Friday, September 5, 2014

The King of Fighters-i 2012 Review

Back in my retrospective of The King of Fighters 13 I briefly touched on The King of Fighters-i 2012. At the time I only knew some of the details about it from associates who owned it, but having gotten an iPhone of my own I’ve gotten much deeper into it to allow for a full review.

[Please note that The King of Fighters-i is the name of the iPhone version of the game.  The Android version is titled The King of Fighters Android, and as far as I can tell it is the same exact game.]

An update from their previous app game simply titled The King of Fighters-i, KOFi 2012 is a portable app version of the core of KOF 13, the installment tied with 11 as my favorite in the series.  Even though I was looking forward to playing a portable KOF 13, I set my expectations a little low.  I had difficulty playing KOF ‘97 back when I played it on my sister’s iPhone, and porting a multi-gigabyte HD game to an app without cutting a good amount of content seemed like wishful thinking.

To my surprise, even though compromises were indeed made, KOFi 2012 is an extremely impressive replication of the KOF 13 experience that’s fun regardless of whether or not you’ve played the console edition.

The truth is, it would be easier to list what KOFi 2012 doesn’t have from what 13 does content-wise.  It’s a relatively short list with only a few noticeable omissions and changes.

  1. The game’s main plot is absent.  There is no story mode, no cutscenes, and the final opponent in the single player arcade mode is Ash.  All the team endings from 13 (except for Ash’s) and some of the special ending artwork are kept in.
  2. Stages are static images and some of the flashier effects are left out, such as the full-team victory screens with the golden in-your-face spelling out of the word “winner.”  Naturally the sprites aren’t quite as sharp either, but the animations are just as smooth.
  3. In addition to not being in the arcade mode, Saiki is also not playable, and one of the three DLC characters from the original , Mr. Karate, is not available.  Playable Saiki and Mr. Karate’s stages, however, are.
  4. The giant “invitation” image you unlock by practically beating the game to 100% in 13 is not present.
  5. Character colors are not customizable.  Instead, each character has two or three colors.  For some, the third is their alternate outfit.
  6. There aren’t two different music tracks to select like in KOF 13.  Instead, which track used is randomly chosen for each battle.

Aside from that, it’s all there and more.  Every bit of the pre-fight dialogue, all the flashy moves and neo max attacks, all the badass win poses and all the music are present and accounted for.  Even the smaller things like replays and online icons haven’t been cut.  You just need to get used to the controls, which is not as hard as it sounds provided you don't try to use your thumbs.

The controls are simplified, but not dumbed down.  Like other iPhone fighting games, the joystick and buttons are all done with touching.  However, instead of four buttons for punching and kicking, there is one for punching, one for kicking, one for the evasive roll, one for special attacks and one to activate hyperdrive mode.

The replication of KOF’s complexity comes from using the buttons in conjunction with the touch screen control stick.  Each character executes a different move with each button depending on the direction the control stick is facing.  For example, not moving the control stick and touching the punch button with K’ makes him throw a weak punch, while moving the stick forward and touching the punch button makes him do his one-inch punch.

The special move button works similarly.  Though you can use the motions from the game to use them, you can also use the special move button instead.  When the control stick is neutral, it uses the character’s knockback attack, but when the stick is tilted in certain directions, it makes them use special moves.  For example, tilting it forward and using the special attack button has K’ use his trigger attack, down-forward has him use his flaming uppercut, and back has him use his flying kick.  Because there’s no strong and weak attack buttons in this version, some special moves only execute the version you would get by executing it with the weak attack button in KOF 13.

The super special attacks and neo maxes are different.  Super special attacks are used by touching the super meter (in which secondary super attacks require a control stick tilting) and neo maxes are activated by touching your character’s face on the upper corner of the screen.  EX versions of moves are also useable by inputting the motions with the special attack button.

All of it is simplified to make it easier for the touch screen controls, but because all the moves are present it’s no less deep and it most certainly feels as intense and bombastic as a King of Fighters game should be.  I may even go as far as to call it ingeniously designed.

The content outside of KOFi 2012’s core gameplay differentiates itself from its source even further.  In KOF 13 there are character colors, icons for online play and a huge gallery containing all the cutscenes, music, voice clips, character artwork and ending artwork you get for beating arcade mode with specific characters in a team.

KOFi 2012 has its own modest set of unlockables.  In addition to the previously-mentioned team endings, it also has a great many unlockables to be bought from the in-game shop using coins you get from playing the game and by simply starting it up every day consistently.  The Rose shop sells alternate colors, the stages from that game that came between KOF 11 and 13 that we don’t talk about, icons and messages for its online play and trading cards.  There are over 200 different trading cards depicting teams and characters from KOF 13, 11 and 2002: Unlimited match.  With SNK’s excellent artwork, fans of collecting should find them to be a nice side hobby in between all the fighting, and they can be traded between other players locally via Bluetooth.

Some of them have new sprites for older characters.
Outside of the shop there are galleries for unlockable promotional art from previous KOF games and, most enticing for fans, the backstory mini-novels for every team.  Many of these backstories are important to know to understand some of KOF 13’s story.  They used to be posted on Atlus’ official KOF 13 website, but it has since been taken down, so as far as I can tell this is now the only way to read them.  It’s a neat bonus for fans.

But you don’t have to be a fan to enjoy KOFi 2012 on the whole.  It appeals to both sides.  For fans, it’s a strong conversion of one of the best KOF games that they can play on the go and has new content for them to play for (including achievements, for Game Center users).  For non-fans, it’s an easier to learn, newbie-friendly, cheap alternative that spotlights the core of what makes The King of Fighters such a great franchise and would probably work as a good starting point.  I commend SNK Playmore for making such a great fighting game for a platform generally not associated with them.  As a fan of KOF, I am both satisfied and impressed.  I give The King of Fighters-i 2012 an 8 out of 10.

I miss Kona.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Daidouji: The Ultimate Female Game Character

In discussions of feminism and the portrayal of females, I often find people citing their favorite female character from the media and why they are so effective for reasons other than sex appeal or for the story to have at least one token female.

When it comes to games, the most commonly cited examples in my experience have been the likes of Samus Aran and Alyx Vance.  With the possible exception of the controversial Metroid: Other M, the both of them have been portrayed as tough, but still human, treated with just as much respect as you would expect of a male hero, but not denying their gender.

I have a different icon.  Over the last year I've vehemently clung to a relatively new female character from an unlikely source.
Recall in my Senran Kagura Burst review when I stated that the unlockable character for the Hanzo side of the game is my favorite.  I didn't go into any more detail than that out of fear of spoiling an unlockable, but now that she's all over the marketing for the subsequent Senran Kagura games, I think the time for spoiling it has long since passed.

I was of course referring to the eldest playable character in the Hanzo side of Senran Kagura: Daidouji, my favorite female character in gaming!

At first glance Daidouji looks like any other playable character in Senran Kagura, with her slender body and giant chest.  Just like every other character in Senran Kagura, what makes Daidouji so special isn't her body, but rather what is built around it: her personality, outfit, and fighting style, all of which can be described in one word: "shonen!"

Daidouji is obsessed with having a good fight and getting stronger.  She's first seen in Senran Kagura's story in the aftermath of having defended the school from a wave of Hebijo Academy students singlehandedly while the Hanzo girls were busy with their rivals.
As if that small preview wasn't enough, after the main story Daidouji approaches the Hanzo students directly, where it's revealed that this 25-year-old woman has been repeating her senior year so that she can scout shinobi powerful enough to be worthy of her defeating.  Having sensed the power the Hanzo girls gained in their story, Daidouji challenges all 5 one at a time as a bonus boss, once again, singlehandedly.
The shere dedication to strength and fighting Daidouji has practically makes her a parody of the most common shonen motivation seen in characters like Goku or Kuwabara, and similarly to Bang Shishigami or Ralf Jones, everything she says and does is so over-the-top and full of energy it's impossible not to love her.

But what Daidouji has over the likes of Ralf and Bang, in addition to her comically always-serious attitude, is her even greater abundance of shonen overtones, which for a Shonen Otaku, is invaluable.  Let's go over the list:
  • Her hat has no back to it and lets her hair come out of the back, much like Jotaro Kujo from Jojo's Bizarre Adventure, except long hair is feminine.  Daidouji's hat somehow has the ability to turn her hair into that amazing black mane as well.  Her real hair is a smooth blonde, which is possible she hides because it's generally not associated with toughness.
  • Her swimsuit is titled as an Asura Loincloth, Asuras being Hindu deities constantly in conflict and always competing against each other.
  • She wears an unbuttoned gakuran (a school outfit for boys) with the kanji for her name embroidered on the back.  A gakuran is a common outfit for many shonen characters, such as the aforementioned Jotaro, but Daidouji takes it a step further to make it her own special one.

  • Unlike the nimble, combo-heavy fighting styles of the other Senran Kagura characters (and, let's be honest, many female action game characters), Daidouji is very slow and hits like a tank!  Her stats outclass any other character in the game, the screen shakes with every blow she lands and she can easily shrug off what would kill a lower-leveled character.  In fact, if you look at her statistics with Katsuragi, Yagyuu or Hibari, they make an awed remark.
  • Her aerial Hidden Ninpo has her perform Naruto-style handsigns before unleashing a screen-clearing Tenshou Hyakuretsu Ken (Celestial Hundred Crack Fist) and finishing it off with an explosive hadouken.

  • Her most powerful ground attack is a projected tiger she shoots out of her fist, much like the previously-pictured gakuran-sporting shonen hero Momotaro does with his sword.  Tigers in Buddhism are a common motif in many shonen works, with it and the dragon representing the balance of power.  The tiger uses raw strength while the dragon uses patience and wisdom.  Considering how eager Daidouji is to bulldoze through anyone who gets in her way, it's quite a fit.  Her Hebijo rival is of course the dragon, and she is much calmer and the fastest character in the franchise.

  • One of her lines is "I'll send you to hell!"  I believe this line is also spoken by Raoh in his final battle with Kenshiro in Fist of the North Star, though that could be a coincidence.  This, however, is probably not:

There are different kinds of badass playable females in games, but Daidouji is my favorite kind.  She is the hardest, hammiest, toughest, strongest and not to mention most shonen representative female character in gaming, even beating out the likes of Guilty Gear's Baiken.  They really thought outside of the box for Daidouji's design and I think we need more characters like her.

And that toughness and serious demeanor makes it that much more adorable to put cute things on.
I couldn't be more excited for the release of Senran Kagura 2: Deep Crimson.  It has been shown that outfits and hairstyles in it will be interchangeable between all the playable girls.  Should Daidouji's clothes and hair be available for this, I plan to have every character wear them and change the menu's voice to Daidouji.  It will no longer be Senran Kagura 2: Deep Crimson.  It will be known as Senran Daidouji 2: Deep Daidouji!

Sunday, July 6, 2014

The Undefendable, Reprehensible, Unbelievable Psyguy

For all my readers, I would like to inform you in advance that this is a serious post.  This is not a positive one about a game I like or anything of the sort.  This is an editorial of something that needs addressing, and it is quite dark.  If you're looking for the silliness, you may want to go read the Diary of Frank West.

Not long ago, Bryon Beaubien, also known as Psyguy, the webmaster of the rather-known website, had a great many "allegations" pile up on him in a short amount of time, and boy what allegations they are.

The short version is this: essentially Beaubien has abused his influence and semi-fame to manipulate underage (15 or so, usually) girls and abuse them, both emotionally and sexually, seeing them as little more than objects to be used as he did the same to others behind their backs, goaded them into perverse activities and took advantage of them on the whole.  All of this started (as far as I can tell) while he was in his early to mid-twenties, if I recall correctly.  Methinks Beaubien plays Senran Kagura for completely different reasons from mine.

Wow Psy, he's smarter than you!

And it seems as though he has pulled shit like this for over 15 years!  15 years of picking up girls online, treating them like trash, manipulating them to do what he wanted and destroying their lives over and over again!  He only got away with it for that long because he kept them quiet with constant threats, be it death threats, threats of lying about them, threats of information, legal threats, or threats to their friends and families.  That was only if he didn't belittle them by preying on their sense of self-worth or lie to family members or some such nonsense to keep things under wraps.  The lows he would sink to is amazing.

After someone finally came out about how much of a heartless monster he is recently, everyone else he's abused came out too, each with their own stories to tell, some of which are incredibly long and detailed histories so disturbing I don't feel comfortable repeating them here.

For a more extended detailing (which even then is just the cliffnotes version), I refer you to the Psyguy abuse masterpost, a truly damning page of what he's done, quotes referring to what he's done, and a link to each of the stories they're from.  But to summarize, this comic made by one of the victims is a pretty good overall description.  There are at least a couple dozen different people who all testify that Bryon Beaubien is, for lack of a better term, evil.  I don't even use that word in the cartoonish way it usually is.  I am dead serious.

And to all his fans out there still defending him, believe me, I didn't want to believe it either.  I've always been a fan of his.  I even said GG Guys was my favorite webcomic in my Skullgirls post.  I still stand by that statement, because it is, but the person who wrote it (and the artist Dave himself, but I won't get into that) is an entirely different matter.
I admit, I never knew Beaubien personally.  I didn't even follow him on Twitter for very long before he blocked me for offering to explain the plot of Dead or Alive 5.  However, I was in denial that a person I at least somewhat kind of liked for a decade was... Well, evil.  That was before I actually took a look at all the allegations and figured that all this being a set-up is incredibly doubtful.
For one, these are mostly posts from people who have been around and are known to have a history with him, not random people or new users on the websites these are being posted on.
For another, if this were some kind of smear campaign, it probably wouldn't be worth the trouble with the detail they all go into.
It helps that the majority, if not all, of this has been confirmed by multiple people, including Tara Welker, whom I've casually followed over the years and genuinely respect (look it up, Bryon) enough to trust.
Finally, and most telling of all, everything I have read in all of the stories line up, not just in that each one is consistent with each other when looking at the overall timeline, but there are unusual occurences that seem to be explained.  Many other fans seem to have pointed these out as well.

One of the biggest points you should pay attention to is in Liz's story, where she explains that Beaubien was never really in any financial trouble and he just tried to get people to donate to Fireball20xl for his own gain.
For those who haven't been with the site for a decade, Fireball20xl used to have a donation meter near the top right corner of the screen, and was supposed to indicate how much was needed in order for Psy and the site to make ends meet.  I always found it suspicious how the meter would be filled somewhere between 40-60% and then full at the last minute, implying that somebody donated hundreds or thousands of dollars.  It's almost as if he donated the remaining money to it himself so that no one would be suspicious of the site staying up. For over a decade.  After Liz's story and Tara backing her up, I firmly believe this, which highlights something said by another one of Bryon's associates, whose overall story can be summed up into one sentence:

"Bryon Beaubien is the most self-centered, manipulative, predatory, rage-filled, entitled, spoiled narcissist I have ever met in my time on this earth."

He doesn't care about the fans and doesn't care about you!  Only himself!  He outright tricked fans out of their money for no other reason than to line his own pockets, presumably to victimize more innocent people!  If you truly want to continue defending this monster, you are a bigger fool than I was.

But the nail on the coffin, the final bit from this shit stain that truly and thoroughly convinced me that everything that was said is true is his "apology" post, which he posted just before getting rid of most of his social media and the entirety of Fireball20XL.

To paraphrase, he said "I'm sorry if I offended anyone, I never sexually touched a minor."

Wow.  With that, he essentially addressed nothing, and according to some stories, even that's a lie!

All he did was probably do what his lawyer told him because he knows that he is in for one of the biggest shit storms of his life!  In fact, he probably took his sites down to remove any incriminating evidence!  Too late for that though, since things said in his podcast series Wha-Chow have been shown to coincide with the stories.

Tara's response could not be more amazing or proper!

このばけもの! ゆるせないよ!
Liz's is pretty good too, if not better.

And as if he couldn't be any more of a fucking disgrace after that, I later learned that Beaubien attempted to hide his crimes just like he always has!  For one, he flagged a video for copyright infringement for something that was basically nothing but an interview with one of the abused girls.  For another, he used Facebook to contact the father of the guy who rightfully provided the italicized and underlined quote above to try and get it taken down.  He's not taking responsibility, he's not taking other people into consideration!  He is trying to get out of half a lifetime of crime and abuse through every non-public way he can, even if that means hurting others!




This is the shit you see on TV shows, people.  This is the guy you see on a drama show who is so evil and hateful that you have a hard time believing anyone like that could possibly exist.  Well he does.  Knowing that much of his material is built on other people lives and his own lies makes me sick now.

Fans, don't try to defend him.  There is no defending him.  I would call him trash, but that might be more of a compliment.  He is the lowest, most despicable, shit-spewing sociopathic blight on humankind you could ever imagine, and he does not deserve your sentiment or support!

Thankfully though, he doesn't seem to be getting a whole lot of it, and hopefully the few people who still are will see the truth, and that includes Serena Midori, his latest victim.  His site is down, and since the domain name is still up, it might still make a return, but I highly doubt he will ever recover from this.  Good fucking riddance!

It's kind of ironic, isn't it Mr. Beaubien?  Your popularity and presence has made you a familiar target, and many of the girls we've come to know and love thanks to your introducing us to them have (finally) turned on you along with their fans.  Your fans, whom you betrayed and lied to, are dwindling.  All the evil you've done for the last decade and a half has been unleashed upon you in one enormous explosion of hatred and truth all singled in on you (and Dave).  There's practically a manhunt out for you now.  At one point I even expressed fear that you might kill yourself.  But now I don't care.  You were funny, but I guess you've fulfilled your purpose and we can just toss you out of our lives, because people are expendable things to be used for our own entertainment, right?

It's a good thing I never donated to your scam.  Maybe I can put that money toward some kind of fund that will help put you in the slammer where you belong.  I want to contribute to your victims in any way I can if it means getting rid of you, and if I ever see you in person at a convention or something, I am going to call you out like one of the body snatchers and probably join in when practically half the people within earshot come to beat you to a pulp or drive you out.  I do hope you truly cancelled all your con appearances, otherwise you're going to need a mask.  And a voice changer.  And body armor.  And maybe a metal codpiece for when people groin-kick you before screaming "Wha-Chow!"

If there's anything positive I'm getting out of this whole tragedy you caused, it's that I feel better about myself.  It's like you're on the Steve Wilkos show.  Sure I'm 23 and never had a girlfriend in my life, but you're in your thirties and neither have you.  Now I laugh at you, not your material.  I laugh at your utter destruction, your pain, and especially the positively pathetic excuses you keep piling on to try in vain to justify/brush off your bullshit!  People's despair is so much funnier when they aren't happening to you, aren't they!

And by the way, DOA 5 is about Kasumi's search for her missing clone Alpha 152, who disappeared after Helena self-destructed the DOATEC base in the previous game.

Tell Nixon I said hi once you're in hell.  In the meantime, why don't you have a seat over there?