Practice Makes Perfect


Two consecutive Sunday nights at home for the first time since March. And, wouldn’t you know it, I wind up falling annoyingly sick last Thursday. “Annoyingly” in the debilitating sense: unable to concentrate for long periods due to a fogginess in my skull, I found myself stuck in the shitty position where I couldn’t work, couldn’t read, and – more importantly for this blog – couldn’t game. Most such afflictions last three days with me, and this instance was no different; I awoke this Sunday morning with a clearing head, and the drizzly weather outside made me think of only one thing: fishing.

But let’s take a step back.

Prior to falling ill, the week was all about Zelda, and my parallel playthroughs of Ocarina of Time and its close cousin, Master Quest. Progress had been steady on both; most side-quests wrapped up, dungeons falling relatively quickly, referring to a walkthrough for only the most troubling of Gold Skulltalas in Master Quest. I intended to step through the pair dungeon-by-dungeon, but I’d often skip ahead on one, then overshoot on the other, eventually wrapping up the bulk of the reworked rendition a good three dungeons before the original. A bit of catchup, and suddenly all I had left were the problem points, the bits I knew were always going to be a problem: the Hylian Loach. The Gerudo Archery.

And here, if you hadn’t already guessed, is where the title of this post comes in.

I had really suffered over the Gerudo archery challenge when I’d 100%-ed my Collector’s Edition copy of Ocarina; many thousands of Rupees were spent before finally hitting 1560 points, just enough to acquire the Biggest Quiver. This week, though, my first attempt yielded 1430 points. Another four attempts netted a round 1500, a new Quiver, and a raised eyebrow of incredulous disbelief. Sensing a mental zone, I swapped to the other version; this one took thirty-six attempts, but most of those were aborted very soon after acknowledging that I’d buggered up by missing too many pots at the start of the run.

Somehow, my fingers had remembered all that training late last year, twitchy controls be damned. Needless to say, I was pretty bloody happy.

And that brings me to today. Dopey, drizzle… fishing.

I’d blown a huge chunk of time netting my only Hylian Loach. So imagine my surprise when the first one was landed within an hour, with the second taking a tiny bite less.

And there I sat, somewhat hungover with sickness, amazed that everything just seemed to be coming together. Another hour of filling my pockets with Rupees, bombchus, and Deku Seeds, and it was time to tackle Ganondorf… who, along with his über-incarnation, fell in the most emphatic, one-sided battles I’ve ever had against them. One of the Ganon battles didn’t even yield a scratch.

And so, surprisingly, I deem Master Quest to be complete. Sure, there’s a troublesome chest (not containing anything important, probably just a recovery heart) on 3F of the Fire Temple – eastern-most room, southern-most chest – that I can’t figure out, but… Off The List.

Compared to the original, it didn’t feel as complete, as rounded; dungeons didn’t feel as holistic, with enemies sparse in favour of puzzles that verged on the annoyingly obscure. Luckily, my side-by-side playthroughs allowed me the opportunity to experience the original again; and, let’s face it, it’s bloody amazing. And it continues to surprise with all its little details; today, for the first time, I noticed the tinge of sadness in the closing movies, with King Zora and Mido sitting together lamenting the (perceived) losses of their loved ones. And, again, I marveled at the size and completeness of Ocarina‘s world.

And, at the end of the day, this is the third time I’ve 100%-ed Ocarina of Time this year… which makes me a bit sad really. Emotionally sad, sure, because it will likely be my last visit to Hyrule this year; but completing the same game three times in one year? Bit of a worry, that.

Killer7 (Part 1)

I like to be challenged in the art department. I like my art to be confrontational, emotive, engaging in the headspace. I love my obscurities, my non-mainstream, my fringe. I listen to free jazz, mexican death metal, j-punk, and all the genres in between; Lynch and Cronenberg and Jarman and Kaurismäki and Jeunet are all welcome visitors in my home.

But Killer7 is absolutely, positively, one-hundred-percent, completely batshit insane.

It’s also utterly brilliant.

And it’s also an incredibly polarising game – more marmite than Space Giraffe, as incredulous as that may seem. Killer7 offers the gamer every opportunity to hate it: from the harsh and occasionally garish cel-shaded graphics, to the minimally-interactive on-rails action, to the deliberately obtuse plot. Having to stop movement, take an attacking stance, scan for the enemy you know is there, then wibble your gunsight around the screen to attack the source of the mocking laughter in your ears. Lift off A, hold R, hit L, move stick, whack A, twiddle C. Not exactly the most overt control scheme.

And yet, it carries its head high. Killer7 is a distilled production, the essence of style. Suda51‘s brainchild is clearly of greater value than the sum of its parts – the caustic gameplay, glorious anime cutscenes, and eerie aurals meld into a cohesive package that rivals Rez in terms of its completeness.

Yes, the game is pretty short – 15 hours for my first play-through. Yes, the puzzles are pretty basic in nature (necessarily so, given their somewhat eccentric solutions). The inbuilt hint system is a laugh – the idea of having a helpful hint-provider turning into an abusive bastard (with double-deuce action) merely by shooting his lucha libre mask is… well, different. Then again, humour is everywhere – one of the first blood-splatters you see on the wall says “How Soon Is Now”… the Killer7 are all Smiths, geddit? The different psyches of the Killer7 are also a hoot – it’s pretty hard to go past Dan “The Hellion” Smith, though each of the Smiths manages to maintain their own love/hate relationship with the player. Boss battles are… odd, ranging from simple to WTF. Killer7 versus the Handsome Men is one of those giggle-fests that makes you reconsider the evilness that usually accompanies boss battles.

But, in the end, it’s the plot which carries Killer7 (avoid the Wikipedia article, it’s a spoiler-filled funbuster). I came into the game with the understanding that I was controlling seven psyches, but the reality-bending that subsequently occurs almost defies belief. In the end, all the threads presented are kinda pulled together, and I’m pretty sure I figured out what was going on… but in the world of Killer7, it’s hard to be absolutely sure.

I will say this, though: the final level of the game (as opposed to the post-credits snippet which is the icing on the cake) is one of the best end-of-game levels I’ve ever played. No, scratch that – this easily usurps the Halo run home. It’s a couple of minutes of the most glorious brainfuckery that I’ve ever experienced. And it’s ironic that, within a rail-based game, the level with the least interaction is the pièce de résistance; but that’s the parting shot of Killer7, the last stand of one of the most confrontational interactions I’ve engaged in.

I like to be challenged by my art, and Killer7 delivers in spades.

The P.N.03 Papillon Quest

It’s pretty difficult to find any PAL P.N.03 information out there, so I thought I’d also share a save file [6 KB] (saved using the EMS Gamecube save card) and a few tips on Papillon suit acquisition.

Here’s the 5 slots in the file:

  1. Start of Mission 11, Easy, all suits except Blackbird and Papillon unlocked. Complete this mission to see ending #1, and the Blackbird unlock screen.
  2. Start of Mission 11, Normal, all suits except Papillon unlocked. Complete this mission (without changing out of the Blackbird suit) to see ending #2, and the Papillon unlock screen.
  3. Start of Mission 11, Easy, all suits unlocked, wearing Papillon. Complete this mission to see ending #3.
  4. Cleared data, Blackbird. Load this slot to view the Blackbird start screen.
  5. Cleared data, Papillon. Load this slot to view the Papillon start screen.

FWIW (considering the vast amounts of dubious P.N.03 information out there – especially regarding the PAL version), here’s how I did it:

  • Slot 1: played through on Easy, completed all the Trial Missions, and repeated Trial Mission 7.5 (ie, Trial Mission 5 preceding Mission 8 ) until I had sufficient points to buy all the suits. When this game was complete, I saved the Cleared data into Slot 4.
  • New game. Loaded Slot 4, then played through on Easy again, racking up the points and upgrading all the suits to maximum. Saved the “Cleared” data to Slot 4 again.
  • New game. Loaded Slot 4, then raced through on Easy mode again (not worried about the Trial Missions), saving into Slot 2. The purpose here was to generate a “Cleared” Slot in Slot 2. When loaded, the Slot 2 Cleared data still results in the Blackbird title screen.
  • New game. Loaded Slot 2, played through on Normal, saving to Slot 2. Changed suits to the Blackbird at the earliest opportunity, before shooting anything. Completed all the Trial Missions, getting Professional on all of them (resetted without saving if I missed Professional). I definitely did not get Professional ranking on all the “real” Missions. Completed the game, awarded Papillon, saved the Cleared data into Slot 5.
  • New game. Loaded Slot 5, played through on Easy with the Blackbird, racking up sufficient points to upgrade the Papillon to maximum (this generally doesn’t require any Trial Missions). Saved the Cleared data to Slot 5 again.
  • New game. Loaded Slot 5, played through on Easy, saving to Slot 3. Changed suits to the Papillon at the earliest opportunity, before shooting anything.
    Playing with the Papillon on Easy still gives you a slight buffer (getting hit twice kills you, as opposed to Normal mode’s once (!) ).

I’ve also collected a few lovely P.N.03 movies for you:


This entry was published – with permission, of course – in Issue 78 of the utterly joyous Way of the Rodent. Hurrah!

Back in 2003, Capcom resuscitated the hopes of GameCube owners when they came up with the Capcom Five – a series of Cube exclusives. Sadly, one of the five were dropped, and three others were ported to the PS2; P.N.03, however, remained a rough diamond that all Gamecube owners should cherish.

Sonically, it’s a bit meh. There’s nothing to inspire, nothing that infuriates; inoffensive beats that may accidentally make you tap your foot every so often, moody pieces that cajole the tone rather than set it. Gameplay-wise, it’s an odd blend of move-then-shoot, spiced up with largely ineffective mashing of the D-pad in an attempt to conjure up the use of an Energy Drive. So let’s now consider the visual aesthetics of P.N.03, and we’ll cut straight to the heart of the matter; the game is built around the model of the protagonist, Vanessa Z Schneider. Few games have characters modeled as strikingly, as gorgeously, as pneumatically, as P.N.03. Which is just as well, because the rest of the graphics are average, at best. In the variety department, this game is shamed by Halo. Or even just The Library in Halo. Yes, it’s that dull.

But, as mentioned before, this game is focused on Vanessa. VANESSA! The first time you get an Autofire power-up, you’ll hold down the A-button and sit back in wonder as Vanessa seductively moves her hips whilst dealing out death. And it’s utterly mesmerising. I’ve spent hours just watching her arse move. In fact, P.N.03 is known as “Wigglies” in my abode, such is the splendour of her buttock convolutions.

As for the gameplay… well, P.N.03 is a bit short. It’s easy to blast through the 11 levels on offer pretty quickly. But then you notice the Store, where you can purchase different skins for Vanessa’s Aegis Suit… or rather, Vanessa’s Arse. The game then becomes a matter of viewing that posterior in all possible suits in all possible surroundings; discovering that certain suits, in certain lighting conditions, are nothing short of pornographic. Wankworthy, at least.

Of course, to acquire these suits you need to score points. To score points, you need to play the game. A lot. In playing the game, you have to watch Vanessa gracefully leap, run, and cartwheel about between shooting, occasionally striking a vogue-esque pose when you manage to fire off an Energy Drive. And she wiggles her arse, too.

Did I mention that Vanessa’s got a gorgeous arse?

Finally, you discover the existence of the final Aegis Suit for Vanessa’s wardrobe – the Papillon suit. Maybe you read about it on the Internet, maybe you noticed its 0.7 second appearance in the end-game movie. No matter – you now know that the Papillon suit is, essentially, a fetching pairing of a boob-tube and a G-string. There may be something covering Vanessa’s legs too but, let’s face it, if the arse is exposed you’re not going to notice.

YES! Those glorious fleshy orbs will be freed! And a rather tasty butterfly tattoo exposed, too.

And so the quest for the Papillon suit begins. More running, gunning, posing, gyrating. It’s the best kind of gaming grind imaginable, like receiving fellatio whilst leveling-up in Sword of Fargoal. Eventually, though, you are awarded the suit – basking in the post-orgasmic glow of the achievement, you see the sex-on-a-stick Papillon title screen for the first time.

You wait for your heart rate to drop to something approximating normal, and you start playing with the Papillon suit. You leap, you bound, you pirouette, you drool. The suit, by its absence, is lush. Sure, you’ve got no actual protection from being shot, but the visual feast on offer makes it more than worthwhile.

And then, you think to yourself… “I wonder if there’s anything tasty if I beat the game wearing the Papillon suit.”

And here’s where the purity of P.N.03 is revealed, for the Papillon Quest boils down to a simple matter of not being shot. And you can’t get more hard-core, more shoot-em-up, more pure, than that.

Play. Wiggle. Don’t get shot. Wiggle. Strike a pose. Wiggle. Don’t get shot.

It’s what video game dreams are made of.