Tag Archives: Review

Cave Story – Review

Originally Posted by Onegai:

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.



Software: RPG Toolkit

Originally Posted by Onegai:

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.

Higurashi no Naku Koro ni

Originally Posted by Onegai:

General Information:

Studio: Studio Deen

Genres: Thriller, Horror, Drama, Tragedy

Episodes: 26

OVAs: 5 (Unrelated)

English Name: When the Cicadas Cry


Synopsis:

Keiichi has recently moved from the big city to the village of Hinamizawa. For the first time in his life, Keiichi is now exposed to simple country life – a life he thinks is peaceful and tranquil. However, it does not take long before things begin to fall apart at the seams and for paranoia to overcome sensibility.


Review:

If you watch it, DO NOT miss a single episode. That’s because the plot is very complicated. There are no answers or explanations given for the events taking place until the very end of the series and you’re forced to make your own deductions up until then. Not that making deductions will do most people any good since the story has been very cunningly compiled and will likely misdirect you; making you think that you were wrong about something only to discover later on that you were originally on the right track.

Aside from a brilliantly evil little storyline, the show also does take time out for a few laughs, and mundane moments. That combined with a very surreal intro theme make for a very creepy and looming atmosphere.

The artwork and animation aren’t really worth a mention but to say that the CGI waterwheel was most off-putting. Still, this hardly matters when stacked up against the very clever writing and directing along with some fairly apt character development.

Overall it’s a good series and I personally thoroughly enjoyed it but I don’t think it’s for everyone. If you like lots of action, humour and straightforward plots, then I wouldn’t recommend Higuashi no Naku Koro ni to you because it’s far more artistic than entertaining. The complicated plot is likely to give many people a migraine and some may even find it a little on the slow moving side. If you enjoyed Jigoku Shoujo then there’s an above average chance you’ll enjoy this.


Other Formats:

Game: Microsoft PC, Playstation 2, Nintendo DS

Light Novel: 4 Volumes

Manga: 30 Volumes

Live-action Films: Higurashi no Naku Koro ni (2008), Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Chikai (2009)


Brief History:

Higurashi no Naku Koro ni originally started life as a dojin game back in 2002. It was well received which is likely why eight total games including one bonus disc have been released thus far. Along its journey, Higurashi no Naku Koro ni has been adapted into an anime, two live-action films, a manga series and a light novel series. The anime continues in a sequel, Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Kai, of 24 episodes in length.



Koi Kaze

Originally Posted by Onegai:

Studio: Rondo Robe, Geneon Entertainment

Genres: Romance, Drama, Slice of Life

Synopsis:

Koshiro Saeki lives alone with his father and works with two co-workers; both of whom he doesn’t really relate to. He recently broke up with his girlfriend but seems rather apathetic about it. In fact, Koshiro is apathetic about his entire existence, not even really noticing that the seasons have changed. His life is about to change when he meets a 15 year old high school student, Nanoka, on a train. They end up going to an amusement park together where, despite being complete strangers, they end up pouring their hearts out to one another on a Ferris wheel and Koshiro starts developing slightly romantic feelings towards her. It’s revealed the same night, however, that Nanoka is actually Koshiro’s estranged sister. The two were separated long ago due to their parent’s divorce but now Nanoka will be moving in with Koshiro and their father as her high school is close by. Almost immediately, Koshiro finds himself caught in a web of complicated and conflicting emotions as he tries to fight off his ever growing romantic interests in Nanoka.

Review:

Warning: This may offend many audiences. This is because although there are comic-relief moments in Koi Kaze, it’s for the most part very intense. The anime deals with a subject matter which is a social taboo in a very psychologically in-depth way; perhaps far more so than the average viewer would like. If the question was “How far down the rabbit hole are you willing to go?” then the answer would be “All the way” in Koi Kaze’s case. Much like NHK ni Youkoso (Welcome to the NHK), Koi Kaze is a very blatant look at the human condition that will, very sadly, probably not be very popular among many audiences as they would sooner cringe back from uncomfortable topics. The animation itself was quite pleasing as there is usually a fair amount of movement in the background (something I always find pleasing), fair attention to details and the players are all very well characterised. As for the characters, the important ones are all very three-dimensional, although the support characters, admittedly, do lack much definition – possibly an intentional contrast. The atmosphere is very powerful just about all the time as if every scene was very carefully thought out. The soundtrack is neither here nor there, but it works well for the anime and I couldn’t imagine it any other way. All in all, Koi Kaze is one of my favourite series although, as stated earlier, it’s definitely not for everyone.

Living with Monster Girls

Originally Posted by Onegai:

Genres: Hentai, Comedy, Romance

 

Japanese Title(s): “Living With …. [xyz monster girl]”, “Everyday Life with Monster Girls”

 

Author(s): “Okayado”

Synopsis:

Living with Monster Girls is a mysterious set of eleven single page stories including a twelfth page gag-interview with the author who remains unknown (If anybody could track him/her down, I’ll give you an honorary mention). Each story revolves one of eight brothers (Who look identical right down to the hairstyle) living with a “monster girl”. The monster girls include a Harpy, a Centaur, an Arachne, a Dullahan, a Lamia, a Mermaid, a Minotaur and a Slime.

Review:

The manga creates humorous and sometimes quite sentimental situations by taking advantage of the basic differences between humans and these various fictitious creatures. The artwork is very amateur but not in a displeasing way, at least not within the context of this particular work. Although hentai factor is quite blatant on some pages, the series goes a little deeper and actually has quite a bit of substance to it.

Download:

https://onegaiblog.wordpress.com/downloads/living-with-monster-girls/