Category Archives: One-Shots

One-off articles about games, cultural phenomena, anime and anything else that isn’t getting the Cover Game treatment.

My Earliest Visual Novel Memories

Although it was quite a few years ago, I have some vivid and fond memories of my first experiences with what I now know to be visual novels.

I commonly attribute my present love of visual novels to 2012’s Katawa Shoujo, but in fact my earliest encounter with the medium was some years earlier. This was back when I first discovered an interest in Japanese popular media in general thanks to a combination of promotional Manga Video VHS cassettes my brother brought home on one occasion, and the discovery that I really liked JRPGs thanks to Final Fantasy VII.

Those early visual novels had a pretty strong impact on me, and I was delighted to discover that there are ways to play them once again on modern machines — more on that later.

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Everybody’s Golf: First Impressions

I’ve been intrigued by golf games since Leaderboard on the Atari 8-Bit, and I sank a fair few hours into Microprose Golf on the Atari ST, wowed by its then-revolutionary 3D polygonal courses.

However, the games that truly cemented my love of this genre of games — although not the actual sport itself, which I find impossibly difficult to play and rather tedious to watch — were Camelot’s Mario Golf on the Nintendo 64, and Bottom Up’s Tee Off on Dreamcast. I didn’t play the Everybody’s Golf series on the early PlayStations — my first encounter with it was the Vita game — but I’m certain it would have appealed to me, because it tickled those same happy places that Mario Golf and Tee Off did by providing friendly, accessible and surprisingly fast-paced arcade-style golf action.

With that in mind, then, let’s take a look at the new PS4 installment, the latest in the line of long-running series to ditch numerical suffixes and subtitles in favour of just being called what it is.

Everybody’s Golf, then.

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Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed: Driving Into Dreams

There have been a number of attempts to dethrone Nintendo’s Mario Kart over the years, but none of them have been successful, at least in the multiplayer sphere.

There is one aspect of Mario Kart that has pretty consistently sucked over the years, though, and that’s the single-player offering. Offering little more than predefined Grand Prix championships, one-off races or time trials even in the most recent installments, Mario Kart has always struggled to provide anything of real substance for the solo player. Which is fine, as the series has always been known for being best experienced with at least one friend, right from its inception in the 16-bit era.

This has, however, left a decent-sized gap in the market for other developers to come along and offer more robust solo experiences in kart racing titles. And one game that succeeds admirably in this regard is the cumbersomely titled Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed from Sega.

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Duolingo: A Daily Way to Practice Your Japanese

Many Japanese video game, anime and manga enthusiasts have probably considered learning the native language of their favourite entertainment at some point… but it’s a daunting prospect.

The fact you have to learn two new phonetic alphabets (hiragana and katakana) plus a whole swathe of pictograms (kanji) that represent various concepts or parts of speech means that it’s not a simple case of just jumping in and learning new words for things. You have to learn a completely new way of reading and writing, too.

The potential rewards are great, though, since learning Japanese allows you to access a whole host of entertainment that doesn’t get localised. And with the region-free nature of most modern computer and gaming systems coupled with international Internet shopping, importing games, DVDs, Blu-Rays and manga is trivially easy today.

So where do you start? Well, there are all sorts of ways you can tackle this challenge, but the new iOS and Android-based Japanese course from free language learning organisation Duolingo is as good a place as any to get your studies underway.

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Why Gal*Gun VR Needs a PSVR Version

We’ve known that Gal*Gun VR has been in development for a while, but Inti Creates surprised everyone yesterday with a sudden worldwide release… but only on Steam, for Vive and Oculus devices.

While the Windows PC market certainly has a lot of early adopters of virtual reality devices, it’s hard to deny that Sony’s VR solution, PlayStation VR, has proved to be a considerably more practical and affordable means for people to get involved with this new medium.

Which is why it’s so surprising that, according to Inti Creates, there is no PlayStation 4/PSVR version currently in development. This seems like a big mistake.

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VR and the Third Coming of Lightgun Shooters

Light-gun shooters are, as you’ll know if you read the Gal*Gun Double Peace coverage from last year, a venerable genre, dating back to the very earliest electronic games.

They are, however, also a genre that has fallen by the wayside over the years, thanks partly to changing trends in gaming but also due to significant changes in display technology — most notably the change from the flickering, interlaced images of CRT TVs and monitors to the stable, constant displays of today’s flat panels; a change which meant old-school light-guns no longer worked.

Light-gun games have remained popular in arcades, however, since they tend to be large, “showcase” machines that are immediately impressive to visitors, and the advent of motion controllers with the Wii (and, to a lesser degree, the PlayStation Move) brought about a half-hearted renaissance for the genre at home, albeit pointing a remote-like device at the screen wasn’t quite the same as fervently gripping a plastic weapon in your hands.

With the advent of affordable virtual reality solutions, however, the light-gun shooter is well and truly back, and more fun than ever.

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Outrun 2006: Gone, But Not Forgotten

Ah, OutRun. The quintessential “Sega blue sky” series… and one that has kind of fallen by the wayside a bit since the expiry of Sega’s license with Ferrari.

After listening to a bit of the soundtrack to the upcoming Senran Kagura: Peach Beach Splash and thinking “gosh, this sounds a bit like early 2000s Sega music, I feel like playing some OutRun” I decided to… well, play some OutRun.

Specifically, I decided to play some OutRun 2006: Coast 2 Coast. And yep, it’s still a great game.

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