From the Archives: Embracing the “H”

Sex.

Yes, that was entirely a cheap trick to get your attention, but it’s also the subject of today’s column.

There are some interesting and varied thoughts about sex in games out there, but it’s a subject that still remains largely taboo for many developers, publishers and even critics. It’s also a subject in which Eastern and Western approaches and philosophies differ greatly, and it makes for some fascinating discussions.

So let’s talk about sex, specifically with regard to visual novels.

This article was originally published on Games Are Evil in 2013 as part of the site’s regular READ.ME column on visual novels. It has been edited and republished here due to Games Are Evil no longer existing in its original form.

Continue reading From the Archives: Embracing the “H”

Shmup Essentials: Gundemonium Recollection

Any self-respecting gamer knows that if you really want to impress someone with your dexterity and prowess, you don’t fire up a Souls game, you fire up a bullet hell shmup.

Notorious for their screen-filling bullet patterns that seemingly demand superhuman reflexes to navigate, bullet hell (or, to give them their more “proper” name, danmaku) shoot ’em ups are a frightening prospect to get involved with. But you might be surprised at quite how approachable some of them are.

One such example of a danmaku shmup that is both accepting to genre newcomers and monstrously challenging to veterans is Gundemonium Recollection from Japanese doujin circle Platine Dispositif, originally localised for PS3 and PC by Rockin’ Android. It’s a game that isn’t afraid to slap you about a bit, but also a good place to familiarise yourself with some conventions of the genre.

And, well, it’s just a really good game to boot, too.

Continue reading Shmup Essentials: Gundemonium Recollection

MeiQ: Introduction and History

First-person, grid-based dungeon crawlers have, over the years, become the place to go for those who like hardcore, mechanics-driven, combat- and exploration-centric role-playing games.

Often de-emphasising narrative in favour of deep customisation, challenging encounters and devious level design, the dungeon crawler has gone from strength to strength over the last few years in particular, but also remains a subgenre that is notoriously difficult to get into.

Its with this in mind that Idea Factory and Compile Heart developed MeiQ: Labyrinth of Death (or Death Under the Labyrinth as it was known in Japan) — it’s designed to be accessible and enjoyable even to newcomers, yet incorporate the elements of the genre that longstanding fans enjoy so much. And it’s very successful at what it does.

So how did we get here?

Continue reading MeiQ: Introduction and History

Puzzler Essentials: Puyo Puyo Tetris

Puyo Puyo Tetris is cause for great celebration, particularly for those of us who have been missing certain aspects of “the good old days” of gaming, whenever those might have been in your personal opinion.

Why is it noteworthy? Well, numerous reasons: it’s one of the few Puyo Puyo titles to have made it West without significant modifications or complete rebranding; it’s a reinterpretation of Tetris that doesn’t suck (EA and Ubisoft, pay attention); and perhaps most importantly, it’s a standalone puzzle game that not only isn’t a microtransaction-riddled, play-throttling mobile phone game with infuriating touch controls, it also got an actual, honest-to-goodness physical release. In fact, in the case of the PlayStation 4 version, the physical release is, oddly, the only way to get hold of a copy.

It’s also an absolutely cracking game, so let’s take a closer look at what it offers to puzzler aficionados.

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From the Archives: Shadow Hearts – A Classic Series from the PS2 Era

Back in the PS1 and PS2 eras we were very much enjoying a Golden Age across a variety of different game genres, but many people regard this as a very special time for the JRPG in particular.

This period in gaming history gave birth to some truly “timeless” and gloriously experimental titles which remain immensely entertaining today, despite their obvious technical limitations.

Several such examples can be found in the Shadow Hearts series, a collection of games that sound completely batshit crazy on paper, but which actually turn out to be some of the finest role-playing games I’ve ever had the pleasure to enjoy.

This article was originally published on Games Are Evil in 2012 as part of the site’s regular Swords and Zippers column on JRPGs. It has been republished here due to Games Are Evil no longer existing in its original form.

Continue reading From the Archives: Shadow Hearts – A Classic Series from the PS2 Era

MoeGamer: The Third Birthday

Somehow, I only remembered recently that I actually share a birthday with this little corner of the Internet.

Sure enough, if you check the first ever post on here (complete with old-style Midori and Yumi) you’ll see that it was published on April 29, 2014. That’s three full years of this site being in existence, after it launched on my thirty-third birthday. And while it hasn’t been three years of constant content — the regular posting schedule is something I’ve only introduced relatively recently, beginning with the introduction of Cover Games around this time last year — it’s still quite an achievement in the cutthroat world of “writing about games”.

MoeGamer is something I’ve come to do simply because I enjoy it. But it originally came about as a result of the state of the modern mainstream commercial games press — and how apparently there wasn’t a place for someone like me in it any more, despite working in the field having been a lifelong dream.

So let’s look back at how MoeGamer came to be, why it exists now and why it’s important to me personally.

Continue reading MoeGamer: The Third Birthday

From the Archives: Reading Deeper into Magical Diary

I realize I’m being terribly unorthodox here, but after playing the subject of last week’s column a little more, I feel the urge to talk about it for the second week in a row.

And this time I’m going to get spoilery, so those of you who have not yet played Magical Diary and are intending to do so may wish to look away now.

Today we’re going to examine the character of Damien and the protagonist’s relationship with him, because this is by far one of the most interesting things about Magical Diary’s magical high school drama.

This article was originally published on Games Are Evil in 2012 as part of the site’s regular READ.ME column on visual novels. It has been republished here due to Games Are Evil no longer existing in its original form.

Continue reading From the Archives: Reading Deeper into Magical Diary

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