Puzzler Essentials: Tropical Liquor

For many of you reading this, the words “erotic puzzle game-cum-dating sim with art by Sayori” will doubtless be enough to convince you that Tropical Liquor is worth a shot.

For those less familiar with Sayori’s work — or those who simply prefer to think very carefully about every £7.19 purchase they consider making — today is all about taking a look at this unusual game, and why it’s worth your time.

Before we go any further, let’s get two things out of the way. Firstly, no, it’s not a HuniePop clone. And second, yes, it does have 18+ content, available via a free official patch from publisher Denpasoft. With all that out of the way, let’s go on vacation!

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The Case for “Adults Only” Ratings

It was announced earlier today that the upcoming dungeon crawler Omega Labyrinth Z would be refused classification by the Video Standards Council in the UK, despite the game already having successfully attained a PEGI 18 rating.

The VSC’s comments on the matter note that the game’s “style is such that it will attract an audience below the age of 18” and that “there is a serious danger that impressionable people, i.e. children and young people viewing the game, would conclude that the sexual activity [in the game] represented normal sexual behaviour.” It concluded by noting that the game “has the potential to be significantly harmful in terms of social and moral development of younger people in particular”.

Okay. Omega Labyrinth Z is a game with a significant lewd component. And, as with many Japanese games, visual novels and anime — including those with lewd components — it is set in a school-like environment, which is where the majority of the VSC’s complaints come from. But, as ever, what essentially amounts to “ban this sick filth” represents an oversimplification of the issue.

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Xenoblade Chronicles 2: Violence Doesn’t Solve Everything

One of the key ways many people like to distinguish the stereotypically Eastern and Western approaches to role-playing games is via non-combat mechanics and progression.

It’s fair to say that, as we’ve already discussed, many role-playing games from Japan place a strong focus on combat both as a core aspect of gameplay and the central aspect of their overall progression. You can contrast this strongly with something like an Elder Scrolls game, which still involves combat at times, but, depending on how you choose to play it, can also place a strong focus on crafting, spellcraft, stealth, exploration and all manner of other aspects.

Xenoblade Chronicles has, since the first installment of the subseries, always been about something of a fusion between the linear, narrative-focused nature of Japanese games, and the more open, flexible, “emergent” gameplay of Western titles. And this tradition is well and truly intact in Xenoblade Chronicles 2.

Continue reading Xenoblade Chronicles 2: Violence Doesn’t Solve Everything

Xenoblade Chronicles 2: Combat Complexity Without Chaos

Role-playing games, by their very nature, tend to deal in abstract representations of reality.

The exact way in which they do this varies somewhat from title to title — and significantly between typically Eastern and Western approaches — but one challenge developers of this type of game always have to confront is exactly how complex they can get away with making their games.

Xenoblade Chronicles 2 strikes a good balance, with none of its individual mechanical systems being dauntingly complex by itself… but its sheer number of different interlocking parts create an experience that is extremely satisfying to learn, explore and master. Today we’re going to look specifically at how you fight in the game.

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Waifu Wednesday: Nia

Xenoblade Chronicles 2 is a game practically overflowing with top-tier waifus, so it’s almost impossible to know where to start celebrating them.

While it might seem obvious to immediately focus on leading ladies Pyra and Mythra (aka Homura and Hikari in the Japanese version) these characters are, in many ways, “the face of Xenoblade Chronicles 2” and as such are already pretty well-known.

So, just to be a bit different — and much to the delight of many of my Twitter followers, if my call for requests earlier is anything to go by — I thought we’d instead look at the other woman in protagonist Rex’s life: the cat-like Gormotti, Nia.

Note that there are some Xenoblade Chronicles 2 spoilers ahead! You have been warned.

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Taito Essentials: Continental Circus

Ah yes, Continental Circus, the game which UK magazine Sinclair User declared “Cock-Up of the Year” in 1988 for the assumption that its peculiar title had rather prominently misspelled “Circuit”, only for it to become apparent sometime later that this was, in fact, deliberate.

The term “Circus” has been used over the years in both French and Japanese motorsports, and indeed there was even a 1972 French documentary called Continental Circus, which Taito’s 1987 arcade racer rather cheekily lifted a voice sample from to mark the beginning of each race. Although you can see how Sinclair User might have got confused; many of the original arcade machines for Continental Circus were actually branded with the title “Continental Circuit”.

The game itself is a “vanishing point” racer that attempts to build on what Namco had been doing with its Pole Position and Final Lap series since 1982. And, despite appearing superficially similar to those classic titles, it remains, to this day, a unique take on the racing genre with some very interesting ideas.

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Honey Select Unlimited and Illusion’s Quest for Immersive Adult Entertainment

There have been quite a few “sex games” from Japanese developers over the years, but outside of visual novels that incorporate erotic elements to varying degrees, relatively few of them make it West in an official capacity.

This is a bit of a shame, really, since although the most immediately obvious appeal factor of them is the fact that they are interactive pornography (and many of the most modern ones have virtual reality headset support), for many, the most enjoyable aspect of these games is a creative one: the fact you can use a detailed set of tools to design a character of your choosing.

Those who are interested in such things will doubtless be delighted to hear that renowned hentai publisher and localiser Fakku has picked up Honey Select Unlimited for official Western release. And those who have no clue what I’m talking about… read on.

Continue reading Honey Select Unlimited and Illusion’s Quest for Immersive Adult Entertainment

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