Tag Archives: sprites

LISA sadistically plays with your emotions and expectations

I’ve only seen Mad Max: Fury Road in terms of the dystopian action series, but it’s possibly one of my favorite post-apocalyptic worlds, even if it is ultimately the most deranged and harshest on its people. LISA reminds me a lot of that movie, though there is much more humor to its telling and characters, and some of that humor works well with the ultra high amount of violence and disturbing imagery…and sometimes it doesn’t gel at all. That’s okay though. In this wasteland, where pain is living, nothing can be perfect.

Right, on with it. LISA is a quirky-as-quriky-gets side-scrolling RPG in the same vein as EarthBound–which I still need to get to ugh–set in a post-apocalyptic wasteland. Beneath this charming and funny exterior is a world full of disgust, moral destruction, and a general theme of “that’s messed up”; in fact, the game’s full name is LISA: The Painful RPG, which is a little on the nose. Players will learn what kind of person they are by being forced to make some serious choices, which do ultimately permanently affect how the game goes. For instance, if you want to save a party member from death, you will have to sacrifice the strength of your own character, the protagonist called Brad. This might entail taking a beating for them or even chopping off a limb or two. It’s pretty rough out there in this world of no women or children and only power-thirsty men. The story follows Brad as he stumbles upon an abandoned infant, a baby girl, who is later kidnapped.

Naturally, you’ve got all the standard RPG basics to manage, such as weapons, skills, limited energy for special attacks, and numerous stats that can be improved with items, leveling up, or purchasing new equipment. The combat in LISA is turn-based, though Brad’s general attack can be changed with manual inputs to do extra damage per hit, so long as you know the right string of keys to hit to perform the combo. Over the course of the game, Brad will come in contact with a diverse cast–and I do mean diverse–of potential party members that he can recruit by doing a range of odd and random tasks, and each brings their own special personality to combat. Currently, my party consists of Terry Hintz, who is not all that useful honestly, and someone else whose name I can’t remember, but I got them to join after listening to a lot of his sad stories. It looks like there are many characters that can join your party, just like in Chrono Cross.

Items in LISA range from mundane necessities to oddities like horse jerky, sweatbands with fire damage, greasy ponchos, and kung-fu scrolls. No phoenix downs so far. Stats are tied to a character’s level and equipment found or purchased from vendors in one of the game’s many towns. Settlements and towns sometimes offer respite from the outside world with places to sleep, which recovers the entire party’s health and skill points, but also includes randomized, potentially damaging events, such as getting robbed or having a party member kidnapped. You can also save your progress in specific spots.

Generally speaking, whenever games allow me to make moral choices, such as Mass Effect or Fallout: New Vegas, I always play the good guy. Sure, being a rude dude or scoundrel can be fun when it is make believe, but there’s a serious part of me that feels sorry for causing others pain or just being a complete dick for no reason other than to get a reaction. Yes, I care about polygon or sprite-based figures that are essentially just bits of code, and I care even more about how I interact with them. LISA makes being a good guy tough, constantly driving home the notion that being selfish and heartless is the only way to survive in a world like this.

Unfortunately, I think I might be stuck, unsure of where to go next. The problem is that it isn’t often clear where next should be, but also tied to the fact that there are hidden doorways and passages everywhere, and they are exceptionally well hidden. There’s some light platforming to do in LISA, with you being able to hop up small ledges, but falling from a great height will actually damage Brad and his companions’ health. Naturally, sometimes you have to do this to progress, but I can’t seem to figure out where to go. Of course, I could always look up a walkthrough, but I feel like I’m still too early in the game to be seeking outside help. Truly, this is the greatest suffering that LISA can throw at me.

2017 Game Review Haiku, #119 – Tick Tock Isle

Travel between years
To fix clock, also people
Too much back and forth

I can’t believe I’m still doing this. I can’t believe I’ll ever stop. These game summaries in chunks of five, seven, and five syllable lines paint pictures in the mind better than any half a dozen descriptive paragraphs I could ever write. Trust me, I’ve tried. Brevity is the place to be. At this point, I’ve done over 200 of these things and have no plans of slowing down. So get ready for another year of haikus. Doumo arigatou gozaimasu.

2016 Game Review Haiku, #63 – Trick & Treat


A haunted mansion
Perfect for party, puzzles
Too many bad ends

Here we go again. Another year of me attempting to produce quality Japanese poetry about the videogames I complete in three syllable-based phases of 5, 7, and 5. I hope you never tire of this because, as far as I can see into the murky darkness–and leap year–that is 2016, I’ll never tire of it either. Perhaps this’ll be the year I finally cross the one hundred mark. Buckle up–it’s sure to be a bumpy ride. Yoi ryokō o.

The deep, beautiful dark of Knytt Underground

knytt underground early thoughts chpt 3

I couldn’t tell you when Knytt Underground got added to my long list of untouched PlayStation 3 games, but it did at some point. Thanks to PlayStation Plus, of course, a service that lets me download a high number of titles to collect digital dust until I randomly decide to play them or am inspired by an outside source to see what the deal is. This time around, I was inspired, greatly so, and we can look to Matt Mason’s posts over at Obtain Potion for the push, specifically Living Under a Rock and Let’s Find Another Deux Machina, as I really had no idea what Kyntt Underground was for the longest time. I figured it was some indie puzzle game, and it definitely is that–but so much more.

At its most basic form, Knytt Underground is about subterranean exploration. You play as a young woman called Mi Sprocket who is mysteriously mute, as well as, eventually, Bob, a magical bouncing ball. Naturally, the two characters play very differently from each other; you use Mi to climb up/down walls, and Bob can bounce around the room and reach previously unattainable areas, as well as tether himself to certain robots. For Bob, it’s all about physics, and sometimes that can be a bit tricky to master, especially when a single bounce can send you zooming across the screen, possibly to a new area, before you even have a moment to react. The game is split into three chapters and an interlude, with chapter one focusing on getting Mi to the fairy village and chapter two focusing on becoming Bob and learning what he can do. Chapter three seems to be the real meat of the game and is both awesome and intimidating.

See, it’s easy to get lost in Knytt Underground, both metaphorically and literally. There are a lot of rooms to explore, with a number of exits, and while some of them are simply dark, narrow corridors to run through, others are expansive openings, with high ceilings that any spelunker would love and, more times than not, something absolutely stunning to look at in the background. Take the purple forest, for instance. The first time I arrived there, I couldn’t believe my eyes. I was underground, and yet here is this string of large trees, swaying in a reddish-purple haze, dancing with the cavern wind. It got a little Inception-like there, this other world in this other world, and I just stood there, unmoving, absorbing it all. Other backgrounds are just as gorgeous, with plant life literally glowing in the darkness, lava that looks devilishly hot, and mushrooms that look too beautiful to eat.

However, something about Knytt Underground has me greatly conflicted. Really, I’m just not sure how I feel about it. It’s a stunningly gorgeous game, rife with bright and vibrant flora, the kind of nature you’d expect to see examined in close detail on the newest BBC documentary about the planet Earth, all backed by a soft, ambient soundtrack of rushing waterfalls, dripping ceilings, and gentle breezes. Yet..it’s goofy. The characters are silly and look like someone’s first attempt at webcomic art in the early 2000s, and the things they say are inane, such as obscure discussions about the Internet. I’m namely talking about the two fairies that accompany Mi after you reach the village and speak for her during her muteness. Visually, it’s extremely jarring. Tonally, too, though I suspect something is trying to be said here. Also, most of the quests you take on are pointless, with Mi going to great lengths to find certain people or keys for locked doors only for it all not to matter; the person you were looking for already returned home, and the door magically opened by itself.

At this point, I’ve dabbled in chapter three for only a bit, but eventually felt overwhelmed, especially considering the size of the map is roughly ten times that of the previous chapters. I mean, I can see areas highlighted in red on the map as places of interest to go–most likely these are the bells that Mi needs to ring to stop the apocalypse–but getting there isn’t a simple hike. You have to now use both Mi and Bob the ball in combination to reach new pathways, and sometimes doing that can be a lot of trial and error. I’m sure I’ll pop back into this visually stunning underground realm soon enough, but I need a little breather in the meantime.

Scott Pilgrim the Videogame looks (and sounds) just like it should

First came the news out of PAX East that chiptune rockstars Anamanaguchi are doing the soundtrack for Scott Pilgrim the Videogame. Then we got some delicious screenshots showing off the fantastic sprite work from Paul Robertson, the creator of the Pirate Baby’s Cabana Battle Street Fight 2006 animation. And the third thing that happened was…my heart. See, it exploded from too much joy!


Seriously, just go check out all the screenshots over at Attract Mode.

But yeah, ever since seeing this, the back cover of Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, volume two of the books (and the title of the upcoming movie), I’ve been jonesing for a 2D videogame adaption:

Now I’m not sure what I’m more excited about. The movie, the final book in July, or the game? Hmm. Either way, it looks like this one is getting the right kind of treatment. No systems announced yet, but man oh man would this be perfect for the Nintendo DS.