should she see the games I’m playing, I want her to see a strong woman there too.

Despair Indeed (Danganronpa 2 – Vita – Review)

Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair concludes with a photo finish, a spectacular ending that wraps the game up with one hell of a bow.

Unfortunately, the ending stands in stark contrast to the content that came before it. While enjoyable, the opening 20 hours of Danganronpa 2 are a far cry from its predecessor’s, and I found its early chapters disappointing upon comparison.

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Mechanically, the game’s structure remains the same. Each chapter opens with a new area to explore, a murders occurs followed by an investigation, and it all comes to an end with a trial. The efforts made to improve upon the first game come in the form of new and improved minigames. I only say improved as it’s a term the game itself makes use of, but that is a case of Spike Chunsoft putting the horse before the cart. Unlike the original Danganronpa, the trial’s minigames this time around are worse than a simple change of pace. Logic Drive, for example, is a boring tube slider that has players navigating a totally rad snow/skate boarder along a path, with answers to several questions represented as forks in your path. Another new mode has the player mash buttons to destroy an opponents phrases as they swoop past, only to be more reserved when the highlighted phrases that you can counter come into focus. All the minigames are long winded efforts to arrive at simple conclusions, and we would be better off if the game stuck to what it excels at. The same can be said of its predecessor, but in that case the minigames were less and obstacle than a bump in the road. The Improved Hangman’s Gambit (their words, not mine) is an exercise in frustration, with plenty of health being lost as the letters you collect to fill in the answer’s blank spaces collide into each other while your attention is placed elsewhere.

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With little else to fall back on, all focus is placed is placed on the story, which is hardly unexpected considering the genre. Danganronpa 2 boasts a wonderful cast, full of colourful characters the series has led us to expect. There’s some you love, some you hate, and others you can’t quite put your finger on. Nagito in particular is an interesting character, who early on appears to be more of a protagonist than your own avatar. The plot itself isn’t quite as strong, with plenty of blame owing to the environment. Taking place outside the harrowing school halls of the first game, Danganronpa 2 places its cast on an island getaway. As the “fun in the sun” atmosphere quickly gives way to a more foreboding one, so too does the game’s sense of mystery waste away. While the rooms and secrets of Hope’s Peak Academy unraveled slowly in Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc, the sequel lacks that same drip feed. I never felt that there was some larger mystery to the islands, and the reasoning behind this setting seems to be an opportunity for the developers to craft a wider range of absurd attractions at each new island. While the story is good, it doesn’t manage to grab hold of me like the previous Danganronpa did. Instead of story that slowly reveals itself layer by layer, Goodbye Despair leaves all of its revelations for the very end. As terrific as the ending is because of this decision, it leaves a majority of the game without any means to keep the player motivated.
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I enjoyed playing Danganronpa 2, but I can’t help but walk away feeling disappointed. While it is just months that separate this release from its predecessor here in North America, years past in Japan before Danganronpa saw a sequel back in the PSP days. I’m surprised more couldn’t be done to craft a worthy successor, a game that raised the stakes despite the odds. I think back on Virtue’s Last Reward, a sequel to 999 that defied expectations without sacrificing what made the original so great. I recommend this game to you, despite its flaws, but I hope the series can make a stronger impression next time around.

Episode 71.5 – Final Fantasy Music Spectacular!

tylerohlew:

Ryan, John Nintendo, and Lindsey join you on the balcony to discuss Theatrhythm Curtain Call, a game made to celebrate the music of Final Fantasy.

Whether you’re a Spoony Bard or a Chocobo Champion, there’s no denying the beauty of Final Fantasy’s melodies. Make sure to listen, and watch for my own impressions soon.

Originally posted on Nintendo Fun Club Podcast:

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Left-click here to listen in your browser or right-click, then “save link as…” to download the episode!

Welcome to our Final Fantasy music spectacular! In honor of the upcoming release of Theatrhythm Final Fantasy Curtain Call, we’re celebrating the legendary compositions from this long-running series.

Music:

Opening Theme (FF XIV)

Matoya’s Cave (FF I)

Eternal Wind (FF III)

Crystal Room (FF III)

Balamb Garden (FF VIII)

Bland Logo (FF Tactics)

Main Theme (FF V – Remastered Version)

Melodies of Life (FF IX – Piano Collection Version)

Rem Tokimiya (FF Type-0)

Fisherman’s Horizon (FF VIII – Distant Worlds Version) (I know, I said Dear Friends Version on the podcast oops)

Epitaph (FF VI – OST Remaster Version)

The Sunleth Waterscape (FF XIII Instrumental Version)

The Skies Above (FF X – Black Mages Version)

Qoopa Klub Episode 50: Fabulous Nova Crystallis (Final Fantasy XIII Special)

Special thanks to Tyler, Ian, Michael

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