Tag Archives: anime

Paul’s Preeminent PlayStation Plus Purge – Mugen Souls Z

For some reason, I thought Mugen Souls Z was an anime-based fighting game, something like Persona 4 Arena, which meant I could pop into it quickly, play a few matches, uninstall the beast, and write a few words related to the game as per my Paul’s Preeminent PlayStation Plus Purge feature. Alas, I was mistaken as this is a big-as-they-come JRPG, bursting with story, characters, more story, and some turn-based fighting, along with general elements of perverted skeeviness that I’m not down with. It’s not a hentai game, but it isn’t too far off in some aspects. More on that in a bit.

In Mugen Souls, the main protagonist Chou-Chou plans to conquer the universe by subjugating the seven worlds it comprises, as she thinks the planets look pretty. Traveling from world to world with her trusty companion Altis and loyal peon Ryuto, Chou-Chou aims to turn the heroes and demon lords of each world into her personal servants, saving the world from conflict in the process. That’s all fine and good, but none of that matters anymore because I’m playing Mugen Souls Z, which is the sequel to Mugen Souls, released in North America on May 20, 2014, for the PlayStation 3. The protagonist in this one is Syrma, a goddess aiming to stop an awkward ancient threat.

Mechanically and visually, as far as I can tell, Mugen Souls Z looks almost identical to its predecessor, but with some improved presentation bits. It’s got a cutesy look to it, with bright colors and bubbly personalities. You are not bogged down immediately with a hundred and one tutorials, as they are instead spread out over the first few hours, but even still, I found it to be a lot of concepts to juggle in my brain, from hitting crystals on the battlefield to turning enemies into peons and so on. The gameplay is also similar to the original; players will travel from one world to the next, finding spots on the map that will ask them to perform actions, such as handing over a certain item, using a certain fetish/affinity to flip their switch, or fighting a specific amount of monsters. Otherwise, you spend a good amount of time in G-Castle, which is both your flying spaceship that can transform into a big robot and your hub area full of shops and things to interact with.

Battles are somewhat tactical and turn-based. You can move around your party based on a circle, positioning them for maximum damage or even hitting multiple enemies at once. Each arena has a set of crystals, which, when activated, grant boosts or have negative repercussions. These allow for a certain level of cleverness on the player’s part, meaning that you can position yourself in such a way to literally cut damage in half while also boosting your own magic power. It’s a simple concept, but one that I still haven’t really figured out how to trigger. And no, I don’t want to go back and read the 15-page tutorial on it.

Ultimately, here are the things I liked:

  • That part where your G-Castle transforms and battles another large robot in the same style as the one-on-one duels in the Suikoden series, where you need to pay attention to the dialogue to prepare for the incoming attack.
  • The late title card that shows up, along with a music video, at the end of chapter 1.
  • That’s it.

Mugen Souls Z is way too talky for me. I’m not against a lot of dialogue, but much of it here feels unnecessary or repetitive. It took about two hours just to get to actual gameplay. Also, this is a very Japanese RPG, meaning that there’s a strong focus on fetishes, bouncy boobs, upskirt shots, and steamy bath scenes. Heck, the first piece of armor that you’ll unlock is underwear, and you’ll be able to accrue others as you play. I personally don’t know the ages of the main characters, but they look young to me, even as gods, and it’s extremely off-putting. I’m sure there’s an audience for this game, but I’m not part of it. And so it goes, uninstalled, never to know what ultimately happens to Chou-Chou, Syrma, and their friends. Maybe it is better not to know in the end.

Oh look, another reoccurring feature for Grinding Down. At least this one has both a purpose and an end goal–to rid myself of my digital collection of PlayStation Plus “freebies” as I look to discontinue the service soon. I got my PlayStation 3 back in January 2013 and have since been downloading just about every game offered up to me monthly thanks to the service’s subscription, but let’s be honest. Many of these games aren’t great, and the PlayStation 3 is long past its time in the limelight for stronger choices. So I’m gonna play ’em, uninstall ’em. Join me on this grand endeavor.

Paul’s Preeminent PlayStation Plus Purge – The King of Fighters XIII

I’m struggling to remember why I had so much fun playing Tekken, Bloody Roar, and Star Gladiator by myself as a young teenager and now, as a full-fledged adult, I barely touch fighting games unless I have a real-life person to play against. To me, they aren’t fun solo, and online play is too competitive. Maybe it’s because I was fascinated by all the throw options in Tekken married with the instant replay feature. Or maybe…I liked having all the time in the world to figure out how to make characters grow ginormous in Star Gladiator or figure out who had the best beast transformation in Bloody Roar (answer: Alice the rabbit). Anyways, The King of Fighters XIII is a fine 2D fighter, but it’s not able to hold my interest for very long. In short, too much anime-esque yelling going on.

The main draw for The King of Fighters XIII is its three-on-three team battles. Basically, you choose a default team of three characters or make your own team by selecting three characters of your choice, and then you battle against your opponent’s team. Simple as that. Here’s the rub. This isn’t like Marvel vs. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds or Tekken Tag Tournament 2, where you can swiftly switch between characters at any point during a match. No, in this one, you pick the order you want to play each person in beforehand and then fight with them until their health bar depletes. If you defeat your enemy, your character’s health restores a tiny bit for the next round.

Oh, and there’s a story. Via this mode, you’ll experience a variety of background stories not touched upon in the game’s original Arcade mode. You can discover the truth about King of Fighters’ “Ash Saga” and its secrets through the eyes of the main character, Ash Crimson, and other characters who were not directly participating in the tournament. Your decisions and battle results may lead you to discovering new story elements, which drives replayability to see all the different options and every scene. For me, I couldn’t really follow anything that was going on; a fight would start, there’d be some back-and-forth banter between the combatants, which got extra funny when fighting a clone of yourself, and then you’d pummel each other into the ground, hopefully with style. After that, it was on to the next fight, with a short anime cutscene to watch as you got closer to the main bosses of the mode.

I played through the Arcade mode using this tag team, mostly picked at random or by what I deemed looked like cool people from the outset: Iori, Benimaru, and Kula. You can tell me I’m wrong, it’s okay. I don’t know jack squat about this game series and these characters, but they have to be a thousand times better than Mai, who’s sprite animation is one hundred percent focused on her boobs bouncing in as inhuman  of a way possible; I’m sure she has her fanbase. Right, moving on. I was able to pull off a couple of special moves, several combos, along with a few EX finishers, which is something I always struggled with pulling off in, say, Street Fighter IV. Also, I unlocked two new characters for a game I’m going to uninstall real soon, so go me. Alas, I was not able to beat Saiki, as, like many final bosses in fighting games, he proved too tough–or is it cheap?–for my trio.

I’ll say this about The King of Fighters XIII–it is absolutely gorgeous. The animations on the characters are smooth and fluid, and the backgrounds are quite honestly pure insanity, what with all the detail and colors and different styles throughout. On occasion, I put my controller down and let my opponent beat me up just so I could watch more of what was happening in the background. The menus are slick and stylized, though I found the music to be mostly irrelevant. This series has certainly come along way from its heyday in 1994…though, even then, it was a beaut to behold on the Neo-Geo.

Similar to my problem with too many shmups for PlayStation Plus, I’ve got a bunch of other fighting games to get through. Namely, these ones–Darkstalkers Resurrection, UNDER NIGHT IN-BIRTH Exe:Late, and Skullgirls Encore. My god…the name of that middle title just strikes fear in my heart immediately. Until then, I’ll cut the cord for The King of Fighters XIII and set it free. Y’know, from my PlayStation 3 internal memory space.

Oh look, another reoccurring feature for Grinding Down. At least this one has both a purpose and an end goal–to rid myself of my digital collection of PlayStation Plus “freebies” as I look to discontinue the service soon. I got my PlayStation 3 back in January 2013 and have since been downloading just about every game offered up to me monthly thanks to the service’s subscription, but let’s be honest. Many of these games aren’t great, and the PlayStation 3 is long past its time in the limelight for stronger choices. So I’m gonna play ’em, uninstall ’em. Join me on this grand endeavor.

What I disliked about Chrono Trigger

I know that the previous post to this one was a game review haiku and for Chrono Trigger itself, meaning that that was going to be it in terms of “reviewing,” but I do want to talk about this powerful RPG from the SNES heydays a little more at length. I mean, I finished it up in early January 2012 a few days after GiantBomb completed their Endurance Run and have been rather silent since then, letting my thoughts and feelings about Crono, his friends, time, and Lavos stir and grow inside my mind. And don’t worry. While in this one I will be moaning and groaning about the parts I found disappointing, there will be another post devoted to what Chrono Trigger did right and why it is, many years later, still an amazing game.

Okay, let’s break this down for easy peasy squawking.

The writing (at times)

Chrono Trigger, despite all the destruction and malice that Lavos brings to the table, is actually a lighthearted tale. It opens with a festival, there’s a lot of bouncy music, and characters exaggerate in large and loud ways to get home their personalities. The writing also reflects this with Ayla, Robo, and Frog speaking with heavy dialects, which is not fun to digest. The biggest problem with the writing is that, when it came to quests and where to go next, nothing was clear. There’s no quest log, and so you just have to talk to everyone, and sometimes they will say something important, but it’s hard to decipher what is worth following and what carrot is not. I had to look up the solution to the Rainbow Shell quest because there was no way I’d ever figure it out on my own; I just can’t think that abstractly.

The old man at the End of Time could’ve been a bigger help, too.

Unclear stats

You can obtain a variety of accessories to put on your pals, but I never really changed them out too much as it was never clear what a lot of these things did. A MuscleRing gives its bearer Vigor +6, but in no way is it made known what Vigor means. Is that the same as Power? Stamina? Strike? Tickle? Your guess is as good as mine. I did not do a ton of weapon/armor switching, focusing only on whatever pumped up my people’s Power and Defense the most. Sometimes that meant everyone wearing Nova Armors and being boring clones.


The point after this one might seem contradicting, but about halfway through the  time-traveling adventure, fights became super easy. Like, just mashing the attack command for all three party members and never even glancing at dual techs or higher skills.

The final battle

Boss fight after boss fight after boss fight after boss fight. I had plenty of Elixirs and Full Elixirs and all my dudes leveled up, but man…it was grueling. No breaks or chances between to save and breath meant it was tense, and on my first real attempt to end it all I died midway through due to not paying attention intensely. My fault, but still…

DS bonus stuff

Yes, that’s right. I did not find a creepy pawn shop, sift through countless boxes of moth-ridden clothes and old VHS tapes to find a dusty–yet still workable–copy of Chrono Trigger for the SNES. Instead, I picked up the Nintendo DS version, which contains a translated version of the 1995 gem rainbow shell, as well as some bonus content. Namely, this:

  • Anime cutscenes from the PlayStation 1 port
  • The Lost Sanctum
  • The Dimensional Vortex
  • Arena of the Ages
  • A new ending (bringing the total to…17, ugh)
None of it is stellar. The anime cutscenes are a weird and kinda jarring, especially when you see Crono and his goofy hair in motion. The bonus areas…well, I didn’t even find them. Unless they only pop up in New Game+. So, good job there. I tried Arena of the Ages for a pinch, but it’s basically Pokemon diet, and not even near as gripping. Otherwise, it’s easy to not miss it, but at least I was able to have a copy of the game for portable purposes.

Multiple endings

I only toss this under the bus because I really don’t have time to play this game more than once, and I definitely don’t want to do that final battle again just to see a new ending. Maybe I’ll YouTube some of ’em…

And that’s it. I basically enjoyed everything else about Chrono Trigger, but I’ll call those aspects out in a separate post down the road. If you’re a Chrono Trigger fan, did any of these above points ring true for you as well or is it perfection from beginning to end? Let me know below in the comments. And don’t hate me too hard; I loved Chrono Trigger, but I’m still able to see its faults. That’s just one of the problems stemming from me playing the game as a 28-year-old man versus a young boyconstantly high on Mode 7 and Super Mario World.


Back in the late 1990s and early 00s, I was very much heavily into all things Ghost in the Shell. The movie, the manga, the TV miniseries, the art style, and the crazy robotics. You name it, I ate it up. It didn’t even have to be Ghost in the Shell; so long as it came close or paid homage to Mamoru Oshii, I followed like a hungry dog, a transformation that ultimately led me to picking up this little one-shot game from Bungie West called Oni.

It’s a third person action-adventure game that blends gunplay, exploration, and hand-to-hand combat as players help Konoko (who is not too far off design-wise and name-wise from Motoko) strike back against the Orwellian government known as the Syndicate. She’ll sneak around and break enemy’s necks with her killer assassin moves. She strafe around corners and fire at goons with a multitude of weapons: handguns, rifles, special energy weapons, and more. And the story unfolds via in-game cutscenes. At the time, it was a very impressive game. It felt dauntingly large and yours to do whatever with.

I first saw Oni at a friend’s house, and it was basically the tutorial level that teaches you the punches and kicks of things and then the very first mission, which has Konoko clearing out a Syndicate warehouse and eliminating a mole within their operations. I remember now, upon seeing it, just being wowed by the fact that it was–despite obviously following a linear path–pretty much up to the player to clear out the warehouse as they pleased. This I liked. Exploration and freedom is always good, a trend that the PlayStation 2 will continue to push later on with games like Grand Theft Auto 3 and Persona 3. Also, ammo is pretty scarce on Konoko’s first foray into enemy terrority so she had to rely more on punches and kicks and deadly neck-breaking flips to weaken the enemy. Having only experienced then Dark Cloud as an action-adventure battle system, this one in Oni was fast-paced and nerve-inducing. Though it did take some time to master, learning how to block and move around an enemy’s attack.

Graphics then were top-notch. Top of the notch. A notch at its toppest. Now…eh, not so much. I mean, there was a serious lack of texture throughout:

So yeah, the game’s pretty ugly. But the fun factor was high. Guess that’s enough ying/yang for me.

Truthfully, I don’t recall ever getting far into the game. Maybe five or six missions and that’s it. No real reason is jumping out to me as to why I stopped, and I guess at some point I traded it in for, most likely, a measly lump of store credit. And yet…I miss it.

I dunno. I think if I spy it in a bargain bin for $5.00 or less, I might have to get it again.

GAMES I REGRET PARTING WITH is a regular feature here at Grinding Down where I reminisce about videogames I either sold or traded in when I was young and dumb. To read up on other games I parted with, follow the tag.