Review of The Lost Child

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I love the Persona role-playing games. Shame then that it takes so long for new instalments to come out. How I wish the franchise would release new stuff on an annual basis. Then again, I suppose that the series would feel far less special if it appeared in stores with the regularity of an Assassin’s Creed sequel. Rarity builds anticipation and shorter development cycles tend to harm a title’s quality. Some people have suggested that I play the other Shin Megami offerings, whilst I wait for a new Persona. The problem is that those RPGs are bloody hard. I’ll try The Lost Child instead. This game may be a shameless Megami clone, but at least it caters to my lack of skill by providing an easy mode.

OVERVIEW

Hayato Ibuki is a reporter for one of those trashy occult magazines. Not a glamorous career, but hey it could be worse. Writing for a tabloid publication is still more respectable than being a games journalist! When the story begins Hayato acquires a weapon that is capable of bending demons to his will. A big-breasted angel named Lua (who dresses like a witch for some reason) informs Hayato that he must use the gun to defeat Cthulhu, who is presently plotting to take over Heaven. A weird and somewhat blasphemous plot… although that should be expected given that the game is affiliated to the equally bizarre El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron.

The Lost Child is broken up into eight chapters. Each level has you battling through puzzle filled dungeons that are made up of multiple floors. Players explore the stages through a first person view. Every step you take has the potential of triggering a random turn based battle. When in combat, Hayato and Lua are accompanied by a party made up of previously captured demons. Like in most RPGs the heroes grow stronger by accruing experience points. The demonic entities they recruit are meanwhile strengthened via karma. Killing creatures is the main source of karma, although it is also possible to acquire it by making dialogue choices during certain story events.

VERDICT

My rating for The Lost Child is a three out of five. The game is a decent, albeit unoriginal, dungeon crawler. I recommend it to anyone who has an interest in the genre. The story may be forgettable but I didn’t mind, as the thrill of navigating labyrinths was enough to keep my interest for the forty hours it lasted. Compared to other RPGs, there isn’t much in the way of character customisation. You can however tweak Hayato and Lua’s attributes by distributing stat points upon levelling up. Ally demons meanwhile can be taught new skills and evolved, akin to a Pokémon. Just be aware that instead of cute critters, in this game, you evolve fallen angels and topless Succubi.

Overall I had fun with The Lost Child. I must however say that I have some grievances with the game. First up was a glitch that prevented me from earning one of the optional characters. Another complaint is that some of the puzzles can be annoying. Examples include invisible walls, sandy currents that drag you back to a dungeon’s entrance and pitfalls that drop you to a lower floor. The latter especially blows, as transferring to a new zone is preceded by lengthy load times. Not sure what causes the Vita to process for so long. The floors aren’t huge and the graphics comprise of still pictures. Oh well, no matter how slow the loading is the wait for them to finish is still shorter than waiting for a new Persona.

SAO Alternative: Gun Gale Online Review

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Sword Art Online is a bit like Marmite. You either love or hate it. There’s no disputing that the anime adaptation of Reki Kawahara’s novels is insanely popular. We recently got a movie and a third season is due out later this year. Despite all that, many of the bloggers I follow detest SAO with a passion. They dislike how the second half of season one played out and how protagonist Kirito is a Gary Stu of Rey (Star Wars) proportions. If you are a Kirito hater you’ll be pleased to hear that this spin-off series stars a completely new cast of characters. Viewers of season two will recognize the setting though – it’s Gun Gale Online.

OVERVIEW

Karen Kohiruimaki hates being tall, which I can understand. Height may be a desirable trait for males, but that isn’t the case for members of the opposite sex. Lanky girls can have a tough time finding a boyfriend, as guys are sensitive about size… and no, I am not talking about their junk. Asking your partner to crouch down, for a kiss, can be a tad embarrassing for us blokes. Although there is nothing Karen can do about her stature in the real world, she can at least experience being petite in VR games. The main reason why she elects to play GGO is because it permits her to control an undersized avatar named LLENN.

LLENN begins life in Gun Gale Online hunting down NPC monsters. Due to her terrible aim, LLENN’s weapon of choice is a close range submachine gun that she christens P-chan. The pink firearm occasionally sprouts cute eyes and utters words of encouragement to her. Weird. Anyways, one day during her wasteland hunts she bumps into a fellow gunslinger named Pitohui. The pair become friends and begin grouping together to partake in PVP action. After proving her prowess, in taking down players, Pitohui suggests that LLENN register for the upcoming Squad Jam contest. Little did LLENN know that Squad Jam would live up to its name, by placing her in a sticky situation where Pitohui’s life is on the line.

VERDICT

My rating for Sword Art Online Alternative: Gun Gale Online is a three out of five. The series is entertaining enough, but overall I would rank it as the weakest SAO title to date. My chief complaint with the show is its lack of story. The script tries to resurrect the SAO idea of “potentially fatal online game” with its finale, but for the most part the thirteen episodes simply chronicle LLENN’s performance in two battle royale tournaments. Due to the focus on competition, GGO feels like a sports anime. This sport however features brutal takedowns and inappropriate flirting, where opponents hit on a protagonist that looks underage.

Best girl without a doubt is Pitohui. She reminds me a little of Revy from Black Lagoon, as she excels at killing and is bat shit crazy. This bloodthirsty chick doesn’t respect truces and has a reputation for slaying her own teammates. LLENN is a far less interesting character. Just like Kirito, she comes across as plain and unbeatable. Despite being an MMO newbie she is able to defeat professional marksmen with a combination of agility and serendipity. Karen is the type of girl I would gladly group with in Overwatch. Would I date her? Nah. Climbing up a stepladder, every time I want a smooch, would get tiresome.

Thirty Day Anime Challenge – Days 1 & 2

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Inspired by the posts Matt Doyle Media has recently written, I have decided to tackle the Thirty Day Anime challenge. For those of you who don’t know Matt, you can find his excellent blog by clicking HERE. He is a talented chap whose skill set includes novelist, cosplayer and former wrestler. Technically speaking, to complete the challenge, I am supposed to post one answer per day. Sadly that is impossible due to my laziness busy schedule. What I’ll do instead, when time permits, is answer multiple questions on one post. Okay, enough with the lame excuses. On with the show!

DAY ONE: The First Anime I Ever Saw

I cannot answer this one accurately due to my goldfish like memory. To be fair though, my fortieth birthday is fast approaching. Recalling what one watched when they were a kid isn’t easy. Back when I was a youngster I liked shows such as Robotech and Mazinger Z, but I doubt either series was my first anime. I suspect the winner of this accolade is either one of the mecha shows my parents would rent out on VHS or one of the cartoons that would air on Spanish TV. With that in mind my guess is either Vehicle Team Voltron or Sherlock Hound.

Vehicle Team Voltron is the lesser known of the Voltron shows. When someone thinks of Voltron they usually picture the Beast King Go Lion one. It was the more popular of the two, back in the day, and is presently enjoying the remake treatment over on Netflix. To be fair a robot made up of lions looks way cooler than a mech with cars for feet. Sherlock Hound, as the name implies, stars a canine version of the famous Detective Holmes. Animators love to turn characters into pooches. Just ask Dogtanian And The Three Muskehounds. One interesting titbit about Sherlock Hound is that the legendary Hayao Miyazaki directed six of the episodes.

DAY TWO: Favourite Anime I’ve Watched So Far

Maybe I shouldn’t have signed up for this challenge. These questions are tough! My favourite anime of all time pretty much changes with my mood. One day I’ll pick one show and another day I’ll say something else. In terms of contenders Full Metal Alchemist and Code Geass are in the running. FMA however has its flaws. The first series had a weak anime exclusive finale, whilst Brotherhood intentionally rushes through its early material. Code Geass on the other hand is great, but can no longer be considered to be a complete story. I hear that a new season is in the works. Now I have to wait in fear that the next instalment may potentially tarnish its legacy.

With those two shows out of contention I will cast my vote for Death Note. If you are unfamiliar with Death Note I recommend reading Man in Black’s comprehensive review located HERE. Some people disliked how the story played out, after a certain key event, but I personally was hooked from start to finish. A captivating cat and mouse game, packed with twists and memorable characters. Light is an example of someone with good intentions that gets corrupted by power and hubris. Ryuk’s sharp chompers prove that apples are good for your teeth. L looks creepy but in actuality is a sweet guy (I blame his diabetes inducing diet.) Both the anime and manga are exceptional. There’s a Netflix live action adaptation too, but do yourself a favour and pretend that it doesn’t exist.

Anime I Watched Recently – 21st July 2018

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Darling in the Franxx

Anime has no respect for child labour laws. Darling in the Franxx takes a leaf from the Eva playbook, in that it employs youngsters to pilot giant mechs. The adolescents use these bots to protect Plantations (mobile human settlements) against attacks from subterranean beings known as Klaxosaurs. Voltron has taught us that it takes multiple folks to control a robot and the same is true in this twenty-four episode series. Just like in Pacific Rim, a pair of people is required to operate the titular Franxx. Specifically, the machines are steered by a boy and a girl. Why? Cos it’s the perfect excuse to ship characters together!

I enjoyed Darling in the Franxx quite a bit, even if the last few episodes got a bit chaotic and weird. The action scenes are enjoyable to watch, providing that you can get over the unconventional mech designs. Robots with cartoony facial features look weird to me… and this is coming from someone who grew up watching the Gobots! Just like Evangelion, this isn’t a basic mech show were the heroes simply beat a monster of the week. As the plot progresses expect some twists and for conspiracies to unravel. There’s a bit of romance too, between protagonists Hiro and his horned co-pilot Zero Two. She’s a literal man-eater, who has a reputation of devouring partners after three missions.

RATING: FOUR AND A HALF HORNY WAIFUS

Lostorage conflated WIXOSS

The fourth instalment of a J.C. Staff production concocted to promote a children’s card game. Just like its predecessors, Conflated features high school students who duel each other by commanding diminutive ladies (called LRIGs) with the aid of a deck. Poker has got nothing on this high stakes game. The penalty for defeat is amnesia and in severe cases losers may even get erased from existence. New to this series is the ability to summon two LRIGs onto the field. Another rule worth mentioning is that the vanquished must surrender their LRIG to their opponent. Kind of like marbles then, only that instead of handing over a glass sphere upon defeat you have to give up a cute waifu.

In terms of story Conflated is arguably the weakest entry in the WIXOSS franchise. The script rehashes ideas from past seasons and lacks the big WTF surprises we have come to expect from the series. All that said I still enjoyed the anime. It was neat seeing the heroines of seasons one and three interact with each other. The finale also does a fine job of wrapping up a show that started its life way back in 2014. Recommended to fans of Madoka Magica, as both shows share some narrative similarities. Also might appeal to former Yu-Gi-Oh viewers who seek something with more depth and less crazy hairstyles.

RATING: THREE AND A HALF TRAP CARDS

What more information on these shows? If so check out…

Anime Q and A’s assessment of the first fifteen Darling in the Franxx episodes.

Jon Spencer’s retrospective of the WIXOSS series.

Uma Musume Pretty Derby

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Sorry guys, I am burnt out on writing full-length reviews. Blame the hot summer weather for sapping all my enthusiasm! From now on I think I’ll just type out brief summaries on the stuff I have watched recently. To make up for the lack of detail the posts will include a link to a more detailed review from a fellow (more talented) blogger.

We’ve had female warships, female felines, female consoles and now the time has come for female racehorses. Uma Musume Pretty Derby is a glorified advert for an upcoming mobile phone game. Thankfully, unlike most anime based on a video game, this one is pretty (derby) entertaining. Part sport show and part “cute girls doing cute things” series, this thirteen-episode P.A. Works production follows a clumsy gal named Special Week. She has travelled from the countryside to the big city with the aims of fulfilling the promise she made to her mother – become the best horse girl in Japan!

The show offers a nice mix of comedy (were Special Week and friends “horse” around) and serious sport drama. Pretty Derby also has pop idol component to it, were winners celebrate their victory by dancing on stage. The scriptwriters however seem to forget about the idea after the first few episodes. One cool thing I discovered, after watching the series, is that the characters and story lines are all based off genuine Japanese racehorses. Haru Urara, a minor character that always finishes last, for example is named after a mare who has never won a race. The poor girl has lost more competitions than England has lost World Cups!

FINAL SCORE: FOUR CARROTS OUT OF FIVE

Check out the Yuri Nation’s opinion of the anime by clicking HERE.

Build a Harem

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Alfredo Pasta, a talented blogger who writes about Spaghetti and anime, has nominated me for the “Build a Harem” challenge. Be sure to check out his excellent site by clicking HERE. Said challenge demands that I form a quintet of anime ladies. Okay, let’s get to it then. To make things interesting I’ll avoid picking anyone from last year’s Five Flaming Hotties lineup. Here are the rules by the way…

The ‘Build A Harem’ Tag Rules:

  1. Link back to the original post on Anime Q and A so they can check out everyone’s picks!
  2. Use the ‘Build A Harem’ logo somewhere in the post.
  3. Make sure to mention the person who nominated you too!
  4. Pick 5 Anime Characters (any show & any gender) that would be in your ideal harem if you were the main character of a harem anime, explain a little bit as to why they are your picks (if you want).
  5. Make sure each character you pick falls into some of the following harem character types: Childhood friend, tom boy/girl, genki girl/boy, loli/shota, trap, tsundere, yandere, kuudere, dandere, etc. (If there’s a character you’ve picked that doesn’t specifically fall into one of these types or falls into multiple types that’s fine too!
  6. Nominate 5 people to participate in this tag!


ELSIE (THE WORLD GOD ONLY KNOW) THE KLUTZ

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The World God Only Knows is a hilarious show about a gamer that has to seduce girls, in order to liberate them from demonic possession. I enjoyed most of the anime, but have avoided the third season thus far. As someone who loved the manga I suspect the series finale will frustrate me, due to all the content that was cut out. Elsie makes it into my harem, as she is a rare example of a clumsy character that isn’t annoying. Her fondness for fire trucks is cute and I approve of her cleaning skills. That’s something I look for in a love interest, as I loathe doing housework.

ESDEATH (AKAME GA KILL) THE SADISTIC ONE

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Akame Ga Kill has a large cast of wonderful characters. Shame then that most of them get needlessly killed off for pure shock value. Esdeath, the villainess who manipulates ice, would make a “cool” addition to my harem. Many harem shows include a token violent girl in the group and they don’t come more bloodthirsty than Esdeath. I guess you can’t be a pacifist when your moniker includes the word death in it. Thankfully I should be safe from her cruelty, as she is surprisingly romantic towards main characters.

CHISAKI HIRADAIRA (A LULL IN THE SEA) CHILDHOOD FRIEND

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A Lull in the Sea is an exceptional anime that I highly recommend to drama fans everywhere. The series starts out with undersea inhabitants transferring to a school on the surface world, before transforming into a romance show that boasts the messiest love triangle I have ever seen. Out of the show’s many childhood friends Chisaki is the most mature, both mentally and physically. This girl from the sea comes equipped with some nice floatation devices on her chest. Later in life she studies medicine, so she ticks the nurse fetish box too.

MORIOKA MORIKO (RECOVERY OF AN MMO JUNKIE) QUIET GIRL

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Out of all the females mentioned in this post Moriko is the one who resembles me the most. Shy, thirty year old, introvert who barely speaks pretty much sums me up to a T. Providing we could ever pluck up the courage to start up a conversation, I think Moriko and myself could easily bond over our shared passion for online games. As someone who has previously suffered from Warcraft addiction I however suspect that the relationship would trigger an MMORPG relapse. Must resist the urge to re-subscribe and level up my Paladin.

SHANA (SHAKUGAN NO SHANA) TSUNDERE

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Shakugan No Shana is a series I have mixed feelings about. The first season was brill, but it went downhill from there. Season two suffered from a rushed finale, after wasting too much time on filler, and the plot of series three made no sense. My misgivings aside, protagonist Shana is worthy of joining my harem. This petit Flame Haze looks great with either black or crimson hair. Despite being a no nonsense swordfighter she has that tsundere charm of getting easily flustered. When embarrassed she is known to yell out “Urusai! Urusai! Urusai!”

All right, the five gal quota has been filled. This challenge was tougher than I initially thought. Anime is packed with likable women, but selecting ones that fit the traditional harem archetypes wasn’t easy. I’ll conclude the post by inviting other bloggers to name their harem of fictional animated characters. The famous five I elect are…

Death Metal Florist

John Jr.

Man in Black

Raistlin0903

WeeaBro Derek

Omega Labyrinth Z Banned in the West

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Right now I am enjoying the Muv-Luv visual novels that recently got released on PlayStation Vita. The highly acclaimed trilogy came to the system courtesy of a successful 2015 Kickstarter campaign. Muv-Luv starts out as a high school harem rom-com, in the first title, before transitioning into a sci-fi mech adventure in the later sequels. If you are interested in downloading the games be sure to manually search for them in the PSN store. Sony’s inept European staff never bothered to list either VN on their New Release listings. Guess they really hate anything that publisher PQube brings out.

Case in point, earlier this week it was announced on PQube’s website that Omega Labyrinth Z won’t be getting a Western localization after all. A handful of prudish nations (including Australia the kings of censorship) refused to give the dungeon crawler an age rating, thus barring it from being sold in their retail outlets. The rest of the world was however expected to get the game at some point this year. Unfortunately for RPG fans Sony has scuppered those plans at the eleventh hour. A press release from PQube reveals that Sony has effectively banned the game in the US and EU…

“In the case of Omega Labyrinth Z, while PQube has worked with all relevant age rating bodies in their respective territories, PQube must respectfully comply with the wishes of the platform holder and have therefore withdrawn any future plans for Omega Labyrinth Z’s European and North American release.”

When I say Sony I mean their European and America branches, because the game came out last year in Japan without incident. Shame that said Asian version doesn’t carry English subtitles, because that would have allowed prospective buyers to import it. Thank you very much Sony Europe/America for policing what grown adults can buy. You are okay with profiting from games that revel in graphic murder (God of War) but heaven forbid that an eighteen year old gets to play something that features cute cartoon girls. Better not tell them that their Crunchyoll app already allows people to view ecchi content on their machine.

I feel bad for PQube because they must be out of pocket, after going through the expense of translating a game they can no longer sell. Meanwhile the folks at Sony have accelerated the death of their handheld with this decision. Banning games is not going to help the lifespan of a system that is starving for new releases. One thing that concerns me is the signal that Sony has sent out. Game publishers are hesitant to localize niche games because they aren’t big sellers. I suspect in future even fewer quirky titles from Japan will reach our shores. The risk is too great when the threat of a potential Sony ban hangs over their heads.