Wednesday, July 24, 2013


As you probably haven't surmised from my too-clever-for-its-own-good title, I have been burned by Steam's summer sale, which I was excitedly raving about in just the last post. Now here I am, a week later (plus shipping and handling) and I find myself with about 70 fewer dollars, and about 20 more games, suspiciously few of which I am actually excited to play. Not included in that amount of dollars is the controller that I still need to purchase if I wish to play some of these games effectively. And on top of that, I need to buy Shin Megami Tensei IV for the sole purpose of registering it and Fire Emblem Awakening so I can get a $30 credit with which to buy Fire Emblem DLC And I guess I'll talk about it now? Is that what I do here? Jesus Christ

I've only played a small handful of the games I've purchased, and maybe a small fingerful of them have been played for any real length of time. Despite this, I think I already know enough to declare Recettear 2013's Steam Summer Sale MVP. As I briefly mentioned in the previous post, it is a game about running an item shop. The main character, Recette, is the result of a genetic experiment, conducted by The Professor from Nichijou to create a being even more cute than herself.

It was a landmark study in the correlation between ties and cuteness.

Well... while searching that picture, I noticed that one of the autocomplete options for "Recettear" was "Recettear 34". (This refers to the infamous "Rule 34 of the Internet", which states that there is porn of it. No exceptions) Needless to say, I found this stupendously distasteful. Then, when I searched, I saw it. It was there. In the top left corner of the screen, it showed images for "Recettear 34". So, when you see that image, just know that it was purchased with my soul.

Recette's father takes out a loan of almost one million Pix, (The currency used in the game) with the house as collateral, then disappears to go adventuring. A fairy named Tear shows up to collect on the loan, and Recette is forced to open up an item shop to pay off the debt, or else live in a box on the street. Recette, hilariously misunderstanding her relationship to this loan shark, names her shop a portmanteau of their two names that sounds an awful lot like "Racketeer". You buy low, sell high, and rent out thugs for paltry sums to kill stuff on your behalf, while making off with all the loot. Standard business stuff, really.

Recettear is by no means a perfect game. Sometimes I question whether or not it is even a good game. But it is certainly a fun game, a distinction I first appreciated upon answering the question "Is 999 a fun game?" with "Well, it's a good game". And to top it all off, it has a soundtrack that, while not terribly varied or complex, is quite excellent. All in all, getting 50 hours of gameplay out of $5 is a pretty impressive feat of shopping savvy, in my book.

The only other game I've really played too extensively is Cave Story+, which is different from Cave Story, because I paid money for it. It is, without a doubt, the best freeware game I have ever paid money to play. It's a retro style platformer-shooter reminiscent of the SNES era, and it was entirely made by one man, who goes by the pseudonym "Pixel", which is appropriate, because he would probably be made of money if he charged anything for this game. Actually, he might still be, considering all the paid versions that have been released.

This game has a character named Curly. Curly Brace. I think we're done here. And to make matters better, the game is abbreviated as "CS", which often stands for "Computer Science", which is a branch that uses curly braces. So if you're in the mood for a fun game with no cost to you, feel free to click here.

If, for some reason, that wasn't enough to convince you, I guess I could talk about the gameplay or whatever. Though I feel I should warn that this is easily one of the most frustrating games I've ever played, and I've played a lot of Mario Parties. Getting the true end without a walkthrough is damn near impossible. Not that I'd want to. The ending I got was harder than a diamond encrusted carbon nanotube, and I wasn't even playing on the most difficult setting. And if the true ending is any harder, (It absolutely is) then it would be harder than... look, I'm running out of comparisons here, but I just want to impart to you that it would be very, very hard.

As you might guess from the name, the game does have a story, and it's pretty good. It also has music, and it is some of the best, made all the more impressive by the fact that it was also all made by Pixel. It's also available for free, legal(?) download on the same website where you can download the game, so that's a pretty groovy thing.

The final game that I've finished, entirely in the time between starting this post and finishing it, is The Walking Dead. In general, one plays a zombie game with the expectation of gameplay that centers around killing zombies. The Walking Dead bravely subverts this expectation, with gameplay that consists mostly of watching people die and then feeling bad about it. It's like someone's attempt to make the Catholic Church into a video game. (DISCLAIMER: I go to a Catholic school, and I know about as much about Catholicism, and religion as a whole, as I do about writing concisely. If nothing else, it garnered a "x'D" out of my content manager, so feel free to blame her for any offense) The game is entirely unrelated to Cave Story, despite the similarity in mechanics. {Spoilers?}

Trust me, there's a joke to be found somewhere in all this.
 As Payton Knobeloch already said, The Walking Dead is a game about story, about slow pacing punctuated by frantic button-mashing, about losing everything you hold dear, and wondering why you don't even have enough left in you to hate the person who took it from you. Is it a fun game? Well... it's certainly a good game, perhaps making it a nice foil to Recettear up there. It is, more or less, a visual novel or adventure game, and as anyone who has read some of my earlier work can attest, I eat that shit up. So if you want a story-driven experience with interesting characters and choices, similar to the Zero Escape series, but are for some reason unwilling to play Japanese games, (At this point I'd like to give a shout-out to a man that I am arbitrarily referring to as "Bong Hardeners") then check it out.

And then there's Fez. I have... complicated feelings about Fez. After several days of my sister egging me on to play it, simply by virtue of the fact that fezzes are cool, (It seems she shares my love of references, for better or for worse) I played it, and I wasn't terribly impressed. Now, I wouldn't really say that Fez isn't a good game, but I'm not sure that I could say, in good conscience, that it is a fun game. Fez is a game about a 2D character who flips dimensions around to solve puzzles, in a way that sounds similar to Super Paper Mario, but is really quite different. And when it works, the gameplay is fantastic. The way that it defies our understanding of a three-dimensional space is pretty cool. That said, all the puzzles seemed to either have a difficulty of "just keep flipping stuff around, and you'll get it eventually" or "I'm quite convinced that, with the right tools, I could prove this to be mathematically impossible.", with nothing in between. It might be that I'm just too stupid to appreciate its genius, but I thought that it was just a pretty good game, not worthy of all the hype I heard. Then again, I still haven't finished it, and likely won't for awhile, so keep that in mind.

But the part of Fez that really whips my cream is the soundtrack. Now, you'll probably never catch me saying that a game has a bad soundtrack, but for some reason, it seems like every source I've seen is praising Fez to high heaven for its beautiful music. And yet, when I actually played the game, I noticed that I was spending a lot of time listening to nothing but the occasional sound of Gomez falling to his death. Well, maybe a bit more than occasional. The point is that, while you could say that the silence is an artistic choice meant to represent Gomez's loneliness and confusion, that doesn't make it a good soundtrack. And when there was music, it was often far from what I'd call "Listenin' Music" (I don't believe in the letter g). It mostly felt like ambient sound, meant to set a tone. And it did that well. If I'm being honest, most of Zero Escape's music was like that: Listening to it on its own is kind of dull. But I didn't praise 999 for its great music. Well, I guess I did, but... I had to come up with 9 reasons, and I couldn't come up with anything better. I think that charging $6.99 for this soundtrack is an outrage, because I don't believe in paying for things.

There are a few other games that I spent a bit of time with. I attempted to play Castle Crashers with my friend, foolishly believing that it seemed like a game that could conceivably be handled with a keyboard. I was surprised to find that they A, B, X, and Y buttons on the Xbox controller actually corresponded to the A, B, X, and Y keys on the keyboard, at least for the menu. Here's a fun experiment. Try putting your fingers on all of those keys. Done? Congratulations! Now go call a chiropractor. You have arthritis.

I also played Bastion for a bit, but not really for long enough to learn anything other than the fact that the narrator's voice is top-tier, which I had already known. The gameplay seemed pretty fun, if a bit challenging. Not much else to say.

I'm kind of running out of Steam here, (Hah! Get it?) so I guess I'll just wrap this thing up now. My Steam account username is the same as my blogger pseudonym, (Havoc Mantis, in case you hadn't noticed) so feel free to find me, if you're hankering for the companionship of internet strangers.

No comments:

Post a Comment