QuickRecs III

Whoops, forgot to add the cut. Lo siento. Inside: PrinceLess, Oneshot.

PriceLess
Comic

This was a really cute and wonderful sendup of the major problems mainstream comics have when it comes to women, girls and POC. It’s a kids’ comic at heart, so it’s light and fluffy and heavyhanded at times, but it’s really a breath of fresh air. The art is wonderful, the points need to be made even if they aren’t particularly subtle, and it’s just nice to have a comic out there for girls that is just brimming with genuinely positive messages. The thrust of the story is that in Fantasy World, young princesses are put in towers as a way for suitors to prove their worth. If a suitor can defeat the guardian of the tower and rescue the princess, they get to marry her. The protagonist doesn’t want to be rescued and doesn’t want her whole life to be about getting married, so with the help of her little brother and mom she decides to “save herself,” escaping with her dragon guardian as a friend and fleeing her home for all kinds of misadventures. It really brought a smile to my face.

It can be tough to find, though. I went to several shops a bunch of times before one had it, and sometimes it’s with kids’ stuff and sometimes not, so you have to be kind of vigilant.

Oneshot
rpgmaker

This was a cute game that shined in the innovative way it told its story.

You are… well, you’re you. The protagonist is some little cat dude named Niko (oh, I just got it…). Niko wakes up one day in a strange world, where a robot thing tells him he’s the messiah meant to revive their sun, which is a lightbulb. He sets off on a quest to save the world. The gameplay is simple– Niko walks around, pick up items, and combine them into things you can use in innovative ways. The puzzles were logical and clear without being too easy, and I was satisfied every time I put 2 and 2 together. The world is nicely absurd, with characters such as a dude whose head is a six-sided die, and I thought the dev had a really excellent grasp of color and how to use it to create mood, as well as which colors worked together and in what ways. The pixel art was pixel art. Good for what it is, but still pixel art. The CGs were very pretty, though.

The really neat thing about the game, though, is that it takes advantage of its platform in a kind of incredible way. It pulls your name off the computer, and you are treated as an entity from another world who is “god,” which of course is true. The other entities in the game use your computer as a computer– a way to deliver hints, for example. At one point you have to go find a file with a code in My Documents; at another the background on your desktop changes. It’s not even breaking the fourth wall, because you and your world are fully part of the game. There is no fourth wall, because there’s never any attempt at a divide. It’s really incredibly clever and very well done.

The biggest thing this game needed was a goddamn in-game map. The maps, especially the first one, were really big– too big, IMO– and it was really hard to figure out exactly how things fit together. And then sometimes I would remember the NPC I had to talk to but have absolutely no idea where they were and wander around in circles forever and it was super-frustrating. The gameplay experience would have been exponentially improved for me if there was even a crude map that Niko “updated” with locations of NPCs, major buildings, etc. Being able to fast-travel was nice, but there was no way of knowing what the names of each region were beforehand, nor if a given region was the one you actually needed to go to.

It’s hard to say how long it was since I played it sporadically, but it was a sweet game and if you’re into the rpgmaker scene, check it out.

17 Comments

  1. actonthat says:
    Why did I use the word “cute” like 40 times.
    1. illhousen says:
      That’s happy worms talking.
  2. illhousen says:
    You know, when I played Oneshot, I did it with my browser opened in the background in full-screen mode. So I didn’t notice the background change and spent like an hour walking around with no clue what to do.

    Then I closed the game and decided to return to it later at some point.

    So when I closed the browser, here is was, a background with the clue. And I was like, “Oh… Goddammit.”

    Also, what did you think about this whole “close the game to kill the kitten” thing that gave the game its name? That was a rather obvious emotional manipulation on the game part, but it sure worked on me.

    1. Wright of Void says:
      Also, what did you think about this whole “close the game to kill the kitten” thing that gave the game its name?

      Wait, does closing the game not actually do anything? That is kind of evilly brilliant.

      1. actonthat says:
        I never actually exited out because I’m a sheep-like rule-follower, but it autosaving and having no effect would indeed have been surreptitious.
      2. illhousen says:
        I don’t know, never did it. Which goes to show that it works pretty well as far as pulling you into the game is concerned.
        1. Wright of Void says:
          According to some posts on the RMN page from people whose games crashed, it does indeed kill Niko and lock you out of the game. Harsh!
          1. actonthat says:
            Bwahaha that’s actually kind of awesome.
  3. Wright of Void says:
    Wait, Niko is a boy? I always assumed he was a girl.

    But yes, Oneshot is amazing. I really liked the detail of how you could choose to be aloof and refuse to tell Niko anything about your personal life, or you could bond over shared love of pancakes. I thought that was really sweet. Overall the game did an excellent job of making me feel connected with the character.

    Did you find a use for the plant, though? I clicked all around the tower but nothing happened, and then I triggered the ending sequence and by that point it was too late.

    Oh, and what ending did you pick? I chose the responsible, selfless ending because I’m a spineless optimist.

    1. actonthat says:
      I actually have no idea if Niko’s a boy or a girl. Something about him was very “little brother” to me so I went with “he,” but that may also just be that I only have little brothers.

      I planted the seed! It grew into a seedperson. I got the idea that planting it was the extra push needed to actually save the world instead of just staving off the end like people were afraid was going to happen. I’m not really sure how I stumbled into the place where you planted it– just kind of got lost in the tower.

      And yeah, I couldn’t really bring myself to tell Niko to kill everyone to save himself, and he seemed like a good kid so I think he would be okay with it deep down. The way the game had him go on about missing his mother right before it became clear you’d have to make a choice was cruel, though.

      1. Wright of Void says:
        Huh, I could’ve sworn the game referred to Niko as a girl at some point. It’s interesting the way we project these things.

        I planted the seed! It grew into a seedperson.

        !!! It did? All the videos I can find don’t show it growing, even after Niko uses the miracle water. Do you have to do something else? (Also argh, hidden in plain sight. I can’t believe I missed it.)

        Apparently there’s also a theory running around that the sun runs on Niko’s lifeforce so restoring it kills her. I don’t really see the evidence for it, but that sure would make the ending a whole lot darker! I suppose that would give the choice more weight — logically, I always felt that restoring the sun was the smarter option just because you could always break it later if things didn’t work out, as opposed to the other choice which is rather permanent.

        1. actonthat says:
          I actually wondered myself about halfway in and started looking for hints, but I think it was probably purposely left to the reader, which is clever.

          In the credits CG roll, I saw a little seedbaby crawling out of where I planted it! It was cute.

          That can’t be true, though, because if it were the plantlady wouldn’t have been able to sit with the lightbulb on while he left. I kind of saw the ending as panning back to the room where it started, but the room looks cheery now, implying it’s Niko’s new home? I don’t think Niko dies; that he doesn’t get to go back is tragic enough. To me killing him on top of it would kind of be overkill.

          1. illhousen says:
            I think the plant lady sequence is why the theory exist to begin with. The lightbulb goes out after some time when you are away, then lights up when you pick it again, implying that Niko powers it somehow.

            I don’t think it’s life force, though. As you said, killing Niko on top of everything else would be an overkill. Plus you’d think the Entity would reveal this little titbit on the elevator ride instead of saying Niko would be miserable in this world.

          2. Guest says:
            It was purposeful. One of the creators, Casey / Nightmargin, stated on her tumblr that Niko’s gender is left up to the interpretation of the viewer, which it why it’s ambiguous in-game.
  4. SpoonyViking says:
    Is PrinceLess a graphic novel, or is it an ongoing series?
    1. actonthat says:
      Both, kind of? It had eight issues as a serial, then went out of print, then released two compilations, then another four issues, then another compilation, and now back to issues. It’s a shame it’s struggled like it has, because it’s really wonderful.

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