Kit Kat Quest

Last update: 16/05/18

I had long known that Japanese Kit Kats were a bit of a phenomenon. People at work would bring back bags of green tea, strawberry and melon Kit Kats from their trips to Japan. Two and a half years ago, I took the plunge and ordered a selection box of eight mini Kit Kats from the Japan Centre. Over coffee, my tasting companions and myself tried them, and I wrote down our reactions verbatim, resulting in the first iteration of this blog. Continue reading

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Mini-Editorial: When is a game truly completed?

I have this thing about finishing games I’ve started, even the ones I didn’t enjoy that much. I have unfinished games stretching back 10-15 years that I fully intend to complete someday. I have games that were a chore to play – Star Ocean 4 and 5, I’m looking at you – that I still feel uneasy about having abandoned. Don’t get me wrong – I know that my limited spare time can be put to better use than to force myself through the tedium of Star Ocean 4. Even if I had no other pressing demands on my time, I could find a lifetime of things to do that were better than Star Ocean 4. But still, I’m wired such that I get some degree of satisfaction out of feeling that a game is complete. Continue reading

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New Little King’s Story

I love kingdom building games. I enjoy developing my realm, getting my citizens happy, exploiting natural resources, and so forth. I’m not so much a fan of the inevitable wars with other kingdoms, but I’ll put up with them if the AI doesn’t cheat too badly. I’m also not terribly enamoured with the slew of kingdom building games for mobile and tablet that require you to fork over real money or slowly accumulate in-game currency to progress.

Earlier this year, I found myself really getting into Ni no Kuni II’s kingdom building mechanic, and, within all the above constraints, I wanted more of the same. I wanted something absorbing, but not a Civ-level timesink that would steal away the next few weeks of my life before I even noticed. Ultimately, I decided to settle for a game I’d purchased ages ago but never quite got around to starting – New Little King’s Story. Continue reading

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Devil Summoner: Raidou Kuzunoha versus … Raidou Kuzunoha?

 

Gouto: ...Well then, it's time to become the first cat in space.

Every protagonist worth his salt needs a feline companion.

In the sprawling SMT franchise, the Raidou Kuzunoha games stand out for being a bit different. With real time battles and in-field exploration using demon abilities, the two PS2 games thrust us into the life of Raidou Kuzunoha XIV, a high school student, devil summoner, and part time assistant at a detective agency.

Even though many assets and locations are re-used between the two games, there are plenty of differences between them. But which is better? There’s only one way to find out…fight! Continue reading

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The Four Classic Chinese Novels

Eighteen years ago, I collected a much coveted PS2 system on release, and had to choose a game to go with it. I picked Dynasty Warriors 2 as the best of a limited selection, and ended up rather enjoying. One unintended consequence of this was that I learnt of the existence of the material that inspired it – the historical novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms. In due course, I read and enjoyed two English translations of ROTK. Continue reading

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A Happier Ending? Nier Automata’s ’Joke’ Endings

In addition to its five main endings, Nier Automata completes its A-Z of endings with 21 bad endings that can be triggered at various points throughout the game. Whilst some of these endings accelerate the bleak vision of the future that permeates the game, a handful of them actually offer a brighter outlook for 2B, 9S and A2 than the proper endings. In this article, I examine joke endings F-Z, and rate them on a happiness scale, from a single Emil head (pretty depressing) to five Emil heads (comparatively cheerful). Continue reading

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Nier Automata: Four Needlessly Depressing Sidequests

With Yoko Taro at the helm, we all knew that Nier Automata wasn’t going to be a comedy festival. Thanks to his work on Drakengard and the original Nier, we knew that whatever he came up with in his latest work would screw with our hearts and minds. We were prepared for devastating revelations about the nature of the world, for characters pushed to their emotional limits. We knew that, and accepted it. Continue reading

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Ni no Kuni 2

Although I was a bit late to the party when it came to the original No no Kuni, when I finally got around to playing the game, I was enchanted. Even now, the first two adjectives that come to mind when I think of it are ‘charming’ and ‘delightful’. Sure, it was far from perfect – poor AI and spending most boss fights desperately holding out for glims whilst my allies lay dead on the floor spring to mind – but there was something amazingly magical about feeling like I was starring in my very own Studio Ghibli movie. Continue reading

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.hack//G.U. Last Recode – Grossly Underwhelming

Many years ago, I wrote a blog post about how much I loved the original quartet of .hack games. Despite their flaws, I enjoyed the hundred or so hours I spent with those games, and regarded .hack in general as one of my favourite franchises.

Then, time passed, the .hack franchise entered its second generation. The World, the fictitious MMORPG around which the franchise, was succeeded by The World:R2, a new game with new characters. My early enthusiasm for this second wave was swiftly dampened, however, by 2006’s .hack//Roots – an anime so excruciatingly dull that I gave up on it halfway through. This left me less than desperate to get stuck into Roots’ sequel – a trio of PS2 games known as .hack//GU. Continue reading

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Thoughts on Utena from a first time viewer

Revolutionary Girl Utena was one of the series I always thought I probably should watch, but I just quite got around to it. That all changed in the closing months of 2017, when Ana Mardoll’s blogs, coupled with a desire to see a bi main character, tipped me over from “should watch” to “okay, all I’m going to do in my free time is get through these thirty-nine episodes plus one movie”.

I now speak to you from the other side of that experience. Having delved into the writings of others on the subject, the general message seems to be that you should go back and rewatch the series to pick up on all the things you missed the first time – that on rewatch, you’ll know what’s going on and be able to pick up subtle signs. And yes, I’m thinking of doing that, but for now, I wanted to speak about what it feels like to have seen the series only once. Continue reading

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