So I’m back at school, and I haven’t had time for vns as much, let alone animu. Sob. Lately, I’ve been looking towards rhythm games. I’m not too sure myself why I keep playing them, considering that they’re bizarrely frustrating, and are able to infuriate me more than any other sort of video game I’ve ever played or most likely ever will play. Now I’m not a perfectionist by any means, but there’s something about not quite hitting the notes in time which lead to a premature ゲームオーバー which makes me grit my teeth and tense my grip on my poor abused PSP like nothing else. The song continuing to play while I’m gradually getting more and more frazzled and become so overwhelmed by all the notes I’m missing. I become frustrated.
Given that I’ve been playing more of these rhythm games lately, in future I’m going to
make filler posts write about my impressions of them here. Nothing too long considering I can’t exactly take photos of the games and upload them here (too complicated). I’m aware that there’s a program where you can screencap what you’re doing, but I prefer not to play these sort of games near the computer. Screenshots will be shamelessly pilfered from google here, or fan art will be posted. Anyway, I’m a big fan of Evangelion and like any other Evafag, am interested in what’s being served up by Gainax, milking their lucrative cash cow for all its worth. I’ve had bad experiences with what I’ve played, but I keep being drawn towards them. Here I’ll talk about a game which was recently released for the PSP – 3nd Impact/サウンドインパクト.
Alright, for someone who’s not really a fan of Eva this entry won’t tickle their fancy. But what if I told them that especially for this game, the tracks were lovingly remixed by Akira Yamaoka (Silent Hill) and that the game itself was produced by Grasshopper Manufacture (No More Heroes)? Right there ladies and gentlemen, is the draw of 3nd Impact. Sure you could just obtain the soundtrack, but you’ve to experience those bombastic remixes for yourself, to hear what they’d sound like in context. Given that it’s a game by fans for fans, Yamaoka himself said the game’s music had to be treated with respect given how iconic and instantly recognizable it is. Eva has the kind of powerful pieces of music which should be up there on any best of anime soundtrack compilation. Yamaoka recognized that, and essentially took apart each track and reorganized them to make them fit into a rhythm game.
There are a total of thirty stages – tracks – in the game. They basically follow the plot of the two released Rebuild movies, having brief exchanges of dialog between and during fights. Unlike other rhythm games where you can just pick one up and enjoy it without being that much of a fan of the franchise (I’ll talk more about that in a later post), 3nd Impact is a strictly Eva fan affair where you won’t derive much enjoyment out of it unless you are a fan of the tracks being altered. The plot is shown through the short stages, so you’d obviously want to be familiar with the series before checking it out.
Unlike other rhythm games, you’re not just clicking the various buttons on the right to the beat. There are several variations here which keeps gameplay fresh and enables you to play for longer without feeling that the game is too repetitive. The title is a little Engrishy, but that’s the intention. Given that in Japanese ‘san’ is three, calling the game ‘sand impact’ is a silly little pun which is probably meant to sound like ‘sound impact’.
Angel Session is pretty standard click-the-buttons-in-time-to-the-beat fare. An Angel appears in the middle of a screen, and jerks around sending out attacks in sequence (x, x, x, o, x, x) which you must then click. Call of Fourteen is a typically Eva stage, with it being the more introspective one which allows you a glimpse into the psyche of all the pilots (yes, that also includes Mari and Kaworu). Key character phrases play over an eerie track while images of the character from the first two movies appear behind a sort of heart monitor like system, where you must press the ‘o’ button at the right moment for the line to go through. The whole thing sounds very out of sync and I honestly didn’t expect a stage like that. I’ve heard ‘Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring’ a few times being used in unsettling scenes for maximum effect, and when a distorted version of it started playing during Rei’s stage while she was saying things like ‘私は人形じゃない’, my attention shifted sharply and I started feeling uncomfortable. Kaworu’s wasn’t all that fun to play through either, considering he repeats everything he says.
AT is a stage where you’re actually battling the Angels out in Tokyo-3. Both anime cut scenes and 3D modeling are used here. You’ve to click the left arrow, the ‘o’ button, and both of them at the same time in this scene. Nothing too difficult. Later on in the battle you can hear pieces of dialog from spectators, mostly who’s on NERV’s bridge. This stage is probably the easiest for your concentration to be lost in, if you’re too preoccupied with looking at what’s going on behind what you have to click. HEX is the calmest out of the lot, being another character centric stage. Only this time, it’s not as creepy. The screen is filled with red hexagons (hence the ‘HEX’ name, derp) which you get rid of by pressing ‘o’ in time with the music. The more ‘o’s you clear, the more of the screen you get to see. Missing a button means that more red hexagons pile up. The songs here are what you’d expect Rei’s is the poignant ‘翼をください’, and Asuka’s is (the nowhere near as good or memorable) ‘今日の日はさようなら’.
My overall favourite stage was Teardrop, which there were only three of. In these stages, you controlled, Shinji, Asuka, and Rei as they ran all through Tokyo-3 and jumped over various obstacles. In my opinion, it was also the most visually interesting scene as while the Eva unit runs along, the scenery completely alters and day goes to evening to night and right back again before you can even notice. The music used in those three stages fitted very well. Two out of three of Mari’s stages were incredibly difficult (NUMBER 5 and Beastie Girl), because you’ve to click both the ‘L’ and ‘R’ buttons in time with the music. Nothing that difficult, you’re surely thinking. But it’s the quickest stage out of the lot and I had to attempt the NUMBER 5 stage more times than I should have.
Extra features are minimal. Depending on how well you do in each stage, you can get a NERV seal of approval of sort. You can get up to five in each stage. There’s a gallery section where the more seals you have, the more images become unlocked. Some of them are typical fanservicey images (Rei lounging on her bed with a slightly fearful look on her face), others are entertaining enough (Asuka bickering with Touji), and then there are other random ones (a bento featuring Unit-00). There’s a typical ‘next episode’ sequence gallery, which once again has poor Mitsuishi Kotono saying ‘サービスサービス~!’. One can’t help but wonder how many times she’s after saying that over the past few years.
Would I recommend this? I’m actually not all that sure. Although I said earlier on in the entry that you’d have to hear the tracks in context to fully appreciate the changes Yamaoka made to them so that they’d fit the structure of a game, but you really could just track down the soundtrack and give it a listen yourself. The game is unsurprisingly short, and only consists of tracks from Rebuild.