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My Game of the Decade: NieR Automata

Thursday, April 30, 2020 / No Comments
As April 2020 comes to an end, I've mulled over all the games that I have played over the last decade. Games have always been one of my favourite pastimes and one that I would never give up. I've been playing games ever since I was a child, playing games from Super Mario, The Legend of Zelda to Dead Space and Overwatch. But none has ever enraptured me as much as NieR Automata. From the moment I booted up the main menu to the credit scene, I was charmed by what the game had to offer in terms of story and many more. As such, NieR Automata immediately became my treasured game of all time.

Thus, when I found out that Square Enix, the publisher of the NieR Series, was remaking the prequel of Nier Automata, I was giddy with joy. Now, before I go through the news of the remake of the original NieR, I'd like to first explain and show you why NieR Automata is my game of the decade.

Warning: There will be spoilers of the story!

I'll first go through the introduction of the NieR series and how it came to be. To the surprise of many new fans, the NieR series wasn't actually its own standalone series. In fact, the story of how NieR came to be is due to a certain ending that a player can get in one of Yoko Taro's (director of NieR and its sequel, NieR: Automata) games, the Drakengard series.

In a way, you could call the NieR series a spinoff of Drakengard. Drakengard had 3 titles in its series, namely Drakengard, Drakengard 2 and lastly Drakengard 3. To reach the beginning of the lore of the NieR series, you'd have to unlock the elusive final ending E of the original Drakengard. After reaching that ending, you'll find yourself at the start of the NieR universe. The NieR series then begins with the original NieR. 

However, there's actually 2 versions of the prequel to NieR: Automata. The reason being is that NieR was originally a Japan-exclusive title called NieR: Replicant and due to its success in Japan as well as demand from the western market, Square Enix decided to make a western release called NieR: Gestalt. However, there's no need to be confused, there are no major differences in both games other than the change of characters between the two. NieR: Replicant was released with the main characters being a brother and a sister, while the western version released with the main characters being a father and his daughter. Other than that and some slight differences in dialogues, both NieR games have no major differences.

NieR Replicant vs NieR Gestalt

If that explanation was too wordy and confusing for you, I'll link an amazing video that takes extra care to explain the entirety of the Drakengard series as well as the NieR series.

ValkyrieAurora's Lore summary of Drakengard to NieR: Automata

With the background of the NieR series out of the way, I can now explain one of NieR: Automata's biggest selling point for me, the story.

Last spoiler warning!

Some fans of Yoko Taro might already know that his stories were always convoluted and complex. Even I, who only played the original NieR before the release of the sequel, thought the same. As such, I wasn't expecting some happy go lucky story for NieR: Automata. And while I thought so, I also did not expect the story to resonate so deeply with me. 

The story follows two androids, 2B and 9S, in their escapade in neutralizing enemy robots that are found all over Earth. As they battle against robots, they seem to realize that robots possess something that they shouldn't, sentience. Puzzled by this finding, they try to seek out answers to these riddles, only find themselves questioning their own existence. 

2B meeting 9S in the flight unit for the first time

When I first started diving into the world of NieR: Automata, I was expecting to be another fighting game with a subpar story, like others in the market. I was gravely wrong. From the start to finish, I was more intrigued by the story than anything else. I couldn't set my eyes off the developments of the characters as well as the story. It was such a unique take that I had not seen before. The game tries subtly to connect your emotions with the story with choices that can lead you to different conclusions. Many times I find myself sitting in front of the screen, thinking to myself whether that was the correct choice for me.

When I first stumbled upon Pascal's village, which is a village filled with many conscious and sentient pacifists, I was baffled on what to do. Eliminate them as they were still part of the enemy robots or leave them be? Many times I was confused about what was the right or wrong thing to do as I didn't want my choices to end my experience for the game horribly.

An illustration of Pascal's village

Even in sidequests, which I do find as interesting as the main story, I tend to spend a few minutes more to understand and execute than I would in other games. In my humble opinion, this game managed to get the audience to put themselves in the main characters' shoes and thus enabling players to have a connection with the characters. That was something I appreciated a lot in NieR: Automata. As much as I would like to talk more about the beautifully written story by Yoko Taro, I would also like you to experience it by yourself so I'll now be talking about another aspect of the game that I adore, the characters.


An illustration of 2B

Since I spent more than half of the game as 2B, I naturally appreciate this character. You might be thinking, "Of course you like her like everyone else, she's a beautiful anime character!". Well, sure, that's one of the things I like, but that's not most of the reason why. To me, if you were to put another character in her stead, I highly doubt that she would be able to do as well in terms of character building and her contribution to the story. This is because her attitude and personality fit really well in her position, a tool with only one purpose and that is to kill her enemies. 

Part of it is because she has an amazing voice actor that is able to convey 2B's emotion as well as her train of thoughts well. Furthermore, her character development was done perfectly. She did not change a lot, but she definitely did change, which is essential to me since I rather dislike flat characters in a story. You can see her personality and the way she sees things change over time, especially with the character which I'm about to mention.


An illustration of 9S

9S is 2B's sidekick that always sticks with her all the time. Seen as a playful and chatty sidekick, the two are like sides of a coin due to their contrasting personalities. While 2B is mostly cold and aloof, 9S can be as social as one can be. He can be seen interacting with his Operator that takes care of him regularly with jokes and praises. However, underneath that mask, 9S is actually very unforgiving towards the enemy robots. 

Contrary to many other players who play this game, I don't dislike 9S. I've seen many complaints on how 9S is really whiny and annoying towards the end, which I can understand after playing the entirety of the game. However, I do believe that most humans, if not even androids, would act and feel the same way. Other than that, I don't really have any other impressions of 9S.


An illustration of A2

A2 only gets introduced into the story after you beat Endings A and B. As such, you get less playtime and screentime of her. However, the game compensates you in subtle hints in the first two playthroughs as well as the ability to play as this character in the third playthrough. A2 was the first batch of YorHa units sent to Earth as an experiment. However, in the midst of her mission, the situation gets awry which led to her learning the true nature of the YorHa Project. Due to this, she chose to become a rogue android with only one goal in mind, which was to eliminate as many robots as possible.

As I've only played NieR: Automata, I don't know as much of her as others do. However, I do adore her character in NieR: Automata, which is enough for me. When I first met her, I was mesmerized by her appearance. Not by her beauty, no. But by her garb. 

How many battles has she fought to reach that state? How many lives of her friends has she seen reaped right in front of her eyes? How many countless times has she struck an enemy robot down, only to find another in its place? Even the way she presents herself shows what she's been through and how she got here. I first thought she had ulterior motives considering how the game first presented her as the enemy of androids but I was wrong. All A2 ever wanted was to end her mission after years of hunting alone and you could see that from her relieved expression at the end of Ending D as she falls down along the debris.

All in all, I could have not asked for a better set of main characters other than these and I believe Yoko Taro did a great job in not only creating an appropriate set of characters but also in choosing the right Voice Actors for the job. To me, the voice acting is as important as the character itself as it adds more than just a voice to the story. It adds personality, emotions and thoughts that couldn't be achieved through mediocre voice acting. 

Speaking of mediocre, the graphics in this game is definitely not so. The graphics in this game is astounding. Even after 3 years, I still open up the game and appreciate the amazing visuals the game has to offer. Along with many picturesque environments and levels, the amount of detail that went into making sure every aspect of NieR: Automata feel like the post-apocalyptic world where androids and robots battle each other every day.

Here are some screenshots of within the game of my favourite areas and locales. 

The Abandoned Factory

City Ruins

City Ruins



The Amusement Park

The Forest Zone

The Copied City

Flooded City

Flooded City

The Tower

As you can see, the visuals are stunning. The more I look at it, the more I appreciate what the team at Square Enix has done for the game. The areas and locales fit the story very well and I admire how the story allows you to fully explore an area and discover its secrets before moving you to an entirely new area with lots more to explore. Furthermore, the graphics help a lot in making the game more enjoyable in combat, which is the point I want to discuss next.

With Platinum Games overseeing the combat system in NieR: Automata, I definitely had no qualms about how the combat was going to be before I started the game. And I wasn't disappointed at all. The style of the combat system is similar to other games under Platinum Games' belt, such as Bayonetta. While it cannot be compared with a game like Sekiro where skill plays a lot in beating the enemy, NieR: Automata makes up with diversity in its combat system. 

With a lot of weapons such as greatswords, combat bracers, katanas to even an iron pipe, you'd surely have your preferred weapon, especially since the weapons can unleash combos as well as pair well with pod programs that can give you an edge in the next fight.

2B fighting an enemy machine lifeform

If I were to describe it, it feels spectacular to play since the combat is very smooth and easy. However, if you are looking for a challenge, harder difficulties are more rewarding in terms of satisfaction since you need more than just hack and slash to defeat the enemy.

A player showcasing his skills in an event

All in all, the combat system is definitely one of the game's selling point for me because of its enjoyable fighting style.

Moving on, the sidequests in this game are more than just sidequests! The story in each sidequest is as interesting as the main story itself and I couldn't help myself but explore the world of NieR: Automata to complete every sidequest so that I could catch a glimpse of more world lore. 

A machine lifeform caring for animals

You could find yourself in the forest finding materials on how to treat animals so that a machine lifeform can take care of its animals. The next thing you know, you could be escorting a little machine lifeform that ran away from its mother due to her biased affections towards his elder brother. On the way back, you get hit with questions that you yourself don't have the answer to. Like what I mentioned previously, the game does a perfect job of connecting the player with the character by asking philosophical questions from machines who are not even supposed to have sentience.

A mother machine worried for her runaway child

My favourite sidequest was Emil's Memories. Upon finding a flower called Lunar Tear, Emil, who is a special machine lifeform, rushes to the scene in order to uncover his long lost memories. While attempting to recollect, he implores that you contact him as soon as you found more of the flowers. Upon finding all, he gives you a key to an elevator that brings you to a secret location. There, he tells you his story of how he was created to defeat the aliens that invaded Earth and his decision to protect that location that was dear to his heart. All while a sombre yet beautiful soundtrack rings in your ears.

Emil's secret location

This brings me to my final aspect of the game that I really appreciate. This section alone probably factors about 40% of why I absolutely adore about this game. The OSTs in this game are masterpieces in my opinion. Every single soundtrack in the game had always fit the situation and locale well. When I was running through the City Ruins, a light and pleasant OST accompanied me in my adventures. While riding the train to the amusement park castle, a playful and joyful OST excited me further considering how I was in an amusement park.

City Ruins OST

Amusement Park OST

My favourite soundtrack, however, is the one that I mentioned previously in Emil's secret location. The irony is that this OST was originally from the prequel, NieR, but was brought into NieR: Automata for that particular sidequest. 

Kaine / Salvation OST

All in all, the music in this game definitely raised the game up my list with all the amazing works done by Keichii Okabe, the main composer and arranger for the NieR series.

As such, NieR: Automata became my favourite game of the decade not only for the story and gameplay, but also for many other factors as well. And while this is my favourite game ever, I can't say it would be the same for you. This game resonated really well for me because it managed to answer many questions in life I had unanswered and also gave me an enjoyable time as well. While others might find NieR: Automata just another game in the market, I'll forever hold this gem in my heart.

Before ending, I'll leave the trailer for the upcoming remaster of NieR: Replicant at the end for you all to decide whether you would consider picking up the game or even NieR: Automata.

NieR: Replicant ver 1.22 teaser trailer

Written by Kai Yuichi

Game Review: Arknights

Sunday, March 29, 2020 / No Comments
Stuck at home with nothing other than free time on your hands? Bored of re-watching your favourite anime series for the fourth time this week? Need something to fill your time and boredom in? Don't fret, I have the perfect something for you! In this blog post, I'll be reviewing a game, Arknights!

First and foremost, Arknights is a PVE (Player vs Enemies) gacha tower defense game where you use units you obtain in order to defeat enemies and clear levels for exciting and worthwhile rewards. I'll leave the official trailer here for you to watch (Definitely recommend to at least watch once, the music and trailer itself is really good!).

Arknights Official Trailer

If you're not familiar with the word gacha, it's the form of spending virtual currency for in-game items such as cosmetics, characters, items etc. In this game's case, it's operators that you mostly will want and will obtain. 

Of course, you can also spend real currency to exchange for virtual currency in order to get the items you want.

However, that is not to say that you cannot play this game without spending real currency. In fact, you can finish all story content in this game with the units you have, albeit with a little strategy. This is also one of the reasons why I like this game and why this is my first gacha game, it doesn't require you to spend real currency on the game, unlike other pay-to-win gacha games.

An example of a gacha roll in Arknights

Moving on, I'll now talk about what Arknights is really about. Like what I mentioned previously, it's a tower defense game where you defeat enemies with operators that you obtain. By completing these stages and levels, you get a reward that can be useful in either upgrading your operators themselves or your base, which we will get to later on.

Arknights Main Menu

At this point of time, Arknights has 5 main story chapters released for players to enjoy. These chapters consists of stages and levels for players to clear in order to advance in the main story. With animations and cutscenes to further emphasize on the story, Arknights has one of the most intriguing story for a mobile game thus far.

Arknights Main Story Content

Arknights Chapter Stages

Furthermore, completing these stages helps you unlock some of the other features this game has to offer such as resources stages and your own base. Below are such stages mentioned.

Firstly, there are 5 resources stages, namely the Tactical Drill, Tough Siege, Resource Search, Cargo Escort and Aerial Threat. Completing each of these stages rewards you with different items that can be used to further improve your gameplay such as leveling your operators and upgrading your base.

Resources Stages

The Tactical Drill stage rewards you with tickets to level your operators, the Tough siege stage rewards you with certificates to buy certain items in the shop that can't be bought anywhere else, the Resource Search rewards you with base materials to upgrade your base, the Cargo Escort Stage rewards you with in-game currency called Lungmen Dollars for leveling and upgrading expenses and lastly, the Aerial Threat stage rewards you with skill books to upgrade your operator's skills to further maximize their ability in stages. Don't worry if those descriptions are a bit lengthy, all in all, they're stages to further improve your gameplay.

An example of one of the resource stage, Tactical Drill

Not only that, there is another stage that is also quite important. The reason being is that it rewards you with in-game currency to roll for more operators to add in your squads. This resource is called Orundum and is only used for rolling for operators. However, unlike the other stages that are open for only 3 days a week, this stage is open 24/7. 

An example of the Annihilation stage

There is a catch however. You can only farm a maximum of around 1600 to 1900 Orundum per week. All in all, it is a good system set for the players so that they don't have to spend real currency to roll for operators but because of the weekly limit, players also can't abuse it. I have nothing but praises for the system they've implemented here.

Speaking of operators, there are two ways to obtain them. One is by spending in-game currency, Orundum to roll for them and the other way is to use recruitment permits to recruit said operators. What's the difference you ask? Well, the former uses the limited in-game currency, while the latter only uses recruitment permits which are easily obtainable through the in-game store or daily and weekly quests.

An example of the headhunting system

An example of the headhunting system

These are banners, where you roll for operators. New banners will have a condition where you will be guaranteed a 5 star or higher after 10 rolls, which is beneficial to players since those operators are generally harder to obtain.

Recruiting operators using recruitment permits

However, recruiting can take a long time depending on yourself. It also has a very low chance of awarding you with 5 or 6 star operator, which are some of the best operators in-game. However, in the event where you obtain an operator you already have, you're also rewarded with operator certificates.

What do you do with these certificates? Well, there are a number of ways to spend them. In the in-game store, you can exchange these certificates for valuable in-game materials such as leveling tickets, operator development materials, more recruitment permits. Even better, you can use them to buy headhunting tickets to roll for operators in the banners. However, these types of certificates are harder to obtain than the normal operator certificates.

The certificate store in Arknights

Now, we can get to the technical aspect of this game, the base. In the base, you can use resources to build facilities such as factories, power plants workshops etc. These facilities can help improve your gameplay in the long term with factories producing valuable materials such as leveling tickets and/or gold bars to exchange in the trading posts for Lungmen Dollars. You can also set up dorms for operators to rest after being stationed in said facilities. Moreover, the fun part is that you can interact with the operators in their 'chibi' form to get a reaction from them that are usually very cute and amusing.

An example of a base in Arknights

An example of the dorm, with operators resting in it

Now that we've gone over the game, let's talk about what I like and don't like in this game. 

First and foremost, what I like about this game is that there is so much to do in this game to the point where you will not get bored of it anytime soon. First, the main story stages. They're the bread and butter of this game and provide a lot of content for the players. Furthermore, there are the resources stages, which I already explained as well as the Annihilation stages.

Additionally, I previously mentioned that you can level your operators and did not explain much. There is so much more to operator development!

The operator menu which unlocks many possibilities

Here you can see one of my operators which I have nurtured and developed. In this menu, there is so much you can do to improve your character. The button on the top right allows you to level your character. The "Promotion" option allows you to Elite or upgrade your character's limits per se. The "Potential" option allows you to improve your character as you get more tokens or copies of the same character. The "Skill Upgrade" option explains for itself. Lastly, the "Trust" bar on the left side of the screen gradually fills up as you bring that operator into more battles and stages which in turn improves the operator's base stats.

All in all, there is so much more to do than just leveling your operators, which means that players, or Doctors as we call them in this game, has to do.

Another thing that really surprised me when I first played the game is the intuitive and beautiful UI/UX experience. UI/UX being user interface and user experience. The menu and controls in this game are beautifully simple and does not bring up any confusion over it's functions or anything. Also, since this was originally released in the Chinese region for a bit before releasing worldwide on IOS and Android devices, I expected there to be some localization issues. However, there almost close to none! And where there were some, the updates and fixes to the game are really fast and the developers even compensate players for said maintenance with sanity packs or even Orundum! 

Intricate and beautifully designed main menu

Now, I'll go over the only complain I have for this game so far. The sanity system. Before I mention anything, I have to say that I don't think what they have done is wrong, just that it can be improved. Right now, stages and levels requires sanity or in other terms, energy, to initiate. So if you don't have enough sanity, you can't complete any levels. Sanity recharges every 6 minutes or so. So to most players, you'd have to wait for your sanity to refill before you can attempt a stage.

However, there are more ways to refill your sanity rather than just waiting for it to refill passively. You can use sanity packs that I mentioned previously to refill your sanity for a certain amount or you can use your in-game premium currency, Originium, to refill your sanity. Don't be confused over Orundum and Originium. The former I already explained while the latter is basically currency you can get by paying real currency. This premium in-game currency can be used to refill sanity to your maximum capacity for each Originium or you can use it to exchange into Orundum for gacha currency.

Refilling sanity through Sanity Packs

Refilling Sanity through Originium

However, you can only refill your sanity with Originium 10 times a day, which means that once you used that 10 refills, you essentially can't play the game anymore until the next daily reset. This is my gripe with the sanity system. I hope that sanity can be regained faster while also removing the daily limit for sanity refills. Other than this issue I have, I have been having fun with the game so far.
Finally, I'll be giving my overall review as well as give my thoughts for who this game is for.

Arknights was the first ever gacha game I've ever played and I caught wind of it through scrolling through Twitter. Ever since then, I had anticipated its global release so that I could play it as soon as possible. When I first played the game, I expected to lose interest over 2 weeks since I never really got into mobile games. However, this game proved its worth with its intriguing and in-depth lore that got me hooked, and its surprisingly beautiful and well thought out design. To me, this game isn't just a game to fill my time, I genuinely enjoy every second of this game.

As for who this game is for, I'd say it's for everyone! With its easy access to most people as well as it being really easy to play, most people would find it enjoyable. If anything, I'd say the game isn't for you if you dislike gacha games which I don't think it's a valid reason for this game since it's PVE, not PVP. So there aren't any advantages or anything that you might find unfair.

And that's all for this review of the game Arknights! I do hope that you give this game a try in the future! Oh, I'll also put my friend code under so that anyone can add me in the game!

With that said, thank you for your time and do stay safe in these turbulent times!

Written by Kai Yuichi
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BanG Dream! Girls Band Party x Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu ka? Collaboration

Saturday, January 11, 2020 / No Comments
Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu ka (Is the Order a Rabbit)--Gochiusa in short is one of my favourite slice-of-life/cute-girls-doing-cute-things anime. In fact, it might even be one of my top few. Once I heard that Bandori will collaborate with Gochiusa, I was beyond excited. Like, I was internally screaming. I was just that happy, aha. It's also just in time for the third season that will be coming up in 2020! 

This might be a slightly delayed post, but I still had to talk about it because I simply loved this end-of-year collaboration last year. 
The outfits, the 'Rabbit House' cafe in the background and Bandori's version of 'Tippy' on top of Rimi's hair, it's all nostalgic~

Just like the collaboration with Hatsune Miku back then, the Gochiusa collaboration took place for a period of time, and the cover songs/costumes have been released over a span of 3 consecutive days. The first day began with Poppin' Party, with their cover of 'Daydream Cafe', the OP for the first season of Gochiusa. 

They even featured the work outfits from Gochiusa with the Poppin'Party members in the game!
From left to right: Chiya, Cocoa, Chino, Rize, Sharo in their work outfits.

Of course, Kasumi's outfit resembles Cocoa's, as they both share the role of main leads. 
Tae wears Chiya's outfit in the game, and I thought it was fitting as well as Tae and Chiya share lovable, yet smug characteristics. 
And of course, Rimi is the best fit for the adorable Chino, along with her own version of Tippy on her head. 

On the other hand, Saya and Arisa's outfits didn't quite seem to match Sharo and Rize's personalities respectively. However, I guess that's the best that the game could do, and both Saya and Arisa looks really nice in their outfits, especially Saya's loose, flowing hair. 

The game interface also changed a little for a limited time. We see the 'Rabbit House', the cafe in Gochiusa in the background, along with an added tap sound effect that reminds me of rabbits hopping. Definitely fitting for the theme!

The second day continues with Hello, Happy World! The members' outfits are a combination of working outfits in Gochiusa--Kokoro with Cocoa's Rabbit House attire, Kaoru and Michelle with Aoyoma's bartender outfit, Kanon with Chiya's sweet shop attire and finally, Hagumi with Sharo's maid outfit. 

Aoyoma's bartender outfit. 
Chiya's sweet shop attire.
Sharo's maid outfit. 

Hello, Happy World! covered 'No Poi!', Gochiusa's OP for the second season. Kokoro's voice definitely suits this cover well. 

And of course, we receive the costumes as well.

The next and last one features Pastel*Palettes, dressed in Chino's middle school uniform. They also added their own original touch with it in the form of the frills representing each member's colours. 

With that said, the song cover is going to be none other than 'TokiMeki Poporon', the ED of Gochiusa's second season. 

This is my most anticipated cover, because the song is just too cute. Here's the original from Gochiusa just because it's THAT CUTE.

Here's my first try on the song! You really gotta hear it with the limited tapping sound effects, it's just too cute. (Oh, I would have used PasuPare members for this live, but I was too excited and forgot to change it so I played it with Afterglow, as there is also an ongoing Afterglow-based event in the game as well). 

Speaking of Afterglow, it would have been interesting to hear them cover a Gochiusa song, even though it's a little bit out of their rock-like style. Besides, fun fact: Cocoa's VA Sakura Ayane also voices Mitake Ran from Afterglow. 

And that's it for the Bandori x Gochiusa collaboration! It's definitely the best collab ever--melts my slice-of-life heart. Oh, just another thing to plug in, because it's the Christmas season, the game interface also changed to the Christmas interface! It's another thing to look forward to for this year's Christmas, though it might be a bit too early to talk about it... 

There's also an extra area in the game called the "Tsurumaki Party Hall", which is rather exquisite-looking. Seriously, how rich is Kokoro? There are extra interactions between the Bandori girls, especially between those who are rarely seen together which is quite interesting. 

Christmas and a lovely collab--It was definitely a wonderful time to be in the Bandori fandom. Hakanai~ 

Written by kimizomi