The big find this week is the excellent Langrisser I & II. We discuss whether games are too hard with Nioh 2 and Neon City Riders. We buy the wife another game with a hidden object finder Hidden Through Time. And we complain about Sony’s presumptive censorship in Dead Or School.
Langrisser I & II
There is a weird instinct in life, as well as gaming, where people who claim they are experts are hesitant to admit they didn’t know something. I understand the instinct but come on, sometimes you manage to go through life and never hear of something. One may never have heard of Leif Garrett but that doesn’t mean they are not an expert on The Bay City Rollers.
This isn’t just a long-winded way to mention what a big Bard’s Tale fan I was or how I completed both King’s Field 1 and 2 (the original Dark Souls). It is also a way to explain how I have never heard of Langrisser before today. Not in any way. Not in passing, top ten list, or anything. Apparently there have been five of them on everything from the Sega Genesis to the Dreamcast.
What I find amazing to me about my lack of knowledge is that this game seems great. Langrisser is a fantasy tactical role-playing video game with a surprising amount of player choice. For goodness’ sake, you can choose to join the evil empire. Not since Dragon Age Origins have I seen an RPG with that level of choice.
Now none of this would matter if Langrisser was still playing exactly the same way it did in 1991. Fortunately, this is a proper remaster, not just a coat of paint. Even better it is a remaster that doesn’t erase what made the original so good (Looking your way Tomb Raider: Anniversary). Throw in proper tactical gameplay and various romance options and you have a winner.
Nioh 2 is a Dark Souls style game set in Medieval Japan (or some Japanese folklore ghost world, this is unclear to me.) Where you fight… well, everything.
On the plus side, Nioh 2 has a brilliant character creator with a ton of details. Nioh 2 also sports excellent graphics with a much more interesting and attractive setting compared to say the Dark Souls games or Bloodborne. And, of course, Nioh 2 has cats.
On the downside, I doubt I will see much of the game past the first miniboss or two. Like the original game, I am unsure I am willing to put the time in to Get Gud. I just find these games so punishing and with sometimes unintuitive controls and an occasionally wonky camera, I am unsure I would really enjoy the title. It is brilliant, but is it really fun?
Dead Or School
You know eventually I will break down and buy a Nintendo Switch. I have been a holdout since I have never owned a Nintendo console, so I do not have the nostalgia for Mario, Link and company.
In addition, I have no real use for a portable console. I am working from home for the foreseeable future so I don’t have a bus or train commute that would make a Switch ideal. Last I have a ton of games on my backlog from the Xbox, Ps4 and PC the last thing I need is even more games to throw on that pile.
But two things are making holding out harder. One is the new Animal Crossing game that seems perfect to scratch that stay at home under quarantine itch. The other is freaking Sony. For the last couple of years Sony has been on a censorship trip. Particularly for games from Japan. In other words, games with fan service not available on the Xbox One. Nintendo has been releasing the same games unmolested to their audience, however.
Dead Or School is exactly the kind of game Sony has been taking the hatchet to. Japanese school girls fight zombies in an Anime version of the Metro games done as a side scrolling beat em up. It has that silly the more damage your character takes the more clothes come off mechanic, and that kind of forward thinking gameplay undoubtedly will get Sony’s ire. So if I want my Japanese school girl zombie attack action, I may have to go the Nintendo route. (Or just play Onechanbara Bikini Samurai Squad or Onechanbara Z2: Chaos but I digress).
Dead or School has that wonderful over the top Japanese story and dialogue as the video below shows. It also has a game camera located somewhere in New Jersey, making it difficult to see the action. Outside of the fan service it is a pretty normal beat em up with some creative bosses.
Is it worth buying a Nintendo Switch for? Well, no. But if you are getting Animal Crossing and a portable Civilization VI anyway, not really that big a deal to add it to the cart.
Hidden Through Time
You know a lot of modern hidden object games have lost the plot. They are so chock full of fancy graphics, melodramatic stories, and other minigames they barely have a hidden object mechanic to begin with.
Hidden Through Time ditches the Gordon Lightfoot storylines and Thomas Kinkade graphics and gives us a version of Where’s Waldo you can play on your console. It is fun for what it is. It comes with a set of tools to make your own hidden object puzzles and share them with others (or vice versa) which extends the life of the game.
I have been on the lookout for games my non-gaming wife could play while under quarantine. Last week we picked up Syrup And The Ultimate Sweet. I picked up Hidden Through Time this week for her. Like last week’s game, simple controls and simple concept make it a good introductory game for non-gamers.
Neon City Riders
I hesitated to put Neon City Riders on this week’s games list. Like Nioh 2 above, the game is too hard for its own good. It’s an open world beat-em-up with poor directions and lots of areas you either can’t reach because you don’t have the required skill or can’t survive because you don’t have the required skill.
So how did this sneak on the list? Was it the cyberpunk esthetic that is getting more tired very passing week? (Cyberpunk 2077 needs to get here now). Was it the pixelated graphics that I always seem to complain about? Was it the fact the main character wears a hockey mask throughout?
Okay, it is the fact the main character wears a hockey mask throughout which gives me an excuse to talk about 2010’s Splatterhouse. If you haven’t played it, Splatterhouse is a 3d beat-em-up that I believe should be backwards compatible on the XboxOne. The main character is a rip-off of Jason, the main collectible are nude photos of your girlfriend, and the action could be charitably described as serviceable. Looking back, I really loved that game.
Ori and the Will of the Wisps
As I stated in my Xbox Game Pass Update for March 2020 Ori and the Will of the Wisps at least visually reminds me of one of those Trine games. Beautiful with saturated colors and on the Xbox One X with HDR. In addition, the soundtrack is once again above and beyond the norm. I listen to the soundtrack of Ori and the Blind Forest on a regular basis on Spotify, and I am looking forward to the soundtrack of Ori and the Will of the Wisps.
Gameplay is the only place where Ori and I don’t seem to see eye to eye. Some frustrating boss battles and platforming combined with swimming levels doesn’t exactly make me rush out to grab a controller. However, if this type of platformer is in your wheelhouse, this is an excellent choice.