Saturday, October 25, 2014

A Look at the Jojo's Bizarre Adventure Capcom Fighting Game

The most recent anime adaptation of Hirohiko Araki’s multi-part manga epic Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure has been making the rounds, quickly gaining popularity in the anime-loving crowd, particularly once it reached part 3.

For all the years the series has been around, through all of its 8 parts and generations of different heroes and villains, part 3 is considered the major turning point and the most famous.  It’s so influential, the hero and villain of part 3 are the only playable characters from the series in Jump Ultimate Stars, while the heroes from the other parts are only support characters.  It’s a story almost as iconic as the likes of other Shonen Jump classics like Fist of the North Star and One Piece.

Sadly, although it got a cult following in the internet community, the Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure manga’s popularity was never anywhere close to the amazing numbers it got in Japan.  Part 3 wasn’t officially translated by Viz until years after its Japanese release, when it garnered popularity, and every other part wasn’t translated at all until recently.  The garnered popularity that supposedly led to the manga’s official translation can be attributed to two adaptations that were released in English beforehand: A set of OVAs and the fighting game by Capcom.

The Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure Capcom fighting game has heroes and villains from part 3 (that can fight) as a playable characters, and adapts the story into a series of one-on-one battles, like most shonen-based games.  That story in this case, as you might expect, is bizarre..

For those who aren’t caught up, the Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure franchise’s parts are similar to the way the King of Fighters storylines work in that knowledge of previous parts is good to have, but not strictly necessary.  However, the first two parts can be easily summarized:

Part 1 tells the story of an English nobleman named Jonathan Joestar and his conniving adopted brother Dio.  Dio turned himself into a vampire using an ancient metamorphosing stone mask that made him more powerful, but also vulnerable to the sun’s energy.  To fight him, Jonathan learned Hamon, an ancient fighting style built around manipulating the sun’s energy, which allowed Jonathan to damage him.

In the end, Jonathan reduced Dio to a head, but the head (with some assistance from one of his vampire underlings) later ambushed Jonathan on a cruise liner with the intent of attaching itself to Jonathan’s body.  However, things went awry, and both of them went down with the ship.

In part 2, Jonathan’s grandson Joseph Joestar, who inherited the Hamon technique, had to fight a band of ancient superbeings with the same vulnerability to sunlight as vampires.  Called the Pillar Men, these humanoid abominations got their name from having been released from hibernation in stone pillars found in underground ruins.

The Pillar Men created the stone masks that turn people into vampires, but by combining a large chunk of a special stone called the Red Stone of Aja with the stone mask, they could instead turn the wearers into a more powerful lifeform and take away their sunlight vulnerability.  To make a long story of hellish training and crazy schemes short, Joseph won.

Part 3 is kicked off when a coffin is pulled out of the ocean containing Dio’s head attached to Jonathan Joestar’s body and controlling it.  Joseph, now an elderly man, finds out about Dio’s return and fills his grandson Jotaro in on Dio and the new power people have called Stands.

Stands are a manifestation of one’s inner fighting spirit with common rules as to how they work, with the occasional exception.  They can only be seen by other Stand users and are projected from a Stand user’s body mentally, meaning that a Stand user can use their stand and not even look like they’re doing anything.  The farther a stand goes from a user’s body, the weaker it gets (this is how one can know a Stand user is nearby).

Stands are where Araki had the freedom to get creative.  There are the usual types of combat stands you would expect, like fire, ice and swordplay, but throughout Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure’s long run, there have been stands that really put the “bizarre” in the title.

For example, Joseph’s stand, Hermit Purple, is able to see visions of anything in the world and convey it to him by channeling it through some visual means.  For example, he can get a message by having his stand’s tentacles go into a TV and flip through channels in such a way that single words in each one are played in rapid succession so that they form a full sentence.  Early on he’s able to take pictures of where Dio is, wherever he is, by karate chopping a camera with his stand.  Apparently that gets really expensive.

Other stands include the Hanged Man, which can attack people by going into reflections and attacking them there, Death 13, a grim reaper that attacks through dreams, and Anubis, a sword stand without an owner that possesses anyone who touches it (including their stand, if they have one).

At first, the primary conflict is going after Dio, of course, since he’s an evil vampire plotting to take over the world and wreak havoc with his own stand, but the stakes raise when Jotaro’s mom (and Joseph’s daughter) develops a stand of her own.  Because she’s not as strong as everyone else, however, the stand saps her strength, slowly killing her.  The only way to get rid of the stand is to kill Dio because he (or Jonathan’s body) is somehow the source of it…..

I’m honestly not entirely sure how that works, but the point is Jotaro, Joseph and some friends they pick up along the way have to travel to Egypt where Dio is hiding and kill him.  This leads them on an adventure across the continent, visiting many different cultures, all while fighting other stand users Dio sends after them and making badass poses and catchphrases.  The heat is on!

(Especially when they have to go up against The Sun, whose only power is simulating Arizona.)

Forewarning: If at any point of this article the names are inconsistent with something you’ve read about Jojo elsewhere, there’s a good reason.  Think of it this way: there are 2 translations for names in Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure, the actual way and the “official” way.

Hirohiko Araki likes American music.  You’d swear he was the eccentric mentor to Daisuke Ishiwatari, because Araki names at least half his characters and stands after musicians, albums and songs!  But unlike Guilty Gear, the naming in Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure is less subtle, so in the case of official translations, like the game, names are changed to protect the innocent (the innocents in this case being the ones who have to deal with trademark lawyers).

How the names are changed varies with the translation.  Sometimes names are changed into ones that still reflect what the original name were referencing (Devo to Soul Sacrifice, J. Geil to Centerfold).  More commonly, such as in the game, the names are simply spelled differently, but pronounced in the same way, such as the pillar man Eisidisi (ACDC) in part 2, and names like Robber Soul (Rubber Soul), S. Terry Dan (Steely Dan) and Iced (Vanilla Ice) in the part 3 game.  Vanilla Ice’s translated name works because in Japanese he’s usually referred to as “Ice” for short.  I’ll be using the translated names from this game.

Voing's original name was Boingo, and he has a brother named Oingo.
The renaming issues may be why no official company has bothered translating the parts after 3.  Part 3 has a handful of necessary name changes, but the stands, at least, are mostly named after the arcana (Silver Chariot, Star Platinum) and Egyptian deities (Sethan, Anubis).  In later parts, however, the stands are given names like Killer Queen, the Goo Goo Dolls, Aerosmith and Red Hot Chili Pepper.  I imagine coming up with new translations for all of them would be a nightmare to localize, but they did do it for many of them when they localized the new game, Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure: All Star Battle, so there may be hope yet.

Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure is at the same time one of the perfect candidates for a fighting game adaptation, and yet not, if you really think about how fights work in the manga.
On one hand, the franchise has all sorts of extremely unique and imaginative characters that fight in varying ways, like the best fighting games do.
On the other hand, one of the main appeals of the manga (starting with part 2 in particular) is that most fights are less about strength and more about wits.  More often than not in Jojo, brute force doesn’t work, and the hero has to come up with some way to outsmart his opponent instead of outfight them, because many times the villain has powers that are either not fit for direct combat or extremely unfair and overpowered.  For such overpowered Stands, the game designers have to take liberties with the source material in the name of fair play.

Robber Soul’s stand Yellow Temperance is the perfect example of this.  Yellow Temperance is a stand that can be seen and touched, can morph into any form, eat anything it touches (even with only a detached piece of it), works as armor and can’t be burnt or frozen off.

The way Jotaro lands a hit on Robber is by getting him in the water and nailing him when he comes up to breathe, because even though his stand is invincible, he isn’t.

But since that would be unfair in a fighting game, Robber Soul is as vulnerable to being hit as anyone else even though he fights using Yellow Temperance’s Kakyoin disguise.  Instead, to better emulate his invulnerability from the manga, he plays defensively, with close-ranged special attacks and a counter move that can instantly stand crash an opponent (more on that later).

Iced’s Stand, Cream, (hurr hurr) had a similar downgrade.  In the manga, Cream swallows its own body to create an orb of a sort of antimatter that makes anything it touches vanish completely with no resistance, friction, or trace (did I mention this series is bizarre?).  In the game it just does a considerable amount of damage.

Additionally, fights in the manga often come with heavy amounts of monologuing that seems to trap everyone else in a time stasis field until they (or someone else) finish talking about what they're doing.  Of course, that's a fighting game no-no.

But I can’t go into detail on how the characters change with the game’s mechanics without discussing the mechanics themselves.

There is lots of hitting other people.
You would expect a Capcom fighting game to play similarly to their other games, like Street Fighter or Darkstalkers, but it controls more like Blazblue, just with the pacing of a Capcom fighter.  Just like in Blazblue there are buttons for weak, medium and strong attacks that are used with special and super special moves to make combos, but in place of Blazblue’s Drive button there is instead the Stand button.

Obviously, the Stand button has characters use their stand, with a couple of exceptions.  Like in the manga, how the stands are used varies.  Most call their stand in and out to enhance and change their attacks.  The ones that do that have a meter that depletes as they’re hit while their stand is out and can only be recharged by calling it back.  If the meter completely runs out after a hit, that player suffers a “stand crash” and can’t call their stand out at all until the meter refills.

The main heroes except for Joseph can all have their stands split from them to attack the opponent from a distance like a puppetmaster, and have them use an attack while allowing the user to still move in order to attempt a double-team.  The shaman D’Bo’s play style is based around this by possessing the killer doll he uses in the manga with his stand, Ebony Devil.

Other stands are used more unusually.  One character, Shadow Dio, is supposed to be Dio before it’s revealed what he and his stand look like.  Because of this, his stand button has his shadowed stand appear for quick attacks, unlike the regular Dio who visibly calls it in and out like the others.

Another stand user, Mahrahia, uses her stand in a way tangentially consistent with the source, which you probably wouldn’t expect to work in a fighting game.
In the manga, Mahrahia’s stand, Bastet, looks just like a power outlet, and anyone who touches it becomes magnetized; everything within a long radius that’s magnetic pulls toward them.  In the manga, she hides Bastet on solid surfaces, tricking Avdol and Joseph into touching it, but in the game she can place it in midair as a trap, and every time the opponent touches it, they gain a level of magnetic strength.  With each level, Mahrahia’s metal and live wire-throwing attacks from the manga homes in on the magnetized enemy faster and at longer range

A few characters don’t use the stand button for a stand at all.  The three fighters that use the possessed Anubis sword use their stand button as one more heavy attack button.  Instead, Anubis’s primary stand function is using a special move that counters attacks from the opponents and memorizes them, allowing him to counterattack quickly after guarding the memorized attacks again.  This is because in the manga, he’s a stand that learns.

No matter how many liberties they took, the developers never lost sight of what made each character a unique opponent, and that they were able to translate them so relatively faithfully into a traditional fighting game’s mechanics is something to be admired, especially in the PS1 and Dreamcast version’s biggest draw: Super Story Mode.

In the arcade versions of the Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure game, the story is very abridged, acting as a traditional fighting game with 7 or so enemies, each with cutscenes recreating scenes from the manga.  However, because some characters weren’t in the game until updated releases, and because not all of them fight, several of the villains are never fought and the whole story at large is largely skipped.

Super Story Mode leaves every single fight, villain and plot point in, give or take the usual changes to match the engine’s limits.  This includes the villains that don’t fight man-to-man.  For a number of encounters, like with the Empress, which attaches itself to Joseph’s arm, you complete a series of (shoehorned-in) quick time events as the sequence of events from the manga play out.  In the Empresses's case, they were to dodge her punches.  Boy wasn’t that a bad situation.

Other encounters get more creative.  You have to face Daniel D’Arby, whose stand allows him to turn people into poker chips when they lose, in his poker game after losing Joseph and Polnareff to his other (rigged) games, just like in the manga.

At least I'm not putting my Viewtiful Joe DVDs on the line.
And at another point the game doesn’t establish well, Polnareff and Kakyoin’s stands have to go inside Joseph’s body in order to kill S. Terry Dan’s stand, The Lovers.  The Lovers makes its user and target form a bond that has the target feel what the user does a thousand fold, meaning if Dan hurts himself, he can potentially kill his target.  Dan uses this to hold Joseph hostage while he makes Jotaro do a series of degrading chores for him.

The mission to fight The Lovers in this game takes the form of a side scrolling shooter, with Polnareff’s Silver Chariot used for close ranged attacks and Kakyoin’s Heirophant Green for ranged attacks.  Talk about an unexpected gameplay change.

They don’t show how they got in that whole situation in the game, but they do show how it ends, and sure enough, it’s lifted straight from the source material, with a mild change (a backstab attempt instead of a hostage attempt).

The entire game can be described lifted from the source material, really.  The visuals are an especially good highlight for the fans.  This game was one of the few to use Capcom’s more advanced Capcom Play System 3 Arcade Board.  The only other games to use it were the different versions of Street Fighter 3 and Red Earth, and if you know those games, you know that they are beautiful 2D fighters with a strong use of detailed artwork.  In Jojo’s case, much of its art outside the battle sprites, from the character select screen portraits to the finishing move reaction shots, is almost all lifted directly from the manga.

Part 2 flashbacks.
For the character of Midler, who was never fully seen in the manga, they had  Araki create a design and new artwork, making this game her only visual appearance.

Like any good shonen licensed game, it’s the little things that show how much the developers really knew the source material; things like special character introductions and taunts using quotes and poses straight from the manga, even if they were only used once.

Hell, the character of Jojo is a young Joseph Joestar, and everything he does is a reference to part 2.  He fights using Hamon on his clackers, the crossbow he used against Wamuu, and even smaller moves like the Hamon-infused soda can he used near the beginning of part 2.
His default taunt is his classic “happii urepii yoropiiku ne!”

But when he fights one of the main heroes he instead taunts with “Tsugi ni omae wa”, and then the character’s catch phrase ("Yare yare daze, tsk tsk Yes I am tsk tsk," ect.)  That was one of his recurring taunts in part 2.  This game let players do the taunt before they went overboard with it in All Star Battle.

It may not be the most balanced game for competitive play, and I have to admit the dated music can get annoying, but for fans of shonen, fighting games, or just Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure, this Capcom fighter is one of the essentials, and serves as a fun introduction to Part 3 if the new anime hasn’t done that already.

As I said, the game is available on the PS1 and Dreamcast, both versions of which go for very unreasonable prices online.  The best way to get it now is through the PSN store or Xbox Live Arcade in its “HD” release.  The HD versions have sharpened visuals more noticeable with the hand-drawn artwork from the manga than the in-game sprites.  Regardless, it makes an already nice-looking game look even nicer, and that it allows you to toggle between HD and classic, as well as toggle the blood censorship from the original American releases, is appreciated.

The biggest issue with the HD release is that it doesn’t have the console version’s Super Story Mode.  Without that, its $20 price tag is really pushing its luck on selling itself.  Still, it’s better than paying through the nose for the original copies.

I haven’t been able to find it on the PSN or XBLA recently, however.  Hopefully it-

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The Design Brilliance of I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream

Halloween is approaching.  Everyone is getting out their costumes, setting up the spooky decorations and watching classic horror movies.  It’s also the time some gamers take to play their favorite scary games, as well as October-themed specials going on for games like Killing Floor and Team Fortress 2.

But for a lot of us, the scares are what we’re looking for.  Now’s the time to play the classics like Eternal Darkness, Resident Evil, Silent Hill 2, System Shock 2 or Amnesia.

This year I have a recommendation on another horror game.  I’ve already gone over how ClockTower is the scariest game ever made, and I stand by that statement, but this year I’m taking a moment to appreciate the aspects of a classic horror game that don’t contribute to the horror.

I’ve always held a soft spot for 90s adventure games.  I was quite a fan of King’s Quest 5 back in the day, and even now with all the advancements companies like Telltale Games have made to the genre, I can still play some of the adventure games from the days of lesser graphics and game design.  I still love The Curse of Monkey Island, the Phantasmagoria games, and The Neverhood as much as I ever have.  Sure they had annoying puzzles and huge leaps in logic when it came to progressing through them, but the stories were so well told and presented, I couldn’t help forgiving them.

That’s why when the opportunity came knocking, I bought the PC game adaptation of the short story I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream by Harlan Ellison.  I had heard about the game being scary, unsettling and overall pretty good, so when it was on sale for Halloween on Steam earlier last year, I gave it a try myself.

Naturally, I enjoyed the traits many of the best 90s adventure games sported: detailed artwork, a good story, and (mostly) good voice acting to boot.  Unlike some of the other 90s adventure games though, I was also impressed with IHNMAIMS’s overall design as a game, because it managed to largely avoid the major pitfalls many other adventure games of its type are infamous for.

As I stated, many adventure games in the 90s had design quirks, for lack of a better term.  Anyone who has played them knows the complaints as well as the jokes made about them: an increasing load of inventory items, illogical solutions with only one way to do them you likely had to find out through guesswork and not to mention some (usually from Sierra) that killed you or rendered the game unwinnable without fair warning.

IHNMAIMS averts the overstocked inventory problem right off the bat through its premise.  The story is about the last 5 humans on earth being tortured by a human-hating godlike supercomputer named AM (Allied Mastercomputer), voiced by Ellison himself.  In the events of the game, AM makes each human play a game of his own making, each one preying on their weaknesses.  That means every character, along with their scenario, has their own inventory and map.

Each scenario’s landscape is relatively small (about half the size of a suburban elementary school), making them easy to navigate and greatly reducing backtracking.  It’s much like Telltale Games’ episodic adventure games released today in how it takes the story one chapter at a time.  Not only does this mean you don’t have to go to hell and back if you forgot something, but because there’s less to cover, should you decide to take the desperate practice of trying to use everything you have on everything else to get something to happen, it’s a lot quicker.

But in my playthrough of the game, that didn’t happen.  With the exception of a few points of guesswork and vagueness, IHNMAIMS is relatively logical in its solutions, and when the rules of logic are bent in AM’s twisted game, clues are given.
Without spoiling the solution, I cite a point in Ellen’s scenario.  In it, she must grab a chalice from a room being guarded by a vicious sphinx that scares her away when she comes in.  However, if the player looks at the room through a security monitor in another room, it doesn’t show the sphinx.  Hmmmmmm…

She doesn't even touch the thing!
That sense of fairness is properly played in the ways you can lose too, as opposed to the aforementioned Sierra games where even somewhat sensible options will have you killed on a whim.  For one thing, dying in IHNMAIMS does not mean the end of the game until the finale.  If one of the characters dies in AM’s game, they’re transported out to start the scenario all over again, with the story justification being that AM wants to torture them as long as possible.  It can be annoying if you don’t save, but it’s better than allowing you to save yourself into an unwinnable scenario by mistake.

That, however, should not happen, and the game won’t kill you for one slip-up.  While it is possible to die, there are very few instances it can happen, giving the game the relaxed play of Monkey Island, but with some of the sense of peril of King’s Quest, where everything is trying to kill you.  In any situation in which you can die, you can see it coming and it’s avoidable.

For example, in Ted’s scenario, he can hear the sounds of wolves getting closer every time he enters the central room of the castle, and the front door is missing a hinge.  It gives you several chances to figure out a way to shut the door, so if they bust in and you die, it’s your own fault.

Other times the game doesn’t need to warn you and has you rely on your common sense.  If you cut the airbags in a blimp in order to lower it to the height it needs to be at, common sense tells you that you shouldn’t cut any more than that, or else…

In the same scenario, the designers anticipated a player’s thought process in a specific way.  Instead of cutting the air bags, you can instead try to shoot a hole in it with what is described as a bulky, single-shot handgun.  However, you’re supposed to realize that the reason it’s bulky and has one shot is because it’s a flare gun.

Fire does not go well with blimps.

Instead of simply giving a generic “I can’t use these two things together” line, the game knows what you were thinking, and you thought wrong.

In one last brilliant design decision, each scenario has multiple endings that give the game flexibility.  These endings are determined by the character’s moral actions through their chapter, long before games like Infamous and Mass Effect implemented their own morality measurements.  For example, having Ted be unfaithful lowers his morality, and having Nimdok use ether to ease the pain of someone suffering raises his.

There are different ways for the successful endings to play out as well; there isn’t only one proper set of solutions.  Although the alternate solutions never diverge far from what you’re supposed to do, they allow for some tangential thinking.

For example, in Ted’s scenario, you’re told that there’s a clue on the servant woman’s tapestry in her room.  There are two ways in: you can either sleep with her (lowering morality) or give the demon you summon that can open locks a bit of energy to have him open the simple lock on her door.  Alternate solutions like that also help give the game some incentive to play through it again.

Unfortunately, much of the good about the game I just went over sort of falls apart at the game’s finale, where the puzzles are abstract, you’ll almost certainly need a guide, and you die permanently, but the 80% of the game getting to that point is still a treat.

Before playing it, I thought I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream was a cult classic because of its well-told story, like most fondly-remembered adventure games, but having played it myself, I see there’s more to it than that.  While it shows its age in some areas, IHNMAIMS holds up pretty well, even by today’s standards.  If you’re looking for a creepy game to play this Halloween, it’s a solid buy.

Friday, October 10, 2014

The 100-Post Milestone

2 years ago I created the Shonen Otaku Corner as a way to share my writing and love of fictional media.  Starting with my very first post ever on the second season of Yu Yu Hakusho I've written many game and anime (mostly game) feature stories that have given me excellent practice, strong examples of my skills and at least some recognition.  With over 50,000 page views and some posts shared on official and fan Facebook pages, I'm modestly proud at how this blog has turned out.

I wasn't sure what I could do for something as special as my 100th post.  Different online personalities have done them in different ways (Linkara's rant on Spider Man: One More Day for his 200th comes to mind).  But my reviews and articles come on a case-by-case basis, and I didn't have anything planned for my 100th post.

So instead of a new review or the second part of the Mortal Kombat post, I thought I'd make this 100th post special by making it about the thoughts and processes that go into my writing instead of the end result.  Specifically, the three big projects you can see in the tabs at the top of the page and how they came into being.

The KOF Retrospective

I wasn't an SNK fan from the series' beginning.  In fact, I've never even seen an arcade cabinet with a KOF or even Fatal Fury game ever before in my life.  I originally got into the series with the Orochi Saga Collection on the Wii, and as you can tell, I got hooked big time (starting with KOF '96).  Not only was the music and art design excellent, but the story was a multi-game shonen epic with well-made characters that made me want to learn the stories of each and every single one while playing with their distinguishing fighting styles.

Since I was so passionate about the franchise, I wanted to make something that could effectively share that and convince more people to play the games for themselves.  As inspiration, I looked at other online personalities that did just that with their own favorite franchises: Spoony's Ultima Retrospective, Linkara's History of the Power Rangers and Welshy's Saw retrospective (which he sadly never finished).  Each of those were entertaining, analytical and informative, exactly how I want my writing to be.  They showed why they loved each series so much, but weren't afraid to mock some of their stupider aspects.  Plus, with KOF telling its story through images with text, I could convey the story effectively without the need of a video.

And thus, I played each game one by one, multiple times, all while writing the details and my thoughts.

The Fighting Game Camps

With my current ongoing series of articles on the many different fighting game franchises in gaming, I more or less asked myself "why stop at KOF?"  There are people just as passionate about their own favorite fighting game franchises, and each one has its own stories to tell.
With my skills honed in KOF my curiosity motivated me to dive deeper into the other franchises to see what kind of stories they told and observe what makes their fans so hardcore.  I obviously couldn't go over each and every game in each franchise like the KOF retrospective unless it would be made over the course of several years, so I instead made it a detailed summation; an introductory piece to each franchise as a whole, if you will.  It's been a very fun and fascinating trip so far.  It kind of feels like traveling to different countries around the world and partaking in their local sport or seeing a play with each one's local folk tales.  You wouldn't think there'd be that kind of variety in a concept as simple as having people fight each other, but like any genre, there is.

As a side note, the second part of the post on Mortal Kombat is being delayed.  Instead I'll be writing a piece on a rather.... Bizarre fighting game.

The Diary of Frank West

As I said, my articles are usually meant to be both informative and entertaining.  Something fun to read, but with the reader getting something out of it.  With the Diary of Frank West, I wanted to make something that was purely entertainment.

I'm a fan of Dead Rising and its sequel Dead Rising 2 (haven't played the third yet).  They're great silly fun with somewhat unique plots, if kind of cheesy at times.  There are many jokes to be made as the ridiculous nature of the improvised weapons, gameplay mechanics inconsistent with reality, and the way the straight-faced story plays itself against the ridiculous nature for a hilarious contrast.  Whether a friend is watching you play Dead Rising in the same room or chatting while playing Dead Rising 2 with you in its co-op multiplayer, there are laughs to be had.

So for the Diary of Frank West, I decided to make my own comedy series blending a number of different styles of entertainment writing: A let's play mixed with the occasional liberties of a fan fiction along with an alternate character interpretation, all using absurdist humor.

The general writing process went like this:
1. Play Dead Rising for a while.
2. Write down bullet points of what happened, including notable silliness, plot points, and thoughts and complaints Frank may be thinking at times.
3. Wait a while, smash your head against a wall for 10 minutes, huff paint and watch online videos that likely make your dumber.

(That was an exaggeration. I do not support the use of illicit drugs or inhaling paint.)
4. Using the bullet points as starting points, write what your damaged mind probably remembers.  In the case of this series, I remembered.... Vietnam spies, an amnesic Ozzy Osbourne, blowing people up with Hokuto Shinken and enchanted healing food.  Whoooooah man.

If I wrote it and said "Oh my god that's the stupidest thing I've ever read," it got kept in.  Before playing the original version of the game I had played through the Wii version literally a dozen times, so I was able to plan a number of jokes regarding the main story ahead of time.

The end result was as insane and crazy as I had wanted it to be, but that may be a double-edged sword. Some people get absurdist humor, but others may read it and believe me, not Frank, to be out of my mind.

I'm a little concerned some people might be offended.  Frank's traits were meant to be stupid and offensive to the point of being a caricature. I was essentially trying to cross the line twice, but at times, like Frank's misogyny and the cultists'... Implications, I feel as though I may have only crossed it once.  I might go back to adjust it sometime.

I'm considering doing a sequel using Dead Rising 2: Off the Record, but I'm not sure there's much of a demand for that because the first one has been kind of hit or miss.  It was fun to write regardless.

As has writing for this blog.  For the handful of readers I get, I can't thank you enough for your support.  You're what keeps me going.  Hopefully with 100 posts to present I can finally get a paid writing job.