Rant: Sailor Moon Opening

Okay, this was not the blog post that I had planned to work on today but whatever. I gotta get this off my chest. Why the FUCK did (and I’m just gonna guess here, feel free to comment if I’m placing my blame incorrectly) Viz Media change the theme song so drastically for Sailor Moon? This is really important! Listen to the Japanese opening

I don’t know what feeling you get off of this, but I get this kind of romantic Swan Lake, rock/romantic fusion, Phantom of the Opera feeling from it. I don’t even need to understand Japanese to get the meaning. I don’t even need to have watched the anime to understand the feelings. It has this wistful touch to it, as if the romance is fleeting. Like, you only get one night to be with the one you love and after the night has passed you’re sat there just reminiscing about what was and imagining what could have been, what should have been. It’s painful. Now let’s listen to what Viz Media did to such a treasure

I don’t want to say that it’s bad. It’s not bad. Standalone, it’s fine. There’s not much wrong with it. They picked an okay singer. Tolerable. There’s a pretty cool guitar solo. But it feels like it lost something. It feels like it lost the emotion from the Japanese version. Maybe it’s because the singer is much younger, and has lost that ‘matured’ timbre that I associate with the Japanese version.

The lyrics also seem to have taken a very distinct change. The Japanese lyrics, again, maintain this wistful feeling.

I’m just about to cry — moonlight
I can’t call you, either — midnight
But I have a simple heart, so what can I do?
My heart is a kaleidoscope.

I want to, but I can’t. I can’t stop myself from feeling this way. My heart is a kaleidoscope what does it even mean? That’s the point! A youth not understanding her feelings, so she has to find other ways to describe her feelings. Contrast that with the sort of battle-focused lyrics of the English version. Why. Why did you change the song from a beautiful soliloquy into some generic ‘power of friendship’ song?

My hypothesis and I don’t have anything to back this up is that to my knowledge they both aired on Toonami (which is where I watched it) around the same time. It might have been changed to sort of be ‘DBZ for girls’. Which is a damn shame if you ask me, Sailor Moon is far superior to DBZ. I said it. Come at me. While we’re at it, Sailor Mercury best sailor scout. Fite me irl.

But I’ve never read the manga, I didn’t watch the entire series. It was a villain of the week series to my recollection, similar to InuYasha? Maybe I should go back and watch the 200 episodes? Maybe not. I just appreciate good music.

So that’s my piece. Thanks for reading.

Artemis Hunt

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Rant: Sailor Moon Opening

Most Positive Reviews are Useless

This title is likely ironic coming from me, a critic that has reviewed several games both positively and negatively. The point of this post is to emphasize what makes a review useful and why most reviews, particularly the positive ones, are useless. This is another meta post that I’m making to elaborate on how I do reviews in response to feedback on Steam.

So the first question we need to ask ourselves is what is a review? A review is an evaluation of a particular work of art. Since the evaluation is done by an individual, these are often likened to opinion pieces, however there is a key difference. While each individual may disagree on how the art utilizes certain features, most critics should be able to agree to some degree or another what makes a particular quality good. For example, I think you’ll find nary a critic that says Microsoft Excel menu navigation is good, so if a game has Microsoft Excel menu navigation, expect that to come up in the review as a source of annoyance.

Reviews serve two major purposes. First, they are tools for communities to tell other members what to expect when they purchase a product. If I review a product and tell my friend that it’s good except for this one thing and my friend thinks that one thing will make the game unenjoyable for them, then they may not want to buy it. It allows me to save my friend some time and money. This is why the developers get into so much trouble when they start deleting reviews. They are violating the trust of the community. Secondly, they are tools for developers to learn how to make better games. One need not be a good developer to write a good review, but one absolutely must be a good critic to be a good developer. Being able to understand the failings of games is crucial to avoiding the usual pitfalls that make a game unplayable. Being able to understand why good games are good is essential to crafting one’s own good game.

What you should find (at least across my reviews) is that I talk about the components of a game and how I received them. Story, character, interface, map, combat, and anything else I can think of should all be mentioned in every single one of my reviews. Especially the more recent ones, as each review is “practice” and ideally I should improve as I write each review. While you’ll definitely find my opinions within the review (as I do write these to entertain and inform), my opinion is usually backed up by some kind of evidence. And this is why most positive reviews are useless.

Most positive reviews that I see on Steam are “Good game, enjoyed the story, nice work” or something to that effect. This is useless for purpose one, as no one knows why you enjoyed the story (and it is possible to express why without spoiling) and it’s useless to the developer because they don’t know what exactly it is that you liked. Maybe the author is trying to keep it short because people on the internet have the attention span of a goldfish, but you’re doing it wrong. Learning to write shorter reviews that cover the key components is difficult (and it’s something I’m practicing), but you still need to evaluate the game on its merits. Negative reviews don’t often have the same problem, as most people that review a game negatively complain about why they didn’t like the game. In these complaints, a negative review always offers advice on how to improve and also serve to help other buyers make an informed decision on whether they want to buy the game or not.

Positive reviews are also sometimes coloured by how much the user enjoyed the game. One of my recent reviews (at the time of writing) for Kingdom: New Lands likely falls under this category (but I did complain about stuff in it so eh?). This leads to the author sometimes overrating the game, instead of evaluating the game based on its merits.

When I buy games on Steam, I very rarely look at positive reviews. If I’m on the fence, I go straight down to the negative reviews and see what’s wrong with the game. I will still look at some positive reviews, but only the longer ones as these usually tell you the flaws within the game. I guess at the end of the day, what I’m saying is that short reviews with little to no explanation are useless, and positive reviews often fall into this category. When writing (or reading) a review, these short reviews should be avoided because they won’t help a buyer make a decision and they won’t help a developer on their next game.

Anyway, that’s my stitch. Thanks for reading.

Artemis Hunt

Most Positive Reviews are Useless

LiEat

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Steam Page

Wow, am I about to hand out another favorable review? Two in a row? I must be going soft. But it’s true, I did rather enjoy LiEat. I picked it up on sale during the anime sale and it has three LiEat games within it. So this review covers all three.

There are a lot of things that I have problems with when it comes to games. One of the biggest ones is ‘overstaying your welcome’. See, I don’t handle horrendously long games that well. Well… that might not be true. It’s probably better to say that developers don’t often make a long game a good one. I think this is driven by an industry standard in which long games = better games? Or perhaps you can charge more for a longer game, people might like to pay for a certain number of hours of playtime. But quite frankly, I think that’s a horrible justification for long games. That’s essentially saying that you made a game long to make the game long. It’s like padding on a woman, sure, it might make them seem more appealing. But at the end of the day you’re both disappointed. Ironically for the reason behind this game! Lying.

The game’s title is a very clever combination of the words ‘lie’ and ‘eat’. You will at some point in the game eat lies. Simple enough, right? Right. You play… well I don’t want to spoil the plot for this one so let’s just call them Dude and Efi. Efi is the dragon, she can eat lies. Dude is an information broker, but he seems to play detective. That’s where the lie-eating dragon comes in. You, the player, deduce what the lies are, and then eat them. You arrive at the scene. Something has gone down. You talk to everyone, gather clues, and then when you’re ready to do your deduction game, you’re given a few ‘lies’. Of the lies, there will be truths hidden. What this means is that you’ll have to use your notes and what the lies are saying to deduce which are actual lies and which are truths. You don’t want to eat the truth (apparently it tastes bad).

Combat is turn-based like every JRPG and their mum. But that’s not so bad because the combat doesn’t make up the bulk of the game. Combat is a fine method of progressing through a game, but it cannot carry a game. That’s where the rest of the game’s elements come together. LiEat has a magnificent aesthetic. It reminds me of Pokemon Gold and Silver era. It’s also kind of amusing when you realize how the art links together, but that’s probably just my gaming quirk. For instance, there’s a room with a giant eye in it. Really, it’s just two layers. A hole, and a background with an iris looking drawing on it. As you move through the room, the iris background moves with you, making it appear as though the eye is following you for creepy effect! Is that impressive? Not really. But it’s my blog and I’m going to squee over it because I think it’s awesome. The art style just really comes together. It has this Victorian feel to it… if I’m using that adjective properly. That header image? It’s not nearly representative of the game. Looks more like this

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Isn’t that art fantastic? And the music! The music is fabulous! The music really sells the theme. It’s classy, it’s silly, it’s spoopy, it’s whatever the tone needs it to be. And it’s amazing how I never noticed the transitions until I noticed the transitions. That’s not the way I meant to word that. What’s a better way to say this? I never noticed the transitions until it was apparent that the mood in the story had changed to fit it? Maybe the best way to say this is that I never noticed transitions. The music always fit the tone and you, the listener, could not distinguish when the tone changed because it’s just done that well.

The story is generally rather basic. You could likely tell how things were going to play out well in advance. And perhaps that’s the game’s intention. Each game (LiEat 1, LiEat 2, LiEat 3) started with some kind of storybook sequence. A myth, a dream, something like that. And you could tell how the dream applied when you started playing the game and talked to all of the characters to get a feel for the scenario that you were about to play. The dialogue is well-written, each of the characters are as interesting as they need to be for their involvement in the plot.

Of the three games, I think the second one was the one best made. The first one felt like the stretching of legs, to see if this game concept would work. The characters are so adorable how could this game concept not work? The deduction game in the first one is rather simple. I got the bad ending first because curious =(

The second game was where the writers really seemed to hit their stride. The setup was great, the characters were rather flaunty, and the deduction game (while still simple) felt more involved. It felt like more work had gone into it somehow. I don’t know if that’s true, but it’s how I felt. And Efi just seemed to be on her game for funsies the most in this one.

I don’t think the third game had a deduction game, and this might be why I rate it second. I tend to favor the third game more because it ties together the threads of the first two games, but it didn’t have a deduction game and the method to getting the good vs bad ending seems a bit too simple, which I’ll spoil because it’s that bad. To get the good ending you need to be a certain level before fighting the final boss. That’s it. That’s not what I want for my story endings! I want some choice that I made earlier in the game to be more significant! But the story itself reveals so much about the characters in the game. And I was more invested in the characters in these games anyway. So I rate three below two for gameplay, but three above two for story.

The thing that wraps this up in a nice little bow is that it’s wrapped in a nice little bow. The game is as long as it needs to be. This is the way I like my games. Show up, get in, get out. It didn’t drag itself out for the sake of runtime. It didn’t drag itself out enough to make me lose interest in the characters. It had three short stories that it wanted to tell. It told these three short stories in a timely manner. And for that I applaud it. It’s self-contained, a lesson that I think more developers should take to heart.

At the end of the day, I highly recommend this game. At the time of writing it’s $2.39 on Steam. That’s like $0.80 per short story. It’s worth it, I promise you.

Artemis Hunt

LiEat