Thoughts on Mario + Rabbids Kingdom battle

I’m not that far in, I think I’m still in the 1-X stages (maybe 1-8?). So far I’m kinda meh about the whole thing, though it’s a decent way to spend my evenings.

This game started off totally bonkers. Mario + Rabbids is already a ludicrous proposal, but then Ubisoft went all-in with their weird meta storytelling. The opening cutscene is with a girl who invented goggles that can merge stuff together, which, already, what. She’s got a floating Roomba-looking computer (???) and when she steps out of the room, a washing machine (????) full of Rabbids (???????) crashes into the room, and the Rabbids use the goggles to merge reality with a Mushroom Kingdom poster (?????????????). Your enemies are not Bowser and Goombas and Koopas, your enemies are other Rabbids who have been corrupted by the goggles-wearing Rabbid who… has morphed into a somehow more cartoony caricature of these already very cartoonish caricatures?!

Yeah, it’s uh

It’s a plot, all right.

rabbid peach

Rabbid Peach is just the BEST

So whatever, who cares. You don’t play these kinds of games for the storytelling, you play them for the XCOM-style turn-based cover shooter tactical strategy battles. And so how are those?

They’re… just okay, honestly.

I haven’t had problems with the difficulty spikes so far, though they are definitely there and can feel like a total brick wall. The stuff that drives me up the wall is that, while the camera outside of battle lets you freely rotate it around your characters, when in battle you can only snap it to 90-degree angles. Also, your characters have a wider range than what the camera sometimes can display on your screen, and once you move your character you can’t undo or move them again, so shots can feel like a leap of faith at times.

While I do sense that there is more depth to battles than what I’ve played so far, I can’t help but feel the “XCOM, but for kids” approach has left it just a bit too simple. Or maybe this first world just takes way too long to clear, I dunno. I do like that hit percentage is greatly simplified from XCOMalikes and the UI is simple and easy to understand.

Let’s talk about the rest of the level, the non-battle parts: they suck.

Suck.

You have these fairly large, sprawling levels but they’re all laid out more or less the same way: follow the trail of coins, push a few buttons to connect the pipes or rotate the cannons so you can move on, and keep walking until you reach the next battle stage. I’m not saying I would have preferred just a boring level select, but… no, actually, yeah, I’d just prefer a level select, or a hub world, or just anything that’s better than this.

It’s not fun, the world doesn’t look that great, and worst of all your lead character is that Roomba thing. It’s small and low to the ground and is constantly being blocked from view by the rest of your party, i.e. the characters that should be leading. The puzzles are more about pushing buttons than they are genuine puzzles, the environment less Mario and more Pee-Wee’s Playhouse, the camera constantly getting stuck behind something and obscuring the Roomba. And these exploration stages just drag on forever, taking almost as much time walking to the next arena as it does to clear a battle.

It’s a pretty okay game so far, though if I had to be honest, if this weren’t a Nintendo title on the Switch, I’d probably have put it on the side by now. I’m hoping it picks up the pace soon (especially these exploration stages, argh) and becomes a little more engaging.

Moriva and Thoughts On Wicked Wonders

I’m in my favorite coffee shop near Kannai, Yokohama. It’s called Moriva Coffee. I’m pretty sure it’s a chain café since all the menus are laminated, the coffee is relatively cheap and just tastes okay, and the cakes all look like convenience store fare. It’s near my work and is across from a nice little park though, and it’s never crowded.

I finished Wicked Wonders on the train today. My immediate reaction to these stories is that Ellen Klages is a very accessible writer; simple, no-nonsense prose, appealing precisely because of how comfortable it is. This was my first time reading Klages, and she has this incredible way of letting us peek into the corners of windows at these charming, wholly realized worlds, but whisking us away before we can be disappointed. I am interested in reading more of her work, and I especially wonder at how she handles full-length novels.

I didn’t connect with all the stories (Friday Night at St. Cecelia’s and Goodnight Moons), felt sort of iffy about others (Household Management, the ending to Woodsmoke), but fell deeply and passionately in love with most of them (Education of a Witch and Echoes of Aurora, omggg). I will probably at some point write my thoughts on the stories in more detail, though a quick summary of what I thought can be found on my Goodreads review-in-progress.

I do want to write about one of the stories, the ending to Woodsmoke, while I still have this first-read fresh on my mind. It obviously is one long spoiler, so I’ll put it behind the cut. Also CW for transphobia and gender dysphoria.

Continue reading

Thoughts on Rin-ne Vol. 1

I kind of feel like I was cheating with this volume since I’ve seen all the first and second seasons of the anime. I already knew everything that was going to happen, and anyway the first volume of a manga series like this is just the usual introductions to the characters and universe. In all honesty I could have skipped this since it was all covered in the anime anyway, and there isn’t really much to say about it since there aren’t too many differences between the two.

One thing that makes me cackle though is how rude Rinne is to Sakura, at least in these first few episodes. He never quite gets to Ranma levels of assholery, but he calls her おまえ and isn’t impressed when she clings to him. I won’t say I’m disappointed that he eventually (spoiler) falls for her, since smitten Rinne is also pretty cute, but these early episodes when he is just baffled by her is kind of great.

This was also true when I was watching the anime, but I LOOOOOOVE Sakura. I love that she’s not the annoying shrew that Akane and Kagome were in Ranma ½ and Inuyasha, respectively. I love how she is this strong, self-determined, curious character without having to fight with everyone to prove it. She just is, and it’s great. I love her.

Similarly to how I felt about the anime, I’m not in love with the whole “Rinne is poor, that’s the joke!” that a lot of the series is premised on. It’s one thing for poverty to be a central issue for why he is a shinigami, and to explain the situation when it’s found out that he lives in an abandoned school building and lives off the offerings left to the school’s weather box, but it’s sometimes uncomfortable for “jokes” like Sakura being cut off partway through saying “Rokudo is poor.”

And finally, Rokumon is too cute for words.

Look at this cute patoot.

That is all.

Thoughts on March Comes In Like a Lion S2

Folks, my roaring headache seems to be here to stay, and on top of that I have to get ready for work tonight, so unfortunately today’s gonna have to be a quickie too.

I’m only a few episodes into S2 of March Comes In Like a Lion, and just like my feelings from the first season, I think this is just okay. I still love the animation, premise, location, and all of the side characters.

I still have far too many problems with the protagonist, Rei Kiriyama. Huge tracts of the show are spent inside of his head, listening to him drone on about either his feelings or a scene that played out just before. The former is fine, if done sparingly and eloquently, which it isn’t. The latter is the sort of thing that makes me want to tear all of the hair out of my head, because believe it or not this show is really good at landing those big tearjerker scenes, but then screwing up the landing by having Rei belch on about it.

Off the top of my head, there were two scenes that really stood out to me as being stunning, but were then ruined by Rei talking way too much. This might be getting a bit spoilery, so I’ll hide them behind the cut.

Continue reading