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Gaming, January 2013

Just a quick couple of notes about the gaming I’ve been doing on the iPad for the last couple months, given that it’s become my main game console.

Pinball Arcade

First, there’s Pinball Arcade, which some of you might remember I spent three hours live-streaming back in August. They’ve kept up with the new tables, most notably launching two tables based on expensive licenses, Twilight Zone and Star Trek: The Next Generation

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The licenses for these tables were paid for in part by Kickstarter campaigns, both of which I kicked in for. Unfortunately, FarSight botched the delivery of some of the rewards by tying them to the app’s own login scheme (separate from the in-app purchase credentials normally used to purchase tables), and apparently making the foolish assumption that everyone would use the same e-mail for their logins on both Kickstarter and pinballarcade.com. After a month, they finally straightened things out the week after Christmas, at which point I dug deeply into ST:TNG.

Like a lot of 90’s tables, the overall goal is to complete some sub-missions in order to unlock a grand finale. In ST:TNG, you start missions with either a shot into the center hole, or by choosing it from a menu when you start your ball. Playing all 7 missions (not necessarily completing them, just playing them), opens up a 6-ball “Final Frontier”, where all your ramp, orbit, and hole shots collect a score that is based on your performance in the missions. For example, if you clear at least four of them and get the four “artifacts”, each shot is worth 150 million. I’ve done that once, which is how I got to a high score in the 6 billion range.

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It’s a start.

Crazy Taxi

Sega (and other companies) always do big app sales for Black Friday and right after Christmas (when everyone’s flush with iTunes Gift Card scrip), and I took advantage of a 99-cent sale on the classic arcade fun-fest Crazy Taxi

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There’s probably not a lot to say here for anyone who’s familiar with the classic arcade game: it’s pretty much a nice Dreamcast port (like my beloved Soul Calibur), and despite the right/left drive/reverse controls instead of a real steering wheel, it’s still a blast to burn through the city, find shortcuts, and try to complete the full loop from the start point in the university district at the top of the hill and back again.

Planetarian

Now this is news. Key, the legendary maker of tear-jerker visual novels, has released what I believe is its first official English-language product, a short visual novel called Planetarian.

I’m only about an half-hour in, so there’s not too much to tell about the story (and I wouldn’t want to spoil anything anyways), but it starts out with two of the pillars of anime/manga/VN storytelling:

  • Tragedy
  • Cute girls

Or, in this case, cute girl robot greeter at the planetarium atop the department store who is unaware that society has collapsed below.

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So far, there’s lots of tragicful irony like that: cheerful robot girl politely covering for the fact that her calls for maintenance have gone unanswered for decades, not programmed to understand or deal with the reality of her/its situation.

I blogged about VNs a while back, pointing a few that are available on iOS (though its easier to just run a search on vndb to pick up iOS titles available in English). It’s a format beloved by a small but eager crowd here in the West, one which has mostly had to traffic in pirated translations in lieu of official releases. Of course, the dream at this point is that Key will someday follow up with its “holy trinity” of VNs: Air, Kanon, and Clannad.

Speaking of great J-things, I should also mention Lunar: Silver Star Story Touch, a 2-D RPG originally developed for the Sega CD, and which is fondly remembered from a PlayStation 1 port by Working Designs. I haven’t put as much time into it as I might like — RPGs are such time-sinks, and I never have enough time — but this one adds an extraordinary feature: iCloud-based game saving. When you do a full-save (not the quick-save you get from exiting the app or locking the screen), it goes up to iCloud, allowing you to move your game back and forth between iPad and iPhone, whatever’s handy. More games should add this largely free feature, and it’s strange to first see it fitted into a retro-game, instead of in a new title.

Oh, and since I mentioned Lunar, we have to end with Luna’s Boat Song. Enjoy.

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Comments (2)

  1. Regarding the VNs w/ english subs and FULL VOICE CAST: I am not sure if you know MoeCureNet but it is quite a jewel-like VN here in iOS ecosystem and I really recommend it šŸ˜€

  2. Interestingā€¦ I have MoeCureNet on my iPhone, but I don’t think I’ve actually gotten around to reading it. Thanks for the recommendation.

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