Thursday, April 7, 2011

This is not about Sengoku Basara.

I have been trying to work on a big writeup of Sengoku Basara, with a whole compare and contrast to Devil Kings section in it, only to realize that it's getting in the way of me actually playing the games. I think I need to go back to shorter blog posts for a while.

Over this last weekend, #1 son and I went to get Okamiden and No More Heroes 2:Desperate Struggle at our local Gamestop. Since I waited so long to pick up NMH2, which came out at the same time as Tatsunoko vs Capcom, it was only $13. I was completely losing my mind when the clerk asked me if I wanted a used copy for a dollar less, and I know they make more money from used copies, but I did not want to be their test pilot for a used copy only to save a dollar.

Since the weekend, #1 son has spent a lot of time playing Okamiden, predicated on finishing his math homework first. I even got him to finish his weekend math homework Saturday morning before he ate his breakfast because I told him that I wanted him to get that out of the way before we purchased Okamiden.

Okamiden is a DS game that is a sequel to Capcom's Okami. You play as Chiberatsu, a pup of the wolf goddess Ameratsu featured in the original game. Evil once again rises up in the land, and Chiberatsu solves puzzles and meets friends to help combat the menace. Since a main feature of the game is using written symbols to interact with your environment in a variety of ways, it is quite suited to the Nintendo DS and its touchscreen. Instead of drawing symbols with an analog thumbstick or drawing in the air with the Wiimote, the stylus and the touchscreen allow you to draw more naturally. In battle mode, just drawing a slash across the screen is an additional attack. If you need the sun when it is dark, draw a circle in the sky. If there is a crack in a wall, draw a circle with a diagonal line through it (like a Q, but upside down) and a small cherry bomb appears to open the wall for you. As you go through the game, you find more friends and brush techniques that allow you to make further progress. I can wholeheartedly recommend this game to anyone that liked Okami, and to anyone who likes action/adventure games, unless you're stylus-averse.

Once we got back to the house Saturday with both games, #1 son quickly absorbed into his DS, and I didn't really talk to him that much the rest of the day unless he was laying in the way. I didn't start No More Heroes 2 until both kids were otherwise occupied, and I had dishes to wash anyway.

No More Heroes 2:Desperate Struggle is the sequel to Ubisoft's critically acclaimed Wii game by Suda51 and his team at Grasshopper Manufacture, No More Heroes. Our protagonist, Travis Touchdown, gets back in the assassin business about the same time he discovers that his one real friend in the city of Santa Destroy has been brutally murdered by a group of thugs. Armed with a beam katana (that's what you call a l*ghts*b*r if you don't want to have to pay George Lucas a nickel every time you say it or swing it around) and an array of wrestling moves learned from countless hours of TV wrestling, Travis once again works his way back up the assassin ranking ladder to fight the #1 assassin and avenge his friend.

It's very easy to pick back up, even though it feels like a long time since I've played the original No More Heroes. The biggest difference I noticed was how much harder it was to recharge the sword. In the first game, you aim the Wiimote skyward, hold the 1 button, and shake the Wiimote back and forth. (You can keep the jokes about what that looks like to yourself.) In this game, all of that is the same but it seemed like it took a lot more effort. Of course, it could be that me shaking a virtual beam katana handle to recharge my virtual batteries were beating the heck out of my actual Wiimote and the actual batteries. I had to swap batteries at least once, although the state of all the rechargeable AA batteries in my house probably has more to do with a few marathon sessions of New Super Mario Bros. Wii than anything else. The one thing that I don't like about the game is that you can't just walk around the city any more, but the giant empty city was the biggest complaint that most reviewers made about the first game. I really like the empty city and driving the motorcycle around, or even walking. It made the city seem more real and gave it a sense of place. Now, that is replaced with a menu system overlaid on a map of the city. I might have preferred the option of going places instantly via the map when I wanted to, but also being allowed to venture out into the city when I wanted to. Some of the things that you found by wandering around the city in the first game are in treasure boxes in the boss levels in this game. I haven't figured out how to view the collected items yet.

I can only recommend this game to adults that have a firm sense of reality, since this game is fairly detached from reality in quite a number of ways. There is an excessive amount of violence, a fair amount of profanity, and a couple of unrealistic characterizations of female characters. While it is not required, the game will make a little bit more sense if you have played and finished the first one already.

In other news, I finally got a new set of wheels. What am I excited about? I am excited that all the doors open, the A/C works, I can fit stuff in the back, and there's a 1/8” Stereo jack marked “AUX” that I can hook the audio from the Nintendo DS into. I sense a mobile session of Korg DS-10+ in my future.

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