Kaiyou Resutoran Uminekotei – A “Sit on your butt and do nothing” sim

kaiyouWhee, my first free weekend in forever! I’m so happy! >_< Ahem! Let’s get on with it.

Kaiyou Resutoran Uminekotei (trans. “The Uminekotei Seaside Restaurant”) is an indie game from a group (company?) known as inutoneko, the same people who made Lemuore no Renkinjutsushi and Haretari Kumottari N, both of which I have reviewed on this blog in the past. As a matter of fact, Uminekotei is just a fleshed out version of Lemuore, so it would help me out tremendously if you would just read the review for that game and save me the trouble of explaining the gameplay.

Back? Thanks. Now on to the story. The main character of Uminekotei is spoiled rich girl Eve who lounges around the house all day and all night until her mother finally snaps and sets her up with her own restaurant to manage and a £100,000 debt to pay off. My own mother would have just kicked me out of house with £0 to my name, so I don’t know whether Eve has it good or not. …Actually she does have it good, because she owes that £100,000 to her mother, meaning she can get away with not paying it forever, basically. I’ve been playing about 6 in-game months and haven’t repaid a single penny to mommy dearest yet. Nyaa nyaah!

You'll be staring at this screen a lot.

You’ll be staring at this screen a lot.

That in a nutshell is the main problem with this game: there’s no pressure! It’s not like other games with similar premises like Recettear or Little witch Parfait where you have a game over or a nasty ending staring you in the face along with that debt. Here the restaurant is just  a way to get Eve out of the house… which doesn’t really work because her staff does all the hard work of cooking, adventuring, getting ingredients, etc. Once in a while Eve goes to the market or to the shops, or to the guild, but that’s about it. Which is fine enough, since it fits her spoiled daddy’s girl shtick to a T.

Which is not to distract from the game entirely. It’s pretty much the same game as Lemuore but with more items and more stats to micromanage (like expiry dates and the aptitudes of those you hire and various guild contests, etc) and I loved that game and played it for hours, so I’m doing the same here. It just feels like they threw in the debt because there’s always debt in this kind of game (or maybe mommy really will kick me out if I don’t pay back by a certain date). Kind of a pointless addition, so I just ignore it.

kaiyou friendAnd so the days go by. In the morning Eve inspects the ingredients her adventurers brought in, synthesizes a few things, then serves customers from 10am to 9pm. Sleep. Wake up the next day and repeat. At least there’s no haggling in this game so each workday only takes like 30 seconds. In theory you have to manage the demand and supply of three item categories: Chinese, Japanese and Western foods, but in practice everything will sell if you keep it in your store long enough. The expiry date for most foods is at least 7 days, which is long enough to dispose of almost anything.

Trouble might come if I expand my store so quickly and stock so much the customers can’t keep up – or if I start selling expensive higher-ranked items before my restaurant’s clientele is rich and sophisticated enough to buy them. So far I’m having more problems running out of food before the end of the day and pissing diners off. I need to expand my restaurant, expand, expand, expand! Fun, fun, fun!

Screenshot from a more recent game.

Screenshot from a more recent game.

Last complaint before I go: there are no pictures of anything! No pictures of the ingredients or the foods or most of people I hire or the dungeons, nothing! It was understandable for Lemuore since it was a free game, but with a pumped-up paid version of the latter it would have been a nice addition. I guess that came later with the more recent games like Rakunou Princess. Aww, but I wanted it now!! Also more flavor text for the various items since there are so many of them in this game. And the characters too, since the game kind of assumes you know everyone and how they relate to each other. Which I do, but that’s beside the point.

Long story short I’ve always been a fan of “cute girl does alchemy” and this is yet another one I can’t bring myself to stop playing. It’s a lot less fleshed out than higher-budget games in the genre, but Uminekotei still has plenty of content to keep the alchemy fan busy for days. Kaiyou Resutoran Uminekotei (海洋レストラン☆海猫亭) can be had for 50% off at either DL Site or Digiket, though I still advise trying Lemuore no Renkinjutsushi for free to see if you like inutoneko games first. Enjoy!

Mind Zero: Mind-numbingly boring

mind zero some random guys just showed upApologies for the long delay between posts. I was trying and trying to force myself to play more Mind Zero so I could write a more concrete progress report, but the game is even more boring than the reports made it out to be. It is frightfully boring and I just can’t bring myself to play any more. I actually get a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach when I think about playing it. That kind of feeling should be reserved for surgery and root canals, not turn-based RPGs. So for my own sanity I’m going to put it on permanent hiatus. If I find myself missing it I’ll go back, if not, I’m out.

mind zero sana chikage looks a bit like aegisBtw, for the record I did play several more hours after making the last post. It’s not like I just dropped it after that. I finished the Lament of Death dungeon and unlocked Yokohama, which also gave me my final party members and unlocked skill enhancing and upgrades. A group of mind users who seem to be antagonists showed up and I even got a bit of story. By rights this is where the game should have all come together and become fun, but it’s not happening. There are still only like 5 enemies in the whole game, just palette swapped, and their strength has been jacked up to match my supposedly enhanced skills, so battles are still as ploddingly-paced as ever. It’s the thought of going through another 100 or so of those battles to get to the next tiny bit of story that’s making it so hard for me to go back to the game. I can’t do it.

mind zero fishnetsSo that’s it for me and Mind Zero until further notice. I would have quit even early if Mind Zero hadn’t been so obviously patterned after Persona 3, another game I found slow and boring in the beginning but stuck with and was really glad I did. Even then it took about half the game before everything clicked so I thought I’d give MZ that much leeway. But urgh, just thinking about fighting one more lion makes my stomach do flip-flops. No can do. I’m going to try some other stuff for a while and maybe if I feel like playing a turn-based RPG again I can pick up where I left off. On to better things!

Mind Zero – Needs more variety

mind zero choose a weaponThe Amazon blurb for Mind Zero says: “Mind Zero is an action-packed dungeon crawler RPG for the handheld entertainment Play as Kei, a Japanese high school student, whose life turns upside down when he gains the power of “Mind,” a weapon/persona with deadly powers.” Wait, “action-packed”? Now I know the copywriter is just doing his job talking up the game, but is really okay to lie so blatantly about a product page? If this game is action-packed then I’m the queen of England!

mind zero spirits path floor 1

Whee?

No seriously, I’m enjoying Mind Zero so far, it has its charms and I can think of many positive ways to describe it, but “action-packed” it is definitely not. Granted, this game doesn’t have a timer (or at least I can’t find one) so I don’t know how long I’ve been playing for, but it’s a minimum of 6-7 hours and almost nothing has happened in the game.

Our group discovered they all had “minds” (persona, not brains) and met two other people who also had minds. Everything else has been slow dungeon crawling through the most boring dungeons I’ve ever seen. Even Conception had better dungeons, and that was a dating sim. Square room, rectangular room, loooong pathway, more long pathways, a treasure chest or boss every once in a while but mostly just path after featureless path after featureless path. Very uninspired and uninspiring design.

mind zero first battleOn top of that each dungeon only seems to have three or four kinds of enemies in it. I’ve only done two dungeons, so maybe it gets better later but I went through three floors of Spirit’s Path fighting just three kinds of enemies, then they added the soul balancers around floor 4 and the scorpion things around floor 5 and that’s it so far. It’s been enough to make me yawn a few times, and once I scratched my arm because a mosquito bit me, but that’s hardly what I’d call “action-packed.”

The lyin’ blurb also says I will eventually “master skills and become even more powerful,” but right now I’m fighting the enemies with the same three or four skills (Power Break, Strike, Candle, Arcane whatsit) so it’s not exciting at all. Unlike the SMT games Mind Zero is clearly modeled after, you can’t change minds or summon demons, so you have to watch the same monsters executing the same attacks using the same animations over and over and over again… and I’m only a few hours in. Oh boy. As the game goes along I’m sure more dungeons will open up and more skills will become available and things will liven up on the battle front. They do just that and me and Mind Zero will be totally cool.

Aww right, blushing stage! He's mine now! ...oops, wrong genre.

Aww right, blushing stage! He’s mine now! …ack, wrong genre!

After all I’m fairly happy with the story and characters so far. As I said, nothing much has happened plotwise yet, which means its still full of potential. Potential disaster or potential masterpiece or something in-between, only time will tell which way the coin lands.

The characters are the usual wacky band of anime high-school students with all the attendant bickering and sniping at each other that you get in any high-school anime/video game. It’s only a matter of time before they start talking about the bonds that tie them together that will enable them to overcome any force of evil, blah blah blah. The familiar is so comforting sometimes.

In the meantime I’m enjoying playing an ordinary turn-based RPG for the first time in a long time. Since Rezel Cross in January, in fact, and before that was SMTIV in September. I need more ordinary RPGs in my life, so it was really nice of Aksys Games to port this over to the PC so I could play it without buying a Vita. I’m going to try to incorporate more such games into my schedule, even if it means digging up unplayed gems on the PS1 or GBA or older systems. But first, one thing at a time, I’m going to play a little more Mind Zero and see how it turns out. Wish me luck!

Whining and Gaming

NintendoHalf of 2016 has gone by and I haven’t played a single game in my New Year’s Resolutions. Losing the 3DS has done a real number on my gaming motivation because it had all the Stuff I’m Really Excited About on it. I still have a DS, PSP, PS2 and Wii, but I’ve had them for years so I’m way past the excitement stage and well into ‘Stuff I’ve Heard About’ and ‘Stuff I’m Somewhat Curious About’ and ‘Stuff I Might Play Someday If There’s Nothing Better Available’ territory. That last category includes Summon Night 5, the only non-3DS game on the list, which also falls under ‘Stuff I Feel Obliged to Play Because a Company Went Through The Trouble of Localizing it.’ (It’s complicated between me and SN, don’t worry about it).

nintendo 3ds xl nes editionI hadn’t realized it until now, but it’s the Stuff I’m Really Excited About that gives me the energy and motivation to play all the other games I’m interested in. It’s like how in the some companies a few low-risk, high-return products subsidize lower-return products and riskier experimental stuff. In my mind at least I always had something good to look forward to so it didn’t matter if Random Game X sucked because Super-Mega-Hit Y would make it all better soon. In practice the games I expected much from often let me down while I found surprise favorites in unexpected places, but it turns out the mental anticipation factor was more important that I’d given it credit for. No wonder game companies spend so much money hyping up their new releases.

Anyway, this is all a roundabout way of saying I’m still mourning the loss of the 3DS. Or more accurately I’m mourning my carelessness in losing it… or getting it stolen, not sure, either way it’s still carelessness. I WANTED TO PLAY 7TH DRAGON III!!!! But I’m not going to mope forever, just for another month or so. If I don’t find it by the end of July I’m buying another one and then we’ll be back on track. Actually I’ll be buying two other ones, one as a replacement and one for myself. Let this be a lesson to all of us that it never pays to be cheap. If you like something, buy your own! Just glad I learned this lesson before I borrowed someone’s $10,000 Cartier watch, aha aha haa…

game pianoIn the meantime I’m going to whine and mope a little longer. Waah, woe is meeee, why always meeheeehee~ I am obviously the victim here even though I’m the one who damaged and then lost someone else’s handheld, boo hoo hoo. It’s not all doom and gloom, though. I’ve channeled a lot of that gaming energy into other pursuits, especially the piano. I’m finally starting to regain the form I had before I quit all those years ago, and it feels incredible. Go me! And of course I’m still dabbling in games here and there, so here’s a little update on my recent progress (or lack thereof):

Shiren-the-Wanderer-The-Tower-of-Fortune-and-the-Dice-of-Fate-artShiren the Wanderer 5: Only 3 deaths so far, but that’s because I’ve only gone on 3 more adventures. When I hit Fortune Tower proper, I discovered it features the same day-night cycle as Shiren 4 did, and I don’t know if I want to go through the stress of juggling all those skills and trying to survive all night against enemies that can OHKO you, etc etc.

It’s a good addition for people who enjoy the more intellectual side of roguelikes, i.e. not just brute forcing your way through battles but using wits, items, evasion and a lot of luck. It’s fun when you get the hang of it, but also more work than I’m willing to put in right now, so I’m taking it really slow.

granblue bingoGranblue Fantasy: Level 62. I’m taking it easy here as well, because I’m in for the long haul. Currently cleaning up a few quests I hadn’t done, also enjoying beating up on Sagittarius, Vohu Manah and other Extreme bosses that wouldn’t give me the time of the day last time I tried them. Who’s your daddy now? I mean mommy. I’ll keep taking it easy till Unite and Fight at the end of the month, try to complete my fancy dagger, then go back to taking it easy again. That’s the way to play this kind of grindfest mobage without going crazy.

Sakura Taisen 3: Picked it up again after a short break. I could knock it out by the end of the week if I played it seriously, but I’ve hit the part of the game where I have to fight stronger versions of the same bosses I beat  in the first half of the game, and I’m just not feeling it. But I’ll hit the endgame if I can just push through this slow bit, so I’ll give it my best shot.

That’s it for what I’m working on. Once I clear either Shiren or ST3 from my queue I’ll feel free to start something new. Until then/until the end of the month, don’t expect much by way of updates.

Shiren the Wanderer 5 – Waiting for death

shiren the wanderer the tower of fortune and the dice of fateIncy-wincy Shiren went up the Fortune Tower
Down came the monsters and knocked the Shiren out
Out came the finger and turned the DS off
And the incy-wincy Shiren went up the tower no more

How do you like my song? ^_^ Strictly speaking I haven’t quit yet, but it’s only a matter of time. Since the first Shiren game I’ve been coping with the sheer number of KOs by myself a mental target for number of deaths and then quitting when I reach it. This time it’s 25 deaths. If I haven’t cleared the game by that point then it just wasn’t meant to be.

That’s especially true this time because Shiren the Wanderer 5 is quite generous with the Revival and Take home herbs, at least at this early stage. Story-wise I’m supposed to help some guy Jirokichi save his girlfriend’s life by facing the god of fortune at the top of the Tower of Fortune. To even get into that tower we have to get the dice of fate from three lower towers, the Tower of the Past, the Tower of the Present and the Tower of the Future, in order of difficulty. Past was nice and easy, just the way I like it. Present, died once when a monster put me to sleep. Stay away from the sleeping monsters!!! But the next run went pretty smoothly. Next up is the Future. The game gave it a pretty scary write-up at the start, but I’ve got some good equips and items, I should be okay. Maybe. If not, there’s always the 25-death limit to fall back on.

shiren the wanderer 5 psvita versionI should note that strictly speaking I don’t have to do the Tower of Fortune, at least not right away. Unlike the other Shiren games I’ve played, there are several side dungeons open already at the start of the game. There’s the usual tutorial dungeon, and one where you get to pick which level to start on (with your level scaled to match) and another based on Minesweeper and another with stone statues that do… something or the other. I only heard the descriptions from the dungeon keepers, never tried any of them. If there’s a main story dungeon then I feel compelled to do that one first, whether I’m forced to or not. If you’re really curious you can find out for yourself in a month’s time when Shiren the Wanderer 5 comes out in English on the PSVITA.

shiren the wanderer 5As for new gameplay features, I haven’t noticed very many so far. Nothing that really stands out, at least, especially compared to the day/night system in Shiren 4. I would definitely notice a change of that magnitude! I’ve seen a number of “Good against X-type enemies” weapons around. And there’s the option to buy friendship items that befriend all enemies of a certain type. E.g. all Mamul-types in the game will start fighting for you instead of against you. That’s interesting. I would experiment with it, but if the friendly monster dies the enemy that killed it will probably get a level up and then I’ll have a big problem on my hands. I think I’ll stick to my party members, thank you very much. At least they aren’t as frail as past companions have been.

Apart from that it’s just Mystery Dungeon business as usual in Shiren-land. The major differences will mostly likely come from the side dungeons and post-game bonus dungeons, which is why the main quest throws all these companions and useful herbs and stuff at you with abandon. That doesn’t necessarily mean I’ll be able to finish this one, but since the game is being so nice I’ll give it my best shot. I’ll be back when I hit the limit or finish the game, whichever one comes first.