Brain Damage and Haphazard Boners

February 3rd, 2015

I like to live dangerously.

One of the games I’m often (incessantly) asked to work on is Baldr Sky, and one might assume from placing it below a game about creating your own personal army of children by defrauding the government as a one-man incestuous polygomist commune, that I’m not a great fan. Well, I’ve got nothing else to talk about this week, and who doesn’t love a good old-fashioned internet bloody cage match, so I think I’ll just incisively rant about something I’ve said not very much on before for funsies. I’m a blast at parties like that.

Baldr Sky, for the untrained, is part of Giga’s greater Baldr series; cyberpunk arena action games about men and women pretending to be Rock ’em Sock ’em robots, but you know, serious. Profanity-spewing wolf underwear serious. The story picks up with Kadokura Kou waking up in the middle of a battlefield with a bunch of angry robot spiders in place of his memories of the last some odd years. It’s up to him and his bikini model sidekick to finish the mission he was in the middle of yada yada save the multiverse.

     

Yeah, it sure would be nice if it was. Not to spoil, but here’s a summary of about the first 8 chapters of the game’s first route: “You have amnesia. We showed up late to the party. You have amnesia. That’s enough excitement for now, let’s relax for a while. You have amnesia.” Repeat x3. You’d think these characters were being paid by the number of times they remind you about it. Except for Kou, your avatar, of course. He spends the intro screaming about how he has no idea what’s going on and is just a student, but quickly overcomes that to never shut up about how he has no idea what’s going on and how strangely nostalgic everything is. You could make a very passable drinking game just out of the use of 懐かしい.

Of course, there’s the titular lost memories. Since amnesia’s the name of the game here, Kou gets constantly sucked into memories as they come back to him, because they had to find a way to jam in teenagers going to school and faffing about somehow. If that wasn’t bad enough and fueling the nostalgia-nonsense in the present time, in the flashbacks, he also meets his long unseen cousin/step-sister and childhood friend, so even then, he won’t shut up about how nostalgic things are. It might be tolerable if they were actually providing any kind of effect or additional insight on things in progress, but nine times out of ten, they’re just random scenes of going to school. Simply squirming over uncomfortable boners as the obligatory parade of girls throw themselves at him, inevitably followed by meeting them in the present timeline to remark on how nostalgic it is. Again.

  

But surely the story drives things along, right? Pfft. In about seven chapters, the plot goes all the way from “I have no idea what I was doing,” to “I have no idea why I was investigating the massively (and openly) corrupt mayor who has ties to virtually all criminal activity in the city, but it seems like it’s probably important.” Every time you set out, you show up too late to do anything but watch someone get away and then fight the robot beetles that they always leave behind. The one time you get there early, you spend your time making out with your bimbo (and yes, I am being serious) before someone else raids the place and chases you off. Not once does anybody stop and say “You know, this is the third time we were prevented from finding out everything by showing up two minutes too late. Why don’t we wake up at 6:15 instead of 6:30 tomorrow?”

My particularly favorite moment that I feel deserves special mention is when your Baywatch sidekick takes you aside for an info dumping session on mind hacking, a supposedly super rare super hacking super move, and no sooner than you finish sitting through her lecture than you randomly stumble into the middle of a political rally where, you guessed it, they’re mind hacked to death. That’s basically 1980s Saturday morning cartoon writing. They learn about musical resonance in the first five minutes and then the only thing that can defeat Skeletor’s Doom Harpbot 15 minutes later is hitting the right key on a piano. The most you ever accomplish is being shepherded to yet another person who reminds you that you have amnesia before sending you back home to recover from all that excitement. You and America’s Top Model 57’s sixth place winner could have made as much progress by staying at home, eating animal crackers and sipping mimosas. I’m not exactly feeling like master of my destiny here.

   

And speaking of our protagonist, Kou, where do I begin? With the way he drools over every single female he meets with extensive paragraphs describing how much he wants to fondle their thighs? Or maybe with how he keeps complaining about how useless he is, how he can’t function without his Barbie doll babysitter, and how much of a burden he is on her? Bitch, I just single-handedly punched fifty giant metal beetles to death while jetting around the battlefield with rocket boots and a grenade launcher, raining down death like Asgór, Norse god of indiscriminate bombing, and now you’re bemoaning that you’re pathetic? That doesn’t work for me. But I think the most frustrating part of him is the central super mystery that he brings up all the bloody time, lists every part of it, and then simply can’t seem to solve. “Okay, there was this horrible grey goo/orbital laser tragedy that destroyed my school while I was the next town over which I can’t really remember but changed me into a whole new darker person, I get a splitting headache whenever I try to think about it and/or this girl from school, and whenever I bring her up, everyone immediately changes the subject. What could it all mean!?” I don’t think we’re going to need to call Poirot for this one, ace.

All the characters suffer from jack-all happening to some degree or another, and make you wonder what the hell the point of their existence is, but especially childhood friend and tomboy, who could be replaced by a microwave and there would be no impact on events. Not even two microwaves. Just one. At least other characters are ‘secretly’ (again, mysteries not being a strong suit) helping run an insane cult or have a billion cyber-clones of themselves running around, largely in whore houses. Still not key parts of events in progress or stopping any of them from reminding you that you have amnesia every 2.3 minutes, but one can see how those could eventually lead to something a little more interesting than reheating leftovers and going out for a jog.

   

And now for the obligatory mea culpa. Assume anything that didn’t annoy me was mostly fine. Team Baldrhead’s presentation is excellent as per usual and the combat, while still too easy even on the hardest difficulty, is still fun in a cathartic kind of way, although I still prefer Force’s engine from what I remember a long long time ago. I’m also more than willing to accept that it comes together later. Like other games I’ve talked about, especially like a certain one (in multiple ways), I know the general outline of how things play out for the rest of the game because I passively osmose plot details from the internet. That sounds at least a bit more interesting than what I played. 

I also know that like Baldr Force, route splits are different from most VNs in that they occur almost from the very start. In this case, a major determining factor being the amount of brain damage Kou begins the game with, and isn’t that a depressing thought when forced to begin with maximum? But at the same time, I’ve given it a hell of a lot more time than I’ve given a lot of other games before Nothing Happens™, Boy I Sure Am Lame®, and You Have Amnesia© sapped my desire to press on any further for the fabled land when it stops doing all the things it just spent hours and hours doing.

Stay tuned for some future time when we may very well revisit most of these sentiments (and perhaps more!) for Seinarukana! With extra bitterness!

Posted in Baldr Sky | 9 Comments »

9 Shouts From the Peanut Gallery

  • wsog says:

    Why, I felt I was the only one who didn’t like this game in these parts.

    I did play a bit further than you with two routes finished, but can’t say I have any motivation to continue either. If you don’t care for the apparently winning formula of regular high school stuff + serious mecha stuff thrown in a mixer, than I doubt there’s much entertainment to be had here.

    As for the action part…maybe it would be engrossing were I ignorant of truly good arcade-style action games. I’m not though.

  • Yue says:

    If not for the voice acting in this game, I wouldn’t have understood much what’s going on with the story. Aroduc’s translation of Galaxy Angels helped me a lot understanding nihongo.

    About BaldrSky, you have the option to equip melee and ranged weapons. You can opt for a combination of both but at certain times, you trigger a weapon that you don’t want to use at a certain range.

  • Sanjuro says:

    With the amount of people that spoil this game on the interwebs I don’t think I need it translated anymore. The mechanical men fighting looks fun though.

    Aroduc says:

    Eh. Assuming you’re referring to what you probably are, you know less than you think.

    Sanjuro says:

    I know all. The mechs are actually part human with the soul of the pilots mother in them.

    JCA says:

    That’s basically every mecha plot ever.

  • ElevatorDreams says:

    So you will start translating this next week then?

  • Rz says:

    This is interesting and entertaining review.

    What will you review next Aroduc?
    Better to leave Seinarukana’s review after JAST release the game for real, or they will make you headache afterwards.

    Aroduc says:

    Still working on that. Games are long and my attention span is short. More than once, I haven’t even made it to the actual game part of affairs.