By: Ted Chow
As the residential otaku of the website, I was rather ecstatic to get my hands on the Short Peace Japanese short films and video game omnibus for the PlayStation 3. To my surprise the short films were interesting takes on Japanese culture and folklore from ancient to modern-day Japan. The Short Peace Committee also packaged in a 2D side scroller called Ranko Tsukigime’s Longest Day as a separate download to the overall Short Peace project. My impression will focus on the tangible gameplay, but references to the short films will ensue as well.
The controls for Ranko Tsukigime’s Longest Day are pretty straightforward with five primary buttons of importance. The left analog stick is used for movement with square for your melee attack and X for jumping/gliding. L1 and R1 are used to fire your plasma weapon once you have the adequate charges stored from killing enemies. Overall, the controls felt smooth throughout the game without any hiccups or uneasiness.
The graphics were simply gorgeous and vivid in the color palette. Even the main title page utilized the negative space well and offered a clean, contemporary look. From the CG cel-shaded models to the painted 3D backdrops, there was much to take in as you went from stage to stage and subsequent cut scenes.
Each cut scene took on a different art style, be it CG or reading a Manga book, and was always unique and refreshing. Adding splashes of color and weird symbols that appear after you kill your enemies provided plenty of flare to an already bizarre story.
With a little electronic music to provide a bit of rhythm, you’ll be syncing your jumps and dashes through this fast-paced side-scroller experience.
While the art style was great, albeit a little out there, the gameplay felt rather lackluster in comparison. The general stages on which you journey to your end goal had moments where you wanted to slow down, but the gameplay fundamentals required you to plow through at record speeds. At the end of the stage you felt you missed out on secrets or interesting backdrops. Of course there is an option to replay the stages, but I would have preferred to take everything in on the initial run. Boss stages are creatively implemented, but the mechanics fall short and only help to break the monotony of the normal stages.
The story puts you in the shoes of female protagonist Ranko Tsukigime, an average 17-year-old school girl by day and deadly assassin by night. The story of a protagonist attending school has been done to death in the anime industry and has become cliché in many story introductions, yet I was willing to see where and how the story would develop. To my disappointment, the story wasn’t as serious as was initially portrayed.
While entertaining, it came off as a bit convoluted with main characters not completely fleshed out, random one-off characters, time skips and a lack of any particular cohesion. Eventually I was left trying to understand how the story became so random by the end.
That’s fine if you’re willing to shut down your mental functions and enjoy the nonsensical ride, but one would have expected more, especially after watching the short films. The only connection that ties the game to the short films is the anchor that is Mt. Fuji. Actually, all the stories were independent of each other with Mt. Fuji being the only recurring symbol that transcended time and space.
I thoroughly enjoyed the myths and legend portrayed in the films, but was more fascinated by the testament of Mt. Fuji as a point of solidarity in Japanese culture. Without going off tangent much further, I would implore anyone to look beyond what is shown at face value and search for your own interpretations.
With a total of 10 stages that honestly took a few minutes apiece to complete once you know the layout, the longevity of the game is really in question. As noted earlier, there is an option to replay stages to unlock additional achievements, music and extras, but that is the extent of its replayability.
With no multiplayer, the game relies heavily on providing a great single-player experience, which honestly had the potential to be developed much further. And while the game had no logic behind the story, I will give it credit for entertaining me at certain moments despite its brevity.
I was rather conflicted in my opinion of the Short Peace project. On one hand, the collection as a whole was insightful and pushed visuals to a new level. On the other, the gameplay and story of Ranko Tsukigime’s Longest Day was extremely light and monotonous.
Perhaps it is better to experience everything in its entirety rather than the individual components that are in the Short Peace project. If anything, the short films are an interesting watch and hold merit for any collector. In the end, Ranko Tsukigime’s Longest Day is best to be taken as a lesser offering to a greater whole.