Tag Archives: hack and slash

999: Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors

My girlfriend and their roommate raved about this game after they had both played it and talked about how great the storyline was. Now, I’m a sucker for a great plot and good storyline. I lived through their extolling of their game for a while until my girlfriend told me it was time for me to play. I sat down with her pink Nintendo DS and started poking all over the screen discovering just what they were raving about.

For the most part, they were right. This game was pretty ridiculously good. There’s a lot of investigation pointing and clicking with very descriptive dialogue translated from the original Japanese game. A creepy painting is pictured of the events taking place on the RMS Titanic, or so it may seem. The music perfectly accompanies the eerie feeling of threat and death that holds sway over the characters of the game. Combine this with a puzzle

The characters of 999.

solver’s wet dream, and you have 999: Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors.

This is the story of Junpei, the character you play as through the game. Trapped in a ship’s guest quarters, you must use your wits in order to escape from a door in front of you labeled with a “5”. Once you’ve done this, the real game begins. You find yourself in a fancy looking reception hall, surrounded by all the trappings of what would appear familiar to anyone who has seen the movie Titanic. You encounter 8 other members of who will come to be your friends, your enemies, and casualties. It is up to your decisions to decide just exactly what will happen, with a few clicks of your DS stylus.

A little taste of what the game looks like (on right).

Being a not so puzzle inclined person, this game constantly frustrated me from beginning to end. Being a typical man, I like my video games to be hack and slash, gun down and slaughter. The subtle approach of solving a Sudoku doesn’t really tickle my fancy. It was only lucky that my girlfriend is so loving and patient and helped me with every puzzle. She even played some of the game for me. If you read this Kim, I love you very much for that.

I have to tell you though, if you don’t like puzzles or still frame gaming animation, don’t play this. It’s for a specific audience, (Wikipedia said in the vein of a puzzle related Mass Effect 2 by how you choose your fate) and not everyone likes to solve puzzles and use their brain as much as others. That’s not to say some people are stupid, it’s just a difference in gaming style. I like mindless self indulgence killing

Who’s this masked man? Play to find out!

games. Or Assassin’s Creed, take your pick. There’s a lot of reading, one of my other favorite pastimes, and that was a plus for this game. What I struggled to get into was the over-elaborate writing style of the translation. What could have been said in far fewer and more compelling words was long winded and said in such a bizarre way that I felt I was being pandered to as an uneducated, quaint, country bumpkin.

But my oh my, this plot has some really good points. If only to play it for plot, do so. Go out and rent the game for a few days with your Cheat Code Central at the ready and bust through this game on the double. There’s great reveals about the character’s pasts and intelligent information about scientific discoveries and thrilling mysteries of the past century. There’s killings and betrayal, and the occasional stab in the back. What you have to know about this game is you have to play it at least 2 or 3 times to win. You sit down, you reach and imperfect ending, and then you save and start back from the beginning, making different decisions and such. This gets a bit annoying, but the plot does make up for it. You have to bust your finger on the D-pad a whole bunch in this game because you can’t just skip huge chunks of dialogue you’ve already heard 4 times before. That’s a let down, but just wait.

The game begins… With dialogue.

In the end, this game really is worth playing through. If bunches of game reviewers can rave about this for its amazing plot and challenging gameplay, consider yourself a good player and go out and try it. And there’s a second one in the works for those of you who are already fans out there. Get past the dialogue and skipping and puzzling and enjoy it as an interactive story. Hell, if there was a Lord of the Rings game or a Harry Potter game that was purely interactive and not 1st person shooting and running, I’d play it in a heartbeat. 999 isn’t quite my game, but I’m glad I played it to know the mystery behind it. Maybe for those of you out there who like the Saw movies like I do, you might also find some enjoyment in the traps and puzzles. Let me know what you think and get back to me on this 7.999 out of 10 game.

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13 Assassins: The Eerie 7 Samurai Brother

Brought to the international market by the famous producer of Departures, a famous film talked about in my household, Toshiaki Nakazawa, and given to me by the power of Netflix, comes 13 Assassins. I know I just did a review on a movie called Bodyguards and Assassins, but this movie comes from a similar historical (loosely based) standpoint with a lot of no nonsense action to it. And I mean a lot of no nonsense, balls to the walls action. There’s not a lot interspersed, as with B&A, but it delivers in the end with a huge ass scene of carnage.

Set in the 1840s Japan during the era of the feudal Shogun, a young political rapscallion, Matsudaira Naritsugu is running train all over the place. Son of the former Shogun and bound to rise in his political standing, this evil young man thinks he cannot die and is above the law. He even made a nugget sex slave out of a poor little Japanese woman. Hard to watch and hard to

Quite a bit of violence in this movie. Good costumes too.

stomache, some have even committed  seppuku, the ritualistic Japanese honorable suicide. Shown twice in the movie, it is an unpleasant act that, I have to say was tastefully done with the pull away shot that just suggests at the horror of slitting open your own stomach forcefully.

So this young man must be stopped. An aged samurai and political figure, Shinzaemon is planning on doing so. After seeing the injustices done on other family houses, no longer will those under the power of the Shogun stand for his little brother’s insolence. So, in true 7 Samurai fashion, this guy goes out and finds 13 samurai, the last of a dying occupation, in order to do the job. These guys range widely in status and character, but they all plan on fufilling their duty with conviction and honor.

Can you tell who's who?

After some awful background on this political Shogun relative bastard, the training montage begins. Not really a training montage, but a recruitment scene and subsequent honing of the skills. Followed closely by a planning stage and execution of said plan, we get a little trip to the site of the final (and really only) big battle. There are ambushes, strategies of true intellect, and dire tragedy. With no one safe and everyone’s honor on the line, who will come out victorious?

I must say the overall feel of this movie was true to its 1963 original. I’m also sure there has to be some influence from Kurosawa’s classic of 7 Samurai. I wouldn’t have put it in the title otherwise. A bunch of tough guns coming

They're really going at it...

together to stop a greater evil in a big showdown? Not many survive and evil must be thwarted at all costs? Yeah, I got that vibe from this movie. I wouldn’t have minded if this movie was in black and white either. The grainy quality of the film and the guerilla style of the landscape and shooting really gave it that end of an era, last action of a dying and barbaric peoples feel. That’s what I enjoyed, and the true suggestion of violence without entirely showing it that you get from horror movies of the 80’s and 90’s. A true classic approach to film.

This has a true 7 Samurai feel to it.

What I didn’t like about it was the confusing nature of the characters. I can’t help it, but I gotta be a bit racist. Coming from an American, white person perspective, there were a lot of Asians running around who held very little difference in stature and character to me. You can attempt to pick out your favorites, but the movie made no effort in order to discern one person from another. Maybe this was done to show the collective resolve of the characters, but it became tedious towards the end.

Another thing that I hated/loved at the same time in this film (and I mean those terms lightly) is the action in the film. For those who like a bit more stylized violence in their viewing experience, you may not find that here. For those who love the chaos and the brutality of a film that just takes one massive battle and puts it into a gigantic perspective, this may be more your style. Coming from a priviledge era of spurting blood and close ups on decapitations, this movie pulls away from that. Focusing more on the feel of battle and not the gruesome details, you may not see more than some red hacks and slashes on bodies. And at the same time that that is happening, I’m not exactly sure how true to the Samurai Way that this film is. These guys, despite their training, seemed to just go out and wave their swords around like 13 year old tweens wanting to defeat Darth Maul in their backyards. I guess I’ll leave that up to people who actually know true sword technique.

Pretty damn cinematic.

With a bit of a lackluster acting chops cast, some of the more emotional scenes were lost on me. Maybe not towards the beginning with the injustices done by the evil Shogunate, maybe not even the death scenes that abound in this movie, but surely on the delivery of lines. This detracted from the period piece I felt this movie could have been, but if you’re a fan of Samurai 7, you need to check this movie out. Kurosawa would be proud. A decent 6.5 out of 10.


Darksiders: Puzzles and Death… and the Apocalypse

Ever since I saw the trailer for this video game, I had wanted it. I had no idea what to expect. Would it just be a hack and slash game with complete and utter destruction? Would it be a game of skill or button mashing? What it turned out to be was not what I expected.

Okay, look. I didn’t have the traditional childhood. I didn’t have a Nintendo and have a chance to play all the amazing Mario and Zelda that was out there. So big surprise to me when an Xbox 360/PS3 game comes out that is identical in its gameplay to Zelda.

Link?

It’s really a mixture of the fighting style of God of War and the puzzles of Zelda, but I was thrown off in the first place by the puzzles. Basic day in the life of Darksiders for me? Hey, here’s a block you have to move/portal you have to create. Find a way across without dying. Go. Needless to say I invested a lot of time viewing the walkthroughs online to figure this game out. Scoff if you will, it doesn’t detract from the satisfaction and action of this game.

Basic plot: You are War, one of the four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. You come to Earth because the seals have been broken and all out war has begun to take place on the planet. There are angels fighting demons, zombies, creatures, you name it. What War gets sucked into doing is representing the Scarred Council on Earth in what I would call restorative justice.

Quite big. Sure you can swing that?

So you start out the game with a bit of firepower. You have your gigantic sword, Chaoseater and a bit of hellish power, Chaos. This stuff can summons pikes from the ground, turn your skin to stone, summon hellfire, all sorts of cool trick War picked up off the street. As the game progresses, you gain access to other various items and weapons that kick even more ass. This gives you access to various areas you didn’t before and also contributes to an arsenal that mixes it up when beating the baddies.

Speaking of baddies, I love the characters in this game. Seeing as this game goes all biblical all over everyone’s asses, It’s a fun and easy way to learn a little bit of Old Testament. And then toss around those characters like rag dolls. I mean, come on, you are War, the most severely destructive of the Apocalypse Bros. The only characters you really don’t see are God and Satan. Even though they may be pulling the strings, all the demons and angels suffer for it.

I would also like to mention that this game reminds me of a game I played for XBox a while ago that focused on Spawn killin’ some angels and demons. It was great.

Weapon moves and combos in this game are great. The game has the “item store” quality to it where you go and collect upgrades based on the amount of carnage you incur. You gain health, armor, and Chaos as you find hidden chests throughout and that always makes for a great replay value when you didn’t find them all. (One reason I want to play again is to find all the Abyssmal Armor pieces, giving War an all new look.)

Only drawback. I took months, spread out, to play this game. I picked it up from Gamestop and took an inordinate amount of time beating it. Why? Some of those puzzles are so vague, there’s no definite way without the help of a game guide to beat them. If there wasn’t the internet, I would have never finished this game. And I don’t think it’s a intellectual issue. It was all about going with the 5 second cutscenes that tried to reveal everything at once for you to utilize to move forward. Not helpful.

War = Complete Badass

But hey, you get a badass steed and frolic through the blood and gore of the battlefield that was our home. I guess if you truly loved Darksiders, wait another year and you might find you can be an active participant in it when 2012 rolls around. Maybe you’ll even get a little glimpse of war.

Oh, and another thing. The voice actors in this film were great. Liam O’Brien (done an amazing amount of work in both anime and video games), Mark Hamill (amazing what he can do with his voice, he’s the Watcher), Phil LaMarr (always great, MadTV prepared him well), Moon Bloodgood (interesting voice actor choice), Troy Baker (RIDICULOUSLY GOOD), J.B. Blanc (great accent as Ulthane), and Fred Tatasciore (his list of video games and anime is so extensive. He’s everywhere.).

So definitely check this game out. It’s worth a play and who knows, maybe you’ll learn how to survive the apocalypse. Or maybe you’ll have a great time running train as War. 8.6 out of 10.