Lost Technology First Impressions – A Reasonably Priced Addiction

Alright, so after last week’s cull from my watch list I had a few holes in my review line up for this week, and so I decided to post my impressions of a game that was recommended to me through another blog. It isn’t my usual genre of gaming but for $4 I was game to try out Lost Technology and see how it went. After some false starts, I think I finally have the hang of it.

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Lost Technology is a single player real time strategy simulation game which means for those of us used to a pause button in battles this is kind of highly stressful and I’m really glad that at least early on assigning a lot of your units to auto-mode will work (as the game continues relying on auto will get you wiped out real fast so I recommend using those early turns to figure out what you are doing so that you can actually take control).

There are story modes for some of the factions available, but a lot of factions don’t have a story mode yet, and to be honest, the story really doesn’t do much to make me want to help most of the factions win as it generally makes me dislike the characters. In practising and learning, I’ve started a campaign in most regions just to see how different units work and to try out different strategies, and I kind of enjoy the game equally as well whether the faction I’m playing has a story attached to it or not.

While we’re on things that probably aren’t great yet, I’ll point out the music is incredibly repetitive. Like one track that just loops over and over again and while it sounds really impressive for the first hour, subsequent hours make that music really start to get annoying. Ditto for the dings and clunks as you select units and navigate menus. Not to mention, while there is a full screen mode here, don’t expect it to actually work (or at least it doesn’t on my computer regardless of how I tweak the settings), and in windowed mode, opening and navigating the many layered menus can get really awkward and I’m just thankful that this part doesn’t happen in real time and I can take my time negotiating these before ending my turn.

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That said, for the price of the game on Steam, this is actually really fun. While I had to play the tutorial twice because I wasn’t really used to this kind of game and it took me awhile to get the hang of what I was supposed to even do (even the easy game mode doesn’t actually give you any kind of hint it just kind of drops you in and says go), once I had grasped the concept it became pretty simple to figure things out. Of course, like most brilliantly addictive games, playing is simple but winning is not.

I’m still very much on easy mode and while my most recent attempted campaign has survived long enough to get down to three factions, I’m pretty sure I’m now stretched so thin I’m about to be overrun in more than one direction (late update on that: I actually managed to beat them into submission and now I’ve just got one faction to go). Still, I’ve finally figured out plans of attack, how to minimise losses, when I should fight and when I should run, where to place units in the first place so they are actually effective, and most recently I realised I can actually change which ones are front and back line fighters (probably should have figured that out a bit earlier).

Perhaps my favourite part of the game is that the terrain makes a huge difference in every fight. There was one faction I was so close to defeating and I could crush them easily in every region but one. My troops were no good on water so every time I entered that territory I was wiped out even when I had the larger numbers. So instead of chasing them, I simply set up camp around their territory and whittled them down when they stepped on solid land. Eventually I’d reduced their numbers and chipped away at their reserves by isolating them, and finally managed to crush them. It was a pretty satisfying victory, and I managed to recruit one of the survivors into my troops and gained a unit of fighters who actually could handle water.

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But all terrain makes a difference. Trees, hills, forts, deserts, they can all be used to position troops and turn the tide of battle once you figure out which troops work well on that particular terrain. Magic users as well add a bit of spice to battles as early on they are just pretty weak support troops but later in the game they become fairly destructive forces of nature.

Anyway, if you have a few spare dollars, this game is oddly fun and you will definitely get enough hours out of it for the price tag.


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Karandi James

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So I’m a Spider, So What Volume 2 Light Novel Review: Being Reincarnated is Hard

While the game mechanics are still very much going wild, this second volume follows several of the classes reincarnated students through their latest trials and tribulations. If you missed my review of Volume 1, check it out here.

Review:

This is going to be really hard to review because mostly telling you anything about the plot would drop us face first into spoiler territory. While many things can be suspected early on in this volume, it isn’t until the end of it that critical reveals are made and that kind of changes a lot of how you feel about the story.

So I’ll start with my general impression of the book, which is it isn’t all that great to read. Don’t get me wrong, the story and setting are actually quite interesting, but the heavy reliance on levelling and game mechanics really get in the way of the narrative. There are literally entire pages given to reading the main character’s current levels and statuses. I don’t even like reading those when I am playing an RPG and prefer to just guess where abouts I’ve currently levelled to. The last thing I want is the pace of a novel to come to a screeching halt to find out that Recovery Speed is now at LV4 and Cutting Enhancement is at LV2. When you couple those gripping pages with pages of ‘narrator’ dialogue telling the spider that various points are going up, you could probably shed about half the pages in the book without actually denting the story content.

Despite that, the story we get is really interesting and that just annoys me because it means I will read the next book when I can even though the writing itself is really not great.

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I don’t ever want to reincarnate as a spider.

Still, the spider’s exploits in the labyrinth are kind of fun. The setting varies sufficiently and there is enough detail put into encounters to make it worth the while. More importantly, the human characters on the surface get a lot more time in this book than in book one. Shun in particular is a far more interesting character this time around and… okay, we’re getting back into spoiler territory, but he’s a lot more noteworthy and I enjoyed his story immensely.

Still, this volume is hard to recommend as a read. There are plenty of isekai stories out there about humans in other worlds, being reincarnated as either human or not, and this one isn’t particularly great to read. I’d love to see this story shed of the gimmicky game elements and told with quite a bit more fluency, though perhaps there’s a reason those elements are needed further down the line. For now they just seem to be there because the writer couldn’t think of a better way to show character progress and that by itself is probably a big red flag.


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Karandi James

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The One Liner Challenge

Thanks GeekOut South West for the nomination. I’m terrible at getting around to these tags and have a few others that I still haven’t responded to, but with Full Metal Panic not airing an actual episode this week I had an empty slot in my schedule and this looked like it would be a lot of fun.

  • Accept and thank your challenger(s) by linking back to their post.
  • Make a post of one-sentence summaries/roasts of at least five books/manga/anime/games.
  • No spoilers!
  • Link back to The Awkward Book Blogger so she can see your post.
  • Challenge as many or as few people as you want!

Okay, let’s take on this challenge. I’m going to take on anime, though part of me is tempted to do this challenge again for books or games at some point. I don’t think I’ve read enough manga yet to do the challenge with that, unless BL counts in which case the one sentence summaries will all end up more or less the same.

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Tortured teen love triangle occasionally interrupted by vampire/hunter politics.
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Feisty teen book worm kicks butt with transforming human weapon – and has daddy issues.
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For the price of a soul get one pretty boy butler who can do literally everything perfectly.
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Down on her luck Nanami goes from being homeless to being a god in one day with added perk of pretty fox boy servant.
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Why wouldn’t you call on a clumsy, ditsy, crybaby and a group of middle-school girls to save the world from the forces of darkness?

I’m not actually going to nominate anyone specifically given my terrible track record of getting around to answering nominations, but I would throw the challenge out there to anyone who is interested in this. It was actually quite a bit of fun.


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Karandi James

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Death March to the Parallel World Rhapsody Series Review: The Experiment Has Ended

I’d never read the source material before watching an anime before so Death March to the Parallel World Rhapsody was something of an experiment to see if knowing what was going to happen would change my enjoyment of it. I can’t say that it did but that’s more because this anime probably would have bored me to tears either way. What did you think of it?

Review:

There’s very little for me to really say about this anime, which is kind of odd given I watched it through to the end and it wasn’t as though it was toxically terrible. That’s actually probably the worst thing about this show. It isn’t good or bad. It just kind of is. It is your typical game developer/designer/whatever wakes up inside game world kind of story and then just to make sure we aren’t worried about his safety he is transformed into a teenage version of himself with super stats. Of course he gains a harem of girls but being a gentlemen won’t do a thing with any of them, but he will slip off to a tavern if he gets the chance, and will definitely comment on the breast size of older women.

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However, that was the same as the source material and why it wasn’t great, it was enjoyable enough to read with some interesting descriptions of places and people. The anime on the other hand doesn’t get the benefit of the interesting descriptions and really just kind of drags the viewer along after Satou as he explores the new world. He also seems to gain levels and skills super fast, which again was the experience in the book but it didn’t feel as much like he was cheating his way through a story in the book for some reason even though the progress was much the same.

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The visuals aren’t great and a lot of the images end up being from Satou’s point of view with game menus dominating a large part of the screen and a weird filter over some shots. However, even when that isn’t the case, nothing is overly distinct visually. The town, the food, the scenery are all just kind of pseudo-medieval and while that was the case in the book, when you could imagine it yourself it looked a lot more interesting than this.

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The girls Satou rescues and befriends over the course of the series all have their good points and moments. The issue of course is the sheer number of them and they end up with overlapping personalities and roles within the group meaning they all become relatively inconsequential and interchangeable. You’d be forgiven for not being able to name any of them outside of Tama, Pochi and Arisa given the rest keep getting sidelined.

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As I said, not much to say about this. It wasn’t terrible. But it was probably the least interesting thing I watched this season. I really wanted more from it, but when you decide to follow events in a story as they are written rather than thinking about how to make them interesting to view on screen, this is more or less what you are going to end up with.

Episode Reviews:


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Karandi James

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Death March to the Parallel World Rhapsody Episode 12: Friendship Trumps All

This one has finally drawn to a close and I’m not in the least sorry to see it end. While it isn’t unwatchable by any means, given I clearly watched it and it isn’t a disaster of a narrative, it really does just kind of meander its way through the events in the novels. Interestingly, the final episode probably has the biggest deviation from the events in the book and really that was probably just so they could wrap up this arc without needing another episode.

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Still, the anime has never once broken free of its generic trappings or of being a less impressive version of a story type we’ve seen before (but better) with characters we’ve met before (but more interesting versions). Being generic isn’t exactly a crime, and some generic anime manage to be quite entertaining, but this one felt like it was just passing time and the final episode does nothing to change that impression.

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I’ll write a full review soon but essentially this is Satou travelling about doing what he feels he would like to do and gathering a collection of girls into his travelling party who each increasingly serve less purpose as they start overlapping in their characteristics.

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Karandi James

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Finally, you can use the affiliate link to shop at Play-Asia.com ifPlay-Asia.com - Play-Asia.com: Online Shopping for Digital Codes, Video Games, Toys, Music, Electronics & more you are interested in anime, soundtracks, figures or games. Should you use the link and make a purchase, I will receive a small percentage of the purchase price.

So I’m a Spider, So What Volume 1 Light Novel Review: Game Mechanics Go Wild

Overview:

A classroom explodes in Japan and next thing our protagonist knows they are hatching as a spider in another world. Good thing for levelling up.

Review:

I’ll admit that wasn’t much of an overview, but to be honest, it probably didn’t need to be. The story presented in volume 1 of this series is that straight forward and more importantly it is a concept rather than a story. From beginning to end, this book is establishing its world and our character reacts accordingly to the various events that get thrown at them. But there is no grand quest or target here other than survival for another day. And while glimpses of other characters, also reincarnated classmates, suggest a much grander tale to unfold in future volumes, the plot in this one, judged on its own merit and without thinking about what might come later, is pretty lame.

It doesn’t help that we are once again trapped in a fantasy world that for some reason uses game based mechanics including menus, skills, levelling up, stamina bars and whatever else they chose to throw in. If we actually went through the book and removed all instances of discussing these things, observing them, or having announcements about achieving levels or targets, the book would be about half the size pretty much instantly. And while I’m not opposed to something being based on game mechanics, when it comes at the expense of story, or worse is used as the sole gimmick other than the protagonist being an arachnid, I really do have to throw a rock at it.

Yet, before you cast this one aside from any potential reading list I do have to note, that despite the plot, character, and gimmicky nature of the premise, this was actually fun to read. Okay, it didn’t do enough of anything and I finished the book feeling like maybe the introduction of a story was finished, and I really disliked the main character which is a shame because they narrate most of it, and yet the word fun still seems appropriate as a description of my reading experience.

So what did it do right?

From you normal point of view, very little. The narrative structure is barely present and really other than the character reeling from crisis to crisis with small moments of self-congratulations or loathing in between, there isn’t a lot going on. And yet, individually most of these moments are kind of fun. The spider learning to build a home, developing strategies for taking down prey, running from humans, fighting a snake, and even the final monkey fight (not that they are actually monkeys) were all pretty fun experiences.

There are also enough hints from the secondary story line with the Prince and the other reincarnated students that a larger story will eventually appear. However, this is one thing I don’t like about ongoing series when they don’t give you a narrative in itself that links to a larger story but simply give you a story fragment and expect that you’ll read on in order to be satisfied. While this certainly made me curious enough to read on, overall it makes it hard to recommend this first book because if you want to read a story, this doesn’t have one contained within.

That said, I do have to congratulated the writer on their pacing. We didn’t linger in any one part of the story for too long. Even the moments of self-loathing or healing that the spider underwent were moved through with sufficient pace that you caught the mood that was intended but didn’t feel like you were being dragged along by the writing. While a little more depth of character and tone may have been appreciated, I’m just glad at no point did I feel like nothing was going on and that I’d be better off closing the book and going elsewhere.

However, while pacing is nicely kept up, descriptions from start to finish are vague and perfunctory. Part of this is a byproduct of the gaming influence whereby the descriptions we get are the result of the spider’s appraisal skill and come out as a series of one word descriptors about species and status. The other issue is the narrator’s style and tone because a disengaged teenager does not make for the most observant or articulate of narrators and so vague comparisons are used and terrible names that the spider feels very smug about coining are used instead of decent descriptions of the monsters or settings. As a result, visualising anything that is going on becomes a bit of a chore outside of generic and vague because you are more getting a sketched outline of what is going on.

Right, I know it really sounds like this should be read and if you are after something that you might argue is a quality book, I’m guessing this isn’t going to be for you. But denying that this was entertaining and that, on reading the last pages with the inevitable cliff-hanger conclusion, I wanted to read the next book would be silly. I genuinely am interested in what this story does next and whether or not we will ever be told how the story of the previous hero’s death links to the classroom exploding in Japan and why these reincarnations have happened and why not all of the have ended up human. Basically, a mixed review all round and this is one that might entertain you or you might end up thinking is just a bit stupid. I guess you should judge by your reaction to the title. I kind of thought it sounded interesting and snarky and that was more or less what I got so I really can’t complain.


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Karandi James

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Death March to the Parallel World Rhapsody Episode 11: The Great Potion Bottle Conspiracy

The biggest problem with this anime is it lacks any sense of urgency. Ever. This episode begins with Satou taking a leisurely meal, drink, and whatever else is on offer at a pub before he continues travelling along and playing around with skills and practising different magic effects. While this ultimately leads him to the witch’s forest and triggers the next ‘event’ where he has to help the apprentice get enough of the potion gathered and delivered, there’s really no sense that there is any real threat here that the audience should take seriously.

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It was after this arc in the books where I paused in reading this series because I was having much the same problem reading about this dilemma. The main character has no personal stake in it. We only just met the witch and her apprentice so we have no attachment to them, and Satou does not need to get involved. He mostly just decides he wants to because… Okay, I don’t know that we know enough about him as a character to know what his motive is other than ‘nice MC archetype’.

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Though, so this doesn’t seem too negative (though how you could be too negative about something this dull I do have to wonder), I will point out the positive which is the very pretty magic display we get mid-episode.

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Onto the final episode then and to be honest I’m going to be pretty happy to say goodbye to this show from my watch list.

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Karandi James

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Death March to the Parallel World Rhapsody Episode 10: We’ll Eat, And Play, And Muse, and Eat Some More

Princess saved and the camper-van is on the road as the girls frolic in gentle rolling fields only occasionally stopping to ruthlessly cut down the perfectly innocent deer that might otherwise have live long and fruitful lives. Why did they keep this in when they adapted this to an anime?

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While I’m positive that Satou’s title of doll-maker or puppeteer or whatever it was, will somehow be crucially important to the plot at some point (eye roll), the simple fact of the matter is that nothing that happened this episode needed to be shown at all. Even the ratmen giving Satou the bell could have happened in a different place.

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And while yes we did get Satou’s playing around with storage, magic, and trips into what might either be his past, a past life, or some game delusion that he had after far too much Red Bull and an all night session with his computer, none of it really seems worth sitting through all those stills of smiling girls eating happily on picnic blankets.

Possibly there’s an audience out there thinking this is exactly what they’ve always wanted to watch, but somehow I kind of thought when they adapted this subject matter they’d make some hard cuts.

 

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Karandi James

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Death March to the Parallel World Rhapsody Episode 9: Destroy The Minions, Kill the Bad Guy, Rescue The Princess – Check

Review:

Death March to the Parallel World Rhapsody as an anime just hasn’t managed to really do much other than walk us through a check list of events that each could be interesting given sufficient time and attention and yet neither seems to be something this show wishes to give anything other than Satou’s reaction to food. This episode basically walks us through a by-the-numbers hero’s path as he cuts his way through the minions (not killing them of course) before a one-on-one confrontation that ends with him rescuing the Princess before engaging in a daring escape. And yet, none of it is interesting.

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You might argue that maybe I’m just hard to please but really is it too much to ask for some sense of danger or risk to the protagonist or even a villain that isn’t really just a talking skull that other than abducting the elf-girl does absolutely nothing villainous. And while we’re on it, why did he kidnap the elf-girl? His motivation here seems pretty weak to say the least.

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Not to worry though, because everything will be just fine and Satou will reunite with his growing gang of groupies and they’ll embark on a road trip. I kind of thought this arc would be the end of the season but we’ve still got three episodes to go so now I’m kind of wondering where this show intends to leave us at the end of the season. Probably in the middle of nowhere.

DeathMarch9f

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Karandi James

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Finally, you can use the affiliate link to shop at Play-Asia.com ifPlay-Asia.com - Play-Asia.com: Online Shopping for Digital Codes, Video Games, Toys, Music, Electronics & more you are interested in anime, soundtracks, figures or games. Should you use the link and make a purchase, I will receive a small percentage of the purchase price.

Death March to the Parallel World Rhapsody Episode 8: Shortcut Through A Dungeon

Review:

I mentioned in the second light novel review that the dungeon exploring elements in this story seem more obligatory than actually apart of the story with the protagonist going out of his way to get through it as fast as possible. When reading that seems like an odd choice but the focus is on living in another world and not so much on defeating dungeons (though why include the dungeon at all then). When watching this play out it isn’t just odd, it is boring. And that is the single worst thing I could say about a show.

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Any way, Mia is kidnapped by the Undead King and Satou follows ending up in a dungeon of 200 floors which he essentially uses short cuts to get through. While I don’t actually want to see him grind 200 floors, it would be nice if this sequence at least presented some kind of challenge or even built up some sense of anticipation. However, the story tone just reeks of obligation. This is a based on a game isekai so here’s your dungeon sequence, slap

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The end result is an understandably less than satisfying viewing experience. And even the set up for the next episode isn’t doing all that much for me. Even if I hadn’t read how it would resolve it just doesn’t seem likely that there’s going to be much excitement from the confrontation they’ve just set up so for a cliff-hanger it really kind of failed to generate any enthusiasm for what comes next.

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Karandi James

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If you enjoyed this post and would like to see Patreon2more great content on this blog, consider becoming a patron for as little as $1 a month.

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Finally, you can use the affiliate link to shop at Play-Asia.com ifPlay-Asia.com - Play-Asia.com: Online Shopping for Digital Codes, Video Games, Toys, Music, Electronics & more you are interested in anime, soundtracks, figures or games. Should you use the link and make a purchase, I will receive a small percentage of the purchase price.