Monday, May 10, 2010

O tempora, O mores!

The infantile relationships between men and women in this game are no idle happenstance. Nude Maker — the Japanese hentai videogame company whose corporate culture is evangelically libertarian (at best) — may be good at sexploiting eye candy, but they obviously need help covering imbecilic ineptitude at decent space opera or even playable games.

There's just enough "and then..." in this Yakuza bottle rocket to keep you trying to move forward, but you'll be stymied in places by long, unnecessary delays. This is also the first videogame I've played in which the protagonist murders someone as sequel to a difference of opinion. Also, when the female lead, Nia Lochlain, dies at the end of Part I, the scene is treated romantically. Oh sure, it may seem like gratuitous sadomasochism, but her death is explicitly "noble*," with a genuine seppuku slash across the middle. Watering down the moment, the stroke is a coup de grace supplied by a smiling villain with oddly cultural overtones.

"Infantile," as in, women come in two sizes, Real Women or Virgins, and men come in two sizes as well, Boys and Real Men. Draw a little 2x2 table enumerating the possibilities, and watch the eyes glaze over as the gently boiling Nerd Mode kicks in...

E.g., how "playable" is the battle with Rubriko? The one that comes after Jordeno, where the word "insane" re-enters your head for the first time since arriving in the LMC. You can't go back and level up your fleet, you must engage with what you've got, you haven't saved at major forks in the storyline(s), you can't back up unless you start THE WHOLE GAME OVER, and the odds are at least ten to one in favor of your eventual annihilation. The music is ethereal, like the incessant slow-motion flapping of damned angel's wings at the very apex of their eternal Fall. Oh, yeah... Almost forgot. After that, you get to fight the exact same battle four more times! Conjugating Russian verbs is a real game by comparison.

*Later on, Yuri lets Glorinda go rather than take her hostage, when she threatens to kill herself. Such terrible responsibility, he explains (possibly thinking of Nia Lochlain), is the awesome price of nobility.

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