March 4, 2015

NieR Replicant vs. NieR Gestalt

Posted in video games tagged , , at 10:39 pm by riulyn

I just got through Ending A of NieR Replicant, and since I haven’t blogged in a while, I figured I might as well talk about something that’s happened in my gaming life. One day I’ll get to talking about Ar tonelico 2 but today is not that day.

Anyway, as someone who is still heavily working on her knowledge of Japanese, playing NieR Gestalt first in English was a good thing. When I got a bit too tired to decipher all the words, or when the voices were a bit too fast for me, I could fall back on my knowledge of what happened in NieR Gestalt to get me through. This was pretty helpful with figuring out what to do on side quests, as sometimes I just didn’t feel like reading that text. I just wanted Nier and Weiss’s commentary, anyway.

Tone-wise, I feel like there was a more obvious difference between Replicant and Gestalt in the first half of the game. This makes sense as teenager vs. middle-aged man is a lot different than young man vs. middle-aged man. Papa Nier comes off as “not really thinking about things so he doesn’t know some things” whereas Brother Nier has more of a lack of experience that comes with youth. Without getting too spoilery, the character arcs try to fit with the established events of the story and it doesn’t work quite as well for Papa Nier as it does for Brother Nier. Nevertheless, both games pay special attention to how they relate Nier to Yonah, the daughter/younger sister as well as how they relate Nier to Emil. Interestingly, the relationship between Nier and Kaine feels relatively the same in both games. That might be due to some things being lost in my lack of mastery of Japanese, though…

Otherwise, there isn’t a huge difference between NieR Replicant and NieR Gestalt. Even though young Nier is pretty cute with how he calls Grimoire Weiss “Shiro”, which is “white” but also sounds like a dog’s nickname, even when he’s a grown man, I actually prefer the English voices for everyone. Brother Nier does grow up to be pretty attractive with a good voice to match, but I enjoyed the rough grumbling of the English Nier and Weiss over the more cool sounding Japanese voices. All the voices are well-done, though, in both versions of the game. If only they didn’t bleep out all of Kaine’s curse words in the Japanese version…

My favorite part of the game is still the last dungeon that leads up to the endings. Even with a replay I felt incredibly moved by the intensity of the events. I took my time with my playthrough of NieR Replicant, but even if I ran straight through the events (I covered most of the quests I cared to in this first run so I can easily get the other 3 endings) of the second half of the game, it’s still not quite the same scale.

Anyway, I am quite glad to have picked this game up for ~$15 US when I was in Japan. I have definitely enjoyed comparing my first and second experiences with NieR with some Japanese practice mixed in. Unless you are learning Japanese like me or a huge NieR fan, it’s hard to advise you to get both Replicant and Gestalt because they really aren’t that different. For anyone wondering how difficult NieR Replicant is in terms of Japanese level, I’d probably put it about the same level as the newer Shining games, with the additional bonus of easily available walkthroughs of the Gestalt version that can be used if one wants to figure out a quest. Main story-wise, there really isn’t any difficult vocabulary or combinations of kanji like I saw in Tales games. Now that I’ve been thinking about which JLPT level test I might conquer this December, I think someone with N3-N4 could probably understand most of the main story.

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October 22, 2012

Treading Water

Posted in life, video games tagged , , at 3:50 pm by riulyn

So I’ve been in a depressed mood for a while and I just realized how bad it was this past week. I am a pretty leaky-eyed person when I get emotional, whether it is upset or angry or happy or sad, but I seriously have been crying way more than usual these past few days. Hell, I cried when watching an episode of Ouran High School Host Club (which is a parody/comedy) because a sister and brother were able to finally spend some time together. And it was supposed to be a funny episode.

Anyway, I haven’t realized how bad a funk I was in because I have video games. NieR, despite how depressing that game was, was not the source of this funk; it was most definitely stuff in my actual life which will sound lame to actually type up. I mean, in actuality I have a great life; I can buy a bunch of videogames and soundtracks, I have enough food to eat, I have a pretty big apartment for a grad student. Of course I can’t buy everything, but I do have a brother who helps out and is giving me a pimped-out computer for my birthday (though I’ll get it in November). PC games here I come!!! (After Xenoblade, of course.)

I guess the problem right now is that I haven’t found a game or anything else that distracts me enough to keep me distracted well after I stop playing the game. There are only so many hours I can play games a day, and the other hours, especially work days, I do my work and just think about this funk. I think something unexpectedly good happening to me could possibly snap me out of this funk, but unfortunately videogames don’t bring unexpected happiness to me. Well, at least none of the games I’m playing right now are giving me more pleasure than I expected to get from them.

It’s probably the fact that I when I get in funks like this, I have cravings for things that are silly. But at the same time, things that are silly don’t quite reach deep enough in my heart to warm it up. I think I need something that would come from other humans, but I’m also so tired and I spent my money on videogames instead.  So I think I’ll just continue to tread water.

Oh, in other news, I think my NieR cravings have decreased slightly. I can’t wait to own the soundtrack and load it onto my mp3 player.

October 19, 2012

Why I still buy JRPG Soundtracks

Posted in music tagged , , , at 10:49 am by riulyn

JRPG soundtracks are expensive in comparison to the games, at least for U.S. consumers. Typically they are at least $30 new even from some of the cheaper suppliers. Add in shipping and a currency conversion fee for another few bucks. So why are they worth buying, despite the ease of getting the tracks from the Internet for free? (I’m not endorsing this, just saying that it exists.)

Well, for me, I listen to video game music almost all the time. Right now I’ve been addicted to the NieR soundtrack and have played the entire soundtrack every day for a week. I listen to video game music not just because I run my sheet music website but because I genuinely enjoy listening to it. I work to it, I study to it, I browse the Internet to it, I read books to it, I even sometimes play the soundtrack I’m more into while I dungeon crawl in Persona 3 Portable. Compared to how much time I spend playing a game, I spend many more hours listening to the music.

Of course, I probably won’t go out there and buy soundtracks for every game that has one that I’ve played and even enjoyed. It does feel like a bit too much to buy a soundtrack that I don’t love. Sometimes for those games I might browse through the soundtracks on YouTube or other means when I want a fix. But soundtracks are more of what I like to collect instead of figurines and posters and artbooks, though those things are great too.

Unfortunately there are a few soundtracks I want which I may have to obtain the “wrong” way, just because they are so rare, such as the Suikoden III soundtrack. But right now I’m slowly trying to add soundtracks as well as games to my collection.

Today’s purchase was the amazing NieR soundtrack and the Radiant Historia soundtrack. I think you appreciate NieR’s soundtrack more if you’ve played the game, but the soundtrack by itself is very beautiful and worth a listen. “Emil – Karma” is my favorite track off that at the moment. As for Radiant Historia, it’s a little painful to spend $40-ish on 1 CD, but Yoko Shimomura really does great work here. The song “Where the Wind and Feathers Return” is really the only song I’ve listened to a lot, but from playing the game and watching a LP of it, I know I will listen to this soundtrack a lot. I just have to cut down on spending money on expensive chocolate, stuff like that 🙂

September 17, 2012

NieR, how I love you right now.

Posted in video games tagged , , at 9:56 pm by riulyn

I have no idea how I heard about NieR because it came out in 2010, which was one of the years where I was barely videogaming, but I do remember reading or hearing somewhere of its cult favorite status and I looked into buying the game late 2010. I believe I got it eventually when I found it for $19.99 for Xbox360, since I don’t have a PS3 yet. I was pretty stingy with my money back then, so I wasn’t going to spend more than $20 on this game that I was unsure about.

Finally in 2012 I am actually making decent headway into my backlog. My brother says he wants to take the Xbox360 back. I’m like “crap better finish off those games before I have to return it”. And thus NIER became a priority, because I bought the game so I wanted to at least play it once.

But this isn’t a game you just play once, unless you hate it. There’s a lot of depth and meaning gleamed from a second playthrough. Well, the second playthrough is actually a second run through the part after the time skip, which is pretty short, especially if you didn’t have to bother with finishing up more sidequests like I am doing. They add more narrative and you get more background on a certain amazing character. Anyway things make more sense and also more dark. Yes, this is a dark game.

Even though I rather have the happy ending, I still love this game because the characters really come to life in it. In every story-related scene there doesn’t seem to be a wasted moment. Between cutscenes your characters may converse about the current happenings, whether it is related to the main plot or the sidequests. And in the loading screens you get a little bit of Yonah’s diary. Yes, even loading screens aren’t wasted.

Other people have written much more coherent essays on why NieR is a great game for character lovers. Really, I find it hard to see how anyone who played the entire game and paid attention to the dialogue would not get into these characters. The hard part, I guess, is getting into the game at the beginning. Once you get invested in the characters, you don’t care that the whole plot feels like a series of fetch quests, with a significant number not feeling fruitful. You just want more banter! Seriously, how else can I be so happy playing a game the second time after knowing the depressing twist?

Anyway, I will be going for Endings B and C these next few days (darn weekday limitations). I’m not sure if I will go for the infamous D ending yet… We will see.

September 5, 2012

Reboot time

Posted in video games tagged at 4:02 pm by riulyn

Soon I’m going to go through my previous posts and delete the ones that are too much about my website and/or about my personal life. I’m going to try to make this blog more focused on RPGs and RPG music, and also hopefully update it more often.

By the way, I’m loving the NiER music so far. Even if it’s only been like 4 tracks. The game is interesting too, even though I kind of such at it 🙂