New blog post double attack special! Gu Jian Qi Tan 2!

This little linking post is really nothing more than a thinly-veiled excuse to ram more screenshots from the beautiful-but-bloated Chinese RPG Gu Jian Qi Tan 2 down everyone’s throats, but in the interest of some vague sense of integrity I’ll try to write a bit more than this rambling opening sentence about the game.

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You might remember my old review-ish-thing I wrote about the game a while back, and reading through it again I’m happy to say that I still agree with everything I wrote there – the game is a great RPG and it was worth waiting for, but at the same time it could have really done with an editor slicing through the Xenosaga-length cutscene dialogue and they really should have spent less time worrying about sunlight breaking out from behind towering ancient monuments and more about whether anyone not from the future would be able to run the game well. You can make a legitimate argument either way in favour of Gu Jian Qi Tan 2 vs. Xian Jian Qi Xian Zhuan 5 (and its prequel, Xian Jian Qi Xia Zhuan 5 Qian Zhuan – which I still need to write about), but if there’s one area where Xian Jian 5 definitely beats Gu Jian 2 it’s in its ability to balance creative splendour with across-the-board technical performance.

But that’s enough from me for now; enjoy the screenshots below, follow this link for photos and information on the fabulous deluxe edition of the game – click! …and jab this one for photos of the special Gu Jian 2 controller – click!

Oh, and expect a quick post about the Gu Jian 2 soundtrack in the near future too (promise!)!

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Gu Jian Qi Tan 2 Collector’s Custom Controller Edition

Original Title

古剑奇谭二
珍藏定制
手柄版

Format
PC
Genre
RPG
Developer
Aurogon
Official Website
Here

This pack was released the same day as the standard and deluxe editions of the game, priced at 199RMB. The basic contents are the same as the standard edition of the game (game DVDs, manual, coin), but the controller is unique to this set and was never made available separately or as part of another edition of the game. It would appear that the controller was an exclusive to mainland China, and not sold in Taiwan/Hong Kong.

The controller itself is a USB wired 360-like controller, and a variant on Betop’s “Asura” range - click!

For more information about Gu Jian Qi Tan 2, follow this link – click!

Packaging

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Gu Jian Qi Tan 2 Deluxe Edition

Original Title
古剑奇谭二
豪华版
Format
PC
Genre
RPG
Developer
Aurogon
Official Website
Here

Gu Jian Qi Tan 2 is naturally the sequel to the well-received Gu Jian Qi Tan, a Chinese RPG by the then-new Shanghai Aurogon team meant to rival Softstar’s titanic Xian Jian Qi Xia Zhuan series. The game was released on the 18th of August 2013, both on the mainland as well as in Taiwan/Hong Kong. Three physical versions of the game were available to mainlanders – a standard edition containing the game, manual, and a commemorative coin housed within a steelbook case (69RMB), the deluxe edition shown below (298RMB) and finally the “Collector’s Custom Controller Edition”, as described in this link.

While Gu Jian Qi Tan 2’s story takes place in the same world as the original game the cast are all-new (reduced from six down to four main playable characters) and there is little direct connection between the two. However this reduction in total cast size has allowed for expansions in another area – the battle system now allows for all four party members to participate in battle simultaneously, whereas the original forced you to choose three from a choice of six.

As before battles are initiated by running in to enemies (or having them run in to you) that are visibly wandering around as the player explores certain areas, and then being whisked away to a separate battleground to fight. This is where the similarities between the games end though, as Gu Jian Qi Tan 2 ditches the turn-based system used in the previous entry and instead adopts a more action-orientated approach with a superficially MMO-like hotbar (complete with cooldown timers) across the bottom of the screen. To keep these real-time fights manageable you can switch between characters at will, with the computer controlling the rest. The AI used to determine how party members behave when not under your command can be individually adjusted from several preset patterns.

The battle system may have had a significant overhaul, but some other things have remained largely the same; the skill tree-ish system used to determine which abilities and stat bonuses are unlocked is much as it was before, and the map still has annotations that automatically mark the location of the next main plot trigger and other points of interest.

Outside of battle the QTE sequences make a return, and there are a few platforming/flying/submarine segments woven into the main quest that require real-time reflexes to complete. The flying and submarine segments are pretty straightforward, but the platforming portion of the game is much more difficult (if ultimately rather brief).

Beyond the game itself there are a couple of new additions to make playing more comfortable, with the main one being the new account-based authentication system that allows you to sign into your game (complete with saves) from any PC with Gu Jian Qi Tan 2 installed on it, as opposed to the more typical serial key system that binds itself to a particular computer. For any potential players reading this – I can confirm from first-hand experience that you can log in and play from another PC without any issues or extra work, such as needing to de-authorise the original installation first. Unfortunately I can also confirm that as mentioned in my review-ish thing on the game Gu Jian Qi Tan 2 really is terribly optimised, as the significantly more powerful laptop I recently purchased still runs the game noticeably worse than other modern titles with broadly similar visuals.

Since the games initial release several optional side stories have been added to the game, as well as unlockable costumes and special items.

Packaging

The box is a replica of some of the chests use in-gameBox interior (top layer) with contents

Oh yes, the game!

Sorry about the fingers, I couldn't get him to sit on his stand for anything :/ 

Screenshots

I know I normally do six, but this game's worth breaking the rules for ;)GuJian2 2013-10-23 19-24-18-703GuJian2 2013-11-06 13-17-42-032GuJian2 2013-11-07 11-39-26-074GuJian2 2013-11-09 04-46-59-054GuJian2 2013-11-09 05-16-47-151GuJian2 2013-11-14 14-26-09-221GuJian2 2013-11-16 11-48-50-452GuJian2 2013-11-17 12-53-47-709GuJian2 2013-11-17 12-56-17-907GuJian2 2013-11-18 06-49-04-945GuJian2 2013-11-18 07-01-40-878

Forgotten classic: Geograph Seal (X68000)

So it looks like I’m not done with flat-shaded polygon shooters yet! But where do you go after the surprisingly epic action of Solid Lancer? As it turns out that’s an easy question to answer – we just have to hop on over to the X68000 and load up Geograph Seal.

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The game’s by Exact – the same team that would go on to make the launch/launch-ish (depending on where you lived) Playstation game Jumping Flash!, and if you’ve ever played one of the robo-rabbits platformers then you’ll be familiar with the basics of Geograph Seal even if the designs are more typically sci-fi in this one. So in the main this involves getting plonked into an arena-style space with a set number of targets to destroy – sometimes these will be particular enemies, whereas in others it’ll be fixed objects hidden away in a cramped maze. Either way once these have all been destroyed the path to the end-of-stage boss opens up and you’re thrust into a do-or-die battle against a suitably impressive adversary, like the enormous robot-spider in the screenshots below.

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But where Geograph Seal excels is in the way it takes these very simple ideas and then spins them into something more interesting and memorable, such as the multi-height boss battle that has you destroying vulnerable points at the top and bottom before aiming for the core, or stage 3 – which is by far the simplest of them all – making up for the “shoot them all” on-rails gameplay by pitting you against an entire fleet over a Sega-blue sea, with enormous dropships flying overhead dropping swarms of smaller enemies into the battlefield. This creative streak runs through the entire game, with each stage offering an inventive take on the core formula right up to the final staff roll.

The weaponry available follows suit too, with four different shot types available at all times ranging from the powerful-but-overly-precise laser to the weak fire-and-forget homing missiles (that often – and deliberately – don’t track boss weakpoints). Every shot has four different power levels raised independently of each other from pickups hidden around each stage and they all are engineered to be more useful in certain situations than others. To prevent you from simply taping down the fire key each shot also uses up differing amounts of a rechargeable energy gauge located across the bottom of the screen, so your basic Vulcan type can be used pretty liberally whereas the powerful Riat (their typo, not mine) bombs must be used with more care and attention.

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Geograph Seal succeeds in everything it sets out to do: the exhilarating sense of vertigo as you look down on an enemy below from a high jump off a nearby building to then satisfyingly bounce off their heads, the varying weaponry types are accompanied by level designs that encourage players to actually experiment to see what works best, and the relatively primitive 3D manages to be both stylish as well as easy to read in the middle of a firefight. Heck, they even threw in a 2P versus mode for those people lucky enough to have two X68ks and two copies of the game! The only real negative to draw from a complete play through is that while there is an end-of-stage score system in place (including its own mysterious “secret bonus”) the game doesn’t really feel tuned for score attack play and with no difficulty levels there’s little reason to come back to it other than… other than because it’s a really solid and exciting action game with lots of clever ideas in it.

So I suppose that’s no real negative at all, is it? How about this one then – the game is generally looked upon as a footnote in Jumping Flash’s development history and nothing more; but it turns out that Geograph Seal is more than good enough to stand up as a worthy title in its own right, and deserves its own place in gaming history for doing everything Jumping Flash! is lauded for first and on less powerful hardware, if nothing else.