Video games and other things.

Posts Tagged ‘adventure’

Special Stage Extra: The Hobbits, The Hobbits…

There were a lot of little things I had forgotten to mention in my PAX posts, like the donut people roaming the queue the second morning, Ubisoft’s redefinition of the term “Flash Mob” in their promotion of Just Dance that same day, the fact that the show directories were called the “World Map”, and the Hitler meme covered in Alex Leavitt’s talk which I hadn’t been aware of until then. Most memorably, there was a certain video which was voted on while in the queue, which we hadn’t seen in ages before PAX East, but whose tune has gotten stuck in our heads many times since then. All together: “They’re taking the hobbits to Isengard!”

A certain <i>DMC</i> arachnid gets a little lost.

A certain DMC arachnid gets a little lost.

Speaking of Penny Arcade, a few weeks ago, I started reading the entire archive from the beginning, something I’d never done before. I can’t remember exactly when it was that I started reading PA, but I believe it was sometime after the current style and format had been established, so it was interesting to go back and see the oldest of the old strips. So far, I’ve happened upon Gabe’s marriage proposal, the introduction of names, the first appearance of DivX, the first mention of the Fruit Fucker, Chuck’s transformation into Charles, and much more. There is technobabble, Dreamcast love, and some where the strip is funny, but the lack of historical context is a little infuriating (Cyrus believes this is from around the time of the World of WarCraft announcement). However, for games that I have played and remember well (like, say, Devil May Cry), seeing them made fun of in old Penny Arcade strips is an enjoyable way to indulge in nostalgia.

Elsewhere on the interwebs, thanks to fadedjae on LJ for reccing the Escapist article Phoenix Wright‘s Objection!”, which shows just how closely the Gyakuten/Ace Attorney series mirrors (and pokes fun at) the Japanese legal system. Some of the information wasn’t new to me—mainly Japan’s high confession and conviction rates—but much of it was, and it was certainly an eye-opener.

Finally, in case you’re looking for good deals on video game soundtracks—or have one to share—I’ve started a thread on the Cheap Ass Gamer forums with comprehensive information on anything related to buying OSTs: store listings, tips, deals, sales, you name it. Please note that you must be a registered member of the CAG community in order to view this or any of the other threads in the Video Game Deals forum.

PAX East 2010, Part Three: The Final Countdown

And here’s the conclusion! This one was delayed since I was waiting for namatamiku to get his box of Cool Stuff. He should’ve received it by now, but I haven’t heard from him personally yet. Anyway, I have other posts I want to write and can’t wait any longer, so here’s Part Three in all its glory. Also, nama, if you haven’t done so already, open the box and check out the Cool Stuff before reading this post; not everything I sent you is mentioned here, but I would like to keep it all a surprise 😉

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PAX East 2010, Part One: Of Panels and Pokewalkers

One quick note before I begin: I’m looking for PAX East cosplay pics on deviantART. If you see (or have added) any over there, please post a reply with a link or links; thanks.

Now, on with the post, which is rather long, even though it’s just the first part. Co-starring my partner in crime; some of you may know him by his old FFVII Citadel handle, Cyrus Dogstar.

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Turnabout Spinoff

Though it may seem otherwise, Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth (referred to as AAI from here on in) is not an easy game to pigeonhole. It could be considered as either a spinoff of the main Ace Attorney series or a full entry in its own right. It is the first and only Ace Attorney to feature both a prosecutor as the main character and a heavy emphasis on crime scene investigation. However, it’s as lengthy and as well written as many of its predecessors, and represents an evolution of, rather than a complete break from, the core Ace Attorney formula.

Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth - Edgeworth's OfficeSpinoff or not, there’s no denying that this is a different sort of Ace Attorney. Set sometime after the events of the third game (Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney: Trials and Tribulations), it stars Miles Edgeworth, a savvy public prosecutor who’s both friend and foil to defense attorney Wright. It opens in Edgeworth’s office, where there’s been a murder, and the cases that follow only get bigger and messier from there. The goal of the game is to find the culprits for these cases by analyzing evidence and other information gathered throughout the course of the investigation. Typical for the series, AAI is funny and well-told, and while the plot can be predictable at times, in general, it is solid, anime-flavored drama. However, the localization suffers in spots from awkward grammar and typographical errors. It is far from the worst game localization I’ve ever seen, but it could’ve greatly benefited from an extra round of editing and polish.

While convoluted murder cases are a hallmark of Ace Attorney, how they are handled is what truly sets AAI apart. Previous games took place entirely from a first-person point of view for the investigation phases, and only showed the main character during trials. In AAI, Edgeworth is represented onscreen nearly all the time. When he’s not in his typical 1/4 front portrait view, he’s a sprite on the top screen of the DS, and can be made to walk or run around his environment. This comes at the expense of the freedom to move between several different locations, as Ace Attorney‘s defense lawyers did, but is realistic within the context of the story, particularly when dealing with partner characters—no more running back to the office just to speak with your assistant! Other new features include the “Logic” command, where Edgeworth pieces together things he has noticed in order to explain something within the scene, and a device that recreates crime scenes, AAI‘s subtle, and suitable, upgrade from the previous games’ magical MacGuffins.

Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth - Picking apart Agent Lang's testimonyWhat else is different? The post-investigation phase in an Ace Attorney game typically involves a courtroom showdown, but not in AAI. Edgeworth still takes testimony and presses both witnesses and suspects, sure, but all of this action takes place right on the scene, and as such, is very tightly integrated with the investigation phases.

If all this sounds like a radical departure from the old formula, it’s one that fans need not worry about, as there’s much that hasn’t changed. The basic interface, for one, as well as the fact that the entire game (except for saving functions) can be played with just the touchscreen if one prefers. Speaking of controls, the ability to shout “Objection!” using the microphone has returned. Also handled in a familiar way are the first-person crime scene examinations, where a specific area can be searched for evidence; likewise, the basic process of interviewing witnesses and presenting evidence to them is the same as it’s always been. The visuals and music are stylistically consistent with the rest of the series, though the majority of the reused art assets—such as the portrait views for Edgeworth—have been given a much-needed facelift.

One “feature” that has been in the series all along—and is also present in AAI—is the methodical process that pervades throughout the cases, and the testimonies in particular. Often, it’s not all that difficult to figure out just what is going on at certain points in the story, but jumping too far ahead in one’s conclusions can have dire consequences, and the correct answers can be rather obtuse. Perhaps it is because I’ve played the previous games and am used to the Ace Attorney thinking process, but I encountered such stumbling blocks far less in AAI. That, along with the lack of real make-or-break, nail-biting moments, has made for what’s possibly the easiest Ace Attorney yet.

While we’re on the subject of familiarity: as mentioned before, there are many throwbacks to earlier titles in the series. From the appearance of beloved characters like police detective Dick Gumshoe, to tiny, Easter egg-like details, there’s much here that will put a smile on any Ace Attorney fan’s face. However, this has come at the expense of introducing more new characters to the canon; while there are some, the amount of them feels insufficient when compared to the earlier games. This heavy reliance on familiar elements, while not bad in and of itself, is the most spinoff-like aspect of AAI, and weakens its case for being a good starting point for newcomers.

So, is AAI just a spinoff, or a true Ace Attorney game? The verdict points to somewhere squarely in between. It’s a great adventure game, with a lot of excellent ideas that I’d like to see put to use in future Ace Attorneys, but it also relies heavily on the past, and has a localization that isn’t quite up to par with those of its predecessors. If you’re a fan, especially an Edgeworth fan, you’ll probably love it. AAI is a fan’s game, and while I don’t doubt that newcomers to Ace Attorney can and will enjoy it, one gets the sense that they’re not really who it was made for.

Turnabout Headphones

I started Devil May Cry 4 last night. One of the main things that stuck out at me during the opening cutscenes was not the camera work, nor the music, though those were nice. Rather, it was the fact that here we were, in a vaguely Old World European setting—set in the current day, sure, but there were monks and such everywhere, and not a single bit of modern architecture in sight—and one of the main characters, Nero, walks in, wearing not just the requisite long coat with zippers and red and black trimmings, but headphones.

Headphones. Big stereo headphones, too.

They just seemed out of place to me, though pretty run of the mill for the DMC universe.

Nero, what's with your hand? And where's your headphones?!

Nero, what's with your hand? And where's your headphones?!

They also reminded me of this illustration book, which I saw late last year in NYC’s Kinokuniya. It’s sort of a collection of headphones moe, if you define moe as having to do with idealization, or a particular fetish. The other major definition of moe is more specific, and refers to a certain type of feminine innocence.

As such, there isn’t much discussion of “male moe”, though it exists. Certainly, there are characteristics among bishonen that pop up again and again in Japanese comics, animation, and video games. Nero and his DMC4 co-star (oh, that’s gotta hurt) Dante have such “moe points” in spades, from the aforementioned coats, to their huge (*cough*) swords, to the stylings and very color of their hair.

White and grey-haired males have long been popular among gamer girls, especially villains. Yet another Devil May Cry character, Dante’s twin brother Vergil, is a fine example, as is FFVII’s Sephiroth, not to mention the star of the other Capcom game I started yesterday, Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth. Though not the only pale-haired prosecutor in the series, Edgeworth—defense lawyer Phoenix Wright’s friend and rival—has been a particular favorite amongst Ace Attorney fans since the first installment. This new game, in which he is the main character, has been long awaited by many of us. Given Edgeworth’s role in the series, it is also different from the other games in that it focuses on the investigations and avoids court scenes altogether. I’m currently in the midst of the game’s second episode; although the writing isn’t as good as it could be at times, I’m enjoying my time with Edgey. The Ace Attorney flavor is there, and that’s what’s important.

As for Devil May Cry 4, I haven’t gotten far enough into it to form a strong opinion yet, but I will say that it seems a little clunky and old-fashioned in the way that it does things, albeit with shiny graphics. We’ll see how the game shapes up once things really get rolling.