It’s that time of the year to make possibly the most self-indulgent post in this blog and tell you what were my Top 5 games of the year. As per usual, the year the game was released doesn’t matter, just the fact that I played the game for the first time in 2016. There is no order to these either, thou to be honest with you here, I really should write the games I think could be good contenders down as soon as possible in order not to wonder what the hell did I play this year. However, one of the criteria for personal top games is that I still play them after an extended period of time and don’t just drop it. Let’s get on with the show and start with a Vita title.
Kuradoberi Jam is an interesting character in Guilty Gear Xrd. Not because she got a new voice actor or new moves, but because she is a good example on how 2010 character design sensibilities often clash with late 1990’s/early 2000’s. Jam was designed fifteen years ago, and the time shows itself.
Jam’s overall visuals have stayed relatively same to the point that she can be recognised as the same character, much like how Ky can be recognised despite all the little changes. Unlike Potemkin and Millia, Jam’s design follows the same school of updating as Sol’s; tweaks and exaggerations. I’ll be using Jam’s Guilty Gear X and Accent Core designs to contrast her Xrd design. In reality, her design went through a lot of small changes with each new illustration, changing little things here and there, like touching up the can on her head, but let’s just stick with the original and AC design. This entry will be long as it is.
The main points we notice from Jam’s design is that her sleeves have grown again. Originally, they were low key, but you still noticed them. They’ve now grow to half of her body length and have a kanji for centre on them with cooking flames above them. This element is very much something BlazBlue would have. Litchi’s main theme may be mah-jong, but her outfit and theme carries some elements from Jam. It’s not too farfetched to assume that the centre kanji 中, which happens to be the red dragon tile in mah-jong, was put on Jam’s sleeves to reference Litchi back. Hell, Litchi’s name itself is a reference to riichi, thou the name is directly taken from Lychee, the Chinese plum. Fits her colours and all. Speaking of sleeves, the straps that kept them together are now connected with one bigger buckle rather than two, despite there’s still two straps. It must have a some sort weird locking mechanism inside. There is also an additional piece under armpits that connect to the sleeves somehow, leaving her shoulder exposed. This most likely has something to do with keeping hose sleeves better in place. It’s a nice additional detail.
To keep with exaggerations, Jam’s hair has more volume now, especially towards the bottom and top. The hair that’s coming from the oolong tea can has now consistent shape, making it look like an upside down omega. Her forehead hair is sleeker and she wears a pink pin to keep it in place unsymmetrically. She had shorter, wilder forehead hair before. Hair in general has been a point in character design that changes a lot, and currently we’re in an era where sleek, unruly and even hair is most utilised. Compare to either GGX or AC Jam to see how there’s less strands and more even mass. Speaking of the can, it also got a visual update. The can itself reads 烏龍茶 for oolong tea, and was originally modeled after Pokka oolong cans in colour, but the current one seems to be revised to look similar to Suntory’s oolong can. While the can carries that metal sheen-rye colouring to it, the black shield where the text is placed can’t be mistaken. The kanji also dropped 茶 for tea, simply reading oolong. It even has that small underlining text to it, reading OolongTea. What is important that with these changes the can is more prominent detail than before.
Jam’s face has gone through some revisions. Much like every other character contracted some sort of face cancer in GGXX until AC’s revisions, Jam’s face went from quote round to sharply shaped to this modern pseudo-round with visible bones. In-game Jam’s face is much rounder, much like her eyes and mouth. While you still recognize her, they’ve done some significant tweaking. For example, Jam’s jawline has been revised completely and her cheekbones are of different roundness. Similar tweaking was done to her qipao’s collar, where it has a black angular design on it to expose it. Before she had a very traditional high collar.
Similar things have happened elsewhere in her design as well. Jam has always had an attractive physique, and as that’s something that changes with time, her physical appearance has become slightly rounder from before. Jam’s frontal assets i.e. honkers have gained a bit more volume to, and in-game that actually changes her overall visual balance. Combined with the larger hair and longer sleeves, Jam’s a much more filling character on-screen. This contrast is best seen in her Asanagi no Koukyuu (Morning Calm’s Breath), (22+K/S/H), where before her breathing and circular hand motions kept it tight, but the Xrd version has a lot more happening in there, mostly due to the sleeves and her hitting fist to palm at the end with a slight knees bent stand. For those who don’t know the idea behind the move most likely just see Jam waving her arms around, which is sad to see as the whole idea behind Asanagi no Kokyuu is that Jam uses a breathing technique to control her chi in order to charge her moves up. I haven’t found if the form she does is on any wushu system, her older animation charges the chi at middle tan t’ien at the level of her heart. This fits, as the middle center is place of storing chi. The newer animation implies that she breathes for the lower tan t’ien located just below the navel. This center is more about the root of all things, where the purification of essence into qi begins. As such, it’s a place of regeneration, but also for sexual energies and is an essential spot for life. Worked for Jam. It should be noted that the effect animations have shifted too, as the old one vanished in Jam’s lower center while the new one finishes higher. The new effect also has a taijitu to it in red and blue.
Jam’s GGXX guidevideo shows the same basics that still pop up in Xrd
That CHESTO-ARU! is spot on from the new voice actor
Breathing has been part of Jam’s idle pose from the beginning, her taking sharp inhales and exhaling out while lower her arm. Xrd version of her still has this in, but it’s a bit toned down from previous. Her breathing rate has also been upped a slight amount, but like before, there’s no real sign of her controlling her breath during moves. It’s nothing major, but breathing is often described as one of the main methods of controlling one’s chi. Another example for this sort of approach would be Hokuto Shinken’s Tenryuu Kokyuu Hou from Fist of the North Star, which results Kenshiro losing his shirt. Jam actually had a parody Overdrive of Hayakuretsuken in GGAC in form of Tosai Hyakuretsu Ken.
Her qipao is in overall shape the same. Main changes are the little tassels on her chest are again more exaggerated. I’m glad they’re not gone, but they could be far more animated in-game like the sleeves. Jam’s overall design is very simple, and details like this add character to her. Modern Jam is still simple in comparison to some others, but the few spots where that simplicity has been exaggerated gives off another kind of flavour. Sometimes these details aren’t even all that big but add information, like the new little straps in her qipao’s sides. On her left hip she has an additional tassel, which looks really nice, but again could be bit more animated. The skirt has lost its black trimming and the round emblem has been changed to straight hard angled variant of it. She also wears a black underskirt instead of white. This actually throws her colours scheme off-balance a little bit. Previously she had black in places to further enhance the rest of colours on her outfit, the red and yellow, but with the sleeves being bigger and her shoes getting more exaggerated with black line on them, she’s darker than before. The black underskirt also cuts the light visual cue from her upper body to her legs. Arguably this brings her legs out a bit more.
Her shoes’ collars were already exaggerated in GGAC’s design, and in Xrd those and the belt have ended up being even larger. Her shoes are also a shade duller than the rest of her outfit, which is really strange considering the red on her has been consistent to this point. In-game model still uses the same pallet, which is only a good thing. She’s also wearing a red garter on her left thigh, and while we’re going into this territory, Jam still retains some panty shots. Like previously, her qipao’s skirt doesn’t bounce around too much and is almost strategically placed at times. At times you don’t see any flashing, but seeing how Jam’s design is a bit more full this time, rest of her design shines through, especially with legs and torso. I’m not complaining, I’m just pointing it out. While Jam has been accused of panty flashing, this isn’t really the case. Most remember one of Jam’s winning pose where she goes over the opponent to wonder on stuff, but outside that one there’s not many spots where there’s gratuitous flashing. Her fame is a bit undeserved in this regard. She is a flirty character, being flashy in every aspect is to be expected.
In gameplay Jam hasn’t changed in how she’s approached. Still a rushdown character, still doing only bits of damage that you need to combo together, but she’s gotten some new moves, some moves have been changed to look different, but these changes make her feel like she’s been progressing with her style. The same can be said of GGX Jam compared to her GGAC iteration. During GGXX Jam got a whole slew of new options to work with and tweaks how she works, and in GGAC she became a character that was fun and easy to pick up, but required good execution skills to utilise her moveset properly. Since GGX, Jam has been my choice of character because of these points.
Jam’s new voice actress is Rei Matsuzaki. While she does good job and everything, I do have a personal preference towards Manami Komori’s way of pronouncing things and having an interesting depth to her yells. They’re both fine really, it will just take some time to get used to how Matsuzaki ends most move names in a very, very different fashion from her predecessor. I do love her Chest-aru! yell a lot already.
One last point I want to make is about her Instant Kill, Gasenkotsu. The kanjis used are 我羨惚, standing for Self, Admiration and falling in love with. The last one also can stand for Idiot. As with names like this that play with words, Gasenkotsu is something like Admiring One’s Self-love, but as per her IK animation, it might just as well be Admiring One’s Idiocy. Narcissism doesn’t really cut it, but fits in the allotted slot.
During Gasenkotsu kanjis for Tenjou Tenge Yuiga Dokuson, 天上天下唯我独尊, appear. This line is traditionally translated as I alone am honored in heaven and on earth, and it can be transliterated as Above heaven, under heaven, I alone am worthy of honour. It is believed that Buddha Śākyamuni said this after his enlightenment. Thus, Gasenkotsu is Jam proclaiming her admiration for herself in how she has gained enlightenment. Because of the kanji 惚, she’s also proclaiming her stupidity and self-conceit on the matter. You always knew there was a reason why Jam looked like an idiot during her Instant Kill. All in all, as Jam’s character is about having her own way and seeing it as the true one out of all, Gasenkotsu reflects this attitude. She admires herself for choosing what she sees as an enlightened path.
Her stuff always gets screwed up ever since she got the reward in GGX…
So, the new HD twins are around the corner. I see no reason to talk about them yet as they have no games to talk about. That’s pretty much every console launch ever. The only different launch was the NES, where it had few years of Famicom games to back it up. Japanese PS4 release was pushed to Q1 of 2014, and that’s an advantage for them. In the meantime more games are coming out and SONY most likely will sort out bunch of problems and hopefully pre-patch the machines.
I really should write a review of the machines’ appearance one of these days.
But Guilty Gear Xrd saw some added characters to its roster, and we’ll take a look at them. Sadly, no new characters have been revealed as of yet, but I hope the roster will see at least one or two new characters. I’m sure it wouldn’t be surprising to see that the devs decided against any new characters, and only limited characters from past games. If I may so, I hope ABA won’t be included until the second version of Xrd. There’s also possibility that Jam won’t be included due to her not really being a core character, like all the ones revealed thus far, but I really do hope she’ll appear with heavily altered movelist.
Speaking of the movelists, there seems to be little to no changes thus far. This is a little bit disappointing, as the difference between Guilty Gear, Guilty Gear XX and finally Accent Core was rather hefty, especially in the case of the two first mentioned. It would seem that ArcSys is playing safe and mainly just importing existing lists rather than revamping them. Too bad, I would’ve loved to see total revamps with few of the characters just for the sake of change.
Since our last check up, I-No, Dr. Baldhe– Faust, Axl Low and Slayer were added in. Much like Chipp and May, their design is not really wildly different. Or are they? Let’s take a look.
Axl’s design got a total overhaul. Thus far I haven’t seen one completely negative comment on his redesign, and there’s a good reason for it; his new look is spiffy. Well, sort of.
The new look is a mix of Axl’s Guilty Gear and X/XX look. The most prominent element from his previous fashion is the shorts and the flag flaps hanging off his belt. While the GG Axl didn’t have Union Jack as a prominent element in his clothes, it now seems to define Axl’s look the most. A flag shirt wasn’t good enough for him, I suppose. It should also be noted that he wears St. George’s or St. Patrick’s Cross scarf in his head, but with opposite colours. The red cross should be red while the background should be white. Overall, the balance between blue and red has inverted as well, mainly due to the his shirt being white now. It more resembles his old GG look than X/XX look.
Axl also learned to be more like a British gentlemen as well, as he is now wearing a leather tie with trinkets punctured on it. He also has two buckles on his belt and few belt straps in his jacket’s sleeves to boot.
Axl’s new look works with him. It uses the same elements that existed before, but toys with them and add the Guilty Gear flavour in there as a final touch.
The rest of the bunch really don’t have any changes with their attire. Slayer keeps his double belt buckles, I-No’s still a red-cladden sex bomb, thou her hat is less crumbled and its brass details have seen a slight redesign. Her boots also have new brass plaque at their tip, but these are nothing major. These details are just adjusted detailing rather than redesigning. The guitar also got more detailed, but it’s essentially the same one.
Faust too shared the same with I-no. that is he got adjusted details. The straps on his arms have now red crosses to further sign his (ex-)profession and his green pants are now striped. His tie is also yellow rather than black. It would have been an interesting twist if the devs had decided that Faust was redeemed himself at some point and had returned to be his old self. That, or taken him a step further than before.
There’s one empty slot in Xrd’s webpage to be filled. [As of 16th of Feb 2015 the site has been revamped and this does not apply]. I hope this doesn’t mean that we’ll get one more character, as twelve characters seems a bit poor seeing how the series has a rich pool of characters. The site does have the disclaimer And more… which would promise at least small handful of characters. Hopefully some new ones too.
It took CAPCOM a little while to realize that they should include character across the Street Fighter history in SF IV, whereas SNK was doing its best to pull every character they ever had into the King of Fighters. It would be a good thing for CAPCOM to pull off a dream match like game and just shove all the Street Fighter, Rival School and other fighting game characters into one, massive ’bout. That will never happen, because they’re in deep shit and if they won’t make anything insanely successful, they’re most likely going down. Anyway, in a perfect world, Street Fighter X All CAPCOM would have been a massive fighting game with almost hundred characters to choose from. Ah, the things we can only imagine about.
It’s a bit underwhelming to see that ArcSys has decided against redesigning most of their characters. While I’m always all in updating character’s look properly, it looks like they thought the negative comments they were getting from Sol, Ky and Potemkin has made them to steer to a more traditional path. Of course, it might’ve been that they only decided to redesign few selected characters, which is half-assed attitude and only serves the purpose to fulfil the designers own desires, and we all know what I would say about that.