The narrative of Ne no Kami: The Two Princess Knights of Kyoto has a number of different threads, all of which intertwine with one another to create a rather compelling whole.
We have the very personal story of the protagonist Len, as she attempts to come to terms with a new world that is vastly different from everything she has ever known. We have the story of humanity’s hidden struggle to protect the world against horrors that most people will never know about. And we have the story of lifelong feelings of love that, although based on a misunderstanding, have grown into something genuine that transcends traditional societal norms.
There’s a lot going on, in other words — even though the work as a whole is a single-route kinetic novel with no choices for the player to make. In many ways, though, that’s an entirely appropriate structure for the story Ne no Kami is trying to tell: more than anything else, it’s a tale of being swept along by fate, seemingly unable to deviate from the plan the Universe has for you despite your best efforts to find alternative solutions.
Continue reading Ne no Kami: Love, Innocence and Ayakashi
Nier is possibly one of Square Enix’s most misunderstood games.
Released to a rather lukewarm critical response back in 2010, this Cavia-developed PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 action RPG, directed by Taro Yoko, is actually a fascinating game that is well worth your time and attention — so long as you have a bit of patience to deal with its idiosyncrasies.
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: Birds Suddenly Appear Every Time You Are Nier
In this episode of the GameCast, we talk about the prevalence of “auteurs” in Japanese game development, NepNep in VR and one of the bleakest anime series I’ve ever seen.
Music, as ever, is the work of MusMus, and the awesome retro font is by Style64. Other music in this episode remains the copyright of its respective owners — though Kaiji fans may be interested to know that the complete soundtrack is available via archive.org: CD1 and CD2.
If you’re having trouble running the browser version, take a look at the TyranoBuilder FAQ, which explains how to run browser games locally — though be aware there can be some security risks involved, so only follow its recommendations when you want to run a browser-based episode of the GameCast.
Download for Windows (113MB)
Download for Mac (117MB)
Download for Browser (86MB)
As I’ve said previously, if/when I have a bit more money floating around, I’ll sort out some proper hosting for browser versions so you don’t have to go through this process. If you’d like to help out with that — or if you just want to show your support for what I’m doing on the site in general — please consider making a pledge to my Patreon.
If you’re new to the GameCast, start from the beginning to find out more about the characters and what this is all about!
This week I wanted to return to one of my favorite narrative-based games of all time, Freebird Games’ To The Moon, which is also an interesting discussion point from the perspective of presentation, gameplay and emotional engagement.
In To The Moon, you take on the role of Eva Rosalene and Neil Watts, two doctors with a super-cool if rather morbid job: granting dying patients’ final wishes. They do this by manipulating the memories of the patient so they feel like they have accomplished the thing they always wanted to achieve. Unfortunately, the nature of the procedure is such that the patient normally dies (happily) shortly after they have “achieved” their goal; consequently, it is only used on those who have no hope of recovery.
[Editor’s Note: To The Moon isn’t a Japanese-developed game, but it draws enough inspiration from JRPGs, visual novels and “hybrid” titles such as Corpse Party to still be well within MoeGamer’s field.]
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: I Will Fly You to the Moon and Back
Shoot ’em ups are one of the oldest types of video game, having been around pretty much since the birth of the medium. So in order to stand out in this modern era, a new shmup needs to either do what it does really well… or do something unusual.
Triangle Service’s Minus Zero, originally released as part of the Xbox 360 compilation Shooting Love 200X in 2009, opts for the latter approach. It’s one of the most unusual shoot ’em ups out there — and one of the most addictive.
It’s a completely abstract game, consisting entirely of geometric shapes accompanied by a background and soundtrack that increase in complexity as you progress, but its main twist on the usual formula is that the only weapon you can use is a “lock-on” similar to that used in Sega’s Rez.
Continue reading Shmup Essentials: Minus Zero
While Nintendo platforms were very much the spiritual home of JRPGs in the 8- and 16-bit eras, in more recent times most of those games have jumped ship to Sony platforms.
This isn’t to say there’s a complete lack of JRPG goodness on Nintendo platforms, however; the 3DS has some solid titles, the original Wii had its three famous “Operation Rainfall” titles Xenoblade Chronicles, The Last Story and Pandora’s Tower — and the Wii U has Xenoblade Chronicles X.
Xenoblade Chronicles X is, it’s fair to say, a fairly different beast from its predecessor, and consequently it wasn’t to everyone’s taste. However, even if you didn’t enjoy it, it’s hard to deny that it’s a truly remarkable game, and a highly noteworthy entry in the Wii U’s library.
Continue reading Wii U Essentials: Xenoblade Chronicles X
One of the best things about the visual novel medium is its ability — and willingness — to tackle things that are outside the normal remit of “video games” as a whole.
In the case of Ne no Kami: The Two Princess Knights of Kyoto, a visual novel from small, independent Japanese circle Kuro Irodoru Yomiji, there’s a certain degree of “crossover” in terms of subject matter. We have the sort of “plucky young heroes tackle otherworldly horrors” angle that we’re most used to seeing from more conventional video games, but at the same time we also have some sensitively handled exploration of romantic relationships, disparate cultures colliding and young people trying to find their place in the world.
Of particular note is Ne no Kami’s exploration of traditional Japanese and Shinto mythology, an angle which it takes great pain to point out is only its author’s interpretation rather than “fact”. But this doesn’t make it in any way “invalid”, of course; mythology, by its very nature, doesn’t have any “factual” basis in the first place, and has only survived so long by being reinterpreted and passed on across thousands of years.
Before we investigate the game’s story in detail, then, it behooves us to have a general understanding of the mythology on which it is based.
Continue reading Ne no Kami: Exploring Shinto Myths and Legends