Friday, 30 December 2016

Retro Achievements Update #4

Progress November/December

I played some games in the last 2 months, but unfortunately I fell into the pit of playing the pointless piece of poop Path of Exile again, which I yesterday deleted for the probably 15th (no joke!) and hopefully finally final last time.

New score:

28503 points - Rank 207 (of 26394 registered players, up from Rank 256)

New grandmasteries:

-) Felix the Cat (Gameboy)
-) Pokemon Red (Gameboy)
-) Yugioh Word Championship 2004 (GBA)
-) Super Mario Advance 2 - Super Mario World (GBA)

-) Felix the Cat

Insanely easy Gameboy platformer, beat this in my first session of playing it. Decent enough, they should have put in an hard mode akin to Kirby's Dream Land.

-) Pokemon Red

Last Gen 1 game down. I honestly don't remember what I used or if anything special happened. ^^ Pokemon overkill.

-) Yugioh World Championship 2004

Another of the many Yugioh GBA titles. Fun game, but the card unlock mechanism is shit compared to the sequel (2005). It's basically "use 1 of every card" all throughout the game except for normal monsters. I tried to use ritual in the beginning but couldn't make it work due to the lack of support cards (or multiples of them rather), so I went to regular beatdown to beat this game's set into submission.

-) Super Mario Advance 2 - Super Mario World

Port of the best jump and run ever with some unnecessary minor changes. Luckily the set creator took out one unfair achievement on my request which I had previously tried to get for 2 straight hours without knowing how what exactly would make it trigger, lest I would never have been able to finish this set. Lots of fun to complete this otherwise - even a slightly flawed Mario World port is still a damn good game!

Other mentionable games:

-) Tennis (NES)

It's a NES tennis game, what did you expect. I had trouble hitting balls at all early since the timing is very weird (same for serving - in real tennis you hit the ball at the HIGHEST point of the throw). Balls the computer plays close to the sidelines are sometimes just impossible to return, which is why I put this one on hold.

-) Pinball (NES)

A glorified pachinko machine, this constitutes the only pinball game I've ever seen in my life (and please remember, my specialty IS pinball video games!) that has no nudging whatsoever. Not even 1-way. No clue what they were thinking there! Playfield-wise, it's decent enough. The only important thing is to raise the lane savers by turning the eggs to chicks - and if you manage to randomly (since no nudging) flip the cards over, you actually have a chance at getting a good score - the middle drain can be mostly avoided with flipper control, but the unavoidable left (and more rarely, right) drains will curb your morale. The flaw forever keeping this game down in the dirt is the dreadfully annoying "invisible flippers" part which you have to go through in every fucking game - would have been ok as part of a timed mode, but not as a core feature based on your score. Won't complete this set as it's way too luck-dependent, and too hard to be realistic, with the invisible phase (for me) killing all fun - if you didn't manage to set the ball savers up beforehand, it will ruin your game.

Fun fact: the Princess rescuing mini-stage is one of only two instances I've experienced where losing the wizard mode (= dropping the princess) can actually cost you a ball - the other being the pinball game with the best physics ever made - Pro Pinball: Fantastic Journey (I once played a 6-hour game on that one that would've snatched me a top 5 spot on the Twin Galaxies leaderboard - one of the top gaming feats in my life.)

-) Super Mario World Bros (SNES, Hack)

Another remake of SMB 1 in the World engine. The final achievement (Bowser stealth master) is much much harder than anything else. Apparently I incorrectly remember that I completed it, so I will have to do it again (?).

-) Yugioh Worldwide Edition (GBA)

Another Yugioh game with the same engine as 2004 and 2005 but stupider gameplay (enemies have to be searched at the weird ass city map). Set was bugged as I tried it which somewhat annoyed me as I wanted to wolf it down.

-) Asterix (GB)

 Very similar gameplay as in the NES version, but different level design. Some parts are rather hard, but I will try to finish this platformer.

-) Bomb Jack (GB)

Fun little arcade-style game that requires you to collect bombs as you avoid the enemies. Harder game modes will be too much for me, but I might try to squeeze a few more points out of this.

-) Batman: The video game (GB)

Good platformer with weird story (apparently you fight Jack (Nicholson) and not actually the Joker he played in the movie!). The flying levels up the difficulty rapidly, and there is one level afterwards that does likewise - tanks block all the spots you would need to jump to, so you need to have the right weapon or you have no chance to get through. Luckily you can keep your powerups even throughout continues, which is very merciful. Will go at this again.

-) Pokemon Gold (GBC)

My first encounter with Gen 2! After grandmastering all 3 Gen 1 games (which even half a year ago I would have never thought I would ever do in my life), I was set on enjoying this one. Initially this one disappointed me (the new starters, for example, all look stupid as hell; the entire Unown part is bafflingly unneeded and the map layout is just not up to Kanto standards). While it does not have the same magic as Gen 1, it's still a decent entry in the series. Kanto revisited is so undeveloped (what were they THINKING!?! every other landmark or house you visit is broken, changed to be contentless, barred, or given up by its residents) it should have thrown out early in the development process in order to make Johto, which is overall disappointing as a territory, better!!! Gameplay-wise, many new elements have been added (held items, new types to counter the allmighty Psychic, day and night phases which are a rather annoying addition in my view (I will 99% of the time play at night, so I will necessarily have to look into the cheat to switch the daytime if I actually go for the Catch 'em all achievement. By the way, Pokemon are unnecessarily hard to catch in this generation compared to the previous. It's no isolated incident for me to require 20 or more ultra balls for a regular ass pokemon at low life, which is totally uncalled for in my opinion. What I do like is that some battles (especially certain gym leaders) are much harder than anything you have experienced in Gen 1 - but then again, this might only be because Psychic is no longer OP.

In an extremely annoying incident, my savegame got corrupted just before going over to Kanto (my computer crashed while, apparently, I had been saving) - so if I go for Gen 2 completion as well, I will have to do this one all over again...

-) Pokemon Silver (GBC)

Currently at Mt. Moon, so getting close to beating the Silver version. Only hard thing in the set will of course be the catching achievement which is insufficiently valued at only 75 points (should be 100 as in the Gen 1 sets, AT LEAST. It's multiple times harder with crappy catch rates, stupid spawn-only appearances and day and night catch lockouts!). By the way, I just use the pokemon

-) Romancing Mario (SNES, Hack)

Decent hack, hard but would be worth pursuing if not for one critical and to be honest baffling idiotic mistake - saving spot rules were changed so you can only change when you beat them initially, which makes this game unplayable on hardcore. I only wanted to go to sleep at 11 PM but went on til 1:30 AM only so I could make it to the next savespot - and failed. What I hate most is to waste my time for nothing, so I won't bother with this garbage hack any more.

-) Wario Adventure (SNES, Hack)

And another issue in the "Removed from Super Mario World Central" compilation that for some reason constitutes most Mario World hacks on RA (like there weren't GIGATONS of better hacks available to make sets for). Giving up Mario's fireballs for Wario's shitty dash that gets you killed most of the times you actually use it would be ok, what absolutely is not though is the first world boss' ability to get you perma-stuck in a corner (i.e. YOU CAN'T MOVE AT ALL!), leaving you only with the option to reset the game, negating your previous progress! Happened several times to me. Oh, and to beat him you have to hit him with ALL 6 of the 6 blocks you can pick up in his room - absolute no-go. Deleted permanently from my playlist for that painful lack of quality control.

Thursday, 15 December 2016

My writing project: Sennen Empire - Chapter 1 now on! (A Yugioh fanfic)

Sennen Empire

After writing around for a few months, I finally managed to unleash enough energy to call chapter 1 of the writing project supposed to get me back into writing finished and uploaded to

Sennen Empire is a purely serious effort with a Yugioh background, albeit featuring only original characters and an approach to a card game based world that is both more "real world-ish" and fantastic. It is based on a dream that was one of a few recently that moved me a lot. I am aware that many fanfiction (AND trollfic) writers claim to have been inspired by dreams, but in my case it actually happened! As in "No dream, no story!"

As with all of my writing efforts, the thing is ripe with themes, references and complexity getting out of hand. However, I am clearly nothing more than an amateur writer right now, which can be seen through my difficulties in avoiding to reveal too much information too quickly. Also, I can't just write down a sentence. Every single sentence has been changed 5-10 times and would have been changed a lot more often if  I hadn't just pulled the plug and drained the swamp - or, in other words, put the chapter up in a "final" version. Yeah, right. *roll*

As with my other writing projects, I know the beginning and end of the story very well - however, what happens in between is largely undecided. But that is only one of the problems I am attempting to conquer by writing this fanfic in name only.

Fic will only be on, but I might post commentary here sooner or later. Or revised versions. Sigh.

Tuesday, 8 November 2016

Anime reviews #6 - Another

Another by Yukito Ayatsuji

Mei or just meh...?

Another is the anime adaption of the homonymous Japanese horror novel. It is centered on the typical average generic run-of-the-mill schoolboy Koichi Sakakibara and his struggle against a curse killing his classmates and their relatives. Luckily this anime draws out some interesting events and details out of this generic high concept plot, but nevertheless it is too single-minded to truly leave an impact.

1. Story

Transfer student Koichi arrives at the scene (Yomiyama North Middle School), is told about the curse that in some years kills students in class 3-3 (cause, why not?), and the method how to ward off the curse, namely for the student body to ignore one classmate - the one believed to actually be dead and therefore an extra to the class roster. That classmate turns out ot be curious, incurious Rei-Ayanami-soundalike Mei Misaki (really! it's the same exact voice, and I was truly surprised the seiyu wasn't actually Megumi Hayashibara!) who he is drawn to immediately - but once again there's no payoff to the obvious paring (more on that below)...

So students and/or their relatives die one after the other in gruesome scenes (the level of violence feels forced and unneeded though), culminating in an all-out massacre at the end.

I forgot why he even did that, even though I watched the series twice.
Was this scene really necessary?

In the end, Koichi and Mei walk down a road together, and DON'T kiss or anything WTF, leaving the viewer (or in other words ME) severely disappointed.

2. Characters

The merit of Another lies in its characters, most importantly the lead female. Koichi has few interesting character traits, he's the average clueless transfer student protagonists all setting and plot details are gradually revealed to. Other than Mei, Koichi himself is also played as the possible dead person in the early episodes.

Then again, maybe this is not that unrealistic? I have never lost anybody dear to me myself, so I wouldn't be able to say for sure.
I don't believe you.

His insouciant way of going through life (e.g. he's not trying to actively get information from his father) doesn't complement him much as a person. There's the dumb jock-ish guy and the fierce redhead class president (actually "head of countermeasures") getting angry at him all the time (you know, like in, I don't know, EVANGELION! and there's also a troublesome twosome like that in Narutaru), and some other side characters. This roster isn't particularly interesting in itself, but Another has a nice, positive way of portraying the student interactions, and even some standout moments like the beach trip that make you wonder why the silly supernatural bullshit had to be in the story in the first place. Honestly, it would be so easy and effective to make a slice of life anime where realistic characters are just friends having fun or suffering from drama - the only thing I've seen in that vein was Welcome to the NHK and that one sucked only because of some extremely stupid things happening that easily could've been left out of the story altogether! Nooo we can't have that, instead we get "We have to have a supernatural bullshit CURSE and so classmates keep dying but it's not like they were any of my best friends anyway so I don't give too much of a fuck!" Sigh. Just once...

So, Mei Misaki, our Rei of this story.

If I wanted to put more work into likening Mei to Rei, I could make the similarity very very obvious.
"Never" seen that look before...

It's easy to see how Koichi would fall for her. She's pale, quiet, mysterious, very reclusive (and it doesn't help she is the one ignored by the rest of the class at the begining of the story), frail, and not very adept. At living. So, since she's not exactly like every other girl ever, a dream come true to have as a friend or even more! Oh, she also has only one eye. We later learn that her twin sister (also called Misaki, but in her case it's her first name) was the first victim of the curse - but despite having lost her beloved twin and only friend Mei isn't nearly as troubled and depressed as Rei is for some reason (I mean Mei is still troubled and depressed, but just not on that level). The dead twin reveal only happens late in the anime, but still this aspect - which is one of the rare things that is able to effect me emotionally - truly should have played a bigger role in this anime. Apparently there is a bonus episode focussing on Misaki and Mei's interactions, but I haven't seen that one yet.

Once Mei gets off the class ignore list, her sheen does somewhat come off. It was clear from the beginning she wouldn't turn out to be the dead one (because too obvious), but she still was better as an enigmatic character than as just another (PUN) face on the group shot. There is one magic moment in the beach episode where an octopus grabs hold of Mei's arm and she gets scared for her life - as hilarious as this little moment is, it is also demonstrating clearly that the aura and purpose of the character has changed.

In the last two episodes there's an all out witch-hunt on Mei in a burning hotel. After seeing all the cutesy little character interactions beforehand I really didn't care for the massacre at the end which didn't flow well at all. To add insult to injury there are a few really stupid moments too, like everybody and their dog GOING BACK into the flaming inferno (multiple times even!), and even after watching the series twice I cannot recall if the "main" side characters survive or not. Koichi's boring-ass aunt Ritsuko turns out to be the actual dead person, and the curse goes on and on (at sea? no, at the school, moron). Happily end of story - but no happy ending. After experiencing all that violence and drama together, Koichi and Mei just HAVE to end up a couple, right? RIGHT!? But no, they don't even hold hands while walking towards the end credits. Such a simple opportunity, and once again missed. PFFF

3. Themes

So Another's selling point was to deliver a gory horror mystery, and it delivers on the gore part at least. Horror stories involving teenagers are not a particular novel genre, of course, nor are stories revolving around curses. Another is an extremely straightforward story, there is little room for any hidden meanings (yes, even if one character is at one time wearing a shirt inspired by a Dali painting). As the calamities decimating the class do sometimes involve random unrelated people (e.g. motorboat driver), the curse seems to be comparably powerful and could be likened to Light's tomfooleries in Death Note.

Even in antiquity, some writers thought that all possible themes already had been covered in writing. Judging on how few stories actually dare to make the main character evil, I for one do doubt that.
Apparently, someone had had this thought before me.

"Things are not always what they appear to be at first" is how Another could be summed up.

4. Opinion

Another was a pretty well made anime. I for one didn't care much about the horror plot or the bloodbath at the end, but your mileage may certainly vary in that regard. I certainly did get some enjoyment out of the character interactions, but there certainly was a lot more potential available in the scenario - just imagine if e.g. Misaki had been part of the cast and would have been killed only in the middle of the plot! Drama would have ensued! Tears could have flown (the policeman said)!

Visual style and animation were pretty good. I definitely would watch another (PUN) season if one was made (which is extremely unlikely though).

PS: Mei being able to move her glass eye and even being able to see with it was stupid enough to be noted in a postscript. And why didn't they just ABANDON HAVING a class 3-3 at all!? The concept of skipping a number is very well known to the superstituous Japanese: "Sometimes levels or rooms with 4 don't exist in hospitals or hotels." (Wikipedia)

Monday, 24 October 2016

Retro Achievements Update #3

Last few months' progress

Long overdue update on my progress on! Lot has happened in the meantime; I've been trying out a LOT of different games, so I'll stick to the ones I made the most progress in.

My full-time employment has sadly ended now, so I'll have even more time for gaming while working only part-time now. I'll try to make these updates monthly now in the future.

New score:

22325 points - Rank 256 (of 22942 registered players, up from Rank 437)

New grandmasteries:

-) Super Tennis (first person ever!) (SNES)
-) Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon R (Super Famicom)
-) Donkey Kong Land (Gameboy)
-) Yugioh World Championship 2005 - 7 Trials to Glory (GBA)
-) Yugioh: Eternal soul duelist (GBA)
-) Wario Ware Inc. Mega Microgames (GBA)
-) Asterix (NES)
-) Pokemon Blue (GB)
-) Pokemon Yellow (GB)

-) Super Tennis

Mastering this game meant beating the season mode 16 times - once with each playable character in the game. One playthrough takes around 3 hours, so do the math. Only challenge in this effort was to bestir myself to finish that game once and for all, and that I eventually did. First person ever!

-) Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon R

 A mediocre Sailor-Moon-themed beat 'em up, I lucked out as I mastered this when only a few achievements were required (by now the set has been upgraded, which in this case was rightly justified. I remember some of the achievements used to be utterly broken). It's a short and easy game, pretty forgettable.

-) Donkey Kong Land

 Quite surprised they could put out such a nice DKC game on the gameboy! Some of the moves feel off (e.g. bouncing off enemies), but it's a decent enough companion series to the classic SNES trilogy. Saving the game via collecting the KONG letters was a big pain. Some of the levels are ridiculously big, less would've been more here. Overall this set wasn't too hard.

-) Yugioh World Championship 2005 - 7 Trials to Glory

Finished this set after all. Gotta admit I looked up the duel puzzles - I can't be bothered with this shit (and even in that era, I don't yet know all of the cards). Playing "uncapped" decks in the shadow realm was a lot of fun. Certainly the point where you can build the most ridiculous Exodia deck in any of the games. All the nonsense with spreading out the tournaments based on the passing of days dragged this game down and accomplished really nothing. There's not even proper documentation for how the special character duels work exactly anywhere on the internet! Still, this game and its set were decent enough overall.

-) Yugioh: Eternal soul duelist

More straight forward than WC 2005. The set requires you to do a LOT of duels. Since the pack system makes it hard to get the cards you want (you can get cards via the password machine though, I did so only 1 time - no clue if there is any restriction on it), the deck choices are rather limited. I eventually went for a discard deck (3 Needle worms), which works extremely well as pretty much every opponent has cards like Pot of greed, Graceful charity and the ridiculous Jar duo (Morphing and Cyber) and hence helps you in draining his own deck. For the same reason it's often not really worth summoning big monsters since they are off the field very very quickly anyway. Funnily enough you can't see the limited list in this game at all, you just notice eventually that you can't e.g. put 3 Cyber jars in your deck. Sometimes the game annoyingly forces random duels on you, which accomplishes nothing since you duel all those opponents in the regular campaign mode anyway. So to cut a long story short, this game was very easy and took a lot of grinding, but at least it got me to try out a new deck type that I'll give a shot in WC 2006 too now.

-) Wario Ware Inc. Mega Microgames (GBA)

Where has this game been hiding all my life! Instant top 20 in my favourite games of all time, and earning that spot is some feat at this stage in my life! The entire concept of microgames both appeals to me and favours my gaming talents, so this one is a hit out of the ballpark in my book. Even after completing the set I'm going back to this title time and again to improve my scores on the leaderboards, especially for the featured minigames (Paper plane etc). Fantastic game, and a huge shame all the sequels are based on shitty gimmicks. First game was the best in the series already? Leave it to those Nintendo dimwits!

-) Asterix

Nice enjoyable NES platformer. Controls are mostly tight, although you tend to slip off those narrow platforms a little big too easily (can be very frustrating if you're going for the 25 lives achievement - which is currently broken anyway since it triggers on game over AAARGH). Game is rather short and easy. Checking off a platforming game is always a nice occurrence since those are not exactly my forte.

 -) Pokemon Blue

Never imagined I would complete a Pokemon set! This was one of only two Gameboy games I had beaten as a kid, the other one being Link's Awakening. Completing this game proved to be difficult in only two regards, namely in levelling all required Pokemon enough to evolve to their final form, and in obtaining the ridiculously expensive Porygon (which I don't even consider a real Pokemon since it's described as virtual in the game - how would it ever be able to battle physical creatures?!?). Fulfilling these two requirements the "real" way was completely out of the question, so glitches came to the rescue! I usually avoid glitching entirely, since these things are mostly annoying trial-and-error experiments, so I was not looking forward to having to find out how to duplicate items. Luckily, in Blue/Red there's the very comfortable "Old Man method", and so, using several of the myriads of guides that are available for this game on the internet, after quite some trouble with catching those resilient Safari Zone pokemon (you know the ones!), I put this game in its place, feeling very satisfied!

-) Pokemon Yellow

Needless to say, after beating Blue I immediately tackled the next Generation I game. They sure could have put more effort into this revised version! The additional Team Rocket battles are so sparse and crappy there's no point to them in the first place! If this game was supposed to reflect the anime more closely, why didn't they go all the way and let Brock and Misty join the player, complete with banter as in the show! Completely missed opportunity and it's no wonder Yellow is the sole tertiary variation in the Pokemon family, and the only game based on the show.

Since this game was so similar, completing the set should've been just as easy... right? NO. They actually... took. out. the. old. man! As soon as that fact registered with me, I knew I had to learn another item duplication method, and boy, was that tiresome! Documentation on the Ditto glitch is all over the internet, but the sources also contradict each other A LOT. Since I had wasted all of my long-range trainers but ONE (except for another in the water, which I found out doesn't help) I was very close to giving up altogether and only after doing a lot of research (2 hours to be exact!) on my last try (!) I finally made the impossible happen and got MissingNo. to spawn. Heureka! Now only Red awaits my crushing fist before I can finally move on to Generation II - which I haven't played in around ten years.

Other mentionable games:

-) Antarctic adventure (Famicom)

A very early Famicom title. You race a penguin across Antarctica, avoiding obstacles such as holes and walrus (I think) while collecting flags for points. Really not much to this rather bizarre game. It took me a bit to get the hang of it, but I mostly finished it. I'll go for that last missing achievement only when the mood catches me - but recently I've become more concerned about set completions than mere points (because of terrorists medding with perfectly fine sets and even single-handedly changing rom versions (!)), so it might very well happen.

-) Legend of Zelda: Link's awakening (GBC)

One of the two games I beat on the original machine as a kid (though it was the non-colour version to be exact back then). The second best Zelda game after the eternal Link to the Past. But this one got Marin, which is ridiculously superior to the slimy and useless princess (well excuuuse me!), so it's a standout title for that alone. Controls are tight, there's a big world to explore (certainly too big for me, so I standardly have to refer to guides with titles as this one), the story is wonky but that's all right in my book. I can't see myself finishing this set, as the no-damage bosses would require a lot of pattern memorisation and trial-and-error - not to mention beating the game without dying once to see the complete ending! Fantastic game, and there's still a few proper Zelda games for me to look forward to (on the handhelds, that is), since this is also the most recent Zelda game I've ever played for more than a few hours.

-) Yugioh World Championship 2006 - Ultimate Masters (GBA)

Now we're talking! This is the first title in the classic period of Yugioh games on Nintendo handhelds, which lasted until the 2011 incarnation of the World Championship series. With this game, the proper deck building system is in place, and packs FINALLY correspond to their real life equivalents! Limited and theme duels are established, and opponents are selectable at will (once you unlocked them, that is). Coupled with fast gameplay, these revolutions make this game a true classic in the Yugioh video game family. Naturally I'm planning to finish this set.

I've played a lot more games, but this update is long enough already (because I kept delaying it). Next anime review will be Another, and after that one... there are a few choices, but all of them would require a lot of work... *sigh*.

Saturday, 1 October 2016

Anime review #5 - Akuma no Ridoru (Riddle story of Devil)

Akuma no Ridoru by Yun Kōga (aka "Riddle story of Devil")

You can't spell "assassin" without "ass" (*groan*)

Akuma no ridoru is a misnomer as there is no riddle nor devil to be found in this story. What you do get to see instead is a shitty format that should never had made it past the concept stage.

First of all, let's see how Wikipedia defines a riddle: "A riddle is a statement or question or phrase having a double or veiled meaning, put forth as a puzzle to be solved."

Well, this better than the original image I put here.. but not by a lot.
He deserves this so hard in the first game...

I sure as hell can't remember too many of the "riddles" in this anime, as they are never important to the plot even in the slightest. The first one goes like "The world is full of x." X can be literally anything, as even the main character's teacher (or whatever, he is not important either and could as well be just a voice on the phone - actually that would be an improvement!) admits. So, does this constitute a proper riddle? NO, because the "riddle" provided lacks an unambigious solution. Remember your Professor Layton games? THOSE are riddles (or puzzles, as they are called there).

So, now that we got that pathetically pointless aspect out of the way (you would expect the object mentioned in the title to actually MATTER in the story, no?), let's do the rundown.

1. Story

The storyline of Akuma no ridoru is an example of high concept. At a girls-only boarding school (high school level, I guess), thirteen girls are transferred into a class called "Crassaru Brackaru". Each girl has the mission to find the designated victim amongst their number, and kill her, in order to be granted any one imaginable wish possible (or impossible, really). Our heroine, Tokaku, decides to instead protect the helpless and slightly retarded (she speaks of herself in the third person, which I've ever only witnessed the absolutely worst and most hateful anime characters do) victim, Haru.

Hilarity ensues.

Well actually, it's more like Hillary ensues (and I don't mean travelling to the poles), as we get a lying, hateful product with zero originality that doesn't even have one trump (PUN) card in its deck. Apparently these "assassination classroom" shows are all over the place, and I am somewhat doubting that most of them are worth even one shit given. That certainly was the case for that shitty Danganronpa game, which deserves a curb-stomping review of its own.

So the monster-of-the-week schoolgirl assassin (all of them said or shown to be successful killers, and not bumbling losers (remember that fact!) gets a flashback detailing her pointless backstory, tries to kill Haru, fails miserably and disappears. Episode after episode this is all that happens. So, you might say, this could still be watchable? At least it's bound to have a lot of violence and gore in it? It's about teen assassin girls, right? It's supposed to be good, right?

Nobody dies. In this whole shitty show, not a single person dies. And to not make the viewer realise the sham of having no deaths in an assassination-themed show, it appears as though people die from time to time, only in the epilogue in the final episode they magically come back to life. And that even is true for Haru. Yeah, not only do we not get to see any cool deaths happen, we are outright CHEATED. It's a hateful betrayal of the original potential of the series (really, the first few episodes it seemed to be just fine!).

Since absolutely nothing happens other than the abovementioned (I'm not kidding!), let's move to the

2. Characters

Yeah, and I did my research. Madoka came out before this.
Hm, in which popular anime have I seen these colour schemes before... it was about witches and cats or something...

Haru Ichinose

Haru doesn't really make the cut for the role of the loveable retard, being too weak, passive and naive (and not in a good sense), having the fuck-annoying trait of talking of herself in the third person and doing absolutely nothing to make herself a more interesting person. She is indirectly responsible for the death of her entire family, which somehow didn't make her emo. She tries to make her classmates like her, despite knowing they are all only there to kill her. Later, her bumbling survival of 700 billion assassination attempts is justified by her having innate magical powers (the dreaded unnecessary-inclusion-of-supernatural-elements-syndrome strikes again!) that make her a so-called "primer" who has the ability to manipulate people, even unconsciously (in other words, she has a really high Charisma score - which is not a magical ability). Hence, of course Tokaku-SAAAAN was FORCED to protect Haru, and all her classmates had to fumble their respective attempts of disposing of the girl like incompetent fools. This is likened to a queen bee controlling her worker bees - note that that comparison is of course complete bullshit as a queen bee doesn't control shit in the hive. Bees don't work that way! A queen bee's job is to lay eggs. That's it. Didn't do their research.

Tokaku Azuma

Tokaku is a trained killer from some clan that is opposed to Haru's clan or whatever. I didn't pay attention to that aspect at all, which is a shame since clans really don't only belong in shitty shonen shit like Naruto. Oh wait, they totally do! So FUCK THEM.

Tokaku's character would have been a-ok. She is shown to be a hard worker and cold professional, not actually evil but willing to do the necessary, likeable enough to be the main character. Tokaku certainly had potential. She is in a situation of dependence on her teacher, which unfortunately never is further developed. When she falls for Haru, the viewer might expect a sexy lesbian romance story to develop... but is painfully disappointed, as absolutely nothing of that sort happens after a promising beginning! Of course, if this had been a heterosexual relationship, the epilogue would have Haru carrying her child in her arms nevertheless, because having children without even sharing a single on-screen kiss beforehand is a standard trope for shitty manga/anime!

Other characters

Well, there was the one who had two daddies. Point? None. There was the tall masculine one (reminded me of Jun Inoue from Saki) with her midget child-like love interest ("Koromo, not Kodomo!"), which of course was not played out. One psychopathic girl was a shameless ripoff of Genocider Syo (Genocide Jack/Jill) from Danganronpa, right down to the very specific detail of licking her preferred murder weapons, pairs of scissors. One had a Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde thing going on, one was immortal and wanted to die (LOL), etc. Nothing out of the ordinary here, people! Oh, yes, one thing! They're all girls, so that... doesn't change anything either.

3. In the end

In the end, after the writer has run out of assassins/filler material, Tokaku tries to KILL Haru, who is only her only friend in the entire world! Only the girl is magically saved by having (get this!) a TITANIUM RIB (LOLOL) from some other attempt on her life (remember, Haru is supposed to be primer who can control people. Yet, everybody and their dogs always want to wipe her out! Something doesn't quite add up here, people!) Hence Tokaku has proven to still have free will strong enough to beat Haru's primer ability. The point was...? There was no point! Tokaku's job always had been extremely easy, due to the fact the less strong-willed girls couldn't kill Haru anyway. Stabbing Haru was the easiest thing in the world since Haru was passive, naive and unwilling to fight back. So Tokaku did the only thing she could do - certainly not a feat worth of a twelve-episode anime!

Now if Tokaku had actually succeeded in killing Haru, we would at least had a little drama. Haru was Tokaku's only true friend she ever had, and by killing Haru she would have been granted any wish imaginable, any but the thing she actually most desired, namely being with Haru! Leave it to a hack writer to miss even this oh-so-obvious opportunity to make this shlock at least a little more tolerable!

A little fanservice can go a long way. Just sayin.
You wish...
Also, since Tokaku fails to kill Haru, she doesn't get a wish. But in an early episode it had been said by Nio (the student being the contact to the organzisers of Class Black) that there would be eleven assassins, one defender and one target this year. So if Tokaku had just kept her wits together (or do what any REAL assassin does - namely make sure the target is actually dead ("security shot"), she would've been granted the wish. Feels bad, man.

Haru's wish - to leave her clan - does absolutely nothing. She's still a primer and would automatically attract a new group of people by this show's logic. How do you leave a clan in the first place? Also, weren't all her relatives dead anyway?! Keeping Haru alive seems to me like a really bad creative decision...

4. Themes

So, does this have any deeper meaning? Let's see.

Riddle story of devil promotes friendship. But so does almost every other anime ever made. Hmmm.

Family ties are important, since you are stuck in clan-like structures that determine your entire existence. But on the other hand, family ties are completely irrelevant because your family is inevitably wiped out by assassins which scars you for life. So that is not a well-developed theme either, eh...?!

Killing is bad - so in this show killers only try to kill the target... is that related to the intended message of the show? I don't know anymore, man. I reckon the theme of this show is to not waste your life watching shitty anime (yeah, like that is gonna happen... *sigh*)

5. Opinion

One more thing I need to mention was the final moment of the intro, where naked Tokaku (after a shot where she grins a bloody grin, blood dripping from her knife - as if she had just eliminated the last rival assassin), hugging naked Haru, stares directly at the viewer, as if to ward off additional danger to her prize. That was a nice, well designed moment.

Oh, and the turning point was the assassination attempt in the natatorium (word of the day), where the convoluted and utterly unbelievable trap catching Tokaku instantly punted this show into the fantasy genre even before magical charisma powers turned Haru into a witch retroactively. That was when I gave up on this show.

It definitely wasn't the worst thing I ever seen, but I really can't recommend this show as it delivers nothing new, wholly fails to impress in any regard, almost reaches Bokura no-level on the predictability scale, has no riddles or devils anywhere to make it interesting, brings back dead people to stay PG and DARES not to even toss us the lesbian romance we all hope and crave for as it's the only way to feel emotion... ahem... yeah. Moving on...

(maybe next time. spoiler? maybe)

PS: and why did it take eight fucking months for me to write a new anime review?! eeeeeehhhmmmm. MOVING ON

Monday, 1 August 2016

Interactive fiction review #11 - Gardening for beginners

Gardening for beginners by Juhana Leinonen

Gardening for Beginners by Juhana Leinonen is a short speed-IF game describing the misadventures of a budding gardener.

What is supposed to be a peaceful and upbeat day of work quickly turns into a nightmare as the player is beset by the horrors of nature.

I can recommend this game as a choice to suggest to text adventure newbies, as it is uncomplicated, easy to play and funny to boot.

Personally I would add an option to name your fish to add some more personal involvement to the game. In fact the enclosed framework of the game world even would allow for a game granting the player to do whatever he wanted to do (e.g. drink the poison, or eat the fish).

Anyway, quite a fun little title to play.