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Mirror’s Edge is like a blank slate, a solitary piece of art that awaits interpretation. Yes, its story was barebones, but it’s the experience that makes a game, and experiences can be just as artistic in their expressions as stories.

A major aspect of Mirror’s Edge that one might question is the very setting–a totalitarian city devoid of color…that is, until the player assumes the role of Faith, the main character. Through her eyes, we see no more than one bright hue of a color contrasted against white. We see entirely green-and-white warehouses, and we come to perceive the more important routes in the game as red objects.

Call it eagle vision, if you must. Call it loony vision; I really don’t care what you call it, because at the end of the day, it’s GENIUS.

Design philosophy is a tricky thing. How, you might ask, would a video game designer justify an act such as dumping a smoking hot female protagonist in an authoritarian state where everything seems to take place on the rooftops WITHOUT saying, “Well, I did it because it was a convenient backdrop for the game, and a nice way to avoid placing players on the ground level, which would embroil the them in a political story…”

True, true–the game is, curiously enough, not a political one. Why set the game in a totalitarian world, then? For the gratuitous amount of neck-snapping and viscera-splattering that comes with kicking brainwashed police officers’ butts?

Nay; it, in tandem with the unique visual scheme, provides a link between good graphics and our perception of the world as one with many options. In Faith’s case, these “options” are often translated into “ways out” of certain sticky situations. As Faith, you literally and symbolically live above totalitarian politics, even if they are taking place one hundred stories below Faith’s usual jogging locations. You are, ironically, freer than most of the implied population below, despite being on the run and whatnot.

Can nobody see it as well as I do? Faith is a silent everyman who lives on the edge, in tune with her instincts and her body, one who practices a rare art form. This brings us to question whether or not Faith is a hero, and the role she plays and might play in a sequel.

But, of course, I’ll leave those questions as they are. They’ll be reserved for another occassion.

From now on, I want you all to assume that a designer knows what he or she is doing. I want you all to do the same when reading novels, plays, scripts, whatever–because 9 times out of 10–the artist is making a stylistic choice.  I mention this because this, ladies and gentlemen, is where we should realize that the story was not meant to be gripping.

First off: damn it, aren’t you satisfied with just that feeling of euphoria you get every time you jump across rooftops and see the scene below? (Um, ahem, sorry for the outburst…)

Second, and most importantly: I understand how gamers want a story that’s gripping, I really do. But Mirror’s Edge cannot be critiqued based on a conventional rubric (actually, it can, but what would be the use of THAT opinion?). One simply needs to apply himself to Faith’s experiences and think deeply about what being free, being in a totalitarian world, being above all else when one is actually living more naturally means to him personally…

As far as the free-running mechanics go, I’ve never seen a game in which something as basic as parkour or fitness is elevated…to such heights, for the lack of any better words. It’s all calling to us, calling us back to those days in which we lived for the sights, sounds, tastes, and thrills of free life.

Such senses are primal, and it’s tragic how far we’ve strayed from that. But hey, don’t take that from me. Just sit back, relax, and take a holiday or two in Faith’s world.

…because really, where better to heighten your senses and make yourself a better human being than in a society under a strict authoritarian regime?

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After pulling an extensive April Fools joke involving Dutch police and RAGEQUITs, Mirrormoon released their Farland Symphony translation patch, the culmination of 8 years of blood, tears, and effort. I couldn’t find an English walkthrough anywhere (probably unnecessary, as the storyline’s linear), but here is a Japanese one that goes into where various items and secrets can be found.

As for a little description, Farland Symphony is a nice, simple SRPG developed by TGL in 2002 that can be pretty good for passing time when you’ve got nothing to do. It wouldn’t be winning awards for its plot anytime soon, but it does have some cute comedy moments to compensate. And of course, there’s no way I’d forget mentioning its immensely catchy OP song (Wing My Way – KOTOKO), one of my favorites since the days when I still Youtubed anime.

See Mirrormoon’s Farland Symphony page for game details/screenshots, and its subforum for discussions.

Firrus: “What this world needs is love.”
Firrus (shooting arrows): “Love and peace.”

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I distinctly recall how, on a certain Feburary day of 2008, the Clannad visual novel was at long last declared to be 99% translated. Now on the March of 2010, the progress stands at 99.9999%, a remarkable 0.9999% rise from the previous milestone! And it only took a little more than 2 years!

Reminds me of those dreaded asymptotes from my math class, to be honest.

Be that as it may, I’d still like to give a big thumbs up to the translation team at Baka-Tsuki for its past 3 years of hard work at translating the notoriously huge Clannad and its (potentially) 300 hours worth of script. Unfortunately, it seems fatigue has long since caught up with them, as can be seen from the lack of update these days (albeit excluding the recent minor(?) ones). Komari from ASuki explains that the current stand-still is due to numerous small bugs that needs to be fixed before an official patch can be released, although the texts themselves are already 99.9% translated. With a little effort, manual patching can be achieved through downloading the necessary files from the project’s SVN site. For those of you who don’t feel like waiting till 65 to play one of the best visual novels ever, here are the detailed step-by-step instructions on how to manually patch your Clannad game (Note: this method is intended to work for the Full Voice version only; see the SVN frontpage for brief instructions on how to patch the Clannad original version):

Update 5/05/11 – It seems that a person named Polarem has now taken over the Clannad translation project in the original team’s stead. He has been editing and fixing the script, along with graphics, for a while now. Recently, he released a convenient patch that can translate the game into English easily. Consider using that patch, or if it doesn’t work, either try to contact him or use my guide.

(more…)

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All you SRPG and VN fans out there rejoice, for 100+ hours have just disappeared from your life with team Dakkodango’s (who also translated Tears to Tiara) fresh hot release of the Eien no Aselia English translation patch.

Obligatory background info: Eien no Aselia is a tactical RPG/VN developed by Xuse, and also happens to be the predecessor to the famous Seinarukana. This particular version that Dakkodango translated is known as Eien no Aselia -Kono Daichi no Hate De-, which features more content, improved system, and the removal of H-content.

Check out Dakkodango’s EnA Extras thread for walkthroughs, OP videos, and… various extra addons. Damn, and I’ve just started Clannad too; good bye my life.

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Which is technically a 2nd beta patch and was released nearly a month ago (curse my analness in regards to complete patches), but seeing as it translates the entirety of the game with minimal errors, I reckon it is as good as done. Kudos to Phar and his team. The patch is avaliable for grabbing on their TLWiki page.

Anyways, Symphonic Rain is one of those visual novels that starts out looking innocent and then comes back and eats you alive for breakfast. It can be heart-warming when it wants to be, depressing when it doesn’t, or just plain brick-inducing when it decides the time is right to let you a glimpse of its secrets. Definitely something I’d recommend trying out, as it’s also an all-age game. Besides, who wouldn’t like being surrounded by a cast of lolis two of which is voiced by Mai Nakahara?

If you’re interested, you may or may not want to also take a look at the Symphonic Rain review at visual-novel.net. Try to avoid Wikipedia; it contains a pretty damned dangerous spoiler.

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Following a small-scale explosion of Internet Drama (see: CoalGuys, NNL), an Eden* translation project has been announced as a collaboration between CoalGuys, TLWiki, and Sekai Project. Quite a pleasant New Years gift too, as I’ve always had my eyes on Eden* for a while now, and had been hoping for a translation project sometime soon (albeit my hope was dashed once during a certain gg scandal at Amaterasu’s). It’s a fairly short all-aged kinetic novel, with some very nice graphics and an interesting post-apocalyptic setting, so you may want to consider trying it out too whenever the translation project is done (and I doubt it’d take more than one or two months for it to finish).

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Game CM: (CM)東方武斗祭EP2:魔女的挑戰狀_公式CM

Touhou Battle Arena is a Warcraft mod (“custom map”) rendering a battle arena in which players control Touhou characters to fight. I found out about this map a while ago, but was put off because the game is made in Chinese (my English Warcraft can’t read the text). While trying to organize my links yesterday however, I came across its forums, and so I decided to whip out the good’ol Google translator and look into it more deeply.

The effects and designs are extremely well made  for a WC mod, and I believe it even boasts a customizable BGM system as well. I was also astonished to learn that some folks have already begun an English translation project for it, with several of the characters’ skills/abilities already translated. Version 2.05 of the game was released earlier this month, though it seems to be restricted to forumers only. Version 2.02 however, is publicly downloadable. If you’re a 7-year Warcraft veteran like me who’ve tried all of the crappiest maps ever conceived, you’d know how excited I am for this map!

Screenshots:

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