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Game Review: Counter:Side SEA

Monday, May 31, 2021 / No Comments

Published in February 2020 by Nexon Korea for the Korean players, Counter:Side is an anime-style mobile RPG game that encompasses what everyone would say to be the imperfect perfect gacha game. Well, there are both waifus and mechas in this game, which makes it extremely interesting and a good eye-catcher for a wide range of gamers.


“Wait, what? Did you say that this game has both waifus and mechas? Like robots???”


Yes, you heard it right. Counter:Side has not just waifus and mechas, but also soldiers waiting for you to summon. Players will take up the role as the CEO of the Coffin Company, where you would deploy various squads to fight against monsters and bosses as a result of what looks like an apocalyptic event that has befallen Earth.


The story is told mostly from the perspective of Yoo Mina, a girl who is newly attached to the Fenrir Squad and is put together with two other teammates, Hilde and Joo Shiyoon. There is going to be a lot of unexpected twists and turns, which I would not spoil in this review, that will constantly keep you at the edge of your chair. The lore also stands out from most of the other post-apocalyptic ones that are around at the current moment.


"Eh? Isn't this game just for Koreans then? I can't read Korean but I want to play it!!"


Not to worry, Counter:Side was also officially released by ZlongGames for the SEA region on 18th May 2021. So yes! The game is currently available to download in English for fellow SEA gamers on PC, Apple and Android.

Truth be told, I have started the game in the Korean server to test out the game mechanisms and was taken aback by it. Team combinations and deployment strategy are both very important factors to how you ace each and every of the stages in the game itself. In most of the rounds, players are given a map with certain deployment points to place your ships and tanks, where you have to either clear all the mobs in the area or get to a certain point within a number of phases (aka turns).




Each ship would be given two ammo, which means they can only attack both offensively and defensively for a maximum of two times. Players would then have to find a way to get to the supply spot and recharge the ammos for more battle.


As someone who is not very good at puzzle games, some stages did give me a headache and took me a few times before I could figure them all out. However, if you are looking for a game to fill your time, the stage experience in Counter:Side would definitely meet your expectations and it also makes the game more interactive. While there is an auto-battle function for the deployment phase, it is not that intuitive and it’s not recommended to do so.


The in-game battle is mostly automated, though you can also choose to complete each battle by deploying the units and ship skills manually.




Apart from the game mechanisms, the art for the game is aesthetically well made for most of the characters. As someone who falls to nice game art each time, I would say this is largely the reason why the game pulled me in in the first place.




There are tons of characters that would be coming up for the SEA server, apart from the 5 banners featuring about 15 SSRs that span across waifus and mechas. Each of these characters also have their own typing – Defender, Striker, Ranger, Sniper, Supporter, Tower, and Siege. Similar to most other games, each type would generally have their own weaknesses and strengths. It would be dependent on how they are deployed for you to win the game.


The one opinion I have about the gacha system would be the lack of “guaranteed SR and above” for 10 pulls. This was something I felt really iffy about in some of the other games I played that did not have such a system and I had to often get the characters via the pity system instead. Nonetheless, this game does still have a pity counter of 150 pulls on a single character banner.


After getting the characters that you want, you are also free to adjust the size and position of the characters (up to 5) you wish to put on your homepage. Time to unleash your creativity and inner artist to how you want your waifus to be placed. When you level up their loyalty points (i.e., the friendship system in this game), you will also unlock individual character expressions which you can use in the homepage.


*whispers* This is my homepage.


Not just this, there are already some characters skins waiting to be bought, albeit most of them being paid skins, leaving the F2P players with very limited choices. That being said, the skins that are currently obtainable using Quartz, the in-game gacha currency, are still aesthetically pleasing and could be something to consider if you have more than enough Quartz to spare.


That’s all for my brief review for Counter:Side, as I will be divulging too much information about the game if I go any further. Over the past two weeks of gameplay, I have truly enjoyed it and I would definitely be continuing the game to see how things turn out. For everyone who has some time and would like a slightly different lore/gameplay, do make sure to give Counter:Side a try!


Have fun with the game but remember to gacha safely and moderately!


Written by Maru


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Its finally happening – Tsukihime Remake

Wednesday, February 10, 2021 / No Comments

Hello everyone, it has been awhile. Hope everyone is doing great and wishing all a Happy Chinese New Year.



Yes, you read the title right. There is great reason to celebrate for Type-Moon fans. Tears were shed when Type-Moon released the trailer for the Tsukihime remake, Tsukihime – A piece of blue glass moon, on 31 Dec 2020. After waiting for what seemed like an eternity, prayers were finally answered.



A brief overview of Tsukihime for those unfamiliar. Tsukihime is a visual novel written by Kinoko Nasu and developed by the game company, Type-Moon, way back in the year 2000. Type-Moon found much success with Tsukihime back then but quickly became overshadowed by the release of Fate/stay night in 2004 which was also developed by them. Fate/stay night is another visual novel and brainchild of Nasu which would quickly propel him into one of the most prominent visual novelists in Japan.



Being a huge fan of type-moon, I had to give Tsukihime a try and first played the visual novel back in 2014. Tsukihime (2000) had an amazing storyline but was admittedly held back by its outdated art and visuals. A remake was announced by Type-Moon in 2008 but would only come to materialize 13 years later, in Q3 of 2021 for the PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch in Japan. As for the reason of the significant delay, fans could only speculate but it was likely due to Nasu being occupied by other projects related to the Fate series such as Fate/Grand Order. 



Would I recommend you to try playing the Tsukihime remake? Yes, I would. If you enjoy an intriguing storyline with what seems to be god-tier visuals, then you might want to consider playing the remake of this popular visual novel from the 2000s. However, do bear in mind that being a visual novel, the gameplay will be just reading texts for the most part and is definitely not for everyone. I have included the trailer released by Type-Moon above for Tsukihime – A piece of blue glass moon. The hype is real!




You can only imagine the pure joy felt by the fans, myself included, from the announcement and trailer of the Tsukihime remake. The wait is finally over. As Kotomine Kirei from Fate/Stay night would say “Yorokobe Shounen. Your wish will, at last, come true.”


Thanks for reading and once again, Happy Chinese New Year, Gong Xi Fa Cai! Do check out these lovely Moo Chan Chinese New Year Stickers if you haven’t already. 


Written by Kou


Nintendo Switch: Animal Crossing New Horizons

Saturday, May 9, 2020 / No Comments
Hello my little nuggets! Has this circuit breaker been treating you guys well?

It's been a while but here I am, bringing with me a post on Animal Crossing: New Horizons! To be honest, I've never ever thought that I would enjoy playing any of the Animal Crossings because it's too slow and with no actual storyline, but I've been pleasantly surprised.


ACNH provides a sense of normality and some structure of time, especially in this period of bleakness, and I'm genuinely having fun playing. 

So, Timmy and Tommy brings you to an island, you get a tent, you upgrade your tent to an actual house, expand your house, and pay off your debts to Tom Nook, all the while beautifying your island and trying to attract residents to live there. The "goal", I suppose, would be to get your island to a 5* rating. 

my first night!
There's not much you can do in the beginning, having the ability to terraform your island is locked behind a 3* rating. I looked up a bunch of guides and it seemed like the fastest way to a 3* at that point in time was to just invite as many animals as you could so that was what I did. Once terraforming was unlocked, that was when the game actually started for me. 

I only managed to get a copy after the circuit breaker started (and it took days of constantly checking) so pardon my still almost bare island. Honestly I think this post is going to end up with me talking mostly about my island and experiences more than an actual review.. but here we go~

To start off, when Timmy and Tommy gave the option of picking one of four random base island layouts, I did not know that even after you unlock terraforming, the Airport and Resident Services Plaza will not be movable. As such, I didn't bother thinking much about it, and simply just picked the nicest looking one out of the options, which is a huge regret for me, since now my Plaza and Airport are not aligned. 


My native fruit was apples, so I went with Genesis for my island name. I was considering naming it after FF Crisis Core's Zack's hometown (because he's my absolute favorite) but Gongaga just was not cutting it for me. I was considering then naming it Banora, because you know, Banora White apples.. But then I decided to just name it Genesis instead. 


I got Cobb and Ursula as my first residents, and man, I really disliked them at first. Cobb just wasn't my aesthetic and Ursula looked like she was constantly judging me. I wanted them GONE. After I invited a few more and managed to get a 3*, Cobb requested to leave, and I agreed. Right after I agreed though.. I absolutely regretted it because he was nothing but nice to me.. There was nothing I could do but take a final photo with him so, here's one. 

you will be missed, Cobb
Ursula is still on my island, and I might replace her ultimately, but for now she's staying. Her speech is kind of annoying though, and I would rather Cobb than her but for now I guess it's okay. She tried to nickname me twice and they were nonsensical, but the third time I disagreed with her nickname she let me input my own, so I went with Human. I thought it was quite funny, considering I'm the only human on the island. 


I have Monique, Chops, Pinky, Egbert, Amelia, Buzz, Phil, Vesta, and Tybalt in addition to the original Ursula. I had Keaton, but I replaced him with Tybalt, because I already had 2 eagles, so Keaton had to go. I'm trying to collect a pair of whatever species I already have, though that might fall through. Originally I was planning on a whole set of only one species, but there are so many species and I can't possibly only choose one! 


I love Monique, she's so cute, and reminds me of Marilyn Monroe, so she's never leaving my island, ever. 

So, island layout. The only thing I had in mind was to create some sort of Maldives vibe for my residents near the beach which kind of worked but I feel kind of also didn't? I set it off to the right side further away from the airport and plaza and cut off by the river because I was thinking of noise pollution which makes no sense because it's a game?? I'm slowly moving the rest of resident homes there, but right now 4 are still stuck where I originally dumped them, because I've stored my scorpion stash on the last 4 Maldives plots of land and Flick hasn't visited yet. 


I winged the rest of the island, with only the main idea being alignment. 

My orchard is flanking the Airport, and all I'm missing are some pears.. Anyone has pears? I wasn't planning on planting any bamboo yet, but every time I checked the island evaluations Isabelle kept insisting on more variety of trees so there we go. Now I've dropped back to a 2* and she's been non stop saying there's not enough flowers. Isabelle, how many flowers do you want!! I don't have any hybrid flowers yet, so right now it's kind of sparse and mostly just the basic flowers. I concentrated them on my campsite, though I might have to have another garden since I nEeD mOrE fLoWeRs. I do have a separate breeding garden, but it hasn't been doing well..




I kind of wanted to have my house with the entrance being under a waterfall but there were too many limitations so I left it where it originally was, which actually kind of aligned up with the river so I'm glad. I don't have much furniture cataloged yet so it's tiresome trying to design the rest of the island, plus it seems like there might be new shops in the future, so I left the space empty for development phase 2. 





My favorite part so far is the money tree garden behind the Plaza, because that's where I'd like to think Tom Nook stores his stash of gold, and my forest. I cut some space between all my trees so I can put a Monster statue there. The plan was to have the Robot Hero on the other side where I've marked, and have a bunch of mini cars around so it looks like there's a fight, but I'm unable to craft the Robot Hero yet.. Was planning to have some red floor lights in the area so it looks a little more explosion-y but I haven't chanced upon those items so right now it's just sad looking. 



The next plan is the rock garden. Have you guys seen those? It's a great idea for easy harvesting, but I haven't found a suitable spot for my rocks yet. I was thinking of having them in this creepy forest looking thing with the transmutation circle but it seems like they're unable to spawn on custom designs. If you guys want to make your own rock gardens, here's an easy way to do it! The video is a great help. 


I've seen a bunch of really gorgeous islands and there are so many amazing player designs!! So many talented people out there. I've saved a bunch of outfits and custom path designs, though I seem to always just default to the basic grass.  

The only thing I've designed is my school uniform (which Ursula wore!!!) and my current phone case, which is literally a pair of eyes and simple enough to do. 

im dressed like a tour guide
Here's a link if you want to find some more outfits! Some I got off here, like my Final Fantasy 7 flag, but some of them I randomly came across on Instagram. 


Ultimately, I'm really enjoying New Horizons and I do feel like it was expanded my horizons quite a bit. I like to fly though most of my games, and playing this now had taught me how to slow down and enjoy each day. It's something to look forward to when I wake up. Is Gulliver going to be stranded on my beaches today or will I see Redd instead? Is Flick going to be here so I can offload my my horde of scorpions? Perhaps maybe the cutie C.J is here for my fishes? Will I see Celeste or Wisp tonight?  

I can't wait for Nook's Cranny to finally upgrade, and I'm glad I managed to make friends with the Able Sisters. My Museum is coming along nicely, and I'm already looking forward to the next season. Having Leif and Label visit is a happy affair and overall Animal Crossing New Horizons just sparks joy.

Here's some more images I took while I had a friend over! 













Written by: ninetylives


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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.


Drakengard
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.

2B




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.

9S


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.

A2


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


Desert


Desert


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