Sunday, April 27, 2008

Mushihimesama Original 1CC - 19,658,833


Not that big a jump, but enough to get me to 8th place on the Cave-STG board. I was trying to finish with two or three lives in reserve, but I have decided to play for the clear in Maniac. I'll probably go back to this at a later date as I would really like to get the no miss clear.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

STG game fuel - UCC coffee


Growing up in Seattle, there were a lot of Asian markets and I got use to snacking on rice crackers and shrimp chips, while my sister Mary ate through the entire catalog of Pocky. I have a lot of fond memories of Uwajimaya, a Seattle based Asian grocery with their bizzare commercials, awesome selection and authentic feel and miss those salad days.

A few weeks back, my mother was in town and we headed out to our Asian Market outside of Chicago and I was immediately transported back to my youth, walking through isles full of food I couldn't pronounce the names of, looking for the a new, tasty snack. The find of the day came later when I hit the refrigerated section and found my favorite drink - UCC Coffee.

It's basically iced coffee with milk in an impossibly heavy can, but the flavor is awesome and gives a you a good shot of caffiene and sugar, perfect for those long sessions at the Astro City with Ketsui or Mushihimesama plugged in.

I pretty much bought out the stock of UCC and also picked up some Mr. Browns Blue Mountain and Iced Coffee varieties, but UCC is still the best. Fantastic stuff for sure.

Ketsui high score #3


Although the actual high score this time around didn't beat my old score by much, its where I got to that was important - stage 4, just before the mid-boss, for a new high score of 39,378,336.

This is the farthest I have gone in the game on 1 credit and while it certainly isn't a major accomplishment by community standards, it feels great. The fourth stage has routinely kicked my rear end and I have been playing a few times a day, credit feeding through stages 4 and 5 to try and develop some patterns and I think I have started to put a solid run together.

I was super excited when I beat the stage 3 end boss and I got to stage 4 with one bomb and one life in reserve, but I was really too cautious and didn't push towards the top of the screen in a few places I knew I should have, making the bullet dodging at the bottom of the screen that much harder.

I'm hoping to be able to get to stage 5 in a week or three.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Mushihimesama Maniac high score #2


After 1CCing Mushi Original last week, I have been bouncing back and forth between Ultra and Maniac, with Ultra being zero fun for the time being as I tend to have to bomb or just die every ten seconds. Maniac, on the other hand, is a supremely excellent game and certainly the sparkling jewel of the pcb.

Maniac is more Cave-like in its presentation, with more, but slower bullets, making it much more a bullet hell/bullet dodging-type of game - and it is very, very enjoyable.

I have stages 1 and 2 down pat, but I'm not really working the point pressing on two like I should, but I'll worry about that later. Stage 3 still has me bombing a few times as things tend to catch me off guard, but on this run, I made it to stage 4 with three lives and felt like I read the boards right and made the right moves to get there rather than have a few gimmes and lucky turns.

I ended this run at 39,497,146 and I was pretty happy with it. I almost made it to the end of the 4th stage, but I got caught up in the 3 crossing centipedes at the end of the level and lost my last life. I'll be playing this one over the weekend and working on a 1CC for the next few weeks.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Yakuza - soap opera plot x modern day Japan x RPG x brawler


I had heard about this game on the 1UP podcast - which I am really into - and they really hyped it up to be a great RPG with a kind of GTA 3 feel to it and they were absolutely right. This is a hybrid RPG for sure, a kind of brawler, kind of adventure game mix and with an amazing story and very good voice acting (Mark Hamil and Michael Madsen).

The game takes place in modern day Japan and the city is really impressive right down to the licenced liquor (Ballentine, Bowmore), Japanese noodle and food stands and Sega Arcade complete with Japanese candy cabs.


Few games delve into the soap opera style of story telling with any success and Yakuza certainly gets it right. The plot is complex as are the relationships, but none more so than your surrogate brother and surrogate sister who are the main focus of the plot. I won't give anything away here, but there is also a long lost sister, her child, 10 billion yen that's stolen from the mob and a homicide detective turned organized crime cop that all tie together with more twists and turns than downtown Tokyo's city streets.

I'm only five or so hours into the game and I'm hooked. I'll be playing this 'till its done.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Mushihimesama Original 1CC - 18,937,990


I've been working at Mushi for the better part of two weeks and tonight it all came together in a glorious 1CC - my first Cave 1CC - on Mushihimesama Original, ending the game with one life in reserve, with an ALL score of 18, 937,990.

I had been practicing with the 'W' shot type since I started playing for the clear and just last night, I tried the 'S' shot type for the first time and found that the extra speed and shot power were excellent compliments to someone who knows the stages well, so I gave it a few tries and then called it a night after about two hours of play.

Tonight, after about 7-8 credits with the 'S' shot type, I got to the end boss with three lives in reserve and it was pretty much a bomb fest as I really wanted the clear, points be damned. I know the end bosses patterns, but I really didn't want to loose the chance for the clear as I tried to work on points. Time enough for that later.

I may take a break from this for a while and keep at Ketsui, or try for the 2-all in Kingdom Grandprix, but I'm also really looking forward to getting Mushihimesama Futari 1.5 or possibly Deathsmiles in the next few months, so we'll see what demands more of my attention.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Persona 3: 80+ hours and still going! (but not for long)


I have just over 85 hours into Persona 3 and I cannot believe how much I am enjoying the last month (NOTE: all time references in this post are in-game time). It moved forward slowly in December, though I'm sure it was so that you could concentrate on leveling up and making the fateful decision come January 1st, but it just seemed slow. I feared that the end game would be all about grinding with weak enemies and repetitive levels and the game would lose me when it should have been at its best.

Well, January has been all fun. In fact, I played until 11:30 last night and just couldn't focus on the screen any longer, so I had to give up and retire for the evening. I climbed to the top of Tartarus in 12 days after January 1st, which, considering you had to go through 5 (!) bosses, seemed to me to be the end of the fun Tartarus battles as my party seemed pretty well powered up.

I left Tartarus, a little regretful that there would be no more dungeon exploration and tough, new enemies to deal with - and lo and behold, there is another door! I saved and went in, not sure what to expect, but it turns out to be another 10 floors of Tartarus with VERY hard enemies that give you loads of experience. I huge smile spread across my face while visions of the Via Infinito from Final Fantasy X-2 ran through my head. This is the stuff I love!


For three days, I kept entering the new door and fighting a battle or two and leaving, trying to research all of the enemies on the floors and run from the hardest ones. Sometime I would get wiped out, other times, I would get 10K+ exp and watch my characters level up every battle. Truly addictive.

I am now four days from entering the final battle and I'm pretty excited. I have four different saves throughout the month to make sure I can go back and level more in necessary, but my I'm at level 91 currently and most of my party is at level 85 or better, so I think I'll be tough enough for the end battles.


I have also maxed out a ton of the relationships in the game, including Yukari, who (spoiler) professes her love for you once you reach level 10 of the Yukari social link. This stuff was actually really fun and for a grinding fan, with some of the same elements that make level grinding and dungeon exploring fun, namely rewards for time spent working on them. Being able to to fuse Personas and add lots of exp to them is fun and helps create that specialness that attention to detail and level grinding give you.

I have also collected a few other RPG's while I have been working on Persona 3 and I'm looking forward to tearing into those, namely Disgaea 1 & 2, Yakuza, Magna Carta and Grandia Extreme, as well as Crisis Core - Final Fantasy VII for the PSP (a recent purchase, if you didn't see the Patapon post), which I have started and I'm already enjoying, even if I am only ten minutes into the game. I even had my girlfriend Linda play through the opening battle to see the cinematics, which are Advent Children/Spirits Within-quality.

I'll most likely finish the game in a day or so (in real time) and I'm going to pick up FES without question. This game is really masterpiece and has kept me interested all the way. Great pacing (for the most part), level building, Persona fusing systems and elements that break the traditional RPG mold really make it a tremendous game worthy of the 80+ hours you'll need to invest to finish it. Highly recommended.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Patapon: electronic drum circle


If you haven't heard yet, Patapon is a very unusual and addicting combination of a rhythm game and an SRPG. Think Fire Emblem meets Rock Band, but only with fewer buttons and no clunky peripherals. Like a drum circle on a college campus, the rhythms are strangely addicting and somehow draw you in, hyponitic and inviting, primal and exciting. But, unlike a drum circle, there are no smells of unclean hippies and 'art students' to have to struggle through.

To continue this weak analogy to its end, this game is as polished and clean as you could hope for with simple and addicting gameplay somewhat like a puzzle game. The battle system is based on tapping out rhythms using the face buttons and then your Patapon army reacts accordingly, depending on what kind of combinations you use. Being a big Fire Emblem fan, I enjoy a good SRPG and also being a Rock Band fan, I like the simplicity of a rhythm game, so I had a feeling this would be up my alley, especially when Shane Bettenhausen of 1UP talked so highly of it and we seem to have some of the same tastes when it comes to RPG's.

When you are not in battle, you reside in the Patapon village, which allows you to create new Patapons of differing types as well as a host of other features. One standout is that unlike the first Fire Emblem for the GBA, you control where you want to go on the map, allowing you to repeat hunting missions to build you army if you aren't tough enough to take on the task, or if you want some time to get use to new Patapon commands. It's this small sense of freedom that adds a seriously important +1 to the game.

I've only put in about 2 hours of play and I'm really enjoying it so far. It's fun and fairly simple tactically at the beginning, while still being enjoyable, which is a hard balance to strike.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Crystal Castles: 1st completed game


I couldn't complete a game during the competition, so it stands to reason that the first time I play my machine at home, I finish a game of Crystal - the FIRST game I have ever completed in fact!

I had been struggling with 10-1 as I rarely got there, trying to work earlier patterns, which usually left me without enough lives to see the last stage. But, at the competition, I refocused and worked on completing boards quickly, but safely and carried that over on my home games, and viola!

I reached 10-1 with three lives and was so excited that as the dancing Berthilda's did their thing leading me to the next stage, I called my roommate George in and told him I was about to finish a game of CC. I swept the lower left corner perfectly and made a flawless transition to the upper part of 10-1, avoiding the skeleton and getting all the gems rather quickly, I zipped to the bottom and died on the steel ball. Once I respawned, I cleared the bottom portion and went to the right square and swept down the streak of gems, expecing the game to end...and nothing! I had left ONE gem in the bottom square, just to the right of the cauldron. I got killed again while I sat in disbelief, trying to look for the gem I missed and then died really stupidly when I respawned, trying to dodge the ball. I snagged the gem quickly after that and ended the game with a 110K+ time bonus (laughable) and 10K for my one life, so not a tremendous score, but it is still a finished game.

After talking with Mark Alpiger, the former wr holder this evening, I told him my goal was to get an 850K+ score. Mark, having seen some of my patterns and knowing what I was likely to do, told me it was totally possible if I worked on getting some of the gemeaters on the 8 and 9 boards and sped up a bit to max out the time bonus at around 130K. Each life at the end of the game gets you a 10K bonus as well, so I could have hit 800K if I had moved a bit quicker and not wasted three lives on 10-1.

I'll be working on this game for a while and it really never seems to get old. I think it may be my favorite classic game.