Why I never finished: Gravity Rush

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I really hoped to finish this game. Even writing this now, I can’t help but feel bad. Despite everything good about Gravity Rush – the bad parts eventually became too difficult to ignore and became the deciding factor in forcing me to stop playing.

Like most games I never finish, Gravity Rush is not a bad game. It has something of a cult status due to its charm, and was obviously popular enough to get a sequel. The story it tries to tell is pretty interesting, and the protagonist, named Kat, is bursting with personality.

This game feels experimental, and it shows. The clunky controls, a repetitive and largely uninspired battle system, drags down what could have been a good game and made it mediocre.

Gravity Rush tells its story through a series of chapters. Every chapter begins with events playing out in a comic style panel. This was a really nice touch and I found it quite charming. While cynics may see it as cheap replacement for animated cut scenes, I think this style of presentation suits Gravity Rush to a tee. In addition, character dialogues are witty, and the reliance on character interaction keep things interesting. There was never a dull moment with Kat.

It’s unfortunate that the bad aspects of the game overshadow the good. One example which encapsulates my experience would be this:

I would be flying Kat around the city when she suddenly flies straight into the building. The camera would shift erratically,  forcing me to go through a series of manoeuvres to get her back on track – inducing a headache in the process. This problem also occurs during battle, where the player is expected to tightly manoeuvre around the battlefield. This can get extremely annoying if the enemy constantly dodges, forcing the player to stop upside down in mid-air and try again, hoping the enemy would stay still.

I’m a person who gets motion sickness if the FOV isn’t wide enough, or if the camera moves too fast, so the horrible camera and poor controls were a deal breaker for me. Seeing Kat spin uncontrollably in the air, or attack a constantly moving opponent can make me nauseous enough that it breaks the immersion.

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The main character,  Kat

There are also things I love about this game. The main character is one of the more interesting protagonists I’ve come across. Kat is the right combination of funny and sassy, unafraid to deliver her personal brand of biting sarcasm to idiots around her. Despite being a shifter – a term used in the game to describe those with the power to control gravity – I feel Kat is the most relatable even among the entire cast.

While the game’s controls are annoying and makes playing it difficult, one thing Gravity Rush nailed was how the player controlled gravity. What I enjoyed most in the game was having Kat fly over the city, an unforgettable experience bolstered by the ecstatic rush of being free and seeing buildings rush by in a blur.

Kat doesn’t lose health falling from extreme heights, and it merely inconveniences her. The quick travel mechanic in the game was something I rarely used, preferring to fly Kat to her destination instead of taking something as mundane as a train, or airship.

Overall, I might have finished the game if I wasn’t prone to bouts of motion sickness. But as it stands, torturing myself to finish ten more chapters doesn’t seem appealing, especially when I could be playing something else.

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PS Vita Ports: Risk Of Rain

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I’m always looking for games to add to my small, but darling library of vita games. It’s a sad fact that Sony has abandoned the handheld console outside of Japan. Despite that, I wouldn’t give up my vita for anything in the world. While it doesn’t have a strong library as say, the 3DS, it still has its share of great games which need to be played.

Another really good thing about the vita is that it has a decent library of indie titles. It’s more expensive than buying them for your PC, but that’s the price of portability.

Risk of rain is one such title that I’ve been going crazy over lately. I bought it when it first came out and didn’t play much of it, only unlocking a handful of what the game had to offer. I started playing it much more regularly this year and have finished the game several times over since then.

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Risk of rain isn’t a very demanding title. It runs great on my computer and fairly smoothly on the vita.

Something I’ve noticed is that the vita version feels significantly smaller, each generated level is easy to find your way around and you stumble along a generous amount of items on the way. It’s not that the game is easier, it just feels like the spawned items could be found with little effort.

During each different playthrough, I also felt it was easy to get more than ten drones within a small timeframe if you had enough coins. It wasn’t as easy for me on the pc version, which had me scouring the maps endlessly for the exact same thing. I guess they had to make concessions for the port since the vita is limited by its hardware.

In terms of content, the PC and vita versions are the mostly same. Same achievements, skills, items, nothing is cut from the original game. The only thing missing that affected me was the option that allowed me to zoom in.

One downside to this port, however, is the occasional frame rate drops. Risk of rain requires the player to hoard whatever items they can get their hands on and with different items come different effects.

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Some effects are very flashy, which by itself isn’t a big problem. The problem comes when you find yourself surrounded by enemies with large bosses spawning left and right.

The longer you play, the more difficult the game will be. Monsters that spawn after the half hour mark often feel like damage sponges. You can kill one and four more would pop up in their place, each more aggressive and tanky than before.

There were several times the game began stuttering when there were too many enemies on screen. It didn’t have a big effect on me but I found it annoying since it broke the immersion being a badass character slaughtering everything in their path.

There were times where an item’s effect would make the fps drop horribly, though it wouldn’t remain that way for long.

The ‘Happiest mask’ was one such item. I loved this item since it would spawn a ghost for each killed enemy which is a big help when dealing with a swarm of monsters while using a character who doesn’t have Area of Effect damage.

But whenever I killed a large amount of enemies, causing their ghosts to spawn, the game would inevitably lag for several seconds. Enough to make me annoyed but not enough to cause me grief.

Conclusion

I would recommend this port to those who liked the game on PC and want to have it on the go, but if you had to pick between the vita port and the PC version, I would highly recommend the PC one instead since it gives players a better experience overall.

Character Appreciation: Maho Hiyajo

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I thought I’d start something new for the blog in a segment I’m dubbing ‘Character Appreciation,’ which is basically what it means. Since I’m trying to hit three posts per month I thought it would be a nice addition to have small written pieces on characters I like.

There’ll be a number of major spoilers for Steins;Gate and Steins;Gate 0 here so if you’re planning to play either of these games I’d advise you to come back later. If you don’t care about spoilers then read on!

Maho Hiyajo is one of the main characters from the visual novel Steins;Gate 0. In the opening chapter of the story she bumps into Okabe Rintaro at a seminar where she gets mistaken for a grade schooler. After some hilarious back and forth banter, she’s revealed to be older than her appearance suggests and is actually there as an assistant to one of the professors making an appearance at the seminar.

As the game progresses, Okabe discovers that Maho was Makise Kurisu’s friend and colleague under the Institute of Neuroscience at Victor Chondria University.

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A defining thread in Steins;Gate 0 is how every major character is inevitably linked to Kurisu. Okabe is understandably distressed considering that he killed her in this timeline, the attempt to save her gone horribly wrong, but try as he might Kurisu’s shadow continues to haunt him.

Maho, like Okabe, is similarly haunted by her now deceased colleague, though in a different way.

I like how the friendly rivalry between Maho and Kurisu was written, and the parallel drawn between it and the supposed relationship of Antonio Salieri and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. As you know Maho’s brainchild is Amadeus a complex system that allows a user’s memories to be stored and then ‘grown.’ This is a piss poor explanation and more on the layman side so I apologize. But continuing on, months before Kurisu’s death, her memories were stored in the Amadeus system and has since evolved into its own entity. It is her, and at the same time isn’t.

All throughout the game Maho struggles with her feelings of inferiority and jealousy towards her friend. Before Kurisu arrived at the university Maho had been regarded as a genius and even prided herself as one. But once she realized that she’d never truly been one, she can’t help but feel as if she isn’t Kurisu’s equal.

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She does a quite a bit of self-reflection throughout the game, constantly reevaluating herself and thinking over their relationship to the point where it bordered on obsessive. But it was because of how frequently she fought to overcome these negative feelings that she became one of my favorite characters. At her core, Maho isn’t a bad person because despite her feelings of jealousy, she never takes it out on Kurisu.

One moment that really stuck with me even after I finished the game was when they struck up a tentative conversation and bonded over the same Mozart song they liked. That song was the catalyst for their friendship, and comes into play later in the game.

I think Maho’s willingness to examine her flaws with a critical eye is another reason why I like and admire her. She was the complete opposite of Okabe in that regard, considering he spent the majority of the game trying to run from reality.

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Kiryuu Moeka and Maho’s friendship in Steins;Gate 0 is another thing that came out of left field. Even in the world line the game takes place in, Moeka remains a rounder.

Given how Moeka’s personality is and her general disinterest for anything other than FB, the evolution in their relationship was shocking, with one route ending with Moeka sacrificing herself for Maho. Their friendship pretty much blindsided me because I never thought they had anything in common. It turned out they have good chemistry with one another, which made for a well written and developed relationship that added depth to both characters.

While her obsession with FB still exists, she also finds a friend in Maho. They bonded because of their similar feelings of inferiority and helped each other, not realizing that all they needed was to confide in someone similar. It was especially nice to see Moeka being happy for once. Her life pretty much sucks in every world line and while I know I should hate her for making Okabe’s life hell, it makes me happy to know that she gets to experience some measure of happiness, however fleeting it might be.

Overall, I think Maho is a splendid addition to the roster of characters and I look forward to seeing her again when I replay Steins;Gate 0!

Paprika – A thoughtful afterword

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Paprika is the type of movie most people would watch and go, “…huh?” It seems like a messy and convoluted movie at first glance, with bright colors and scenes that make less and less sense as the story trudges forward. But if one dares to peer into the eye of the storm, what they would find is ultimately – a layered but masterfully crafted story. Continue reading “Paprika – A thoughtful afterword”

Finally solved my horrible windows 10 .Net 3.5 error

God sometimes I hate trying new things. Windows 10 has so many bugs that its not even funny… But that aside, I finally managed to find a fix for the ridiculous error where .Net 3.5 can’t be installed. And if you game, you’d know that some games require it so if you can’t get it to work on your PC you’re basically fucked.

I managed to get it to download AND install properly after a week of googling and tearing my head out. Keep in mind that it may not work, but it doesn’t hurt to give it a try.

1. Uninstall Windows Update KB3199986

Go to programs and feature and click ‘View Installed updates‘ which can be found on the left. A list of installed windows updates should pop up. Scroll through the list or just search for KB3199986.

Click it. And then click uninstall, which will appear right beside the ‘organize’ button.

Keep in mind, the process will take quite some time, so don’t be alarmed if you see the progress bar getting stuck several times.

2. Restart your computer

Once you’ve uninstalled the windows update, restart your computer. It will take quite awhile so again, don’t worry. Wait until it turns on and proceed to the next step.

3. Go to windows update and download the latest update.

I hear cries of “wait, wut??” but trust me, just do this. This was what I did, and i guess reinstalling the update fixed the bug by itself. Wait for the update to finish downloading and then restart the computer again.

4. Download Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5 Service Pack 1

Find and download the .Net Framework as stated above. Link is here. I’ve tried installing other similar .net frameworks but funnily enough, this one managed to install – thus ending my problems. Make sure it is service pack 1 and not the standalone .Net 3.5.

Well, that’s all I did. I hope this works for anyone having the same problems. And Microsoft, please fix your shit. Now if you’d excuse me, I’ll be playing Paladins now.

Shit People Say to Anime Fans

I’m sure Anime fans know what I’m talking about. These seemingly innocent but terribly annoying comments that can come from almost anyone– Parents, Friends, Classmates, Cousins, or even your significant other. I can’t count how many times my friends and or family members have said things about Anime that made me want to somersault off the nearest 10 storey building. Continue reading “Shit People Say to Anime Fans”