Tag Archives: Shinto

The MoeGamer Awards 2018: The Shutterbug Award

The MoeGamer Awards are a series of “alternative” awards that I’ve devised in collaboration with the community as an excuse to celebrate the games, experiences and fanbases that have left a particular impression on me in 2018. Find out more here, but you’re out of time to leave suggestions, I’m afraid!

Any time you have experience with an entire series of something and people are aware of your experience with said series, someone, somewhere is going to ask you the dreaded question: “which [insert series name here] is best?”

Given my recent coverage of Tecmo’s consistently excellent survival horror series Project Zero (not to mention the presently ongoing video series playing through its postgame!), I thought I’d pre-empt that question and attempt to give a definitive answer.

Well, definitive insofar as “this one was my favourite” anyway. You do not have to agree. But this was my favourite Project Zero game this year.

And the winner is…

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Project Zero 3: Sleep, Priestess, Lie in Peace

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For me, a good horror game is hard work.

I don’t mean that it’s a chore to play or anything like that; I mean that engaging with it to the fullest is a genuinely taxing experience from at the very least a mental perspective… and possibly a physical one too.

As I sit here typing this, still somewhat breathless after the genuinely exhausting finale of Project Zero 3: The Tormented, I can confirm that the third installment in this series is emphatically a good horror game.

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Project Zero: Scream for the Camera

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Tecmo’s Project Zero — also known as Fatal Frame in the United States, and simply Zero in its native Japan — has always stood out.

“Survival horror” is most certainly not what it once was, but even during its heyday in the late ’90s and early 2000s, Project Zero set itself apart by eschewing the blood, gore and violent scenes people had come to associate with the genre.

Instead, it provided a rather more contemplative, supernatural tale with its roots in traditional Japanese spiritualism. And by golly has it held up really well since its original release nearly 20 years ago.

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Waifu Wednesday: Princess King Boo

The Bowsette trend has continued pretty much unabated since last week — and I’m certainly not complaining.

Alongside the original phenomenon, however, there has been a related meme that has proven almost as successful and popular — so much so that it’s quite common to see the pair of them together.

I am, of course, talking about Princess King Boo, known to our Japanese cousins as キングテレサ姫 (kingu teresa-hime).

Header image by Yusan (Pixiv). Please support the many fabulous artists who have helped bring this meme to life!

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Ne no Kami: Love, Innocence and Ayakashi

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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.

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Ne no Kami: Exploring Shinto Myths and Legends

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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 pains 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.

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