When I started this site I didn’t plan on bringing other writers on board, but plans always change. So today I’m announcing two changes.
First, this site will be somewhat of a home for Neptunia information, as I’ve found it frustratingly difficult to scrape together information on what’s a fairly popular series (for it’s budget/pedigree). These stories will be collected under a new top level menu item for Neptunia. I’ll keep making import guides and covering the release of new games in Japanese, as well as guides once (or before!) the English version hits western shores.
Second, welcome aboard guest writer Sik, who will be assisting in writing about Neptunia!
I originally posted this over on my Patreon but I’ve been meaning to cross-post a bit more between these two sites, so here we are.
I know the year’s not exactly over, but I started writing a post like this in December last year and…never posted it.
Anyway. 2016 was a trying year in more ways than one. But for the channel and my website, it’s been a good if uncomfortable time.
How We’re Doing
Streams have come back to regularity, even if they’re still not without issue (my ISP stood me up for an appointment check things out.) Streams aren’t huge, but I’m not wasting all my time moderating yet there’s always enough people to maintain a conversation, and Restreamio’s enabled me to have nice cross-channel chat which has been really great. Beam in particular has made chatting a lot less painful due to low-latency.
Patreon pledges went from a couple spare bucks late last year to a reliable chunk of money I can easily plan my spending on (this year’s biggest expenses were Sony Movie Studio Platinum, my new editing tool, my GTX 1060 to keep up my ability to record intensive games, and a PSVR that’s significantly there just for my ability to cover VR games). I’m still not super comfortable promoting Patreon and such, but Iv’e gotten better and Im’ quite pleased with the support you’ve all given (pretend one of those heart emojis the kids like is here).
Senran Kagura has always been a series at odds with itself. It showed even in the first game, but it became strikingly clear in Shinovi Versus. Each story ran down a rollercoaster starting off mostly serious, veering quite silly, then back dead serious for everyone’s backstories, then usually back to silly again (and in a few cases a few more twists).
A Pair of Worlds
There are two sides to Senran Kagura: The Fun, and what I will (only somewhat derisively) refer to as the Edge. The main story has always had a sharp edge hidden into it; the very start of Estival Versus ponders on how a Shinobi’s life is a brutal, short thing. Then most of the game returns to Fun as the girls enjoy what is more or less a huge beach party with the opportunity to visit many beloved dead relatives. Fun and Edge battle left and right through the game and indeed, the series as a whole. The other games follow similar whiplash-inducing arcs between drama and silliness.
While I definitely enjoy Senran Kagura for far more than the simple boob fan service, I’d be lying if I didn’t find the Edge side a bit less satisfying than the Fun. When it was just backstories it was very touching and intriguing; a sequence in Estival where circumstances force Miyabi to explore her Post Traumatic Stress Disorder related to her mother’s death, I felt very connected to her, and the writing felt so real it was a bit uncomfortable as someone with invasive memories of my own.
It’s that time of the year again when Video Games Are Bad, the latest argument being Video Games Are Boring, a piece I won’t critique too hard for fear of sounding rather mean. I don’t really mean this as a response to Brie in particular, but this mindset I keep seeing pop up. This just makes a nice catalyst.
But there’s one thing I have to pull apart here first. In their effort to introduce “non-gaming” friends into “gaming” the started with Journey (reasonable), then when Journey was too violent they eventually turned to suggesting Skyrim (I’m sorry what?!).
I know a lot of gamers can’t really imagine Journey being “violent”, but there are things that attack you. That’s scary. Not everyone wants scary. Not everyone wants adversity, especially for their very first experience. It’s a bit hard to emphasize with that if you started gaming in the 8-16 bit eras like myself, but if you step back, it’s not hard to find games less violent than Journey (AbyssRium, Beglitched, Noby Noby Boy, and those are just games I played literally yesterday).
I really can’t ignore the absurdity of suggesting Skyrim after Journey proved to be too violent, but at the same time I totally understand it. It shows an extremely, shall I say, “Core Gamer” mindset.
So you want pretty, expensive Japanese things but you don’t live in pretty, expensive Japan, huh? Amazon’s Japanese branch has recently become a lot friendlier to importers, so if you want Japanese games, figures or other collectibles, it’s a good time to try them out. Here’s how to get started with Amazon Japan!
I’d like to address some common myths or concerns I’ve seen about PSVR (and in some cases, VR in general). If this article interests you, check out my First Impressions of PSVR!
Is PS4 Pro Necessary?
I firmly believe PSVR launched before PS4 Pro to help break this illusion, but no, PS4 Pro is not required/expected for a good experience in VR. Most games still look and work great on a standard PS4 (the only way I’ve played PSVR myself).
So no, PS4 Pro isn’t required for a good experience here. It might be nice, but I don’t feel like I’m missing much before it’s out.
Are PSVR Framerates Bad?
Related to the Pro myth, no, framerates on current PSVR games are fine. Some are 60 FPS, but due to Frame Reprojection they feel seamless themselves. The only “jitter” I’ve noticed in VR is when Move or DS4 controllers pop out of camera range, the actual head tracking and animation have been smooth in every game I’ve played. I honestly can scarcely tell the difference in framerate between Thumper (90 FPS) and most of the 60 FPS experiences personally.
Of course, it’s always possible for someone to release a game with poor performance. But this far, sony and/or devs have done a great job keeping frames intact.
Forget what you know about 30 FPS-targeting console games. VR games are a different target platform with different minimum expectations. Thus far, devs understand the importance of framerate, and I don’t see that going away.
VR finally arrives, after what’s felt like an eternity. Starting with the Oculus Rift kickstarter (which I had neither the faith nor the spare cash to back) I’ve been waiting for Virtual Reality, and it’s finally here, in a moderately economical form in PSVR.
I’ve tried out VR briefly in the form of Google Cardboard, as a proof of concept it was powerful, but it really just made me want to get some “real” VR gear. Samsung Gear VR was never for my phone, and Vive and Oculus were a bit out of my price range. Hence PSVR came to be my first headset.
This is by no means exhaustive (I’ve only played about half of the games/experiences I own so far), but here’s a look into my first few days trying VR.
Today, Steam did something. That alone is a monumental occasion. But unfortunately, as is too often, Steam either didn’t think very hard about what it did or didn’t care very much about the developers on its platform when it did it.
There’s cries that people who paid money have “less biased” opinions, cries that Kickstarter backers are like “investors” and shouldn’t have a say, that review copies are “free keys” and shouldn’t be eligible for, erm, review. All of these are incorrect or downright stupid and I’ll cover them one by one. But first, let’s account for who can actually get a Steam Key and why.