25/07/2015

Shenmue 3 and the Acceptance of DEMUL

Now that Shenmue 3 has been successfully funded on Kickstarter I decided to return to my rather stagnant blog to squee some enthusiasm onto the internets.

I must also make an apologetic addendum to a video I made a while ago slagging off DEMUL and singing the praises of NullDC.

Before we get into that let us take a moment to appreciate the nostalgia inducing awesomeness of some pre-alpha Shenmue 3 footage.



Since Yu Suzuki's sucessful Kickstarter campaign I have begun replaying Shenmue from the start using the latest build of DEMUL and the recently fixed, now 99.9% perfect (I have only spotted 2 untranslated subtitles so far) undub created by Kogami (no more disc 2 crashes, hurah). I must say DEMUL has improved A LOT.

A few people got kind of pissy in the comments on my YouTube video comparing DEMUL to NullDC saying I was doing it wrong (but not actually explaining how to do it right) and I must say this latest build of DEMUL fixes all the problems I had when I made the video. It runs silky smooth at 60 fps with only some very minor sound hitching and overall gives a much better experience than NullDC (no see through hair glitch and much better shadows).
Sure you don't get the extra geometry option for filling a 16:9 aspect ration but the pop in this caused what kind of distracting anyway so I am more than happy playing this game at 4:3 as Yu intended. I will hopefully do a new video soon.

This playthrough (my third now) I feel I have actually started playing Shenmue properly for the first time. I am levelling specific moves with training sessions, trying super hard to complete collections, practicing my Hang-On and other games to win prizes in the arcade and generally appreciating the slow pace of the narrative by taking advantage of all the spare time you have in disc 1 & 2.

One major major tip have picked for completing collections, getting those 50k of coins in the slot house or getting those punishing wins in the arcade involve is a simple one: abuse the save feature.


Need that final gacha toy? Save up around 2k yen, save your game first thing in the morning, go straight to the gacha machine you need the prize from and just drop money until you get it. If you fail, reset, reload and do it again until you do. The save state feature in DEMUL is buggy as hell so I would use the actual in game save function and just reset the emulator if you are not playing on an actual Dreamcast.

The same applies for the slot house. Save the game first thing in the morning, head to the fortune teller in Dobuita and pay 300 yen for the "Gamble" reading, she will give you a lucky number. Head the the slot house and spin all five lines of the fruit machine with that number on the front until you get the jackpot (777). If you don't manage it in a day (yep, you need a lot of patience) then simply reset, reload and try again. Sometimes the fortune teller will not give you a number in which case just pick a random machine and reload if it doesn't hit 777 by the day's end. This is by far the most boring achievement in the game and I still haven't got my 50k prize but I will, oh yes I will.

Same technique can be used to win those arcade games, save, try, fail, reload and repeat until you win all the things!

For a more complete walktrhough I would recommend this scanned PDF of the Versus guide. It is nice to look at and includes some cool little explanations of Japanese culture alongside a very in-depth walkthrough of all the various narrative forks available in the game

Oh, and don't forget to feed that kitty.


Links




20/05/2015

[REVIEW] My Adventures in Monument Valley

Monument Valley, a game for Android and some other irrelevant mobile OS, is the most beautifully captivating perspective based meditative puzzle game I have played since the beach ball based PSX classic Kula World (just found out this game is on Android too!)

This game presents a wonderfully realised art style, ambient, airy sound design and a main character that manages to be both cute and oddly mysterious despite basically being a white triangle.
You must help the Silent Princess navigate an ever more complicated series of Escher-like castles, twisting, raising, lowering and tapping your way to victory.
The whole thing is held together with a sparse, poetic series of encounters with a green spirit type creature who presents riddleish dialogue that really adds to the pseudo-philosophical atmosphere of the whole thing. You know, like, are we exploring this bizarre virtual world or perhaps really, deep down inside, we are like, exploring ourselves?
I realise this game is standing on the shoulders of giants when it comes to perspective puzzlers such as Echochrome for the PSP / PS3 or the aforementioned personal favourite of mine Kula World for PSX but it really stands out as a shining example of modern mobile gaming done right. It doesn't, for example, just rip off an existing game add candy, micro transactions and, infuriatingly, become a really successful product in the process... because most of you iShit toting mobile "gamers" are utter morons with a whole lot more money than sense... *deep breath*
Fortunately for us "proper" mobile gamers the deconstructed mechanics and contemplative pacing of Monument Valley has since inspired a new wave of interesting mobile puzzlers such as Hitman Go, another game I have had a lot of fun with.

There is nothing not to love about this game. Even if I do feel a little sorry for the pesky crow people whenever I have to trap one! The game is so beautiful, relaxing and fun the play. Not only that but the puzzles never become insanely difficult to the point of giving up in frustration, which is a rare thing to find for someone as stupid as me when it comes to puzzle games.
I highly recommend picking up this title, especially if you have a long journey coming up, the time will fly by.


15/05/2015

[REVIEW] Hi☆sCoool! SeHa Girls


Hi☆sCoool! SeHa Girls presents a world in which Dreamcast, Saturn, MegaDrive and the rest of the Sega hardware family are anthropomorphised as adorable schoolgirls (LOL, Japan). They must pass a series of exams based around various Sega franchises in order to graduate to the real world and become the Sega consoles we know and love.

If, like me, you were already sold on this concept just by the combination of "Sega Consoles" and "Japanese Schoolgirls" then you probably wont need much more persuasion to go watch this thing. I urge you to stick around however as I have an awful lot of Sega-fanboy squeeing to do, coming up after the OP!


This refreshingly original, comical and oh so adorable anime uses character designs by Hatsune Miku artist KEI and the MikuMikuDance 3D animation engine mixed with actual game footage from various seminal Sega titles (but not Shenmue).

Sega take us on a journey through a world in which all their many, many mistakes are forgotten and invites us to remember when the only important limitation in gaming hardware was our own imaginations, or something like that anyway...

Basically Dreamcast, Saturn and MegaDrive are chibi schoolgirls that must pass various "exams" by entering Sega video games (but not Shenmue) via a Sailor Moon-esque transformation sequence in which they become normal sized, super sexy and you can almost see boob at least twice.

The SeHa girls must earn enough coins in order to graduate to the real world in which they will become real hardware designed to bring joy to the hearts of millions, conveniently skipping over the bit where they are actually doomed to fail miserably, putting thousands of Sega employees out of jobs and ending Sega's ability to even attempt to produce hardware ever again.

Amusingly Saturn-chan seems to be the least favoured at SeHa academy and constantly gets lower scores than the other girls for no apparent reason other than the fact that Asobin-sensei just doesn't seem to like her. In the end Saturn-chan only manages to graduate because MegaDrive and Dreamcast donate some of their own coins to help her get through. An obvious analogy for anyone familiar with Sega's history.

The girls themselves are all pretty standard anime types with the premise that they are actually Sega consoles making for some amusing characterisations.

Dreamcast, as a console that never had much time to develop. is the most immature, ditsy and struggles with the world getting though on sheer luck most of the time.



Saturn (my personal favourite, of course) is more of an adolescent, with a predilection for boys and such like. She is often bullied by the other two consoles as well as Asobin-sensei and has a rough time in the "exams" as a result.

MegaDrive is the most mature, knowledgeable and the best at the various games they become involved in (a reference to how easy games are these days perhaps) but is confused and fearful of modern technology and concepts.


The show follows a set up and pay off formula in every episode pair (each ep is 10 - 12 minutes). The first episode of each set up / pay off pair sees a classic Sega game (but not Shenmue) being set up with the second episode of the pair containing most of the action within that classic Sega game (but not Shenmue.)

We see around a bazillion references to Sega games in the series (but not Shenmue), from the very well known to the insanely obscure (outside of Japan anyway). In one episode even I, the greatest Sega fan-boy the world has ever known (yeah... maybe not), was introduced to game I had never heard of, Roommania#203. A game in which you get to sit and watch a teenage boy sit in his bedroom and sometimes do things. Obviously I downloaded an ISO immediately.


All in all this series was really good. Even if you are not a hardcore Sega nerd there will be something here to make you smile, like the fact that the school song is just the "Sega!" start-up sound from the MegaDrive, or the tongue in cheek blatant advert for a Sega "freemium" mobile game and the consoles subsequent disgust at the smartphone gaming market.


Truly this is a wonderful series whether you are super into Sega or not. A perfect romp through the games we loved so much (but not Shenmue) with a level of self aware, mature, wry and occasionally down right surreal humour that is usually lacking in an anime so blatantly tied-in to a franchise.

The only downside to the series was the fact that I was really looking forward to seeing Shenmue (did I mention the Hard Girls never actually visit it?) and it never showed up, which sucked. Or maybe they couldn't get the rights to Shenmue because... SHENMUE 3!?? That must be it. Alert the interwebs, Shenmue 3 confirmed!



GAME OVER.

More screen grabs can be found on our Facebook

Screen grabs from the series. http://www.ukotaku.net/2015/05/review-hiscoool-seha-girls.html
Posted by UK OTAKU on Saturday, 16 May 2015
So I took the time to screen cap each bit of trivia from the "16-BITpedia" in every episode of Hi☆sCoool! SeHa Girls so...
Posted by UK OTAKU on Saturday, 16 May 2015

10/05/2015

First Post GET.

UK OTAKU is back! In the form of a mighty blog. The mighty blog of n00j, the UK otaku.
I will be archiving the few articles from the old UK OTAKU site as well and creating an archive for the podcasts. In terms of new content I intend to create new multimediaish bits and bobs for your consumption through our various channels.

Stay tuned for much contents including Twitches, YouTubes, blog posts and other Japanese flavoured nonsense to fill that massive void I am sure the departure of Yuko left in your otaku souls.

Be sure to subscribe to our various interwebby channels and leave a comment if you have ideas for things you would like to see.