Leon's Microblog – January 2021

Right now I've been doing exactly what you'd expect someone like me to be doing: mopping up the remaining auxiliary Touhou canon books like they're postgame sidequests in a AAA RPG.
Coming to the realisation that Maribel Hearn is essentially the Touhou series's equivalent of W. D. Gaster ("from" Undertale), which has made me impressed and disturbed in equal measure.
I'm not saying he doesn't design them with an eye to pleasing the fanbase, or that this constant accumulation of characters isn't consistent with capitalistic Brand growth, but that if either of those things were really the main goal, a lot of things would be markedly different.
Like… it's probably tempting to look cynically at how each game formulaically throws up 7 new characters with 1-sentence backstories, but really, the characters aren't monetised brand units the way mobage characters are. They still exist to sell the game rather than vice-versa.
Saw a tweet the other day roughly along the lines of "ZUN [creator of Touhou] has ignored more opportunities than most to become rich and to make Touhou into a capital-B Brand" and actually playing the games, especially the recent ones, makes this easy to believe.
The previous tweets count as Touhou posts because the song Heir Conditioning was in the linked page. Yes, I DO make the rules.
Suffice to say, if you want to experience THE most important facial expression in the entirety of Homestuck (below) then The Unofficial Homestuck Collection is your only red maritime donut here.
https://www.homestuck.com/story/2792 – Decided to check up on how the official Homestuck site had adapted those dense adventure-game pages that were coded in Flash instead of HTML5, and lemme save you a click here: it ain't looking exactly great.
"Darius. Parodius. RayForce. I played none of these without an emulator's interlocution, yet I was never in love with what the emulator added, but with what artistry was already inside them." is what I'd say. But better-written, obviously.
So a lot of you might be thinking something along the lines of "Yo, if you refuse to play a game without some external cheat exe, can it REALLY be good?" To which I simply say, "Listen. Some of my most joyous experiences in my 20s were from shmups in MAME."
Starting to feel restless as I realise I'm internalising so much of Touhou's convoluted theology lately, but I can't apply it to solve some deranged puzzle somewhere to earn an ankh jewel or a whip upgrade
I mean, characters with as much worldbuilding significance as those definitely deserve the extra screen time more than whoever the heck was in Double Dealing Character, but.
One of the funniest ways the Touhou games have been narratively constrained is how the sequels to Hopeless Masquerade (fighting game) both reused its roster for budget reasons, thus causing the most unhinged things to happen to Byakuren and Miko, the two most serious characters.
Currently thinking about how this song from Fairy Wars was arranged into a completely tonally opposite song in Hopeless Masquerade.
I like Sumireko, the Touhou character, even though she seems almost custom-designed and deployed to make me, personally, go completely out-of-my-mind bananas. *frowns, sighs deeply, then slowly backspaces "even though" and inserts "because"*
I can't BELIEVE the giant evil talking catfish Hong Meiling had a nightmare about in Touhou 12.3 appeared in reality in Antinomy Of Common Flowers, AND it made in-universe sense. Look, I know it's been a long month, but trust me that this tweet describes actual things that exist.
I'm coming clean. This was all a scheme. All the tweets about Touhou were actually an elaborate scheme to lose 40+ followers and leak my count back down to 3,333. And y'all bought it hammer, anvil, and stirrup. *dusts off hands* Another successful procedure.
I'm hereby announcing that the tweets about Touhou will cease in a few days *all of my Normal followers leap out of their chairs* once I get started on Umineko *the footage from the previous asterisks is played backwards in sarcastic slow motion*
Go ahead. I've played 22 of the games. Ask me what my favourite Touhou character is. I will immediately answer "Reimu", disappointing everyone and appearing as if I have learned nothing. But, danmaku enlightenment begins once you realise when you don't need to move at all.
Additional extra auxiliary post: one of the canon Touhou comics had this extremely lavish splash of Nue (a not very important character) along with my favourite "character subtitle" I've seen yet (which is great even without knowing there's some obscure fandom-related pun in it).
As promised in a previous tweet, I have now eaten a toenail clipping.
I'm so glad that I've finally familiarised myself with every important character in the current Touhou continuity and I'm up-to-date on basically everything. *thirty very short seconds later* Who the hell is Maribel Hearn
Me when I finished playing all the Touhou games https://twitter.com/webbedspace/status/1351949403590823938
Me (left)
Hey everyone! I've finished all the endings of Wily Beast And Weakest Creature. That means… I've reached the present day. I've now finished all 11 unplayed games (plus 11 canon spinoffs, plus between 2-4 comics for some reason). … .. . So, when's the next one coming out
I appreciate the few games that offer affordances for easing into the difficulty curve (the Shoot The Bullet games, Legacy Of Lunatic Kingdom) although I still resorted to cheats to investigate the content at their very very end, which often turned out to be alarmingly important.
Of course, I have no real talent for it myself. I didn't actually play any of these games properly and mostly just used Cheat Engine, mainly because of how much content is (in my opinion, undeservedly) gated behind higher difficulties (one-credit clears, Extra Stages, etc.)
On the subject of the danmaku shmup genre: I don't have a problem with them. Maybe up to 10 years ago I'd still think of it as an insular, exclusionary genre, but really, it's fine that it exists and that it has fans, just like high-level music games and Kaizo Mario hacks.
Another thing I find charming about this series (Touhou) is how it narratively doesn't shy away from being about danmaku. The characters (in games and comics) acknowledge and embrace that they fly and shoot spirals of bullets constantly, and I think that's great and honest.
Thus, we have this game series (plus some comics) narratively acknowledging the dissonance of its own fantasy game premise, and undermining the credibility of its own "hero", while taking pains not to undermining the credibility of the world itself or its people in general.
Examining the character who talks up the conflict the most, Reimu, it seems her only reason is fervence and hypocrisy – she constantly states that the conflict MUST exist to maintain Gensokyo's status quo, while constantly ignoring the saturation of evidence undermining it.
What purpose, then, is the human vs. youkai conflict? A mutually beneficial way to receive the protection of youkai in exchange for worship (fear)? Or mere human vanity and a need to occupy a besieged villager role? The exact reason, it seems, is not really important to anyone.
And indeed, the games from Mountain Of Faith onward place gods as Reimu's opponents fairly often. The lack of meaningful distinction between gods and youkai as opponents (or between youkai and anything else) is always ignored by Reimu.
Two games after Mountain Of Faith, Undefined Fantastic Object introduces Byakuren, who is the first to openly challenge the conflict: that really, the distinction between god and youkai is mostly illusory – more specifically, it is almost entirely socially constructed.
The idea that youkai need to protect and preserve Gensokyo's humans, not just for vampire-like predation, but for their own fundamental existence, equivalent to that of gods, is shown in the series even as early as Keine in Imperishable Night.
Additionally, Mountain Of Faith states that gods need the faith of worshipers to survive - hence the game's central conflict. This eerily lines up with a fact about youkai (below): that they need the fear of humans to survive. Fear, a dark counterpart to "faith".
Mountain Of Faith explores the third side of the conflict, the gods who defend humans and empower knights like Reimu. The game introduces six gods (Shizuha, Minoriko, Hina, Sanae, Kanako and Suwako) of various strengths, with the former two as weak as a regular stage 1 youkai.
The question of why Gensokyo exists is also the question of why humans are in conflict with youkai: if Gensokyo was human-created to imprison youkai, then Gensokyo's humans exist as their wardens. But if it really exists for youkai's sake, why do humans still live in it?
The origin of Gensokyo's barrier maybe typifies the perception of the conflict. In Perfect Cherry Blossom's manual, it's described (by Reimu) as being created by humans to imprison the youkai, but later depictions (such as below) state it was created by youkai for their survival.
This framing, of course, is great at explaining the game itself but is very dissonant with the tone of their narratives, where the endgame stakes (usually) turn out to be minor and easily forgotten, long battles melt into friendly chats, and grudges are (usually) hard to keep.
The early, simplistic depiction of the conflict is very fantasy-game-fitting: the humans are predated upon by the magically-powered youkai. The "hero", Reimu, seeks only to exterminate youkai and worship the gods, and uses the gods' powers to fight youkai with equal power.
Something I wasn't expecting at all when I started this thread was how much Touhou emphasies a human-vs-youkai conflict, placing Gensokyo's humans in a dangerous world of enemies. But what I was charmed by was how the series deconstructs and unpicks this dichotomy as it ages.
One additional thing I'll say is that Violet Detector's ending is SURPRISINGLY good. Like, way better than what the first several worlds would lead you to believe.
The teleport ability, however, is bound to an oddly unwieldy key combination – double-pressing an already-used key and inputting a direction, with noticeable lag that presumably exists to enable you to input diagonals with the arrow keys – that makes it very hard to trust.
Violet Detector's combination of shooting and photo snaps is actually not half bad – being able to simply shoot to offset the inability to move in for a photo snap gives the game an interesting aggressive/defensive playstyle dynamic.
"So how does Violet Detector mix up the classic Shoot The Bullet formula?" I'm glad you asked. The attached picture does not answer that question.
Violet Detector: After a few years of tying each successive game's plots closer and closer together, ZUN has finally made a game that's completely, UTTERLY incomprehensible unless you've played Antinomy Of Common Flowers. A pristine godlike move. Thank you, ZUN.
Sumireko got her own shmup spinoff? SUMIREKO?? Are you kidding?!? …………is what I would tweet here if I didn't have a normal opinion of this reasonable and unremarkable character.
The biggest thing DDC lacked, apart from good music, was character routes that felt distinct. The next two shmups address this well – Reisen in Legacy Of Lunatic Kingdom has a unique insider's view of events, and Cirno in Hidden Star In Four Seasons is appropriately irreverent.
21 games and spinoffs into the series and someone goes ahead and asks this. The gall.
*me tweeting "Sumireko……" voice* Reimu……
*me tweeting "Reimu……" voice* Sumireko……
Antinomy Of Common Flowers' final boss has Medium Undertale Energy
This screenshot offers a (cherry-picked) comparison. The official English translation (bottom of screen) is offered by subtitles placed below unaltered Japanese dialog boxes. The fanslation (middle) translates the dialog boxes directly, but leaves these subtitles untouched.
1) The official translation doesn't translate spell card names or certain kanji uses. 2) The official translation has a number of large grammar errors that make me distrust it. Granted, the fanslation has a number of typos and alignment errors, but the writing itself seems solid.
I should talk about Antinomy Of Common Flowers. As you know, it's the only Touhou game to have an official English translation. I'm not using it, though, and am instead using a fanslation from thpatch dot net. This is for a number of reasons:
The official Touhou fighting games' story modes are the most canon things in the universe. They are so canon that words and grunts fail me.
The games have been slipping in more and more hints for ships between characters that will definitely never be seen together ever again… almost like it's remembering it's a yuri series.
As an unrelated aside – and this is meant only as the purest compliment to both musicians – Clownpiece's theme is the one theme that reminds me the most of Toby Fox music. (For reference, Legacy Of Lunatic Kingdom is one month older than Undertale's full version.)
Something I also appreciate is the return of multiple-aspect character designs. Like, Sakuya is a maid PLUS a time-freezing ninja. Clownpiece (below) is a clown PLUS a fairy PLUS a Hell demon PLUS the Statue of Liberty PLUS the Apollo 11 American flag, all in total harmony.
Legacy Of Lunatic Kingdom has been a great return to form after Double Dealing Character. Not only does it have multiple good music tracks (after DDC's 0 good tracks) but one (Doremy's theme) is maybe as great as the classic B-tier tracks like Mokou's theme or Cirno's theme.
• The "save files" are actually a temporary file that goes away when you finish a character's route. So, while you can still see a route's in-game dialogue in Practice Mode, you cannot see that route's ending more than once per save file.
• Shoot The Bullet etc., similar to precision platformers like Super Meat Boy, greatly benefited from letting you select from multiple levels, to shake yourself off after being walled by a level. This lacks that accommodation, and you WILL feel its absence.
• Doesn't paper over the fact that the games' difficulty curve has always been quadratic rather than linear. • Deaths are actually punished by losing 0.1 weapon power, presumably to justify why weapon power still exists. This either never matters, or feels very, very bad.
There are, of course, a number of severe problems with it: • CANNOT use it for the Extra Stage (though the mere existence of the Extra Stage, unique plot content gated behind only the highest difficulty, has always been a big flaw in the series, similar to Celeste's chapter 9).
What surprised me the most about it was that the division of the arcade stages into "levels" is actually pretty reasonable. Not only do you advance to a new level after 20-30 seconds' worth of stage gameplay, but each spell card of each boss is considered its own level.
Legacy Of Lunatic Kingdom adds a new game mode that retrofits the arcade game structure into: • Discrete levels • Unlimited lives • Save files in a mainline game… and it gates the GOOD endings behind it?! It's simultaneously 10 years overdue and miraculous to exist at all.
Kanako is a too underused mean mother-coded character.
Tweet that absolutely must not be included in the thread under any circumstances: None of the Touhou characters have sex because people in the outside world still believe sex is real and not mythological
Reimu flat-out stole a high schooler's catchphrase
I don't consider this comic quite as essential to Legacy Of Lunatic Kingdom as the aforementioned Wild And Horned Hermit is to Urban Legend In Limbo, but I feel content at having removed all doubt surrounding it. My recommendation is to read it after Mountain Of Faith.
The comic reveals, among other things, two relatives of Kaguya (Toyohime and Yorihime) and a few rules of the Lunatic Kingdom (a realm distinct but similar to Gensokyo). Unfortunately neither character showed up in the game, but the events of the comic were obliquely referenced.
A note on Legacy Of Lunatic Kingdom: just as I was about to try it, I felt what is known as a "death hunch", where the pearly grip of Death clasped my ego. The hunch was that I needed to read ANOTHER earlier comic, "Silent Sinner In Blue", which also concerns the Lunatic Kingdom.
When my followers read my livetweets
For the first time ever, a simple and straightforward spell card name.
Me when a lategame Touhou character says any sentence about themselves
I want you all to know that I like Urban Legend In Limbo and appreciate its story; however, the amount of effort to resist posting further screenshots of things happening out of context is bordering on superhuman.
Me: "ZUN's really done it this time. There's no way he can possibly incorporate this disastrous monstrosity of a character into Gensokyo's status quo in a satisfactory manner. No way whatsoever." *several endings transpire* Me: "Damn, he's always got something, doesn't he?"
Why on Earth, Mars and the other orbs was THIS ship given this much of a push??? I mean, I'm not complaining, but
Currently enjoying Urban Legend In Limbo, a canon Touhou game that's extremely typical and where nothing stands out as unusual. Seems ZUN is getting a bit complacent.
Pleased to announce I've read enough of the comic (named "Wild And Horned Hermit") that I can now proceed to the game. I swear to God, if this series suddenly goes full Yoko Taro and starts incorporating light novels and stage plays into canon, I'll eat a toenail clipping.
Oh my god
The comic has reached the events of Hopeless Masquerade, and I am here for it.
Reimu's worldview is incredible in its stubbornness. Truly a Videogame Holy Knight stuck in a world that's a parody of itself.
I love the idea that cold fusion can exist in Gensokyo because it is just as mythical as youkai. Thank you, Sanae.
Somehow, this series of panels reassured me that ZUN really did write this.
I have on hand a scanlation of the comics, which TouhouWiki decided was OK to hotlink directly, and now I must read it in order to continue my pilgrimage. "Will you post about it in this thread about videogames" Sure. Whatever.
Friends and other followers, I fearfully report that a worst-case scenario has happened. The canon has been breached. The games' canon has been ruptured. What I'm trying to say is that ZUN put a character introduced exclusively in one of the ZUN-written comics into a game, as-is.
I love being able to recognise characters… I love seeing someone in a Touhou scene and realising it's some F-tier character like Parsee or Letty or Hina… This tweet isn't going in the thread because it's just awful humblebragging at this point.
I'm glad my Touhou knowledge has honed to the point where, when Double Dealing Character introduced a lycanthrope in Bamboo Forest of the Lost, I thought "Shouldn't this be Keine?" only to revisit the lycanthrope in Impossible Spell Card with, lo and behold, Keine alongside her.
This game is easily – EASILY – the easiest Touhou spinoff shmup thus far, mainly because the items are situationally very powerful. You can get away with so much.
I got tricked by Mokou!!! Mokou's signature prank does it again!
Why does… that person… have an item called………
On the other hand, Impossible Spell Card, the game that narratively follows it, has got me REALLY excited. A shmup where you use a motley array of Zelda-esque items in place of the usual screen-clearing bombs is basically a dream game for me.
Double Dealing Character is kind of a disappointment, in multiple aspects, after the previous games, but it does have a few interesting spell cards. The series direly underuses interesting bullet shapes in general, so even a little bit of creativity stands out.
One additional note about Hopeless Masquerade: the devs finally putting the shmup characters in the sky, where they belong, is greatly welcome. This is what fights in Gensokyo look like.
I find it very satisfying that when she's impersonating Miko in the Story Mode, her "spell card" is just a mockery of that one time in Ten Desires that Miko shouted "Playtime's over!"
I was a little underwhelmed by Mamizou, introduced in Ten Desires, but conveniently, Hopeless Masquerade (the fourth, or possibly third, canon fighting game spinoff) fills out her character pretty well, in terms of both wacky japes and worldly shrewdness.
To continue the Adventure Time comparison, I feel like everything earlier than Tower Of Faith is comparable to Pendleton Ward's looser, more spontaneous direction as showrunner, and everything later comparable to Adam Muto's week-long story arcs and expansive worldbuilding.
Impressed by how Ten Desires is continuing to ramp up the situation by introducing an enemy faction to the previous game's Myouren Temple, which is already at odds with Gensokyo's anti-youkai gods and shrine maidens. I'm legitimately invested in this unfolding power struggle.
Koishi feels like a character that's like Sans – not in the sense of being a seemingly unassuming person with shockingly disproportionate magical combat abilities, but in the sense of having a personality that would be extremely difficult for fanfic writers to portray just right.
Pleasantly surprised by Ten Desires switching to alternative "spirit trance" instrumentations of each level track while the game's super mode is active… an unexpected move for a series unapologetically reserved in audiovisual flashiness. Touhou has truly entered the early 10's.
Just marvelling at Ten Desires deciding to characterise Reimu's usual homing shots as "cheating-type".
Harsh Buddhist doctrine
In which the characters are baffled to learn that Shinto is not actually a completely native, fully conceptually closed religion after all.
Amusing myself by thinking about how the Netherworld is atop a thousand-plus step staircase that basically nobody has ever stepped on due to every relevant Touhou character having flight of some kind.
If Reimu had been the Extra Stage boss of Fairy Wars instead of Marisa, the stage would have simply ended immediately.
I'm thinking about how Sanae, since her inclusion, provides the occasional glimpse at how Gensokyo's fabled inhabitants appear from outside, and drawing attention to the significance of a being inhabiting Gensokyo, a sealed world of the no-longer-believed, in the first place.
Sanae is a fascinating tertiary protagonist. A devout immigrant to Gensokyo who's fully internalised its world and embraced her career as a god, while simultaneously carrying the wonder of an outsider – a deliberately minor and at times ironic part of her usual serious character.
It never works!!!
This is such an incredible spell card for conveying Byakuren's saintly nature.
This game (Fairy Wars) has so many ideas.
Hard to think of anyone who wouldn't look at this game and see a rollicking good time.
Something I love about Touhou is learning rare and poetic Japanese idioms.
I'm glad there's a Touhou game entirely about fairies, and not only does Lily White (left) still not get any dialogue or relevance, but she shares the midboss slot with Touhou's most irrelevant character, the midboss from stage 2 of Embodiment Of Scarlet Devil (right).
When you want to use the power of fairies to bring human society to its knees in terror
I'm glad ZUN took pity on the misguided Cirno fanbase by giving her a spinoff, and I'm VERY glad it has Every Extend mechanics in it.
Journalism explained
I can't believe Double Spoiler, the sequel to Shoot The Bullet, a game with only returning characters and no plot, adds a new character at the absolute very end, AND makes her a hot rival to Aya, AND reveals that "Double Spoiler" refers to them scooping each other's articles.
Finally – finally – someone notices.
I can't believe Shoot The Bullet has an extra dead slot in the level select menu for DLC levels which were ultimately cancelled. I can't freaking believe Touhou has Stop 'n' Swop.
Suika's size-changing spell cards don't get new sprites.
It's really a shame that Shoot The Bullet games are only given a very small palette of music compared to the norm. That being said, the first game has one of my favourite themes in the whole series (Wind Tour), which, due to fitting under 2:20, I'm posting in its entirety.
This will be no surprise if you remember when the TIGSource-adjacent blogs raved about it in 2005, but the Shoot The Bullet spinoff series is very good. Turning each spell card into a discrete level you can grind like a precision platformer really makes them uniquely accessible.
OFFICIAL TOUHOU FAQ Q: It feels like Reimu gets brattier every game. A: That's not a question.
I'm learning so goddamn much from these games.
Touhou in general reminds me a LOT of Adventure Time – light and friendly episodic adventures across a persistent yet flexible world, with a heavy emphasis on the protagonist being a (mostly) lone human among playful pugilistic monsters.
This continuity includes the Extra stages' characters. It also includes the official spinoffs. You MUST play the story mode of Immaterial And Missing Power, the fighting game spinoff, to meet Suika and understand why she's specifically Reimu's partner in Subterranean Animism.
Something I wasn't quite expecting from Touhou, but which I had still prepared for, was how much continuity it has across games. Almost every game introduces a new character, and you WILL be expected to recognise them when one of them arbitrarily cameos during the very next game.
Touhou, despite ostensibly being set in a world of carnivorous youkai, is not actually the best series to get into if you're into predding… though every so often it does throw you a bone.
The designers of the fighting game sprites for Suwako (right), one of the two animal-themed motherly gods worshipped by Sanae (left), definitely decided a unique martial arts stance was called for.
The Murasa/Byakuren ship is easily the strongest-hinted canon yuri ship thus far, and most of the backstory for it isn't in the game! It's in one of the readme.txt files! Yeesh!
Undefined Fantastic Object has two great music tracks amid a lot of dud ones. These are Nue's theme, and the stage 6 theme. However, the stage 6 theme reminds me a LOT of Self from Darius Gaiden (by Zuntata) so it FEELS like there's only one great track.
Undefined Fantastic Object massively ups the stakes by adding a character who is completely anathema to Gensokyo: a kind and selfless person.
She tried
The extra stage spell cards have been getting visually cleverer and cleverer as the series goes on.
I have a question about Nue the nue. Namely, why did it take ZUN until 2009 to design a character that looks, in the best way possible, like she was designed in 1999
When you're introducing your new friend
SAME ENERGY (right source: http://cucumber.gigidigi.com/cq/page-782/)
"ALSO HER THEME BOPS" What's this? Is this what you were racing to reply with? Heh heh, looks like a little of her mindreading has rubbed off on little ol' me.
Koishi (depicted right) is a really neat character concept: Persecuted for her involuntary mindreading, her only way to pass was to shut down her own mind, thus becoming a philosophical zombie. That's the source of her danmaku powers – all her actions are autonomous.
Gensokyo is tightly sealed off from the outside world since centuries past – however, a few people such as Yukari, the youkai of lines and borders, can cross freely and bring back trinkets, like road signs or whatever.
Is now really the time to explain Buddhism to a child
I assumed playing a lot of impactful games in succession would make it easier to get over them, but I think the opposite is happening – they're strengthening each other in my psyche, keeping each other resident, to the point where I'm running out of cognition for anything else.
The following is a completely accurate description of my current personal status. I am sitting alone listening to a music track from a videogame I've recently played and feeling soppy and sentimental, but the game is Higurashi and the track is just 90 seconds of bongo drums.
Well, it finally happened. Eleven games and three spinoffs deep into the series, and we finally get a character homicidal enough to merit one of THESE screens.
I love how one game after Reimu gets chewed out for her nonexistent work ethic, we're introduced to the second shrine-maiden of this continuity – this overachiever, this careerist.
I will say the way her power is worded – that she can alter the size or density of any object or group – is a very slick way of grouping such disparate abilities as growing giant, creating black holes, instantly gathering leaves into a pile, and forcing people to form a crowd.
I've been playing Immaterial And Missing Power, and I've unilaterally decided Suika the oni is too powerful. She is overpowered. I understand that Imperishable Night has a character that can literally rewrite history AND is also a lycanthrope, but I'm sticking with this judgment.
Bad news, everyone.
*leans back, stares vacantly at monitor* Who is this tweet even for
Phantasmagoria of Flower View is a game about various Touhou characters pausing in the middle of their duels to beat up Lily White.
Awhile ago I opined that Touhou's ensemble cast was spiritually descended from the casts of 90s games like Puyo Puyo and Twinkle Star Sprites, so seeing Touhou 9 (Phantasmagoria of Flower View) abruptly shift genres to resemble the latter has been supremely satisfying.
This character is extremely good.
I simultaneously can't and can believe that Reimu's relationship to her job is a Mario-and-plumbing situation.
Multi-protagonist narrative games set in Japanese schools in the mid-1980s are Normal. They're so goddamn Normal. Everything is as it seems. Especially if I've tweeted about the game in the last 30 days. That's a 3,000x Normalness multiplier. Oh my god.
Here's my Leon's Official Tier List of which characters in 13 Sentinels I liked the best. Note that I've locked replies, so these decisions are not discussable. *you look at the reply icon and observe that I am correct, and replying is impossible*
I want to give this game 7 out of 10, except that's the same rating I gave Higurashi – a simpler, linear game with similar kinds of daunting, overwhelming mysteries, but with way better character design, dialogue, and humanity. So, I'll give it a lesser rating. 8 out of 10.
One other thing I find annoying is that this game has just one fat-coded character (as per in-game descriptions) whose sprites clearly depict them as middle weight. The fat character isn't even fat. (Well, at least none of the other characters ever refer to their weight.)
People discussing politics in media so often get distracted by the most visible and minor examples. When NieR: Automata came out, everyone went on about seeing up 2B's dress, and barely discussed the fact that at some point a female character gets straightforwardly fridged.
The most bothersome thing about this game is the way it presents Imperial Japan's society circa World War 2 in this limp, nonjudgmental fashion, as "just a part of history". This is way more insidious than one of the adult characters being sexualised in a very silly fashion.
You may wonder about this game's queer content. Here's my stats: Among the main cast, there's 1 canon queer ship, 4 canon het ships, and 1 het-coded ship with a bi character. Among the supporting cast there's 1 queer ship and about 5-8 other het ships. Make of that what you will.
This game (13 Sentinels) invests so heavily in nonlinear non-chronological storytelling that even after I finished, it still feels like there's more cutscenes out there. I could be making dinner in real life and suddenly I'm watching some character get in a fistfight 3 weeks ago.
I'd like to dedicate this tweet to thanking whoever decided to make the RTS minigames' "easy" difficulty actually easy to the point where you can ignore basically all of its systems, as well as NOT gating any of the unlockables behind higher difficulty. Professional and mature.
I just perused a summary of an interview where the game's writer-director (George Kamitani) namedrops 30 works that influenced this story. Zero of them were Evangelion, and one of them was Stop!! Hibari-kun.
Great UI features this game has: 1) Like a VN, it has a backlog. 2) The backlog can be opened anywhere, even during cutscenes, the real-time strategy minigames, and the end credits. 3) Like a VN, it has a dedicated "skip" button that also fast-forwards through cutscenes.
That being said, this is very much a mystery story that asks you to focus on the act of its telling, and directly admits (some would say relishes) that most of its substance is cobbled together from familiar pieces of the past.
I personally think of these kinds of stories as being like sudoku: it's very thrilling to put all the clues together, but what you end up staring at in the end is a pile of meaningless numbers (in this story's case, a nest of inconsequential red herrings and allegiance shifts).
13 Sentinels (PS4 point-and-click adventure game) is one of those stories that's written for the sort of person who asks "why don't they just make the whole airplane out of plot twists"
Also, a special toggleable display mode called "proofreading view" has been added, which simply dims all syntax and markup structures except text and strings.
A lesser feature on top of this is a reconsideration of syntax colours. Now, literals of most forms of data have a consistent colour, and macros are coloured based on the data they produce.
A lot of work has gone into improving Harlowe's editor pane in 3.2.0. One new big feature is toggleable tooltips, which explain the meaning of markup and syntactic structures.
My favourite part about being a videogame character is existing inside an endless looping cycle. It's great. I never want it to end, and I couldn't even if I did. *I am politely informed that the cycle is of violence* H-hey, whoa there, now hold yer horses pardner
Someone smuggle Lumisa Kosugi across the border into Gensokyo so she can spar with all these legendary figures. She knows fairies, she can sometimes freeze time, that's gotta be enough for a visa at least
This character is such a fascinating concept for a "final boss" and a "shmup enemy stronghold" – the sunny ghost of a 12th century Buddhist poet (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saigy%C5%8D) enamoured with springtime, and residing in a bright, sunny tower of dead poets (https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/%E7%99%BD%E7%8E%89%E6%A5%BC#Japanese).
Perfect Cherry Blossom: a game that Cirno insists she was in despite everyone else being pretty sure they'd remember if she had
Touhou theology is very good
Important medical questions
So, about this character's parents,
One of my projects I'm doing this summer is playing all the Windows-release Touhou¹ games I never got around to playing… All 11 of them. – ¹Touhou (pronounced with the high "ou" from "though") is a 17-game East Asian mythology-themed yuri slice-of-life bullet hell shmup series.
You ever look at your parents and think about how, if someone performed the Scratch to reset your universe's Sburb session, they'd instead be your children? Just a normal wacky shower thought.
What? M-moi???
"Actually, it's "the proof of the pudding is in the eating". You can't prove it's good until you eat it." "Hmph, I never eat pudding until I have proof it's good." "What if I ate it?" "That'd prove the opposite." "Isn't that sour grapes?" "Knowing you, it would be that flavour."
Higurashi having earlygame tracks replaced with lategame tracks is Sonic 3 & Knuckles all over again
4) VN character sprites should appear with wipe or slide animations, NOT transparent dissolves. Dissolves are mostly bland and ugly, but are the unspoken default for most VNs for some inscrutable reason. Wipes and slides at least suggest motion of some kind.
3) VN character sprites should almost never be one hundred percent front-on. Almost none of the original Higurashi sprites are front-on, and the benefit of being able to clearly see the character's posture adds a lot to the characters' personalities.
Playing Higurashi has reaffirmed four opinions I have about videogames: 1) All videogames with dialogue boxes want a backlog window. 2) Early-00s wacky character reaction sound effects (popularised in the West almost exclusively through Phoenix Wright) need to make a comeback.
"Remember, the left pneumatic tube sends down the public's spoilers. Convert them to ROT13 using the chart, and send them up the right tube." "Right." *opens a capsule and gingerly reads the first words* "Arggh I'M ONLY ON BOOK 2!!" *scribbles "AVMIW EFJQZ PSFEO" without looking*
"And thus ends today's episode. Are you imagining what will happen next? Go ahead, tell me. It won't change anything, though – this grim tale is already written. But still, it's fun to wonder if the headlights rushing toward you are a police car or an ice cream truck, right?"
I am honoured and humbled to exist and be alive with all of you. Even though I had no choice and there is absolutely no alternative, it is still, nonetheless, the most daunting and awe-instilling honour.
Out of curiousity I decided to watch "the Nice Boat anime" and I regret to report that the substituted boat footage was probably an improvement.
This preview pane comes with an additional input panel below it that you can freely paste, write and run code with. The gray stripe, when clicked, allows both of these to occupy the full width. Finally, the documentation now include light and dark mode buttons.
Over the next couple of awhiles, I'll do some more tweets explaining some features in detail. The first I'll bring up involves the documentation: it now has a live preview pane that lets you run Harlowe code directly. Click the ▶ button next to code snippets to run it.
Harlowe 3.2.0 (the Twine programming language update I spent 2020 working on) has been released, and the documentation has been updated. Here's a quick introduction I wrote about this update: https://twine2.neocities.org/#introduction_welcome-to-the-world-of-3.2.0 https://twitter.com/klembot/status/1345817720944787456
*I am told that a programme will be airing after the watershed* Brits have way too many euphemisms for toilets.
Meatspace netiquette ("Meatiquette")
I've been examining 07th Mod (https://07th-mod.com/wiki/Higurashi/Higurashi-Getting-started/) a mod for Higurashi's PC release that adds QOL features, and it includes these… vectorised(?) upscaled versions of the original sprites. Like, I'm sure the writer didn't originally scan and colour this 1024x768 Rena in 2002.
Strange fact about myself: the version I'd somehow obtained used the replacement tracks, EXCEPT episodes 4, 5 and 6, so the end result was that I received a 70º diagonal slice of the issue that probably no one else ever did.
I've done a decent survey of all of the tracks and their replacements, and have come to the conclusion that the changes are at worst a lateral shift, and it doesn't really matter in the grand scheme of things if you haven't played the game before.
All of the replaced tracks/SFX were from the royalty-free library Music Studio Series by AIDIA (https://www.ai-d-ia.com/product/sound/ok/index.html). This indirectly caused the pleasing continuity across all 8 episodes I observed in that tweet, rather than any actual authorial intent.
Interesting story: since this tweet, I discovered that on 2019-04-01 a handful of earlygame tracks/SFX were patched out of all digital copies of Higurashi (presumably due to copyright) and replaced with similar tracks from later in the game + new tracks. https://twitter.com/webbedspace/status/1343579928344739846
There's a handful of speculative-fiction tropes out there that are familiar, welcome friends of fiction-loving potatoes, but which absolutely melt the minds of people who encounter them for the first time, and I spread my arms wide whenever I see them again.
What do they know
Thinking about that famous line from Undertale
Damn, every last one was called in advance, right down to the spelling. https://twitter.com/topherflorence/status/1158722838188179456
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