Category Archives: Franchises

A Year+ With Princess Connect! Re:Dive

This is my current mobage workload:

  • T1: Playing a lot (log in several times a day, do all the stuff):
    1. Princess Connect! Re:Dive
    2. THE IDOLM@STER Million Live Theater Days
  • T2: Playing occasionally (daily logins only, with bursts of normal play):
    1. THE IDOLM@STER Shiny Colors
    2. Magia Record (EN)
  • T3: Playing rarely (log in occasionally–just to gacha really):
    1. Hachigatsu no Cinderella 9
    2. THE IDOLM@STER Cinderella Girls Starlight Stage
    3. Granblue Fantasy

I didn’t mention it on my blog much, but I have been playing Princess Connect! Re:Dive since its launch in 2018 and have been playing it regularly ever since. We are about 1.5 years since launch. I still enjoy that game a lot. Let me write about it.

Basic information and review:

Gameswith
English Reddit
JP Wiki

Princess Connect (Pricone for short) franchise, which first launched in 2015 as a browser game, shut down in 2016. Princess Connect! Re:Dive (Pricone or Pricone-R) launched in 2018 as a mobile app game as a continuation. Pricone-R was originally an Android/iOS game, now also available on PC via DMM. An anime has been announced with no air date, but Studio Wit has extensively provided animation for the app/PC game.

Why do I play it so much? Because it scratches a RPG itch that sort of is at the core of the Cygames RPG theme, yet unlike their other entries, Pricone manages to provide all the flavors with the least amount of filling. “Grinding” this game usually means playing a set 30 or so minutes a day, which completes your dailies and maybe spending a bit of extra time to “tower” or “PVP.” For people who actually are into grinding, this game is going to run dry pretty quick. For people already playing other things or have obligations in RL, it’s an easy thing to keep tabs on and is not laborious.

Re:Dive also balances well between free and paid play, and given its PVP slant there has to be decent balance for the game to still be taken kind of seriously 1.5 years into it. In usual Cygames fashion they are pretty generous with in-game currency, and instead monetize by providing frequent and cheap options to augment your teams. Spending the currency to improve your existing team members usually trumps spending it on gacha, but both do happen.

What I refer to by the Cygames RPG theme I mean generally the following: a stats building core in traditional JRPG sense, the usual rock-paper-scissors damage/defense model, evolving meta (a bit like Shadowverse except it’s with characters and not expansion sets), and clan battle and coop events. In some ways if you are familiar with Cygame’s original properties over the years, you can see those themes progress from one game to the next. In that sense PriconeR reflects a level of maturity in both Cygame’s development process and experience in game design.

One huge way PriconeR reflects mature development process is how it is one of the best quality-of-life games, both in the UI design and in terms of mechanics. Over the last 18 months the game consistently improved its user interface, and updated to add several common shortcuts and to removed mechanics that reduced player enjoyment/added tedium. It’s very clear they are tracking how players are playing the game in a very direct sense, like what menus are being opened and what stages people run, not to mention obvious things like which characters people are raising and using with others and where.

There used to be a player-matching PUG mechanism that gave out pretty decent rewards, but the fights for that feature were so easy that it was just pure grind. The challenge was actually doing the PUG part. That feature got axed pretty quickly because most of the time the players are dealing with the matchmaking interface rather than actually playing the game. You can see that they even upped the reward to get more people to play prior to axing it, but a lot of people cannot be arsed to wait for matches.

Visually, the game is a cute-girls-gets-stuck-in-a-mmorpg kind of a theme. It is very cute and generally the visuals roll between the SD models that you see in the 2D game engine and the full-on anime visuals, or the 2D static graphic for the dialog/adventure game/VN portion. There is a lot of skeuomorphism which adds color to the whole experience of this rustic RPG vibe circa Ragnarok Online. Once in anime mode, though, the game, complete with Kouhei Tanaka-style sounds, reminds me more of Sakura Taisen. The next-episode preview bits for its in-game events and main story chapters drive that home.

Actually the composers for the game range a lot. Tanaka wrote the main theme, but just eyeing through the in-game music store (you can unlock songs from events and the story to use as in-game menu BGM) you see composers like InoTak, for instance. Which is lols.

Day-to-day play

Usually Princess Connect! Re:Dive means clearing the daily quests. It requires stamina (generated over time, the primary gameplay driver) to clear 20 nodes, 3 hard nodes, do 1 Arena battle, do 1 Princess Arena battle, buy mana once, skill up a character, star up a piece of gear, give someone in your clan an “ii ne,” do 1 dungeon battle, do 4 “explorations,” and you get 100 free stamina from noon JST and another 100 stamina at 6pm JST. Occasionally there are events, which are self-contained areas which have their own daily and event-specific quests, plus the monthly Tower of Luna daily and Clan Battle daily.

To do the daily quest as someone in UTC-5, I log in once in the morning and once at night. You have a “room” (similar to Deresute) in which you can grow and farm bonus stamina, exp pots, skip tickets and mana. Harvesting twice or three times a day keeps everything under their maximum limit. Also, that lets me collect the daily quest stamina. So I would probably do the “early day” stuff and finish as many quests as I care for when I log in at night after work, and log in once in the morning to clear out the accumulated stuff in order to finish all the dailies.

I would probably play a bit harder on evenings for Clan Battle nights to save the clan battles for the morning, since it require using up 900 stamina. It’s just easier to wait for the bonus daily stamina. Tower I generally hate so I try to play it only when I’m in the mood for, and have time for.

Since I have been playing the game fairly closely since launch, the routine also carry me at the top of the player level cap all this time, as the level cap extends once or twice a month. Having access to all the content probably makes all this easier from the start. Events are a breeze to grind through, where the challenge is in only clearing the VH boss with 1 try, and the exhibition mode/special mode. In recent months the game has been sort of trying to be more relaxing in order to allow late comers to enjoy the later content.

Meta

Given the PVP drive of the game, there is a lot of advantage for being first mover. To use a recent example, the latest meta-altering character, Neneka, dropped into gacha as a limited character about a couple weeks ago. For the first 2-3 days people were easily topping Arena and Princess Arena. Now it’s full of people with 5* Neneka (and 6* Kyaru) a week since. To get 5* Neneka to rank 14, that is a fairly significant investment that even I was able to make (despite being mostly a free player).

There is definitely an online community for the game in which a meta exists, either because that’s what “gamers” read on the internet or seen others do. Obviously, a social game that is Pricone, with clans and all, people talk about what works and what doesn’t. This especially matters when it comes down to arena and princess arena, which are really just a giant puzzle where if you can recognize the hand the opponent fields, you can figure out your counter. The fun is figuring it out, mostly, because it’s not so fun to play janken when you know what your opponent throws, unless you just want to enjoy winning (and it is enjoyable).

This is at odds with the social/meta nature of this Cygames game (think Shadowverse) where people competitively come up with “teams” (or decks) in which you can beat via some kind of RNG (since you can’t control play). If your team is “rock” enough against an opponent team that is “scissors” enough, you will more likely win than not. So in the end everyone tend to pick teams that are really the rock/paper/scissors that has the most difficult counter. It isn’t even like janken where you have to guess, or like “arena janken” where you have to think about if the opponent’s teams are like rock or paper or scissors, it’s just a matter of balance.

So when a new winning combo drops due to a new character, it becomes fun again. Until the meta settles or is altered (like how Neneca is kind of replaced by Kyaru 6*), it’s kind of fun again.

Conclusion

This game fits my lifestyle. Reality is I don’t have a lot of time to sit down and play. Console games are rough. I can do stints with Steam, although lately my PC needs an upgrade to really enjoy that. Half of that time I am either watching anime or sportsball, or catching up with tons of free seiyuu content online in radios or promotional talk shows or weekly streams. I can grind, and the game has grind-type content if you want it, but I’m never forced to do that, nor does grinding convey so much advantage. I can just put in my 20 minutes a day if that is all I have time for. I can even skip if I really want to.

The game is also fun, which is why I have not gotten bored with it. The QoL changes over time makes the game less painful to other entries. The art and voice over (fully voiced game) is top notch and the anime style really apes from that Sakura Wars-shaped hole in my life.

It also helps that the main story is kind of interesting, although I don’t really care too much about the characters themselves. It is a serious game with silly characters and I’ve had enough of those. They are features I don’t need, but enjoy, and maybe others like them more.

So overall this is a great little gem of a game that could take off in the right situation. In South Korea the game apparently is doing very well, and it isn’t too bad in Taiwan/HK/Macau either. I believe there is even a Chinese knockoff of it now. Pricone shows that a quality product that does many of the little things right will still find an audience.


Late Night Parenting, Summer 2019

Just want to note that Uchi no Ko is about a helicopter dad and Okasuki is about a helicopter mom. Both are terrible and why this is the best consumable entertainment for this day and age.

I wonder what made both programs air on the same season? It’s like one is on the giving end and one is on the receiving end. And because they air in the same season I can’t help but to compare them.

I really like Okasuki in that the Mom character is both an oil tanker load of main female trope but, add a lot of “mom” to it. Mamako does a good job I think, in that you can feel the irritation of a child who is just sick and tired of his mother being mom. Good job, in this case, is that I can pick up that feeling well, and yet not let it overrun the tone of the show.

Well, the tone of the show is kind of not good, to put it mildly. It’s got that strong, late night meta-fantasy isekai harem stench all over it, except it isn’t quite it. I don’t think it’s a bad package overall but it is kind of hard to swallow personally. Maybe I just don’t have a mom fetish.

It’s in that contrast that we see Uchi no Ko, or something equally long of a title as Okasuki that I won’t repeat in this actual post. Let’s put aside the fact of the main female character and her various plot events and attributes for now, but look at Uchi no Ko from the “dad’s” point of view. I think it is a pretty powerful look at a very naive and small-brain perspective to parenting.

I’m harsh on this because it isn’t even wrong, it is just not the way to go as a storytelling style. And in that sense the cover in Uchi no Ko is that he isn’t her real dad, even if essentially that’s who he is. It’s sort of a fantasy fulfillment, if you look at the overall story and how it ends. Which is why we are all in the present and now for the child.

There is also a timelessness to Uchi no Ko that is amusing, but right now the early going of the anime is making all these parent feelers tingle. It’s an easy way to write a parent-child relationship while having the audience dote on Latina like that. It’s like a parental fantasy in which you “build” your child like a slime builds his SimCity world while being really adorable. In that sense, at least Uchi no Ko is not entirely shameless (yet?), and deploys some emotional nuances.

It’s certainly a much more comfortable thing to witness than parading humorous MILF tropes around. But I think that might just be a matter of preference, since children do grow up (and then we can talk about Araoto).

It’s maybe more like, when you do world building with a fictional world, okay, we all do that. But it’s kind of weird when you’re writing a story in which, in essence, is a MMORPG character creator. It blends the weirdness of a “cartoons come to life” meta with standard anime character development. The end result is just kind of silly on one end, and icky on the other.

In a way this has been also the isekai genre’s strength. The genre takes away one layer of meta for us, and ever more steadily, otaku anime today get right to the point.


Million Live 6th Tour Fukuoka

Kind of have this live write-up on the back burner because I wrote about it on Twitter fairly extensively. Then I read this tweet.

Like, it’s pretty reasonable, considering my own costs are in the same ballpark. I spent less on housing (shared an airbnb with friend), I spent less on chuusen (like, 14000 or so), I spent less on goods (about 30000 total), less on UOs (one box, 2800 at Yodobashi Hakata), and probably more on uchiage since I went to two (like 8000?). But 9600 on UO is putting that in perspective if you don’t know why your children are starving.

Anyway, I spent like 4000 on a set of binoculars after day 1, which I will thus explain with the rest of this post.

IDOLM@STER MILLION LIVE 6th TOUR: UNI-ON ON AIR Fairy Station Fukuoka: Why did I buy binoculars for Fukuoka day 2

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They Stopped Trying to Name Things in 2019

With Spring anime almost over it’s time to look at the Summer cour offerings. So then I learned about Oosuki Mamako and her son, Oosuki Masato, from the light-novel-turn-anime title Do You Love Your Mom and Her Two-Hit Multi-Target Attacks? In Japanese it’s 通常攻撃が全体攻撃で二回攻撃のお母さんは好きですか? I think both names give me the same kind of headache. I should say all 4 names, eh.

This Spring season is featuring two series with interesting names. And let’s be clear, anime with interesting names for characters are not unusual. There are usually at least one per cour. In Bocchi, the characters are all plays on their character archetypes. They go in as far as making them not just jokes themselves but also deep introspective points.

In Joshikausei, the main character is named Futo Momoko. I was going to crown this one winner of lol names category in Year In Review 2019 already.

Well, names of the characters are really important for anyone writing fiction. This is a kinda-universal thing that I learned, from classic British lit to folklore in China to light novel and video games. I don’t think you can put too much emphasis on how things are named, even though at times they aren’t significant either.

The joke names, though, reflects an attitude of these narrative. They are comedies. And we need more comedies in our lives, especially ones based on fiction. It feels mainstream entertainment tend to veer nonfiction for humor and fiction for the serious. Anime feels a strong buckling of this trend. Like, Bocchi deals with some serious issues and is generally a very sincere story, but it’s a comedy.

Sometimes, the name of the character is like the opening animation for the anime. You get it even in the opening animation, even. It’s what you see first about somebody. It help sets the viewer’s or reader’s expectation. And sometimes you really wonder what to expect from a title and characters like those from Okasuki [#お母好き].


Wake Up Girls Songs Tiering

Just because an idol group ended, it doesn’t mean the fandom stops. That’s super true when the idol group really wasn’t an idol group–they are simply assassins, adventurers, and aberrants that were hired to be a party, and that gig is now over. Now they’re back at work simply being assassins, adventurers and aberrants. Also, when the group exploded like a supernova ramping up to the final live, WUG!’s life as a star kind of ended but it made the loudest bang it ever did in its short life. As a result I think it’s worth mulling over some of the music, maybe you might find something.

Personally though, I’ve been listening to a lot of WUG music just the past 12+ months, actually since March 2018. It’s about a year since that tearful day when the Final Tour was announced and the associated disbanding announcement, but forget about that. I’m just trying to write down what I’m thinking after grinding on WUG music for a while. The purpose of this post is largely me just rambling about songs, yes.

(Before I get started, just limiting to WUGchan songs that they have performed. Not including non-WUGchan solos here to keep things manageable.)

Intro tier: Do these only if you specifically want to. Moreover, I’m not listing every WUG song in this list, so you can consider those also in the “don’t do except if you want to” category…just not intro tier. Like you can do HIGAWARI Princess for the idols you love or their solo event solos…that’s fine obviously. Well I’ll call the ones I know out in the list. But I wouldn’t need to tell you that if you know about them.

  • 7 Girls War
  • Tachiagare – This song is quite special to me now, and I imagine that is true for most WUGners too, so when folks casually do this song as a chika idol cover or at anikura I might cringe. It doesn’t bother me so much anymore, but just a PSA: Think twice before doing it. This tier list should help with it. I won’t tell you to stop either if you wanna. Go right ahead, and thank you for showing WUG some love.
  • Kotonoha Aoba
  • One in a Billion – Great song with May’n Tie-in and it’s one of their better-known tie-ins, even if the anime is not the kind that will have hardcore fans. A lot of people heard and loved this song (if sales ranking meant anything). The joke was, as the one WUG (well WUM) song not sold by Avex, it outsold all the other WUG tie-ins at that time. Anyways, people know this song, for whatever the reason.

One step up: Good representative songs, and at least shows you know more than just the OP/ED.

  • Gokujou Smile – This ought to be THE go-to song for people who wanna tribute WUG. It’s their most fun song and the lyrics are pretty amusing. The calls are the best, though. It’s got everything you want. Also see my prior write-ups.
  • Sugao de Kiss Me – This song is actually a ton of fun for anikura (the hipster kind). (Use April Fools version for the non-hipster kind at your own risk.)
  • Suki no Skill – The tie-ins from 2016-2018 were all quite good. People might know this song, and as anikura DJ you can point to them and say “these are otaku that appreciate late night isekai light novel adaptations.”
  • Koi de Ai de Bokun desu – See above, but it’s a dumb manga adaptation that is far less popular for some reason. This is also the secret Yoppi oshi song. In this point in time there might be more Yoppi oshi than fans of Renai Boukun. Sorry Guri.
  • Beyond the Bottom – A powerful song no matter who you are, where you are, and how you feel, and it goes beyond the fandom gates.
  • 16-sai no Agape – I don’t know where this really should go, so here it is. It’s the derpy idol song for girl idol units, but at this point it is salve.
  • Shoujo Koukyoukyoku – This is more “Appreciator tier” (see below) but I think a lot more people know this song from the WUG movies. And it’s really an enchanting song that will forever prime my emotions due to how strongly I now associate it with WUG Final Tour, so I just had to say that.
  • Jera – This is the one cool I-1 song that WUGs would do and people would die if people would look in their old footage.
  • Little Challenger – This is a fun song that really captures that early WUG energy and some pure idol fun. Kind of like 16-sai but more anime.
  • WUG ZOO ZOO

WUG Appreciator tier: The good stuff people find out by farming WUG’s catalog more. And we come to the reason for this post:

  • 7 Senses – It’s a song that is only good because it grew on you, LOL.
  • Chikatetsu Labyrinth – I did not really understand or appreciate this song until WUG Tour Final. It’s a powerful tune with different genres in it, different rhythms, and styles. That brass section gives it a mainstream feel without feeling too forced. The way they ended that in Final part 3 was some really powerful entertainment.
  • Jewelry Wonderland – This song is solid all around. It’s got a melodious progression to it that makes it hard to dislike despite the choice of how some of the instruments that were arranged. It sticks in your mind but doesn’t worm, and overall just very good composition.
  • Polaris – It’s a simple song that makes us cry.
  • outlander rhapsody – After dragons were slain in WUG Final Tour part 2 I think people opened their eyes finally as to how this song could go…
  • SHIFT – Similarly, this song is just very good because it is another showtunes-y and not-very-idol-y track that gives WUGs some range. The routine, song and dance aside, it’s just a well put-together kind of a fair (reminds me a bit of Chikatetsu actually). Really wows. And it sits a bit in languish as a c/w to Suki no Skill. Too new to be picked up and during a time when WUG was struggling a bit.
  • Bokura no Frontier – Great song, great vocals. It’s the overshadowed tie-in among the other hits but it’s probably my favorite in that batch…it’s the most representative MONACA x WAKE UP, GIRLS! song in my mind.
  • Heartline – Putting aside what happened to this song in Sendai for Final Tour, this song is just a charming tune that should get more play. The calls are fun by default, and also for furicopy.
  • Seventeen Crisis – It really pairs well with Platinum Sunrise but this song has the power to bring down the house, just it’s so rarely played up as such. Such a waste.
  • Shirt and Blouse – For OG WUGners.
  • Tight Rope Runway – I am thinking only I appreciate this song LOL. It’s got a more barebones arrangement that makes it kind of EDM-y in that 90s style.

Beyond the borderline: special songs because they were special and not as much because they are good, or just outright no bueno for other reasons. Or other special exceptions.

  • Sayonara no Parade – LOLOLOL
  • Doyoubi no Flight – LOLOL it’s not that bad. But kind of a downer like the other new songs from Final.
  • Kotoba no Kessho – Yeah….downer a bit?
  • Umi soshite shattaa-dori – LOLOLOL
  • Sakurairo Crescendo – Shoutout to Sendai and Airi. What a wonderful little piece she’s got for a solo. Do this only if you really, really mean it.
  • TUNAGO – LOLOLOL
  • Taiyou iwaku moeyo kaosu – Please use the original version unless you want to rep Myu or something LOLOL

Any WUGners out there, want to add anything? Comments are all yours.