Review of the Month: Dariusburst Chronicle Saviours Limited Edition/s

I was to review Huion GT-220 Ver.2 this month, but I realised that I’d need a lot more time with it before saying anything solid about it. Next month then. The second options was to review the tat that came with Dariusburst Chronicle Saviours Limited Edition package. I’m doing it a double though, reviewing both the Japanese Vita release and the PlayStation 4 Limited Run release. Let’s get on with the show then.

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The Japanese Vita release is a big box
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Limited Run’s box is essentially a carbon copy of the Japanese PS4 LE release

I have to start with the covers, because these things are pretty sweet. There are few iconic themes and illustrations with the Dariusburst sub-series, and both boxes do the game justice. Both portray the Legend and Next ship that defined the original Dariusburst with new takes on the classic bosses. It’s also nice to see some bigbox releases this day and age, even when it’s just for limited release products.

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Overall, the layout of the box is pretty good. Darius Odyssey, the book on the information of the whole series with an emphasize on the bosses, lays on top of the game case and music CD. While it would’ve been preferable to have the book behind the game and the disc so that you’d have a faster access to the game case, this is a doable solution.

Darius Odussey is a superb book. If you’re a fan of the franchise and have a preference for books of this nature, finding yourself one would something to consider about. Of course, there is a language barrier to consider about. Even if your linguistic skills aren’t up to the task, the pictures are nice.

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I had to edit my fingers out

The paper used is glossy, as per usual for these releases. This also means the page’s corners are easy to damage, and mine got a bit crunched from the sides during transit, meaning the base packaging itself is insufficient.

The music CD the Vita LE comes with is Original Arrange Soundtrack. It doesn’t contain any original tracks from the game itself, but contains music used for DLC stuff, meaning you’re missing a lot of good Zuntata music. While it can be understood, as the main soundtrack itself is sold separately and Zuntata really makes some decent dough on those, it would have been nice to have some Darius. I’ve got no qualms about having music from Space Harrier and Night Striker, which has a godly track titled Emergency Order, there is something amiss here. It’s nothing notable, but as far as included soundtracks goes, it misses the point a bit.

Overall, the Japanese Vita release was worth the money. Darius Odyssey was the money grabber in this one without a doubt. It makes an interesting conversation piece when your guests realise that all of the bosses have a seafood theme to them, and then you can proceed to wow them with your knowledge on mechanised sushi.

Limited Run’s PlayStation 4 release offers different contents, like the Japanese PS4 release.

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Uh, I’m not sure if they were arranged like this

You don’t see them, but bunch of Dariusburst CS capsule toys were stashed beneath both of these cases. The PS4 case may seem like something it would slide down in a moment, but they’ve managed to play the millimetre game well enough and it keeps the game’s case in place well enough.

There is no book this time around, but the Arrange Album is a new one. Again, we can DLC music from games like Death Smiles and Battle Garegga, of which Battle Garegga has an excellent remix of Into the Leaden Clouds. However, unlike with the Arrange Album in the Vita release, this sequel album has some songs from Darius games. They’ve been heavily arranged and carry individual composer’s tunes instead of relying on Zuntata’s own melodic trademarks. Both Arrange Albums are worth to listen to at least once and pick up your personal favourites from them, but I would recommend against purchasing either Limited Edition solely because of these music albums.

The game case is nothing special, but the main attraction of this piece is the two Silver Hawk capsule toys. Which is kinda backwards, because these two are just packed pieces of Shooting Game Historica toys and carry all the flaws a cheaply manufactured quick-pack toys have.

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The stand’s a huge upgrade from the original Silver Hawk figures from the first Shooting Game Historica

Limited Run’s Limited Edition came with Player 1 and 2 colours while the Japanese PS4 Limited Edition came with Player 3 and 4 colours. Whether or not they had a rerun or this release was provided from an excess stock is unknown, but ultimately this doesn’t matter. While I’m sure most people want the Red and Blue Silver Hawks, the P3 and P4 colours are now the rarer ones.

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Wings and cockpit were delivered in separate bags, as per capsule toys standards

The overall mould is good, but like with all toys like these, the tolerances are rather big. There are numerous spots where the pieces don’t align straight with each other without the use of glue, which I would recommend anyway.

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Because the tolerances are so high, the cockpit doesn’t sit in. You can see how it is turning to the right to the extent of the back right bit resting against the top. The turret on the left is also bending outwards due to cheap plastic used, though this is not a rare things with capsule toys. The cheapness also shows in the paintjob.

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Not the worst, not the best, but quality that doesn’t belong to a Limited Edition title

The cockpit is moulded in transparent blue plastic and then painted over with silver and red, or blue in the case of P2 colours. Due to the tolerances, the paint application is sloppy and the cockpit’s windscreen doesn’t come through as well as it should. It looks pretty terrible, and it would’ve been better if the windscreen was painted.

To be completely serious, the figures are a major letdown. Of course they wouldn’t make a new mould for this when you could cheap your ass out with this, but seeing the Japanese release did the same, it’s not exactly Limited Run’s fault. However, I would argue that Degica should’ve trumped the Japanese release and should have opted for the model kit of Silver Hawk. It might’ve had raised the price a bit, but it would’ve crowned the release. Now it’s just a drag.

Between the two releases, the Vita release gets a stamp of recommendation simply based on the book. However, it should be noted that PS4 version does have the book included as an extra on-disc that you can access in-game, but the most baffling part of this that the book’s completely untranslated. This is a significant miss on Degica’s part. The staff handling this project should have realised that they’d need to put the effort to translate it, though Degica and translations don’t really meet half-way through, it would seem.

However, if the book doesn’t look like your thing, then you’d better off with the standard release from Japan, or one of the digital options. It’ll be cheaper, and you won’t have a huge box taking your shelf space.

Or pick up Odin Sphere Leifthrasir ‘s limited edition for fifty quid on Amazon UK if you want a good limited release package.

Let’s talk about Muv-Luv’s changes

By now those of you who’ve got the Steam release of Muv-Luv have most likely noticed changes in there. Most changes have been for the better, some out of necessity.

Before we go on, let’s re-iterate how the companies are related to each other. Degica is the company localising, they are in charge of translation and publishing, while ixtl is the rights holder and makes the final decisions what’s in and what’s out. âge’s the developer, and ixtl was put up to manage their IPs. Both âge and ixtl are under Acid Company Limited.

Degica may be the one in charge of the translation and publishing part, but whatever changes they do ultimately has to go through ixtl. If they decide to veto e.g. a translation title, Degica’s translation staff got nothing to say to it, unless they can provide some hefty evidence, as you may have noticed that both Takimekazuchi and Chizuru are properly romanised instead of using the more archaic forms Takemikaduchi and Chiduru. You can probably expect some bullshit things left in along the line anyway. I’m half expecting something along the lines of not using the official English title of  Sado Island. Hell, it’s even on the island’s own official tourist brochure. I don’t know how the hell Amaterasu missed this one, it’s not even an obscure tourist location. I can even pick up my 1970 World Atlas and take a photo of the page where Japan and its islands are showcased. Give me a moment, and I’ll take it!

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Page 70, Suuri Karttakirja, based on Reader’s Digest Atlas of the World, 1970

To be fair again, Sadogashima too is used (sometimes as Sado-ga-shima to boot), albeit not as common worldwide. Even on modern maps, like the one Google uses, lists it as Sado Island. Other languages seem to mainly use Sado, thou I admit Isla Sado sounds awesome.

The most clear cut changes are the new songs in the soundtrack, and music is almost always the hardest thing to license when it comes to Japanese products, especially TV-shows and movies. This is because a single show can include music from various different rights holders, and some may want their music be licensed episode-by-episode, which is why sometimes opening songs are replaced with instrumental versions in Western releases, like The Skull Man‘s or Mobile Suit Z Gundam. Sometimes music pays homage to other songs, and hits a bit close home. Metal Gear Solids theme is reminiscent to The Winter Road, and âge is known for their musical homages. Just like how Metal Gear Solid’s theme was essentially dropped after it was accused of plagiarism, and ixtl wants to avoid such controversies at all costs. They’ve dealt enough with plagiarism claims as is.

That said, while わるだくみ/Warudakumi had its own fans, Drama Bomb! isn’t really bad by any means. It and the other additional song are most likely leftovers from Schwarzesmarken‘s development, as both of them were composed by Evan Call. They have a distinctly different sound to them from the rest of the soundtrack, but like with most things, it’s really up to taste if you like them. It was probably the best for ixtl to replace the songs rather than risk accusations and possible lawsuit. That’s business for you.

This issue extend to Muv-Luv Alternative. One of its more iconic songs, Assault Landing, is similarly a direct homage to Basil Poledouris’ Kledanthu Drop from Starship Troopers. Then you have that pastiche of Buster Machine March and the other examples. You should be half-expecting their removal for the exact same reason.

Another big change people have noticed is that the script has been completely revised to the point of it essentially having no traces of Amaterasu’s fantranslation. If we’re completely honest here, that translation had issues. At points it was incoherent with issues with language, outright missing cues and throwbacks to âge’s previous works and top it all, had inaccuracies to the point of changing some of the characterisations. One of the reasons I never felt strongly for Ayamine was because the English subtitles didn’t really reflect the Japanese, giving her a slightly but significantly different impression what sort of person she was. The same applies to Class Rep. Ixrec or however his nick is spelt has said that he himself didn’t care for Extra, and it shows in his script.

The new script basically does away all these issues, but it’s natural to complain about these changes. It is a normal psychological reaction to feel negatively towards a new translation you’ve grown with. One example would the the Finnish retranslation of Peter Pan. The original wasn’t exactly accurate and took a lot of liberties, translating the names in a more Disney-esque way than anything else. The new translation is more accurate and representative in what ideas the book holds, but people disliked it anyway because it was new and against what they were used to.

As for the cropped CGs, âge’s been doing that since 2007. This isn’t exactly anything new, and these complains are coming in about a decade too late. The reason again is corporate politics. It’d cost more to add more content to the CGs to fit in the new resolution than to crop them. For purists, it is bullshit, but hardcore purists wouldn’t want to play anything but the original CD release anyway. Gotta read it as originally intended. In addition, depending how the CG is stored in the files, ixtl shouldn’t have much problems showcasing the whole CG in the Gallery mode.

As for the lack of porn, Steam doesn’t allow adult content like that. Secondly, producing a patch on itself is its own thing, separate from the rest of the deal. It may sound bewildering, but as the Muv-Luv Steam Version is based on the All-Ages version, it takes work from ixtl’s side to even create a patch to put in the necessary scenes and their script.  My guess is that patch isn’t high on the task list, not by a long shot. A wild guess would be that we can expect to see some proper news about the patch closer to Alternative‘s release. Then again, most people tend to say erotica scenes don’t matter or add to the story, but as soon as they’re missing, people seem to go ballistic.

There is also the issue of them being porn. ixtl and âge have been trying to clean their image, despite their streams not showing that, and there’s also the issue of age, or rather, the assumed age of the characters. Miki’s not the most legal looking character out there, and such things will cause certain troubles if not handled properly.

Still, I’m willing to bet it’s mostly about the money that goes into developing patch, as it might possibly break game saves and the like. From what I’ve seen, even when âge showcases how powerful their editing software are, they’re barely able to anything complex. Every game they’ve developed, like Faraway Dawn and those minigames in Altered Fable‘s Before the Shimmering Time Ends  have been horrible. Hell, the beach ball minigame in bugged to the point winning and losing really is dependent on said bug. I doubt the current release of Muv-Luv would even be out now if they didn’t have outside help.

Outside these, all the rest are more or less in line with the usual updating that don’t require any special mention. Some don’t like how large the user interface is, but I bet these people forget it’s supposed to work on tablets too, hence the design. Some have complained about yakisoba sandwich not being yakisoba bread, when in all actuality it should be baguette with fried buckwheat noodle. There’s some corporate bullshit in the background as usual for Japanese companies, and if you’ve ever really looked into how ixtl and age handles stuff beside their publicity, there’s some rotten stuff in there. The same applies to all Japanese companies, but it’s sad to see that being a rule in their corporate culture than an exception.

If we’re completely fair, if you have complaints that are about the CGs, music and the like that does not concern the English script or Degica’s English publications and PR, you should throw a message to ixtl instead.

Muv-Luv is out on Steam

I feel like pointing this out, even thou most of my readers already are reading it. Muv-Luv’s out.

The question now is; will I be replacing my old screenshots in the previous posts? The answer is… maybe. Most likely a no, because of archival purposes.

If you’re interested to see what’s new and how it looks, I recommend checking the stream I did with Alternative Projects people under ARG podacst banner with some guests.

It’s a been journey. Now just to sit tight and wait for the physicals and Alternative.

Music of the Month; Crusader

This one will be short. For a while now I’ve been emphasizing on these Music of the Month bits how I’ve been living in a period of change and how I have been busy with work. Well, let’s just say that work business has now died down, and I will be busy with other matters. That said, I will not put the blog down and will continue to do two posts per week, more if possible.

This week we recorded a podcast with Evan from the Alternative Projects and few other special guests. This is one of those special podcasts that will appear on this site, but it’s a long one and as such will take some time to edit down. It was supposed to be ready today, but I had a two-day gig again, which took all of my time.

All previous ideas from last month are still valid and on paper. I tend to play the long game. You might remember it took almost two years to make that laserdisc player review. To continue from that on, there’s is nothing new on the Muv-Luv front. Sure, Schwarzesmarken first part was just released and I have read it a bit, but it’s less relevant for the Western fan that doesn’t understand the language. What I mean is that currently the Kickstarter is at production phase, where some products are going through final revisions whereas others, like the reworked translations, are under being worked on. As such, this is pretty much the storm’s eye moment, where we went through the first part of the storm with the Kickstarter, but we still need to go through last gusts of winds.

And that spot is was worries me quite a lot. Recently you have seen some news of game companies refusing to release games in the West if they have sexy characters. Dead or Alive Extreme has been on the news for this and Koei Tecmo made an official announcement on the issue. Next to them, Idea Factory and Compile Heart have stated that they will follow the suit. This is pretty fat bullshit, and we all know it. Here’s the thing; no company or no person should be forced to censor their product for a foreign audience, especially if this product is already for teens or older.

I do understand why these companies want to avoid localisation. It’s not just about the bad press they would get, even if it really would be from limited sources like Gawker. It’s amusing to see how the US has become a hugbox where nobody’s feelings can be hurt in any way, and France is the nation that is picking up a fight. There’s also a monetary aspect, and just not having to deal with bullshit expenses is always welcomed.

Companies like XSEED have been treating their products and customers well. Degica, while a company that doesn’t put itself too much in the front, really need to be noticed. Not only they handled Muv-Luv’s Kickasterter incredibly well, but they’ve been pushing out games like Dariusburst Chronicle Saviours. Hell, Degica has been digitally publishing large numbers of shooting games, including a bit obscure titles like Judgement Silversword. Now if they could just partner with GOG to the same extent. However, I am expecting to see some level of shitstorm brewing about when Muv-Luv’s release draws near. I know NeoGAF already had issues with it, and whenever they release the patch that adds the ‘important bits’ back, things may get a bit heated. The best thing for Degica in this case would not to back on their word. After all, it’s a million dollar Kickstarter, breaking promises will affect their possible future fund raisers.

So, what’s store for us? I’ll be finishing year’s last TSF comparison, I wanted to do some more reading on it, but I feel all of it was for nothing. There’s that aforementioned podcast and then… something I need to check, I have a horrible memory. One thing I require to do is to take time for myself and make myself better at things. There most likely will be a personal entry, haven’t done one of those in a long time. Let’s have some more Keldian to lighten up the mood, shall we?

ARG Podcast #1; Muv-Luv Kickstarter interview with Degica

Here it is, the promised second interview with Degica on the Muv-Luv Kickstarter.

Without further adieu, tune in;

It’s always a pleasure to talk with Mitch and Jason. They’re always aiming to answer whatever question we have for them, and this time I have to admit that I went bonkers with them. The questions were way too big in size, several lines on paper instead of focusing on making point-hitting inquiries. That’s on me, but in my defence each question tried to combine things that the fan community has been discussing for some time now.

This interview is about as long as the last one we did during test ‘cast, and these really can’t go much longer due to the schedule Degica’s Muv-Luv team is running under. You do get answers about the Kickstarter itself, how the project is being handled and some  behind-the-scenes info.

On my end, we’re not going to see much more podcasts in this blog, as we’ve come to a conclusion that keeping it related to Muv-Luv works the best for people who already follow Alternative Projects’ blog. Some special episodes excluded.

Alternative Projects + Aalt presents: ARG Podcast #2 – Interview with Degica + winners for the Giveaway

Three or four weeks ago, I’m not entirely sure, I contacted Degica’s community manager via Twitter if he would be interested in an interview on a podcast that didn’t exist at the time. I didn’t have much faith, we are talking about a singular fan contacting a company for information nobody else had access to.

But ‘lo and behold, things went on an overdrive. Not only did the community manager was aboard the ship, but he also got Degica’s Global Manager/ Project Leader aboard. I got a bit too greedy, and I scrambled to put up a test show. You heard it last week. Last Saturday I sat down with the representatives and Gabgrave of Alternative Projects to discuss some of the matters that people have been guessing around the Internet. Basically everything was set up in three weeks, and that’s not a whole lot time to get used to podcasting or practice it.

Now, this wasn’t just related to the Kickstarter as I wanted to approach them with questions that also relate to the main content of the blog, and as such I split the question in the middle with Gabgrave, where he handled the more Muv-Luv Kickstarter related questions.

There are some bits and pieces that I think fans of the series will love to hear, especially that little story from Anime Expo. The winners of the Giveway they were running at their site are announced here as well, and a new contest is launched a well, so keep listening to the very end.

This episode is around thirty minutes long, half of the previous one. The reason for this is because, as mentioned multiple times, things are changing and some information isn’t available. It could be said that I jumped the gun by asking for an interview too early.

Without any further intermission, let’s roll with this.

Rules for the trivia competition; Tweet your answer to @muvluvseries on Twitter in order to enter the contest. The duration of the competition is until Sunday 26th. Good luck to all the contestants.

The song at the end is Arranged version of Storm Vanguard.

Correction; In my quick mouthing I managed to misstate the website. It’s degigames.com, not degicagames.com.

For further transparency, there has been no monetary transactions whatsoever. This is a fan reaching out to a company for a contact, and them responding in a positive tone. The interview went through ixtl as well, but it went through in its initial cut. I’m sure I have a conflict of interest too by being a fan and having a bias.