Category Archives: Bishoujo Gaming

Early Thoughts on the Bang Dream Social Game

Bang Dream is a media mix sort of a thing where characters and performers come together to produce a rock-band-oriented experience. Up to this point, the most unique thing about Bandori (henceforth) is how it employs the voice actresses to play out these fantasy girl band scenarios by actually having them play also the music that accompanies their vocals. In short, the selling point for Bandori is the “cool” thing about youthful girl rock bands but brought closer into real life. (Just to clarify, this is only in the live part; the recording uses professional musician playing.)

Now I say “closer” because ultimately voice actresses are not pro guitarists/DJs/drummers/etc. (handful of exceptions aside), and there is a large chasm between a real girls’ band trying to make it versus actresses playing instruments and acting out their characters who are in girl bands. But at the same time, it’s not a stage show in the traditional sense, when something like Roselia happens, as you can see in this video.

Or rather, it is a form of stage show. There are an assortment of bands in Bandori, with Poppin’ Party taking the lead in both the musical production (they have over a dozen original songs already), and the narrative attention in terms of the ongoing anime and manga. Roselia seems to be second. None of the other Bandori bands have performed live AFAIK. The lives for Bandori so far are the standard seiyuu event kind of thing, with the exception that the girls actually play the music you listen to (for … the most part). Continue reading


Idols with Smarphones

Smartphones were already a thing when OFA came out in 2014, but it hasn’t taken over the game like it did for Platinum Star. This is a quick impression piece on the latest console entry to the mainstay IDOLM@STER games.

Overall, it’s OFA in hyper mode, but where the song minigame in one is figuring out the timing of bursts and bombs, now it’s just Project Diva EZ-edition. Make no mistake, though, Platinum Stars is not really a rhythm game. This is more like the usual idol production sim with a rhythm game delivery mechanism. By delivery mechanism, I mean everything comes down to these climatic lives in which you have to not screw up doing rhythm gaming. Doing well at it gives you a slight edge but it pales to the amount of work that it takes to get far in the game regardless.

  • The idol mobile mail has been a long a cherished thing in these games, and the additional 3000yen or whatever it is enables this idol with smartphone thing, so please go grab it if that intrigues you.
  • P Drops is exactly what you think it is. I went for it because I am now a firm Kakkin-type player and to be honest I sort of wish I didn’t. It makes the game a little easier because when you miss, often times you get consumables which all tend to upgrade your stats in some way. So you end up leveling up your characters/songs pretty fast. Do you get nice gear fast too? More on that.
  • The game has now implemented two ways to balance gear. Outfits now have types that usually have to match with the live type to get max use of its appeal stats. Idols wearing items higher rank will also see reduction on the appeal benefit. This for the most part works but I imagine a lot of new players would run into problems until they figure it out. I had problems with this until I was told to just osusume in the outfit screen. Later on the game evolves big times on this front and gear selection becomes a major aspect of the game. By then osusume will not cut it.
  • The early game is pretty hard I think, once the game opens up more it gets easier, especially if you were able to get some good gear via luck and/or timely EX Clears.
  • The game “ends” after you clear the Extreme Live set of events. Doing it for the first time unlocks M@STER difficulty for songs.
  • Song difficulty for the most part doesn’t matter in terms of score, but it does give an edge if you can FC hard songs. This edge increases as your song rank increases. Thankfully for most people this is something we can live without.
  • The game boils down to the following: fans, appeals (levels), burst, omoide (and hearts), and the gear/outfits you own. The rest are just resources to increase these values. I put outfit in here not because it adds to your overall score (beyond just adding stats–they give skills, which effectively can multiply your base score), but because later on the specific outfits you have determines if you can clear a live or not, as a factor of outfit type and the skills they bestow on your idols.
  • The game plays up a lot to a modern view of SNS-driven fandom. I like it, because it’s like every retelling of the IM@S girls the characters move on into a new era.
  • The cute little animations between each part of the turn is something to watch for. But it’s hard to say anything about those. Just that sometimes I wish I can just look at it and do nothing else.

A couple personal notes. I bought a PS4 just to play this game. What’s nice is that earlier this year Sony enabled remote play on PC, and that made playing this game so much easier. Second, I joined a chat with some other guys talking about the game, and we did a quick-and-dirty FAQ. Like, buying it off PSN and playing it on launch? Watching the countdown timer hit 0 and boot into the game (while at work, because I remote-play via a Vita)? That was really cool. Thanks Sony.

 


Of Minimum Spends, Weekenders, Panels and Health Warnings

Just a bunch of random thoughts.

megumin

A Korean Liver apparently tried to make UO ramen by pouring UO fluids into instant noodle. What happened was the hot water vaporized the UO fluid, and it causes burns. As you can imagine, bad things happen if you inhaled it. Said Liver went into the ER for this reason, although he was smart enough to evacuate his home when the smells came so he ended up without much damage. As someone who enjoy UO kanpais let me be clear there are some responsible way to do this and please do not play with glowsticks in any other way. I also feel bad for proliferating this practice but I guess it cannot be helped to see…uh, the Darwin Awards apply? I don’t have a link to this because all this is screencaps shared on SNS. Do people even hyperlink anymore? Is this something that cuts into internet’s openness?

The trip to see ML3rd was technically a weekender. I took 4 days off, which is more than a typical weekender (this is like an Anisama weekender) and I spent the extra time to enjoy some company with the guys and to game airline fares (namely, having 3 layovers both ways). There is also much to say to ML3rd Makuhari trip than the two lives themselves. Will I get to it? Will I get to talk about Kawaii Kon? Sigh.

There is some thinking behind Japan’s aging and shrinking population, namely the young people of Japan and the shrinking workforce. There’s some hewing from foreign press or English-language news on this, mainly in terms of the economic, immigration policy or what have you. Enabling more elderly and women into the workforce is likely to have an impact with otaku stuff. Fujo pandering works will likely grow as more women get into the workforce, as there will be more disposable income available over time. The fact that anime and manga (and kakkin mobages) tend to target young people might be a counterbalancing point but this day and age adults enjoy them too (clearly) so I don’t think it’ll be a big deal. In a roundabout way, this also explains why Japanese cartoons target adults more and more, because where are all the kids at?

Speaking of kids, I’m enjoying Haifuri mainly for Mocho and the Trysails. If you drill into the cast for this show, it’s full of seiyuu who do idol works. Three of them are in Deremas, two from Nanasis, two WUGs, and vets like Kobayu…with Asumiss and Kanaechan (I don’t think they’re vets?). This is some serious seibuta material and enjoying it that way actually works. It helps that the story and concept isn’t bad. I’m blogging it at Jtor BTW.

I’m doing a panel at AnimeNext. I’ve gotten the skeleton of it down since early this year but sometime between now and then I have to flesh it out. It’s really about Bandai Namco and their management of IP… Okay it’s about IDOLM@STER but not the characters? Come and see. AnimeNext is in Atlantic City this year and that’s a bit of a pain to get to, but I’ll persevere. As long as they don’t schedule that panel on top of Kouno’s stuff… Excited about Kouno Megumi for sure. ZAQ concert is almost like icing at this point, but it does seal the deal.

Ahhh Chokaigi tomorrow will set my summer in motion. Probably.

Anime-wise I’m still trying to 1-ep everything. Definitely falling behind a bit, and not picking some stuff up. Like I don’t want to rewatch Unicorn but the TV series might get me to finish the OVAs finally. I’m also cleaning house on a few shows from last season. Like Dimension-W…need to marathon it soon.

With Anime North firmly in the front of the windshield, I think planning for it is going smoothly. We were able to book a venue and all in the nick of time, and hopefully the public-facing information for our offkai will be available this week…before whatever happens at Chokaigi derails us. Or whatever AX seems to have up its sleeves.

I saw some dubbed anime in theaters during FUNi’s screening of Empire of Corpses. The film itself is worth a watch. It mixes elements such as steampunk, zombies, and philosophy about animated corpses and souls with a good dose of BL. The sum is not my thing (and honestly I would not approach Empire of Corpses on those terms unless I am a marketing shill) other than the great animation and the philosophy stuff. The dub worked well because the characters and setting are international, with a lot of British and Russian characters. It still robbed me Houko in a funny role and Hanakana being the token female lead. Oh well. In a couple weeks they’ll show Harmony, which is something I am a lot more familiar with.

I am still jetlagged, mainly because work asked me to pull some late shifts since I returned from Japan. It’s not fun but I can live with it. Weekender training has some use after all.

Million Live Believe My Dream! event beckens. I am raking for two. Given how much I’ve spent on this game this month I think that’s the very least I can do.


Deresute: Week 33 – Next Steps

At this point, with the release of the last Tripri member’s SSR & the latest upgrades to social/opening up new game modes, I think we’re at a good place to recap the first 30 weeks of this game, and to look forward to the next phase of IDOLM@STER Cinderella Girls: Starlight Stage. So let’s start here.

FredtulipSR1

Just looking at the amount of money this game makes, it’s every bit justified to have a SMAP guy in your commercial. It’s gross, and it’s insane. I’m glad. I mean that’s about the same rank as Ahnold Schwarzenegger, right?

One point of curiosity is going to Reddit and skimming the reaction of that group of early adopters who would play Japanese F2P rhythm games with idols in them. How will they adjust to a post-voiced-idol reality in CG? There are no “trash idols” in CG, right? That speaks more to Love Live SIF than Deresute, but it’s a curious decision both companies have made creatively in the direction of where they’re going with all this.

The strong outpouring of support on DereSute has to mean well for the franchise. Does this mean we’ll get more CG anime? I think it’s not unlikely. It’s more a matter of timing and scheduling. All of 2015, in some ways, can be said as paving the way for this ultimate trojan horse that is DereSute–between all the IM@S 10th and DereAni promotions, at the least–and this is how they collect money based on all that good will. In the big picture, it’s not just a story of a big franchise putting on its walking shoes, so to speak, but it can even be seen as struggling development company hitting gold as the JP tech press may have reported, a different kind of Cinderella story in this unforgiving games marketplace.

The game itself probably have really pivoted when Tulips event happened. It’s full of post-newgene, small fries characters that barely got any DereAni treatment. It’s like the current event–like who are even the fans of these characters? Unless you are a dedicated CG P, which largely are hard to find even today…

Which brings back to my initial feeling about an English language port of this game. Will it happen? I don’t see why it shouldn’t, but it does make me think just how successful it might be. And if I, a cheerleader for the franchise for all practical purposes, question this, how does Bamco feel?

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Going the Extra Mile on PSO2 Anime

I was looking up the voice cast on the PSO2 anime on ANN and came across this, just Zac’s part I’m talking about here:

Well, this show requires some context, doesn’t it?

And I won’t quote the rest because it’s quite long, you can read it in his first impression piece.

I think that’s fair and well and good, but it doesn’t go far enough. Well, besides that most late-night TV anime requires some context…???!!

Izumi

First of all, this is not the first outrageously SEGA-inducing anime trying to sell a product. I mean, why make a straight-face infomercial? That’s so…mainstream. To target the JP otaku crowd they have already deployed the latest Standard Operating Procedure: idols. That is the Seha Girls Project from 2014.

I think the PSO2 anime has to be linked with that context. We already (and this is an international thing to an extent, but much more so in Japan/Asia) make mascots out of Sega’s various IPs. Just…search for Sonic. I think in a world swimming with mascots like Japan, you have to go deeper, as they say. So why not make an anime that is a literal holeelevator that takes you to from no context to full metal jacket context? After all, PSO2’s stories are inside the game, if there’s going to be points made about the meta-game, the anime has to cover both sides.

In SeHa, the characters, who each represent Sega’s iconic consoles, revisit various old-time classics from the original Virtua Fighter to Phantasy Star even. My favorite might be the Golden Axe ep. The “entertainment value” of the show is its core gag-style comedy routines, also that you’re seeing cute girls revisiting our collective memory lane, probably. But if you take a 15-year-old who knows nothing about SEGA’s storied past since it quit the console-making space in 2001, how do you entertain them in a way that’s kind of unique to SEGA?

For the PSO2 anime, the watering-down aspect of this nerd soup is happening, and as we slurp its first offering it should not surprise anyone we find some naked commercialism floating inside the broth. The context of why the is commercialism so blatant here is because, well, the type of people who would be entertained by a late-night TV anime has already been accounted for. PSO2 is a known quality by all means. The form the PSO2 anime takes matches its target audience. It’s a compromise that takes the original game into account (can’t just be some guy stuck in PSO2) and the audience (thus the very archetypical lead-in ep1) into account. Unfortunately the side effect is that the commercialism is more naked than usual. It has always been there. Imagine if SAO’s various arcs used trademark names for their virtual worlds!

Well, that audience is certainly not quite Zac. I think the entertainment value of the anime has a lot to do with PSO2’s existing place in nerd lore, for both current players, past players, and people who are just familiar with it. In short, it’s just like most anime adaptations. When faced with something like a PSO2 (or perhaps this point could be made for gameplay-first, character-driven games in general) as the core concept I don’t know how many options you have. Not everyone is going to think Bahamut Genesis is the way they should go.

TL;DR – the context is a person who is familiar with PSO2, not this naked capitalism nonsense.

PS. There’s a Zac-ism here (his public persona is kind of a condescending ass when it comes to other nerd verticals outside of his own (films)):

Concerned that only losers play video games?

I understand what he’s getting at but it doesn’t even make sense. The better joke is “Concerned that only losers play video games? Guess what, you’re watching an anime of the video game–that automatically makes you a bigger loser already! What’s the worry?” And it kind of just further points out this American context switching (pardon the pun) that’s happening. The hierarchy in Japan is well-understood… or maybe better put, online games have more of that stigma than the traditional console fare. I suppose games like Monhon and the current SNS game flood have long put that away though.

Or alternatively, “Concerned about justifying your PSO2 habit to your friends and family?” would make a truer pitch.

PPS. Suwa Ayaka has a lead role for the first time, this could be interesting. I already liked what I heard in this episode. The anime itself is not my kind of thing, but it could be kind of thought provoking along the lines of this post…

PPPS. FFXIV anime wouldn’t have this problem. It would have the problem of existing in the first place, sure, but aside from that…

PPPPS. As I write this post the more I feel and think the commercialism is actually a form of irony that…I guess is too dull to cut through the cultural barrier. Maybe it should have been even more naked.