Thursday, December 29, 2011

Play The Games You Want To Play To-day!

Nowadays, many video game enthusiasts are more obsessed with building up a library of games to play instead of actually playing the game, which is kinda missing the point of being a gamer. In fact, I used to be one of these people. I remember back when the only console I had was a ps1 and after getting a taste of Final Fantasy VII, Grandia and Legend of Legaia, I set out on a self-imposed quest to collect all ps1 (English) jrpgs in existence. 
The Collector’s Syndrome

Before long, I had quite a lengthy list of titles, many of which, I didn’t even have time to play anymore. My collection of unfinished titles include such classics as Breath of Fire III and IV, Final Fantasy Anthology (V and VI), Arc The Lad Collection, Beyond the Beyond, Guardian’s Crusade, Wild Arms (finished 2nd ignition) – and a few others whose titles escape my head at the moment. Of course, this is only as far as console gaming is concerned. I still remember when I first discovered SNES, Genesis, GBC and eventually Arcade and GBA emulators.

I started downloading every single GBA rpg in existence. To this day, I’ve yet to finish a single one of these GBA titles. Well, at least I finished the original Chrono Trigger for the SNES. Furthermore, I really loved collecting freeware games that I’d play for a few days and then just leave lying around cluttering up my then limited HDD with only 30 GB of space to spare. From these freeware games, I first came upon the demo versions of Embodiment of Scarlet Devil and Perfect Cherry Blossom from the touhou series. This was about the time when I was first introduced to doujin games.

Nowadays, with HDD space no longer an issue and with blazing fast download speeds, collecting the latest doujin titles is a snap. Just search for the latest torrent and snap it up. Of course, if you’re feeling altruistic, you might actually want to pay for it and order the game legitimately via any of the specialty import stores that abound all over the internet.

What Really Matters

The point however, is that while I was busy collecting all these games, I lost track of one important thing, and this is, that it is always better to play the games that you want to play today. Don’t wait for tomorrow, the next day, the next week, or when you feel that you have time to appreciate the game in its full splendor. The fact of the matter, is that you might not be able to enjoy the games as much as you would have if you’d played them as soon as practicable for you.

Here’s something from personal experience: I’ve always adored the Arc The Lad games for the PS1. I liked the cutesy sprites and the Chrono Cross-esque overworld map along with the fun and quirky characters. However, when I tried to start playing Arc the Lad III nowadays, I realized that the game just isn’t as much fun as it would have been sometime back in 2002 or 2003. I now understand that while the younger me would have enjoyed these games, my older self is much too spoiled by modern gameplay mechanics, better graphics and less awkward storytelling. Maybe it’s just me. Perhaps for you lovers of classic games out there, it doesn’t matter how the sprites are represented, or how cumbersome the gameplay feels, but for me, attempting to play a pre 2005-ish game in 2011 just feels forced and unrewarding. Now again, I must stress that I really would have liked – even loved the example: Arc The Lad III back then. But now, I realize that I could be playing Fate/Extra, Tales of Innocence, The World Ends With You, Radiant Historia or God Eater: Burst – or for that matter, any of the 20 or so PS2 Jrpgs that I’ve yet to make a dent on.

In short, the pre-ps2 era rpgs just feel a little bit too date, a little bit too lacking in production values to make them an enjoyable playthrough for me today. I dunno, maybe that’s being shallow, but I don’t want to be a hypocrite here. I just can’t enjoy these games to-day! (don’t mind the spelling, a little in-joke there.)

Not everyone is like me, of course. Everyone’s circumstances are different. However, as a gamer, if you find yourself falling into the same “trap” as me. It may be time to re-evaluate your gaming and collecting habits. Play the games that you want to play today and stop being obsessed with building your personal gaming library, buying the latest gaming hardware, or digging your claws into game-related collectibles and memorabilia. The library will build itself naturally as long as you keep longing for and playing the games that you really want to play – today.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Teacup Invititational SWR Tourney Has Begun!

The first Teacup Invitational SWR Tourney has officially started! The match-ups can be viewed here. Video replays along with the actual replay data will be posted here as soon as they are available.

Monday, December 26, 2011

The Fine Art of Spamming in SWR Part 1: Patchouli

Ok, don’t let the title fool you. This is all about spamming, but it’s hardly an art. In fact, this strategy is sure to annoy players who like to use flashy, flamboyant limit combo chains and tactical zoning combined with advanced techniques such as border escapes. Anyway, in preparation for the upcoming Teacup Invitational SWR Tourney which our little community will be hosting, I’m going to be doing a series of SWR-related articles. Today, we’re going to talk about spamming, specifically, spamming using Patchouli. There are many ways to spam in SWR and some of these spam tactics make for excellent additions to your zoning arsenal. As far as Patchouli is concerned however, it’s quite a simple affair to spam even against advanced players. Basically, Patchy’s spam flowchart in SWR goes something like this:

  • Start of match = C (homing fireballs)
  • Enemy knocked down = C
  • Enemy in the air = C
  • Enemy standing in front of you = C
  • Enemy away = graze up and C

Need I continue? Basically, Patchy’s homing C fireballs are so effective that they’re really all you need to win a match. They've been nerfed several times over the last few upgrade patches, but they're still pretty damn effective. The fireballs spread out to cover almost the entire screen in multiple directions. This means that even against higher priority bullets, there’s not much of a chance of all of them getting canceled out unless you get hit.

Sure, you could add in a spellcard or two as well as a few melee attempts to mix it up, but in any case, when in doubt, just press C. Of course, there are some characters with fast moving projectiles and grazing attacks such as Iku and Remilia who you might want to watch out for, but in general, spamming those C fireballs will almost always guarantee a win! I taught a friend how to do this and now it’s the only way he wants to play when using Patchy :D. This replay is an actual casual netplay match between myself and FIA’s Iku (a work-in-progress at this point. Fia mains Sanae and Suika in serious matches).

Next time, I’ll show you how to spam with Yuyuko… as if she even needed to spam :D.

The First Teacup Invitational SWR Tourney

I talked quite a bit about SWR in my last post. This was actually a teaser for The First Teacup Invitational SWR Tourney. This is basically just a little tourney among our rather insular group that rarely lets anyone else in. Click here to view the rules for the tourney.

I'll be maining Sakuya and probably using Yuyuko or Yukari as my secondary characters. Expect quite a few more SWR-related post in the next few days.

Note to participants: Don't start the matches until the tourney table is published here.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

A Little Intro to Touhou - Specifically, SWR (Scarlet Weather Rhapsody)

Have you ever played any of the games in the Touhou series by ZUN? If you haven’t, then maybe you should spend a little time attempting to rectify this void in your gaming experience as soon as possible. The Touhou games are basically advanced versions of traditional arcade shooters known as “danmaku” in Japan. The generally accepted subgenre of these types of games is “curtain-fire shooter.” As the name of the subgenre suggests, curtain-fire or danmaku shooters are shooting games with a large emphasis on fancy bullet dodging. As such, you may find that the bullets in Touhou games move quite slowly when compared to more conventional arcade shooters. If you think that these games are easy-peasy however, then you’re in for a huge shock. Here’s a video of a high-level playthrough of a typical Touhou game. (not mine, of course)

Hmm… if you’re thinking something along the lines of, “this game is awesome!” – then you wouldn’t be the only one. Although the Touhou games have never achieved mainstream popularity when compared to the AAA industry giants such as Final Fantasy, Call of Duty or God of War, the simplistic, low production value but technically competent games of the Touhou series get the most important part of gaming right – the over-all gaming experience. Of course, having a really catchy BGM helps out as well. Thanks to awesome music combined with awesom-er gameplay... along with gratuitous use of little girls (even though some are more than 1000 years old), the Touhou games and the characters that they've spawned throughout the years have a huge underground following.

In any case, today I’d like to talk about a little bit of a spin-off from the norm of the Touhou Shooters in the form of Scarlet Weather Rhapsody, or more specifically, its faster, meaner expansion, “Scarlet Weather Rhapsody: Hisouten Soku” AKA Unthinkable Natural Law for some. Now I’m not going to go into the details of the naming conventions or what is the most correct way to refer to these games. It doesn’t matter! All you need to know is that this game is awesome!
Anyway, a little bit of history. The Touhou fighters originated from a game known as Immaterial and Missing Power which was co-developed by Tasogare Frontier who are well-known for developing Eternal Fighter Zero and more recently, a Puella Magi Madoka Magica platformer called Grief Syndrome. IAMP provided a different twist to the usual fighting game staples with its overemphasis on dodging and projectile warfare. The game introduced an innovative new system called “grazing,” which is taken from how you can graze bullets in the Touhou Danmaku games. Grazing in IAMP allows you to literally go through projectiles fired right in front of you. Basically, almost every projectile in the game can be grazed except for a few special ones.

In SWR, the developers upped the ante on the grazing system by basically allowing full flight. Scarlet Weather Rhapsody also saw the introduction of spirit orbs for the first time. These orbs are basically your lifeline in SWR. The spirit orbs are used to throw projectiles, block bullets as well as melee attacks, as well as for grazing and flight. I could go on and on about the mechanics of the game, but the SWR wiki already does it much better than I could.

So let’s talk about SWR Hisouten Soku a bit. What makes it fun? Why is it such an awesome game that I’ve been playing since its initial release say 4-5 years ago? Well, you could play the story and arcade modes and get your kicks out of that, but the real fun comes in the form of netplay or VS mode against an opponent IRL. SWR Hisouten Soku is the most un-button-masher friendly game that you will ever play – hands down. Noobs will fumble away and spam with long-range C projectile bullets while foolishly expending spirit orbs trying to fly away. On the other hand, experienced players who actually understand the game’s mechanics will patiently dash and graze through their nubcake opponent’s desperate barrage of bullets with a smirk on their faces. Really, nothing beats grazing through a hail of Yuyuko’s homing wisps and landing an easy 2-3k BnB (bread and butter) combo upon an unsuspecting noob.

Of course, cherrypicking on nubbycakes does get old pretty fast; this is why it is in close competition with other players on a similar level as you where the game really shines.
Well, after that long tirade, you might be wondering: “so what makes this game different from Super Street Fighter IV Arcade Edition or Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3?” Well, actually, aside from the simplified mechanics… nothing? Oh who cares! It’s a game featuring little girls trying to beat the crap out of each other with a smile! What could be better than that? Go play it now! I leave you with a little gameplay video to whet your gaming appetite. (again, not mine)

Technically, the games aren't free... but I doubt that will stop you from playing them if you're "determined" enough.

Nakoruru: The Gift She Gave Me (Dreamcast): A VIsual Novel Review by Mid-Tier Guard

To Derek Pascarella, Marshal Wong, Duralumin, Lewis Cox, Piggy, Nico, Danthrax4, Lacquerware, EsperKnight, SnowyAria, VincentNL, cyo, and Ha...