September to October

Too lazy to turn this; I thought google drive had an editing option, but I guess not.

As far as this month goes, it’s been pretty boring, at least to talk about. I’ve been playing basically the same games the entire time. Not much has happened in my life. Though there are a couple things to discuss, at least in brief, so I’m making this post.

First, an update on a post from wayy back in April. Thus, the picture of the scale above. As of yesterday, I hit my weight goal! I haven’t been this light since I was 20, if not earlier. Feels good, man. Sure, it took the better part of six months to make the half of progress, but I’ve lost 40-45 lbs with basically no exercise. Now, to be fair, I look it – my arms and legs might as well be those of a child, if it weren’t for the excessive hair on them. And I’ve still got too much of a gut. But my face looks good (well…not fat, at least), and I’m just chubbster now. Of course I celebrated by going out to eat (with a milkshake!).

So, what next? Well, the diet shall mostly continue. I see no reason to change much now; it works for me. I will change the “no snacking” rule to “no buying snacks from the store.” Meaning, I can snack, if I make them myself (or if I go to an actual baker and something really stands out). Which I don’t see myself doing much. I don’t even have the cooking implements to do so. I looked at a stand mixer a couple of weeks ago (kinda want to get into baking), and yah, that’s not happening right now.

Also, I need to exercise more. I know that’s not a goal, it’s an idea. But I’m too lazy to set up something concrete. I have weights in my office now, presumably to use while I’m watching videos on my lunch break, but I barely use them. (Doesn’t help that I hurt my right arm, and am in pain doing much of anything – it almost certainly wan’t caused by me using my mouse at an 80-90-degree angle to the right instead of in front of me; no sir, couldn’t be that.) Could also, like walk or whatever before work instead of grazing Twitter. But yah, that’s something to be doing.

I’m pretty sure the voiceover said “you look cuter without your glasses,” which is absolutely correct.

In game news, I’ve been keeping up with the usual daily stuff. Granblue had its X-million accounts celebration, which meant more things to do. That’s over now, so I mostly just do some daily things. Dragalia Lost is having its second anniversary, just after a major gameplay update. It’s pretty good stuff. The even added sparking, right before a big limited rush. Very nice. Getting better at Bandori, to the point where I can clear almost any Hard song on first try without heals. ESO and STO are back on the backburner, though I’m still doing their events too.

The big one is Assassins Creed Odyssey. I’ve been playing that basically every day, yet still am not close to done. I’ve played well over 100 hours at this point. At this point I want it to be done, just so I can play other games! But this one is too fun to just drop, and the story is surprisingly compelling too (at least the Greek parts – the Assassin’s Creed stuff is lame, though barely there at this point so whatever). I haven’t discussed it much, because I want to make one big review post. But who knows when I’ll actually finish, so that might be in a while.

HOWEVER, there is a new contender: Genshin Impact. This is another really fun one. I finally got out of reroll hell, on account 8. Got two SSR at once, though they were both Jean. Also got Fish, so that’s a really good account. As I was breezing through for rerolling, last night I just went to play for a few minutes before getting on other games, going over those areas I ran through. Ended up playing for over an hour. Fun, fun game.

As for next month…I basically want to do what I was going to do last month before ACO took way longer than I expected: finish ACO, get into Craftopia and Genshin Impact. Play more vidya!

Poppin’ Party: The Music

I realized, far too late, that in my post about Poppin’ Party (from BangDream!) I mentioned the musical style, but didn’t give any examples! I mean, “it’s basically K-On” doesn’t exactly say a whole lot to people that haven’t watched that show. So I’m going to give several examples, because this band in particular has such a varied style (within the bounds of pop rock, at least).

I also should mention that the vocals are as varied as the style. With every other band, you pretty much know who’s singing – the vocals match the character. But Kasumi is apparently extremely skilled, for a girl that just decided on a whim to form a band. Of course, this is a consequence of the voice actor being a singer first, actor second. But it’s still confusing, all the same – I’ll often be playing a song, wondering which band it belongs to, and being surprised its a PP song.

Anyways, on to it. We’ll start with the “original” songs, since that’s obviously what the story’s about (and they also tend to be the ones where Kasumi sounds the most Kasumi). I’ll try to find the full-length songs, where possible (the in-game songs generally are only a single verse or two):

This is the first BangDream song, as you’d imagine. The K-On influences are most apparent here as well.

This is one of the more poppy songs. Indeed, every time I get this confused with a Pastel Pallets song, though at this point I really shouldn’t.

Even more poppy, but it’s about choco cornets, which can only be Rimi, and thus Poppin Party.

And then there’s this, which is a lot harder. Also, it’s the S3 OP for the anime, so that’s something I suppose.

And now a few covers. I guess writing original songs for five (seven soon) bands is a little much for the devs, so there are a bunch of covers too. Oddly, none of the K-On songs are covered by Poppin’ Party.

But Haruhi Suzumiya is pretty close to K-On, right?

I just like the original, and this is a pretty decent version. Hard to do it justice while pretending to just have a five-piece band, but they mostly manage.

Just to finish this off, we have a vidya song. I like this better than the original, and the original’s pretty great. Too bad there’s no full version.

Bang Dream Band Profile: Poppin’ Party

Poppin’ Party could be considered the “main” band of Bang Dream. They’re the first band you meet, they’ve got the most story, and really they’re the reason the game even exists (Kasumi’s voice actor was already doing music for the company, so they decided to make a game about girls’ bands.) As such, they’re probably the least-defined band out of the bunch. Musically, it’s all over the place: they’ve got some rockin’ stuff, but also some really sugary pop stuff. If you’ve ever listened to K-On’s music, HTT is a good match for Poppin’ Party (PP) (it wouldn’t surprise me if the characters are a good match too; the two bands have a lot in common…).

To tell the story of PP would be to tell the story of the game, so I’ll quickly summarize. Kasumi follows a trail of stickers into Arisa’s house (yes, into her house), which doubles as a pawn shop. Inside the shop’s storage there’s a Random Star guitar; Kasumi, who’s obsessed with stars (the stickers were star stickers), must have this. And what’s the point of having a guitar if there’s no band? So Kasumi, despite never having played before, strongarms a few weaker-willed individuals (like Arisa) into her band. Of course they aren’t any good at first, but they have passion, and that’s what counts in anime. They eventually become a sort of “mascot” band for their neighborhood, and the local concert venue.

And now for the girls:

Kasumi Toyama

Kasumi, the leader and founder of Poppin’ Party, is, to put it simply, a complete idiot. She’s the girl version of a typical shounen manga protagonist: bad at school, headstrong, loud, brash, stubborn, friendly to a fault, full to overflowing with energy, rushes into things without thinking, and comes up with all sorts of silly ideas. Being an idiot, she often doesn’t realize how difficult things will be, until she’s hit some point of discouragement, where she falls apart. But being simple, she’s easy to put back together too, and gets right back up to try something else. She’s also got an almost irresistible force of will, which helps her get her way more often than not, when she can’t give good reason for a thing.

Kasumi is both the vocalist and rhythm guitarist for PP. She’s the only one who had no experience whatsoever with her instrument, so she’s the one that had the furthest to come. However, if nothing else, she has determination, and she puts in the effort to get to an acceptable level. She is also the main lyricist, which explains why the songs are so all over the place musically – she basically goes with her whims.

Arisa Ichigaya

Arisa is about the exact opposite of Kasumi. Where Kasumi is the Fool, Arisa is the Straight Man, in traditional manzai comedy fashion. Arisa is incredibly smart, top of her class, despite rarely coming to school (because she had no friends, so why bother?). Arisa pretty much just wants a normal, quiet life, but then she always gets caught up with a bunch of weirdos and antics. She tries to keep her feelings to herself, but she’s as easy to read as Kasumi, and often ends up blushing when caught trying to act cool. Sche puts on airs of being a proper young lady, demure and polite; despite that, she doesn’t suffer fools well, and often has outbursts when crazy stuff happens – usually aimed at Kasumi, the likely cause of such crazy stuff.

Arisa is the keyboardist for the band. She learned how to play piano as a child, but she hasn’t kept up with it. She’s the type that always likes to be extremely prepared and in control, so her lack of skill is always nervewracking, on top of her usual shyness. She also acts somewhat as the manager for the band: Kasumi is always half-planning stuff, and Arisa likes to be sure in every detail, so she takes care of those things. (Also doesn’t hurt that her basement is the home base for the band.) While she doesn’t like to admit it, she really cares for the band, and goes the extra mile for them.

Rimi Ushigome

Rimi is just one giant ball of anxiety in a small frame. She’s extremely shy, quite nervous, and takes a long time to make decisions for herself. So naturally, she got swept up in Kasumi’s tornadic energy. She’s also kinda dumb, which doesn’t help matters (though not anywhere near Kasumi’s level). However, she likes what she likes, and is very willing to let everyone know: chocolate coronets, horror movies, and music.

Rimi is the bassist for the band. Her older sister is the bassist for another band (Glitter Green), who taught her the basics on how to play. Even so, she’s not too skilled at the start, and much like Arisa, gets incredibly nervous during performances. Even so, she was the first one to say yes when Kasumi wanted to form a band, and is always excited for both practice and performances.

Tae Hanazono

Tae can be summed up in one phrase: space cadet. She’s never really all there. Sometimes she seems like a complete idiot, while others she’s the wisest one in the room. Usually the former, though. She’s always ready to go along with Kasumi’s ideas, often confusing the situation even more (much to Arisa’s consternation). If ever there was a non-sequitur that didn’t need to be said, she’s there to say it – usually about rabbits.

Tae is the lead guitarist for PP. She’s the only band member who’s particularly skilled with their instrument, having played guitar since she was a child. However, she never joined a band before PP – she preferred to watch; in fact, at the start of the game she’s working for a concert hall. She joins PP after tutoring Kasumi for a while, convinced that there was something special with her, some special feeling with the band.

That’s not what the fanfics say…
Saya Yamabuki

Saya is the Normal One. While Arisa tries to be normal, Saya actually is. In fact, she’s so normal, I don’t have much to say about her. She’s not dumb or smart. She’s grounded and centered. But she doesn’t really perform any role in the dynamic of PP. She’s just kinda there being pretty. Her parents run a local bakery, which means she’s often left taking care of her younger siblings. In fact, this makes her the last member of PP to join up – she felt her family responsibilities would interfere with the band.

Saya is the drummer. She was actually a drummer for another band in the past, but she quit after a family incident (which, again, made her extremely hesitant to join with PP). Her role in the band mostly seems to be getting treats for parties and practices. It’s funny, she basically gets an event that’s all about her, and yet she still doesn’t make much of an impression to me.

Bang Dream! Girls Band Party! The Review!

This will be the general review of the game Bang Dream! Girls Band Party! (Yes, the exclamation marks are part of the title; it’s all very exciting, after all). I’m going to be doing a summary of the different bands in separate posts, because I think that’s worthwhile. But this is the sort of thing where I tell you stuff, so you can see if you want to try it out.

First thing you should know, this is a rhythm game. If that turns you off, don’t even bother. In terms of gameplay, it’s essentially the same as Guitar Hero or Rock Band, just with a touch screen: notes fall from the top of the screen, and when they hit the target area, you touch them. Or hold, or slide, whatever. You get a score for each note, depending on your difficulty and accuracy, and your combo count. You also have a life meter, which depletes if you mess up. For the most part, points doesn’t matter a whole lot.

Those pink diamonds are the bane of my life.

I wonder if the obvious similarities to Guitar Hero aren’t deliberate. Because, unlike a lot of mobile rhythm games, the music is mostly rock music. There are some different genres represented, depending on the band – I’ll get into that more when I talk about each band later. The different tracks are all free – you start with a large supply, and augment these through events, completing the stories, or using in-game currency. You don’t have to have the song yourself to play them in multiplayer, just to choose them yourself. In multiplayer each player chooses whatever they want, and then it’s decided randomly.

The second thing to know, is that this is a gacha game. The gacha consists of the various characters, each having several variants. I said above that the score mostly doesn’t matter. It doesn’t, except in multiplayer events. Score is dependent on the stats of your band. And of course, higher-rarity units have better stats. While there are in-game items that boost stats, boosts are naturally higher when the stats are higher to begin with. Also, different units have different abilities that are activated at certain times in a song (indicated by a yellow note), and higher-rarity units tend to have better abilities. But, most importantly to most players, each new unit comes with two mini stories, and often a new costume for the song background. The game is pretty generous with gacha currency, so one could easily save a bunch (especially when you’re new) and roll quite a bit. I personally got about 140 rolls in the first 2.5 months of playing – and I’m not good.

As a big part of the draw to the gacha is the appeal of the characters, it’s important to make them appealing. All events and story things are fully-voiced, at least for the main characters. (There are a few characters besides them that are also voiced, but most npc’s aren’t – this isn’t really a problem, since they aren’t a big part of the story, typically.) All of the character portraits are also animated using Live2D, which works really well for the most part. The voice acting is high-quality, and brings a lot of life and emotion to the characters – which is important, because the stories themselves are generally pretty simple.

Technically, I think this is a pretty demanding game. I have a top-tier Chromebook (at least for last year), and there is stuttering and desynching. However, I always have a large amount of Chrome tabs in the background, which probably doesn’t help things. My tablet, which is also pretty good, has no trouble with those sorts of issues. I think it’s probably more designed to play on phones, though – all the good video of people playing are doing it on phones, and it’s certainly easier to hit all the notes with one hand that way. A garbage phone like mine isn’t going to cut it, for sure, but I’m not sure how good your phone will need to be to play this well.

There are several servers to choose from, though you’ll almost certainly want to stay in your region: Japan, Korea, China (HK), Taiwan, and Worldwide. Your region determines the language of the game, and probably also ping, servers, etc. Thus, I figure anyone reading this will probably want to play on the World server, because that’s the English version. Japan was the original version, and it’s exactly one year ahead of the World version, in terms of events, songs, and gacha. I think the other servers are ahead of the World version, if you can do those languages, and care about that. (I don’t know about the Korean version, but the Taiwan version looks to be only five months behind Japan). The English translation sticks pretty close to the Japanese original, but some of the translation choices are odd, considering that. But it’s not nearly as bad as many other games I play, so I can deal with it.

All that being said, what’s most important: Is this game fun? I have to say it is. I quite like the story and characters, and the gameplay is fun as well. I also quite like most of the music, which is good considering that’s part of the gameplay. (I even bought the Rosellia album that came out a few weeks ago.) I don’t regret the little money I’ve put into it, for sure. I do play it quite a lot, and have improved a ton since I started. However, this game is very skill-based, and you need good reaction times and hand-eye coordination, areas in which I am quite lacking. Hard difficulty is actually hard, which is a little embarrassing to admit when I see most other players in my stats range doing Master no problem. But regardless, I do really like this game, which is why I’m going to be talking about it a lot more in the near future.