Wednesday, January 6, 2010

'Perfect Nightmare' is Damn Right!

This time around, Jamaal checks out the demo for a new Western-developed visual novel, and finds that... yeah, it's not so good. Buckle up.

I had one helluva treat today. The kind of treat-- in this case a snack-- that your friend gives you, and they're SO eager for you to try it that you can't help but be suspicious. They hold out their hand to you, and in their palm is the treat of promised goodness. They smile grandly at you, but it's awkward... it's the kind of smile one has when holding back laughter. You're suspicious; you know something is wrong... but they're your friend, and you're theirs! And since we're all friends here, everything is all right... right?

So by whatever logic that lies dormant in our bodies to go through with stupid, obviously bad ideas, you partake of the treat your friend has offered you. You're a damn fool for doing as such, and your friend is smirking and laughing at your agony as this ass-flavored thing sits in your mouth. At this point, you can either spit out the so-called treat your friend gave you, or you can swallow your pride, and swallow it down (heh). Considering that I'm both a masochist and bursting with pride, one can assume my mouth is now filled with a flavor I can't wash out.

The treat my friend sent me this morning had attempts at appeal, and nothing but ass-flavor by the end. She links me to a forum thread that she had gotten from someone's Deviant-Art page. The information inside pertains to the creation of a visual novel called Perfect Nightmare: Overkill. One woman is taking it upon herself to make this happen: from the story, to the art, to the everything. It's all her.

Quite frankly, when I got to the characters section of the opening post, about half a screen worth of scrolling down, my brain was instantly deep fried in pure bullshit.

There's something wrong with all three of these characters!

These characters were created in some kind of trans-hallucinogenic trip. Crazy colored eyes, super tie-dye hair, broken knees. You name it, they have it. You need a special kind of mind for "uniqueness" to create these abominations of man and woman! It's like driving past a high school when the kids are let out. All the variety in random BS fashion you'll see on those kids looks and feels a lot like these characters. Random... in an attempt to be one-of-a-kind.

"Well shit!" I think to myself. "I'm in too deep now." I stand from my computer chair and stretch, because I know I have to see what my friend is trying to Tom Fool down my throat. I'm a Visual Novel virgin, and I have a feeling I'm about to get raped. So against my better judgment, I download the demo of meager size, click to unzip, and launch that junk up.

As I mentioned, I've never actually played (would that be the proper term?) [Oh no you di'int! -Ed] a Visual Novel of any kind. I know of a few, but that's only because I've played their fighting game counterparts, like Fate/Unlimited Codes, based off of Fate/Stay Night, and Melty Blood, based off Tsukihime, just to name a few. So my thoughts and opinions may be brash, simple-minded, lacking in knowledge and overall ignorant. Frankly, I don't care, because it was all hella BS!

This is the first of the three main characters. This is also the first of three main characters I can't bring myself to care about. Getting done watching the news, The Mastermind pops her leg up, showing off her amazing (see: awful) frilly fashion. She is, as the name 'Mastermind' puts it, the supposedly super-smart head honcho of the group the game focuses on: the Night's Gale Guild.

And the guy conversing with her now is The Proxy (I'm reminded of Read or Die's code names here), a robot with Tourette's. Tourette's, a not-so-bad checkered shirt accompanied with a horrible purple turtleneck, and hair that Skittles would love to use for their advertisements. [I watched Demolition Man on laser disc over the holidays, and The Proxy is dressed just like 1996-era Wesley Snipes -Ed.]

Between these two characters, there is a recurring joke in which The Mastermind calls The Proxy "whore," and The Proxy calls The Mastermind "slut." It's not funny; I didn't even smirk or give it my usual "What the hell... Seriously?" response. It's not so bad that it's good. It's so bad you want to slam your head into the nearest solid object.

Actually, The Proxy doesn't actually have tourettes, but he might as well. He just fits 'fuck' into the most awkward and unnecessary moments. Like, check this situation out:

The game introduces this blonde gal, Female Marionette #2, the third main character. She is plagued with amnesia, and therefore a lot of mystery like every other character in this game. She's gonna be the character you're identifying with the most, I figure, as she knows as much as you do about anything going on in this damn world.

Still, The Mastermind asks the blonde gal to tell her what she's doing there, arguing with her amnesia, an argument fit only for a genius like her. But The Proxy shows back up, and not a moment too soon. "I thought you had work to do?!" asks the Mastermind, to which he responds:

Classy! I mean, fuckin' classy!

And his awesome dialogue doesn't stop there. He just slams the word in wherever he wants, whatever the sentence! It feels like the writer is going for the "I don't give a damn" character, but cussing as spontaneously as he does accomplishes nothing.

That, and a lot of the dialogue feels unnecessary and not relevant to anything. Not humor, not character development. Just filler to pretend the game has more depth than it actually does. A 6 ft. depth sign in a 3 ft. depth pool sends you diving headfirst into a floor of concrete.

Yeah you guys! Stop! I don't give a damn about the arguing; I give a damn about the unnecessary dialogue!

So Female Marionette #2 is a traniee. The Mastermind doesn't know why they need her, because they already have two other marionettes. Well, because they're 'bloody troublemakers' as The Proxy puts it. "Good call," The Mastermind responds, the idea obviously never occurring to her. Despite being a "mastermind" of some kind, she has very little going for her. Both as a genius and as a character. She's done nothing important, or even interesting, up to this point besides unnecessary bitching.

Eventually you get a chance to ask some questions. Sadly, the answers barely make you give a damn. For a game so focused on story and development, there are less hooks than a goddamn fishing rod. Still, as a "reward," this gives The Proxy many opportunities to randomly insert "fuck" into his sentences.

Seriously. Here's a sample dialogue tree:
What does the Night's Gale guild do?
"We're just a bunch of really fucking bored people trying to find something to do in our free time."

How does the ranking system work?
"The Mastermind is Rank 1. That means he does nothing and is still our fucking boss."

Who exactly is the Mastermind?
"It'll be okay. Just don't look him in the eye for too long. It's going to fucking kill you, amiga."

Am I really dead?
"...To us, you're totally alive. To the people on Earth, you're pretty much fucking dead."
Now that you've gotten over the fuck-topia that comes out of The Proxy's mouth, re-read that section of quotes again. There's something else strange and unusual in there...

OKAY, WHAT? THE MASTERMIND IS A GUY? MORE LIKE MASTER-MAN. Maybe I'm just slow and I don't remember what males look like. No, screw that. He looks exactly like a girl!

Still... THE TWO CHARACTERS DON'T ACT LIKE THERE WASN'T ANY SORT OF POSSIBLE CONFUSION WITH THAT! I...just don't know... I feel dumb now... for reasons I can't even explain, honestly... Maybe it's an "I should have known" thing. Maybe I'd shaken and smacked my head so many times that brain damage occurred. Maybe it's just fucking stupid. Yeah, I agree: It's a mix of the last two.

Sigh... Playing-- or reading-- this game is work. Not like reading something informative, like a text book, where you get a return on your time investment. It feels like I have to force myself to continue reading after every word I lay my eyes on, just because it's that mind-numbing to me. And because this is a demo, or maybe because it's a Visual Novel, there is no light at the end of the tunnel. This 'game' is tiring out my brain. I wanna quit so badly, but...!

nah foo' u jus' some straight frontin' punk ass bitch.

This red-haired boy who has come under attack by ghosts seems to be the first side character. Obviously, he's helpless, and you get to choose to help him or not. Neither option seems to affect much in the game. Same with any of the other limited choices given to you in this demo. There goes what little excitement there could have been for the demo ... and probably the game.

I hate to admit it after struggling through the rest of the demo, but he might be the first character I have a chance of caring for... at least until the game is voiced-over'd as the creator has promised ("Oh god..." I know). His name is The Stellate, and he's a terrible, horrible wigga who won't think twice about pullin' no trigga. He even solidifies his position by saying he's a real gansta himself. He's teleports bitches and he's bad for your health!

...Unfortunately, he doesn't freestyle like that consistently.

So the modus operandi for the game, and the guild's next mission is now revealed, about twenty minutes into the demo, and less than five minutes from the end: To destroy the Earth! Even The Mastermind is taken aback by news of this! ...Though it's odd that he didn't know about it already. In fact, I realized something: In the text of the second image with The Proxy, he says The Mastermind should talk to the others about the task at hand. Yet, only now do they mention anything of a task, 25 minutes into the demo. What is up with the weird inconsistencies in this game?

Still, they can't possibly destroy the Earth! "They have cheese for fuck's sake!!" quoth The Mastermind. Ugh, really? This game demo is like 20 of the most unnecessary ways to use the word "fuck," followed by another "Slut", "Whore" moment, and there's been about four of these up to now so far. I haven't smiled in the slightest once, as the placement of the joke is extremely forced after the second time.

Of course, what creation by a female fan of anime wouldn't be complete without some girly men loving on each other? As Anime World Order's Daryl Surat put it in a recent episode, "maybe they're gay" remains a winning formula in manga and beyond. Despite being short-lived, it's still a selectable option, and there's probably plenty more to come.

To be fair, this is a demo. At its core, it's not at all a complete game. Sure, the last screen leaves you with a "To be continued...." but for me, there's very little to look forward to. Sure, it could turn out to be extremely awesome and creative for all that I know. It could have a juicy story with a shocking climax, and maybe even a lot of well-written dialogue! (Pffft...)

Despite being a demo, my first visual novel, and my ability to stay fair with all situations, I still remain extremely doubtful this is going anywhere. Regardless of what I think, most people on the forum seem to be genuinely interested in the game. Who am I to tell them they're wrong? Maybe they enjoy their weird characters, bad dialogue, and the fucked up use of curse words...

...They're lying to themselves, though. Hah!