Nut Load. Mini reviews of games old and new. No fuss. No spoilers. Occasional shock face.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Ranko Tsukigime's Longest Day (2013)

Genre: Platformer | Players: 1 | Developers: Grasshopper Manufacture, Crispy's Inc.

RTLD is a side-scrolling platformer written by Suda 51 and directed by Yohei Kataoka. It’s available on the Short Peace bluray (see above box art), a disc that contains four short anime films and one PS3 game. It’s a hybrid disc that’ll play the anime portion in any bluray player and the game in a PS3. You can view the anime section in your PS3, too, if you scroll to the video section on the XMB.

Each portion takes ‘Japan’ as its inspiration. The animes took a refined approach to the subject matter, but the game went tits-out and packed in a plethora of references from past and present; it’s a smörgåsbord of Japanese culture that'll have weaboos pissing themselves in excitement. There’s panties, guns, schoolgirls, costumes, a flying dragon, wrestlers, swords and Akira references presented as either pixels, anime, manga or visual novel-esque cut scenes.

It looks beautiful, filled with colour and oozing visual creativity, but you’ll be too busy hurrying though each short level to be able to appreciate it fully. You can’t stop and explore the environment because you’re being pursued from the left of the screen by something. Yes, something. I've no clue what it actually was, except for the time it was a giant, hungry Pomeranian. The only levels you'll have time to enjoy are the boss levels, but they’re even less fun to play. They can be frustrating until you figure out what the hell you're supposed to be doing.

Another aspect of Japanese media carried through into the game is that it makes very little sense. It's like a late 80s OVA. It's tongue-in-cheek about it, though.

As one-fifth of the Short Peace experience it’s a welcome addition, but as a game it’s more of a visual treat than a gamer-treat. Even factoring in the time taken to fail and repeat stages (from the beginning of each one, every time!) it'll take approximately one hour to get from beginning to end. A Let’s Play might be more fun than an actual play; you’d at least be able to appreciate how pretty it all is.

2 unmaskings out of 5

NOTE: A short review of the films can be read on our sister site, In a Nutshell. I found it more rewarding (and less confusing) than the game portion. See HERE.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Penny Arcade Adventures: On The Rainslick Precipice Of Darkness: Episode 2 (2008)

Genre: RPG | Players: 1 | Developer: Hothead Games

Part 2 begins hilariously similar to the 1st as the PA protagonists, Gabe and Tycho, accidentally wreck the new abode of the player character that had just been rebuilt. The player character is pretty chill about it this time around and is recruited to continue the search for the creator of the ongoing miniature robot menace as well as the giant robot responsible for his house's first destruction which has still evaded sweet vengeance. The same aesthetics and atmosphere are intact with slightly less an air of mystery and a bit more horror, though still mostly rooted in the original comic's sense of humor.

Nothing much has changed, only minor details like Tycho switching out a machine gun for a shotgun and the player character using a hoe as a weapon rather than his original rake. There are new enemies and new special attacks, but it all works the same way with an active time battle system that can be enhanced with good blocking by pressing the spacebar with correct timing. The battles are, like the first game, all substantial as they all have the potential to be dangerous unlike other RPGs. Learning correct blocking and the enemies' weaknesses is key to advancing. The learning curve might be a little steeper this time around as the latter half of the game pretty much requires learning the ins and outs of the battle system. In the first episode, a player could probably squeak by to the final boss having not mastered most of the battle system, but this time around the enemies can wreck you in seconds later on without some semblance of gained skill.

While it is more of the same, that doesn't always have to be a bad thing. The new enemies and continued absurdist steampunk narrative were still engaging. The same problem still applies in that only existing fans of Penny Arcade will get the most out of it or just a connoisseur of RPGs looking for something a little different. Casual players will get little out of the distinct humor if not even a little turned off by it. I think having some experience with it made me enjoy this one perhaps a little bit more.

Buyer's Guide:
Available for digital download on PC, Mac, XBLA and PSN.

4 cock fighting robot monkeys out of 5