Wednesday, 22 February 2017

One Piece manga rant - Chapter 2

They call him Asshat Luffy

By the way...who does? Nobody ever calls Luffy "Strawhat Luffy" in the first 50 or so chapters (that is how far I got some years ago)! The title of the chapter is lying to us. There's a lie... in a Nintendo game. Oh wait, it's actually a shonen manga!

So, the story proper starts. Captain Fluffy "rows" his small boat wherever the waves carry him (we can see briefly he has two oars in the previous chapter - where no romance ever dawned, by the way - but he seems to have lost one in the meantime, making the rowing part a lot harder. Rowing is hard work too, and we are know one thing never changes in shonen manga: the main character is strictly averse to doing any actual work (other than physical training)! Now the ocean apparently hates Luffy just as much as I do, as our monkey boy is carried straight from a smooth sea to a giant ass whirlpool, laughing light-heartedly as if he knew that as the main character he couldn't probably be die in the second chapter. Nevermind that the whirlpool is big enough it could swallow a full-sized galley! Luffy reflects on how being able to swim wouldn't help him in the situation anyway, once again rendering the downside of eating the devil fruit moot and pointless. Good job, Oda!

Luffy now nails HIMSELF into the empty barrel he conveniently brought along (why the fuck is it empty? It could only have contained water - and if he already emptied a whole barrel of water, surely he would have brought food with him too... but we never see any. It has to be empty or he would be wet when breaking the barrel later. So the barrel makes no sense whatsoever.) while already being swallowed by the waves. So he does this impossible task WHILE underwater, even making the point he doesn't come out of the barrel dripping wet more ridiculous. Unless he drank the salt water too, or something. Oda clearly has never seen a barrel in real life, either. All this stupidity, and we're only on page 2 of the chapter!!! To top it off, this entire stupid situation could have been avoided with better direction (I'm using film terms as I wouldn't know how to describe what I mean otherwise). There was no need for the cheap scare of pushing Luffy 99% close to mortal danger before a scene change when 90% would have been perfectly sufficient. What I mean by this is that if the shot had been cut here (before the red or even the yellow part)

the scene would have been acceptable. Pushing your hero TOO close to danger before a cut makes the action unbelievable and appear silly and cheap in most instances. This unacceptable mistake permeates crappy Hollywood movies too, of course: bombs are always disarmed at 0:01 seconds, the foes' bullets always miss the target ever so slightly, there's always exactly one black guy in a clique of otherwise white people... oh wait, wrong enforced cliche! So, to end this argument: showing Luffy being swallowed by the water was enormous fail, since it added several levels of impossibility to the task of surviving the situation in a credible way. Throwing the last few panels in the trash would have salvaged EVERYTHING, and not have taken too much "excitement" away (I mean, even little children know that the main character doesn't die in chapter 2). If Luffy was given some off-screen moments (we can't tell how long they last, since he is off-screen! That is the genius of it!), we don't (necessarily) need any explanation as long as we know he's not underwater yet, there is a barrel with him, and he escapes from a barrel. That ONLY works if Luffy is given that time. In the case presented, he is not given that time. I think I made the problem with the direction of that scene perfectly clear now...

Learn from this example, readers, for the sake of people like me who want to have even but a tiny pinch of logic sprinkled on their dinner, no matter whether it's a hamburger or Beef Wellington. It's not hard... it's not fucking hard!

Let's ignore the chapter title pages, they aren't meant to make sense. Even NGE has some weird ones too.

Ok, so we're on a "remote island" (one of 700 billion in the One Piece universe...) next. Alibaba's (or whatever her name is) pirate ship has the ugliest fucking figurehead I've ever seen. Our unlikeable fatass antagonist bitches about there being "dust" on her ship. Now, that's another example that Oda has a) never been on a ship in his life, which is hard to believe since he's Japanese and therefore by default LIVES ON AN ISLAND or b) is a fucking idiot or c) thinks the readers are fucking idiots. I pick c! Now, the thing with ships is... they float. On the ocean. And the ocean is... made of water. And water... is water. And rain is... water. See the connection there?! Now where does dust only build up? In places where there is no wind, or water, as any of these two prime elements would scatter any dust without fail. Sooo... the railing of a ship. That floats on water, which splashes over the railing when the sea is rough. That is exposed to rain (and it rains a lot in tropical regions) and strong winds (which it needs for sailing). SO THAT IS THE LAST FUCKING PLACE WHERE THERE WOULD BE "A LOT" OF DUST YOU FUCKING IDIOT!!!

Making somebody walk the plank would be rather pointless though...

By now the possibility pops up that Oda puts stuff like that in as an attempt to be funny, or even ironic. I use non-sequiturs, missing-the-point and other such techniques all the time in my writing (also self-reference). But... I'm not laughing while reading One Piece. I'm not laughing because that is simply not what happened. Oda isn't being funny or ironic on purpose here. He's just stupid and lazy because he appeals to a target audience of people who don't give a shit about logic and reality. Suspension of disbelief only works when the rules of the setting are kept intact. I have no problem with accepting that e.g. Superman can fly, or Jesus can resurrect people for dramatic purpose (and sometimes also make people wither like a tree, KILLING THEM. Bet you didn't hear that in church...). But not even Jesus could resurrect people THAT AREN'T DEAD. Or nail himself in a barrel FROM THE OUTSIDE. Because that simply makes no sense. It's illogical. From what I've seen, One Piece is not being illogical for the sake of being funny. And that would be the sole reason anybody with a functioning brain could justify all the bullshit appearing in the first two chapters alone! You can ignore it, sure, but you cannot justify it. That is all I attempt to prove here. It's certainly not impossible to "still enjoy it", it's just... wrong. Just... don't do that! Don't let hack writers get away with it. That is not beneficial to the evolution of humanity in general, and not beneficial to yourself either.

I could've used the Jew drawing, though.
You morons enable evil fucktards like this one with spending your money on SHIT.

Fact is that I picked One Piece for doing chapter reviews exactly because nothing in this shit makes any sense whatsoever. Because so far, nobody else did what I'm doing now. I googled "One Piece sucks" and such things, and it became apparent that nobody ever tried to analyse the insanity. Why is something so bad the most-sold manga of all time? And what can change the nature of a One Piece reader? I just have to delve into this madness and sacrifice my own sanity to find out! And don't worry, I will go deeper in my analysis later, after having a better overview of this series. For now, it's chapter-by-chapter, page-by-page, panel-by-panel.

So Abidala is set up to be beautiful for two pages, only to be revealed to be hideous afterwards. The point? nONE. She kills (maybe. Ugh, not-showing-the-consequences-syndrome strikes again) one of her crewmembers with her huge-ass "bludgeon" (actually a spiked club or mace since it has spikes). So, since she (a woman? Will we see any physically strong women in this manga later? Before the rules aren't established, we can't rule on how much sense this makes) can bend her crewmembers to her will, she is supposed to be pretty strong, right? After all, she managed to earn herself command of a ship and a remote pirate island. So why does she even care about the dust? Surely it couldn't be... because she is a woman, right?! Yeah, we all know that is the reason. Especially she constantly asks everybody what or who would be "the prettiest thing of all the seas" like she was the damn queen in Snow White.

By the way, if the thing with the dust wasn't so blatantly SHOWN, but presented as a character trait - madness - it would've been OK! Once again... cut that damn panel where we see the dust is actually there, and you are in the green, Oda!

Coby, who is a useless midget wimp with glasses (and later apparently returns as a towering giant, putting him at age ten here, tops, if you compare the sizes), is her navigator and only kept alive because he "knows more about navigation than the others" - for no reason. Where has he picked up that knowledge? Could it be... that he is a nerd?! Will you present us any character that isn't an instant cliché, Oda?!

The concept of a "washroom" establishes the question how far technology has advanced in the OP setting. If the building pictured is that aforementioned establishment, the bathroom even has separated sections for men and women. That seems a little anachronistic to me, but we can't tell for sure by now.

Coby rolls up the barrel (that washed up on shore conveniently, instead of bursting in the whirlpool) of "sake" to the storehouse. All barrels inside look just like the barrel Luffy is in. It is implied that all the alcohol is for Amidala alone, but the the underling pirates want to get drunk nevertheless... maybe the first reasonable thing in this entire story and something I can very much relate to! With the power of ale, we cannot fail, after all! But Oda failed, letting Luffy erupt from the container after a "nice nap". No comment.

Amygdala then pointlessly levels the entire storage room (and the entire stock within it, apparently!!!) by throwing her melee weapon. If that doesn't scream epic level, I don't know. The antagonists suspect the intruder could be Zoro, the pirate hunter. Surely we won't see such a legendary character so soon into the storyline, will we!?! Yeah, it would be ridiculous to present him quickly after just having hyped him so much.

Coby follows Luffy, who has been spirited away into the forest by the blow of the ogre woman's club. When hearing about a whirlpool, Coby assumes for no reason whatsoever that Luffy is not a "normal person". He then shows stretchy boy his pirate pen- ahem, I mean his pirate vessel he painstakingly "secretly" built (his mistress has (just) been shown to be extremely attentive to what her crew does, so this clearly could never have happened) and is perfectly willing to give it to him, no questions asked. Yet Luffy insults him to his face for no reason, a person that was nothing but helpful and nice to him. Our protagonist, ladies and gentlemen! Yet Cosley Crusher continues to suck up to Luffy, acting freaked out and bewildered by the fact that Luffy wants to be Pirate King and find the One Piece "in the pirate era" - so the fact Luffy aims to do what EVERYONE ELSE WANTS TO DO TOO!!! What a twits (sic!). Luffy then does the sensible thing and punches Coby (Buchannon) (off-screen) to shut his obnoxious yelling up. Our protagonist, ladies and gentlemen!

Of course Ali Bali overhears them (since Cody is so goddamn LOUD) and destroys the little boy's junk. Shit is gonna get real now, yes? No, of course not. Luffy's rubber body renders him immune (or at least rather resistant) to Argenta's mace thing, in other words bludgeoning and piercing (it has spikes all over it) weapons. Talk about over-powered. So if Luffy turns out to be immune to slashing weapons (e.g. Katanas) too - he's de facto invulnerable, since magic attack spells don't seem to exist in the OP universe. Luffy is basically a hero deity already, and that is right after character creation, which means that the devil fruit gave him a new type (bye bye, human - hello, outsider) with a ridiculous level adjustment of +20 or more. He's later going to face creatures as powerful as he himself is, so... fine. At this point Luffy seems to be ridiculously overpowered, but as can be seen e.g. in Dragonball (Z), such innate power can later in the story justified reasonably and retroactively. However, fruit eaters like Luffy are clearly a special case in the OP universe. His friends like Zoro and Usopp, who are mere humans and have not undergone a type change, clearly must seem like weakling children in his presence, right? We will see how they are displayed in the upcoming fights and reserve judgement for that point in time. ^^

By the way, Luffy might be rubber, but the straw hat clearly is not. So the hat not taking damage might be fine in the simplification and abstraction of D&D... but in drawn form it makes things rather unrealisic it isn't torn to pieces when a large spiked weapon hits it (and Luffy underneath it) with full force.

So then Luffy beats the pirate woman with one hit, in true shonen fashion. Her men are overjoyed to be able to shake off her yoke - we will see this every time a villain is defeated, I'm sure. So how fucking weak were they, then?! The grand line is continued to be hyped (boy, can't I wait for more overpowered characters... the excitement), Coby talks more shit about things clearly above his head (did Luffy tell him about the rubbber fruit? So how is it surprising he ate it then? Or did Coby know about it beforehand? He clearly should be able to tell that Luffy ate the fruit then... by using LOGIC). Luffy gets the sudden overpowering urge to add Zoro, the PIRATE HUNTER to his crew, even though he had just heard about his very existence five minutes earlier. People all around seem to hate pirates with a passion, though - though we never see pirates doing anything evil early on. Somehow Oda had a very strange concept of what a pirate is...

So... this chapter was bad. Really fucking bad. I read ahead some, and things continue to be very dire, with one unique exception (!), but as far as I can remember, nothing is quite as offensive to my mind capable of using logic than this shitload of a chapter. The asinine and pointless one-shot character of Whateverhernameis, the dust on a ship's railing, Cody's incessant whining, Cody in general, the STUPID moment with the barrel... the ingredients of a nightmare. So glad I can put this chapter behind me now. But that doesn't matter much, does it? There are OVER EIGHT HUNDRED more of them!!!

Saturday, 11 February 2017

Video game reviews #1 - Deus Ex: Human Revolution (Deus Ex 3)

Deus Ex: Human Revolution (2011) by Eidos Montréal

More like Cardboard Revolution...

Put "revolution" on the end of any title and the resulting product is guaranteed to suck. Ok, it wasn't that bad, but still no comparison to the original Deus Ex (1), which is an eternal masterpiece. Why? Let's find out.

Human revolution can be summed up with two adjectives, and the first is

-) Sterile

HR is sterile as fuck. In fact, 1996's classic 3D shooter (even after 20 years, I still call 'em that... 3D shooters. I grew up with DOS gaming, and the 3-dimensional gameplay of Magic Carpet 2 and Duke Nukem 3D completely blew me away back then!) Duke Nukem 3D had a more interactive and engaging world, and that is not speaking for a modern commercialised multi-million dollar video game dozens of people work on for years! Sure, the enviroments are pretty and reasonably well designed, you get to see some nice locations (Detroit, China, Canada - actually, scratch the latter), though some like the top part of the Chinese city aren't well established or used, a lot of people run around and can be talked to - but the soul is clearly missing (that also can be called the third aspect of this game contributing to its downfall). Items like vending machines can only ever be picked up (and thrown at people, hilariously instantly killing civilians who are even minimally grazed! - good way to conserve ammo too!) - but never interacted with. There are exactly 20001 cardboard boxes of varying sizes lying around in the game - but there is never anything in them! People only ever speak about the setting, never about themselves: in the first town (Detoilet) literally EVERY NPC you encounter chats with you about augmentation! Talk about hammering the point home!

Real people do not work like that - they are concerned mostly with their connections with other people ("Let's see where this 12-pack takes us."), on the next tier with matters that concern themselves like money or status in life ("I bought myself a new TV, wanna come over and watch them Raiders?"), and only THEN do they care about the politics of the day ("That Trump... he's the best president we ever had!")! This can be very easily seen by observing life in any western country: breeding and finding so called "love" (in several wrong places) is the priority of most human animals, a focus on self-development and trying to be successful in life is limited to a few people, and only an infinitesimal number of great men are actually willing to further the benefit of the entirety of mankind, or the human species itself (different things) instead of putting themselves first (e.g. scientists like Einstein and Galilei).

As I can't very well separate the quality of the environments from the quality of the writing, let's direct the stream to the setting, story and major NPCs! The setting of the game is one of the few really strong points of the game, dealing with a subject matter being close to my heart, and a pretty original one too, overall speaking: the evolution of homo sapiens. The growing presence of mechanically augmented (some might call them "crippled" instead, as their limbs are literally cut off and replaced with artificial ones) humans is stirring up commotion amongst the strata of the "left-behind" commoners and "pro-human" conservatives. The ensuing rapidly culminating conflagration of this dilemma is actually artificially (PUN) engineered by unseen forces controlling the mass media (and with them, the public opinion), in order to further their own purposes. So far, so good! But so what! A lot of this is of course more or less inspired by the original Deus Ex (personified in the mechanically augmented Laputan machine, Gunther Hermann, a tragic figure of a complexity you wouldn't find (or in my case, expect) in a 2010s game) and heavily paralleling the real world, but in this century we have to take what we get... don't we?! The idea of mass human augmentation (heavily controlled by wealth) is quite fascinating and something that definitely would raise strong emotions and debates in almost all people. I for one agree with the spirit of DX1 and find nano-augmentation a lot more agreeable with than the "clumsy" mechanical mutilation (which I probably wouldn't undergo, as I value the integrity of my own body strongly, totally refusing things like tattoos or piercings, and would kill myself immediately if I even lost so much as a phalanx of a finger! Even when being left with only mech-augs, merit - not wealth - should control who has the moral right to get augmented... and so even I have a strong viewpoint on this topic. So the setting was really the one things Human Revolution got exactly right - because the story certainly wasn't one of them!

To gather the essence of the story first we have to summarise the major NPCs. Since the structure of the cast is de facto identical to the original Deus Ex, we have to decrypt this simple puzzle first:

Sarif Industries = UNATCO

Sarif = Manderley (and later Tong & Morgan Everett)

Prichard = Alex Jacobsen

Megan = Paul Denton (and a really SHITTY one at that!)

Malik (I don't care.) = Jock

Athene = Manderley's secretary Janice Reed (not that that would be very important)

and = in all of these cases also stands for <

Sarif is your typical boss man quest giver. He is shown to not actually be that excellent of a leader and businessman in the course of the story; his role certainly should have been much greater in the plot. As a person, he is not very interesting. He believes both in the goodness and the business side of human augmentation. There's some older guy backing him and his ideas, but I forgot what he actually was about exactly (don't blame me, blame the game for not leaving an impression strong enough! I can remember every detail of DX1 even years after last playing it!). After looking it up: Oh, he was that guy. He broadcasted the kill switch, ahem no, insanity switch signal. Totally forgot that was him! Sarif's ending is the one and only decent ending HR has, but more on that later.

Prichard? More like Bitchard! He is an asshole, and he doesn't even deny it. A very unpleasant figure to deal with, and you're stuck with him for the entirety of the game (though he is much less communicative on the infolink than Alex Jacobsen was). I had been waiting for a chance to kill him or at least see him die for the entirety of my playthrough, and was bitterly disappointed when none came. There's really nothing good about his character at all - he is the personification of Eidos' rubbing in your face that you are caught in a sterile game and don't actually have any chance to influence the plot at all. Doesn't that feel shitty?!

Malik is kind of annoying. Seeing her never fails to make you wonder why she doesn't have that hideous mole removed (if *I* had something like that on my face, I would scratch it off with my fingernails!) She flies you from place to place with her so-unbelievably-out-of-place-in-the-setting-if-you-want-to-tie-it-together-with-Deus-Ex-1-and-you-oh-so-PAINFULLY-want-to-FLYING-MACHINE and that's about it. Once, in China, you get to do a sidequest for her and I for one hoped that would expand the scope of her character a little, but NOPE. You are sent to solve the case of her best friend's murder, and when you get the chance to kill that woman's murderer/boyfriend and take vengeance, Malik is like "But I didn't want you to KILL him!" Yeah, no comment. Later you can decide whether to aid Malik when she comes under heavy fire - she probably dies if you don't (ripped off straight from DX1's last scene change where Jock died if you hadn't killed the saboteur beforehand). I did save Malik (her name is Malik!) - but I probably wouldn't again.

Ugh, and now at last we come to the worst character in the game. The Macguffin in character form. The thing that the protagonist cares about, but the player couldn't give less of a shit about. Megan (and not the good kind!).

I loathed that woman with the disgusting hairdo for all the FIVE MINUTES she appeared in the prologue/tutorial/half-life-like-boring-as-fuck scripted intro scene. Watching her arrogantly command around men like she was a super genius - pure 21st century Hollywood-style (on that note: around one in three npcs in this game is black... and that includes scientists. Yeah. That is only a leftist pipe dream; not realistic at all. Not even in the future. Of course it doesn't mesh with the chronological "sequel" DX1 either.) and the very opposite of endearing. Now the story of Deus Ex: Human Revolution has the gall to make the search for her the central motivation of the main character (who is in many ways a blank - like JC Denton was - a blank to fill in with the aspirations and opinions of the player himself! So on a conceptual level, having Jensen's mind occupied with saving his princess (in another castle) was epic failure and undermining the scenario both, two birds with one toilet brush! Whenever a game makes me feel like a puppet, chasing something I not even only don't give the slightest fuck about but actually actively loathe (and making me feel that about a Macguffin is a feat in itself!), it feels really demeaning and out of place with the technical possibilites video games nowadays have (and sometimes had already had back in the late 90s and early 2000s, with games such as Planescape: Torment, Baldur's Gate (Trilogy) and Deus Ex, my own holy and eternal trinity of video game writing, by the way. These will never be surpassed.). As with other modern(-ish) RPGs (Neverwinter Nights 2 is a prime example), full voice acting is more of a curse than a blessing, as the choices the player can make often get narrowed down in order to conserve budget funds. Storyline branches? Too expensive in the 21th century! Let's keep things simple! The target audience ("A woman? This is getting hot!") won't care; they buy a game, play it and forget about it. NO?! We don't need no stinky replay value in this oversaturated world! It's not like the classics are never forgotten about, not at all. RIGHT?!

So in the end we get some plot development of Megyn having played for the other team actually (or something like that, at that point I just wanted to get done and over with this game); trying to rescue her turns out to have been pointless all along as she disappears out of her own will just before Jensen's eyes. Oh, apparently she was his girlfriend before the story begins - like I give a shit. Show, don't tell. DX1 gives you your brother - DXHR gives you this pathetic failure of an ex-girlfriend. What a joke.

And, last but certainly least, Adam Jensen himself. Adam, the first human being. Adam, the messiah (once again, ripped off from DX1. By the way, the second I formed the thought to write this down I heard the words "the chosen one" in the music I was listening to (Korpiklaani, by the way). Synchronicity at work once again.) Adam, epitome of the human augmentation experiment. Adam, only human to not show aug-rejection signs. Adam, who has no need for Neuropozyne. Whose assumed parents were not his real parents. Apparently Eidos has even less originality than that fucker Jar Jar Abrams!

Then again, Jensen is no JC Denton, no matter how hard they tried (even the last name sounds rather similar). He's a first-grade ripoff, a diluted clone. That is only fitting with the storyline, nevertheless. Even with full-powered augs, Jensen is barely stronger than in the beginning - the most powerful ones are already active by default (the regenerating health), anyway. JC Denton, on the other hand, slowly becomes a powerhouse juggernaut as the game progresses (though maybe that actually has more to do with how overpowered the health regen aug is ;-)). However, that is a problem with game design mostly, so let's stick to the character design - is what I would say... but it is actually the game design that causes the major problem I have with the character of Jensen. He has no choices to make. I mean it's not like DX1 was partly on rails! You could e.g. not decide to stick with UNATCO and play out a (probably doomed) career as a mere underling. You were forced to revolt and join forces with ambiguous powers, putting your life on the line for insight and freedom. But why did I never for one moment feel to be so hardcodedly restricted playing that game?!?

For one, you can make choices. Some are in plain sight, some are cases of "The developers thought of everything" (e.g. my favourite example: the annoying little boy you can shoot in Hong Kong). In HR, you have a choice to choose your attitude towards each main character once, each! I can tell Prick-ard I don't like his attitude, once. In the entire game. Same for Sarif and Malik. Megan? I don't remember I could tell her once I hated the fact she existed on the same planet - scratch that, the fact she existed in the same reality as I did!!!

Also, in DX1 you are given a plot device attaching you to the scenario that for some reason rarely is used in video games. A sibling. Vanilla Baldur's Gate 1 gave you so little interactivity with Imoen, and still I only ever threw her out of my party ONCE, in all of my playthroughs, even before I played Lord Mirrabo's godlike romance mod. Because she was (de facto) my sister. And not an estranged one (or useless one, like in real life), but right there, at me side. Loving me. Caring about me. Going with me through thick and thin. Such a simple but at the same time precious and powerful concept. In DX1, the game gives me Paul right away. Even though early on, I don't understand what he is about, Paul is still my brother and clearly trying to draw me over to his side, so I will attempt to find out his motivations. America (that is where all the games and movies come from, after all) has somehow forgotten about the fact there are other interpersonal relationships than "man loves woman", as that is the only fucking tiresome constellation shoved into our faces in the mainstream media. For most people in real life, the so-called partner is NOT the person they can trust most. Apparently (source: Google) 85% of relationships break eventually. That ratio is clearly much higher than the number of siblings who permanently cease to have any contact with one another for one reason or another. Another. No, I already reviewed that. So back to this train of thought. So why do we so seldom see siblings used instead of lovers you probably won't give a shit about anymore in five years in American movies/games (I mean I would be able to understand if we were talking about Chinese media here...)? Because of the abovementioned fucking fixation. On fucking, that is! Somehow seeing a man and a woman "get together" satisfies the prime instincts of the average audience and allows them to sublimate feelings they themselves might not be able to experience in real life (because love fades, and men and women in relationships rarely have much in common with each other in the first place - but the memory of how the relationship felt initially can be invoked by sublimating and living through other people). So a "falling in love" subplot has to be wrangled into every story ever, no matter how inappropriate it is to the context. And really, this is all the attention this trite topic warrants.

So the second adjective is

-) Simplified

In other words: dumbed down. Every aspect of gameplay has been dumbed down from the first game (I'm mostly ignoring Invisible War here because I honestly can't remember much more than that it had universal ammo *facepalm* and JC Denton's appearance was a total and utter joke). And of course it was, because this is... a console port. Console ports were, along with publishers' greed getting out of hand and ShiTEAM, the death of classic PC gaming goodness.

So what did DX1 have that HR doesn't? A summary:

-) different ways to open a door (This is the perfect example for the simplification process. Instead of lockpicks, multitools, blowing a door up (!) and opening it with a terminal in HR you get... just the latter option. A joke.)
-) multiple ammo types
-) temporary equipables
-) a skill system that actually did something and supported your playstyle
-) a sniper rifle that wasn't total shit (i.e. it was zoomable, not either not zoomed or fully zoomed in)
-) a rocket launcher you actually could find ammo for
-) on that note, goodies hidden in the levels! (no such thing in HR, if you don't count computers to hack... which you HAVE to take the praxis points for)
-) a health system instead of regenerating health bullshit
-) active augs instead of only automatic augs, contextual augs and passive augs!!! (but I guess that wouldn't exactly work on console since you don't have any F-keys on a Playstation controller LOL)
-) aug installation choices to make. Getting a new aug was a big thing in DX1...
-) a lot more ammo. I mean, shit. it was only in the very late game that I actually had ammo to spare. Don't force that sneaking shit on me. When I play a shooter, I want to kill every enemy on the map, so give me the ammo to do so...
-) melee weapons! (instead of a takedown system that is overpowered as fuck)
-) locations you could visit several times and talk to recurring NPCs there (HR had that, granted, but to a much lesser extent)
-) reactions to killing npcs and doing unexpected things.
-) (almost no) unkillable npcs. Having to leave npcs that are total assholes alive simply because you can't kill them is always a very annoying thing. It happens a lot in HR. I took out an entire police station (!), and there was no reaction from anybody.
-) no interface restrictions depending on where you were in the game world. In HR you can't shove your gun in your bosses face. You can't jump in elevators. What were they thinking?! These unnecessary restrictions are even much more annoying in GTA 5, by the way.
-) no fucking cover system (I hate that shit!)
-) no boss fights with completely overpowered (gimmicky) bosses

I think that is enough said about the two core problems of this game. It could've been a good title, but it's just a below average title unfortunately. The setting was wasted on a storyline filled with cliches and bland NPCs, the gameplay too dumbed down to get me interested to actually becoming good at it instead of having to reload at every second enemy because I used too much ammo or simply died. (I guess it's a good challenge on the higher difficulty levels there, so there is at least that.)

I would have played the sequel (eventually), but it seems it was a colossal greedy cashgrab by Square Enix, with funny things like removing parts of the story in order to put them into the next game (which now probably won't even be made since the game flopped LOL) and selling mtx that are usable only ONCE, EVER (so not once per playthrough, but once per your lifetime!). So I guess this will be my last encounter with a modern age shooter for a while...

Mass Effect Andromeda (is it even an actual shooter though?) would be a fine target though. Would be a hoot and a holler to tear that game apart. ^^

Saturday, 4 February 2017

One Piece manga RANT chapter 1 (part 2)

Took me more than a year... or should I say yarrr

Continued from

The bandit leader brags to have killed 56 people, substantiating this claim with his 8 million Beli bounty. Let's keep that in mind for later.

Now Luffy is found out having eaten the extremely expensive "Fruit of Rubber" the pirates apparently took from their "enemy" (let's see whether this enemy really exists or it's just a mistranslation and should say "prey"). The fat pirate guy also conveniently has a drawing of it ready - on a really modern looking spiral-bound notepad. The chest which contained the fruit also has a lock - so why didn't they just lock it. But anyway, Luffy is a rubber man now, allowing him to stretch all of his limbs (and yeah, also his cock). A big thing is made out of the fact devil fruit freaks can't swim - but why? Luffy couldn't swim before! How stupid was it to have stated him not having learned how to swim earlier, when only 5 pages afterwards he permanently is barred from being able to learn it anyway!!! He lost absolutely nothing, since he couldn't swim before! The bad thing was that the pirates just lost millions of "Beli" and certainly not something Luffy wasn't able to do anyway. So fucking stupid. 5 minutes later, Luffy is (quite rightfully so) already over the "horrible thing". Don't these fruits spoil, by the way? How does Luffy have any money for fish, when he has no parenty and there is no sign of him e.g. helping out in the tavern? Where does he cook that fish? Does he live in a house, like Naruto (anime-only I think)? Alas, since this is shonen bullshit, we will never know these major facts. Just make it up as you go along, Oda. I'm pretty sure he still does that to this day. The old guy village chef with the glasses has the right idea, though. Pirates are troublemakers, so stay away from them.

So the bandits return and Luffucktard agitates against them all on his own. He's drawn as having lost teeth, but those obviously grow back later, no biggie. Conveniently (remember, this is chapter one - and we already get the same amount of plot convenience as the average 21st century Hollywood movie has!) the good pirates return at the last second and the fat fuck pirate shoots (!) a henchman bandit through the head (!), killing (!) him (of course WHILE munching on his fucking cartoon meat. Aiming is overrated.)! That is the weird thing about early Fun Peace, sometimes you DO get realistically brutal moments. The bandits of course ruin the moment, complaining to the pirates that shooting somebody is "dirty". And Calves or whatever his name is goes on how he only gets mad when somebody messes with his friend, but not when somebody abuses him - devaluating all his pirate buddies in the process since clearly he is all of their respective's friend, and nobody bothered to help him in the earlier encounter with the bandits. Thighs' scrub attitude is something that would get a pirate killed, and therefore makes no sense.

Of course one pirate is epic level enough to defeat all the bandits on his own, even putting out his cigarette in a bandit's eye (!) (this is the most violent this entire manga gets - obviously before it turned out to be successful and was retooled to be PG for TV - remember that there was some censorship even in the Japanese Naruto anime - early on, before the manga was tuned down so that the anime wouldn't be too violent for the little kiddies watching it on TV!). The bandit leader escapes (and makes a big thing out of the fact he is escaping on a lifeboat stolen from the pirate vessel - that pretty much proves the bandits WERE living on the same island all that time and there's no reason they wouldn't have met any pirates before) and kicks Luffy into the ocean (though he does not know that Luffy can't swim), only to be suddenly eaten whole by a giant ass fish (kinda doubt we'll gonna see dire animals again later in the game... eh?) and rescued at the last moment by Shanks, whose sudden deus ex machina appearance out of nowhere (in the middle of the ocean!) finally turns this cascade of fuckshit plot development into a total farce! He scares away the fish with his presence like this was fuckin' Toriko! But afterwards, the camera zooms out and we realise the shocking development - it hasn't been an ocean after all, just a shallow lake or something! Cause Shanks sure ain't gonna swim again with that arm bitten off - and he certainly doesn't, hovering in the water vertically. Seriously, whoever drew that picture needed to be fired.

Swimming is overrated.
And they didn't even bother to fix it for the anime...

So, Luffy learned from this whole ordeal that losing an arm is "nothing", but that not being able to swim is really really horrible; that being insulted and fucked up yourself is unimportant, but having your friends encounter the same fate is unforgivable (as long as you can feel really smug about it); simply put: that being a scrub who lives by self-imposed limitations that seem nonsensical to anybody with a brain is A-ok and something you should absolutely try to become yourself. I am very sure we will see Monkey achieve all this and more in the course of this story.

So we get a farewell scene and Luffy shouts out at the pirates/at the world that his shonen goal is to become the biggest pirate ever, reminding us we're reading a shonen manga (well, no shit!). Luffy has caused enough trouble to the pirates by now to be keelhauled several times, but instead Shanks gifts him his pirate straw hat. What's with both their feet in that picture... they are HUGE. And the youth's journey begins there 10 years later... told in one of the worst manga ever to pollute this earth. In true Raruto fashion, everybody and their dog is overjoyed when Luffy finally leaves the island on a small boat (00 days Luffy-free, and counting). One would think that at least the tavern owner bitch who fed him for at least 10 years would care a little bit more than NOT AT ALL, but whatever. Luffy conveniently finds the dire fish again (fish don't work like that, they don't stay in the same place for that long), and punches it with his stretchy fist. We're not able to tell whether the fish died... expect this to become the norm. And don't get me started on the in-universe logic of shouting out attack names! Also, it's a good thing his feet were so big 10 years earlier since he's still able to wear the same exact sandals even after the rest of his body grew! Luffy wants to find "10 friends" to form a crew, instead of just saying "I'll have to find a crew first." Why. And his pirate flag is the most generic one possible - one would expect that he had enough time to daydream about a more unique one.

This manga changes after this chapter in many ways. Sure, the target audience will stay the same - people who take the turds they are tossed at face falue - but the little realism this first chapter had will go out of the window, overboard, as we enter full cartoon territory. Even with its intrinsical silliness and lack of realism, shonen manga can work just fine, as exhibited by e.g. Yugioh and Dragonball - but One Piece just doesn't deliver conceptually, right from the start, as it neither feels piraty nor has any grittiness, just like a shark with no teeth but fairy wings. Even with all the plot holes and convenience, this first chapter showed us some promise - but all that will be lost as we are only chapters away from segmented flying biological non sequiturs and treasure chest cyborgs. Oh, it will be a nightmare of a journey...

Pictures make articles easier to read.
If this later becomes like Naruto Shippuden, reality will catch up with the parody... in stupidity.

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)