Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Not-So Obscure Video Game Review - Resident Evil 6

Resident Evil 6. So, I played it. Despite expectations, I rather enjoyed it. Right up front, I will tell you that RE:6 is a game you have to love warts and all, or else, well, you just won't like it one bit.

Now, the sixth main installment in the Resident Evil franchise, like some of the others, is a multi playthrough affair, where you see bits and pieces of the whole story as you play through each main character's 'chapter.' Essentially, an alphabet soup of viruses break free or is set free by 'insurgents' or evil corporations, and it's up to an alphabet soup of agencies (some real and fictional) to contain, counter, or otherwise control the virus and its related horrific monstrosities. There, that's the whole synopsis.

  • Graphics. They're decent. There are the occasional odd animations, primarily in cutscenes, though the facial animations are surprisingly amusing in some places. Especially Sherry and Jake's scenes where she gets exasperated with his ogling.
  • Scope. The story is tremendously ambitious. It more or less delivers on these ambitions in a way that makes for fun game play. Yes, many of the games premises are questionable or downright stupid, but the chapters' story setup does make, by and large, for some amusing situations to shoot your way out of.
  • Voice Acting. Okay, so at this point you all are aware of how much I enjoy good voice acting. It's pretty good in this. With the exception of a few annoying characters (I'm looking at you Piers), the voice cast was rather top notch.
  • User Interface. Who thought it was a good idea to have the HUD be different based on which chapter you were playing? It's not.
  • Cutscene'd. This is a term I made up for games where you get screwed over regularly by events outside of the players' control during rendered cutscenes. It happens in this game. A lot. It is still just as annoying as it ever was. Worse than the regular cutscene, even, in RE:6 enemies can move towards you during cutscenes, then when you come out of the render and resume control, you find yourself being downed by an animated kill move that the enemy could not possibly have pulled off if you had been playing. Losing ranks because of this is frustrating.
  • Control Scheme. I am going to use this as a catch-all for 'bad game design choices,' since there are several worth mentioning, and I don't want to give them all their own category. Things like odd or hard to accomplish Quick Time Events.  Being unable to share supplies with your partner (something you could do in the previous game). Gimmicky partner actions (how many times in your life have you gone through a door that took two people to open? It's never happened to me). Your aiming choices can be categorized as bad or worse. Vehicle segments are odd to control and seem pointless. And this is hardly an exhaustive list.
Final verdict. While I generally had a good time playing Resident Evil 6, I bought it REALLY cheap. Like $5 ballpark. If I had paid full price for this, I would have been pretty unhappy. It just should have been so much more than it turned out to be. The bones for a really good game are present here, but they're put together wrong, like a Victorian era dinosaur. And like said Iguanadon,  the most it is good for is a laugh.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Cool Stuff My Wife Made - 2DS Case

So I have a Nintendo 2DS that I mostly use to play Fire Emblem. I was a bit worried about it, as the machine largely lives in my work briefcase, which is jostled and occasionally left in a hot car. All of the case we had were for the 3DS, which will not fit my unit. So, I inquired of the lovely and talented Mrs Fett, and lo did she ever come through for me.

It's a pretty neat case. It's green, which I'm always down with, and she even hand painted the button to have a cool skull/mask thing. I know I've seen her do that before, but I can't for the life of me remember what else I have with that design. It's pretty spiffy.

She's the best.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Light Novel Review - Dungeon Defense Volume 1

Okay, I could almost make a blog of just Novel Reviews at this point, if I ever did sit down and type them all out. But that would probably be pretty repetitive, and no one likes that. On the other hand, I do enjoy knocking these out every now and again as a little change of pace, and maybe helping people find something new and fun to read they might not have thought of or found on their own.

Dungeon Defense, up front, IS a 'Travel to a new world/Trapped in a game" story, depending on how you look at it. Heavens knows there have been plenty of those in the last few years (including the one I'm writing, sadly). There are a few points which make this one stand out for me, however, and while I don't want to intrude on my Pros/Cons for later, I'll do a quick synopsis.

A cynical and horrible young man has just given up on life due to his upbringing, when he fills out a curious game survey sent to him online. Then, he wakes up as a Demon Lord in the middle of an attack. And not some run of the mill exceptional Demon Lord, but as Dantalian, the tutorial boss. Yeah, that's kind of a tough break. Being that he's a bit of a manipulative sociopath already, he sets out to make himself a place in the world through suavity, treachery, and cunning.

  • Bad Guy - I'll be honest, I do love a plausibly written villain. I've always been negative on stories where the bad guy did evil things, just because 'they are the bad guy.' I want the antagonist to have a reason for what they are doing. Don't destroy the world just because. Dantalian is a villain, yes, but he's always moving toward achieving his aims, and he'll explain to you why he wants them. Further, unlike Ainz from Overlord, who is a generally amicable, if misunderstood fellow, Dantalian really is as bad as he seems. Maybe more than you think he is initially, even. 
  • Fun Characters - It's hard not to root for Lapis Lazuli, the half-breed Succubus who gets looked down upon by everyone around her. This series has a lot of other well thought out, multi-faceted characters, including vampires, demons, goblins, and even the occasional human. Some interesting interactions are explored as well between characters you wouldn't think of, including some relationships and alliances that make such intrinsic sense you are shocked you didn't think of it before.
  • Culture Shock - Dungeon Defense is a Korean light novel, and not a Japanese one. While a habitual light novel reader will come into a series like this with a set of expectations, most light novels that have been translated to English come from Japan. Not to say there aren't exceptions, but many light novel protagonists are fairly wishy-washy, insecure, or dense (they even have a word for it, donkan, meaning a protagonist who is so dumb with women that they can't get laid even when a naked woman falls out of the sky and hits them). I am happy to let you know that Dungeon Defense is blessed with a protagonist of stern, resolute, decisiveness. He's like a Honey Badger. He takes what he wants.
  • Should'a Seen This Coming - Given that Dantalian knows how the world ends, it is occasionally frustrating when he gets himself in a situation he should have foreseen. This is a minor problem, and perhaps a bit of quibbling, but given how he seems omniscient at times, even with things that would not have been in the game, when he's blindsided by something you find yourself shaking your head.
  • Chekhov's Gun - You know the one. There was a gun on the wall in Act I, that means someone is getting shot in Act II. The foreshadowing in Dungeon Defense can be a little...heavy handed. I feel the impact of this problem is a bit diminished by the fact that *spoiler alert* Dantalian already knows everything, but it is there nonetheless. At several points in Volume I, Dantalian's inner monologue chucks out 'random' factoids, that become major plot points in a chapter or two.
Final Verdict for Dungeon Defense Volume I is an unabashed Two Thumbs, Two Toes, and 36 Teeth up. Yes, I have extra teeth, shut up. I enjoyed this maiden volume immensely, as much as anything I have read since Overlord, or maybe even The Circumstances Leading to Waltraute's Marriage, which is high praise indeed. This series really has a lot more going for it than you would expect, given how saturated the genre is. I am certainly looking forward to the further installments.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Plants Vs. Zombies Cactus Poppers

Okay, I have never played Plants Vs. Zombies. Nor have I bought any of the toys before. So why would I spring for not one, but two of these popper toys? Well, that's a long and complicated story that I will try to distill down to its essential points.

I play Flower Knight on Nutaku (the G rated version, give me some credit!). I have no six star characters. That's right, I have been playing every day since the game launched and maxed out every event they have had, and used THOUSANDS of the flower gems (in game currency), but have not got a single six star character. So it has become a running joke about how if I ever got Cactace (the game's obligatory green girl), I would immediately have to build a shrine or monument or something.

Yeah, that's her.

Anyway, when we were in TRU with my kids last weekend, my daughter found this and brought it to me and said "Look dad! the closest you'll ever get to having a 6 star character!" Thinking that was pretty funny, we checked to see how much it would be. It turned out they were having a buy one get one sale on it, so we got two, ostensibly so that the munchkins and I could have some low brow quality time shooting each other with foam projectiles.

And so now I have a Cactus. Just not a Cactace. :'(

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Camera Broken

So like the title says, a big part of why I'm not posting is that my Camera is broken. I'm working on getting the spare up and running, but the problem there is that the cord it uses is some different proprietary one that I'm having trouble finding.

Sorry for the delay, but I should be back and running again soon.

Monday, September 19, 2016

The Big Poll!

Hey all, CounterFett here, as always in constant need of reader input.

Basically, as work on my novel progresses (which is the cause of all the lack of posting lately!), I am trying to think of how to do this publishing thing. As much as I would love to have an actual physical release, I don't think that is very realistic to hold out for. So I'm looking for alternatives. I put up a poll on the top right, to sort of gauge how people feel about the top contenders I have found.

The options thus far are:
  1. Webnovel on a monetized site. I have a passing familiarity for how this would work, since it is essentially a blog. Upsides are that you definitely get credit for anyone who even looks at the page. Downsides are that these monetize slowly, and are the easiest thing for people to plagiarize.
  2. Smashwords for $0.99 each hundred pages. Basically, this was my original idea. Sort of like a serialized light novel or fiction magazine. Upsides to this are that Smashwords seems pretty accessible and legitimate. I also would receive 85% of purchase price. Downsides are that I've never worked with them before or know how their monetization thresholds work. 
  3. Smashwords for $3 for novel length. This could be a double edged sword, as the higher price point means less accessibility, but also a reduced chance people feel like you are ripping them off. Pluses and minuses are similar to #2, but one downside here is that I will not be able to get 'Volumes' out as often, reducing my ability to see faster return on time investment.
  4. Other Website / Length Combination. Basically, if you know of a better setup than what I've come up with, let me know. The poll is still important to let me know what people think would be a reasonable cost to pagecount, but if something better is suggested, I'm not locked into picking from the above options.
  5. Toilet paper, because my writing stinks. Well, this is entirely a realistic possibility. If everyone picks this, I might cry.
Thanks a bunch folks. Hopefully I will have this figured out and some decent material available to be read soon.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Writing Again.

Well, it's been a little over a year since I worked on my novel, but I got a bee in my bonnet late last night to get working on it again. I think I was inspired by anime and cartoons I had been watching with my wife, and wanting to 'write' what I wanted the characters to do for their unresolved issues got my creative juices flowing again.

I'll hopefully keep this streak going, and let you all know what's going on with it. If I finish and feel like it's decent at all, I'll probably make it available on some online publishing site for like a dollar. That way, people get cheap reads, and I get to pretend like I'm a novelist.