Sunday, 2 July 2017

Anime review #7 - Speed Grapher

Speed Grapher by Minoru Niki (2005)

Cat and mouse game with a cardboard face MacGuffin flying around on the screen

I have to admit it took me some time to figure out what the title of this anime was about, but it hardly matters. "Grapher" can only refer to "photographer", but speed is not a big factor in this anime per se. Patience is, though, as is the ability to withstand crappy writing. Speed Grapher was interesting for 2-3 episodes - but so was Naruto. Eventually, it turned into one of the most horrible pieces of SHLOCK I have ever been terrorised with in my life.

"I feel like a button..."
"I am indifferent about everything."

Speed Grapher depicts a world (or rather Japan) where money is everything and everything can be in turn bought by money. So basically, it's like the real world but a lot more honest! Corruption runs amok among politicians and in the course of events this factor actually leads to the loss of souvereignty as international troops invade Japan! All of this could have made for a very interesting setting, but alas! it was wasted on a banal plot involving supernatural powers for no reason (*facepalm*) and unsatanly abysmal (but not abyssal) characters.

A few nice points here and there show how SEXY financial power and money itself as an object can be, but those pale into insignificance alongside the "meat" of this show, the storyline, which is as bland as unseasoned chicken. Try to eat 24 episodes' worth of that! I dare you!


Tatsumi Saiga, an established war photographer, investigates a secret de Sadian club which on first glance seems rather similar to the one depicted in Juliette (just with a lot less gay sex). However, the secret "VIP" membership buys high ranking politicians and businessmen something more than sex: their DNA is altered upon receiving bodily fluids from the "goddess" owned by the club, 15-year-old Kagura, who unwillingly participates in the process drugged and unaware. These customers are hence turned into useless monsters-of-the-week, most of them with spider powers for some reason. The same thing accidentally happens to Saiga, who upon being kissed by Kagura receives the power to make things explode by photographing them. Such a power would usually be OP, but of course, since Saiga is the "hero" protagonist, it has to be immediately overshadowed by the big bad's power of using his blood to achieve pretty much anything he wants - with deadly results.

So Saiga decides to rescue Kagura, who turns out to be the blandest cardboard face ever to float across a screen (even Hinata in Naruto has more of a personality! Wow, I can't believe I just typed that...), but not to FUCK her (cause she is "only" 15 which you would never even know from just watching the anime, where this tidbit is mentioned maybe once, and not 16 which magically would be (more?) legal then...) but just to keep her around for no discernible reason. Saiga has nothing but trouble because of this, as Kagura is kidnapped more often than Mokuba in Yugioh the Abridged Series (basically once every 3 episodes...) and he has to re-rescue her each and every time, which causes so much unnecessary stress in his life he eventually goes BLIND from it. Holy shit! Well, I for one'd be rather dead than blind. (I'd be rather dead than anything, but that is beside the point. Actually, I'd rather be a billionaire than dead because then I could make my movie.) To top it off, the abovementioned monsters-of-the-week are despatched against the couple at regular intervals - but as this is essentially a SHONEN anime (even though it features adult themes), the monsters are defeated without even breaking a sweat or a leg. What a twits! By the way, Saiga never has a lightbulb moment of coming up with the concept of a DISGUISE or just simply cutting Kagura's hair which is odd enough to make her instantly recognisable.

To spice up things, we are given a horny freak female police officer who consistently stalks Saiga, thinks nothing of raping him while he is unconsicous and is an overall bane on an already very poor anime, like a bee circling you while you are standing in a packed crowd of five thousand screaming pre-teens having to endure a Justin Bieber concert because your mother sent you there to watch over your little sister who thinks Bieber is a great musician and the cutest boy ever. And then your little sister got raped and you got stung by that bee. In the COCK. Yeah, that's really what Ginza reminded me of.

Anyway, eventually Kagura gets kidnapped for the final and last time, Saiga has to face off with Suitengu (that is the name of the villain and mastermind), Saiga goes blind and Suitengu kills himself, causing a massive economical crisis by essentially lighting a lot of paper money on flames (killing thousands of people, which is conveniently ignored in the anime - but by the fact a large part of Tokyo is LIT ON FIRE, it's a certainty!) A few years later, Saiga is still blind as a mole, has still not fucked Kagura, which would have been her only purpose (I wouldn't usually say something like that, but she really is nothing more than a blowup doll that moves and talks just a little more!), and that's pretty much it!

And the fact I could not find Speed Grapher hentai on Google speaks for itself! Such a thing had never happened before!
And not the good kind either...

Saiga is a no-nonsense badass, which, coupled with the horrendously plain female sidekick, makes for an unappealingly dull situation. His relationship with Ginza which borders on sadomasochism would be interesting if it wasn't so downplayed. He has no reason to live for other than taking pictures, so when that is taken away from him (by Kagura), he instead adopts the concept of protecting Kagura from vague danger instead of turning her front side into a zipper with a big knife and drawing out the organs to devour them (with a side of fava beans) to (possibly) be cured of his affliction which would have been the logical course of action. Even when things go bad for him (danger of going blind from using supernatural abilities to fight monsters, losing his job and livelihood, getting stalked by mobsters and his crazy girlfriend), he never actually makes any attempt to CHANGE his lifestyle or anything. Suitengu would have paid a king's ransom (or rather bounty) for Kagura, and Saiga never had the slightest reason to be particularly loyal to her, just the same way one wouldn't especially miss a dog eaten by a crocodile when he could just go and buy a dozen more dogs AND crocodiles and some slaves to pick cotton! In a world where money is supposedly everything, a one-dimensional character like Saiga just isn't particularly interesting to watch. An evil badass (think Light Yagami - or even Dark Yagami!) would have had a field day in this setting and would have provided for an interesting story by himself.

Kagura is the goddess of blandness. She grows up spoiled rich and subjugated by her crazy and cruel mother. Of course when that witch finally croaks, Kagura storms back to her and when her mother dies without ever having cared for her even a tiny bit, Kagura doesn't even realise that. She is naive and innocent, yet that trait is never used to endear her to the viewer for some reason! It is like the creators of Speed Grapher aimed to write the most unimaginatively boring character possible and succeeded. What a smashing success! Speaking of which, there is a scene where Kagura tries to smash a window to escape and is physically (and hilariously) REPELLED by an inanimate object! That is how low her charisma score is! And Kagura's brain tumor arc is turned into a mockery when it turns out she has to... menstruate to be cured. Bleed for your life! Menstruate that tumor! From your brain! Why does that plot line sound like something feminists these days would come up with... Anyway, Kagura is the textbook MacGuffin, everybody wants to have her so the plot is about just that. During watching the last few episodes of SG I was thinking that I prefer Hinata from Naruto to Kagura as a character... that should tell you exactly how bland she really is! (Not as bland as Lain though, but that should go without saying.) If Hitler had a dog, and that dog had rabies and AIDS and the bubonic plague, and it could only bark in Mexican - I would rather fuck that dog than say something positive about Kagura!

Maybe pasting in whatever random shit I can find on Google has worn out its welcome...
"Mein dog has ein nice Arschloch!"

Suitengu is the villain of the show, and originally that works just fine and dandy. However, he turns out to be ridiculously OP and capable of killing pretty much anybody he wants. Even worse, a bullshit twist at the end destroys his character by making him hate money, hate the system, hate Japan etc. because a long time ago a rich guy forced his kid sister into prostitution, had him raped too for good measure and made into a child soldier or whatever. In the culmination of this onslaught of tripe it turns out he saved Saiga in a foreign country while they were both buried under rubble by... playing a music box. What pathetic SHLOCK! So in the end, he doesn't kill Saiga which would actually have been merciful in that situation as Saiga had lost his eyesight permanently by then, and basically commits suicide, blowing up all the money IN JAPAN in the process, killing thousands in the process off-screen as mentioned above and bancrupts the entire country - which conveniently recovers in just a few years. SHLOCK!

There are also a few boring henchman like the guy with the dog nose who can magically turn into a wolf but is killed by the female cop in like five seconds (I didn't make that up!) Some additional henchmen could've run with the money, but instead go back INTO A BURNING SKYSCRAPER to buy Suitenguu like five seconds which is never necessary in the first place and of course turns out to be just another slice of patheticness on a shit sandwich (I think that is what the minimum-wage Burger King employees are talking about when they ask you whether you want cheese on your Crispy Chicken). And an overacting gay dancer or whatever. Who cares.


Absolute power corrupts a lot, and money is pure evil or something. And it is totally ok to be bland as fuck as long as you have a cute face.

Final verdict:

Speed Grapher was not good. In fact, it was very bad. The good thing about bad anime like this one is that they are very easy to review, unlike stuff such as Madoka and Higurashi. The bad thing is of course that they are a pain to get through after you realise you are watching something that cannot just be saved in the last episode by some miraculous crazy genius twist. Avoid.

Friday, 23 June 2017

Interactive fiction review #12 - South America Trek

South America Trek by Conrad Knopf

Mario is missing. Fun is absent from this title as well

Conrad Knopf's South America Trek is an educational game from the dark ages of interactive fiction. Originally published as shareware in a series of similar titles, the author expected you to dish out 30$ for the registered version.

I pity you if you did.

South America Trek sends the player (who is sometimes adressed directly by the impersonal "narrator" for some reason) on a whacky journey through South America to learn geography and stuff.

The first major problem of this game that meets the player's eye is the size of this game. South America is a terrifyingly huge game environment with confusing (and sometimes illogical) path structure, yet manages to be undetailed and plain boring. Drawing a map, whether you use your computer or go old-school with pen & paper, is both a must and a chore. Items must be gathered (they happen to be just lying around, of course) and exchanged in illogical trades (e.g. bauxite for a torch) in order to be able to progress to new areas, which, of course, are just as boring and unimaginative (not to mention unimaginable - by the way, don't plan on "examining" anything in this game, it's not implemented) as the previous ones.

South America Trek is a game you don't want to play. Reading random facts (and sometimes blatant lies - sloths are NOT dangerous, for one) about places and countries in South America in interactive fiction form while having to navigate through an atrocious and insanely huge maze path system, constantly going in circles from orientation loss and backtracking to trade items, is as far removed from having fun as I can possibly imagine. To top it off, there's pretentious in-game advertising for the author's other works. I hope there's a video game designer hell somewhere...

The best thing about this game: The word "fuck" was implemented. In an educational game for children. LOL

On a personal note, writing this review has been dragging on for quite some time because the game was just so unplayable, and then I found out the hard way you can die with no undo option, so just this once, I didn't finish this game 100% (but I got close enough).

Oh, and it's a DOS game. Good luck if you want to save your game, I couldn't...

1/10, absolute atrocity

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

One Piece manga review - Chapter 3

It would be ridiculous...

Back-to-back chapter reviews, eh. I guess that will become the norm now since reviewing either Madoka or Higurashi is a very very daunting task. Actually, scratch that, Madoka might happen any day now. Did I mention I'm chaotic neutral? At least I used to be.

Chapter the third. That boy with the glasses and Luffy bicker on about how Zoro, whom none of them has ever seen, or knows the whereabouts of, does or does not have the potential to be added to Luffy's party. But Luffy has not made his mind up yet, either. No shit. He has not met him, remember?! Maybe Zoro's... a muslim. Or a robot. Either of which cannot be added to the party for... reasons. So this "adding to the group" speculation is rather pointless, but what's new in One Piece Land. I would ask the reader to note that Zoro is described as a "bloodthirsty monster in the form of a man who hunts fugitives all across the seas", but it is Coby weaving that story, and he clearly isn't a reliable narrator.

On the next page we learn that Luffy had actually been wanting to go to the Marine base all along (just as planned...). You know, the Marines who are the mortal enemies of pirates. Yeah. Sure, why not. Actually he needs to drop Coby off, who is on a never-ending quest to become a marine. Or he will become one five chapters later. Either possibility... sucks. Coby has to leave the party and is heartbroken at the thought of having to be Luffy's enemy at their next encounter - because there is no question about the fact the floor will be wiped with him then. In a tavern, Luffy accidentally finds out he has the weirding way and can use the names "Zoro" or "Morgan" as a killing word, blowing up groups of random guests. Or apparently Oda claims that the tavern patrons are so scared by the mere mention of either of these names that they are triggered to EXPLODE. I'll stick with my theory as it makes a lot more sense (and that is sad, really). What an unbelievable stupid scene. Something like that might work in animated form if presented just right, but in the manga it is just another contribution to this (cess-)pool of stupidity that personifies the taste of the average Japanese manga reader, based on the number of sales (and that is REALLY sad, really). If Oda had just SHAT on that draft page, the end result would have been preferrable, I am certain.

So Luffy suggests that Marine Lieutenant Morgan (who will dance the hempen jig later) could have done something "bad" to cause the townsfolk to be so afraid of his mere name; but Coby insistently denies that a lawful person could be evil at the same time, showing his lack of basic D&D knowledge. Or maybe he just grew up with 4th edition and thus has become mentally retarded! Or maybe he is just right! A commander of the Marines being a bad person is just as impossible as a black person being racist against whites! At least that is what Hollywood continues to shove down our throats throughtout the 2010s. On a side note, I have witnessed multiple people in my country applying the nonsense term "African American" to black people who haven't even THOUGHT of America in their collective lifetimes... completing the circle of utter stupidity in a very ironic way.

But let's go back to fighting human stupidity by reviewing One Piece. (This is what LMTR14 actually believes!) The Marine base is revealed to be really ugly, sporting a camouflage pattern... for no reason. Its cannons are big enough to put a "Schwerer Gustav" cannon to shame, making one wonder what kind of pirate ships the Marines are aiming to destroy with weapons of that caliber! Maybe they need them in order to fight epic level munchkins like Luffy and Zoro... who is revealed to be on the very island Luffy goes to after having just been mentioned in the previous chapter for the first time... yeah, you gotta be shitting me. This is as stupid on a writing level as it is on an in-universe level. Zoro is just randomly captured on that very island Coby wanted Luffy to take him to? If either of them KNEW (magically) that Zoro would be there, they sure didn't announce that in any of the previous chapters. This is either a plothole on the gaping level of Micheal's bitch of a daughter (GTA 5) or shitty shitty writing! I mean, Zoro could be anywhere! On a sofa, on a chair! But instead he is right on Marine Island, the happiest place on Oda's Earth(tm). If that doesn't make you dance with the devil in the pale moonlight, I don't know! (GET IT?)

So Zoro is teased at with him being shown displaying an "evil aura". The kind of guy who would kill a little girl for offering a poorly-made onigiri to him. Surely he won't later turn out to be some kind of good-hearted laid-back guy then, right? I do have to admit the drawing revealing Zoro's rather unrealistically shaped legs does look kind of cool. Luffy is further suggested to be epic level since to him breaking ropes while being bound by them is child's play. And we hear the character whose appearance probably didn't even surprise a Japanese boy back when this shit originally came out reveal...

...that he is epic level too. Zoro reveals that he had been tied up for 9 days, resulting in him getting "exhausted". Nevermind that the average human can only last some 3 days without water (especially in the brooding tropical heat of the OP setting), how Zoro had managed not to have to SHIT for 9 days is mindboggling!!! As Luffy (who knows well that he is invulnerable, rendering all future fights moot and pointless on a dramatic level) strongly considers freeing the pirate-hunter, a little girl sporting the same oversized pupils as every other female in the story (apparently) appears...

and tries to poison Zoro with a rice ball purposefully made with sugar instead of salt (hey, they are both white grainy substances!), purposefully cause the sugar is used to conceal the strange taste of the poison! Unfortunately (for the reader), a character even less likeable than Zoro appears on the scene - Helpoemer, the Marine Lieutenant's cowardly son of a bitch. He forces the unnamed girl to discard the rice balls from her hand... ahem I mean hands, and commits animal cruelty by feeding poison to ants. Our protagonist, ladies and gentlemen! Wait... what? Anyway, Nami's little sister is all mopey about the fact she doesn't get the mile-high bounty for Zoro's death now and decides to be punted out of the compound by a nameless henchmen, forcing Luffy to display his superior baseball skills. I couldn't make all of this shit up, I swear! Helpoemer makes Zoro an offer he can't refuse, and finally leaves the story forever.

FINALLY, after a long long boring speech about how Zoro wants to be the very best there ever was, Luffy, idiot that he is, feeds Zoro the rice ball. And what happens?! Zoro rolls a natural 20 on his fortitude save...


Anyway, we learn that Zoro killed Helpoemer's robowolf (which was helping his master in combat) - I can tell that it was a robot because that thing seriously looks very HAPPY about being pierced with a rapier, ahem I mean slashed with a katana. That picture must be one of the worst drawings in the history of life itself - there is a burn victim (or a black guy, hard to tell) on the scene screaming his guts out because Zoro's right arm has transformed into a SHIELD that is affixed to his back!!! But to top it off, in the next (or is it the previous... damn scanlations) panel we see what can only be whatshisname with both his hands down his pants while his very suspicious gaze is fixed on the sexy little lighthouse girl! You can't tell me there aren't any shenanigans going on right there and then... IN HIS PANTS! And three guesses what is on his hand in the last panel of the page... Oda, you are a pervert!

Next, Luffy punches Helpoemer, who randomly returns to the story after a very long absence, in the face. Good, but boring. Luffy could as well punch SATAN since he is the main character of a shonen story and therefore can't ever lose a fight (just like in Dragonball Z!). If Luffy would ever fight Goku, the universe would implode out of the resulting paradox that is way way worse than the thing with the cat and the buttered toast! And finally this tired-ass filler chapter is over. FINALLY.

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.