Monday, August 31, 2015

Game Reviews: Transmorpher 3

Transmorpher 3 is the third game in a series that has no relation to the mockbuster inspired by Transformers, and which is the third game in a series which I can't seem to find the first game of and whose second game I can't muster interest in.

But it's similar to those experimental platformer type games that I've often reviewed, and it's just interesting enough I reckon it deserves a review.

It's one of those games where you can change your character suddenly and quickly, which is fun until your keyboard doesn't register your button presses during the tricky common maneuvers*. (It's possible to use the mouse instead of the keyboard, but it's not especially intuitive and more awkward than it is useful.)

Your default character is this green slime; you acquire the other two a bit into the game by absorbing them with this one. (Only this creature can absorb the other characters, but it's only relevant twice.)

This character is essentially a basic platforming character, able to jump and walk (er...) like Mario but little else.

You can also change into this blue wheel-like creature, who can't jump but can cling to any surface but the purple slicks found on some walls (and can't cling to lethal stuff either, obviously). One of the tricky common maneuvers of the game is leaping as the slime and then changing to this form just as you hit a wall or ceiling.

Or you can change into this big fat orange slug thing, who can't jump but can push blocks, break other blocks, is too heavy to be blown upward by fans, and can also shatter glass barriers that show up later. The main tricky common maneuver with this guy is changing into him at the top of a jumping arc, because sometimes you need to break blocks above you. (It's also often necessary to change into him in midair to break something under him, but that's far easier by comparison.)

There's quite a few things about the game that are clever and fun, although be warned that there's several kinds of enemy and you can't kill any of them; further, one type actually has a spotlight and if you're in the spotlight for more than a second or so, you die instantly.

The game this actually reminds me of the most is one that I suddenly realized I've never actually reviewed, but the main thing is, this game is interesting enough to be fun unless/until you get too frustrated with it. I can definitely recommend trying it out.

*A tricky common maneuver being anything that the game's designer expects you to do regularly but which 1) can take a large number of tries if your keyboard isn't especially responsive and/or 2) kills you instantly if you get it wrong. There's a certain threshold of tricky common maneuvers that many games reach that is prone to making me ragequit, especially when I can't do the tricky common maneuver in the first place. There's at least one game I've played where there's a tricky common maneuver that you need to get out of the tutorial section, and I couldn't do it once, much less the six or seven times one needed to get past the tutorial.

-Signing off.

Friday, August 28, 2015

There Is No Mecha Named Aldnoah In This Series

Recently watched the anime Aldnoah.Zero (yeah, that's a pretty quirky affectation of punctuation in the title), and while it's by no means perfect, it's the best mecha anime I've watched in a while, at least since Gundam Build Fighters* and possibly since Gargantia. (Here's the Gundam tag if you're curious about Build Fighters; I'm unlikely to blog about other Gundam stuff for the near future.)

Perhaps the best thing about the series as a whole is that it reverses the general mecha/super robot series trend of "hero->strong mecha, bad pilot/villain->weak mecha, good pilot" full stop. The first few episodes feature relatively realistic mecha going up against a machine protected by a barrier that instantly wipes anything that touches it-including light and basically every form of matter-into complete nonexistence. That goes just as badly for the realistic machines as it sounds, especially because of their predilection for trying to stab the enemy for some odd reason. The protagonist stops it by figuring out that there must be a hole somewhere for the sake of seeing out.

And that's only the start of his level-headed and methodical attacks.

The battles are often ridiculous in their own way, but have a veneer of plausibility to them despite the enemy mecha laughing at ordinary physics and regularly ripping said physics new orifices, and better yet, real physics phenomena are often name-dropped in ways that actually make sense, such as the steam explosion being a consequence of the super-high-temperature "plasma swords" that the enemy mecha used in the above scene**. (There's even an episode where the protagonist brings up the fact that using insulation to stop electricity-derived attacks is silly because air is itself already one of the best insulators.)

For the sake of contrast, a few screenshots frome Linebarrels of Iron, a frickin' awful mecha anime I tried watching recently***:

What do these demonstrate relative to the above video? Absolutely nothing, but they've been sitting on my hard drive for months and I've been meaning to do something with them. Really, I just thought of Linebarrels because I was trying to think of the best mecha anime I've watched recently, and for some reason thought of the worst instead.

Incidentally, another thing: I saw some reviewer call Aldnoah.Zero "Gundam minus what I like about Gundam." I watched Aldnoah.Zero and thought "Gundam minus a lot of what I don't like about Gundam."

Wow, I'm rambling. I should probably just hit Publish and get off for the night.

*I know I watched those back in the spring of this very year and so it doesn't sound like much of a compliment, but I've been watching a lot of mecha anime lately. Both Aldnoah.Zero and Gundam Build Fighters excel in some of the same areas, incidentally-really great mecha battles and absolutely fantastic soundtracks. Of course, they're incredibly different styles of series beyond that...

**For the sake of contrast, the anime Betterman screwed up bad when it tried the same thing.

***Note that I've seen plenty of people say the manga is lots better, but I've no familiarity with the manga at all.

-Signing off.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

I Hope You Weren't Fishing For Compliments From the Submarine

One of the rather quirky things about Arpeggio of Blue Steel is that most of the character development is given to the ship girls rather than the human characters. Even the captain of I-401, ostensibly the protagonist, doesn't get a whole lot of character development comparatively.

And honestly, it's pretty generic character development he does get. (I've read that there's a lot of differences from the manga, to the point where manga fans are upset by the anime, but... eh.)

Take this scene:

I've slightly altered the context-I left out the part where context made it clear that this conversation was about his attempt to change the world-but it's pretty amusing nonetheless.

-Signing off.

Monday, August 24, 2015

(Almost) The Only Reason

While I'll acknowledge that we're talking about real-world versus in-universe reasons, it still feels a bit disingenuous when the characters discuss why all the living warships in Arpeggio of Blue Steel are personified as female.

While the given reason-that ships are given female pronouns, so they should be girls-is pretty logical, and is why many, many ships with personalities are personified as female in science fiction, the other obvious reason-because the series creator(s)* felt like occasional fanservice-is definitely a factor in this case, though the series is relatively tasteful most of the time.

(I still think it's a pretty decent series, overall... even if/partly because it's a series that uses the phrase "tsundere heavy cruiser.")

*Arpeggio of Blue Steel is both a manga and an anime adaptation. I know very little about the manga and it's possible it has very little fanservice (though I doubt it), but the anime, erm, flirts with fanservice a fair bit, especially in the intro sequence and a couple of random episodes.

-Signing off.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Don't Pick A Fight With A Living Submarine

Because a living submarine is bigger than you and has built-in weapons. (Screenshots are from the anime Arpeggio of Blue Steel, which is about a bunch of superpowered and essentially living ships showing up and imposing a global blockade on humanity so that sea trade can't happen. They also shoot down all the satellites and jam all forms of long-ranged communication.)

And yes, the white/blue-haired girl is a submarine. (Her "real" body is just offshore, which is about twelve feet away in this case.)

Bonus reason for not picking a fight with a living submarine: There's a chance they'll be good at hacking.

(Incidentally, the reason this post is in the "super robot junk" label is because I've been watching it for the same reasons I watch super robot and mecha series*, and "super robot junk" is definitely my most catch-all category for that sort of thing.)

*Stuff blowing up plus cool technology porn that doesn't feel the need to make perfect sense.

-Signing off.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

The Song, However, Has No Faults

Lately, what with watching things on Hulu, I've been seeing more TV-style ads than I had for a long time. (It's less of a problem than actual TV ads, partly because I've got better volume control and I can switch to another tab. While I was watching Heroic Age recently, I even hunted down the theme song on YouTube and listened to it while the ads were playing, sometimes twice in one break. It was louder than the ads, so the ads being on wasn't a problem.)

And I was reminded that they can be both nonsensical and at least a teense unintentionally disturbing*.

I don't regret leaving that world behind one bit.

Also, I think it says a lot about that song that the overwhelming majority of the suggestion results are simply variations of it.

*Case in point:

Thinking about the logistics of an anthropomorphized gas pump is just about as horrifying as thinking about the logistics of anthropomorphic fruit being on sale in a grocery store.

What if he sneezes?!

-Signing off.

Monday, August 17, 2015


So I've been watching the anime Buso Renkin on Hulu, because I'd learned a bit about it years ago and was interested, but never got around to it (the clip in this post is from the series, and actually features the character I'm about to talk about).

There's quite a few characters I quite like from the series, but the best is almost certainly Captain Bravo*. Observe (Captain Bravo is the one in the jacket that covers his face):
(Kazuki [the dude in the foreground]: Say, can you swim, Tokiko?)
(Tokiko [the gal in the foreground]: Are you making fun of me? What're you talking about?)
(Kazuki: Oh, I'm talking about all of us...)
(Kazuki: ...going to the beach during summer vacation.)
(Tokiko: Is this discussion necessary right now?)
(Captain Bravo: Warrior Kazuki!)
(*beat as Kazuki and Tokiko turn to Captain Bravo*)
(Captain Bravo: I'll drive the car!)
(Captain Bravo: *highly visible eye gleam*)
(Kazuki: Roger!)
(Tokiko: Warrior Chief!)

He unfortunately is away on business when they go to the beach, but...
(Mahiro [redheaded girl in foreground]: Hey, look over there!)
(Mahiro [offscreen]: It's a surfer. A surfer!)
(Kazuki/Tokiko**: Hey, that's...)
(*closeup of Captain Bravo in beach-appropriate attire*)
(Kazuki/Tokiko: Captain Bravo!)
(Capain Bravo: *busts a surfing move*)
(Captain Bravo: Yes, I AM!)
(Captain Bravo: *gleaming pearly whites*)

...he did manage to catch up.

*If you want a reason that has nothing to do with silliness, he's actually also hilariously badass, able to defeat enemies that are supposedly impossible to defeat without the series' alchemical weapons with his bare hands.

**As of when I'm typing this, it's been a few hours since I saw the episode, so I don't recall which character said the line precisely; it's kinda one of those scenes where it doesn't matter, though.

-Signing off.

Friday, August 14, 2015

I Hate Post Titles

I've talked about Total Annihilation more than is probably reasonable for someone as bad at it as I am.

I don't believe I've talked more than in passing about the music.

Much as I love Total Annihilation, I have to admit it just wouldn't be the same without the music (check out the track titles, some of which are legitimately amazing):

Honestly, when I re-purchased the game recently on, the part of the package I found most pleasing was that it came with DRM-free MP3s of the soundtrack.

I believe I've mentioned that the game's spiritual successor, created by the same project lead at his own startup company, was not well-received by the original game's community, but it did have one thing going for it: The same composer.

If the style sounds familiar to you and you've no familiarity with Total Annihilation or Supreme Commander, the likeliest reason for that is that the composer also did tracks for at least one of the Skyrim games.

-Signing off.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

I Came Up With a Decent Title But It'd Ruin the Punchline*

Courtesy of a photo article, behold this text on a particular unusual hotel:

(You'll probably want to enlarge the text via one of the various means that allow one to do so.)

(I suppose I could have come up with a better way to put this here...)

(...but I prefer this method for humor value even if the blog isn't a good shape to handle it.)

(Can you tell what got my attention?)

(Cue the Frozen jokes.)

Also, this hotel currently only exists in the abstract because it's the off-season. It's amazing how that sentence makes sense in context.

*Actually, more like a decent concept; I think I had a good one in my head for a second but then it poofed away.

-Signing off.