Watercrown Productions

And we’re back again.

by on May.22, 2013, under Uncategorized

Well. Through a series of snafus that were a long time in the making, my site went down for a couple months there. But don’t fret! Watercrown Productions is back and back in business (sorta). It’s missing a few posts, and not all the graphics work, and the sidebars need fixing, but (hopefully) soon things’ll be back to business as usual. Stand by!

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The best thing about Xenoblade coming Stateside?

by on Dec.12, 2011, under Opinions

It’s old news by now, but it’s official: after much Internet backlash, Xenoblade is finally coming out in the US…about a year and a half late. Ah, well. It’s a victory all the same.

Some people have reacted to this news with ambivalence: first, Nintendo waited until after everyone who cared about the game modded their Wiis and imported the European version, and second, it’s only going to be available from Gamestop, otherwise known as “the Devil.” Interestingly, though, Gamestop apparently approached Nintendo about getting the game published here, so despite their sorry reputation among gamers, even they know a dick move when they see one.

Personally, I’m glad I waited. Yes, the US version will be the pretty much the same as the European version, British voice acting and all, but there’s one very important difference.

EU on the left, US on the right:

Look at that. Someone at Nintendo of America has taste. “Chronicles” may not be out of the picture entirely, but it’s shrunk down enough that you barely even notice it – a little Photoshopping and it’d be gone entirely.

So remember, kids: wait for the American version, or else you’ll be saddled with a copy that gives the crappy contractually-obligated cliché RPG subtitle equal billing with the actual name of the game. (They even had the gall to shrink the word “Xenoblade” to match. Bastards.)

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Spoilers!

by on Oct.04, 2011, under Random

Everything you know about pop culture is wrong. So sayeth the Spoiler Troll.

Pull his finger and learn the truth about your favorite movies, TV shows, books, and games!

NOTE: May or may not actually contain spoilers. Spoiler Troll is for entertainment purposes only. Do not get Spoiler Troll wet and never feed him after midnight. Side effects of Spoiler Troll may include headache, mild rash, dry mouth, and spontaneous intestinal reconfiguration. MY SPLEEN!

Suggestions for more spoilers? Send ‘em my way and you might find them horribly butchered by the Spoiler Troll in the future!

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The Scourge of Social Media.

by on Oct.02, 2011, under Random

I’m not a big fan of “social media.” I don’t have a Facebook account, and I only have a Twitter account because I needed one to enter a contest. That contest was connected with Legends of Zork, a now-defunct browser-based online game; it wasn’t a bad game, mind, but some time before I left its Great Underground Empire for good, I got introduced to a much, much better browser-based game: Failbetter Games’ Echo Bazaar.

Echo Bazaar is best described as a kind of online gamebook – a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure with RPG elements. Yes, that would technically make it yet another click-based grindfest like the aforementioned Legends of Zork (or SpyBattle 2165, which I mentioned previously), except that Echo Bazaar has a story to tell, one snippet of narrative (or “storylet”) at a time. The writing quality alone makes Echo Bazaar well worth spelunking, even if only for a short time. Thus far I’ve plumbed nearly all the content I can access with a free account, and I’m dangerously close to actually spending money on this game.

Let me put this in perspective: I never spend money on free online games.

Of course, you absolutely have to have an account on Twitter (lucky me!) or Facebook in order to sign up. Fortunately, you can create a Twitter account with just a username, email, and password: you don’t really have to provide your real name, as you’ll see on my feed. That’s right: I’ve gone and sold my soul to the Devil added a Twitter feed to my home page. What has the world come to?

I’ll tell you what: Failbetter Games has another game out, The Night Circus. On paper, it’s an advertising tie-in for a novel of the same name. In practice, it’s Echo Bazaar Lite: same quality of writing, less of it overall, but just as compelling and 100% free. Problem is, you can’t access all the content without increasing your Rêveur Rank, and you can’t increase your Rêveur Rank without sacrificing outsiders to the almighty Failwhale shilling the game through your Tweets getting Twitter friends and newcomers to join through your Diary, where you can share whatever snippets catch your eye. Those same snippets get posted to Twitter in your name, each with a link to your Diary, ready to drag unsuspecting visitors into the strange black-and-white-and-red-all-over world of The Night Circus. You know what you must do. Enjoy.

(And for what it’s worth, Echo Bazaar has a similar mechanic, though I don’t think I get any kind of kickback in this case. Feel free to join me in Fallen London through the links to my Journal. You won’t regret it. Seriously.)

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Two paths.

by on Sep.05, 2011, under Opinions

So I’m playing Radiant Historia right now, a brilliant little DS JRPG published by Atlus. Fans of Chrono Trigger are already familiar with the possibilities of time travel in RPGs; fans of Chrono Cross (an excellent game, thank you very much) know what alternate realities can bring to the table. Now imagine the two of them brought together in one game. The very first choice in Radiant Historia sets off its major storytelling gimmick: the game progresses along two dramatically different courses, both of which much be experienced in order to bring the story to its conclusion. Events along one path affect the other, much like that fun little puzzle in The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past where you had to fill the moat in the Light World to make it fill in the Dark World.

Of course, time is not nearly so wibbly in the real world (at least, not until someone finally invents the Doctor). But there’s little doubt in my mind that someone at Nintendo really wishes they had the White Chronicle right around now.

The Wii really did seem like a good idea at the time. Nintendo has always been of the mindset that they make toys for small children; their attempts to do otherwise have traditionally met with disaster. In this respect, taking the casual market by storm and letting the hardcore crowd play with its PS3s and XBox 360s was the logical choice. Now the casual market has slipped from their grasp, the 3DS has been met with apathy by the public and disappointment by developers, and the Wii U’s E3 showing left the crowds perplexed instead of awed. Their ironclad belief that the 6-12 crowd is their primary audience has left them crippled with ridiculous Friend Codes and parental control-mandated region locking. Were they wrong to aim for the casual crowd? Not at the time, no. But it’s clear that ignoring – or rather, actively alienating – the hardcore audience has reaped a bitter harvest for them.

Now they stand at the gates of Historia, the mysterious time travelers Lippti and Teo gently chiding them that doing what seemed like the obvious “right” course of action has wrought despair and destruction. And they have a choice of two paths. Nintendo wants to have its cake and eat it, and they must decide which is more important.

The “Have Cake” Route: Follow in Sega’s footsteps and pull out of hardware entirely. This is not a bad ending for them. Nintendo’s consoles have long been entrenched about five years behind the curve: they eschewed optical media on the Nintendo 64, marginalized online play on Gamecube, and refused to implement a real online infrastructure for Wii. The Operation Rainfall fiasco proves they simply cannot be trusted as a first-party publisher. Their strength has always been in their own games, and even if the Wii U is the final Nintendo-branded console, there is little doubt in my mind that Mario and Zelda will still have a home on some platform. In many ways, the game industry will be a better place with them removed from a position of power and authority.

The “Eat Cake” Route: Go beyond mere apologies and price cuts and actually address the issues that are holding them back. Killing Friend Codes once and for all will earn them plenty of friends. Developing a proper online infrastructure with usernames, messaging, and the ability to tie purchases to a shop account will go even further. Now that the casual market is no longer their exclusive domain, they need to focus their efforts on winning back the hardcore crowd by casting aside their pretense of making games for little kids and their grandmothers and bringing both the games and the functionality that will allow the 3DS and Wii U to actually compete against the Vita, PS3, and XBox 360. Nintendo can emerge triumphant yet again if they’re willing to fight for it.

As far as I’m concerned, both these paths lead to happy endings. Nintendo triumphs, either as a purveyor of casual shovelware games, or as the rethroned king of the game industry. Of course, in Radiant Historia, there are many branching paths which lead to ruin and destruction, so we can’t ignore the possibility of…

The “Cake Gets Smashed On The Ground” Route: Nintendo continues on just as it is right now, trying to peddle $250 game systems and $40 games to little kids who can play those exact same games for five bucks a pop on their PCs or their parents’ cellphones, incapable of reconciling their ironclad belief in their own infallibility with the brutal reality of their increasing irrelevance. After a string of drastic price cuts and megaton announcements of minor hardware updates refuses to stop the bleeding, Nintendo loses all hope and sanity and finally outsources all of its major franchises to Ninja Theory, at which point both the company and said franchises are effectively dead.

Nintendo, this is Jacob Marley calling. Change your ways or become a sad historical footnote. You have until your next console release. Choose your path wisely.

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I’m so happy I’m not an early adopter.

by on Aug.23, 2011, under Opinions

Less than half a year after the (failed) launch of the 3DS, there are rumblings from Nintendo about a rather drastic hardware redesign: the much-ballyhooed but ultimately pointless 3D screen is going to be either nerfed or nixed altogether, and the system will pick up a much-needed second analog stick.

Rumors? I wouldn’t have put any stock in them three months ago. But now that Nintendo has slashed the 3DS’s price in response to its dismal sales figures, it’s safe to say that the company has gone into damage control mode. Regardless of the enthusiastic response it received at E3 2010, the 3DS has crashed and burned spectacularly: its $250 price point scared away consumers, almost all of its big-name titles are ports of games available on other platforms, and its online functionality is hampered by Nintendo’s wag-the-dog attitude towards parental controls. It’s even region locked. The whole system seems like Murphy’s Law personified.

At any rate, the source of these rumors is reputable: they actually found out about the Wii U’s tablet controller before Nintendo unveiled it themselves at E3 2011. Which puts me in an odd place. I’d been planning to get a 3DS after the price cut, but now, I’m finding myself siding with all the other people who said “nah, I’m gonna wait for them to release the next hardware revision.” Used to be, my reaction was “but that could be two or three years down the road!” Oh, how naive I was. In all likelihood, it’s happening next year.

Though if Nintendo thinks it can solve all its 3DS woes with just a new hardware version, they’re more delusional than I give them credit for. If they try to use this as an excuse to go back to the $250 price tag, they’re shooting themselves in the foot unless they can give us something we’re really willing to pay extra for. Getting rid of Friend Codes and the region lock would be a good place to start…

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A Valuable Lesson

by on Jul.14, 2011, under Watercrown Productions

Site’s back after 24-hour downtime caused by a freaking server crash. Whoops. Fortunately, I had a backup dating back to February, but everything I posted between then and now is gone. I do have the missing posts saved thanks to SLAiNTRAX, though it’ll take some time to get them all restored.

So. Let this be a lesson to me: more backups = fewer headaches.

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Retro Game Challenge 2 finally coming Stateside?

by on Feb.07, 2011, under Random

I don’t use this blog much for actual blogging, but this caught my eye.

If you’ve been following my blog, you might remember my review of Retro Game Challenge back in 2009. Here’s hoping this teaser is promising exactly what it looks like it’s promising: a long-overdue U.S. release of Retro Game Challenge 2.

Thanks to Haz of HG101 for bringing this to my attention. (Original Post)

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I shoulda done this like a million years ago!

by on Jan.10, 2011, under Breath of Fire 2

Introducing the BoF2 ROM Check application!

Cobbled together in a few hours and rigorously tested, this app will check your Breath of Fire 2 ROM to make sure it’s compatible with the retranslation patch. Better still, if you have a U.S. version ROM with a header, the BoF2 ROM Check application will offer to remove it for you. Once your ROM has been vetted by this app, all you have to do is patch it!

Uses Alforata’s Super Nintendo ROM Icons, artfully edited with the Breath of Fire 2 title screen logo.

Get it here!

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Solatorobo 4Koma Chapter 4: Toilet

by on Nov.26, 2010, under Watercrown Productions

And my second Solatorobo 4Koma in as many days.

Read it in the original Japanese here.

Enjoy!

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