[FIRST IMPRESSION]: NIER:AUTOMATA/DEMO REVIEW

Whether it be in anime, or video games it seems I have penchant for strong female leads. I especially love being able to play a female character in RPG games. (Mass Effect was the best experience for me in that regard). NieR:Automata had caught my attention due to the cover art and the main character, I’d always been interested in it so when I saw the demo become available on PS4 I decided to give it a try it to see if it’d interest me enough for me to go out and buy myself a copy.

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I’m not familiar with the history of NieR; so I’ve had to look it up. NieR:Automata is a sequel to the PS3 Nier, which is then a spin-off of another game called, Drakengard. Nier branches off from one of the endings of Drakengard; while NieR:Automata follows suit and takes place after one of multiple endings found in Nier. Automata still carries over some elements from Drakengard in terms of mechanics but not in storyline, from what I’ve gathered.

NieR:Automata’s story is as follow:

Humanity has been driven from the Earth by mechanical beings from another world. In a final effort to take back the planet, the human resistance sends a force of android soldiers to destroy the invaders. Now, a war between machines and androids rages on… A war that could soon unveil a long-forgotten truth of the world. – Gamestop

In the distant future, an extra-terrestrial force has unleashed a ruthless army known as the “machine lifeforms” on Earth, driving mankind into exile on the moon. Android 2B, one of the latest infantry models of the newly formed organization called “YoRHa,” is plunged into a bitter war to reclaim the planet. – Platinum Games

Let’s start with graphics. Square Enix just really never disappoints when it comes to art style, character design, and overall graphics. I really enjoyed the visuals they’ve created, not just as eye candy but also in gameplay. At first it started off as your typical RPG game, you run around along a path or an open world. But then at some points the view shifts to the classic linear scrolling screen found in the original Nintendo games (i.e. Contra).  It also shifts to a zoomed out overhead view that looks down at the top of your players head and her enemies; this was the most jarring to me just because it was so zoomed out, I couldn’t really tell what the heck I was doing.

I also got a bit confused with how the map worked. I found myself turned around at some points, thinking ‘hmm this seems familiar’ when in fact I had looped back somehow and was back where I started. I almost ended up at the starting point because I was so confused. Wayfinding was not my strong suit in this demo.

Our protagonist 2B is a beautiful android that is super badass with dual swords. I’m a sucker for swordplay in games! Running around and slicing up robots gave me that nostalgic feeling of playing PS3’s Heavenly Sword. Heavenly Sword brings me a lot of good memories because that’s the first game I played that had a female lead of color. I don’t count Lara Croft in Tomb Raider because I couldn’t identify with her; and I could never get into Tomb Raider like my Dad did. I want to say the mechanics of operating 2B was very similar to Nariko (Heavenly Sword). The combat is action based so if you tend to be a button masher like myself (half the time) then you’ll probably really enjoy the gameplay of Automata. I also accidentally found this ability that’s very similar to Noctis’ ability to leave a projected image of himself as he teleports away, like a decoy.

However sometimes, the demo felt super guided, like I didn’t really have to control her to much or fight too much, mostly evade. I know that there’s an “auto-mode” for beginners, but I had picked normal mode; so I’m not sure. I like the little familiar that we get; that robot comes in handy when you feel overwhelmed by opponents. Just aim and shoot while you have 2B fight the others with her swords.

Overall, I like NieR:Automata. I like the feel of the mechanics; the feel of the environment and the design and fluidity of the fighting and the transitions to and from the scroll-mode. The wayfinding problem isn’t something so major that it would deter me from buying the game. I mean Square Enix just knows how to empty my pockets, let’s be real. The games I get from them always blow my mind aesthetics wise; and I have no problem with that. I can’t say much to the story since the Demo was so short; but with that ending. I want to know, is that part of the game? If so where does it happen, the beginning or the end?

From what I’ve read, NieR:Automata is getting a lot of buzz and positive reviews which helps me with my decision to go for it and invest in the game. BUT, with Mass Effect: Andromeda releasing next week,I have to finish paying off my pre-order; Automata will have to take a backseat for now.   But when I do get back to NieR: Automata I hope to give a full review! Most of my game reviews will be late (no surprise); since I’m the type to really take my time with it.

 

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[FIRST IMPRESSIONS]: Yowamushi Pedal

I started this on a whim on Monday night. I didn’t want to start catching up with Kuzu no Honkai and Rakugo because I didn’t want to be emotionally invested nor did I want to think too much. I just wanted something light and fun – I usually find the sports genre to be pretty carefree and chock-full of entertainment. I noticed I’m lacking in the series’ review department outside of the attempt to do a weekly episodic recap. So I thought I’d start doing these more often.

So, I know one of my readers out there had suggested this to me, but I can’t remember who exactly. I just remember them telling me to watch it so that we can fangirl together. So please, if it was you please say something because I have give you a big big hug for recommending this one to me. So let’s get started!

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Yowamushi Pedal is a sport genre anime centered around competitive Road Cycling.

Plot summary:

Sakamichi Onoda is a cheerful otaku looking to join his new school’s anime club, eager to finally make some friends. Unfortunately, the club has been disbanded and he takes it upon himself to revive it by finding students who are willing to join. Without much luck, Onoda decides to make a round trip to Akihabara on his old, bulky city bicycle, a weekly 90-kilometer ride he has been completing since fourth grade.

This is when he meets fellow first year student, Shunsuke Imaizumi, a determined cyclist who is using the school’s steep incline for practice. Surprised by Onoda’s ability to climb the hill with his specific type of bicycle, Imaizumi challenges him to a race, with the proposition of joining the anime club should Onoda win. And thus begins the young boy’s first foray into the world of high school bicycle racing! – MAL

I’m more of the mountain biking type; but I can still relate to this show nevertheless. I just need to start a tennis anime to round out the sports I’ve personally played. I’m not sure if it’s been shown (enough), but I am a sports fanatic in real life. I follow all San Francisco Bay Area sports teams. I fell into the Sports Genre of Anime by accident. I always wondered, why would I watch an anime about sports when I watch the real thing? Thank you Kuroko No Basket for dragging me into sports anime hell! I was so wrong to judge the sports genre like that. Also, it’s probably good to note here that I’ve developed a sports anime bias. It’s an ongoing condition that I can’t seem to get rid of, so I just embrace it.

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The struggle of the uphill climb, the thrill of going fast in flat stretches; the burning in your lungs and legs as you climb higher and higher.  Learning to set a pace or “cadence,” as you pedal trying not to tire out before you can reach the top! You start to give yourself pep talks, telling yourself not to give up, to keep going, don’t let your feet touch the ground.  That moment of bliss you feel when you’ve reached the peak, but you don’t stop there. You coast for a few seconds, catching your breath, mentally patting yourself on the back for making it to the top non-stop. It’s like a moment of clarity as you take in the sights and re-adjust as you start to approach the icing on the cake of the uphill climb: the descent. Feeling the wind against your skin as you fly down the hill, your legs can finally take a break! There’s no need to pedal anymore, the hardest part is already behind you, now you just have to enjoy the ride down!

Ah, I got such a thrill from the duo’s first race uphill!

If you couldn’t tell, I’m already on board the yowamushi pedal hype train. As I’ve said, I have a sports bias, I love sports. I may not play them often but I watch them enough in real life. In terms of anime, Haikyuu!! has been my “standard,” so to speak, in terms of what I look for in a great sports anime; plot, and characters and how the sport is integrated are done really well in it.

Again, I’m biased because of my enjoyment of such series but yes, I do realize a lot of the sports anime’s out there are fairly generic and formulaic. You have the inexperienced character that just happens to be a natural at the sport, paired up with the character that envies the other’s natural God-given talent when they’ve worked hard for themselves. A conflict appears as baggage for one of the characters and that spurs on the entire plot of teamwork and togetherness.

So what do I think of Yowamushi in regards to my standard? So far so good!  I’m four episodes in and I think they’ve done fairly well in the first few episodes conveying the type of thrill you get from cycling, alongside setting up the story. The characters are all pretty adorable in their own right; but I’ll discuss that more in a little bit. What I especially love though, is the integration of cycling itself. We learn about the sport as we continue to watch the story unfold; granted some of it might be common knowledge; but we learn about it in the context of competitive cycling, and that alone scores major points on my anime watching scale (if I even really had one).

Okay, so there are not a lot of bishies in this one so far, I guess it’s still too early to say that. The art style is a bit different for me in terms of character design; but let’s be real I’ve already found one to claim as my favorite but hmm, he seems familiar…I think I’ve seen him somewhere?

His name is Nanase Haruka I mean, Kageyama Tobio. No! still wrong, Fujiwara Takeru.  No, no it’s Imaizumi Shunsuke. LOL I’m sorry, I couldn’t help doing that, because just look at this meme! and you’ll understand why I can laugh at this:

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I get it, he’s that ONE character in every sports anime. The handsome, dark haired, blue-eyed, stoic, unsmiling bishounen that’s clinically obsessed with their sport! Now, now, I’m not saying it’s a bad thing, but it’s pretty clear that this is a staple character needed in every sports anime.

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Imaizumi is pretty identical to Kageyama (of Haikyuu!) in this meme in terms of personality. Haru stands alone I think because…Haru is Haru, he exists to swim and eat mackerel. Imaizumi’s similar to Takeru but not quite, maybe the obsession with legs? Anyways, he’s very much like Kags because Imaizumi’s a cycling “idiot” that only thinks in terms of bikes and anything related. He’s experienced the bitter loss of coming in second and wanting to fight to be the best on his own; but eventually he’ll learn to trust their teammates and rely on a group effort. Sounds about right, right?

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The other character, our protagonist Onoda Sakamichi, O.M.G. I mean, this character to me has to be the most adorkable adorably oblivious Otaku in the world. He had me in stitches the entire time. He may be over the top in terms of his love for anime; but my gosh was he accurate. The one thing I kind of regret while I lived in Tokyo was not going to Akihabara every weekend, so thanks Onoda for rubbing that in my face a bit. He’s also another staple character, an accidental genius at a sport. He has the potential to be even greater, he just needs the proper training; Hinata, is that you?

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Our third character, Shoukichi Naruko. Ah, another loveable character! The overly excited character that will drag you into his pace. He’s outgoing, and a cycling expert who wants to teach Onoda. He’s a senpai, but not really a senpai. He sees the potential in Onoda in a chance encounter in Akihabara and encourages him and inspires the interest in cycling! Seriously, Nishinoya is that you?

yowamushi_duoyowamushi_pedalThe scene above is probably my favorite from episode 1. Imaizumi caught up to Onoda on an uphill climb and was laughing at how slow he was; all of a sudden Onada breaks into song and the scene cuts to this angle; I could NOT stop laughing. I think it captures the personality of these two pretty well so far; as well as the gif above. They both love to bike but for incredibly different reasons. They both have no friends; therefore they’ll be each other friends through the love of sport. They’re polar opposites of one another. One’s silly and one’s super serious; one’s carefree while one’s too focused. I think you can tell who is who.

I’m only 4 episodes in, but man I’m hooked on this anime so far. I feel like this first impression came off as bit ranty and sarcastic due to the predictable characters and predictable plot. I swear sports anime’s follow a formula! But I DO like this show, a lot! How else can I emphasize that I do enjoy this despite it’s flaws?! I find it entertaining and a blast to watch so far. The characters all have their distinct personalities. It may be formulaic but it still has it’s own story! Either way, it’s off to a strong start, so let’s see what happens as we go on. I may check-in mid-way or maybe just do an overall series review of season 1. Thankfully, Crunchyroll has just about everything related to Yowamushi so I can really immerse myself in this cycling world!


Have you seen Yowamushi Pedal? What did you think of it? Would you want to see me continue with more periodic reviews of my journey into Yowamushi Pedal? Let me know in the comments below!

First Impressions: Final Fantasy XV (PS4)

(author’s note: This is long winded! Bear with me!)


 

It never occurred to me to ever include gaming into this blog; it didn’t seem to fit my theme….BUT, let’s be real; my blog has always been evolving. If I can’t nerd out here 100% where else will I get that kind of chance? Also a special thanks to lethargic ramblings for supporting my idea for this entry. 🙂

I am by no means a professional gamer, and I’m definitely not a hardcore gamer. I just game because I find joy in it – and it’s something I’ve grown up doing as an only child.  I can spend hours a day playing and other days I won’t even get to touch my PS4. I’m not even sure how to go about writing this first impression since it’s my absolute first time writing about a game!

I’ve been a final fantasy fan for awhile. Maybe not from the beginning, and I didn’t start with the iconic FFVII. My first Final Fantasy was FFX. I LOVE FFX. It’s one of my favorite games ever next to the Mass Effect series! FFX resonated with me so much on the PS2 when it first came out – I loved the characters; but more specifically the OST is what really got me. I love all the music from the Final Fantasy series; so much so I treated myself to the “Final Symphony” for my birthday this past year.

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But I digress; let’s get back to the task at hand: FFXV. At it’s core FFXV was a 10 year in the making video game. There was a very familiar feel when I started this game. I thought it oddly felt similar to FFX-III (I haven’t even finished this series). I had asked a buddy if they were within the same Final Fantasy universe and he told me it shouldn’t be.  But I did a little digging of my own. Back when FFX-III was being developed XV had started out to tie into that world alongside Type-O (which I also started but didn’t make it far). The three games although not related in realms share the same Mythos, in which theres a link between crystals and dieties and that’s pretty much all that ties them together – it’s under the title Fabula Nova Crystallis Final Fantasy. According to Wikipedia, the level of connection of mythos varies from game to game. But anyways, let’s breakdown my first impression of XV.

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VISUALS
Square Enix just never ceases to amaze. They’re always pushing the boundaries of realism in fantasy and it just gets better and better with each iteration they produce.It’s been pretty fluid for me so far in terms of cut scenes and battles. But sometimes I get some weird pixelation when I have Ignis mark enemies. I’m not sure if that’s part of the game or if that’s a glitch – cuz the pixelation looks cool >_< like magic in his hands. Also I think the Regalia is a pretty slick ride for a road trip!

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Ignis might be my favorite

MECHANICS
I’m not used to this active battle system. I’m used to the one in FFX, a conditional turn-based system and I could never really get FFX-III’s Command Synergy Battle system, it became pretty clear that if I don’t have the time to think – I’m the button mashing type. I used Noctis’ warp strike a lot in the beginning; not thinking about the link strikes or the L1 button to dictate what your friends do. Hence my finesse rating was always a “D“. That brings me to the “wait” mode. Thank god for the “wait” mode of the battle system; this slight pause gives me a few more seconds to think tactically about how I want to advance or what orders I want to give –  it gives me a better look at my enemies weaknesses as well. I’ve been able to bump my Finesse up to a “B” but that took so effort to get to it! My anime counter-part Armin would totally be disappointed in my lack of tactical expertise. T_T I have a bit of trouble with the magic and elemancy components – just because I accidentally end up incinerating my comrades (thankfully I haven’t killed anyone). Even if I throw it a distance sometimes they run into it and at the end of battle I can’t help but laugh at how burnt their clothes are.

INTERFACE
Also, to be honest I completely flubbed on how to read the quest map. I didn’t see that there was a correlation to what you were selecting from the list to the map that was in the background. Wayfinding is definitely not the strongest suit of this game – sometimes I wish I could zoom in even more on specific points because they’re still too jumbled up together to really see what’s there.

final-fantasy-xv-noctis-gladio-ignis-promptoSTORY
If you’ve seen my twitter you’ll know that I’ve been posting screenshots as I play through. Mostly smart ass remarks about me going on a roadtrip with my homies and living up the bachelor life/broke college student life. But in all seriousness, I watched the anime Brotherhood: Final Fantasy XV and liked the backstory we got of each of the other people that make up Noctis’ circle.  I know that the movie Kingsglaive happens during the time Noctis leaves home and heads for Galdin Quay. Noctis leaves his home in Insomnia as he makes his way towards Lunafreya, his future wife to be, in Altissia; but in some unfortunate events (I need to watch Kingsglaive again) his Father, the King of Lucis is killed and the country is in a state of turmoil so to speark. Since I’m still in the early stages of this game (I’ve only played like 20 hours and I’m still in chapter 2) – this is all I know so far, so I apologize this doesn’t have much else to say. I’ve also mentioned some of the Mythos story earlier too.

MUSIC
Ah, the music. As I’ve said – I love the OST’s of Final Fantasy. They’re well composed scores that are just really incredbile to listen to. What I like about the music so far in XV is that on the long roadtrips with my bro’s I can listen to other OST’s from previous Final Fantasy games. I’ve actually been listening to Final Fantasy X-III’sSaber’s Edge” because of the adventure feel it gives off with the use of the brass section and the strings (Oops the music nerd in me is coming out). What better song to go on an epic road trip than with this track in the background – especially with the sweeping landscapes you encounter. I think it fits it perfectly.  I’m still on the hunt fot the FFX soundtrack – I have yet to find it in one of the mini-marts.

OTHER THINGS OF NOTE:
The damn fishing mini-game is fun! I feel so accomplished whenever I reel in a fish. It’s the little things.  I don’t get the pinball game really, but I managed to score over 200,000 points the first time I played it.

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I have a gripe with Prompto. The weakest in the bunch; he dies so easily that I don’t even bother reviving him with a Phoenix Down  half the time because I know he’s just going to die again in a matter of seconds. I’ve started to equip him with HP boosting accessories and make sure Ignis cooks Prompto’s favorite meals to further boost his HP for the upcoming battles, and that’s helped quite a bit. I think this is the most planning I’ve had to do – just to make sure he can try to stay alive and help in battle. I love that he’s a photographer though! Also, rake in the moola with those photography sidequests. That guy pays really well! Ignis is shaping up to be my favorite homeboy. I think the marking of opponents for Noct to follow is visually pleasing; an on top of that Ignis is our cook! He can cook for me any day! His meals look delicious! Also, I’m probably partial to Ignis because I’m like him. Always writing things down in a notebook and the driver on a roadtrip..

Another thing I don’t like but will have to live with, are the dungeons/caves. I don’t do well with surprises, and I hate spiders on top of that. So you can imagine the heart attack I have when I’m in the tomb trying to retrieve one of Noctis’ weapons only to be ambused by a gigantic spider in the middle of the dark. Also, in that ice tomb, what the heck was that samurai looking thing!? This is why I could never play Tomb Raider, Resident Evil, or Silent Hill growing up – just knowing something was there waiting for me just gave me anxiety and therefore unable to playthrough. But I could watch others playthrough it.

Ah, I digress again! Overall, I’m rather enjoying XV. I’ve seen some reviews really hate on the battle system, story and little things like the interact/jump button. But as a Final Fantasy fan over the years, I really really do love this game! I love that it’s got that open world feel and I can just wander around aimlessly looking for random items or engaging in battle with strange creatures. However, I hate the magitek battles; no matter my level I find them difficult to take down.

This was a longwinded first impression but I figured my game reviews will probably be lengthy until I figure out a type of system. Thanks for reading my ramblings on FFXV! What are your guys’ thoughts on the latest installment of Final Fantasy XV?