Friday, May 23, 2003 @ 14:21 (Japan Standard Time)

A hobbyist video gamer in the middle of Japan's gaming zone. Comments on console, PC, handheld and arcade games.
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2003-05-23 Fri

Dreaming in Ikaruga, DB woes, Rinne Tenshou

2003-05-16 Fri

ASCII Grip V2 for PS2, E3

2003-05-15 Thu

Ikaruga level 2 analysis, Miduki, PC Shmups

2003-05-12 Mon

Gag me with "gal-get", Ikaruga obsession, Achamo Orange GBA SP

2003-05-06 Tue

Choaniki, Yumeria, RSG: Swordplay

2003-05-03 Sat

A work vacation

2003-05-01 Thu

Review of Ikaruga Appreciate DVD

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Dreaming in Ikaruga, DB woes, Rinne Tenshou

Now playing:
  • Ikaruga (GC-jp, puzzle shooting)
  • Rinne Tenshou (PC-jp, doujin soft baton twirling shmup)
I have been dreaming in Ikaruga again. Now that my score is pretty good on level 1 and 2, I've started to work on level 3. What a bear. I can't get through it without 3 continues. But so far I've been working on the first 30 seconds. Funny I was practicing that part over and over again, trying to get the Smart Bomb to go where I wanted it to go, then I looked at the clock and it was 2 in the morning! The replays available from the net seem so restricted. You know the part where people look like they are just scooting back and forth like a pendulum? Precise rigid movements. They should take a page from WIZ's gaming style. Wacky off the wall.

I have this image in my mind every time I think of the second "bauble", shoot the chewy black "neugat" (3b) and Smart Bomb the lingering whites (9w). This move is pretty slick. I like it. Every time I close my eyes I see the "neugat" melt, I exit the bauble stage left and down while releasing the Smart Bomb, which archs up and down to nab the 9w just before I run into them. Sweet sweet sweet. Like a hot knife through butter.

But, it's the part after that is troubling me. What do you do first? Shoot the 3rd "bauble" "nuegat" or take out the side incoming 6b? I usually crack on this step. If I think about it a bit more, I shouldn't lead those side incoming 6b so very close to the 3rd "bauble", so I can have enough space to zap them first. Zap, he said.

Oh, and later on in stage 3-1, I need to position myself in the correct spot for Smart Bombing the 9w that rise into the screen. Smart. I notice in the SRS and the Kiken replays that there is the magic sweet spot and time that you need to release the Smart Bomb. "Drop it!"

On a serious tip, I've been trying to backup and restore this webpage's database, but I am having serious problems with restore. I've always boasted PostgreSQL is good quality software but I am seriously frustrated with this. I want to move from 7.1.2 (compiled myself) to 7.2.3 (Cygwin standard binary). Why is there EUC_JP reading problems? Why are there database owner problems? I suddenly realized that I am up a creek if I need to restore this database. Yowza.

Rinne Tenshou - Baton twirling shmup

Okay, so we have this Rinne Tenshou that I bought for like 800 yen. Some cutesy kawaii!!!!!!11 scrolling game that is tight but slow as molasses as soon as you hit the fire button. What the heck. Fast 70 fps. Slow 35fps. Why? I have a graphics rendering card?!?!? Anyway, very interesting graphics, fruits and stuff. Most bullet patterns are neigh-well impossible to avoid, at my current skill level. Your hit area is 1 pixel, though.

Do I have something interesting to say today? No not at the moment. Oops, I put my thoughts into words.

ASCII Grip V2 for PS2, E3

Now playing:
  • Yumeria (DC-jp, dream adventure-love sim)
  • Ikaruga (GC-jp, puzzle shooting)
Now stacking:
  • Canvas (DC-jp, school love sim)

Ren from Canvas

I happened to find Canvas (above: Ren from Canvas) for cheep, 2200 yen, so I bought it. "Stacked" it, yeah. I wonder if the PS2 version is different?

I bought a PS2 one-handed Dual-Shock controller called the ASCII Grip V2. Other one-hand controllers I've seen were purely digital, but this one allows you to use either the digital or analog modes, and even allows controlling the L3 and R3 analog stick (but not at the same time). Being Dual-Shock compatible, it supports vibration. There is a white button, and it lights either red or green, or not at all, to indicate L3, R3 or digital arrow directional mode. I couldn't find the company, and the only web page with a picture or mock up is the page at . I think the company went out of business!

So how is this controller in Yumeria? For the most part I found myself trying to ignore my muscle memory of my previous one-hand controller made by Hori. The layout is a little wierd. O and X are under your forefinger and middle finger, and your thumb controls the directional stick/pad, the triangle and square, and the other buttons. It's a bit of a reach to hit the white mode button, but I think it's pretty rare to change modes. Also while in digital (white button no color lit) pressing down on the stick is equivalent to the O button. Very good. It sure is annoying to hit the R1 and R2 buttons, though. As far as basic clickablility is concerned, it's sufficient, no annoyances or problems.

And I fell asleep playing Yumeria. Shows you how interesting this game really is. Although for a second there I thought I was on the Miduki branch. Go go go pink mizuki!

Oh, what is this I hear about E3? I've read up on people going to E3, read some "exclusive" news about upcoming games unveiled at E3. Why have I never felt it necessary to go to one of these conventions? You'd think with all of the time I play console games I would be salivating at a chance to go. But naw...

So what's caught my fancy about E3? Hearing Super Mario Bros. 3 being ported to the GBA as Super Mario Advance 4. I admit I am looking forward to this one. Wait, is this just a minutely enhanced port of the Super Mario All-Stars: SMB3? Maybe I should just break out the emulator and be done with the mania.

Pikmin 2. The first one frustrated me once, and I stopped playing it. It was fun before it got too hard. Um, I wonder if they improved the game play.

Kirby's Air Race (?). Um, I don't know why but I want a Kirby console game.

Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater. Jeez, couldn't they come up with some cool, espionage title? Does Snake really eat a snake? Is there some sword swallowing too?

Pokemon Pinball: Ruby & Sapphire. I liked playing the Pokemon Pinball Game Boy Color version. The vibration was a nice doo-dad. Scoring was fun. I didn't manage to collect them all, but I had my time with it.

Ikaruga level 2 analysis, Miduki, PC Shmups

Now playing:
  • Ikaruga (GC-jp, puzzle shooting)
  • Yumeria  (DC-jp, dream adventure-love sim)
  • Warning Forever (PC-jp, timed boss shooting, freeware)
  • rRootage 0.22 (PC-jp, boss shooting, freeware)
Now stacking:
  • Bittersweet Fools -Dolce- (DC-jp, novel adventure)
Not much to report except I have been playing Ikaruga like a maniac. I have racked up 40 hours of play time with my GC version. I have forceably rotated my LCD. I use my Rubik's Professor (4x4x4) puzzle as a stand to keep the LCD from falling. My gosh the LCD monitor generates a lot of heat. I think it will break soon!

So how have I progressed? I still do the orthodox SRS method for level 2-1, eke-ing out at best a 38 combo.  I'm trying to be original by using the Smart Laser more (what is the general word for this?). For example, level start, 3w 6b 6w, then Smart Laser the last 6b. I think I'm pretty slick there slurping up the bullets from behind. Then move on to the "tempest" section. I can't seem to get a handle on all the flying objects here, so I just to do the textbook SRS method. No way I can do the WIZ method. Then with the "laser blast" section, I still do the SRS method. I can't fill my Energy Gauge and blast those incoming b planes. Still I try to be creative with the Smart Laser. The more I practice it, the more I get confortable with its usage.

Then moving on to level 2-2. I try to be a little creative as player 2, dropping back diagonally and firing a single shot to kill a b, while trying to be on time to hit 4 b in a row. I think I get this timing pretty good now. Since at the beginning of level 2-2 I have about 3 or 4 in the Energy Gauge, I can't finish off the rest of them w as I'd like. Then the alternating "rotate incoming" pattern comes in. I figured out that I shoot too early to get out of the center, and that's why I get killed moving around. Squeeze off one shot at the last possible second, manuever out and back down and squeeze off another. Repeat before getting to the boxes.

The boxes are interesting, and I love trying to use the Smart Laser. Since I have a full Energy Guage here and I am B, I don't gain any Energy from hitting the white boxes. There's a point where I can Smart Laser all of the black, if I finish the whites in the correct order. I think it's the SRS way.

The "side shot" section is fun now, because I use the Smart Laser. I sometimes hit the obstacles though trying to milk all of the bullets. I still can't seem to maximize the combos here. The center colliding b and w just before the shutter is where I get a little conservative.

Ah, the "1st bullet swirl" section. I am getting used to this part. I am liking it better now. I need to get fast enough to finish the 12 b when come out, though. So far though, I can't seem to finish off the last 6 b on the right side.

The "2nd bullet swirl" section is perfect. The only way I know how to complete it (SRS method) is the only way for me. The last part just before the funnel, where w and b again come out from the side generators is interesting. Just when you see them scroll onto the screen, take out 2 w, move, take out 1 w, finish off the 3 b, and you can sit easy shooting and waiting for them to line up. I need to use the Smart Laser just like WIZ.

With all the practice I'm getting, I am getting better with finishing the "clock-counterclock" b and w swirl pattern. 3 b or 3 w, then take out the rest following the clock or counterclock movement. Then finish off with a like color Smart Laser.

The last interesting part is the "wave field" I need to learn how to quickly shoot off these guys. I also need to learn how to do the continuous 1-shot. I think those professionals hit the Shot button with their forefinger and middle finger in a Track-and-Field pattern. You really can't do that with a GameCube Pad because the Shot button "B" isn't wide enough. What can I do to fix this?

And so? I finally upgraded my Challenge Arcade high score to 6,527,810. Not enough to get on the Ikaruga Net Ranking Arcade mode, though. That's why I tried playing Challenge Prototype. I got 4,511,560, which earned me 23th place. Yes it's a different game, but I played it like it was Arcade mode. That's all I know.

Ikaruga is way more that just a game. It requires perfectionist performance skills while requiring adaptability. You can memorize a movement/shooting pattern but you still need to adapt to the random appearance to the enemies that appear only after you finish a section fast enough. It requires flexability and subtly in using the Shot, Change buttons. I have been debating whether or not to use the X button as a Smart Button but decided not to in order to increase my flexability. The professionals learned how to play this game with just two buttons, and I can find my own reward by limiting myself. I still press the Shot+Change combination too hard, though. I need to get used to it. I think of Ikaruga as less of a shooter and more as a puzzle game. It rewards speedy players with points.

What am I going to do about level 3? I still can't complete this level with the 3 lives allotted. I think I'll focus on trying to survive. Screw the chaining crap.

Enough of Ikaruga, gotta play it some more.

Yumeria. About the only fun part was when Nanase says "saiyusen jikkou". Why is this funny? The seiyuu for Nanase is Kikuko Inoue, the same person who does Mizuho-sensei in the anime Onegai Teacher, whose set phrase was "saiyuusen jikkou". But I digress.

Yumeria. I finished the Nanase branch, much to my surprise. It is boring and the story doesn't get serious at all. Ugh. And I don't understand the ending. I understand the language, I just don't understand why it ended that way. Okay. First I aim for Miduki, but I get the Nanase branch. Okay. next time I'm going to aim for the Neneko or Mone branch and see if I can get to the Miduki that way. Heh.

It was interesting to note that Yumeria credited OGG Vorbis for sound technology. I wonder what they used it for.

Warning Forever. I downloaded this PC doujin soft freeware shooter a couple of months ago and I promptly forgot it. Then I read on the Insert Credit page about the game and I took it out to play. Yeah. Simplistic but razor sharp wire-frame like graphics, and addicting game play. I think it uses sprites, not real wire-frames. I like the manic-shooting. It's a refreshing change. I am an agressive attacker only in the lower levels. I hang back a lot in the harder levels. I wait for the boss ship to rotate then I let 'er have it. Then it fills up the screen with lasers and death fog and bullets, and I die. I lose time. I can't get past the 14th level. Okay I cheat and I play at the F2 key screen refresh setting. F1 is too hard. and F3 goes without saying.

Since I was on the PC I fired up rRootage 0.22 one more time. Very fun. I kept thinking I needed to convert my own OGG Vorbis files for new music.

Gag me with "gal-get", Ikaruga obsession, Achamo Orange GBA SP

Now playing:
  • Yumeria (PS2-jp, dreaming love-sim)
  • Ikaruga (GC-jp, puzzle shooting)
  • Mr. Driller Ace (GBA-jp, digging puzzle)
Now now, I've been playing Yumeria on and off for a couple of days now. I'm currently on the "Mizuki" story branch, 8th chapter. This game is not very fun. Pure and simple. The battle scenes are repetitive and I don't feel a sense of accomplishment. Plus the freaky "touch her body part" (no, not THERE, but touching her forearm or small of the back, tricep area, hand, or shoulder) and she powers up is kind of scary in and of itself. So far the story hasn't justified itself. It's just fight, fight, stupid gag, fight. Ack. I hate stupid gag stories, the ones where they don't treat the main character seriously. I want to organize my thoughts about this game but I'm not feeling up to it. Perhaps my money would have been better spent getting one of those older PS2 love-sim games like My Merry May or Missing Blue.

On a related note, I moved the gal-get type stuff into a new PS2 8mb memory card. It is a stylized "Sakura Taisen" pink card that I got for cheep. The one thing that annoyed me is that the update times for the copied files are updated when copied. Ugh, sucks. I want to remember that I haven't touched Final Fantasy X for a year and a half, or that I gave up on Tokimeki Memorial 3 more than a year ago. Oh well.

Also I bought the latest Dengeki monthly magazine, because of the Yumeria backgrounds and A4 sized poster (right). Hey I like the graphics. Mizuki is a pink-themed character and I like the color scheme. Very cute.

Switching topics, lately I've been listening to the Ikaruga soundtrack a lot. The MP3s are available at some Treasure fan site. So I've been in the mood to play some more. Recently I finally started using my Hori Digital pad for the GameCube. Golly gee do I have a lack of control. You know Chapter 1-4, where you're supposed to take out the 1st set of middle alternating pods? I keep running into them! Ack it is so frustrating!!! I think yesterday I spent a total of 3 hours in conquest mode normal/1-4 doing both slow and normal. I take the Ikaruga Appreciate DVD as the reference. I figured out a certain combination that works with my reflexes (I finally realized that I ain't Mr. Bullet Time, okay?) Concentrate on the 4 big guys rotating counter clockwise, and work those other small center guys. Be conservative, but work quickly.

Also I noticed that if I take out that white enemy 6 (counted from the beginning of conquest normal 1-4 ) really quickly, I can get up to 18 enemies (normally 12) in that 1st set of middle alternating pods. Alas, because in conquest mode you don't start out with a full Energy Release gauge, you can't kill that white enemy 6 fast enough to kill all 18 enemies. Yeah. Musings by the bungling shmup-wannabe.

In any case I've been working on Conquest 1-3 as well. I finally got the rhythm down for taking out the first hard combo series that looks like this:
Ikaruga enemy position pattern
    b w b w
b w b w b w b w
b w b w b w b w
    b w b w
Funny how I can remember the layout so well. I think I practiced this part about 2 hours or something.

Oh and about the GBA tip. I've been leaving the GBA at home. I recently bought the "special" Achamo Orange Carry Case for it and the Achamo Orange Game case at the Pokemon Center Osaka store. One thing I don't understand is how to use this dumb Carry Case in the first place? Why is it so hard? Why are the pockets so hard to use? Why oh why is there two case in the set, one orange and one black inner lining? I'm using the black one as a camera case. Too big, too clumsy.

Choaniki, Yumeria, RSG: Swordplay

Now playing:
  • Mr. Driller Ace  (GBA-jp, drilling puzzle)
  • Yumeria  (PS2-jp, dreaming love sim)
Now stacking:
  • Rez with Trance Vibrator (PS2-jp, abstract rail shooting)
So I was still scopin' for game and DVD deals, when I found it. Choaniki. This is one game that is pretty scary. Imagine a side-scrolling shooting game crossed with skin imagery from your latest WWE match. In other words, it's full of scantly clad males! Uh, no. Sure, pick it up and see what it does. Do you really want to buy it? It's only 1700 yen.

Another one I found that was right next to it was Pepsiman (PS-jp). I was laughing so hard when I saw the cover. "Drink!" Somebody must have wanted to buy this game because it was a used game sitting in the new section.

One more game that caught my eye in the same general area... I already forgot what it was. Yes another shooting game.

I noticed that Canvas for the PS2 was no where to be found. I had to pickup Yumeria because I was infatuated with the graphics, at the time. But Canvas for the PS2 just came out, after a long life as a PC game and a consumer-oriented Dreamcast version. Uh yeah, just so that I could hear the difference between the versions. Miwa Kouduki (倖月美和) who plays Amane Tachibana (橘天音)is awesome! Um, just because she sounds cute!

So what about Yumeria? Well for one, they have a pink/purple haired character Miduki, so that a plus. The voice actress for Miduki (三月) is Masumi Asano (浅野真澄), who you may remember is サガ from A Little Snow Fairy Sugar (ちっちゃな雪使いシュガー). The voice actress for Nanane-oneechan (七瀬お姉ちゃん) is Kikuko Inoue (井上喜久子). These are very good pluses. And plus the animation is cute, very cute. On the minus side, where can I begin? Even though the faces have much detail, the animation is somewhat jerky. Sometimes the characters when they face each other don't look like they are looking at each other. There is no anti-aliasing! The font for the text is hard to read. The animation is herky-jerky when you skip text. You can't save your game at any time, you have to wait for a save point.

As for the story... Well, I finished the first day and I want to keep on reading. This time I won't use my glasses, though, that bugs me.

So where is Dancing Swords (GBA-jp)? I can't find this game nowhere! Not that it's vital or nothing. Oh well, there's always later.

As for Mr. Driller Ace, I cheated. I bought the guide book and read the part about the new character. You can't use this highly desirable new character until you beat the South Pole (2000M!) in regular mode. This is impossible. I read a bit more and it said to use the robot at 10 lives. Oh!!!! With the robot it's like you have 20 lives, give or take.  So I was able to beat the Amazon level (1500M) that way, barely. Um. This feels so impossible. I felt my hands numbing after beating the Amazon level.

I recently just listened to the Ikaruga music. This is after a intense session of watching the Ikaruga Appreciate DVD. There is no soundtrack CD, but there are a few kind diehards who post extracted graphics and music on their webpages. Level 1 and 2 sounds so intense. I can just feel the enemies swooping down on me. Levels 3, 4, 5 feel less agitated. Duh. I have this feeling of playing the game again. But I don't want to use my LCD monitor no more. That monitor is too fuzzy, and doesn't provide enough contrast. I should just junk it for PC uses.

Oh and I watched the Radiant Silvergun "Swordplay" demos, that somebody in the Shmups Forums mk2 pointed to. Jeez, this just ruins the game for me. There doesn't seem to be a better way of powering up, that's why I think that the sword play way is frustrating. It's getting harder and harder to motivate myself to busting out my Sega Saturn.

A work vacation

Now playing:
  • Mr. Driller Ace (GBA-jp, digging puzzle)
Now stacking:
  • Pia Carrot e Yokoso 2 (DC-jp, romantic restaurant sim)
  • Egg Mania (GBA-jp 2 player block puzzle)
  • Shenmue 2 (DC-jp, 3d adventure?)
  • Rez (DC-jp, abstract on-the rails 3d shooting)
  • Power Smash 2 (DC-jp, tennis)
  • Outtrigger (DC-jp, 3d action)
  • Candy Stripe (DC-jp hospital love sim)
I swear that I've been playing a good game, but it's not video.

This week is actually "Golden Week", Japan's spring holiday. Basically everybody gets a week off. Except for me. I've been working for a couple of days now. Not much of a vacation, you could say.

But the one good thing about the vacation is... sales. There were bargains to be had in gaming land, as you could see in my "Now stacking" list. Well, actually, not really good choice bargains. As far as DVD anime was concerned, I made a killing. Anybody out there seen Piano? As far as I'm concerned it's great quiet anime, but it's like a Ayako Kawasumi (川澄綾子) vehicle. Geez, she has credits as the main character voice, and sound.

Another good thing is I finally got that Achamo Orange Gameboy Advance! Here for your consumption is my gameboy collection:

I am in excess! Ehehehehe.

So I'm still playing Mr. Driller Ace. It's a fun game but I get frustrated since my character moves too slow. Even if I pick the fastest character, the game speeds up to compensate. I just can't handle it. It's too bad, I haven't yet passed the Amazon part, either with 3 lives or 10. I just suck.

Review of Ikaruga Appreciate DVD

edit: I moved the review to a regular homepage: Review of the Ikaruga Appreciate DVD
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