We don't always like being nonplussed

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Five Ideas Pokemon Got From Dragon Quest

Pokemon Black and White are out now, and our copy of Black is hopefully winging its way here as you read this. I'm a Pokemon fan, but That Guy- the one who will be flailing his way though Black for your enjoyment -he's the Pokemon superfan.

Me? I'm a Dragon Quest superfan. So we have a lot in common. Like an awful lot of the Japanese RPG field, Pokemon borrows a lot of what Dragon Quest does, from the piddling and superficial to the downright integral. Here's a few:

5. Footsteps

Every time you walk through a door or up or down stairs, you hear the approximation of footsteps. Compare!

4. Lights, Please!

In the original Dragon Quest/Warrior you had to stock torches so you weren't completely in the dark in any of the game's dungeons. Or, once you were a high enough level, you could use the spell Radiant, which gave you a much larger view of the area. For all intents and purposes Radiant = Flash, except that it had a limited duration so you had to keep using it as the area of effect shrank. Personally I jumped for joy when most Dragon Warrior dungeons from 2 forward turned out to be well-lit affairs. While we're at it:

3. Fly = Zoom

DQ gives you this ability a lot sooner- like as soon as you can spend the 25 gold (A handful of Slimes at worst) to buy a Chimaera's Wing- which is pretty much a one-use version of Fly. Then there's Zoom spell, which you can use whenever. Just like Pokemon you can only return to towns, and only ones you've already visited. I'm not sure whether I prefer the handy Dragon Quest list or the Pokemon map view- DQ is quicker but it's harder to forget which town is where when you're looking right at the map.

2. Level-grinding like a mofo.

This cracks me up. One of the things that people complain about with Dragon Quest is the level-grinding. Odds are you will reach a point in your DQ experience where you have to wander around and raise your experience levels before you can advance. People hate this. It is the most-frequently cited complaint about JRPGs. But Pokemon has made this into an artform. Pokemon is Level-Grinding: The Game. Pokemon decided that the JRPG needed more level-grinding, and somehow they made it work!

Part of what makes level-grinding less of a hassle in Pokemon is that the game gives you a hell of a lot more to do at any given moment. The modern Dragon Quests have gotten a lot better about this, with a less-steep experience curve and lots of sidequests and other things to do. But while you're grinding in Pokemon, you can be catching things to fill out your Pokedex, wandering around collecting berries or Apricorns... you're rarely just level-grinding in Pokemon unless you want to be, and that's why Pokemon is a darling in the US and Dragon Quest, much as I love it, is struggling not to be a niche title.

1. Capturing Monsters.

In 1991 Dragon Quest V was released in Japan for Super Famicom, the first 16-bit DQ. At many points in the game your hero travels alone, and you're given the ability to tame monsters to fill out your party. Somewhere along the line somebody realized that monster-training had enough potential to be a game all its own, and so they made it into one. And that game, of course, was Dragon Quest Monsters.

No, no. Dragon Quest Monsters is the spinoff Enix did well after Gamefreak had taken the idea and run with it, resulting in the Pocket Monsters we know and love. But the idea of recruiting monsters- like a lot of the ideas that make Pokemon what it is, come directly from good old Dragon Quest.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Jump Superstars Part 15: The Penis-Blimp Stage

... What?

Seriously, what?

So in my last update, I had just finished the... third level of the fourth world? Yeah, that sounds about right. Now normally it's a good ten to eleven levels in before I see a magic tornado appear, but I seem to have just opened one up, as well as a stage that I can describe as the Penis-Blimp stage.

Penis Blimp should bring us up in some interesting searches...

Yes, that blimp is a giant purple penis with a grin on it... I think that's one of the more frightening things this game has thrown at me yet, but I'm reminded that Shonen Jump is a comic marketed at young men, so... yeah, I'm not even going to make the comments that are coming to mind. We'll just... go to the penis blimp, for now....

The symbol on this stage seems to be related to... oh hell, I don't even care anymore, it's a giant penis blimp, and the stage symbol seems to be a picture of the Pentagon, so I don't know what to make of it anymore. Let's just see what happens...

Oh man, I have no idea what's going on here anymore. I seem to be fighting a kid with a giant, angry, metal lobster on a stick, in the background is some sort of giant teardrop hooked up to a heart and lung machine, and the ground is made out of robots that are either screaming in horror, or trying very hard to whistle, I can't tell. The fight wasn't all that bad since the lobster-warrior just kept running at me while I threw energy balls at him, but I don't think that it really matters since this game has killed my brain...

Thankfully, no more wangs.

Let's go through the whirlpool for now because... yeah, the thing is still staring me in the face.

This seems to lead me back to... the first world of the game! Yay! Just what I needed! Lush pastures, beautiful mountains, and absolutely no penises! It's like a dream come true, and no one is naked! Off to the first world we go!

What a nice little stage. Simple, straight forward, and above all... well, you get the idea. It was a breeze, and I was happy to have to fight the eighty-four thousand people that attacked me all at once... Well ok, it was maybe six or nine, but they were bastards. They kept changing between a pile of other characters, and just all-in-all tried to make me long for the wang stages... I really need to stop talking about those. BOOBIES! There we go.

We seem to have opened up a B-Splosion stage again, and if I'm not mistaken it's at the base of Mt.Fuji... Wasn't I there a few worlds back? Is there a Mt.Fuji in every world, and I just haven't noticed? I don't know, but I do know that the symbol for this stage is a snow cone, and that I am fat, so I must enter it and plumb its delicious depths.

Ok, whatever this stage is, I hate it. The main opponent seems to be some sort of Albino-Bleach-Ripoff, and he is fast, strong, and a dick. I really would like to find out the name of this guy just so I can read his manga in the hopes that he dies... sadly, I don't think that will happen. Either way, I'll just take the mature approach and say he's a doodie head.

That's it for now! We'll have more next wang!... Week!... Penis.


Thursday, September 16, 2010

Flailthroughs - Jump Superstars! (Part 14)

And we move on to the first stage in our desolate wasteland. I'm a bit surprised to see that the first stage is a verdant forest, as I've never seen those in many post-apocalypso style worlds, (it's a dance, trust me) but I figure what the hell? It makes as much sense as anything else I've run across in this game... and speaking of nonsense, I'm not entirely sure what the goal of this stage is. I have a counter, but unless it's keeping track of the number of times I swear at it, then I don't think it's going to go up any time soon.

Ok, so three or four tries later,I discover this is another one of the stages with odd, senseless goals. My job here is to shove a treasure chest around while my foe tries to beat it, or me, in the face. This makes a lot of sense to me for once, as I can't think of a better way to defeat the large-chested girl from One Piece, than to rearrange her furniture. I know it would piss me off if Nult just ran into my house and started shoving around my treasure chests, so I can hardly blame her for trying to kill me. I accomplish two goals, one for winning the stage I assume, and another related to the B button... I assume it's because I used it.

Next world!

Ok, it's a B-splosion stage now, and the symbol appears to be a printing error... I'm not sure what to make of it, other than it's either two 'X's standing side by side and connected at the arms, or two 'K's standing back to back. Perhaps this stage is poker-themed? We'll have to see, because I think that a random game of Texas Hold 'Em would drive me to drink, but would somehow keep the theme of the rest of the game, AKA insanity.

Ok! I get an answer to what it is! This stage is related to HunterxHunter! It's nice when the series actually throws their personal ideas for shipping into the title, so we know that this character, a teenage leprechaun, is apparently in love with himself... Yes, that does sound like pretty much every teen in the history of time, anime, and manga... especially hentai. He's an excited little bastard too, and I spend the stage pushing him off of oddly phallic-looking platforms into a pit, which is what you should do when you're standing on a giant wang, trust me. Four goals met as well, so I guess battling on a giant penis is important.

Hmm, this next stage looks on the map like your standard M-Flag stage, the only noticeable difference being that it is floating on a tiny island in the middle of space, which has a large gold tower on it... You know what? Hell no.

As someone who is afraid of heights, the idea of battling on land masses floating through the void of space is not, to me, all that comforting sounding of an idea. Now throw in an extra tiny little island that probably doesn't feel all that stable, and put a huge damn tower on top of it... Go fuck yourself game designers, you've just made me want to go down to the basement and hug something large that doesn't move easily... Still, as Marlon Brando is dead, I don't think that's an option for me.

One more stage for now, I think, then I'm going to go and hug the sidewalk out front.

Well I have no idea what happened there. Once again, I'm in a pretty, pretty forest, and I see my old friend, Hunter MacHunter of the Hunter clan, likely looking for his pot of gold which he lost the last time I handed him his own pancreas, but also with his friends; Sasuke and Generic Construction Worker. That's not so bad, they're all pretty weak, and I can likely take them with no...

What the hell is that? Apparently our little green friend has a move, or panel, or whatever the hell, where he summons a person with a fishing rod... this move will leave you wondering where you lost your fingers, and he seems to like to use it whenever he feels like you need to lay on the ground bleeding (often). I did manage to beat them, but I don't think I quite know how, or even if there were any goals for this stage. I do however know that Sasuke is still a dweeb, and I'm happy to have at least one constant in my life.

More tomorrow, gang!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Flailthroughs - Jump Superstars! (Part 13)

Ok, so there are still two stages left in this world, one is all explodey and the other is a standard flag. I think I'll take a look at the explosion stage and see what comes up!

The symbol on the stage is a cherry... I'm pretty sure that's the symbol for Generic Romance Manga, so I'm going to assume that this stage is going to involve angst, crying, and possibly an adorable girl giving me a bento box... which, given the style of manga, I'll either have to take from her with a blush, or smack out of her hand with a smirk. This would finally tell me for sure if I'm a good guy or bad guy, but I doubt it's that simple... Maybe I'll push someone over and laugh at them for being a lowerclassman. I hope so, I've always wanted to.

Well that was one of the better stages I've been on. I can't quite put my finger on what it was, though... the flower motif? The strangely attractive black-haired woman (man? It's not impossible) I was fighting, or the giant bikini-clad girl in the background... flowers, definitely. The stage is also unique in that the restless dead do their best to thwart your every move, as their skinny arms reach out of the ground and try to pull you down, or at least thwart people in general... there's definite thwarting involved in this stage, ok? Don't bother me! Also, someone on this stage has a move that makes the WHOLE screen go white other than you, which makes it impossible to see where the people who are trying to kill you are hiding, or to ogle the flowers. Anyway, I did beat it, and managed to do something involving the B button, so I get an extra panel. Thanks B button, I owe you one.

So now back to the world map, and onto the generic M flag stage.

These stages tend to not have the normal objectives of the explosion stages, so since this is on Mt.Fuji, I think it's safe to say this one will involve sacrificing a virgin to the angry volcano gods... or maybe an episode of Ninja Warrior.


I'm fine, I'm fine, I promise. I'm just... yeah, I'm fine.

Ok, so onto the panel creation screen for a bit, yeah? I mean, I haven't talked about that in a while... you're really going to make me talk about it, aren't you? After all I've done for you, the HOURS I've played video games for you, this is the thanks I get!?... Ok, fair enough. The boxes had to be killed 20 times... What? It was traumatic! I don't judge you, do I? Well I should, because I'm qualified to do so, as someone who has almost beaten a Phoenix Write game... Well that still makes me more qualified than that judge.

Well, I think that's enough of that. Onto the next world!

... What the hell am I looking at? The world I'm on looks to be some sort of world of desolation... The home of an angry god, of course! Now it makes sense! I'm not entirely sure what upset him, but if I was going to hazard a guess, I would say it has something to do with the giant clam full of elbow macaroni that seems to have taken up the middle of his home. Call me strange, but I think that would bother me
as well.

Yup, that's a giant clam full of elbow macaroni. Savor the imagery of Jump Superstars!

I think I'll wait until tomorrow to try the first stage... the clam is looking at me funny. More tomorrow!


Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Flailthroughs- Jump Superstars! (Part 12)

Ok, so now where was I? Oh yes! Explosion stage! I have no idea what series this is supposed to be from, but it looks like it has something to do with the Pentagon flying into the sun. Neat! I didn't even know it was capable of that level of space travel (though the government does hide a lot of things like that from us... Statue of Liberty? Actually a giant alien corpse. Fact). This city isn't pink, so I have a lot of hope for it, because anything that isn't radioactive pink is automatically better (sorry girls, I'm a boy, we're naturally allergic).

What in the name of the great gods Larry, Curly and Moe did I just fight? I assume it was supposed to be sports-related, since the opening series of manga panels show the character (I'm going to have to call him Generic Manga Construction Worker, because that's what he looks like) running, jumping, or doing any number of other sports-related things. The stage itself... I can't even describe it, it's so confusing. My opponent, who doesn't change once, turns out to be a pretty tough cookie. He can summon a person on a motorcycle that runs my ass over and laughs at me... A person in a gold suit? Alright, I guess that's cool... a woman that seems to be baking something... I am not making this up. She is holding a bowl and mixing, I don't know, a cake. She rips off her apron with a flourish, then disappears. I don't know what she's supposed to do, but I somehow fear this is an ultimate weapon. A poisoned cake perhaps? That's how they got Che Guevara.

Ok, onto the next stage! I'm met with the same generic construction worker looking guy, but I see from the little boxes (not face boxes) that I'm supposed to do something... What? I don't know, because apparently it's too much to ask for a Japanese video game to be in English, sheesh! I hit him a few times and accomplish nothing, so I begin moving around the stage and hitting things, because that's what you do: get angry, and punch a fucking barrel, it's good for you, like Niacin. And it does turn out turn out that punching barrels is the way to go, so yay! I'm starting to be able to guess what this bag of digital insanity is asking of me! I finish the stage and complete three objectives too! No clue what they were, but I'll have to guess it was pausing every thirty seconds to watch Mythbusters. Now that's a stage I can do any day!

And then the game freezes... I reload, and it says I haven't beaten the last two stages. I get to go back and do them again, yay! Just give me a moment or two to find my shotgun... No, not the system, this thing was $200.

Anyway, since I can't find a handy weapon to hit myself with, I go back and beat the previous two stages. It wasn't that hard to be honest, but I didn't get all of the same achievements, so I am down a panel or two. Back to the game.

It's another explosion stage! This time I'm pretty sure I recognize the icon for the stage. It's a plain black notebook with small words on it that I can't read, and I think that would be the Death Note, from the series Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi... I mean Death Note. Time to see what it has in store for me...

Ah, the series Death Note is one of my favorites, I must admit. Who can forget such famous characters as giant blond albino, and Piccolo? I remember when Kira first took out our favorite Namekian, and he simply spat out an egg as he was dying so he could come back and fight him again later, and then giant blond albino cried over his death... No, wait, I think that was the last time I had week-old chinese food (it has happened more than once, it will happen again, this I swear!). About the only thing I can say about this stage is that Piccolo summons L to help him, as we all remember from DBZ, and L, to aid his friends, sits at what appears to be a computer mainframe from 1963, since it takes up a giant portion of the screen. Aside from L being a jerk, I do manage to finish the stage, so all seems well for now.

Although I note that this stage has, by far, the most poison I've ever seen in one place, it's easily avoidable, and apparently I'm the only maladroit that runs into it. As a result, the one life I manage to lose was because of my own stupidity... yay stupidity!

Ah! Crazy furniture thief is back, and he has a migraine AND a missing tooth! This is obviously a sign of my wearing him down, and showing how he's loosing his grip on the world that doesn't involve me, and excuse my language here, PWNing him left and right. With such a massive headache, he does the only thing a reasonable person can; he opens another whirlpool/tornado to allow me to advance farther, so that I can beat up more of his minions. There is, however, another stage I haven't been to on this level, so let's check and see what it is!

The answer? Fighting Bobobo, Sakura, Nult and Yugi all at once... though only technically, since Nult, Sakura and Yugi are all the same person. No, it doesn't make any more sense if you play it. They're all P2, and switch back and forth like lightning so they can heal each other with various stage items while I'm struggling to find a damn banana. I do manage to beat the stage, and find that it opens two more stages! This means it'll be even longer before I get to finish this game! Just what I wanted!

I'm off to look for that shotgun, more tomorrow (if I can't find it)!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Flailthroughs - Jump Superstars! (Part 11)

A trip to the Barbie Dream Megalopolis in Jump Superstars.

And back we are to the world map. It seems that this city, while it slightly resembles something from Dragonball, is related to Generic Sports Manga, with its main character, Generic Kid. On top of this, the city seems to be Barbie pink, so I can only assume that this world is the result of some sort of evil mutation gone wrong, and a post-apocalyptic Barbian Society... if only manga was that normal. I enter the first battle in the Barbie Dream Megalopolis with hope that the football manga characters are more interesting than they look.

It was. I must add that this is apparently because the main characters in the series are Nult and the Stoner Kid from Shaman King, which I never knew. The battle seemed as though it should have been football related, it really did, since the stage took place in a football stadium, with platforms made out of footballs... From this, one might assume that the characters would have had something to do with football... Who knew? I'm also impressed by the bento boxes full of poison... seriously. I'm sure that they're supposed to generate whatever item might come to mind, much like the fruit pirate booty, but every time I crack one open I am met with a spray of little bottles of poison bent on my personal destruction. Japanese school girls don't play games when it comes to football, according to this game.

Once again, I am met by a stage that confuses me to no end. I am playing Nult this time, since I haven't used him in a while, and it turns out that my enemy is Sakura. Now, rather than her running off into a corner and crying about how she can't do anything (it's the truth) she is attacking me full force... Not too much trouble, but I can see from a counter in the corner of the screen that I am not supposed to kill her... What am I supposed to do? It turns out, I'm supposed to smash my head into treasure chests, and knock them into the wall. Thankfully, Nult's head is particularly useful for this task, but Sakura is pretty fast and has a bad habit of jumping in front of me and hitting the boxes... for this, she must die. I do manage to complete the stage, denying my enemy of fruit and starving them into a slow, painful death, and I am glad. I don't meet any of the other options for extra panels, but who cares? I starved a bitch.

I leave the Barbie girl in her Barbie world behind, and apparently walk across a lake, which makes sense as I am still a god. This battle appears to take place on a shore line, and is related to the Prince of Tennis manga... I don't know how many tennis matches actually take place on the beach, but I'm going to have to guess not many. Moreover, this doesn't look like a beach as much as a cliff, so this could be the most interesting match in ages.

Who knew Sasuke and the guy made of Swords from One Piece liked tennis so much? They must, because that's who I'm fighting. On top of this, they even seem to be summoning the characters from the tennis manga to back them up, so they must be good buddies. I seriously have no idea what the goal of this stage was, but I manged to finish it in spite of the lack of balls or rackets... Well ok, there were a lot of balls, but I was standing on them, and as a guy that kind of makes me uncomfortable, so I'm not going to talk about it... Don't judge me!

Onward to the next stage! Oh look at that! Our friends the fruit pirates have returned, and they have left behind their vast riches! This is just what I had hoped for, as I was feeling a bit of scurvy coming on. Seriously though, I know I keep mentioning it, but the fruit starts to get silly after a while. It explodes forth out of every barrel like some sort of citrus volcano, raining down on the unsuspecting player, ready to blind him with its deliciousness. Now I won't lie, I have been known to enjoy a... well, I'm not sure... it's either a lime, or a kiwi with a pillbox hat on, I can't tell. Either way, I'm sure they're delicious, but not enough to make me stop fighting someone to eat. Anyway, I suppose I should stop focusing on that and move on to the rest of the game... Perhaps next I'll fight some sort of giant fruit?

I'd have felt damn well psychic if that had been a stage where I fight Sasuke, but the guy in the suit from One Piece is pretty close in that department. The stage is baseball oriented, so characters from a Pirate manga are a must, and Bobobo... well, you can pretty much throw anything involving him in and it would make sense. Seriously, you could be battling in a giant cabbage and there would be nothing out of the ordinary for that manga, and I appreciate it about him. He's like the glue that binds this insanity into one cohesive lump of crazy, and without him this would make... well, a bit less sense, but still none worth mentioning.

Oh joy! Another, "take no damage" stage! Just what I wanted! and look! Jojo AND Luffy! TWO really fast characters, with really, really fast flurry attacks! What more could I ask for in a stage to drive me to the brink of suicidal madness? A floor made of lava? Fighting someone with massive amounts of long range attacks? A 30 kill requirement? Nope, this stage really has everything, and now I'm going to feel exceptionally dumb when I run into a stage like that. Yep... twenty-two tries... twenty-two tries, of me simply trying to avoid damage, and I manage to beat the stage... I need a break for now, or else I'm going to bite off my own tongue.

Take care gang, I'll post more tomorrow, if I haven't been committed yet!