I’ve started playing Professor Layton and the Last Specter which is the start of the prequel arc featuring the first meeting of Layton and Luke. Since this is the case, the game begins with Layton meeting his new assistant Emmy who quickly became a favorite of mine. She is a new addition with her high energy and physical nature. At times she even acts as the audience to the strange happenings making comments like these villagers are so weird and the like. And it is a good thing I fell in love with her quickly, I just started a new chapter where she has broken off from Layton and Luke to go solo in London. So far the story has been in line with previous games which is a positive; I’ve been able to deduce small mysteries but the Specter remains elusive. The town seems more sprawling complete with canals and boat transportation but like the last two games it tends to box you into a path and only lets you explore at its discretion which I always take issue with. Puzzles are Layton puzzles and nothing has stood out though there does seem to be more real math than before. I’m happy to say the car path mini-game is back, but made way better because it is with trains! I haven’t gotten to London Life yet. If you’ve seen the movie Eternal Diva you know a little more about this game, but I’m looking forward to now go back and watch it with a fuller knowledge.
Mass Effect is a series that has a rich back story and world building aspects that can be totally ignored if you wish to play the game as a straight sci-fi action game. I being a Type-Moon fan of course am the sort of person who will pour over all the in-game encyclopedia entries and journals. So that fact alone won the game major bonus points with me. That aside I think the game lives up to all the praise the fans give to the series. It has a solid plot that you can play through fairly quickly if you skip all the side material. But half the fun is all the side missions you can do. The main plot line maybe be the entrée but the side dishes are equally important to the meal in its entirety although you might not want to do all the silly collect all the tchotchkes missions like I did. But the cool thing is so many of your decisions carry over to the next two games be it huge decisions you make in the main plot line or little choices you make in side quests. It gives you a reason to seek out missions just so you can impact the world as opposed to just collecting more money and experience. Knowing that the people you kill or tasks that you accomplish carry over give every decision you make a satisfying weight and consequence. The dialog and charterers are not War and Peace or Citizen Kane levels but you will get attached to most people and the writing is usually pithy. The morality system is one of the best for a modern video game. There are still some kick the dog ridiculously evil choices but most of the time picking the renegade choice is an acceptably gray moral decision. It makes playing the path other than the white knight choices viable to people who don’t just shoot the scientists in Half-Life because it is cool. As for the two biggest complaints I always hear about the game I agree with one and did not really care about the other. The Mako is sort of annoying as everyone says it is. It’s hardly unbearable but it is clunkier than it needs to be. When you are moving along it is fine but when you spend 10 minutes getting from one location of the map to another when is should have taken 30 seconds because of the terrain you quickly understand why people were glad they removed the tank driving from everything but some optional missions in the second game. The other major complain it’s the inventory system. I thought that about 90% of gear you pick up was just vendor trash but I did not find it that hard to deal with even on the 360. I just wish the shops were not just filled with random inventory as opposed to a fixed stock. I almost always had mediocre to poor armor because of this. Those flaws aside Mass Effect was pretty amazing. I beat it in about a week and missed quite a bit of sleep due to it keeping me up. If you any sort of American RPG fan it is worth trying it out.
The Zelda Skyward Sword comic with just five pages looks gorgeous but is really neither here nor there. It just leaves you wanting it to build upon what was done. Maybe once I play the game I’ll feel like it is a nice little intro.
I may be behind on some of my shows due to playing Mass Effect but I have kept up with Kamen Rider Fourze. It is still the goofy Jojo’s Part 4 Kamen Rider it has always been. They finally have the team all assembled so they had their first real throw down match with a Boss character. Gentaro Kisaragi is still going along being an entertaining moron with a heart of gold. His character really exemplifies the appeal of the show. This is important because when the show goes into serious drama mode the Japanese acting makes the melodrama feel really odd and amateurishly cheesy. When they concentrate on the action or comedy it is sometimes surreal but always entertaining. I was slightly surprised by the big reveal in episode 13. It was a decently well executed reveal for a show that is normally so goofy. It is a fun little show that always manages to put a smile on my face. Worth checking out even if your are not normally a fan of tokusatsu shows. It has a strong charm that just cannot be denied.
I just discovered the Bad Machinery webcomic (sorry I don’t read many webcomics!) and I’ve fallen in love. I began with the current story Murder She Writes which doesn’t require prior knowledge to make you laugh and try to solve the spoof on the classic setup of a group of people stranded in a snowstorm where murders begin happening. Lottie our young sleuth is wonderfully odd and awkward. The artwork adds quirk to its already humorous trappings. What stands out for me is how well this comic does single pages with a beginning, middle, and end but also connects to the overarching story; it feels very satisfying rather than needing the whole thing at once in order to enjoy it.
And as soon as Carnival Phantasm Ex Season was translated I downloaded and watched it. It is the longest episode of Carnival Phantasm so far. It did make me realize one thing. I don’t really know all that much about Bazett and Caren’s actual personalities. Since Fate/Hollow Ataraxia still has not been translated I actually know them much more for their silly doujinshi personalities than who they actually are in-game. I wonder how odd it will be to play Fate/Hollow and see them how they were actually meant to be portrayed after seeing them as nothing but goofballs for so long. Still every time I see Bazett I have to wonder why she does not have more of a fan following. If it were not for Saber I am fairly certain I would be firmly on team Bazett. I am sort of amazed how much mileage they are getting out of this Phantasmoon joke but I think it needs to end here. Even I who have supported the Phantasmoon joke so far am beginning to wonder if they have any idea of when enough is enough. I wonder if I were a bigger Arcueid fan if I would change my tune or not. But to counter that they have a good deal of Robot Chicken style mini skits which work a bit better. Also the more Aozaki Aoko the better. Miss Blue is always wonderful. Now all that is left is to wait for the third season and the new version of Melty Blood for the PC.