Phantasy Star Online 2 Fashion Parade Vol.1

So I’ve talked about Phantasy Star Online 2 before, praising it for being both a worthy sequel to the original Dreamcast hit as well as being a free to play title that feels like it was actually created as a game first rather than an ad banner delivery service – it’s now been the best part of a year since I made that post and I’m pleased to say that I still stand by all the positive points I raised back then.

So how do you go about celebrating that continued success? With a fashion parade of course! PSO2 is absolutely stuffed to the gills with all sorts of costumes that range from the sublime to the ridiculous – so many that I’ve had to split my own virtual wardrobe into two posts, with this first one covering all the outfits I’ve accumulated so far that are tie-ins with Phantasy Star titles or other videogames and anime licenses. The next batch will be PSO2 originals, typed up whenever I get around to it.

Outfits appear in the order they sorted themselves into in my inventory, which at a quick glance appears to be pretty much the order they were released in - the Japanese names are included so any PC PSO2 players reading this can easily copy/paste the item name into the shop search bar and buy one for yourselves, meseta willing!

If you’re wondering about the location, these screenshots were all taken on the recently-released Episode 3’s new planet Japantown Neudaiz Harukotan.

Having trouble seeing the fine fashion garments below? Don’t forget to click on any of the images to see it full size!

Emilia Replica/エミリア・レプカ
Emilia Percival (Phantasy Star Portable 2)

Guardians F Repca Leaf/ガーディアンズFレプカ葉
Lumia Waber (Phantasy Star Portable 2)

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Hatsune Miku Replica/初音ミク・レプカ
Hatsune Miku (Vocaloid)

Sakuya Mode-N Replica/サクヤmodeN・レプカ
Sakuya (Shining Blade)

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Selvaria Replica/セルベリア・レプカ
Selvaria Bles (Valkyria Chronicles)

Arle Replica/アルル・レプカ
Arle Nadja (Puyo Puyo)

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Student Replica S Steel/スチューデントS・レプカ鋼
Katanako (7th Dragon 2020)

Karen Replica/カレン・レプカ
Karen Erra (Phantasy Star Universe)

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Madoka’s Clothes/まどかの服
Madoka Kaname (Puella Magi Madoka Magica)

King of Knights Armour 騎士王の甲冑
Saber (Fate/Stay Night)

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Corps Uniform & 3DMG/兵団制服&
立体機動装置F
Mikasa Ackerman (Attack on Titan)

Shinsengumi Captain’s Haori/新選組隊長羽織F
Female version of Ryoma’s outfit (Ryu ga Gotoku Ishin)

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Ulala Replica/うらら・レプカ
Ulala (Space Channel 5)

Altina Replica Cherry Blossomアルティナ・レプカ桜
Altina (Shining Blade)

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Kagamine Rin Replica/鏡音リン・レプカ
Kagamine Rin (Vocaloid)

Fei-Yen 1P/フェイ・イェン 1P
Fei-Yen (Cyber Troopers Virtual On Force)

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If you want to spend an afternoon gawping at the full range of male, female and Cast outfits available in PSO2 then the best place to do that is almost definitely over here – Cirnopedia

Got a favourite? Looking forward to the next batch? Either leave a comment below or send me a message on Twitter!

A little look at… Runners High

Compile are prolific contributors to Japan’s retro digital download store Project EGG, offering users a wealth of titles from their extensive back catalogue: anything from spinoff mini games to excellent but overlooked adventures like Wander Wonder. Their latest title to go up on the service is Runners High, a racing game that was previously only available as part of their 1996 PC-98 DiscStation 10 compilation.

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The game’s a simple beat-the-clock racing game with a not unwelcome 90’s anime twist – rather than giving players a boring old car or a selection of typical athletes to race as you’re instead cast as a sci-fi high school student that, of course, “runs” by strapping some manner of futuristic boosters to her back. It’s hardly reinventing the wheel, but it’s tough to argue against the concept when the opening course presents players with the opportunity to skim over Sega-blue water at 300+km/h, kicking up spray as our enthusiastic runner turns into the corners.

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While originally being just one part of a compilation of Compile tid-bits makes the following somewhat understandable, there’s no getting away from the fact that Runners High has just three simple tracks to play on as one character with no unlockables, mirror courses or anything to do other than trying to beat your own lap times. This means that just about any gamer will have seen all the game has to offer within at most fifteen minutes of loading it up, but as a short-but-sweet burst of racing action Runners High makes a welcome antidote to both the sprawling multi-disc dungeon crawlers that the PC-98 already has in abundance as well as modern mainstream titles that apparently can’t do anything without a thirty minute motion captured cutscene voiced by some bloke off the telly, and at the end of the day ¥500 (approx. £2.87/$4.66USD) really isn’t much to spend on a bright but brief slice of something a little bit different.

If you’d like to buy Runners High from Project EGG you can find their store page for it here - click!

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New database entry! Chakushin Melody Damon

I like to think that I have relatively good taste in games, my razor-sharp nerd-dar silently guiding me through the endless piles of middling-to-poor releases towards more interesting titles like Ougon Musou Kyoku and English of the Dead. There comes a point though in every gamer’s life where they encounter something so obviously… naff that they simply have to buy it, and for me that game was Chakushin Melody Damon.

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Even now, after a few weeks of owning the damned thing, I still find that cover plain weird. As a ringtone composer for Japanese mobile phones that are all either in landfill or museums I can understand the faux-metal background and the various phones on the cover, but that cat? It’s like someone decided that phones weren’t friendly enough for software cases and hurriedly thought “Help, what’s cute and generally inoffensive? Err…umm… I know, cats!” then Photoshopped in the first furball image they came across.

Should you still be curious enough or somehow have access to a working fifteen year old imported phone that just has to have a Gundam ringtone on it you can find out the facts about this little oddity here – Click!.

Chakushin Melody Damon

Original Title
着信メロディ
だもん
Format
Playstation
Genre
Misc.
Developer
Ving
Official Website
N/A
 
The first thing to make clear about Chakushin Melody Damon is that while it is Playstation software it is not a game. Released on November 25th 1999, Chakushin Melody Damon is a collection of two hundred pre-made ringtones for various popular Japanese mobile phones of the time, bundled with a melody composer should you wish to create your own.
 
New ringtones are “transferred” to the phone simply by following the on-screen instructions to open up that particular model’s ringtone composer and then inputting the required key presses. A voice reads out these inputs so the user doesn’t have to keep checking back at the screen or worry about mis-reading a lengthy melody.
 
Melodies are split into five genres – J-Pop, Game, Anime, Classic, and Other, and contains tracks from old and new favourites such as Dragon Quest III, Final Fantasy VIII, Lupin III, Cardcaptor Sakura, My Neighbour Totoro and more.
 
It can be assumed that the software was a success as Ving released four further sequels in under a year, titled Chakushin Melody Damon 2-4 and Chakushin Melody Damon GOLD.
 
 
Packaging
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Screenshots
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HtoL#NiQ: An apology

There was a time when I was all excited about Nippon Ichi’s stylish puzzle-plaformer, HtoL#NiQ (Hotaru no Nikki, if you’re wondering how to pronounce that). I’d even preordered it! Me! The weird lady that’s incapable of buying anything that’s not a decade old! Then it came out and… it wasn’t so bad, actually. The game had atmosphere seeping out of every beautiful pixel and the “boss” at the end of the first chapter was tense but not impossible to defeat.

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Then the designers threw chapter one’s pacing out of the window and the rest of the game is only slightly less painful than smothering your fingers in fish bait and dangling them over a piranha tank.

To be more specific: before the patch (which of course came out after I swore and shouted my way through to the end) the game could only be controlled using the Vita’s touch screen; by default using the screen for the light firefly and the rear touchpad for its shadowy counterpart. This made holding the Vita uncomfortable at best and made the game’s already demanding firefly controls difficult to manage. So the only alternative was to have both fireflies controlled using the touch screen, with a small icon in the corner to switch between the two. An icon that may or may not respond depending on whether it’s in the mood to acknowledge your desperate jabbing at that specific moment.

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In some puzzle games this could have be a niggle – an annoying inconvenience in an otherwise interesting game – but not so with HtoL#NiQ. The problem with this game’s puzzle design is that the solutions are invariably very simple – don’t touch the shadows (that are positioned to give as many cheap deaths as possible, including being hidden behind foreground objects), flip that switch (it’s on a timer), push that box (assuming it falling from the sky didn’t kill you first) – but executing them is infuriating due to the game’s insistence on having even the slightest error “rewarded” with the adorable Mion’s instant demise as well as the designers apparently not accounting for the fact that nobody outside their development team has transparent fingers. As such relatively simple requests like “navigate through a maze without touching the sides” become horrific avenues of death with players literally unable to see where they’re going as their finger is of course covering the part they’re trying to pass through and somebody thought it’d be a great idea to add Moving Bars of Electro-Death and other “fun” hazards to these already difficult sections.

So what about that patch I mentioned earlier? With everyone complaining about the unwieldy touchscreen controls Nippon Ichi released a patch that added analogue control support, so in the interests of fairness I restarted the game to see if this improved matters… and it did – sort of. Although with the major control issues mostly gone all that was left to focus on was the poor level design that “rewarded” your successful trap-avoiding antics with more traps and more whirly death saws and mushrooms that reverse the controls… you get the idea – “not fun” is something of an understatement here.

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I’ve bought bad games before, and HtoL#NiQ is not the first, last, or the most expensive one either. But it’s been a long time since a game was so promising, so almost good, that I felt so let down by the end result. HtoL#NiQ’s fragmented and cyclical story is absolutely fascinating, and the art direction is not only unique but also suits both the game and the Vita well. It’s just a damned shame the game you’re forced to endure to experience these highlights is so ceaselessly unfair and poorly designed.

In short: should a Let’s Play become available then by all means watch it through and get busy discussing Mion’s curious tale, but please, please spend your PSN credit on something –anything- else.