A New Onegai Blog

Dear fans,

It is with great honor that I have accepted the previous author’s offer to take up the role of owner. This blog will undergo some big changes over the next few months and I will do my best to add far more content while make all existing consistent with a newer, simplified layout. The blog’s focus will also be changing to broaden the scope of topics although the primary target audience of the site — yes, that’s you, my dear otaku — will not be forgotten.

Changes to look forward to:

  • A new layout and possibly uniformity for older posts
  • Plenty of headers to automatically change randomly
  • A new and simpler review system for media
  • Possible inclusion of other topics such as coding, tech, etc
  • Possible reviews on more western media such as cartoons, comics, etc
  • Possibly more focus on music
  • Some possible tutorials on various things from hardware to software
  • Maybe, big maybe, some downloads besides images

So hopefully you’ll all like the new site and it’s new captain.

Cheers,
nonZero

Cave Story – Review

Genre(s): Action, 2D platformer, RPG components, non-linear plot

Alternative Name(s): Doukutsu Monogatari

Author: Daisuke “Pixel” Amaya

Platform(s): Windows

Year of Release: 2004

Licence: Free (original version)

Ports: WiiWare, DSiWare, Nintendo 3DS, Linux, Mac OS

Spinoffs: Cave Story+, Cave Story 3D


Background:
Cave story was created entirely by “Pixel” over a period of about five years. During this time he created all the graphics, music and code needed to bring his vision to life.

Gameplay:
Cave Story’s gameplay is primarily somewhere between Commander Keen and Rockman. That’s jumping, shooting and using the right weapon — for the right enemy those who don’t know what I mean. But above this primary layer exists another, thinner layer of sophistication that one would find in RPGs and adventure game; the old find-that-item-talk-to-that-person routine. This is a good combination as it help break the monotony, integrates the story and gameplay nicely and helps separate the games into more distinctive segments. Though there are some other RPG elements, for the most part, the player must rely almost solely on his/her own dexterity to progress. For this reason, the game boasts some of the most fluid and intuitive controls I’ve come across. Still, for all the good there is some, albeit very little, bad. The game’s flaw lies predominantly in its inconsistent difficulty. While the first part feels a little tough, one soon finds oneself breezing through the game after gaining a rudimentary understanding of the mechanics. Then quite suddenly one reaches the final areas and finds oneself bombarded with handicaps and difficulties that include gauntlets of terrible battles with no save points in between. While this difficulty is actually a positive thing since most games today require nothing more than smashing random buttons to finish, the immense inconsistency almost detracts from the game.  All in all, Cave Story still gets a gold star for being fun enough to play through several times. All in all, I’m giving the gameplay 9/10

Graphics:
Judging 2D graphics is difficult by today’s standards because of all the advantages that come with modern technology. Larger capacity allows a greater number of tiles, more colours and higher resolution graphics. Modern graphics editors, even basic ones, higher productivity rates with quick copy-pasting, flipping, colour adjusting and filters. Still, despite all the available technology, Cave Story keeps it fairly leans and simple, maintaining the retro look. But despite this lean approach, Cave story manages to produce rich and vivid environments with beautifully smooth parallax scrolling. Furthermore, the chibi-style of many of the characters captures their essence perfectly and  is reminiscent of the old Famicom days. At the end of the game, the player is treated to an impressive slide-show of truly amazing pixel art (or is it Pixel-art). My only criticism would be that occasionally, in certain areas, it becomes hard to make out enemies clearly due the complexity of the the background, foreground and characters all working together but against one another. All in all, the graphics deserve an impressive 8/10.

Audio:
The style of the music and SFX in Cave Story is truly a journey back in time to my childhood. Filled with nostalgia and packing some awesome beats and great synth, Cave Story has one of the most excellent sound tracks I’ve heard in a long time. While the music occasionally not suit the environment, it does for the most part and helps create an intense atmosphere. The compositions themselves are great and pack such a powerful punch that it’s easy to get immersed in the rythm of combat and great tunes well into the early hours of the morning. For this and for originality, for sticking to the style and for fitting the rythm of the gameplay, the game’s soundtrack gets a solid 9/10.

Story:
The story itself is by far the most intense, complex and immersive I’ve ever encountered in a one-man indie game. The characters are all rish in subtle detail and exceedingly well-developed. The plot and setting are quite unusual as are the Mimiga race that play such a vital role in the story. This makes the game special and unique to anybody who’s creatively inclined. On top of all the story has to offer is the fact that it is not one but several endings derived from three primary plot-forks the player can follow. While multiple endings can often be seen as as sort of gaming fad, in Cave Story they are as much an essential component to the game as the gameplay itself. Cave Story’s story is in the same league as any AAA game title — better than most in fact — and earns a full thumbs-up rating of 9/10.

Conclusion:Cave Story passes with flying colours at an average of 92% which earns it the A rank it deserves. There’s no wonder that this humble indie title has been ported to so many platforms and and received two commercial remakes. One of the few games that could silence even the most vocal of critics, this game is a must-play.

Download:
You can download this game along with the translation here.



Life

I must once again apologize for my aloofness. Sadly, work is taking a toll not just on my social life but even, would you believe it, on my internet life. But in a world where decent-wage employment is scarce, one take what one can get and one most certainly does not moan about lousy hours, doing other people’s work or having to take work home. I would likely return to freelancing if I could afford it with my medical expenses but currently the company I work at offers me a generous health and dental plan.

In essence, I’m saying that between health and work problems, I doubt I can remain able to keep posting on a regular basis, nor could I answer questions and comments in a timely manner.

I once wanted to just delete the blog but I realized that would just be plain unfair to the readers so I have instead decided to delegate. While I will still post, I’ll be handing over much of the writing to some online acquaintances of mine. Hopefully, they’ll be able to keep everyone entertained in my absence.

Here’s to the new future of this blog.

Software: RPG Toolkit

Software Name: RPG Toolkit (aka “Toolkit”, aka “Tk”)

Software Type: Game (RPG mainly) Software Development Kit

License: Open Source

Features: Engine & Scripting language, Entity/Map Editors

Scripting Language: RPGCode (C-Based syntax)

Graphics Support: 2D only.

Last Stable Release: 3.1

More Features…

This is a little-known project I’ve been keeping an eye on for a while now because I believe it has potential. Although initially quite unwieldy the project was apparently recoded in C++ in the more recently releases and the scripting language, RPGCode as they call it, has been updated too. Sadly, work on this project seems to have been halted a while back and I haven’t seen many real games being developed using it. This could probably be attributed to Toolkit’s unstable engine/compiler and its terrible battle-menu plugin (Even the new one has major trouble detecting keypresses correctly).

Can I make my silly little dweeby RPG with this? Yes, but you’ll need to to be able to write your own dlls to give Toolkit the functionality it needs unless you’re making something with exceedingly generic mechanics. At the very least you’ll need to be able to program something. It’s not completely drag and drop.

Looking at the features. They’re good. No actually they’re great. You can use the map editor to draw 2D vector lines over a still image to create boundaries as well as creating layers from a single image. You can create event tiles or draw event areas that will trigger pieces of code. Variables are handled mostly by the engine so you don’t have to track flags, you simply use the editor to enter whether the trigger must only happen once or each time the collision takes place.

So all in all. RPG Toolkit is a great software and a great project, but it’s loaded with just too many bugs, flaws and imperfections for anything beyond personal amusement. It’s not even fit for freeware. To worsen things, most of the games being created using it are ugly, clunky things that include a mixture of bad artwork, ripped graphics, plagiarized audio (well one title at least) and generally unstable scripts. It’s a pity because I’ve seen Toolkit in the right hands and the project had/has so much potential. If a team got together and rebuilt this project, I think it could be an asset to beginner indie-developers.

You can download it here or on almost any page on the site.

…I’ve been wanting to do this article for a while. but never got around to it until now.

My Leave of Absence

An Image Should be Here.First off, let me apologise to those who made comments. They’ve been sitting here awaiting approval for too long. My life is very busy at the moment and I did mention that there may be extended periods of inactivity on this blog when I first resurrected it. Secondly, I apologise to the readers as they’ve seen an image of 10,000 fists in the air every time they’ve visited Onegai Blog for the past two months. Yes, 10,000 fists are cool, but not ad nausea. It was never my intention to just drop off the map but my life has been chaotic lately. I’ve been trying to sort out my personal life, trying to restart my professional life, trying to write a book and raising awareness about all these internet bills from the SOPA and PIPA saga to the newer ACTA saga and the latest CISPA saga.

Anyway, to summarise: I’m back……….until I’m gone again. I’m hoping I won’t be though. I like writing this blog and I like hearing from readers – even if it takes me a month to check my comments🙂

The Battle Is Over – But Not The War

10,000 Fists In The Air!

And thus was the first battle won…

In a truly emotive show of protest, people of all religions, races, genders, social and economic demographics united as one unstoppable force. Together we yelled and, as one, our voice was heard. So loud in fact that the very authorities supposed to herd and control us trembled. We shook cities and moved mountains. Together, united, we stood. And so it came to be that SOPA and PIPA were finally shelved… However these evil bills, like all villains, have sworn to return one day. While many of you may think “What kind of victory is that?”, I say, “One in which the entire world united for the first time in history. One in which we, the people, showed our strength over those who would oppress us. One in which we drove away the enemy! And wasn’t that our goal?” Read the full story.

The war is not over…

The SOPA and PIPA bills are said to be shelved for now. Whether they return in the future is debatable but whether they gain any support next time is unlikely. This is not just because we’ve shown the world what we can do as the people, but because there’s a much saner and more acceptable bill in the wood work. Check that out the OPEN Act. So why don’t the corporates lobby for this bill instead of SOPA/PIPA? Because it’s not draconian enough for them or the government and doesn’t give them the ability to control the internet.

Enter an even more terrifying villain, ACTA…

So as we bid farewell to one villain, there is always another scarier one to take its place. But this one’s threat lies not only in what is known about it, but what even more so in what is not. Known as ACTA this bill is shrouded in mystery and yet it is on the verge of passing in Europe. But basically, it is set to annihilate the privacy rights of every EU internet user, maybe even every global user:

While little information has been made available by the governments negotiating a document recently leaked to the public entitled “Discussion Paper on a Possible Anti-counterfeiting Trade Agreement” from an unknown source gives an indication of what content industry rightsholder groups appear to be asking for – including new legal regimes to “encourage ISPs to cooperate with right holders in the removal of infringing material” criminal measures and increased border search powers. The Discussion Paper leaves open how Internet Service Providers should be encouraged to identify and remove allegedly infringing material from the Internet. However the same industry rightsholder groups that support the creation of ACTA have also called for mandatory network-level filtering by Internet Service Providers and for Internet Service Providers to terminate citizens’ Internet connection on repeat allegation of copyright infringement (the “Three Strikes” /Graduated Response) so there is reason to believe that ACTA will seek to increase intermediary liability and require these things of Internet Service Providers. While mandating copyright filtering by ISPs will not be technologically effective because it can be defeated by use of encryption efforts to introduce network level filtering will likely involve deep packet inspection of citizens’ Internet communications. This raises considerable concerns for citizens’ civil liberties and privacy rights and the future of Internet innovation.

– From EFF. Read more

I urge everyone to spread the word, link to the post, link to EFF’s article or link to any news feed exposing this hideous bill. It’s clear that, like its predecessor, this bill is aimed at control, oppression of free speech and invasion of privacy. So when I said the war was not over, I wasn’t kidding. I urge everyone to petition their local representatives to oppose this bill. We must stop this. We must win this war, for the sake of our internet, for the sake of our freedom, for the sake of our privacy and for the sake of future generations. Remember that “[The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing]” – Edmund Burke (English philosopher, 1729 – 1797).

Epilogue…

Well my friends, I leave you with this. We have fought hard and will continue to do so. Though our minds may tire, our bodies may wither and our feet may ache, we shall continue our perilous march towards freedom. We had taken our first victory against the evils of totalitarian domination and will strive towards a second. Our voices, together, were heard before and shall be again. Let the enemy continue to throw obstacles at us for we shall break though them, let the enemy continue to put walls around us for we shall tear them down. Like the determined spider who keeps spinning her web no matter how many times it is broken, like unwavering bird who builds his nest again and again despite the gales which tear it apart, like the resolute million who raise their fists to the air in defiance of dictatorship, so will we continue our journey, our war, our purpose, and so shall we prevail.

Let us celebrate our victory and rest for today, that we can fight stronger tomorrow,

Peace out😉

Megaupload Gets Slaughtered by US Government

Megaupload's Mega Manager - Credits Wikipedia

The popular file-host, Megaupload was shutdown yesterday (19th Jan 2012) following an indictment by the US Federal Govt. The charges included several copyright infringement violations and allegations that they knowingly encouraged users to upload pirated materials by offering them incentives.

But how did they prosecute an offshore company? Well it seems MU had a server or two on US soil and the offended parties were US citizens, therefore making it technically a crime against US citizens on US soil. In other words the charges are valid. However, one has to ask oneself why foreign nations were all too happy to comply with the US’s requests to shut down MU and to prosecute many of its senior staff members. Perhaps they wanted MU gone as much as the US? Or perhaps the US simply does what it always does: use threats of war and invasion to get its own way. So goes it I guess.

So what about legitimate members of Megaupload? So far as I know, Indie developers who used MU to distribute their software, Indie artists and Average Joe who backs up his stuff on MU simply lost everything without warning. Nice, real nice. Oh it gets better. Those who forked out hard-earned money for an MU premium account can kiss that money goodbye because there hasn’t been one word from US authorities regarding any remunerations. Hahaha, I love democracy, don’t you?

So why did this happen? Well, putting the “official reasons” aside, here’s my theory which is prolly the closest thing you’ll find to the truth without extracting the information out of the top-brass using torture or hypno-drugs:

  • US tries to get SOPA/PIPA passed – FAIL
  • US tries again to get SOPA/PIPA passed – Public outcry, protests from Google, Facebook, WordPress, Wikipedia and others, threats from Anonymous – my heroes and finally a mass protest of picket-wielding rebels in the US.
  • Feeling anger and discontent at the loss of its power, the US strikes back in the only way it can; attack the geeks – “Let’s hit them where it hurts” mentality. They know they’ll hurt artists using MU the most since pirates will just jump on to the next file host but artists will be down for ages while they migrate their works to a new host. At the same time, probably the strongest motivation, the US get to send a clear message to the world: “Look at what we can do without SOPA/PIPA. This is how powerful we are. We can fuck you over and you can do nothing about it! In other words, stop standing in our way and we might be lenient. Keep getting in our way and we’ll crush you.” Well I have but one thing to say back – and I hope everyone will join me here – and that is: “Fuck you! Go and beat up some pacifist protestors and/or try and intimidate some kiddies because we… WE FIGHT BACK!”

And guess what happened? Anonymous faught back for us. They hacked the US Justice Dept.’s site and shut it down along with many of the media companies that have been supporting this campaign of policing the internet. That’s what you get for taking MU down!

But sadly, revenge won’t undo the damage that’s been done to the plethora of legitimate MU users or repay them the money they spent on accounts. If you have (had) an account with MU or know anybody who did, please encourage them to start a class action against the US Justice Dept. and/or anyone else involved in this heinous violation of our rights.

I leave you with this, my friends. Remember the good old days when this glog was fun and silly? Remember the times we reviewed the good stuff, the bad stuff and the down-right crap? Remember when there wasn’t an anti-SOPA article stickied to the home page? Remember when each page didn’t contain links to anti-SOPA material. It feels like yesterday, yet so long ago. Oh how quickly this ugly war for our internet freedom has started and oh how quickly it has become so ugly. But during all this ugliness, I want you to think of those days and remember them well. We will reclaim them. We will get our internet back. We can and will win this war. So long as we all stand together. So long as we all spread the word. Everyone can help and one small person can make a difference. Those days, my friends, are within our grasp.

Peace out😉