Monthly Archives: December 2015

Indie Wonderland: Sakura Clicker

And so reach we the end of Sakura Month. Sakura Indeterminate Stretch Of Time, if we’re sticklers for accuracy. And what a ride it’s been! We’ve watched angels battle ancient sorcerers, high school swimmers work out their emotional baggage, voyeuristic battle maidens go on a quest for a fallen star, and childhood beachfront friends be awful at each other. And I don’t know about you readers, but I can definitely say I’m no longer the man I was when I started this.

There’s only one Sakura-brand left in Steam’s store. One final hurrah. It’s the largest breaker of the mold, too; the reason I saved this particular game for last is because it’s not a visual novel at all. But rather… a clicker. A Sakura Clicker.

(Spoiler levels: Narrative, it’s a clicker game. Mechanical, it’s a clicker game. NSFW levels: some bikinis — quite a lot of bikinis, in fact — but nothing major.)

(Game source: I’d love to blame Patreon one last time, but this one’s free-to-play.)

After the break: Sakura Clicker. Curious how I’m gonna write a full review on a derivative softcore clicker game? Ha, so am I!

Ranonauts – Funding Shortfall

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I am still not sure how quickly you are meant to build new bases in Xenonauts. I get the sense that they are at least as important as Satellites are in XCOM. Without their radar coverage I can’t deal with aliens in most of the globe and if I leave those aliens alone I will lose funding and the game. On the other hand if I have no money I can’t actually recruit replacements or build the tools I need to handle thing, I definitely crossed the line here and can hear the proverbial straw noisily trying to consume the last few drops while everything grinds to a halt. I think the overall approach was good, but I need to slow down the expenditure a little, or perhaps I should have just started building the base later in the month.

I have a feeling that later in the game more bases should allow me to fight aliens more frequently, which also should generate revenue. The key will be making sure that the revenue gained from alien fights does not outweigh the hiring costs of replacing casualties.

It also took me a while to realise that the choppers are not automatically refilled and I was starting to go into combat understaffed. It comes about from the separation between outfitting and beginning combat missions, in other more recent games like XCOM and Massive Chalice initiating a mission immediately kicks you into a soldier selection and outfit screen, here of course it has to be done before you launch the chopper. I wonder how effective it would be to have a mod that brings up the soldier screens whenever a chopper is selected for an intercept mission. That is after all basically the only time you ever really care about what is going onto a chopper and what loadout your soldiers are using.

If you would like to join the Ranonauts program and do your part against the alien menace please leave a comment or fill out the paperwork here. The earliest new soldiers will arrive is episode six.

Ranonauts – Recruiting

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The biggest stumbling block I encounter this time is the way that Xenonauts handles the recruitment process, where construction and manufacturing timelines are made very clear, I have yet to find any indicator for when scientist, engineers and new soldiers will arrive at a base. Not even just a standard amount of time it takes for recruits to reach the base.

I also manage to lose two soldiers in this fight, losses feel more prevalent in the early game than in the new XCOM games, I suspect that it is easier to deal with because the starting squad size is so much larger in Xenonauts. Losing 2 soldiers is painful, but not catastrophic. Or at least not immediately catastrophic, there is plenty of time for things to go wrong after all as this is only fight number two.

If you would like to join the Ranonauts project, please fill out the paperwork here or provide your details in a comment below. At this time new recruits will arrive in the sixth episode.

Ranonauts – Welcome to Earth

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Like almost all the games I have done Let’s Plays for lately, Xenonauts isn’t exactly a new game, but it is a game I have been meaning to play for quite some time. I remember seeing it announced back in 2009, as a response to news of the then upcoming shooter XCOM game. I always like to see indies take the lead in areas and genres that AAA are neglecting so I decided to keep an eye on it and when it showed up on kickstarter much later I backed it, it saw final 1.0 release last year, ironically two years after the excellent turn based tactical XCOM game came out. It is pretty interesting to compare the two games given their common source and I will probably do so a lot.

It is important to remember that Xenonauts mechanically clings much more closely original UFO: Enemy Unknown than the reboot does and it should be interesting to see how well I do given how badly I fared in the original DOS games. Hopefully I have learned a lot in the intervening 21 years, welcome to Ranonauts Incompetent Planetary Defence, if you would like to enlist please leave your name, and any preferences regarding your posting and position.

NB: At the time of this posting the earliest time new recruits can arrive is episode 4

Indie Wonderland: Sakura Beach 2

When I started this adventure into Sakura depravity, I was expecting four weeks of ‘main’ Sakura games. Angels, Swim Club, Beach, Fantasy. I had a plan, as they say, and the plan was good.

And then at the last minute, at the proverbial eleventh hour, Steam dropped a new Sakura game in the store. The sixth feature-length Sakura. And not only that: it was actually a sequel! To one of the games I was going to play, no less! I recognize signs when I see them: there was obviously no way I wasn’t going to have to add this one to the repertoire.

And given how much I’ve been emphasizing last week’s Sakura Fantasy as being a Chapter One, you probably won’t be surprised to learn that this week’s game is…

Well, I mean, you’ve probably read the title. Sakura Beach 2. The Worst Sakura Game, Redux.

Screw you, signs.

(Spoiler levels: Narrative, pretty high. Mechanical, you know the drill. NSFW level: mostly okay, with one or two glaring page-2 exceptions.)

(Game source: Patreon. I’m almost free, I’m almost free, I’m almost free.)

After the break: Sakura Beach 2. Oh boy. Will this be more adventures with space-guy Seiji and his horribly abusive friends?

Brothers A Tale of Two Rans – Episode 6 – Trees Are Life

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I feel like I have been a little harsh with Brothers the past few posts, but that is mostly because the rest of the game doesn’t really have much worth commenting on, particularly repeatedly. They did a fantastic job with the art, it is stylised enough that it hasn’t aged badly and they can make their characters express themselves despite not having much if any facial animation.

Mechanically the game is simple, but not too easy, the inherent limitation of controlling two characters with the one mind complicates things a surprising amount and the story they tell is touching if bare of details. Especially the loss near the end, the death of the older brother hit very close to home for me though my own experiences may leave me fairly vulnerable to those kinds of stories. I was genuinely moved by the death and burial sequence, though I think mechanically the most powerful part was the most obtuse. Getting the younger brother to swim, once you understand how is a beautifully realised mechanical metaphor demonstrating the growth of the younger brother and the guidance of the older.

Having now played through the game I definitely agree with the praise I recall seeing around the time of release, it is definitely an experience worth having.

Brothers A Tale of Two Rans – Episode 5 – A Trip To Frozen Town

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It is remarkable now incurious everyone is about the town and its surroundings. Even before the boys close to it we get a hint, mysteriously frozen people in the logging camp definitely show that something is wrong, but you cannot get either one to interact or react to them it is surprising because of how much time Brothers spends on ensuring that each of the two can react and interact differently with so many different little irrelevant objects but here they do nothing. It doesn’t really involve them and they are just passing through with the surprisingly athletic and strong young woman they rescued last time.

The whole experience here leaves me wanting. I want to know more about this village, why it was under attack and how everyone on both sides was frozen in an instant. None of the frozen bodies shows any hint of panic or surprise at the fate of the rest, they must have been caught completely unaware. But I guess ultimately the tree of life cannot be found here, the tale continues.

Talk of the Ninja: Super Mario Maker Celebrates and Facilitates Creativity

Well, I went ahead and did it. I bought a current-gen console. Enjoy those three hundred dollars, Nintendo! I only bought it for Super Mario Maker, and let me tell you, it was worth every penny.

fuck this image

Mario Maker was released to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Super Mario Bros., the shot heard ’round the world. I know that’s the case because my Mario Maker Wii U Bundle came with a 30th anniversary Mario Amiibo (seen in the bottom right corner of the image above) who looks like he came straight out of Minecraft. It kind of fascinates me that instead of just making some sort of Mario Greatest Hits game, they made a game that challenges and encourages fans to make Mario levels themselves. That’s what Mario Maker is, and it has few bells and whistles to add on. It’s a comprehensive and intuitive level editor with tools, objects and enemies from several different Mario games, and an online sharing system for levels made by players from around the world.

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