Friday, January 8, 2016

Assassin's Den Reviews: Undertale

Welcome back, my beautiful freaks, to the Assassin's Den!

Today, I'm going to talk about an indie game that's made the rounds on Youtube over the last four months;

Released on September 15, 2015 by developer Toby Fox, Undertale is a game that's basically a callback to 1990s JRPGs (the Mother series in particular), but with a twist.  Not only does it remember what you've done whether or not you've saved your progress, but you can complete the entire game without killing anything. 

Developer Toby Fox started out as a forum moderator of Earthbound fansite and music developer for Earthbound fan music.  He was also know for Earthbound fan hacks before developing Undertale. 

Now, I have to talk a little about Earthbound before going on to Undertale.  Long story short, Earthbound is part 2 of the three part Mother series in Japan, but due to Nintendo not really knowing how to market JRPGs in the west at the time of Earthbound's release, it didn't get the attention it deserved.  Fast forward to Super Smash Brothers Melee in 2001, which had Ness, Earthbound's protagonist, as a playable fighter, and Earthbound began to gain some renown.  But Nintendo of America (and by Proxy, Europe), weren't having fans' newfound appreciation for this quirky JRPG, even refusing to translate and release Mother 3 five years later.  Yes, Earthbound fans did eventually get an Earthbound re-release for the Wii U virtual console, but it's far from what fans wanted.

Which loops back around to Undertale.  Toby Fox was inspired by Mother 3, and its fan translation, to make Undertale's system, which is a huge focus of this review.  You see, there's both an active and passive RPG interface; in order hit and do damage in combat, you have to hit the hot spot on a bar.  And in order to dodge attacks, you actually need to dodge the bullets.  It's an interesting combat system that keeps you on your toes.

And speaking of combat, the second big focus of it is whether or not you kill anything.  Without spoiling the story, whether or not you kill has effects on the game.  Characters react on whether or not you kill, and whom you kill.  A complete Pacifist run is different than a Genocide run. 

Another interesting thing about this game is the Save system.  It always mentions something "Determination" when you hit a save point, which actually applies to the story of the game.  Yes, saving your game isn't just a game mechanic. It is integral to the plot of the game.

The basic story of this game is thus; you are a human child who fell into the Underground.  You meet all kinds of interesting characters and monsters along your quest go get out.  Along the way, you learn about how the monsters came to be in the Underground (you actually learn that in the opening crawl), and how they plan on getting back onto the surface.

Now, here's the interesting thing about this game; you actually need to complete it 3 times in order to see the whole story.  Once on the Neutral path, which unlocks the "True Pacifist Path", once on the True Pacifist path, and once on the Genocide path.  The Neutral path allows you to get to know the characters, the game mechanics and the consequences of your actions.  The True Pacifist path allows you to see the best ending of the game and get the full story of how the Monsters planned on getting out of the Underground, and the Genocide path gives you the story of the fallen human.  But the Genocide path's ending irrevocably changes the ending of the True Pacifist path, so don't finish that before the True Pacifist path if you want to see how that ending's supposed to be.  (There are ways to remove the "Genocide" flag from the games files, and you can find that in a lot of place on the internet, so it's not TOO bad if you screwed up.)

As for my analysis; I like this game.  I like the story, I like the characters, I like the music.  However, I could take or leave the battle system.  I am terrible at bullet hell games, so combat is very difficult for me.  The combat alone is why I'll never be able to finish the Genocide path. Two bosses are impossible for me; Undyne the Undying and Sans.  I managed to get past Undyne the Undying by luck, but Sans requires skill that I just don't have.  So I had to resolve myself to reset and play the pacifist and neutral paths.

Anyway, despite my personal problem with the combat, it is great game.  It's worth your time to play through multiple times due to way the game handles flags.  Second, third, fourth, etc, playthroughs have subtle differences in dialogue and the way you interact with characters.

Undertale is 10 dollars on Steam, and it is well worth the price.  Go get it if you're interested in non-traditional JRPGs.  But for now, stay beautiful freaks!

Monday, January 4, 2016

SWTOR Character Tales personal arcs: Rise of Mamine Universe

Welcome back, my beautiful freaks, to the Assassin's Den!

Now, it's time for the White Knight Universe's character arc.

Mamine: Redeemable, then Redemption.  First, Mamine believed that she could be a Dark Jedi while remaining true and loyal to the Republic and her people.  But after being exiled, she realized that she needs to change her ways. 

Yokonari: Shattered world view.  For Yokonari, the world was supposed to be simple. She was light, the Sith were dark, and she protected the Empire's citizens from the worst of the Sith.  But after the White Knights betrayal of her after Mamine disappeared, she's seen the futility in following the Light.  And she's going to make people pay for what they did to her.

Casek: Fighting through the pain.  Between what Casek has fought through during the game's story and what happened to him and Yokonari in the time jump, Casek has fought through a LOT of pain.  And now, he's using his pain as power.  No one will hurt him or Yokonari again.

Anstrisil: Frustration.  Very few people trust Anstrisil in the Republic due to his species, the Empire see him as a traitor, and only a handful of people seek him out for guidance.  It seems that only those whose lives you have directly affected, like the members of the Rift Alliance, your crew, Yokonari, Casek and Mamine, trust you implicitly.  And you are getting tired of it all.

Suthazi: Hope.  As a child, Suthazi was found out to have two conditions; the hamask gene to cause her to go berserk easily, and Force sensitivity.  She'd been taught her entire life that she needs to avoid the pull of the Dark Side and be better than her genes want to make her.  But she won't give up. She will take Mamine's example and reject the Dark Side, all while remaining true to herself and her people.

Azulini: Savage in a modern jungle.  She takes what she wants from people; money, weapons, sex, and gives nothing back.  The only thing that matters is her own pleasure and her own survival.  The only time she's ever close to kind is with her husband.  He made her feel something more than just a desire to survive, and she'll defend him to the death.

Hardatt: Indulgence.  There's more to existence than survival, and Hardatt wants to experience it all.  And he's going to experience it all with Azulini by his side.

I won't be doing this for the Twins universe.  There's really not much to go there anyway.

For now, stay beautiful freaks!

Saturday, January 2, 2016

SWTOR Character Tales personal arcs: Ragdat's Darkest Day Universe

Welcome back, my beautiful freaks, to the Assassin's Den!

I had an interesting thought as I was sleeping last night about each character's personality that I've written and am going to write.  A while back, I gave my interpretation of the Mass Effect characters character arcs across the trilogy, and I though about what the arcs of my SWTOR Character Tales characers would be.  Here's what I came up with, and I'd like to see how well this has come across, or in the case of those who have had little screen time, will come across in the future.

Ragdat: Warrior for a cause.  Ragdat loves to fight, but he'd always felt hollow without a reason TO fight.  Darth Vich gave him a purpose, and after that, the Jedi Order.  And being named a Battlemaster has given a true purpose; he is the restless defender of peace, though he will never experience it himself.  He will fight for those who cannot defend themselves, and spend his every waking moment in preparation for the next battle.

Vedere:  Wisdom beyond her years.  A lifetime of preparation to join the Jedi Order, as well as what she had learned on Katarr and many other places have made people, Vedere herself sometimes, forget how young she is.  She has counseled many in her short time in the Order, and cares for all those who come to her in time of need.  That said, she's still barely an adult, and has not had all the time she's needed to hone the skills she needs to survive her coming trials.

Adaso:  Dark Paladin.  Holding to a strict code of honor and carrying a concept of chivalry, Adaso uses his power in service of his house, his Empire and his Emperor in that order.  He cares for those under his charge, but will not hesitate to punish them if they displease him.  And he will bring down vengeance upon those who would dare strike against anyone who would dare hurt those he's pledge to.

Darth Nox: Successful ambition.  Darth Nox never thought that her craving for more would ever be sated, but the Sith Empire has done so.  They give her a chance at power, at status, at wealth, and she has greedily taken everything she's been given, and more.  But that's still not enough for her sensibilities.  She's succeeded at every point when it came to what she'd craved as a slave, so she sees no reason to stop now that she has everything.

Maircus: Law man.  Maircus has never liked seeing criminals hurt people, and he's liked seeing them go free even less.  So he's taken his titles of Mandalore's Chosen, Grand Champion of the Great Hunt, Republic Federal Marshall and Slayer of Darth Tormen and is using them to do what he set out to do as a bounty hunter in the first place; to be the figure that can cross any border, to go to any planet and bring down anyone who would harm the innocent, whether they are Sith, Jedi, Hutt or just some dumb thug who thinks they have have that right.

And here's the final picture for him; the armor set that I was looking to get when I found the Mando Hunter armor, but was just outside my price range at the time.  Now, he's finally got the shoulder pads and jetpack I wanted at the start!

Amelisan: Humanity in the face of warfare.  Amelisan is tough.  Vowing to bring down the Sith Empire, she's steeled herself for battle over the years she's been fighting.  And she's good at it; she's taken down targets that no other soldier would dream of and many of her commanders thought impossible. But inside, she's still the the girl that lost everything that mattered to her during the Sacking of Coruscant, and she's been trying to fill the void ever since.

Curoda: Caught in the winds of destiny.  It seems that no matter what you've done since Arwen got sick, it's always led you into something else.  Nok Drayen's Treasure, the Voidwolf, Pirate Queen, and now the Alliance, Curoda has always felt that she's not really in control of her fate.  However, she's not letting that, or anything else, get her down.  She's doing what she can with the hand that fate has dealt her, and does some good with everything she's got.

Allisani: Anti-human spymaster.  After what the Empire did to her combined with their disdain of non-humans, Allisani has really built up a distaste for that species.  She feels she must protect the rest of the galaxy from them, and to free them from human oppression.  But that doesn't mean she won't give them a chance as individuals. But she's met very few that have gotten through her distaste for humanity.

Colmallus: Educated Loyalty. Colmallus, while no longer actually part of his brother's house, still wants to see him succeed. And that means two things; giving him forces to command and advising him. Somethimes, whether Adaso likes your advice or not.  And even though he was named heir for a reason, you're not going to let him make a stupid mistake with your family's name in any way, shape or form.

Vizhdam:  Great Protector.  Vizhdam has seen enough pain in this galaxy to know that people need to be able to defend themselves.  He trains the members of the Jedi Order in lightsaber combat, those outside the Order with blasters, and defends those who do not have the ability to take up a weapon.  Special care has gone to his childhood friend Vedere, who, while very experienced in use of the Force in combat, is far from the best duelist.

Chas'Raan: Success despite inferiority complex.  Chas'Raan has spent all her life trying to live up to her own standards, but she just can't reach them sometimes.  She lacks the ability to use the Force for for telekinesis, so she must rely on her armor, lightsaber and her unique ability of energy absorption, which has made her a great defender of others.  But even with all that she's done, even with all the people she's helped and the battles she's won, she still doesn't feel that she's doing enough.  And she will never stop trying.

Tavella: Dark researcher.  Tavella cares nothing for the politics of the Sith.  The only thing that excites her passions is the eternal quest for knowledge.  But just because she's sedate does not mean she rejects the Dark Side.  Far from it; some of the things she's been interested in require extensive knowledge of the Dark Side in order to utilize and understand.

Gentugo: I really have nothing for him.

I'm going to break this into the three universes, because this post is rather long.  Tell me if these characters have come across as I've posted, and if they aren't, I'll make an effort to showcase their mindset a little better.  This obviously doesn't mean much for the "side characters", since they'll be better developed when KOTFE finally rolls in.

For now, stay beautiful freaks!