Friday, May 23, 2014

Trans Sister

"I used to have a brother, but ever since the operation, I have a transistor."

Now that you never want to hear another joke from me ever again, I'll now state that there is a very real chance that what follows will be an entirely serious review of Transistor, with little to no content of value.

So, what is Transistor? Well, the easiest way to describe it is by comparing it to Bastion. Transistor is the second game made by Supergiant Games, the brilliant minds behind Bastion, a game which I've briefly covered before. In many ways, Transistor seems like a spiritual successor to Bastion. The combat is fairly similar, the way the story unfolds is familiar, and the world has all the same flair as Bastion. Now that my thesis statement's out of the way, I guess I'll expound on each of my points.

Transistor's combat is honestly probably the department in which it differs most from Bastion. When I heard about it, I thought "Well, you're probably only going to be able to wield the titular Transistor, so there probably isn't going to be as much customization as in Bastion". In Bastion, there were 12 different weapons, and you could equip any 2 of them at a time, leaving 65 possible combinations, not including all the possible special moves you can have. But I was wrong. Math wrong. In Bastion, the Transistor has different "functions" which are essentially different weapons. There are 15 of these functions, and you can wield up to 4 of them at a time, allowing an impressive total of 1365 different combinations. But that's just scratching the surface. Each function can also be used as an upgrade to your action functions, with each active function capable of holding up to 2 upgrades. And did I mention that functions can also passively boost your person, and you can have up to 4 of those? Each of these adjustments represents a potentially major shift in playstyle, far more than the special moves in Bastion. I can't get exact number on how many possible loadouts there are. Such a number can only be said to be "combinatorially large". And then, when you level up enough, you can get doubles of your functions, allowing you to use them in different slots at the same time, resulting in a number of possibilities that is barely even finite anymore. You could even say that it's "Supergiant".

Does this even count as a joke?
The combat itself is actually quite different from Bastion's. While Bastion focused on strategically blocking and dodging attacks, Transistor focuses on the turn() system, which allows you to freeze time, plan out your moves, and then execute them all at once in a manner rather similar to V.A.T.S. in the Fallout Series. This, combined with the vast customization options, lead to an experience that is somewhat more "strategic" than Bastion. This is really cool if you don't suck at it. I suck at it. This does not, however, prevent me from recognizing that it's really cool. When I'm in the groove, expertly executed plans are extremely satisfying. I mentioned awhile back that one of the most memorable moments in my gaming career was when I realized that I could kill people by throwing them into scaffoldings in Assassin's Creed (I also rather humorously implied that I did the same in real life, but now that my name's here, I'd like to definitively clarify that that is not the case). Transistor is lousy with moments like this. The incredible versatility allows for a bunch of cool strategies that just make you think "Damn, I can really do that?" Like "Holy crap, I can charm and drain the life from my enemies, all while escaping from them? Just like my friends in real life!" And then, somewhere around halfway through your second playthrough, you find that one perfect combination that solves all your troubles, and you realize that Transistor's combat is fun as hell. I mean, metaphorically, of course.

Not actually that fun, if I'm being honest.

Now, about the story. Well, for spoiler reasons, I don't want to talk about it too much. But I will say that it is pretty similar to Bastion's, perhaps even to a fault. I don't think that it had the same weight as Bastion, overall, but it definitely had plenty of Moments. Moments that made me think "Wow. This is what art is like". It's kind of hard to describe, so I'll give an example that I'm sure will do nothing to clarify from the Elfen Lied anime. *waits for boos and jeers to subside* *continues anyway, because we've been here for awhile* Elfen Lied opens with a naked chick breaking out of a high security lab by dismembering the hell out of everyone, interspersed with clips of a flustered intern running through the halls, unaware of the carnage that is taking place. Everything about her suggests that she's the klutzy main character. While she's on her way to deliver coffee to one of the bosses or whatever, she trips directly into the path of the naked chick. As the audience you are left to wonder how she's going to bumble her way out of this one. She doesn't. She is swiftly decapitated and used as a human shield, subverting your expectations just as viciously. I don't know why, but something about it just resonated with me. Maybe because I've had similar experiences before... is what I'd have said in the past, but I am now more reticent to imply that I've performed (or received) nude beheadings.

Anyway, there's not much else I can say about the story. I have a mind-blowing pet theory, but it involves some pretty major spoilers, so I can't talk about it too much. Suffice it to say, it involves Red, the protagonist, being the same person as Red, the protagonist of the 1st gen Pokemon games. They have the same name, and they're mute. That's reason enough for me.

The Transistor is actually a Honedge. Or Vice Versa. But not Cerebella's Hat

So, the world of Transistor. Let me be clear: this game is Compsci as all hell. It is a game made by computer people, for computer people. Everything takes place inside a computer, and it all- well, I mean, obviously it takes place inside a computer, because it's a computer game, but the actual setting for the game is a digital world. You know what I mean. And there are all kinds of references to computers, like the functions, which have names like "ping()" and "crash()", the fact that distances are measured in "blocks", and one of the first things said by the Transistor is "Hello World". Like Caelondia before it, Cloudbank has just enough detail to keep you intrigued and wanting for more. It would seem that this is somehow more satisfying than a game that just tells you what the hell is going on.

I left it out of my thesis statement, but another important part of Transistor is the sound: the voice acting and music. The voice acting is easily the best of any game I've ever played, with the possible exception of Virtue's Last Reward. The narrator this time around doesn't have the same grittiness as Bastion's, but the few other voice actors more than make up for it. I believe that the gaming industry could be saved if we just let these people dub every video game. And if your video game has female characters, tough luck. They're only allowed to say one word at the end. Make it count.

The music in Transistor is fantastic. In fact, you can go give it a listen on Spotify right now. I might even go so far as to say that you should. Ashley Barrett is just as fantastic a singer as she was in Bastion, and she had even more songs showcasing her talent this time around. None of them quite measure up to "Build that Wall", but there are very few songs who can claim to do that. Maybe even none, because songs are abstract ideas that can't claim things. The instrumental background music is also pretty damn solid. All-in-all, I think it's a great soundtrack, but I think I prefer Bastion's. As of right now, at least. Given more time, it's entirely possible that I'll grow to like Transistor's more.

So what's the verdict on Transistor? Well, if we're comparing it to Bastion, I'd say that I still prefer Bastion. The combat clicked with me more, the story seems to have more direction, and "Build that Wall" is just way too good. But that's not to say that Transistor isn't a masterpiece, or even that it isn't better than Bastion. Just because I prefer it doesn't, necessarily mean I think it's better. I'm not so arrogant as to assume that any of my opinions are right.

Now the real question is this: Is Transistor worth $20? I'm not sure. I'm kind of spoiled by Steam Sales, so $20 is close to the biggest purchase I've ever made on Steam to date. And while Transistor was a fantastic game, it was also quite short; I finished it in about 8 hours, and others finished in 5 or 6. The deep combat system and additional recursion playthroughs add substantial replayability, but that all depends on how willing and able you are to put in the effort. I can understand why you'd be reluctant to shell out $20 for Transistor, but if you ever catch it on sale, I'd recommend picking it up. It may not have broken new ground the way Bastion did, but it is still definitely a major bullet point in the argument that games can be art.

Now that that's out of the way, it's time to address the elephant in the room. Yes, I changed my blog's template, because the old one looked like someone pooped on a poop, and then left that double-poop to stew in a food processor for a week or three, even though double-poops are about as far from "food" as you can get. And honestly, I'm not sure this new format is much better. It maybe looks like a single poop fresh from a Dutch oven fortnight. I might fix it later, but I certainly wouldn't count on it. 

I've also changed some of the gadgets on the side of the page. I removed the pageview counter, because it made me sad to think that everyone saw how few people read my blog (Around 4000 at the time of writing). I also removed my short bio with the link to my G+ account, because there wasn't anything to see there, and it made me really sad to think that everyone could see how many more people apparently read my barren G+ account (Around 11,000 at the time of writing, allegedly). The bio contained a pretty neat joke, so I guess I'll record it here for posterity. 

"I write a blog where I try to say funny things. I also write poetry, which is put on a different blog. I might write fiction, depending on how some things work out. Despite all this, I consider myself more of a hard science man. Though, to be clear, the adjective 'hard' was describing the noun 'science' in that case."

In their place, I now have a widget that shows my Twitter feed, and a link to some of my blog buddies. I like to think I'm a pretty funny guy on Twitter, but then again, I also like to think I'm a pretty funny guy on this blog, so your mileage may vary. When it comes to Twitter, I have even fewer standards about how appropriate my jokes are, so expect this blog to lose its F-word virginity pretty soon after this post goes live. There's also some news with regards to my blog buddies. Payton Knobeloch, previously of "Loner and Friends", has a new blog on Wordpress, Knobbles, which sounds kind of like something dirty, but definitely probably isn't. Maybe. He lists my blog as a blog that he follows, so you should check it out. I also have a new blog buddy, Tim Eads, whose blog is, as far as I can tell, basically Mulan's "I'll make a Man out of You" in text form. If that blatantly misleading synopsis won't convince you to check it out, I don't know what will. Then there's Alicen Moser's "Lessons in Unnecessary Enthusiasm (!!)", and my poetry blog, neither of which have changed.

I've kind of forgotten how I end these posts, so enjoy this Dinosaur Comic I wrote. For necessary context, click here and here.

NOTE: I tweeted this and it was favorited by Dinosaur Comics author Ryan North, so I think that makes it Expanded Universe

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Letters are the New Colors

My schedule for updating my blog is pretty ill-defined. I basically just write whenever I feel like it, or, more importantly, whenever I don't feel like doing something more productive (Hello, final exams!) But there is one rule to which I always adhere: if a new Pokemon game is announced, that gets my immediate attention (Goodbye, final exams!) And as luck would have it, Gamefreak just announced the existence of the long anticipated 3rd gen remakes: Alpha Sapphire and Omega Ruby. That's right, X and Y weren't a one-off thing. Letters are the new standard for Pokemon titles. So keep an eye out for 7th gen Pokemon で and Pokemon す, coming out in just a few years.

So, what all was revealed, other than the name? Well, naturally, a release time was given. An exact date wasn't specified, but it's supposed to hit the shelves some time in November of this year. It's not too surprising that they'd try to time it to coincide with the winter shopping rush. They also announced that they believe that Word Art constitutes a trailer. Seriously, take a gander at this “trailer”. Don't worry, it's only 30 seconds, so it won't take up much of your time.

Did I mention that this announcement caused the internet to burst like an overhype tomato? Or, at least, the parts of Twitter that I frequent. And while it probably isn't very scientifically rigorous of me to use Twitter trending topics as evidence, the fact remains that at least 3 of them have been about this announcement for awhile. So my question is this: why? Why are people so excited about this? Because it confirmed that 3rd gen remakes are on their way? Were there really people who thought that they weren't? Gamefreak's been dropping hints about them for awhile now, and it would be completely irrational of them to not milk this cash cow. Speaking of which, did you know that there's been a new Pokemon game released every year since 2009? (In the US, at least. Platinum, Heartgold/Soulsilver, Black/White, Black2/White2, X/Y) It really shouldn't come as any kind of surprise that the 3rd gen remakes are happening now. Is it because of the names? While I admit that Alpha and Omega are kind of cool, that's mostly because of my pet theory that there exists (or should exist) an “Omega Pokemon”, a counterpart to Arceus, the Alpha Pokemon, that will destroy the world. Though it's supremely unlikely that they'll add new Pokemon in a remake, so this'll probably put a nail in the coffin of that idea, if anything. And I don't suppose that the majority of the internet is getting more excited over Greek letters than a math/physics major. 

So what else is there? The box art? If you watch the trailer, which I highly recommend, then you'll see that that's really the only other information. Spoiler Alert, there's Kyogre and Groudon, in slightly altered forms that are likely Mega-Evolutions (Which is a terrible idea, by the way). This lack of information has caused people to panic, analyzing every word and comparing the wording to past Pokemon reveals. “Why, they call it a 'reimagining', and a 'brand new world'! That must mean that it'll be more of a sequel, like Black and White 2, than a remake!” This seems to be the idea that people are having. While I admit that it's possible, a “reimagining” actually sounds to me like they are very much remaking the game, rather than making a sequel. And even if it is a new story, “brand new world” is just fluff. Unless it actually takes place outside of Hoenn, in which case why even bother calling it Ruby and Sapphire? And if it really is a brand new adventure, why don't they just come out and say that? Because people would get too hype? Well, there's a saying in marketing, that goes “There's no such thing as bad publicity, especially when it's good publicity.” The fact that they have nothing to say about it other than “it exists” is not very encouraging.

Let's take a step back and compare this to the X/Y announcement about a year ago. Notice any differences? Actually, don't answer that question. I don't want to be held responsible if your brain suffers an overflow error. Basically, the primary difference is that the X/Y one doesn't look like the last minute project of a computer design undergrad who got in on a legacy scholarship that the school board is starting to regret. I don't even know if that skillfully crafted analogy can properly convey the scope of this travesty. This “trailer” is bad. Like, poop in your underpants while you're wearing it bad. Yes. That bad. Now, I understand that Pokemon α/ω will likely have the same graphics as X/Y, so there's not much point in showcasing them. But, at the same time, when you're cashing in on nostalgia, it wouldn't hurt to show revamped versions of familiar locales. Hell, even X/Y managed to do that better by showing a brief glimpse of the Eiffel Tower, and no one had even played that game yet. Also, towering pillars of flame. Those were conspicuously absent from the new trailer.

So why did they even bother making this announcement now if they didn't even have anything notable to say? Well, I'm not accusing Nintendo of making this announcement to distract everyone from the fact that they shit the bed financially. I'm just saying that, to an impartial, outside observer, it looks exactly like they did that. Except that, if that was really how it went down, you'd think they could at least done a little premeditating. I certainly hope that the Nintendo executives didn't just yesterday realize that they've been hemorrhaging money like a hemophiliac King Midas. So perhaps this conspiracy can be debunked with the argument that if it had really been planned out in advance to distract us, then maybe it wouldn't have sucked so much. Then again, no one else really seems to mind, so I guess it served its purpose.

I feel like I've been asking a lot of questions in this post, but there's one that bugs me more than any other. Why am I so angry about this? I feel like it wasn't too long ago that I would have been ecstatic about a 3rd gen remake. Has X/Y made me jaded and bitter? Is this Skullgirls' fault? Why am I fixating so much on this “trailer”? I don't really know the answers to any of these questions, but I think that hype backlash plays a vital role. When the announcement hit, people went nuts. Everyone was getting so excited over a title, a release date, and two sentences of filler, and... I guess I envied them. I was jealous of how they could get so excited over so little. Perhaps I was like that once. And seeing them, hearts filled with joy, reminded me of those times, and how things have changed. The intense heat and pressure of their hype transformed my black heart into a shining diamond of hate.

As Seen Here

So, will I buy one of these games? Probably. Will I stop asking rhetorical questions? Hopefully. But I like to imagine that Gamefreak called it “Omega Ruby” because it's the last Pokemon game I'll ever play.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

An Ill-conceived Notion

Skullgirls is a lot like anime, in that I will never forgive it. Skullgirls, for rendering me incapable of enjoying games that aren't Skullgirls, and anime, for giving me the capacity for sadness. Did you know that I felt an emotion for the first time while watching anime? But that's a story for Another post.


There is, however, one genre that seems to be exempt from the ruination that Skullgirls has brought on my enjoyment of games: Role-playing games. Specifically, Japanese Role-playing games. So I will now discuss a few of the JRPGs I've played recently: Bravely Default, Shin Megami Tensei Devil Survivor: Overclocked, and Conception II. Oh yeah, by the way, RPGs have some pretty strange titles. But don't worry; Conception II is actually exactly as bad as it sounds.

So, first of all: Bravely Default. Bravely Default. Yo. If Smash Bros. wasn't coming out later this year, I could probably declare Bravely Default Game of the Year with no regrets. Bravely Default is my favorite JRPG of all time, just barely edging out SMT IV. Like Shin Megami Tensei, it has just about everything you could want from an RPG: Fun combat, a compelling story, a variety of options when customizing your party, bravo bikinis, ect. While Bravely Default lacks SMT's worldbuilding and the unique thrill that comes with recognizing demons, it more than makes up for it with its characters, killer soundtrack, and the most memorable final boss fight of my entire life. But before I get to those, I guess I should probably explain why it's called Bravely Default. Square Enix is stupid and bad at names. End of explanation.

Much like Frozen, Bravely Default is a great work in and of itself, and I'm probably going to be doing it a disservice by focusing so much on its soundtrack. That said, its soundtrack is sweetdiculous. It is K-rad. It is Fashionaaaaaaabluh. It is actually pretty sparse, with just 45 songs, especially considering how long the game is (The amount of time I spent playing it is somewhere between 100 hours and the amount of time I've spent playing Skullgirls [counting the endless beta]). To make up for this, almost every song is a masterpiece. It's hard to pick a favorite out of such an all-star lineup, but I think I'd have to go with the song that plays against the final boss. With music like that, staying pumped up through an hour long boss fight with more stages than Saturn V rocket is a snap. Unfortunately, its title is something of a mild spoiler, so I'll just link to this hour long live concert of music from the game. But before you click that link, be warned: this is no mere concert. It is a spectacle. You've got a rock band up front, a platoon of suit-and-tie men in the back, half a dozen singers, props, a man rocking a trumpet with blistering precision and surgical intensity, and a narrator with the voice of James Earl Jones, if he was injured as a cop in the line of duty and had to be re-built as a literal instrument of justice.

I'm just getting warmed up with these Skullgirls references.

I really wish I could talk more about Bravely Default, but, as you're about to see, I have a lot of things to say about Conception II, and I don't want this going too long. Honestly, it's already too long; when you read it, I imagine you will exclaim something to the effect of “Jesus God, this man clearly has issues if he has both the ability and willingness to discuss magical sex at such great lengths.”

Speaking of God, he's a very prominent character in the next game I'm talking about, SMT Devil Survivor Overclocked. I think that's how that transition went? I lost this part the first time I wrote it when I tried to upload a picture to my blog from public transportation.

It probably wasn't this one, but let's pretend that it was.

Anyway, God. And not just “a god”, or “some gods” (Although there are plenty of those), but “The God”, as in Yehowah, the Original G, deity of Judeo-Christian Lore. While SMT IV's God was strongly implied to be the biblical God, Devil Survivor pulls out all the stops. He's even called “Yehowah”, which my spell-check controversially believes to be "hogwash". But the similarities don't stop with names. This game is rife with biblical references, and God is responsible for all of them. Many classic tales from the Bible show up in the story: Things like Noah's Ark, The Tower of Babel, The Garden of Eden, King Solomon, Cain and Abel, The Book of Job, and the weird parts parts of The Bible where it tells you when it's OK to sell your daughter into slavery.

He wouldn't be much of a G if he wasn't packing heat.

In the interest of avoiding spoilers, some of those examples were red herrings. Not all of those stories appear in the game, but some of them do. In the interest of fostering an understanding of how rad this game is, spoilers be damned, I will say this: In this game, you can use the power of the Internet Hate Machine to annihilate the Old Testament God. Now, I didn't get that ending, so I can't say for sure that you actually do it, but the idea is brought up. I really don't know that there's anything else I can say here to sell you on this game, so I'll just move on.

Conception II. Conception II. Yo. But not “Yo” in quite the same way as with Bravely Default. More like “Yo. I have seen some things. I have done some things. I... I just need to tell someone about this. Is this what it feels like to be Catholic?”
My sins could never have absolution.

In keeping with the theological theme, Conception II is kind of like God. It so far transcends the understanding of humans that the nature of its existence cannot be expressed in words. The tool of analogy can be used to further understanding of it, but it must be understood that these analogies are necessarily imperfect, as full comprehension is simply outside the realm of possibility. Are we on the same page so far? No? Good.

Conception II is a game in which you father children that help you fight to save the world. This description might sound familiar, because the very same thing happens in Fire Emblem Awakening, one of my favorite games of all time. But there are many important differences between the two. In Conception II, the main character maintains a sizable harem of 7 classmates with whom he is all but required to have children. Excuse me, that's not quite right. 6 classmates and 1 teacher. But don't let that trick you into thinking that there's one less underage girl you'll be knocking up; the teacher is a prodigy who graduated college at 14, and is the same age as everyone else i.e. 16-18. If you're wondering how I came to be in possession of such an obviously illegal piece of software, and why I'm posting about it to my newly de-anonymized blog, I should probably clarify: No one in this game has sex. At least, not as far as I've gotten. In fact, you don't have real children. You have “star children”, by performing a holy ritual known as “classmating”. As an aside, I just want you to imagine what kind of church official discovered the secret to creating life out of nothing, and then decided to call it “classmating”. The process of “classmating” consists of little more than holding hands. Then, the male puts his “Ether” in her “star womb”, which forms a “Matryoshka”. Then, a prayer is offered to “Mother Russia”, and a Star Child is born! It's OK. No underaged persons were sexed in the making of this game. Contrast to Fire Emblem Awakening, where the children are produced, at least implicitly, through sexual intercourse. Only once is the subject of creating children through magic brought up, and even then, the guy says something along the lines of “Maybe you could help me with research, if you know what I mean”. This is what makes it so ironic that Conception II is far more lewd, despite not having actual sex.

No one asked you.

Maybe it's the fact that Classmating is explicitly referenced and showed onscreen, with girls writhing around all magical girl naked. I hope it is understood what i meant by that phrase I just made up, because I have no desire to explain it any further. I mean, I'm a huge fan of Skullgirls, so it can hardly be argued that I'm a prude when it comes to sexualization in my games. That said, one of the girls' magical girl outfits (And the teacher, no less) has underboob that puts even Ms Fortune to shame.

If it seems like I've been bringing up Skullgirls even more than usual, it may be because the new character Big Band was just recently released. So if you've ever considered buying it, now would be a great time do so. If you haven't considered buying it, now would be a great time to start.

Another comparison that I feel can be instructive is that between Conception II and Katawa Shoujo. You know, that thing that I've brought up twice since I said that I'd stop bringing it up. The two are rather similar in that they both have premises that, at first blush, are embarrassing to even think about. If anything, Katawa Shoujo's might be even worse. For those of you lucky enough to forget what it is, Katawa Shoujo is a visual novel made by people on 4chan, a place generally agreed upon to be one of the worst on the internet, about hooking up with crippled girls. Each girl has a different disability. There's one without arms, one without legs, one's deaf, one's blind, and one's covered in burns. But the difference between KS and Conception is that KS surprises you. With a description like that, you might start KS expecting a trashy, exploitative visual novel that makes light of people with disabilities. But that's not the case at all. It's about the kind of high school relationships that everyone can relate too. Er, well, I imagine everyone else can relate to. The disabilities are in no way the main focus of each girl. That's not to say that they're just “informed disabilities” that have no effect on the story, but they are not the driving force. In the end, persons with disabilities are just persons. Girls are persons. And you're a person, aren't you? So, by the law of syllogism, you are now disabled. And a girl, too. Yikes, today really isn't your day.

Now that I've thrown away the entire message of that paragraph in one joke, let's contrast that with Conception II, which has no surprises, at least as far as I've gotten. Granted, I haven't gotten terribly far, so there's every possibility that in the endgame there will be a “This is why you're actually terrible!” moment. In fact, I am very much hoping for such a moment. But, as it stands, it's just about as bad as it sounds. Playing this game has cost me every feminism point that I won from Analogue, and then some. The girls exist solely to serve the main character, who is actually, seriously referred to as “God's Gift”. The characters are, for the most part, one dimensional, and have the aggregate self esteem of a blog writer who can't come up with a funny metaphor to put here. That said, it's not as if I didn't care about them at all. They're all well-worn tropes, but they have a certain charm to them, and they're all desperate enough that you feel bad any time you favor one at the expense of the others. And due to what I suspect may be a flipped inequality in the game's code, (Remember, coders, it's like an alligator that wants to eat the larger number) they'll only complain about not going adventuring with you enough right after you've finished adventuring with them. I've probably spent about as much time agonizing over who to spend time with as I did actually playing the game. Really, your ability to enjoy Conception II is limited only by your own capacity for self-loathing.

Another problem with the family dynamic in Conception is the children. In Fire Emblem, each child is a full-fledged character, like any of your other units. In fact, I think it's fair to say that the children are some of the most likable characters in the game. Star Children, on the other hand, come with no emotional investment. And it's made perfectly clear that these aren't emotionless golems who exist only to fight monsters. While not human, they do exhibit capacity for feeling every time they say “I love you so much, daddy”. This makes me feel kind of uncomfortable, because they are utterly disposable to me. There are probably demons in SMT that I've felt more attached to than these kids.

Pic unrelated

They're kind of like Pokemon. Yeah, there are a few that you keep around because they're good, but if they aren't useful to you, then you let them languish in your computer until you decide to release them. And while I know that I have neither time nor space to waste, I'd like to mention that I think that Pokemon also kind of suffers from this. Sure, Pokemon Black and White, they say how all trainers really love the Pokemon that they're forcing to fight each other, but do they really? Is it really right for all those trainers to abduct Pokemon and stash them in a digital abyss where they'll never see their families again? Because that seems pretty- wait a second. That's... that's not something most people do. Most trainers only have 3 or 4 Pokemon. The only one who hoards them like that... is you. Is us. Only the player character has that many Pokemon. We're the real Pocket Monsters.

Anyway. Conception does have a certain charm in its dialogue and ballsy premise, but overall, it lacks the depth to really be engaging. This concludes my post about all the dating sims I've been playing recently.

Wait a second. That's not right. It was RPGs! That's right. I was so caught up with all the child having that I kind of forgot about all the fighting and stuff. It was only possible for me to do that because I'm good at forgetting things. In reality, this is one of the most role-playing games I've ever played. Your party consists of 1 hero, 7 different heroines, and up to 70 Star Children. When going into dungeons, you bring 1 heroine and 9 children, split up into teams of three, so that you still have the standard 4 units, but it's still a lot of bodies to train, equip, and so on. The combat system is pretty interesting in the way that you have to position your units as you attack, but it's damn complicated. There are a lot of meters, menus, and mammaries to wade through, and they can be pretty clunky at times, with confusing explanation that I skipped through. The story is nothing incredible so far, and is set up in such a way that the player can progress on his own terms. This is problematic, because my terms suck. Sweetdiculous? K-rad? Fashionaaaaaaaabluh? Those aren't my terms. I stole them from these games. My terms are stupid, like "exfightment" of "juicebumps". So I spend hours inefficiently grinding with heroines I don't intend to use, rather than actually playing the game. There was nowhere else in this post to fit this image, but I wanted to make the joke, so here it is.

Girl, are you a Jukebox hero? Because you, er, have stars in your eyes.

All in all, Conception II is by no means a good game, but it's not too bad. (WARNING FROM THE FUTURE: Conception II is, in fact, too bad) If you would enjoy playing it, then you probably already have it. There's no real need for me to recommend it. But in the time since I started writing this, I've come to like it in a way that only barely resembles the symptoms of pop culture Stockholm Syndrome. I have won the victory over myself. I love Conception II.