Skullgirls 2nd Encore Review

If you’ve been following me on Twitter you may have seen that I’ve been recently appointed as a Staff Member for The Vita Lounge, a fan website for everything PlayStation Vita. I’ve been a gamer for almost as long as I can remember and a proud PS Vita owner for a few years now. Writing for a gaming site has been a dream of mine for quite a while now, and so it came as a great honor when I received this editorial position. This is my first review for the site, and I just wanted to share it as many of my friends as possible. If you’re reading this (and not for some ulterior motive or just plain out of spite), or if you’ve read any of my other work here on There Goes My Kokoro, you are my friend…whether you like it or not :3

P.S. – I’ll try not to shill my posts from other sites here too often. That’s what Twitter’s for.

A Cut Above – A Severed (PS Vita) Review

I know I don’t write about video games anywhere near as much as I do with anime, but this week I came across a game that I thought deserved some attention. Severed, from Drinkbox Studios, came out this week on the PS Vita, and by golly did I like it a lot. Now, I know most of you reading this probably don’t even own a Vita, so if you were to indulge me for a few minutes it would be much appreciated. Heck, maybe this will convinced you to buy one, eh?

While I don’t consider myself a huge fan of first person, touch-based dungeon crawlers, Severed managed to sink its claws into me in a way not many games can. The gameplay alone is so frantic and fun, yet precise and nerve racking. It’s kinda like The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, a game I was also very fond of. It’s a simple mechanic, swiping in the right direction at the right time, but something about it is so darn enjoyable that I always looked forward to another encounter rather than be annoyed by yet another obstacle in my way. Perhaps it’s the sound and animation paired with each blow that makes it so utterly satisfying. It’s an especially rewarding feeling once you start severing off every limb without even a hitch.

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The puzzles are pretty clever, but never too obtuse or frustrating that I’d start considering giving up. This of course is just my completely subjective experience. That being said, I certainly don’t put myself on any sort of pedestal in terms of mental or puzzle solving capability, and I would expect a human of average intelligence to be able to complete these conundrums. Although I don’t really know how to measure intelligence either. So let’s just say there are puzzles. You’ve been warned.

Back-tracking’s a bit of a pain, made no less difficult by sun/moon doors and magic gateways. Getting everything in the game basically means you are going to waste about an hour to nothing but the act of movement. What’s worse is that you’ll probably forget to view the wonderful scenery when focusing on pure navigation and staring intently at the mini map in the upper right. Also adding to the rush and neglect of scenery is the fact that there’s still a boss battle awaiting you, and you really want to get there as fast as you can. It’s a shame, but if you have the mental fortitude to actually stop and smell the roses, I recommend you doing so. I had to remind myself of that a couple times, and it was worth it because the art style is just so gosh darn pretty.

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Before we move on from gameplay, I just want to take a moment and talk about the tutorial…I wish games would stop treating me like an idiot. I, as well as most likely every other owner of a PlayStation Vita, know how to play a fucking video game! Enough hand holding, enough explanations, enough slowing down so I can grasp the idea of swiping a screen to attack or pushing a button to jump or aiming down sights with a trigger. If you really need to include a handbook, put it someplace I don’t have to see it. There was one stroke of genius in Severed’s approach to teaching you the game. It was a pot. A cracked, purple pot, that if broken, deals you damage. An incredibly simple hazard, ones that I came across and broke, more than a few times before realizing I should avoid them. I learned, and I didn’t need a big flashing arrow and a writing prompt to figure that out. Unfortunately, this game needs to teach you how to use your weapons, and although these moments are few and far between, and truly a minor hiccup in the overall pace of the game, I can’t help but feel disappointed in it. Tutorials are not for everyone and should not be in the way of people who do not need them.

But other than that, Severed is a fantastic game!  The writing is pretty minimal, but can be funny, charming, interesting and dreadful, all at the same time. This feeling of dread and despair carries throughout the entire game, and feels incredibly separated from Drinkbox’s previous game Guacamelee, despite having such similar art styles. I can’t speak much toward the soundtrack, as I know very little about criticizing music, and my scale consists of two sides: “Sounds good” and “Doesn’t sound good”. So I’ll just leave you with “sounds good”. There is no New Game + mode, which is what it is. I think I probably would’ve liked having one, but I’m not particularly disappointed by the lack of it. The overall length of the game, again, is what it is. I don’t really measure a games worth by its length, but I clocked in at 6 hours -1 for back-tracking. Oh, and it has a pretty obtainable platinum, so that’s cool.

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Severed is a very unique game with a dreadful/beautiful aesthetic and thoroughly engaging gameplay. Although the tutorial is a small bump in an otherwise smooth road, there’s really nothing too unlikeable about this game. The back-tracking, while a tad tedious, was necessary in experiencing every secret Severed had to offer. I don’t really do recommendations here, but if you have a Vita…I mean, wink and a nudge yo.

And seriously, how cool is it that the PS Vita actually got an exclusive in 2016?! Thank you Drinkbox! And of course, thank you (reader) for reading.

Why Knowing Nothing Can Mean Everything

When was the last time you bit into a nice, juicy piece of entertainment without any prior knowledge, preconceived notions or opinions of others floating around in your mind? Well, if you’re reading this, it probably was A LONG TIME AGO. It’s hard to find a show or a game or a book without finding a synopsis and rating system to go with it. Everyone can, and most likely will, share their opinions on any given subject. And although often times the thoughts of others can help in avoiding something not worth your time (or finding something that is), it ultimately destroys the thrill of discovery.

And it’s more than just reviewers, friends and acquaintances that inadvertently change our experiences. It can be watching a trailer or knowing the people that worked on it. Knowledge sets expectations, and expectations can set the parameters for our overall enjoyment. Liking something or not liking something suddenly becomes exceeding expectations, living up to expectations, or failing to live up to expectations. My point is, we need to stop having expectations.

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I loved Bioshock Infinite. Having never played any of the previous installments in the series, I had no expectations of what this game should be. At the time of me playing this, I never really followed any news coverage on this game, knew nothing of what it really was about, or what the studio (Irrational Games) was capable of creating.

Needless to say, it was one of the most incredible experiences I had ever had. The story, the characters, the breathe-taking scenery, all of it was amazing and exciting and fresh. This world was special, and my time with it will never be forgotten.

And so when I went on the internet, it came as somewhat of a surprise to find people that didn’t feel the same way. Now, I can respect that other people will have opinions that differ from my own, and that there is no real “right or wrong” when it comes to expressing our feelings on art. What I can’t respect is people spreading their poorly founded opinions based off the expectations that they themselves had formed.

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I’ve seen the same comment made, over and over again, and it disappoints me every time I see it. “This isn’t Bioshock.” Well, thing is, it wasn’t supposed to be Bioshock. And if that’s your number one issue with this game, well I’m sorry, but that’s your problem. Your arbitrary expectations don’t equate to the actual quality of any given form of entertainment. And sure, my opinions don’t necessarily equate to the quality of entertainment either, but the fact of the matter is, your preconceived ideas for what this game should’ve been left you with a lesser experience. You couldn’t feel the same enjoyment I felt, and for that, I feel sorry for you.

Jeez, I did not expect to go on a Bioshock Infinite rant there. Oh well. Basically, what I’m trying to say here is don’t let your expectations lead you astray, and try to avoid others opinions until you’ve had a chance to digest something yourself. So go on to Crunchyroll dot com, click the random button as many times as you need to find something you know nothing about, and watch it.

And with that, my Feature Week to ring in the New Year comes to end. Thank you all for reading anything I’ve ever written, it means a lot to me. I hope this year is kind to you, and I hope you enjoyed Bioshock Infinite as much as I did.

Most Anticipated Games of 2016

Uncharted 4

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We’re starting off hard. Real hard. And nothing gets me harder than a new Naughty Dog game. Seriously, Naughty Dog is by far my favorite video game developer in the world, and arguably the greatest. They’ve made masterpiece after masterpiece after masterpiece, and now? Well, I guess my expectations may be a little high, but if there’s one studio that wouldn’t let me down, it’s Naughty Dog. I hope I don’t eat these words.

Horizon Zero Dawn

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Looks fresh, and far off from what Killzone is, so I’m down. I mean, I’m probably down? I still feel like I need to see more, but nothing I’ve seen so far has left me cautious or disappointed.

Gravity Rush 2

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Yes. Yes. YESSSSSSSSSS. I fucking loved Gravity Rush, so of course I’d be excited for the next installment. Not only that, they’re remastering the first one for PS4. More Kat, more Raven, more trophies and more gravity defying adventures!

Persona 5 (?)

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So, is this going to come out this year? Because it was supposed to come out last year, and didn’t. Well, whenever it comes I’m sure to pick it up. I loved P4G (not as much as Gravity Rush though) and this new installment looks fucking cool. I’m not sure what the deal is with these masks and these kids, but I’m itching to find out first hand. Although I do wish it was on Vita.

PSVR

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I really want to get my hands on one, because it’s supposedly something you need to experience yourself to truly understand how much of a game-changer Virtual Reality really is. Sounds great to me, I would love to feel immersed in a different world and stuff. The only problem is, most of the things Sony has shown compatible with VR aren’t really grabbing me. I want to see more. I need to see more. Let’s just hope in 2016, PS X gonna give it to me. Okay, that pun was bad, even for me.

Favorite Games of 2015

Note: I have not played Undertale, The Witcher 3, MGSV or Super Mario Maker.

Rocket League

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Rocket League is the greatest sports game I have ever had the pleasure of playing. It’s brilliantly simple. So simple in fact, that it’s kinda hard to explain just what makes it so fantastic. Fun to watch, blast to play, and just all around fucking awesome.

Fallout 4

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Just a massive, MASSIVE leap from Fallout 4. Every item has a purpose and you can actually engage in combat without VATS. All I ever wanted was delivered, plus shit I didn’t even know I wanted. Companions don’t die, your level cap is infinite, the world doesn’t all match the same disgustingly gray color scheme, and more! It’s a truly awesome game, and I can’t wait to see what kind of DLC is in store for it. Also, I can’t stop singing along to its amazing soundtrack.

Tales from the Borderlands

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I’ll be honest, I didn’t expect much from this game. Sure, I love the Borderlands franchise and have probably sunk over 400 hours into just the second one. That being said, I was never really a Telltale fan. In fact, I found the Walking Dead Season One to be so underwhelming that I stopped playing after the first chapter. Now, with all that in mind, HOLY FUCK THIS GAME WAS SO AWESOME! Erhm, yeah, I enjoyed it quite a bit and was glad to Telltale do right by a franchise I love oh so very much. Hilarious and exciting to the very end, Tales from the Borderlands has done so many things right (writing, voice acting, music, meaningful deaths, cool new characters and cameos/integral roles from character we already know and love, etc.) and is by far, my favorite game of 2015.

Honorable Mentions:

Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture

A really beautiful and mysterious experience, I would love for it to be remade for VR. I would also love for it to walk faster.

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Damn, I really didn’t think anything would kick this game out of my top 3. Oh well, it’s still really fantastic.

Anime, Gaming, and My Personal 2016 New Year Resolutions

sakurasouAnime Resolutions

Watch more of it. Done.

Actually, that’s something easier said than done. I have to find the time for it/work hard to make time for it. Because it is important. To you (my oh so cherished reader), to my blog, and most importantly, to me. Anime is like half my fucking life, and I’m okay with that.

So here’s to watching anime.

And not only that, but writing about anime too. I want to write more reviews and Anime Quick Thoughts (trademark pending), and also a new thing I’ll be unveiling soon. (So stay tuned…except this is a blog, not a T.V. station, but…you know what I mean.)

Gaming Resolutions

I know I don’t write about gaming as often as I do anime, but it’s still an important part of who I am. So of course, I’m going to play and write about video games. And perhaps even do some of these newfangled “Let’s Plays” and “Twitch Streams” that are so popular with the kids. But before any of that, I’m going to make this promise, THAT I AM 100% POSITELY GOING TO REGRET BUT FUCK IT.

I promise to ‘platinum’ Fallout 4 within the year 2016, and if I fail to do so, I will record a video of myself getting a snowball thrown at my junk, which I will then upload onto YouTube for your enjoyment.

Signed: crispyn64

Personal Resolutions

I want to hit the gym. You see, there’s a gym that comes with tuition at my college, and I did not utilize it at all last semester. So I’m going to this year, because I want to look like this:

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Yeah.

Another personal resolution of mine is to FUCKING PUBLISH SOMETHING. I need to get published work out there if I’m going to do this professionally (writing, that is). Now, that’s not to say that I’m just going to shit things out for the hell of it. I am going to put hard work into everything I create, don’t you worry. It’s just, I need something out there, you know?

So I’m hoping to bring at least two of my “creative projects” to fruition this year, one of which should be out by next month (hopefully).

My final resolution is to just better myself all around. To be a better writer. To be a better drawer. To be a better musician. To be a better creator. To be the very best, like no one ever was. Okay, maybe I’m getting a little carried away here. The point is, I want to get better.

So here’s to 2016. Hopefully we can all get a little bit better.

gekkan