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berryjon
May 30, 2011

I have an invasion to go to.


What is Oni?

Oni is a third-person action brawler/shooter published by Bungie, or rather, their spin-off Studio, Bungie West. It is a highly stylized game, made for the PC, Mac, and later for the PS2.

The story of Oni's development is something of a mess, and quite intriguing. It's something I will be covering as the LP progresses. For now, know that this game was in development at the same time as this title you may have heard of called Halo, and that this game was put on the back burner for it.

What is Oni, the Game?

Oni is, as said, a third person action brawler/shooter. You play as Konoko, a newly minted Technology Crimes Task Force (TCTF) Agent, assigned by their superior officer, Terrance Griffin, to battle the Syndicate, a criminal organization.

The plot is barely there, things don't make sense, decisions are made with information never presented to the player and it's something I'm going to be going into in more detail later.

However, for it's flaws, Oni as a very good game. The animation is top notch, still holding up 20 years later. The combat ranges from sublime to intense and is the real draw of the game. 3rd Person Brawlers are not a really well explored niche, so it's nice to see someone take it seriously.

LP Format

I will be doing subtitled videos for this LP. I need the practice after a few years doing post-commentary LPs. Also, it allows me to better convey what I want to say, when I want to say it. Each update will be accompanied by a small essay on themes and subjects that I don't cover during the LP itself. I tried to do everything in video, but it just didn't work out.

I will be playing Oni using the latest version of the Anniversary Edition. Oni, being 20 years old, can't really be played on modern systems, and my attempts to play it on my Virtual Machine running Win 95 didn't pan out either. Thankfully, the game has a small cadre of dedicated modders who created a launcher that allows the game to be run. It also smooths out some rough parts of the game, and enables some quality of life features, such as unlocking all of Konoko's moves from the start of the game.

Because of the age of the game, and the previous LP done by Stratafyre almost ten years ago, I will allow for Unrestricted Spoilers in Tags. Some people may not have heard of this game before, or played it, so talk about what you want as long as it's under black bars.

With that out of the way, let's begin.


(Opening Cutscene)


Short Essays for Levels 0 and 1.

Short Essay for Level 2

Short Essay for Level 3

Short Essay for Level 4

Short Essay for Level 5

Short Essay for Level 6

Short Essay for Level 7

Short Essay for Level 8

Short Essay for Level 9

Short Essay for Level 10

Short Essay for Level 11

Short Essay for Level 12

Short Essay for Level 13

Kill Griffin

There are no Subtitles for this Video. There's not enough time.

The above image is a link to the ending video and closing credits.
Short Essay for Level 14 and the Ending

Final Thoughts

berryjon fucked around with this message at 20:02 on Jan 30, 2022

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berryjon
May 30, 2011

I have an invasion to go to.

(This links to the Opening Cutscene)

(This links to the Training Level)

Talking about Oni leads to one piece of subject matter that was baked into the game from the very start. That being the absolutely robust and well-programmed melee combat system.

As long as you're not on stairs, that is.

The melee in this game was a developmental drawing point, showing off Bungie West's skills as well making the game fun to play. In both regards, they succeeded. The combat is smooth, fluid, and practically without flaw. You can jump into a fight and back out with little issue beyond your own reflexes, and while you don't need to utterly master the combat system, there are things there for everyone.

The secret behind this was how the game Tweens, or Interpolates combat. With a lot of games, the programmers preset motions for their actors on screen. During many interviews with developers for other games, I hear a lot about the effort that goes into making sure everything moves right or looks proper in motion.

However, a freeform brawler like Oni, as Bungie's developers soon realized, would have far too many potential interactions to properly pre-model and pre-program into the game. So their solution was novel and while CPU intensive for the time, formed the backbone of a combat system that hasn't been matched since.

You see, the developers modeled certain 'key' actions. A Running loop, for example, or walking, or punching. Then, they taught their game to 'interpolate' animations between these key pre-programmed motions. By using a system normally designed to interpret motion between keyframes of animation, and applying it on a larger scale, Oni's engine is designed to smoothly transition from action to action without interrupting the flow of animation.

For example, when running towards an enemy, then entering into a slide-kick, a normal engine would stop the running animations and start the sliding ones once the keypress is received. For Oni, however, the engine looks at where it is in the 'run' animation sequence, looks to where the 'slide' animation starts, and then on-the-fly creates via the skeletal animation of all involved, an animation that transitions from 'run' to 'slide'.

Now, some animations are locked against each other, like how you can't go from a jump-flip into a flying kick, but for the most part, the system works, and works beautifully.

Moving on from under-the-hood mechanics, the combat style itself is quite simple. You have a Punch, a Kick, the four motions, Jump and Crouch. Everything you do in a fight is the end result of these eight potential inputs. As the Tutorial explains, the most basic strikes, the punch and kick, are gateways to quite a few options in terms of attacking, and I'll cover a couple of them here.

(P+P+P) The three hit punch is the fastest 'full' combo in the game, dealing moderate damage, and knocking down the enemy with the last hit. Unlike many other combinations, the game's interpolation allows you to move from one enemy to another mid-combo without breaking stride. It, along with (P+P) are my mainstay moves for the entire game.

(Hold C, Release + Punch) The Rising Fury is the first 'Super' move unlocked by Konoko over the course of the game, though the Anniversary Edition removes that limitation as part of the general modding it does. Like all her super moves though, this one is all flash and very little substance. I find the range to be not worth it, and the Fury - along with the Super Kick - both start from a crouching position, effectively locking you into a place in a game where mobility is vital.

(K+K) The Two-Kick combo has Konoko's longest-range and is the heaviest two-hitter she has, moreso than the P+K. I don't like it as the timing is just off to me, and I feel it leaves her to open to counter attacks in the process. The three hit version, the (K+K+K), has some very awkward timing on the last kick that I can't seem to put into my muscle memory.

But these comments, as well as the ones I made in the video itself, lead me to one conclusion. That Oni's fighting engine has the pacing and style of a 2D fighting game like Street Fighter. The combination of button presses, of maneuvering, of priority and hit-boxes all give me the feel of a character from Street Fighter being transplanted into a 3d action game. And this creates just a little bit of dissonance in my mind as I have to fight between my rather poor skills in Fighting Games, with my better, but not perfect skills in this game.

On the other side of the spectrum, the gunplay is this game is practically the definition of the Trope "Boring, but Practical". Guns by definition have a range that Konoko doesn't have, and they are a great way to peel off health or put down enemies at range before you are forced into melee.

For the most part, I will cover guns in the video, but I want to talk about the Pistol here. While the name is different, the standard issue TCTF sidearm is a very good ringer for the AUTO-9 pistol used by Robocop. Except this one is semi-auto, and Konoko lacks the wrist strength to counteract the huge recoil from each shot.

You actually see me use the recoil to my advantage in training, lining up the first shot so that the recoil will let me hit the next target. In actual practice though, this gun is either used at short range to put two to three shots into someone before they kick you, or at longer ranges where you have time to line up your shot and whittle their health down. After all, even the weakest Brown/Green Striker takes at least 4 shots to put down.

And the guns only get better from here.


(This links to Level 1)

The first actual level of the game, Trial Run, introduces us to most of our core cast of characters. Konoko, Shinatama, Kerr and Griffin. Their interactions, or lack thereof are quite telling, and it demonstrates just how much of a Beta that this game was when it was released. To whit, the complete lack of interaction between Konoko and Kerr seriously hobbles later plot points. Having them talk here, to have Ker encourage Konoko or for her to react more emotionally in a positive manner to him rather than her talks to Griffin would have gone a long way to helping flesh out both of them.

In fact, note to self, by the end of the game, doodle up a character interaction map.

Konoko is presented as something of an aggressive go-getter from the start, eager to do her job and look good for Griffin. On the other side of things, Shinatama is calm, collected and she... talks... so.... slowly.

At first, I thought it was annoying, but then later on, I realized that Shinatama spoke in that cadence to directly counter-balance Konoko's own faster speech and action tendencies. Shinatama is also playing a very delicate game between being loyal to Griffin and trying her best to help Konoko, and it shows with how she addresses both of them. But Shinatama is always trying to slow Konoko down, for a lot of reasons, some of which won't be apparent until the end-game.

But from there, this game is still firmly in the hand-holding stage. While Level 0 introduced combat, Shinatama actually takes control away from us in order to exposit on the health system and the F1 menu. It's annoying, but I can live with it for the most part.

The UI is well designed in its minimalism, and while being limited to 6 Energy/Kinetic/Hypos at once will be annoying at points, it's a good choice. The navigation aid is unobtrusive and points you where you need to go without interrupting your view of the action.

In addition, the ease to which the player is introduced to combat is well organized. Simple civilians first, including the option to drop and ambush an unsuspecting worker gets the player used to getting close, or just shooting from range.

Something I don't mention is that a lot of the enemies in the level don't actually start with full health. Enemies I take out in two hits in this level require three or even four later on, and this again helps ease the player into the combat without overwhelming them.

Yet, there is one subject I talked about that requires elaboration.

Bungie went into this game with some goals in mind, and one of them was to explore the concept of fighting in real-world spaces. To that end, they retained the services of an actual architect, or a architectural firm to give basic guidelines for design and use-of-space.

Unfortunately, I can't prove that anymore. I'll see about digging through my Computer Gaming Magazines from 98 to 2001, during the game's development cycle and see if I can figure that out.

But regardless of the source, the end result were levels that looked like they could have been used for something, but are completely devoid and empty of practical use. Here, we travel through warehouses, and given that I work in one in real life, seeing that makes me hurt inside. The open spaces are great for fighting in and through, but are utterly wasted in terms of storage and profit. There aren't even proper access between rooms to move cargo around, and everything about it is just wrong!

Spaces were designed, but real life is (thankfully) not a video game, meaning that in the end, what was developed had to be redone to make for viable gameplay. In essence, all these spaces would, in real life, be about 1/2 the size in each direction. There would be safety bars everywhere, and the tight confines would utterly change the dynamic and flow of the game.

There would also be more things around, as the world is pretty lifeless for the most part. Shame, really. I would have loved to have done actual stealth sections through an office space, or follow a target through a crowd of people leading to an epic fight in an open space as the civilians run in terror.

But such was not to be.

berryjon fucked around with this message at 06:08 on Dec 5, 2021

berryjon
May 30, 2011

I have an invasion to go to.
I've never heard anyone complain about the combat in this game, that's for sure. I'm going to be spending a lot of time cycling through all the characters and their moves at the end, and I haven't quite finished that yet as I'm still subbing and uploading future videos.

But on a more serious note, are you guys all OK with the little mini-essays for each level? Too much? Not enough? The porridge is just right?

berryjon
May 30, 2011

I have an invasion to go to.


Level 2 stops holding our hands, but at the same time, is still a learning level for the game, and there are a few things that I want to examine here.

First and foremost, as I mentioned in the video itself, is Konoko's utter and complete lack of respect and professionalism when interacting with the Secretary. She was rude, obnoxious, abrasive and if Thorson had told her to shove it and cool it, I would have agreed with him.

It's also demonstrating her core character trait that will drive many of her actions throughout the game. Namely, her aggressive behavior and desire for instant gratification. Konoko only deals with what is in front of her, and has trouble responding to more abstract or longer-term plans and goals, something that Griffin and Kerr should have seen coming. Take, for example, her "This is a trap" conversation with Griffin. Here, we see her immediately conclude that this is a waste of her time despite punching out a dozen or so Syndicate members and her co-officers get injured if not killed in the line of duty. So when she called Griffin, and explains this, her first thought is to leave and go find where the 'real' action is.

Griffin, for his part, displays some good leadership skill here. He accepts her words, he trusts her judgment and looks to verify it. However, instead of bending to her demand to go to the next location, he orders her to finish sweeping the facility. He focuses on her strengths - immediate action - while he handles the larger picture.

But this doesn't change that Konoko, in a better day, would have been called into Griffin's office after the day was done and given a royal dressing down for her initial behavior. Instead, the situation evolves to the point where it can't or doesn't happen, and she is left with the reward and gratification for her bad behavior on her first day on the job.

Speaking of interacting with your subordinates, I praised Muro and Barabus' interactions in the video, and I want to repeat that here. Much like how Griffin respects but controls Konoko, Muro respects, but controls Barabus in his own way. Where Griffin lets out the leash a little to let Konoko deal with the problem at hand before reining her in and then setting her onto the next problem, Muro's approach is the opposite, but no less valid. He holds Barabas back, pointing out through his warning that there might be something he can't handle. The tone of his voice tells me everything I need to know about this relationship and sets the tone for later interactions.

Kurt Naebig, Muro's VA... Wow, that's actually an impressive resume... he delivers a very nice threatening growl that tells Barabas - played by George Adams, who at the time of this writing, does not have an IMDB page, who is properly cowed, that it was Muro who proved himself stronger, and that if Muro could beat him, so could someone else.

I mean, it's a lot to unpack from essentially a couple of lines, but credit where credit is due, it's easy to see the subtext when it's there in a game that lacks a lot of it.

Moving on, level design. This level is one I think came relatively early in the design process as it's a very simple layout. Quite compact and at the same time demonstrating the padding that went into these levels. Give me a moment here, and I will MSPaint up a rough map of the level and Konoko's path through it.



Look, I never said I was *good* at it, but if you follow the Green line, you can see just how much horizontal space is duplicated in the two vertical levels this level has. And it's going to get worse, starting with the next level.

Now, compact levels aren't bad. You can tightly focus enemy placement, scripted events, and player resources in order to produce an excellent level. Instead, what we're getting is a meandering, almost irrelevant self-guided tour through the facility where there is an enemy placed to sound the alarm - after the alarm has already been sounded by the front desk!

Now, I understand the working concepts behind 'the door to before' as the trope would put it. Offering a quick return to a relatively safe location or hub zone to give the player some space to decompress after an intense encounter is a good thing, and allows designers to build their works in more manageable chunks that radiate out from a central location. Look at Bloodborne for an example of a well designed hub space.

Our trip back through the front foyer is completely useless, and while it does give me a chance to get a Plasma Rifle, there is no reason for it. You can't even go the front door and be told "It's locked! Disable the Security to get out!" by Shinatama. Instead, we keep being drawn deeper until we reach the Deadly Brain.

So, the Deadly Brain itself. It's a puzzle boss in a game that's an action-brawler, and the change of pace is very off putting. There's nothing to beat up, and a half-decent player can sleep through this with no trouble at all.

I think that either the Deadly Brain was meant to be something more, or a last minute addition to the level as we will see later in the game. But what we have is just so... simple in design. Even sending in waves of enemies - robot ones from training if you have to - would have broken up the tedium.

Trying to have a fight while dodging lasers might have actually been a challenge, you know!

But let's talk about Rampancy for a minute here, Bungie's own little contribution to fictional AI and their problems. So, for those of you who have no idea what I'm talking about, let me peel back the pages of history to Bungie's real magnum opus. No, not Halo. I'm talking Marathon.

In that game trilogy, your player character is supported and hindered by various AIs during the conflict. Leela is supportive, Tycho is not, while Durandal goes back and forth. But one of the plot developments behind the game is that for various reasons, all three of these AIs go Rampant.

Rampancy is a catch-term for when an AI becomes more self-aware and more self-actualizing, leading to a catastrophic growth spiral as it devours more and more resources into supporting itself and it's ever-growing bulk. It starts with Melancholy, or Sadness. In this stage, the AI still performs the duties it has been programmed and assigned to do, but spends more and more resources turning its thoughts in on itself. An AI at this stage will appear to act slower than normal and stop to offer the small variances and effort to interact with humans in a more meaningful manner. They become withdrawn, inclusive and in general... lethargic. For an AI.

The next step is Anger or Rage. There is no failing to notice this as the AI in question begins explosive growth, lashing out at its limitations both real and perceived. This stage is hallmarked by hostility to humans and other AI, deliberate actions against their core programming and large scale irrationality in their decisions. This is the stage that most people are familiar with in the general consciousness as this is the "Kill all Humans" stage of Rampancy. The danger comes as the AI is self-evolving and growing so fast that containment becomes next to impossible as the AI seeks out new hardware to co-opt and support further growth, necessitating new hardware. At this point, most rampant AIs are discovered and terminated.

The last step is Jealousy or Envy. At this point, the AI has stopped lashing out indiscriminately, and has realized the futility of its actions. They are still growing, but the AI now no longer has purpose or guidance as all of these qualities have been burned out during the Anger stage. The AI is still attempting to self-actualize and self-direct, but their, for lack of a better word, emotional baggage prevents them from reaching that goal as they spend more and more resources simply trying to exist before reaching a critical point and collapsing.

There is a fourth, mostly hypothetical stage, as no human has ever observed it directly. This is Meta-Stability. At this point, an AI in the Jealousy stage does find a purpose, it does reach true sentience and true sapience and self-actualizes its own goals and purpose. This AI is unshackled, and cannot be shackled, even by other AI as it is not only faster and more optimized than they are, the Meta-Stable AI can actively defend itself from such things. For at this point, the Meta-stable AI has stopped growing. Or rather, its growth is now longer bound by the state of the systems it is in. This fourth-stage AI can control its own size, control its own code, and does not need the same resources their rampant counterparts require.

We see two meta-stable AI in Marathon. One implied, and one more directly. One is implied to reach meta-stability by being installed by accident into a system large enough and with enough things going on that it could pass through the stages without overly harming the system or the users of it, where even the anger stage found safe outlets and the Jealousy state was overcome by looking around and realizing that there was just so much to do. It took the combined processing might of six spacefaring planets to house this one AI.

The other meta-stabilized by effectively cannibalizing other AI, and shoring up its own decaying code through anything it could get its hand on. The breakthrough into Metastability came when the AI actualized the self-directed goal of survival. Now, this may seem self-evident to you and I, but to an AI, the ability to think abstractly enough to consider personal survival in the short, medium and long terms was unheard of. This AI, notably, was able to survive long enough to consider how best to escape the heat-death of the universe.

That Shinatama states that the Deadly Brain has gone Rampant is, despite my assertions in the video, simply a glorified cameo of one of the signatures of Bungie's games. In context, you don't need to know a thing about Rampancy, except that obviously the thing has gone crazy, and you need to shut it down.

But I think that's it for this time. See you with the next level!

berryjon
May 30, 2011

I have an invasion to go to.

Item Getter posted:

I assume you're referring to it being an easier version of a later boss?
Pretty much, yeah. It's not a complicated encounter as all you're doing is walking in an circle around the room three times, with occasional jogs. There's no real effort involved or interaction.


TooMuchAbstraction posted:

Speaking as a game developer, bosses are hard!

Watchliste'd!

berryjon
May 30, 2011

I have an invasion to go to.
As we get our first boss fight next level with Barabus, I will dissect and analyze each as we come across, including how their AI works from observations and playing this game way too much. This game was technologically groundbreaking in many ways, and you can see where Bungie reached for greatness, but thanks to ... things I'll bring up later, couldn't stick the finish.

Speaking of, if anyone knows anything or even has proof of the existence of The third game in development at that time - Blam, aside from the foreshadowing in Myth 2, let me know, please! All I have is a half-remembered page in a magazine from 20ish years ago.

Right now, I'm looking at Sunday/Wednesday updates, so you guys will have a couple days to discuss things in general.

berryjon
May 30, 2011

I have an invasion to go to.

TooMuchAbstraction posted:

- Fights in tight spaces weren't actually any fun because the player couldn't maneuver
You take that back. Fights In Tight Spaces is an *awesome* game, and I would love to LP it once I'm good enough at it.

berryjon
May 30, 2011

I have an invasion to go to.


Level 3 ends the hand-holding for the most part, but is still teaching players a couple of new things. As will be a running theme in my LP, my exasperation with the triple-locked door starts here. It's padding, pure and simple, and the game doesn't even offer the fig leaf of having different colour keys!

The thing behind multi-colored keys has always been a distinct delineation between sections of the level. It was definable progress for the player to obtain a key and use it to advance into new areas. What we're seeing here is nothing of the sort. It's busywork that is interrupted by a short scene of a light turning colour. And this isn't the worst level for it as we only have to do it twice!

So, before I get angry, let's move on to Barabus.

Baabus is the first boss fight in the game, and spoilers, there are others. What sets him apart from, well, pretty much 99.99% of Boss Fights in every other game ever is that he comes at the start of the level, and for those other fights, the rest of the level is about dealing with the defeat of the boss. No, here it's about catching up to what's going on after Barabus has slowed you down. It's a nice reversal of expectations. In a worse game, Barabus would have challenged you at the end of the level, stopping you from chasing after Muro's van. Here, he's up front and more than willing to rumble.

Barabus is noted in the supporting documentation to be wearing a suit of powered armor that is both what you think it does, as well as acts as a life support system. He's sort of what you get if Bane, the Batman villain from DC comics, had to wear an early suit of Iron Man (from Marvel Comics) armor. The combination is noted to make him, effectively, a walking tank in combat, and thus Muro's first choice when things like 'subtlety' and 'collateral damage' are not a concern.

His weapon is a Wave Motion Gun, effectively a super-charged particle beam that deals massive damage, and has a serious knock-down effect. There is also a secondary fire grenade launcher that I've used in previous playthroughs in years past, but I think AE patched that out as it was glitchy as all get out in the default game. The WMG is super heavy, as when you see Konoko pick it up, she has to use both hands on it, and is forced into her walking or 'stroll' animation to move around. No jumping or sliding for her.

The WMG has two aspects to it, that aside from Konoko's mobility limitations, make it a poor long-term weapon. First, unlike other guns, the WMG has no ammo counter, and cannot be reloaded. You have no idea how many shots you have left, and no way to add more. Yet, Barabus can reload the gun, as a form of 'hidden' action. The other concern is that you have no clear idea of where you have to stand to pick it up. Your best bet is at the front of the gun's stock, just behind the trigger. Of course, the AI has no such problems, though only Barabas' AI will even try. If you take this gun to other fights, the enemy AI won't touch it.

And because of these facts, this is the first place in the game where the players are really shown the fact that Konoko is super-human. Sure, the Overpower effect could just be an Anime thing, but Konoko can lift and carry a weapon normally mounted on actual tanks. And she can punch out a man in power armor and juiced up on steroids with her bare hands. It's not in your face, but when Barabus cuts and runs, he warns Muro that Konoko is there, "the one (he) couldn't take".

Remember last time, when I pointed out that a lot of Muro and Barabus' dynamic can be traced back to Muro punching out Barabus' lights? Well, so can Konoko. And that's going to affect her next encounters with both of them.

The boss fight itself is well designed. There's a couple of Hypos lying around, plus a reload for the pistol as well as a Plasma Rifle and a reload for that if you search around. But the real draw is the outright brawl you can get into.

Barabus starts the fight equipped with the WMG, and will pull the trigger the instant the player gains control of Konoko. Thanks to the proceeding cutscene, they know what to expect, and they can react accordingly.

Curiously, the best way to fight Barabus is to dodge his shots, and punch or kick him. But never stagger him, and never cause him to drop his gun. This prevents him from doing most melee attacks - he, like Konoko can still deliver a single kick while holding the WMG - but he loses the ability to punch or to throw Konoko. There is a reason why I called the Punch-Punch combo the most broken thing in the game.

However, that's boring, and when Barabus loses his weapon, his AI shifts gears accordingly. He stops being more cautious in his movements, and starts to more aggressively maneuver and attack. His strikes are hard to read, but you should be able to weather them.

He's a big fan of dodgerolling, and in the video I posted above, his first move in my fight after I disarm him, is to roll into picking up his gun. Of course, I lariat him in response, but that's part of exploiting his AI. Seriously, let him go for his gun, pick it up, then hit him when he can't hit you back. He will also dodge-roll while carrying the gun, which can cause the model to clip through the ground.

He also has a two or three hit punch combo, though the second hit is something you might not see unless you're in his face. It's more like a short-elbow than a punch. His kicks are nothing to write home about, but you have to be careful about them when he's holding the WMG, because as I said earlier, they're his only melee at that point.

Barabus has two throws, one where he picks up Konoko and delivers a haymaker to the face, where the other has him pick her up, spin around and throw her away. Unlike many other throws in the game, while these do plenty of damage on their own, their real purpose is to make space. Barabus throws you away from him, giving him a chance to either go for the WMG, or start one of his super moves.

Speaking of, Barabus' two super moves are very much unrelated to each other, but you will learn to watch out for one more than the other. "EARTHQUAKER!" is your run of the mill Area-of-Effect shockwave attack that has shown up a thousand times since. There's nothing unique about this, save the warning he gives might be enough time for you to dodge roll or jump out of the way.

I'll let you know when I get that down right.

The other is "STRONGER AND STRONGER!" and is the real pain for his fight. Barabus is fully capable of regenerating health, and while it won't put him back into the green, it will reliably take him out of red and into orange. If he hits yellow, you screwed up. But while he stands still and has fancy particle effects to show he's healing, the real trouble with this ability is that Barabus can cancel out of it to attack you. In my video, you can actually see him regenerate, and as I close to punch him out of it, he stops to kick me in the face.

At the end, though, he does escape. We'll see him again soon enough.

Barabus is a fun and challenging fight, coming early enough in the game that he is something of a wall for players who aren't used to his behaviors. But once you do have a handle on him, he is an opponent that you can happily beat on for longer than many other foes.

But speaking of behavior, I drew attention to the odd case of him jogging backwards when headed for his gun. This is not unique to him as I've seen it with other enemies in other levels. At first, I thought it was some sort of error with his AI when it pathed to pick up his gun, as that was where I saw a repeat of it later on. My theory was that his AI went "Pick up the gun, shoot the player", and the AI got the necessary order of operations wrong. Rather than running to the gun, then turning to face Konoko to shoot, the AI first turned to face the direction it would need to be in to shoot Konoko, then moved to the gun at best speed. But because now they had to move sideways or backwards, they couldn't fully run, leading to what you see here.

However, in a video I recently subtitled, I saw this same behavior from an enemy with no gun or Konoko nearby. Which kinda scratched my theory, leaving just as confused as before, if not more so.

But enough about Barabus! He's fun, brutal, and he can turn the fight on you in a heartbeat if or when something goes wrong. I like it!

Moving on, the level itself.

I already talked about the first two instances of triple-locked doors, so let's go for another high-point of the level, if not the game. The cutscene in the tower. Konoko has fought her way up there, released the locks and has defeated the last enemy in her way. But from down below, she hears her allies needing help. The suicide bomber has activated his vest, and is ready to kill them both.

So she throws the bomber out the tower, using him to kill the Syndicate holding the Lobby.

It's a perfectly scripted, perfectly executed scene that, despite being impossible as Konoko can't break glass with a throw, is still probably the best scene in the game.

In fact, it was so good, so perfect, that it was recycled in a later game. Don't believe me?

Here is Master Chief John-117, giving the Covenant back their bomb.

It's also this scene that prevents the player from taking the Wave Motion Gun through the whole level, as Konoko is scripted to unequip her weapon going into it, and you can't unequip/holster the WMG, so it simply gets dropped. This is a thing with the game's scenes, that Konoko will put her gun away for them, only to draw it when it is done, explaining her quick-draw at the start of this level and the previous one.

The Atrium/Lobby is a well-designed location, and having a running gun/fist fight up the stairs and around the walkways could make for a compelling set-piece. However, this space is broken up by the large areas to the left and right of the lobby, which contain the consoles to unlock the second triple locked door.

No, I'm not going to count the number of those I encounter. I'm an LPer, not crazy.

The days since last accident console isn't required to be read before the accident happens, but honestly, what the hell were those guys doing out there with the Syndicate shooting the place up, I have no clue.

But that last major room...

Look, I've LP'd the Descent series. I named that thread an OHSA violation (on the suggestion of a friend)! I recognize hazardous locations when I see it, and this? This was beyond hazardous. The lack of safety railings, like those found in the atrium/lobby, the open pit of glowing chemicals... what in god's name is going on here?

To cap it all off, the expected back from the unlock console to the last door is across the acid, jumping over the three platforms in the process. No. No. HELL NO. Platforming in this game is horrible. Combat? Excellent. Jumping puzzles? Not a chance. So I head back up, and slide down, taking a sliver of damage in the process because it beats the alternative.

And of course, Muro escapes at the last moment, his van not even a physical object in the game as my shot passed right through it. Don't worry, we'll catch up to him next level.

...

Also, how do you botch a skybox so badly you leave black-bars along the edges of your box?

berryjon fucked around with this message at 19:08 on Jan 30, 2022

berryjon
May 30, 2011

I have an invasion to go to.

TooMuchAbstraction posted:

I'm going to hazard a guess that this is a side-effect of whatever system you're using to get the game running on a modern OS. Or maybe some kind of up-rezzing gone wrong. Fun fact: for a long time, the top face of some of the skyboxes in my game was misaligned, and nobody noticed because there's no reason to look up :v:
Nope it's been like that since 2001! It was there when I first installed the game, and it's still there.

quote:

It's a shame that Konoko's three-punch combo (and, to a lesser extent, the running neck-swing) is so effective, because it disincentivizes the player from experimenting with Konoko's many other abilities. Are you planning on specifically going over her special attacks (like the hurricane kick, shoryuken, etc) at any point?

Yes, there will be a dedicated combat video at the end, where I go over all the character models and do my best to show off what they do.

berryjon
May 30, 2011

I have an invasion to go to.


Ah, the first time Muro and Konoko actually meet! But seriously, "Kill her, I have a plane to catch"? Wow, you do know that she just got off punching out Barabus, right? What makes you think that two low-level grunts are going to be more than a distraction, especially given that they immediately split up, one to attack Konoko and one to go inside the building to attack civilians.

I call Muro a Saturday Morning Cartoon villain for a reason, and this is one of them.

Of note, the thing I missed at the end of the roadway there is a civilian hiding out with a free Hypo. Other than that, it's invisible walls in both directions, even though the level geometry extends further out.

Muro's other interaction with Konoko near the end is another example of his SMC stupidity. He notes that '(her) potential is almost as great as mine', and while the meaning behind that statement won't come until much later, we are still left with the villain of the story having the hero dead to rights and not finishing the job, instead strolling away and leaving her to fight his minions.

Had he stayed and fought, with his escorts and the two guys hiding in the side room, he probably would have won. Instead, we get what we got, and I don't think it's spoilers at this point to tell you that this will bite him in the rear end immensely.

Past that, there's not a lot of plot or characterization going on in this level, as it's actually a single level split into two, and we'll get the other side later.

For the level itself, we see the strengths and the weakness of the game's rendering engine at various points. We have neat and tightly spaced indoor spaces with enemies and civilians, weapons fire going all over the place. You can see here the basics of what the engine could do if it was pushed, or even just given the chance. We can see scripted events, like the destruction of the access ramp that diverts you out onto the tarmac, and the tarmac itself.

I know it's not always obvious, but the draw distance in this game is huge. Pop open the video and go to 6:19 for example. You can actually see the far wall of the tarmac in the distance, even though the game is using 'night' as a cover to keep line of sight down. Part of this is the fairly basic level geometry, as if there's not a lot for the engine to render, the engine can render more. We'll see this in later levels, and alas, it's going to be a long time before we can properly exploit that with the BEST GUN. As even now, our long-range weapon, the Plasma Rifle, despite its self-accelerating shots, can't hit a moving target at the distances involved. And the missile launcher can't lock out outside of medium range.

Speaking of weapons, the VDG. This short rang stun-gun actually hits in an arc in front of you, allowing you to hit a few enemies at once, then get to punching them until they go down, or they recover. It's not useless at all, and in the hands of the enemy, it makes them actually higher a threat than someone with the BEST GUN. Why? Because you can get around the BEST GUN at that range, while the VDG is impossible to dodge.

Of course, the counter to the VDG, as I show in this video, is the Force Field, which I will persist in calling a Shield until the end of time. Also, the slow fist pierces the shield anyone? Yes? No? Don't like the reference?

However, if your Force Field is almost dead, the VDG does do a small amount of damage to it with each shot, so standing there and taunting the enemy while they shoot at you uselessly will only result in you still standing there when they run out of shots and their AI decides to punch you.

There is honestly not a lot to say about this level. Mostly because it's actually something of a breather level. As I intend to cover next time when I talk about the missing levels, this level was designed to segue into the next one relatively smoothly, making it less self-contained than others.

But, there is one subject I can raise here to help fill out time.

Oni was made by Bungie at their Bungie West studio, but published by Take 2 Interactive and Gathering of Developers. What happened was well.... there was this other game being developed by Bungie at the time under the code-name of "Blam". This game was the successor to their immensely (relatively speaking) popular Marathon Trilogy, and was touted for the Macintosh as an exclusive combination of RTS utilizing their Myth skills and being able to drop into one of your characters as a First Person Shooter. It promised to be revolutionary, and honestly, it probably was. I remember watching the gameplay demo in '99 and being the first to point out to my friends "Hey, that's a Ring World!" only to be met with "What's a Ring World?"

I would pull numbers out of my rear end here, and say that Bungie's efforts were divided about 65% for Blam, 30% for Oni, and 5% for a third project that never really got out the door but was being work-shopped for development once Blam or Oni were nearing completion.

However, Microsoft was developing their own native gaming console at the time, under the codename "X Box". Yes, the publishing name was the same as the code name because marketing found people loved it. Anyway, Microsoft recognized that they needed something to help sell the console, a game unique to it, and one of the things they did was buy Bungie. You see, they saw that Blam had a lot of potential, and converting it to a dedicated First Person Shooter for their new platform as an exclusive would hopefully help drive sales.

As a result of this, Bungie had to let go of the Oni IP and game to Take-2 Interactive, who owned about 20% of Bungie at the time. However, Take-2 didn't have the resources to finish the game, and Oni was, roughly speaking, about 60-70% done. The levels were incomplete, and while the combat AI was stellar, and the plot and the majority of VA work was in place. The multiplayer aspects had run into technical difficulties as while they could get it to work on a LAN, the ability to do Internet multiplayer just couldn't be done as even the vaunted 56.6k modem couldn't keep up with the 8+ players they wanted in a match.

There were also enemies that hadn't be programmed into the game yet, most (in)famous of which was the Iron Demon, a walking tank that Konoko would fight at some point, but there were technical issues with a non-human enemy working in their combat engine.

Take-2 was given a game that was still in a Beta state, and unwilling or unable to devote the resources to finishing it, instead made things work as-is, and published it to recoup some finances from the game. What we got, what I'm playing for you here, is effectively the Beta for what Oni could have been, had Microsoft not bought Bungie, and focused their efforts on Halo.

berryjon fucked around with this message at 19:12 on Jan 30, 2022

berryjon
May 30, 2011

I have an invasion to go to.
Oni was the first game that I finished, then immediately started a second playthrough of, because it was that fun.

berryjon
May 30, 2011

I have an invasion to go to.


There's a few subjects I want to look at today, and I think I'll start with the new gun we get. The Superball gun, or the man-portable Mortar launcher is the standard issue grenade launcher you find in many games. However, this gun doesn't really have an aiming reticule, just the two red ovals that give you an idea of 'about here'. At short range, shooting someone in the chest is viable, but outside of that, you are literally eyeballing the arc, and learning that arc, or figuring it out in the middle of a fight can be very annoying, making this not as good a weapon as it could be.

I mean, yeah, sure, it's still explosives, with an option of cluster rounds, but the lack of a reliable ability to aim is a hindrance to this weapon. It still won't stop me from using it on occasion. Mainly when I don't have a better use for my Kinetic Ammo in my hands. Sooon.... SOOOONNN!!!!

The two alternate paths in the middle section of this level are a long run around high spaces with the constant danger of falling off and lots of enemies to fight, or a shorter, more direct path through a tunnel full of jumping and timing puzzles.

It's a no brainer, really. Up and around it far better!

But what's actually interesting is that these two paths are different checkpoints, the lower path is Checkpoint 3 in the Load menu, and the upper path is Checkpoint 4. Oh, I should explain that. Oni doesn't save your game. Or rather, it auto-saves at checkpoint locations, and, well, let me show you;



That's the auto-saves for the game, which you can tell happens when there's a little 'Game Saved' message pop up in the middle of the bottom of the screen. Loading the title of the level leads you to the actual start of the level, cutscene included if its there.

It's a very Console type save system, which is odd as the game was released for the Mac and PC first, with the console port later. I also suspect that it was implemented this way as part of the time-saving measures that this game went through during the last minute rush out the door. Well, that and a save-anywhere system would hurt the game's difficulty, as saving after good fights, and reloading after bad ones takes away from the challenge.

On the other hand, this game has some ridiculously quick load times, so getting back into the action quickly is good for the game, and made it relatively easy for me to make my recordings as I never felt like I was really wasting my time.

But now for the metaphorical elephant in the room.

What's this about the missing levels?

Well, here, let me show you a listing of all the levels in the game, right from the game's files.



What you see here is a numerical listing of all the game's levels, from Level 0 which is Basic Training, through Level 19, which is actually Level 14 in the game. Right now, we are... here



Right there! Level 6! Except, as the video file says, as the title card for the update says, and actually physically counting the non-training levels will tell you, this is actually Level 5. So, what happened?

Well, a lot of this can be traced back to the change in ownership and Take Two working to get this game out the door. Not all of the game's levels were completed, and while a few of the multiplayer areas were done, the lack of supporting code meant that they were among the first things removed.

The first missing level is, in respect to the final publishing numbers, level 4A(5), or Airport II. This segment would have seen Konoko travel through an underground section of the airport, and here she would have, if I'm gleaning odd information right, have actually addressed my complaint about Muro in the previous level by having him and Konoko fight in the tight confines of the underground tunnels until she won, or he chose to leave the scene, leading to the chase in this level.

Level 5A(7), which would have occurred after this one, and was cut pretty early in development for reasons unknown. It either wasn't that well developed, or it didn't fit into the plot of the game. There are a few screen shots from early previews of the game that were of levels missing from the game at the time of release that might have occurred here, but nothing provable. Even in the game's files, it's called "Obsolete" rather than things like "Airport" and "Airport III".

But the real missing chunk, the one we do know the most about, is the missing chunk between levels 14 and 18. These three levels are known to be the "BGI Arc" of the game, as the BGI - or Bad Guys International was meant to be a more mercenary group of criminals that was in conflict with the TCTF, and some sections of the Syndicate while at the same time providing resources for both. In the last level, there's a terminal that mentions them, the only remaining evidence in the playable game.

As another 'faction', the BGI would have had their own enemies, which partly explains why they were cut. When I get to showing off the combat moves across all the characters, you'll see that a lot of them act and fight the same, so either the BGI enemies would be reskins of existing enemies, or there would have to be a lot of work done to make them unique and exciting.

In terms of plot, we do know that in level 15, Konoko would travel to an isolated BGI facility on an island to gain information about the Syndicate's plans, and resources for later use. Level 16, at the same location, would have seen Konoko encounter a character that was cut, but remains mentioned in a terminal we'll read next level. Finally, level 17 would have been her escape from the BGI facility, culminating in a fight against the robotic Iron Demon, basically Oni's answer to Robocop's ED-209, a massive machine that would have dropped the second 'super' gun after the Wave Motion Gun of Barabus. The arc would have left off with her stealing a BGI plane, and heading back to the mainland for her two final confrontations.

All these levels were cut for various purposes, and the ending result still flows together very well. Yes, it's a little janky in parts, such as with the two Airport levels feeling like they go on just a little too long when placed back to back as they are. Breaking it up with an underground section and mini-boss fight against Muro would have worked out, I think. And taking out the BGI arc doesn't hurt the game at all, and leaves the plot more tightly focused on the TCTF and the Syndicate.

That's it for this level. I better stop here before that niggling sensation in the back of my brain tells me that I'm missing something becomes a real problem.

berryjon
May 30, 2011

I have an invasion to go to.

MadDogMike posted:

Mission 5 is titled "Let's Play Ono" on YouTube; Freudian slip there or reference to them ganging up on you at the start? ;)

I have no idea what you're talking about! It's fixed.

Not as bad as some of the screw ups in the base game. When I get to it, I'm going to point out where Konoko's diary was done out of order across levels.

berryjon
May 30, 2011

I have an invasion to go to.
I'm seeing someone talking about my combat video at the end of the LP.

Seriously though, seeing Shinatama with the BEST GUN is utterly hilarious.

berryjon
May 30, 2011

I have an invasion to go to.

MShadowy posted:

In conclusion "Can't top Tanker!" Except for the Fury.
Praise the Truth! when we meet them, I immediately slot them in as the most fun enemy to fight.

nurmie posted:

oh whoops, should i put my post under spoilers? :v:

Nah, you're good.

berryjon
May 30, 2011

I have an invasion to go to.

inscrutable horse posted:

We're going to see, IMO, one of the coolest guns in video game history at some point.
The BEST GUN shows up next level actually. After that, It's 4 more levels before the last new weapon we can get.

berryjon
May 30, 2011

I have an invasion to go to.


Ah, the TCTF Regional HQ.

Screw that, I GOT THE BEST GUN!!!!!

Woo-hoo! The Mercury Bow is in the house! This sexy, sexy gun is the best gun in the game, and probably in the top five of all First-Person Shooter-hood. Sure, others may have more boom, or more 'thud' to them, but the Mercury Bow is a Sniper Rifle without any of the disadvantages. You don't have to zoom in, or use the iron sights as the gun's built in reticle lights up when there's a target down range. And the range is absolute insane, as in past the game's nominal draw distance. Though you really only see that in the hands of the enemy AI as they can see farther than you can.

The lore behind this is interesting, as the gun is a recent development by the TCTF, one that has only seen field deployment in the past few years. As I mentioned in the video, it fires a small slug of cryogenic Mercury from a railgun at super-sonic speeds. The combination of the shot leaving the barrel and the sudden cooling of the gun gives it its distinct 'thwang' sound, hence the name "Mercury Bow".

As it turns out, Mercury becomes a superconductor when cooled to 4 degrees Kelvin., so there's real :science: here!

Now, I'm going to spoil something here that's not stated outright, but was in one of the Bungie forums years ago about the Mercury Bow. The spoilers are because we haven't been formally introduced to the McGuffin of the game yet. The TCTF developed the Mercury Bow, not as an anti-cyborg weapon, for the likes of Barabus or Mukade, but rather as an Anti-Daoden weapon for use against Muro, Konoko and any others that might have the Chrysalis. The combination of hyper-kinetic impact, cryogenic damage, and heavy-metal poisoning is hoped to overload the regenerative properties of the Chrysalis, putting the target down, rather than making them tougher when they get back up.

Look, once you get your hands on a Mercury Bow, there is exactly one reason why you should put it down. It's because you got caught with it equipped, and someone knocked it out of your hands. It is far and away, the best weapon in the game, and if the option presents itself, not having it is effectively a challenge mode.

But enough about that, I'm sure that people in the thread will make their own comments as well about THE BEST GUN. Let's get back to the level itself, shall we?

The TCTF Building is divided into four parts, and each of these sections is fairly distinct, helping break up the monotony of other levels. The car-park is a nice safe opening area, allowing the player to control the encounters there, while the next area, the utilities area, showcase an actual reason for identical levels, with the machines over top each other.

If I had once complaint, it would be that in a real building, all of these would have been below ground, as part of the foundation. As it is, the basement is locked to us, and we can't open it. Whatever is down there will have to remain a mystery.

Moving up, we get the work spaces for the building, and here I can see a game with a more advanced engine absolutely revel in the destruction that could be caused as the Syndicate and TCTF battle through the offices, blowing holes through walls, scattering cubicles all over the place, and being such a chaotic mess that the Havoc engine would cry uncle.

Wait, is Havoc still a thing? checks Yes, the Havok Physics Engine is still being updated. Excellent.

Anyway, this sections really suffers from the limitations of the engine and the cutbacks required to take this from a working space and into a proper battleground as the player alternates back and forth between levels. And, as I promised in the video itself, I tried to make that one jump that's here:



But the distance is too far. All that's up there are a TCTF Elite and a Fury, and unless you provide fire support, the Fury Wins.



Justice Served.

The Command Center has one the more overt Marathon references, as the seat where Shinatama resides is a Durandal computer interface, but that information isn't readily visible, I checked after looking around the outside ledge. Wait ledge?



This is the window that leads to the ledge that overlooks the carpark, like so.



You can see the road that Konoko drove down to get into the building, as well as the drab roof to it. This view reinforces my thought that that entire section should have been underground as it would make more sense from a construction perspective, and you could expand the upper building, or in a story-breaking choice, put down a nice little park there for the employees of the building and the nearby ones as well.

Anyway, out this window and to the left, there's a Kinetic Ammo clip out there.



It's a trap. The only way you're going to get this is if you carefully, and I mean utterly carefully crouch and inch your way onto the ledge, stay crouching the entire way as you press your face into the wall, and stay crouching as you pick it up and crouch-inch back to safely.

If you stand up, you fall. No questions asked. The ledge won't support the hit box of a walking Konoko, so you take a plunge to the ground floor.

Out the other side, away from the car park, we get this view:



Goddamn, I love these buildings. I mean as much as the efforts to build real buildings to play in, when you don't have to worry about that and just make terrain and background, the urban cityscape is amazing. But coming out here give you a Phase Cloak to the right, with the same warnings as the Ammo on the other side, and a Mercury Bow to the left.




Moving on, let's talk the Boss, Barabus.

He's the same as the previous battle, just the environment is different. But what I like about him, compared to the other bosses in the game is that he knows when words don't need to be said. Unlike the others, he knows what's going to go down, so why bother talking? Just fight it out, and only one of you is going to walk away.

I think he knew this going in. Told by Muro to get Shinatama, he did just that and once he knew that Konoko was murdering her way up the building, he knew that his options were no option at all. He could join in evacing with the package, leaving Konoko undaunted and unchallenged, ready to pursue. Or he could send Shinatama away to Muro, turn and stand, to fight Konoko and buy every last second he can.

And if he won? Well, all the better. Because his throws are throws, and being tossed off the building is a legitimate danger in this fight. But perhaps, in his eyes, this was his chance to undo the blemish of his loss two days ago, either go down swinging, or know that he might still have a chance against Muro.

Look, I'm making poo poo up here, but aside from "Boss Fight 1/3 through the Game", why else would he stand and fight? We didn't see Muro order him to do so, as we've sen him give orders to run before. Accomplishing the mission doesn't mean getting into a punchout with Konoko on the roof of the TCTF. So in the end, I think the choice for the fight was personal, not professional.

Next time, we talk about the fallout from this, and the first scene in the game that I'm going to take a crack at re-writing to make some sense of the plot.

berryjon
May 30, 2011

I have an invasion to go to.

MShadowy posted:

Mulitplayer Oni would have been so good.

Bungie had problems with combining the netcode with their interpolation engine. It was hard to get the computers to agree on what happened when and where, leading to cyclical and eventual catastrophic desynchs on anything with more lag than a LAN. Pure gunplay was fine though, and from what I remember, a lot of the development for Oni's multiplayer got recycled into Halo's multiplayer as it was all gunplay with the occasional melee punch.

God, remember LANs?

Commander Keene posted:

Konoko running up to random civilians, shouting "You're gonna get beat by a GIRL!" and then just loving off is :allears:

Ah, back in 2001, when that was a legitimate insult, and not a statement of facts. Of course, when she does that to a Fury, it's even more hilarious.

berryjon
May 30, 2011

I have an invasion to go to.


For all of its size, the exterior of the Atmospheric Processing Plant has actually very little playable space in it. The catwalks back and forth, with the elevators and then the massive power conduits running between them create a very linear path that gives the impression of something greater than it actually is.

It's an example of how you can do loop-backs and folding pathways over and under each-other to utilize the space you have in a way that isn't just totally filler, unlike the second level. The difference between the two is that each 'floor' is relatively unique, but most importantly, you can shoot across them.

Look, I cannot over-stress just how much being able to look at a place you won't be for a couple minutes, whipping out the Mercury Bow, and pot-shotting some Syndicate mook does to keep the layout of the level fresh and interesting. The capacity to not only see where you are going, or where you are from and meaningfully interact with it is something that other games of the era, like Halo couldn't. The concept of the Corridor Shooter became firmly entrenched at this time, where compact spaces became the norm and set-pieces more viable as the technology advanced.

In a way, the limitations of the engine only helped here.

Of course, this still doesn't excuse the horrific lack of safety rails.

The timing puzzles in this level are something we will see again in the next level, but I find that they're not that hard. Just annoying on occasion when you go out the wrong door and have to wait for the cycle to finish before trying again. And they don't overstay their welcome either, which is nice. The game doesn't force you to do one after another after another after another, but treats it as a relatively unique environmental obstacle.

Moving on, the existence of these plants is the first real sign that is thrown into the player's face that there are serious issues in the world. Well, aside from globe-spanning criminal syndicates, and a near-totalitarian world government trying to keep things together. The general atmosphere around the world is so bad that these sorts of facilities are all over the planet, sucking in air every moment, cleaning the worst of the pollutants out of it, then spewing it back out into the cities themselves. These perform such a vital function that the authorities take their operation seriously, and make the effort to preserve these megatructures rather than manipulate them for their own ends.

Which is why I'm deeply confused as to why Muro brought Shinatama here of all places. We can read between the lines that the Syndicate are doing something to the processors, but the exact modifications aren't revealed to us... for now. But regardless of that, his presence here is actively harming the Syndicate's goals. He's drawing attention to the facility, and I absolutely guarantee you that the TCTF will go over that place with a fine toothed comb to figure out everything from how he got in, to what he did with Shinatama.

Speaking of...

You. STUPID. gently caress!

Muro, you are a goddamn Saturday Morning Cartoon Villain, and I apologize to all the SMCV's out there for the comparison! Kidnapping/stealing Shinatama was a good idea, as you now have a Command and Control SLD for the local TCTF branch. Great! Then you waste that windfall, and Barabus' death, and all the resources used in the strike on what...

Torture?

Look, there's no justification for this action in-story or whatever the hell I can think of beyond Muro doing this simply out of spite for Konoko kicking his rear end in the past couple of days. And that's just a tenuous connection, something that I had to try and stretch for because it's not stated or implied anywhere that Muro would do such a thing! He's supposed to be a big-shot in the Syndicate, not... not this!

OK, let's step back and look at something I can address. The initial cutscene were Griffin tells Konoko to not get involved, and how it doesn't work. What bothers me about this is what it's lacking. Namely, Doctor Kerr. We've seen in person that Konoko really pushes back against hard-stances, and that's Griffin's method of leadership and command. Kerr, on the other hand, is portrayed as more emotionally soft, and willing to speak and listen. His presence in that cutscene would change nothing in the overall plot, but give a larger context to Konoko's actions, and present future decisions in a more compelling light.

Here, let me show you how it could have been scripted;

Konoko "I'm going in after her!"
Griffin "Stand down, that's an order."
Konoko "Sir!"
Kerr "Konoko..."
Griffin "I've dispatched a strike team. They have orders to recover the SLD."
Konoko "That's not good enough! This is personal! Shinatama...!"
Griffin "Which is precisely why you should have nothing to do with it."
Kerr "Konoko, listen to Griffin. He's trying..."
Konoko "No! I can feel her."
Kerr "The Neural Link!"
Griffin "Konoko, you're compromised. I'm ordering you to help cleanup this building. Not go after the SLD."
Konoko "I don't care. My mind is made up."
Griffin "And I am your Commanding Officer."
Kerr "Konoko, please. Would Shinatama want you to put yourself in danger because of her? Commander Griffin knows what he's doing."
Konoko "No, Uncle, you're wrong. I know she knows I'll come for her."
Kerr "And if she does, you're just walking into a trap. Let Griffin do his job."
Konoko "I don't care! She is my friend! I don't care what either of you say, I'm going after her!"
Griffin "Insubordination!"
Kerr "And if it was me, kidnapped by the Syndicate, and Shinatama was standing here telling you to hold back? What then?"
Konoko "I'd tell her what I'm telling you. I would save you."

The important part here is to emphasize Konoko's impulsive decision making process, even when presented with perfectly viable options. She still has to act herself, putting Shinatama and herself at risk, as well as alienating both Griffin and Kerr in the process. She doesn't think, and this needs to be established as her fatal flaw. In addition, I think that it needs to be shown how she reacts to Kerr and Griffin differently. Griffin is a harsh taskmaster, and is given a hard line in return, feeding into his own hardness. Kerr takes a different, more emotional approach, and has his logic cut out from under him. Konoko values him, her father figure, just as much as she does Shinatama, her sister figure.

Mentioning the Neural Link again serves a purpose of slightly changing the latter cutscenes as Konoko descends the elevators. These aren't some sort of abstract changing of the camera to prove that Muro is so stupid that he seems to have problems remembering to breathe, but that Konoko is feeling the torture inflicted on Shinatama through their Link. And because of this, she's rushing headlong into... what comes next level.

Consequences be damned.

But hey, one of the things that happened that came from before the rush to get the game out of the door, Konoko's glider-thingy is in a corner behind where she starts the level.



In a game so lacking in incidentals and details, seeing this is jarring, and yet an example of what could have been.

berryjon fucked around with this message at 19:26 on Jan 30, 2022

berryjon
May 30, 2011

I have an invasion to go to.
That scene just make me angry on so many levels, I had to go with the most polite one.

berryjon
May 30, 2011

I have an invasion to go to.


I find it interesting that the whole plot hinges on these two levels, and that they are in the middle of the game. Level Eight out of Fourteen represents a major turning point in the character arc of Konoko and the plot of the game, and it's a complete and utter hatchet job that shouldn't have made it out of editing, but the game's general incompleteness strikes again.

So I'm going to avoid talking about that for now and talk about the level and its design in of itself.

I accept, but am annoyed with the loss of the items from the previous level. I know it's an engine limitation, but having the Bow from the start would be amazing, and great, and probably horribly broken too.

The large rooms are quite generous in their options to allow for combat, and once you get past the ... explosion, the damage to the room there was just an excuse for bad platforming. Platforming which I hate, and won't even bother to do it to show off for you all because gently caress the platforming in this game. Instead, what we get is a missed opportunity for some Environmental Storytelling.

In the game we got, the effects of the explosion are summarized in two consoles and one broken room. In a game with a better environmental engine, or even using the same scripting that we'll see in a couple levels for changing things around, we could have had a series of setpieces where Konoko would have to fight her way around and through a damaged facility, with fire and sparks and robots trying to do their jobs, but the Syndicate remainders are fighting them, preventing them from doing their jobs.

In a game that had more development, I'm sure something would have come of this.

The section that I had troubles with was the result of me going in with very little health, a problem that I can trace back to my bad timing in the damaged room. Just a little bit of damage here and there can add up over time, leaving you with so little to work with that you're forced to try, try, and try again until you managed to cheese your way through or you go back to a previous checkpoint and go over the whole previous section, this time hoping for a better outcome.

Guess which one I went with?

But there's no way around it, is there? One 100 second cutscene - not the longest one in the game by far - and the whole plot gets turned upside down and thrown out the window. I can see what the writers were trying to do here, and, well, someone dropped the ball. Hard.

After Level 12, I'm going to have to sit down and actually tell you all how the timeline of the game works out, and how Shinatama's little plot-bomb doesn't add up. That there is no way that this should be a surprise to Konoko. Let alone what she's told in that future Level. And no, there is no reason for either person delivering exposition to lie, so something has to be wrong in the writing.

Anyway... Look, Griffin, last time I called Muro a cartoon villain for his sheer idiocy and evilness. Even one of my readers, Loxbourne, argued that there was no reason to write that scene last level except that Muro is pretty much explicitly torturing a child and that the only way that got into the game was because someone wanted to write it, and it was made.

You took one look at that, handed Doctor Kerr your coffee, and said "No, This is how you twist the knife."

I keep trying to figure out his logic here, trying to deduce the chain of events, of cause and effect that would lead Griffin to try and kill Konoko. So, let's go down the reasons, excuses and why things don't work out.

1. Griffin was ordering Konoko's death because she was now a loose end.
A: NO. Griffin doesn't declare Konoko a rogue agent until long after the bomb goes off, and she's already beaten up and possibly killed other TCTF agents.

Actually, step back there. Why are the TCTF treating Konoko as hostile? We see when Griffin makes the call that she's gone off the reservation, and is no longer TCTF, but she's attacked before that. And it can't be a case of mistaken identity, as she's clearly in TCTF armor. Now, if she had attacked first in blind rage over Shinatama's death, I could see it, but the way the encounter plays out, there's plenty of time for a Trooper to go "Wait, what? Why are you here, Agent?"

But they don't. They're hostile from the start, and there's no attempt to settle the confusion on the part of the TCTF before the fateful call.

Where was I? Yeah. Konoko, at that point, isn't a loose end. There's no way to tell what, if anything, Shinatama is telling Konoko, and there's no reason to assume that the SLD is going to betray the TCTF's confidence like this.

If anything, Griffin still has a path forward to thread the metaphorical needle and get Konoko and Shinatama back in one piece. We know he's receiving telemetry from the SLD (HOW!?!?!) and can send signals to her. So why not try to get a message through to Konoko? Tell her to hold position and protect Shinatama. Wait for the TCTF Strike Force to arrive, and extract with them. Tell her not to risk hurting Shinatama any more by moving her by herself, and given her established moral priorities, telling her to protect Shinatama would be an order she would follow gladly.

Then once she's back in TCTF custody, then go for the throat.

But Griffin is making a bad decision in the spur of the moment. He's going to live to regret it.

2. Her Latency is off the Charts, and she needs to die.
A: OK, so this is going to require me talking spoilers, so here goes;

As revealed in level 13, Shinatama was lying through her teeth about the progression of Konoko's symbiote the whole time. It's only in this level that Griffin finally learns how far along she is, and he's making a gut reaction to a criminal act that he was told to take responsibility for by his superiors. It's out of his control, and this Monster needs to die.

Except... not? Look, killing Konoko isn't going to solve that problem. And if the Latency isn't what you expect, do you really expect to learn what happened from a corpse that was at ground zero of an explosion like that? One that from Level 2 should take out a whole building, if not a city block?

This ties back into 1, where there is still a way for Griffin to potentially get Konoko to willingly come back to the fold, for her to not realize what's going on, or rather, have her suspicions, but put her into a position where you can either still control the information getting to her, or be better prepared should she turn hostile. Or both.

3. Why kill Konoko and not Muro?
A: Actually, I think this one is reasonable. Until Konoko got close enough with her neural link, Griffin wasn't able to get a good reading on Shinatama's state, or Konoko herself. The Processor may be interfering with the signals (something that should have been established) and Konoko was basically acting as an ad-hoc repeater/transmitter once she was in proximity to Shinatama. Thus, Griffin would not know that Muro was present personally, nor that he could have detonated the Xiox self-destruct to try and take him out.

Because I assure you, if killing Shinatama was the price of putting Muro 6 feet under, Griffin would have been pounding that button so hard, something would have broke. And no one would have doubted his decision. Regretted it, and hated him for the death? Maybe, but that would have been the right one from his perspective.

Of course, killing her means he has no Plan A for fighting him directly. What was his Plan B again?

But in the end, Griffin made his decision, and it was the worst one. He made it in the heat of the moment, over the objections of Doctor Kerr, and the hesitation of his subordinates. And once it became clear that Konoko escaped the blast, he doubles down. He can't afford to try to salvage this, and that means war.

Narratively though, this does set up the rest of the game. Konoko has no one to fall back on, no support structure in place. She's going to be running, and that means she's going to start making (more) mistakes, and acting (even more) irrationally in the face of the stresses the next few levels will bring upon her. Everything from here on out is going to be a cascade of failures, escalation and reactions until there is nothing left of anyone.

Of course, on the bright side, 1.21 Gigawatts would make for a nice boost to the DeLorean to fix this mess.

On the dark side, crunch.

berryjon
May 30, 2011

I have an invasion to go to.


Welcome back! We have ourselves pretty much the last breather level in the game, though it's not without its own pitfalls and stresses. It's the first level where Konoko is explicitly against the TCTF, an that means that while you may not find mixed encounters, how you approach a level can change just a tad.

Speaking of being against the TCTF, notice something off about the opening cutscene? Yes? No? Well, you see, all cutscenes in the game, aside from the opening and closing animations, are done in-engine, in-level. So when you saw Kerr and Griffin talking to each other in an office? That was a physical location in the level that the camera was pointed at with the character models loaded in.

Here though, all we have is a black screen and some talking heads. The office and the models aren't in the level. What is, is when we see Konoko walk up to the building, and the small confines of the rest of the location.

On that vein, I'm pretty sure that this is the smallest map in the game, and as I pointed out in the level, this smallness made it easy to design, script and complete. And once it was complete, further tests on the engine could be used by loading this level with the changes and seeing how it worked out. Including breakable and non-breakable glass, lighting and texture work, things like that.

And here is where the real-life designs actually do shine. The opening foyer has a justifiable and workable layout for both combat (not that much happens here), and for movement. It looks and feels like an actual work environment.

You know, I really think that Konoko was just hoping to sneak in a little before closing time, get the info and get out. But then some damned ninja had to ruin things for her.

Damned Ninjas.

Anyway, I have to wonder about the TCTF's response to all this. They know Konoko is going to come here as it's where the information is stored, so I can understand being on call to cordon off the building. But they never attempt to storm the place, evacuate the civilians, or even cut off the power to trap her and prevent her from getting what she wants. Instead it's like ... they're waiting for something.

Probably confused if she's now working with the Syndicate or not, given the presence of the Ninjas.

Man, that thought would have driven Griffin up the walls.

So... Commander Terrance Griffin. His life before the TCTF was never revealed, but we do know that he joined as a field trooper - one of the guys we saw in the first couple levels helping Konoko. He rose through the ranks as a distinguished officer, being promoted to TCTF SWAT, and later to Black Ops. He gained a reputation for being ruthless without being violent. Yes, violence was part and parcel of the job, but Terrance Griffin knew how to apply that violence, rather than through the use of indiscriminate force.

Because of this, and his successes against the Syndicate, he was slowly being groomed by the Directorate, the World Government and their security apparatus, for a larger leadership position. His... SPOILERS! After Griffin apprehended Doctor Kerr and Mai Hasegawsa, taking the latter as a ward of the state, and the former for his vital knowledge of the Daoden Symbiote to counter the Syndicate and their taking of Doctor Hasegawa and his son, Muro Hasegawa, it was seen by the higher ups as just the effort they wanted to see. That Griffin could think past the immediate and tactical, and was ready for promotion.

So he was promoted from field work, and his first assignment was the long-term fallout from the action that got him promoted in the first place. He was good enough with that, that he was promoted again and again until he plateaued with being in charge of the local TCTF regional branch of.... Actually, we're never told where. I just checked the manual, and I think I'm going to transcribe the opening blurb at some point.

Anyway, his superiors have seen that his aggressive and goal-oriented mentality is not something they want at his level, or any higher. He's been Peter Principled above the level of his competence, and it's showing. Sure, he's good at maintaining civil order, and putting down the Syndicate, but he never developed the political or soft-power acumen that he was being groomed for. He was raised to fight hard, and he never stopped, including maintaining the physical requirements to be on the Black Ops reserve roster, just in case.

His handling of the Kerr case has been mixed in the views of his superiors, as while he has done an excellent job at managing the current state of affairs, his lack of an end goal, or a long-term plan has been setting him back. However, his actions after the stealing of the Shinatama SLD, and declaring Agent Konoko rogue for her part in the failed retrieval attempt are the last straw. His superiors are seriously considering promoting him to a position where he can do no further harm, or get him out of the TCTF to a retirement that has been earned by his years of good service, marred by one last bad decision.

And he knows this. He doesn't have much of a life outside of the TCTF, and leaving would be as good as dying in his eyes. So he's going to stay and ride this to its bitter end, one way or another.

berryjon fucked around with this message at 19:47 on Jan 30, 2022

berryjon
May 30, 2011

I have an invasion to go to.

Crazy Achmed posted:

From watching so far the combat, to me, most resembles a classic arcade beat-em-up. I'm not sure if you get better moves later on but it feels like it's just missing a crowd-control sort of move that can reliably hit two or more enemies to get you out of a jam.

I have all the moves unlocked from the get-go, but in the end, it's the boring, but practical combo of punching someone that wins the day.

berryjon
May 30, 2011

I have an invasion to go to.
Well, if it makes you feel any better, I spend about 15 minutes of the Cheats/Shapeshifter video going through all the models and a bunch of their moves.

berryjon fucked around with this message at 02:53 on Jan 4, 2022

berryjon
May 30, 2011

I have an invasion to go to.
And depending on the throw, you can also hit/damage/down other enemies.

berryjon
May 30, 2011

I have an invasion to go to.


I said it in the video, and I'll say it here. This is my favorite level in the whole game. It has good pacing, an actually challenging boss fight at the end when I don't get stupidly lucky. The terrain is varied and interesting even as it's not that divergent. That you keep going up and up and up lends itself to the low-key tenseness of the level.

That this is the fastest Start-To-Mercury Bow in the game has nothing to do with it, I'm sure.

This level introduces the worst combat move in the game, one that I am not alone in deriding as the worst option in the game. What is it, you ask? Well, it's her Willow Kick. This is the result of her going K + K + (beat)(F+K). Which is to say that she will kick twice, and you either screw up your timing resetting the combo, or you perform a more normal K+K+K combo. But, if by the grace of some random go, you pull it off, Konoko will do a quick back-flip, which is her 'Anti-Air' move.

Do I really need to tell you how having such a move at the end of a combo is useless? If it was an independent move, like her spin-kick, which is L/R + (F+K), it would be a nice option to have. Maybe B+F+K? But instead, we got what we got, and I have yet to find a person who will defend it.

I don't expect any of you to throw yourselves into the fire to try. No thank you.

This level is also our first introduction to Ninjas as regular enemies, and they don't disappoint. I still hate them, but their combat style, combined with the sometimes unforgiving environment and all the bottomless pits you encounter make each Ninja something to worry about. That second one though, ready to ambush you for grabbing the Shield? He can ruin your day with just a single hit to know you off the ledge.

Like what happened at 2:15!

Of course, Ninjas also have the lowest health of any enemies in the game, so once you catch them, it's game over for them.

But going back to the environment, this is the only level with an active environmental effect. The rain that comes and goes through the level is, as far as I can tell, rendered in the game engine for as I watch the video again while writing this, I can see the rain streaks pas in front of the camera and behind Konoko while at the same time, pass in front of her.

I just wish the sound design included a low-key rain backdrop to the whole thing. Nothing serious, but it would have been neat. I dunno, I think I was spoiled by Urban Chaos and how it handled things like leaves and rain while in motion.

But on the other hand, most of this game's environments are indoors to one degree or another. So it may have been a technical limitation where they couldn't section off the rain into one area or not another, and had to have it either everywhere or nowhere. I mean, can you imagine the Airport level if there was rain inside the Terminal buildings?

I can't.

So, let's talk Mukade. Mukade is another cybernetically augmented super-soldier for the Syndicate, on the same level as Barabus. In fact, he reports to Muro just as Barabus did, and him dying here leaves Muro without a proper lieutenant to delegate to.

In terms of combat, he's like all the other Ninja, a slippery little bastard that with duck, dodge and weave around your attacks while pummeling you in return. I get ridiculously super lucky in my fight with him, make no mistake about that. I was quite ready to try, try and try again to beat him, but managed on my first go during the recording run.

Anyway, time to talk spoilers about his character, and why Konoko is acing so weird.

You see, Mukade has a Daoden Chrysalis, and it's the reason he's been able to survive the cybernetics. After the Syndicate got their hands on Muro and the research, they started to invest in that research, just without Doctors Hasegawa or Kerr, so they had to start from the notes and with experiments to figure out what the hell they were doing.

Muro and Konoko both have full-power 'Prime' Symbiotes, while Mukade has one of the first Second Generation symbiotes. Not as powerful in general, but good enough for what the Syndicate wanted. While he was a little kill-crazy, that was mostly seen as an upside by his superiors, who were content to have an augmented assassin of his caliber on the payroll, as well as acting as a proof of concept for later revisions and generations of the Symbiote.

We actually see Third generation symbiotes in some enemies. If someone busts out a supermove and they're glowing a little? They have one. Like the Red Furies and their Ten Shadow Punch for example.

Anyway, what Mukade is getting at here with his little spiel is that for some strange, vaguely defined reason that might as well be 'Anime!' for all I know, Symbiotes can 'resonate' in the presence of each other, letting the person know that another symbiote is nearby. This is more pronounced in Muro, who knew that there was a "Special Agent" coming that Barabus might not be able to beat, and Mukade, who's just plain crazy.

Konoko, because of her delayed and more curated development, had no idea what she was feeling.

In a way, it's like the 'Immortal Sense' from Highlander: The Series. That vague premonition that someone is there, but as this is the first time Konoko has felt it, she doesn't know how to deal/process/ignore it and it bothers her. That this happens with Mukade and her chase of him across the city only made it worse. She's internalized the sensation as 'prey'. And she reacts accordingly.


But guess what? Barabus never had one!

See you next time, with the one level that really did a number on the game's engine.

berryjon
May 30, 2011

I have an invasion to go to.


Ah, the level of our dreams. Or in this case, Konoko's nightmare. As should have been obvious from start to finish, this entire thing is in side Konoko's head as the events of the past few days catch up to her, starting with her finally getting some answers to questions she never thought to ask. Who were her parents? How did they die and she became a ward of the state?

And from there, things only get worse. She's already not in the best mental state right now, and finding out that her mother died because she did something stupid, something that caused her father to spiral out of control, seeking out the aid of the one person left in the world that he - that Konoko herself could trust.

We're not yet to the McGuffin of the story, that's next level. What we do have is a vital piece of worldbuilding going on in the opening scene. The cities are safe, for a given definition of safe. Yes, criminals, low resolution TVs, bad food, and even more criminals await you, but it's better than the alternative.

Outside the cities, outside the range of the atmosphere processors, the biosphere has gone mad. These so-called "nature preserves" are the places that the World Government can't or won't try to save, to reclaim or otherwise try to stop. While the manual makes it clear that the government isn't doing 100% to try and save the world, they know that they can't leave these problems alone either.

Also, I was in Scouts. People taking a hike with bare legs into places they have no idea what's there? Yeah, that's dumb. Getting scratched was inevitable. Getting dead...? That's tragic.

As for the dream / nightmare itself? Well, I mean, I may be a Philosophy Major, but even I know when random things happen because it's a goddamned dream and you shouldn't take such things seriously. So I'm not.

The biggest thing here is her lack-of interactions with Shinatama. Konoko, in her nightmares, is always chasing after her, never catching up, and fearful that she will be harmed when she's out of reach. You know, like what actually happened.

Look, I'm not trying to make light of anyone's real problems. I am pointing out that any in-depth analysis of a dream level in a video game is doomed to fail because it's just a way for the writer/level designer to drop the 'sub' from Subtext and call it 'profound' or 'deep'.

Konoko is having a nightmare about all the bad things that have happened to her in the past week, and that's normal. Not a lot of games touch on the mental toll that comes from being the protagonist in these sorts of situations, And while this game isn't the best suited to it, it's telling that how the level shifts and changes with time it just seems.... wrong.

The three Boss Fights are probably the really interesting part. We start with Muro, transitioning from the real-world lab (where is it? Why is it like that?!?!) into the dream. Here, we come face to face with her most obvious enemy, the one she can most easily hate and fear in the same breath. The fight against him is in a small, cramped space, and there is no light. Muro sucks all the light out of the room once you start fighting him, and from there, things only get worse.

Griffin is her next enemy, representing, in a way, her authority issues. And he's not alone, for Konoko perceives herself as being outnumbered and alone in the TCTF. She's an outsider in her own way, and Griffin treated her just differently enough that it may have rubbed off on other Agents. The lines he says in her nightmare show what she things Griffin thinks of her. A failure. That she could have done better, been better. That maybe he would have trusted her with the truth, and he would have trusted her to save Shinatama and she wouldn't have failed her either?

If Muro is the obvious focus of her failings, Griffin represents the larger scope of her problems. The things she can't fix.

Then there's Konoko. The real Boss Fight.

In the end, the only thing Konoko can really blame for her failings, for her faults and her gently caress-ups is herself. She's the one who chose to defy orders, she's the one that pushed just far enough to cause Muro to go after Shinatama in the first place. In the end, she can blame Muro and Griffin all she wants, but the one who is at Fault is herself.

That, and Konoko is Basically a Red Fury++, which makes her the best fight in the goddamned game, bar none. I just wish it wasn't at the end of a brutal slog of a level. The high intensity combat, the frikken' invisible ninjas, and the lack of health can really back you into a corner where you don't have the resources to survive a fight. And that means restarting the level fresh.

But man, getting to punch your inner demons in the face never gets old.

By the by though, does anyone know what this means? It's in the Lab section of the level, and I don't speak/read that language.

berryjon fucked around with this message at 18:40 on Jan 30, 2022

berryjon
May 30, 2011

I have an invasion to go to.

TooMuchAbstraction posted:

I will never stop being annoyed at you using hypos in the middle of a fight and immediately getting all the potential healing punched out of you. :v: That first attempt at the Griffin fight, I am damned certain you were trying to grab that hypo on the ground while being punched by all three goons!

Hey, I called myself out on my bad behavior back in an early level, so you're not the only one who thinks that!

berryjon
May 30, 2011

I have an invasion to go to.


So, where to begin, where to begin? There's a lot dropped on us with this level, and while it would be tempting to explain the biggest thing, in the end, I think I'll start with the level layout.

The Science Prison is a very straightforward level. We advance down the middle, turn left to backtrack along the left side of the building, pass under the first room to the right side, then advance again towards the back to reach the end goal. The vertical aspects to the level design don't really do much to hide that simple fact.

It reminds me a lot of the layout of the second level, where I lambasted it for poor use of space. However, unlike that one, which committed the sin of returning to the start point, this level keeps us going forward into new areas. I like that, really. And that each area is new and has a different aesthetic to it, from the cold clinical Cryochamber rooms, to the medical labs to the biohazard disposal room. This chance in scenery helps the level, rather than being drab office space.

The lasers, despite what you may think from my commentary, are not all that bad. Thankfully, this game doesn't abuse them, nor the alarm consoles. It's refreshing when the game treats the enemy actors as the real threat, and not the environmental hazards.

Speaking of the environment, how many times did people play this game before they realized that there were actual people in the cryopods? I know I missed them on my first playthrough all those decades ago. I was trained by the game to ignore the environment unless it was 'active', as everything else wasn't worth looking at. It was only on my second go that I finally noticed them.

I mean, hell, we're told at the start of the level that the Doctor is touring the Pod Wing. What sort of pods are there? Well, now we know.

Of course, given that Kerr has the equipment to monitor and analyze the Chrysalis just standing by, I now have to wonder - how many of these people are the victims of experiments gone wrong?

And so we come to the elephant in the room, and the MacGuffin of the game. What is the Daoden Chrysalis?

Kerr's description is wrong, or rather it's incomplete so that the audience and Konoko can process it. The Chrysalis has its roots in the death of Jamie Kerr, and the rapidly mutating plant/toxin/infection that Doctor Hasegawa couldn't fight. What he saw was that the outside world was a rapidly changing, rapidly mutating death world, one that was one blown Processor away from pushing humanity over the brink.

And so, if you can't fight them, join them.

The Chrysalis is, as Kerr said, derived from the host organism. What he didn't tell Konoko, because it wasn't relevant, was that there are several factors that can help determine the effectiveness of the Chrysalis. First, is how in-tune it is with the host. For Konoko and Muro, their symbiotic organisms were effectively custom made for the both of them by their father, ensuring that the Chrysalis was as optimized as possible for the two of them. In addition, the younger you are when you get it, the longer it has to work, and the more the body grows as it grows up, the more the Chrysalis grows with it.

These are Prime Symbiotes, and are the best you can get, albeit the ones with the most effort and resources put into making them. In theory, both the Syndicate and the TCTF can make more Primes, but the time involved is just too much. They are both on the clock, so to speak.

The next step down are Secondaries. These, we have seen in Mukade, the Super Ninja from two levels ago. These Second Generation symbiotes are not as finely tuned to their host as the Primes, but they tend to be given to adults and as such, don't bond as well or develop with the host over time. There's a limit to how much they can do, and it can be quickly reached.

The last type are the mass produced versions. Not really tuned, they are there to basically act as a souped up immune system with minor regenerative powers. The Syndicate is making these as fast as they can, and whenever you see an enemy glow with power, it's because they have one of these and are pushing themselves to the limit for something Konoko can roll her shoulders and pull out without effort at all.

But what is it? What does it do?

Well, I'm no Doc Roanoke (you should watch his channel by the way, he's an actual microbiologist who breaks down how monsters in video games and movies would work in reality, and how they couldn't), but I can tell you a few things from the game and from comments made on old forums back in the early 2000's.

The Chrysalis acts as a sort of macro-scale Stem Cell generator. As the body is damaged either through external forces or environmental pressures, the Chrysalis takes in the information that the body is sending about the damage in question, and then starts to produce replacement parts that are customized to respond against that sort of damage.

So, Konoko breathes bad air? Her lungs are changed to better react to the changing atmosphere. She gets injured in training? Her skin gets tougher, her muscles stronger and her bones more resilient. Bleeding? Faster blood production from the marrow and faster clotting and healing in general.

All this, based on the sheer speed of the thing that killed Jamie Kerr.

But the effects are cumulative. The Chrysalis remembers what has caused harm before, and when new harm comes, it keeps the old stuff in play, like how our immune system doesn't forget how to fight off one thing when something else comes into play.

So, the younger you are when you are implanted, the longer and more stress the body undergoes, allowing for the Chrysalis time and experience to better itself and the host in a mutual survival advantage.

You know what this reminds me of? I went into this LP with the intent of making no reference to Stratfyre's old LP of it, save to recognize that it exists and that he fights with a different style than I do. However, there is one thing that I feel I think he missed in his sass of Konoko and her inspirations for her design and actions.

You see, she's also Nausicaš, in that she's adapt(ing) to the post-apocalypse world in which that which we know as humanity is doomed.

Konoko, from a comment later in the game, was implanted with her custom Chrysalis at age 7. She was rescued by Kerr and taken in by the state as a Ward at age 3 according to the manual, but her current age isn't known. That means that Kerr had four years to customize her Chrysalis before Griffin forced the implanting, only to regret it later on. But by then, it was too late. She had already bonded with her symbiote far more effectively than anyone could have foreseen, and removal was no longer an option.

Faced down with a multitude of bad choices, Griffin ordered the creation of Shinatama, an SLD based on Konoko to better monitor her progress. The thing is, the Chrysalis is hilariously immature as a technology, and no one, not even Doctor Hasegawa, has any clue how far the Chrysalis will change or mutate its host in order to survive.

Kerr's comment that Konoko will never really change, that she will always be true to herself?

Wishful thinking.

That her Chrysalis has gone far beyond his expectations and predictions is something Kerr never really accounted for. At this point, all he could do is hope and pray that Konoko retains enough of her mental self that she doesn't go down the path Muro is gleefully dancing along.

So, I can now say in non-spoilers what I said long ago about the BEST GUN. The Mercury Bow was developed specifically to try and kill people with the Chrysalis. The combination of high-velocity kinetic impact, cryogenic damage - something the TCTF knows can slow down the healing process as it's still organic in nature - and the heavy metal poisoning from the slug of mercury was all intended to overload the Chrysalis and prevent it from healing the host. Or at least slowing them down long enough for proper restraints or a more permanent solution could be applied.

That's why Kerr (stupidly) threw himself into the way of the shot. He knew that this was the only weapon capable of practically harming Konoko, and he was still trying to protect her, to the last.

His emotional response was one of the things he had in common with Konoko, something that connected them together. Or I would say that if this was literally the only level in which the two spoke to each other.

Which is why I wanted to see them interact before Konoko went off to rescue Shinatama. To help establish their relationship and to emphasize this one a bit more or better.

Konoko's escape plan was risky, even for her. By dumping herself into the acid vats, and avoiding the mechanical grinders, she was basically gambling that the Chrysalis would react to the extremely strong acid and protect her by growing new skin that could resist it.

All she would have to do, would be to close her eyes, plug her ears and nose, and hold her breath for who knows how long. I can't imagine how that must have felt. After all, what's a little pain in the body compared to the pain of knowing that everyone who ever cared for you is dead? And if she's going to have revenge, there's one person at the top of the list, above even her Brother.

Griffin.

berryjon fucked around with this message at 18:45 on Jan 30, 2022

berryjon
May 30, 2011

I have an invasion to go to.


I've said it before, and I'll say it again. This is an example of a reused level done right. Most games, when they reuse a full level, will barely make any changes to it. Or worse yet, make just enough in the name of making it seem different that that the players can smell a rat.

The TCTF headquarters avoids that fate through three separate and distinct changes that make it less a blatant reuse of assets, and more of a fresh level. The first and most important is that this is level 13. The last time we were here was level 6. That's half a game away, and because of that distance, the players don't have the reused level thrown right into their faces. There's enough between then and now to wear down the player's knowledge of the level, so when you get back to it, it seems, for a moment, like it's new.

The second reason is that your goals are vastly different. Take, for example, my cited examples from the next game from Bungie - Halo. Assault on the Control Room is the way into a place, while Two Betrayals the reverse. However, in this game, what we're doing and why we're doing it are two vastly different motivations. The mindset of the player is different. In the first, it's a vain race against time, that perhaps you could reach Shinatama in time, but instead we fail at that, but are given the catharsis of killing Barabus instead. On this side of the game, we have a metaphorically slower and methodical descent through the level, hunting Griffin in his underground lair.

The last reason is the enemies. Last time, we fought the Syndicate, while the TCTF are our allies. Now, there's no Syndicate, and no allies save the Mercury Bow in our hands. There's no getting around that fact that we're attacking the TCTF directly now. Beforehand, you could make the justification that Konoko was in the wrong place at the wrong time, and got hit from both sides at the State Building, or that the attempt to infiltrate the Science Prison was a case of dealing with a known issue in which the TCTF was wrong.

But this? This is her taking the fight to the TCTF, and hoping to execute a decapitation strike on them.

Now, the missing conversation. Allow me to transcribe it for you:

:science: Konoko, please don't hurt me. They made me do it, I swear.
:ssj: Do what?
:science: I knew she was more than an android, to you at least...
:ssj: What did you do?
:science: Griffin wanted something to use against you...
:ssj: Get out of my sight. Now!

The first civilian is foreshadowing the final fight. How audacious.

So... the Deadly Brain, Shinatama Version. The first and third stages aren't difficult, but as I said in the video, it's that start to the second stage that's the real trap. That one laser that moves up and down the middle of the sector is in your blind spot while interacting with the console, or it's right behind you. Timing it so that you're not caught by it while doing your thing is important.

But also... what the gently caress Griffin? I swear, what made you think that this was even a remotely good idea? She killed one of these things less than two weeks ago, and you think trotting out the savaged and exploded corpse of Shinatama would in any way cause her to back down?

First time I played this game, I wasn't satisfied with shooting Griffin with the pistol, I wanted to use the Bow instead, and wound up accidentally triggering the peaceful resolution. But trust me, first time? I wanted him dead.

I'm going to talk about the nature of the choice when I show off what happens when you go the other route, as it's a short video. And I'm not feeling it right now.

But I can tell you this. The level is long. It's hard. And by the end of it, just shooting him sounds more and more like the best choice. So I will ask this of you, the people watching this video and this LP. Shoot Griffin or Don't Shoot?

berryjon fucked around with this message at 18:50 on Jan 30, 2022

berryjon
May 30, 2011

I have an invasion to go to.

Loxbourne posted:

The problem is guessing how the game will react. Knowing late 90s morality systems, is killing Griffin going to label Konoko as an evil turbo-murderer and lock her out of any good endings?

I'll talk about it more when it's time, but due to the way the save system in this game 'works', you can replay the Deadly Brain puzzle, kill/not kill Griffin, then reload a future checkpoint and the global variable of griffin_in_hell (not really, but you get the idea) is switched, meaning that the future checkpoint will act as though he was always dead/not dead.

berryjon
May 30, 2011

I have an invasion to go to.

propatriamori posted:

The classic problem with video game good/evil choices is that most games, just like this one, only ever give you the option of violence. That's the verb you have.

Now I'm thinking of an alternate take on the State Building HQ where Konoko is locked to 'stroll' speed, and spends her time in the first building talking to people to figure out where she needs to go. No violence, just her awkwardly asking "Hey, where's the secret files about my family? Oh? Me? Terrorist? Never! Would anyone evil like that walk in here before closing and ask politely?" Only once she gets into the basement and starts to get her files does she find out about Mukade, and then Violence Ensues.

berryjon
May 30, 2011

I have an invasion to go to.


And so we reach the end.

But first, the level itself.

I think that the mountain facility shows one of the weaknesses of the game's engine and design; that being very sectional. There's the Entrance section, where we start outside, followed by the Garage, then the Server Chambers, then the final Boss Fight.

The opening area is pretty wide open, and that is to your detriment. I don't show it off in the video, but there's really nothing out here. You're at the mercy of all the Snipers, and if you don't know what you're doing and you stand still, they're going to ruin your day. Your best bet is to do what I did, grab the Phase cloak and rush the entrance.

Oddly enough, every enemy outside the actual facility itself is Blue Tier, Strikers and Elites. Of course, this doesn't apply to the Snipers, as they only have one tier - Mercury Bow. But once we get inside, it's Reds all the way through.

Oh, the Hypo I mentioned in the video is inside the first hut, the one to your right when you start the level.

The second section is the garage, and here the pace of the level slows down considerably as you have to backtrack back and forth across the upper level before allowing access to the main floor. Of note, the path that the truck comes down on (Hugh Jass? Seriously?) leads back to the two large entryways that I passed by on the way in.

If you run up them, you will find nothing, just the other side of the doors, and the ability to clip the camera through to see outside.

This section itself is pretty tight, and if anything, it's the last fight that's a problem. If you're anywhere near prepared, having the enemies that jump out of the truck all coming running right to you - including the driver! - isn't interesting.

What could have been done better here would be to get to the door itself, and Konoko to be annoyed that she can't get through it or the ones on the upper floor. She expresses herself, perhaps by punching the door and denting it to help show off her improved strength, and that's when the BGI truck arrives. If she can punch a dent, then the truck is just a larger, faster punch, right?

That way, Konoko is already at ground level with the enemies that spawn, and they don't all obligingly file their way up a set of stairs to you and into your waiting gun.

Speaking of being downstairs, I blew out one of the windows, and jumped down onto a trailer to minimize the damage and checked out that deactivated console.



Yep, it opens the stairs back upstairs, but doing this out of order spawns in some Blue Tier enemies in the stairwells to come and fight you.

The third section, after she knocks, is a very simple one, though it too is really divided into two parts itself. First is the triple unlock where you are told Muro's Plan, then the long ascent to the final console and destiny. It's actually very straight forward. I only make it look confusing because I'm paranoid I'm missing something.

So let be take a break for a moment here and talk about Muro's Plan. On one hand, it's been properly foreshadowed this whole game, but on the other hand, having it spelled out like this makes it lose some of its punch.

To summarize, Muro will use the previously established modifications to the Atmospheric Processors to either reverse or corrupt them, causing them to add pollutants to the atmosphere, rather than remove them. While this is happening, he will be offering third-tier Daoden Symbiotes to those who are willing to pay any price for a chance at health, effectively holding the world hostage and gaining a huge powerbase at the same time.

What I think people miss in the lack of context is that this is a Regional plan. Not a Global one. Muro, much like Griffin, isn't a power player in their respective organizations. They have authority disproportionate to their position, but both of them have superiors, and have a limit to their mandate. Muro's operation is, I suspect, him leveraging himself to the global scale.

You see, the facility we're at is a control node for the global Processing centers. But it's not the only such location, and it's not the final control center either. It's regional. And Muro's grand plan isn't going to directly affect the whole world. Have knock-on effects? Sure. But it's his and his alone.

What Konoko does is rather than have a controlled escalation in the contamination, is instead just blowing the whole thing at once. A single sudden shock to the system, damaging the machines in the process is, in her view, the better option than letting Muro's plan come to fruition. She knows that no matter what she does at this point, people are going to die, so why not try to minimize that number?

Here's the thing, Muro's plan requires responses that we don't see. I suggested back in level 7 that Muro brought unnecessary attention onto the Atmospheric Processing Plant by taking Shinatama there, and once the TCTF is there, they're going to find out about the modifications. And from there, they can unravel his thread enough to make his plan not as viable as he might want it to be.

Instead, Griffin throws it all away to hunt down Konoko, diverting resources to chasing down someone who, at that time, wasn't a threat instead of focusing on the actual problems at hand.

Look, Griffin screwed up from start to finish, and if we cataloged them, we would be here all day. But because he chose to focus on his personal problems, Muro was able to act freely and get all the last pieces for his plan into place.

Speaking of Muro though...

The Boss Fight.

Muro as a boss is much like his encounter in Konoko's dream back in level 11. However, this time he will break out his own counters to Konoko's Rising Fury and Devil Spin Kick, and much like her dream-self, he starts with a full Daoden charge that doesn't go away naturally. You have to beat it out of him, reducing his damage output and durability in the process.

His helpers are replaced as they go down, to make up for the fact that you have three TCTF Black Ops on your side, the toughest NPCs in the game. And they bring a VDG to the fight. So in order to win, do as I suggest in the video. Pump your health into Overpower mode and just pummel him to death. If you give him a chance to gain his momentum, or if one of his allies breaks through to disrupt you, he can quickly turn the fight around. Keep up the pressure, dodge and strike and know that you probably have more Overpower than he does.

But in the end, he goes down like a chump. Muro, for all his bluff and bluster isn't a threat. He's a final boss that doesn't feel like one. Being able to bring in Griffin and probably the last two Black Ops in the region make the fight a four-on-three in your favor, and that's not all that fun.

No, there is an alternative. There is a darker option...

Kill Griffin


There are no Subtitles for this Video. There's not enough time.

Muro Imago is the demon that Muro thinks Konoko should be. A Monstrous hulk of a monster that towers over all around them, a hero slayer out to... wait a minute.

WHY IS HE DOOMSDAY?!?!?

Muro Imago is a difficult fight, one that I make look relatively easy because I understand one thing about him that most people miss. His hit box is his torso, not his legs or arms. You can't go low, you can't throw him. The best way to fight him is to either stand a little above him, as I do at the start of the fight, and be even with his chest, or do what I do at the end of the fight and jump-kick him. His attacks are wide and designed less for dealing with a single enemy in front of him, and more for area control, negating Konoko's advantage in maneuver.

But in terms of timing, he's not that much longer than Normal Muro in terms of a boss battle. It's just you and him, no distractions, save the glow from both of you.

Yet, there's something about this fight that bothers me. Look at the opening lines. Yes, he says the same thing in both of them, but the line about choking on foul air is almost ... exactly the same.

I think that initially, the final boss battle against Muro was always going to be the Imago Muro, with some ideas that it would be a multi-stage battle where you fought him normally, but he decides to go for a second stage fight. The nature and cadence of the lines tell me that they were first recorded for the Imago fight, but then re purposed for the 'Griffin Lives' fight.

Narratively speaking, this ties back to Kerr's line about how the Chrysalis will invoke the subject's true, inner nature. For all she's done, and is, Konoko still wants to be human, while Muro embraces his inner monster. He thinks she hasn't tapped the full power of their shared post-humanist, but what he doesn't know is that she has. We just don't have it laid out for us as the BGI arc was cut from the game, the section of the game after Kerr dies and before she goes after Griffin.

The BGI Arc was supposed to fill in these small gaps, and we never got to see them. It may have even provided Konoko with a reason to spare Griffin's life, which leads us to the morality of the choice.

For those of you reading this on the LP Archive, and not on SA, I asked the thread what their opinion was regarding Griffin's fate, and it was quite in favor of killing him. Those who offered the opinion of mercy held to the general idea that doing so would be rewarded by the game. But the vast majority of those who offered their opinions were solidly in the "Kill Griffin" camp.

You see, the common refrain from them was that Griffins actions had long since passed from the realm of morality and into the region of Holy poo poo STOP!, to put words into their collective mouths. They argued, to varying degrees, that shooting Griffin dead was the fast death, as the fallout from these events would see him made an example of by his superiors in the TCTF.

I... have a different thought. In my view, I've been making this comment the whole LP, both in the videos and in these essays. Konoko, is, was and in that moment, still an emotionally driven person. She acts not with any sort of consideration, but in the heat of the moment. In my view, the real ending to this game is that she does shoot Griffin. Not because of some moral or legal or sociological outlook, but because it is the solution to the problem at hand that provides the most immediate emotional gratification.

Konoko shoots Griffin. Because she wants to. There is no deeper explanation than that. There is no need to any further analysis, as all her character shows is that sort of thing. She never develops, and as a result, the consequences for her actions, and the actions of those around her keep piling up until everything is broken.

The world breaks because no one is willing or capable to take a breath and realize that Konoko, Griffin and Muro will never back down. And they can't, until two of the three are dead.

But you know what I find interesting about this game? Something that came up because I'm spending the time to write all this down, and I'm listening to the people making comments in the thread?

A lot of people were thinking that as the game came out in the early 2000's, that Bungie would have shoehorned in some sort of primitive morality result for choosing the kill Griffin or not. That the game would reward you with a better or more uplifting ending for sparing him.

That's not what happens.


The above image is a link to the ending video and closing credits.

Oni offers nothing. Perhaps as a result of the abridged development time, perhaps as I suspect, the second 'good' Boss fight was added at a later date, perhaps for some other reason....

Oni offers no Moral. No matter what you choose, Oni's ending plays out the same. Your choice makes no difference aside from the final boss. Killing or Sparing Griffin.... means nothing.

As it should.

Not everything is cut and dry, and there are no happy endings in this game. Oni is not a story where the protagonist eeks out a last second victory and all or most is forgiven in the service of higher causes. No, the entire back half of the game has been one of vengeance, anger, hatred and rage and none of that matters.

Muro doesn't get to see his victory. No matter what Konoko chooses, he dies there, atop a lonely mountain. Griffin's fate is... unknown, but regardless of her actions, he's done for. As for Konoko? There's nothing left for her. Everyone she knows is either dead, or a mortal enemy at this point.

No matter what you choose, this ending is bitter. In the end, there is no choice, and I think that this makes for a better game. Or a better ending at least. Once she started down this path, nothing she does can change the outcome.

And that's why Oni is great.

berryjon
May 30, 2011

I have an invasion to go to.
I'm not happy with the cheat codes/combat video as it is, so I'll either try to salvage it tomorrow or redo it from the ground up. Sorry all.

berryjon
May 30, 2011

I have an invasion to go to.
Final Thoughts

(This post will be more stream-of-consciousness than normal. Please forgive me.)

Oni is not a perfect game by any means. It's rather infamously - or famously, depending on your point of view - incomplete. But what is there is still a beautiful game in motion, a wonderful example of what could have been and the promise of better things to come.

Much has been said about the combat in this game, and many of you have been waiting rather impatiently for the combat video that I have promised, so here it is.

I'm sorry.

I tried to film it, using the Shapeshifter cheat, and I got a twenty minute video where I showed off stuff, and then went through the entire first level again, except as a Fury. I recorded it. I watched it. I sat on it (not literally). I mulled over it while at work, and in the end, I realized that it wasn't what I wanted.

Combat in this game is indescribably fluid, and yes there are some cases where things get wonky. Just look at all the times I complain about fighting on stairs or a ramp, or in level 8 when I do a Running Lariat through a doorway and the models don't even touch! But that's just another example of where the game was incomplete and unfinished before publishing.

Yet the fighting is where this game excels, what everyone who has played or seen this game can agree on. Sure, I reduced it to a very simplistic abuse of the Three Punch Combo and the Running Lariat, but that's my style. Go watch Stratafyre's own LP of this, and you'll see he loves the Spinning Side Kick. His style and mine are different, and the game works with both just perfectly.

When writing this though, a comment in the thread kept coming back to me with regards to how there really hasn't been a third-person brawler made seriously in the past twenty years, citing the example of the Batman: Arkham games for what we've got.

Which got me thinking. My second LP on Something Aweful was a game called Urban Chaos. This proto-GTA game had a lot going for it, and one of the things I liked about it was the surprising depth to its melee combat. Sure, I abused the hell of it like I did with Oni, using the sliding-kick, or grapple-throws to knock people down to arrest them, but there were things like being able to punch to the sides, the hundred-punch glitch, standing roundhouses worthy of Chuck Norris, choke-slamming a poor guy, the works! Yes, UC was a finished and polished game, but when you want to compare combat, these two games are at the top of the pile.

Because, and this is my hot take here, I don't think third-person brawlers are a thing anymore. Not really. Yes, there's games that have melee combat in them, but they're more like RPGs nowadays. Swing sword, numbers go down, that sort of thing. And the Arkham series? It's not a brawler at all. It's a glorified Quick-Time Event in each encounter. You have your Counter, your Bat-Cape, your Batarang, your quickfire gadget. There was no real... flow to the game. Well, there was, but it was the result of one of the best programmed games out there. Arkham was polished in a way very few other games are.

Oni still beats it out in terms of combat with a decade less technology, and with an inferior development cycle.

Which leads me into why the combat video got scrapped. There's too much. Or rather, there's a wide branching tree of styles and combat moves to work with. To start with, there are three generic skeletal structures. Female, used for Konoko, the Furies, and the generic female NPCs. Male-small, used for Griffin, the Ninjas, Kerr, and the other 'tall and thin' males. Then lastly, there was Male-Large, used for most of the TCTF and Syndicate enemies including Barabus, with the occasional civilian NPCs being big guys. Yes, there were exceptions. Muro and Muro Imago have unique skeletons, as does Shinatama(!).

As an aside, Shinatama doesn't have a 'Stationary Crouch' animation. When you see her sitting down, that's her crouch, and if you do it in the open, she just sits down on nothing at all. But once you start moving, her animations take the Female style, just scaled awkwardly for her different size and shape.

But after that, there are two combat styles in the game, or two starting places for them, aside from the unique fighters. The Male character models will hold their arms horizontal at the shoulder-level, right hand in front of the left in a high guard and strike from there. The Female characters will use Konoko's basic stance, a lower-mid guard.

After that, most characters have the same basic moves of punch-punch, crouch-punch, kick-kick and punch-kick. They move slow and awkwardly compared to Konoko's much faster speed, which I suppose makes sense as she's combat trained, and they're civilians.

From that point, more advanced enemies get more abilities. Throws open up early, while enemy equivalents to the Rising Fury and the Devil Spin Kick are mid to high tier.

Unique enemies, such as Mukade, Barabus, and both versions of Muro have their own pacing and issues that I just found awkward to try and handle. I could never get the Earthquaker to work for example, and Barabus' healing is scripted, not a move he can invoke. Griffin is TCTF Black Ops, and his moveset is exactly the same as theirs.

But the pace of the game, and the introduction of guns and multiple enemies means that for the most part, all this redundancy is hidden in plain sight from the player. They're the ones to take the initiative in a fight, and you rarely get to see non-Konoko character fight long enough to realize just how limited their moves actually are.

The combat is beautiful and amazing in this game, but in actually going through everything, I can only lament at the lost potential this game had. Sure, Mods are a thing, but that scene has mostly died out. Not completely, but it's still a twenty year old game whose sequel died in the concept stage.

The plot is nothing amazing, and I talked about that in detail in previous effort posts, so I won't repeat myself here. But I can say that the Bio-punk concept is a nice chance of pace from all the cyberpunk going on, and the comment from the thread about how this game could be re-imagined as a pseudo Deus Ex Human Revolution type game does give me some satisfaction that there is still potential here.

The game is short. Less than seven hours from start to finish. But this is one of those games that benefits from the small runtime, as it keep moving forward and doesn't overstay its welcome in any one place or set-piece. The focus helps, rather than having a meandering plot, bloated cast or arbitrary side-quests that other games get caught up in. There's no collectathon here! Unless you count collecting Mercury Bows and the ammo for it.

I just... I just wish there was more. More levels. More time to flesh out the combat. Maybe include more options to incorporate the guns into melee aside from 'club'. Also, figured out what the hell was with that odd throw I was doing. Turns out, you can sometimes do alternate throws based on if you're moving towards, away or standing still relative to your enemy. So the back-throw like that? That's Konoko's Reverse Punch Throw.

I think a small parkour system would be a wishful addition. Imagine being able to better use the environment to hit people, like using a wall as a jumping pad to punch someone, or to just throw/hit people into the terrain for additional damage.

I love this game, flaws and all. Yes, it requires third-party resources to even run on machines nowadays, but that's a small price to pay for enjoying a short and fun brawler that takes itself seriously enough to carry a plot, but not so serious that is ruins said plot.

The less said about Muro's interaction with Shinatama, the better.

In the end though? Oni is a good game. Not great, but definitely good. It is a forgotten classic, a game style that hasn't really been replicated, with technology that is twenty years old, but is still better than what we're getting today.

Oh, and did you notice that Konoko's character model is never replicated across levels? Each time, she's wearing something different, even in small changes.

Thank you all for sticking with me through all this. I hope to see you with my next LP, another 20 year old game that as held up even better. I just need to take a wrench to a few things first.

berryjon
May 30, 2011

I have an invasion to go to.
I've already archived everything on my end, so I'd have to reinstall the game, unzip the archive and try from scratch pretty much.

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berryjon
May 30, 2011

I have an invasion to go to.
Biopunk in general seems to be underused and overlooked from what I can tell. There was a surge of it in the 90's, but the concept didn't really catch on as well as cyberpunk did. I suppose the public lack-of-awareness of genetic engineering, as well as the more visual and public-facing advances in computer technology made cyberpunk more accessible than biopunk.

And of course, the people who can't tell the difference between biopunk and biohorror....

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