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From eroticism to job ethics... thought´s and dillemas from an exiled artist wannabe.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Neuroshima Hex - A board game Review

One of my favorite board games is getting a new ios app update: Featuring the newest army Steel Police Neuroshima Hex number of armies rises to a grand total of 9!! 

If you haven't give it a try yet, now it´s a great time to start!!

The game

Neuroshima Hex is a polish tactical board-game for 2 to 4 players based in an obscure polish RPG called Neuroshima and has gotten a pretty successful adaptation for iOS and Android. The game sets us as the commander of a post-apocalyptic army during conflicts for supremacy on the barren wastelands of a devastated USA.

Neuroshima’s premise is simple: the good and old “kill’em all”. Translated to game mechanics:  you have to tear down your opponents headquarters, or be the one with more life points remaining when the dust sets.
The battlefield is set on a small board of hexes where players will have to set their troops and maneuver to overpower all the opposing armies into submission.

Each turn, the player will receive at random 3 hex “cards” from his stack of available resources. They will then choose one of them to be discarded and up to two to be used or placed on the board. Any hex not used or discarded will remain in your hand and since you draw until having 3 hexes in hand there is really not a solid reason to hold on to them, so you pretty much always play 2 hexes per turn.

3 tiles... yet so many options.
Battle hostilities will only start when a player plays a “Battle!” hex from hand, or when the board is full, so you are never quite sure when battle can begin unless you play the battle card yourself. This forces you to always be wary of every movement and placement on the board as to react accordingly and keeps the tension always high in a cold-war like style.


Every troop hex has one initiative stat, and may have a various number of attack powers in every facing of his hex, as well as some special abilities. This makes positioning and facing crucial as you may be a monster facing one certain direction and a harmless hex while facing  the wrong side. 
When battle starts, attacks will resolve in decreasing initiative order. Starting with the highest initiative, all hex will attack their targets and place damage, when all of them have attacked, damage will be calculated and casualties will be removed from the board before proceeding to the next initiative tier. This means controlling initiative is a crucial point of the tactics in play, as you can eliminate potential threads before they are able to attack and harm  your much powerful but slower units.

Each troop and army has a different flavour, fitting various play styles.
Some hexes have special abilities, giving extra healing capabilities, extra attacks or initiative boosts for the troops around them, while some play as instantaneous effects that allow you to snipe enemies, nuke them or even make them turn cloaks.


While the game plays the same for all armies, factions are asymmetric and their troops and special actions are usually focused to enhance one type of play. Thus, faction specializations vary from close combat, to ranged, to mobility… some even have the ability to turn enemies into their own troops!

This makes the game very dynamic, and due to the randomness factor of the hex drafting, you will rarely see a typical pattern that players stick too. This makes it more a tactical game that strategic, as you cannot plan in advance and are always reacting to the very specific conditions on the board. This also means that a significant amount of luck is involved though, which may annoy some players. 

The game features 4 different armies, but there are lots of expansions which further the choices.
The design of the board is one of my favorite points of the game due to its deviousness. By being hexagonal and tiny, players can’t easily position themselves symmetrically and can’t flee from the fight. In 4 player games, the board gets crowded very fast, and as many hexes have multiple attack sides, there is no way that you can maintain alliances or non-aggressions. Everyone is forced into a battle royale, and being like this for everyone people don’t get so upset when you target them.


A fun and fast game to play. It will keep you coming once and again until you try all different armies and manage to get a hold of their strategies, and even then you still be coming back just for the mindless fun of a 4 player game battle royale.

I definitely recommend this one for people used to tactical games, but i should not throw it at casual gamers as may probably scare them off. Also purist strategists may find it unappealing  due to the luck factor and the fact they can´t plan in a long term focus.

You will like it:

If you are into some fast thoughtful fun.
If people who hide in multiplayer games annoy you.
You like collecting expansions

You won’t like it:

If you can’t focus on more than one thing at a time.
If you like long term strategic planning and a luck based draft sound too casual.
Post-apocaliptic settings scare you.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Groove Catch for iOS - Small review

This last weeks i´ve been spending some time with rythm games on the ipad so i´m gonna make a small review of some of them that have caught my interest.

Groove Catch

Groove Catch is a fun game that features lots and lots of cool music to play with. 4 modes are available all of them played on portrait screen mode.

In the first two ones, notes appear on the screen while a line marks the tempo going top to down on the screen and reappearing back on top at the end.  When the tempo line hits the notes you have to activate them to count toward your score depending on your precision with the timing. On one mode you touch directly on the notes on the screen (like Ouendan or Elite Beat Agents) while on the other a small keyboard at the bottom of the screen is your activation method, in a gimmick to Guitar Hero/Rock Band.

Anime graphics are plenty. Including that chibi version of Cutie Pai´s Vocalist.
The two others are a bit different and instead become a Catch game where you have to get as much of the falling fruits and ice cream as possible. The modes are in fact variants of the same game which different control modes, be it touch or tilt-based.

Groove Catch features 3 difficulty modes for each track, but also tracks range a lot in speed which also increases difficulty. This that should be a good point is kind of confusing as you will find that even in easy mode some tracks are insanely difficult! To make things worse, when you start missing some notes an alarm sound starts to play and the screen starts to blink in intense red: result it’s even more difficult to see the notes and hear the tune when losing, effectively killing you for good. 

Where is your skill now?!
The game features a lot of music from indie Japanese bands, with very diverse music styles that will send you from the Vocaloid tunes of Hatsune Miku to the rock of Broken Doll and back to the j-pop of the girl band Cutie Pai. Some electronic tunes and even gothic can be found for those fans of Ali Project.

The game is now priced at 1$ (it was 3$) and has 14 playable tracks (the developer has already promised 5 more on the next update), and 14 more buyable DLC tracks – At 1$ each. (With more to come, too).  While it does not seem very different proportion from other music games. The fact of seeing so many locked tracks in a game you have already paid for kind of makes you feel like you were tricked. I think they seriously need to place a store somewhere in the app to leave the locked songs there, as it gets annoying to have them mixed with the songs you bought already.

The game and the store being mixed is quite annoying.
As a side note, the developer offers the possibility for other indie bands to feature in their game and get them to be known, which I find to be a very nice symbiotic initiative. The game also enhances this by publicizing the artist´s itunes albums, so if you like the tunes you have quick access to a place where to buy it.

You will like it:
If you are into japanese music and vocaloid.
You like insanely difficult rythm games.

You won’t like it:
If high pitch voices annoy you.
If you don't like being continuously rubbed in the face the DLC you don't want to buy.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Busou Shinki: First Impressions

While i´m aware this season is going to be one of the weakest when it comes to anime releases i had to give some of them a chance at least, so my first pick was Busou Shinki.

While i´ve always liked the Mecha-Musume theme, the last animes on this issue didn´t make the cut for me. I was really disapointed by Infinite Stratos who forgot about battles and degenerated into a harem, a bad one even. So i´m kinda hoping that Busou Shinki doesn't turn the same.

Busou Shinki comes with a premise very very reminiscent of Clamp´s now vintage anime Angelic Layer. In the future, people has access to 15cm dolls (Shinki) that keep them company and  make chores. Some people suit them for combat in arenas where tournaments occur, this warrior dolls are thus called Busou Shinki. The main character has been living outside japan and now returns with his 3 busou shinki, to start a life alone as a highschooler in his childhood home.

The hamster in the house is kinda funny.
Judging from the first episode, the series expects to focus more on the dolls point of view that the master´s one, and we get to see how they deal with their daily lives and struggles, with some combat scenes to maintain the combat doll idea in an otherwise low paced presentation episode.

The quality of the animation in the battle and action scenes is great and i hope it isn´t just because of being the first chapter and we see more of this on the future ones.

Combat scenes are fast and beautifully animated.
On th other side of the spectrum the opening and ending scenes are nothing worth even mentioning. The opening music (Install Dream) is not  really appealing and the animation is also quite generic, so don't expect to be seeing them more than once.

My first impression on the chapter´s plot is so-so... while the animation is good the theme does not seem promising and the characters are very plain. At first glance you can already see the personalities of the girls without even having said anything.

I kinda liked the design of the middle girlñ But you can tell she's a tsundere miles away.
I'll probably give a chance to chapter 2 or even 3 but still has to improve substantially for me to see this through it all.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Queen’s Blade - Hide and Seek - A manga review

After reading Sundome i was in need of something new to spend my bus trips with and I was glad it took me no time in found Queen’s Blade: Hide and Seek. If you are familiar with anime you should know by now that Queen’s Blade, together with Ikkitousen and Seikon no Qwaser are probably the paramounts when comes to erotically charged anime.

I know that there is a lot of people who is taken aback by this constant nudity and never even give a try to the series. And that’s a pity because Queen’s Blade has a decent story and some cool character designs, created by renowned japanese illustrators.

Thankfully Hide & Seek fills the void to provide the best of Queen’s Blade to a Teen rating audience, changing eroticism into comedy.
Elina is paired with a dubious crew on a new revision of the story.

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Sister

For those unfamiliar with the series Queen’s Blade story revolves around a fantasy land where every 4 years a new queen is elected to rule the kingdom. Such Queen may be a girl from any race or class condition as long as she manages to win in singular combat the actual Queen.  However, to earn the right to fight the Queen, the aspirant must first win the Queen’s Blade, a tournament where the strongest girls from every part of the kingdom gather to earn that honor.

Aldra, the reigning Queen and champion . Though in this series her role is secondary.
Hide & Seek is set during the events of the first season of the anime. Unlike the main series, who follows the ascension to power of the wanderer warrior Reina, daughter of the Vance Earl. Hide & Seek accompanies the story of her little sister Elina as she searches for Reina to bring her back to her duties as heir to the Vance household.

During her journeys, Elina herself will meet some of the cast of the Queen’s Blade tournament like the Iron Princess Ymir or the Dark Elf Mercenary Echidna, as well as some new characters created exclusively for this series like the knight apprentice Florelle, that will aid Elina on her quest, as she gets dragged to participate on the tournament.

Claudette and Ymir form the relationship that will lead to the events in Queen´s Blade: Rebellion.


I must confess that when I thought of Elina as the main character I wasn’t really thrilled about it. She was one of my least favorite characters in the series universe, mainly due to being very plain character (in a place already filled with one-dimensional personalities).

Elina was vicious since child.
This manga though, while not increasing much the character deepness, looks at Elina with an augment glass, magnifying all her extreme personalities into comical exageration, especially her catlike behavior. She is short-fused and arrogant, prone to mindless aggression and with almost zero consideration for any other than herself and her family… basically, a cat in girl dress…or a cat dressed as a girl dressed as a tiger to be accurate.

The rest of the cast mostly enacts their same roles of the main series with the notable exception of Ymir that is quite childish and a weakling; though through the series she will evolve to fit their anime persona.   
Claudette, and Echidna get a lot of scene time too, so if you are fan of this two you should probably look forward to read Hide & Seek.

Less nipples, more chibis.

Hide & Seek breaks the norm of the house by reducing the nudity considerably. While there are some ecchi scenes, specially once the perverted Echidna tags with the group, you won’t be seeing the usual cloth tearing and gratuitous panty shots that are a stapple of the anime.

Instead humour and chibis are all over the place introduced by some recurrent gags, like Elina’s unhealthy passion for sausages, or her ability to snap into a trance state where her mind becomes one of a cat for a certain period of time when conditions are met.

Ymir also is part of most of the jokes during the first volumes, as she is treated like a child until she gains strength to make herself respected. It is true that some of the jokes are still sexually oriented, but being otherwise would deny the very essence of many characters inside jokes (like the pantylessness of loli half-elf Nowa).
We caught a glimpse... of something secret.
Despite this, this change of perspective opens the series to a whole new target audiences, and I know for sure that some girls have given this a chance and liked it. It kinda leaves me wondering if the anime was done like this would have hit higher demographics and wouldn’t be discriminated as sick otaku material.


The manga features fights aplenty and they grow in number and intensity as the Queen’s Blade grows near at the apex of the series.

Unlike other manga protagonists, Elina is not a fair fighter. She is ruthless and savage in combat, with no mercy even for her friends, and always fights at her best, never holding back. This makes her combat scenes some of the best of the manga, as she pulls moves you wouldn’t expect from more “noble” characters like Nowa, Reina or Claudette.
Another one bites the dust!
While some minor fights of the tournament are played on the background most of the important fighting is given attention. Those are well narrated and illustrated in detail, so you can actually feel the rhythm of combat as swords clash panel after panel, and the clean artwork let’s you clearly understand what is going on without having to look twice.

Also, unlike the anime, Hunt & Seek is more interested in showing impressive fights than clothes being torn so no more bizarre camera angles or nipple-shots.


Be it that you are a Queen’s Blade fan or not, I really recommend you to check Hide & Seek if you are into shounen manga.

You will like it:
If you are looking for a light shounen with sexy girls, but you are not into mindless fanservice and hentai.
If you are a Queen’s Blade fan (a must read if you are into Elina, Claudette, Ymir or Echidna)

You won’t like it:
If you thought the nipples and pantyshots were the best Queen’s Blade could offer.
If the idea of lesbian incest does not seem like a valid plot hook to you.