Posted by: Junahu | August 7, 2009

The Reaper Review – Neku Sakuraba

Neku Sakuraba:  The boy who beat death~

Read this review, or face erasure.

Preface:
So… yeah. This is your first second moveset, and this is my first review. Let’s hope this all works out somehow.

Mission Statement: I tend to disagree with the other bigwigs on what makes a moveset great. I have a habit of overlooking the moveset itself and concentrating instead on how the MYMer chose to present it (stuff like the writing style, the organisation, the focus of the moveset etc). I believe any monkey with a laptop can come up with a great idea. Capturing the essence of that idea, and convincing the other monkeys that it’s a great idea, takes notably more skill and effort.

But enough about me being lame. Review time is now!

 
Appearance:
First off, the picture is well chosen, and of high quality too. It’s perhaps just a bit too big for my tastes, and I think it would have been a neat touch if Shiki, Joshua and Beat were faded out a little. But otherwise it’s a great moodsetter.
The addition of the player pin right at the start was also a neat touch, not only further introducing the reader to the visual style of the game, but also (perhaps) implying that the reader himself has become part of the reapers game.
The choice of dark purple for the title text is rather intangible against the Forum’s grey background, and highlighting “boy” and “death” but not “Neku Sakuraba” is a mistake I find very hard to overlook.

As I just said, using a dark shade like purple for the section headers kind of defeats the point of having headers in the first place. I think the colour scheme should have been inverted somewhat (ginger headers with light purple body text and grey side notes).
And on this note, the colour schemes used for the partner characters could also benefit from some tweaking as they contrast far too much from the main scheme (Shiki’s eyesplitting magenta in particular should be muted).
The preset colours are useful for highlighting, but are too garish for large bodies of text. You can use specific shades by putting the hexadecimal value of the colour into the color tag (e.g. [COLOR=#706A42]*Your text here*[/COLOR]). It’s well worth the time to find a few colours that are easy on the eyes.

Another colour gripe I feel I have to point out is the fact that red highlighting isn’t at all effective in the middle of Yellow/Orange paragraphs. Yellow and Orange are naturally “brighter” colours than red, so “highlighting” something in red ends up having the opposite effect.
In fact, other than the purple used in the headers, the red you use for highlighting is the darkest colour in the whole moveset. I’d recommend using white instead for highlighting, as it stands out against a whole spectrum of colours.

And one last complaint on the colour front, the main colour used for Neku’s attacks and stats is the same as the main colour for Beat.

The titles on each of the attacks are not overly flashy, which is good, and the chunky font was also helpful when navigating the moveset. Perhaps the attack titles and the descriptions could be separated/contrasted a bit more. As they are now, the titles tend to blur into the descriptions which makes the whole thing harder to read. I also think there should be an extra line space between each attack (but not between Jab and Jab-combo) and in-between sections to keep everything from feeling too cramped.

 

Writing Style:
As is an absolute must when talking about a game as complicated as TWEWY, the character introductions were concise and interesting. You didn’t grind the reader with in-depth explanations, giving the introductions a nice swift pace. I’m sure many readers were pleased to be able to whiz through to the moveset so quickly.

Following through with your brisk writing style, the attack descriptions are mostly well done, and again concise and to the point. But there are clear cases of “you have to know the game, to know the attack” among the more complicated moves.

The level of detail you included on each attack was sufficient for me to understand the moves, but sparse enough to avoid scaring readers away. You made sure any details you did include, didn’t get in the way of the important parts of the attacks, which I appreciate immensely.
That said, there were attacks, like the D-air, that felt like a draft rather than a finished move. And even some specials could have explained in more detail.

I have to make special mention for Mr H’s Little black book, which is frankly an absolutely stunning interjection. Apart from being expertly timed, tons of fun to read and helpful to boot, the little black book is the greatest individual instance of “in character” writing I have ever seen in this contest (and that includes my own movesets). The only problem I have with it is that after reading them, the attack descriptions suddenly seem absolutely drab in comparison.

On the whole, the moveset was a fairly easy read, which is a decent accomplishment in itself. More could have been done to make it a more interesting read, but I only say that because of how incredible I thought the little black book was. You seem to be a lot more at home talking about the character rather than the attacks themselves, which sometimes end up reading like a shopping list;

The pillars are about a head taller than Ganondorf, and their entire being composes their hitbox. The pillars strike lasts one second, and take another second to retract. The pillars deal between 8-16% on contact, and have a set forward/vertical knockback of 3 stage blocks

You may not be able to tell, but the above paragraph has a monotonous rhythm to it, swinging immediately from one detail to the next with little to keep the reader interested.

 

Originality:
Right off the bat you consistantly prove how well you know the source material with the marvellously basic Partner system. The Pokemon Trainer-eske separation between Neku and his Partner of the week adequately mirrors the divide between the players in TWEWY itself. It’s a simple system (at least in the way you describe it) that doesn’t overcomplicate things and still makes Neku feel like Neku.

As far as I could tell, every single regular attack was derived from one of Neku’s pins. It’s a tried and tested route for sticking true to the game but there’s almost nothing “new” here. The attacks themselves are mostly “basic brawl” in execution which is surprising, given the potential Neku’s psyche powers have.
There are, of course, exceptions to this criticism, Splash/Flame core are ingeniously implemented for example. And every one of Neku’s 12 specials was a gem in its own way. But the overall impression I got from the moveset was you were afraid to stray too far away from the source material for inspiration.

 

Playing-Style:
Neku mostly revolves around layering the sky with orbs and then forcing the foe into the air. It seems almost paradoxical that Neku has a rather poor aerial game, using the orbs to compensate for his failings rather than for capitalising on the foe’s mistakes. On the flipside however, the orbs do a decent job of keeping the opponent grounded, where Neku can pile on the damage.

In addition, Neku has some surprising versatility, thanks to his partners specials.
Shiki is great for buying the time needed to get some orbs up. She’s also allows Neku to stall pretty easily against foes lacking projectiles.
Joshua, as you said is a brilliant gimper (fire the composer beam off stage to guard the edge long enough to set up a few Splash cores and a Down-Special). But he’s also a great boost to Neku’s aerial capabilities, allowing him to really force the foe into his minefield of orbs.
Beat grants Neku some decent durability, range and KO options. Skull chains in particular allows Neku to capitalise on an opponent in midair.

This is all a great playstyle, with enough twists on the common themes (trap-setter, damage-racker, gimper) to make Neku a unique character all his own.
The problem then, is that you boiled his playstyle down to three, pretty unhelpful bullet points. Many readers find it hard to understand exactly how a moveset fits together, while they are reading it. So movesets need a reasonably comprehensive explanation of how they are like to play, how to cover their weaknesses, how to make the best of their advantages and so on. Without something like that, movesets end up feeling unfocused.

 
Summary:
In a nut shell? I like this moveset.
That’s not just me trying to end the review on a positive note, I actually genuinely liked it. You literally know the game inside out, and you aren’t afraid to show it. You break up the monotony of reading attacks with wonderfully charming interludes, courtesy of Mr H. You use a special mechanic that ends up being key to Neku’s success in battle, without steeping itself in the muddy waters of ‘complexity creep’.
But yeah, there’s some obvious problems scattered about. The organisation needs dumbing down a bit and could be made more consistant with itself. The moveset drastically needs a more substantial playstyle section. The attacks, while fitting, lack excitement (both in the attacks themselves, and the way you present them to the reader).
But many of these can be disregarded as frivelous criticisms in light of your relative inexperience. I have every confidence that you will improve with future movesets.


Thanks for Reading, and enjoy the moment~

 

Neku Sakuraba moveset created by:~ Apemasta’

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Responses

  1. The way you mentioned color-coding got me thinking… from what I’ve seen, nearly every MYMer codes by saying [CODE=”SOMETHING”]. Why not say ? Easier to type and read while writing.

    Yeah, random tangent.

  2. VERY terrible review Junahu, just like everything you do.

  3. I concur.

    It’s not interesting to see your moveset-making philosophy in black and white like that, Junahu – I still don’t understand why you prefer Ekans to my other sets. Stop talking about your personal preferences and talk about the moveset. This is hardly a review.

  4. Just commenting to say that I laughed a bit when I saw that your review title was “the Reaper Review” and you reviewed a Neku set.

  5. Shoot alot of my attacks are similar but presented differently. Oh well I’ll take the blame later.

  6. My comment has been edited, and I don’t remember what it originally was.

    WAAAAAAAARLOOOOOOOOOORD!


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