Unexpectedly, passed my G2 license test on the first try. Was actually a quite pleasant and not very hard test — I drove around the neighborhood for a bit, a few lane changes, parking, three-point-turn, return to the test center. I fucked up the parking at the end pretty badly but apparently it didn’t matter already. The examiner was very nice, was giving good instructions and told me in the end that the only thing I’d need to work on is my blind spots checks. Dunno, I felt like I was turning my head like an owl but maybe it was my imagination. In any case, the next step is to put on my big boy pants and buy a car. Scary times ahead =)

It seems to be kinda counter-intuitive but right now I play videogames more than before. There’s a simple explanation though. Every day we switch to ninja mode after 7 or 8pm and that means that a) we don’t go outside in the evening, b) I can’t really read books, too difficult for me to concentrate and c) pretty much no anime — because it feels really awkward to watch anime with TV sound set to minimum. We still watch 1 episode a day (maybe 2 or 3 on weekends) but with games it’s much easier, I’m used to playing them with no sound or it’s super simple (thanks to the designers of PS4 and PS5 controllers) to hook up a headset. And yeah, I can turn my brain off =) So all the chances are that I will beat a few more JRPGs by the end of the year =)

Lost Judgment

I never wrote anything about it but the first Judgment was a great game, which I thoroughly enjoyed. It had a compelling story about practices and corruption in pharma industry, very decent cast of characters, and, as any other 龍が如く game — tons of side content to do. Yakuza games are fun but I liked a lot that this time around we got to play as a detective. So, it was a no-brainer for me to buy Lost Judgment, the game that was supposed to be better than its predecessor.

However, Lost Judgment turned out to be a weird game. It indeed fixed the two issues I had with the first one — Keishin gang mechanics were thrown away (can I get a halleluiah?), and combat styles felt more varied and useful (in the first Judgment I ended up just using Tiger style 98% of the time). It added skateboarding, which is a lot of fun on top of just being a great way to move around the cities. Yes, cities — because most of the story of Lost Judgment is happening in Yokohama. It’s kinda a shameless re-use of locations from Yakuza: Like a Dragon, can’t argue with that, but whatever. It has even more minigames and side-content. It allows you to befriend cats and walk a dog! Can a game get any better than this?

A lot of moments in Lost Judgment are goofy (in a good sense)

Sadly though, Lost Judgment also removed a lot of stuff I liked. What about making friends with people around the town? That organically forced me to do things I normally would ignore, like playing mahjong. What about tailing people? Yeah, I heard that there were complaints about these missions but I liked them because, let’s be real, it’s a big part of what detectives, at least in books and movies, do. What about girlfriends? I mean, I get that some people might’ve found that offensive or whatever, because Yagami was kind of a scumbag in the first game, considering that he could be in relationships with 4 women simultaneously without any punishment, but it’s a videogame, for Aidios’ sake! It was fun to go on dates and learn their stories.

Some of the new mechanics the second game added are also kind of meh, like stealth or parkour. They felt like a chore and yes, tailing missions were much more fun, it’s a hill I’m willing to die on. However, all these are minor nitpicks, which are overshadows by a giant problem I had with Lost Judgment. Its story is not great.

Both games start off similarly — we learn about a gruesome murder and one way or another get pulled into the investigation. That’s the only thing they share unfortunately. Original Judgment was actually a good thriller, containing multiple layers and pulling twists out of its sleeve. It’s going to sound cringy but its plot actually kept me at the edge of my seat, I really wanted to know what’s going to happen next. The plot of Lost Judgment is… competent I guess? I understand what the authors were going for, that they wanted to explore the idea whether someone has a right to judge and punish an obviously bad guy when the system fails to do so. But, but, but. Maybe it’s the topic of school bullying that didn’t hit the mark. Maybe the lack of good argumentation by the sides is a problem. Maybe if the story was more personal to Yagami (and, therefore, to us) it would be more interesting to follow. Everything that’s going on is tangential to Yagami, Kaito or anyone from Genda Law Office, and unlike AD-9 fiasco that showed how deep the corruption at the very top of the government can be the Public Security angle was kind of boring and forced. Any event that’s going to happen in Lost Judgment could be seen a mile away and this predictability and, to some extent, safety was underwhelming.

I have to add a couple of words about School Stories. It’s an enormous chunk of side-content, which is, frankly, hit and miss. The idea itself that Yagami runs around the school serving as an advisor to 10 clubs simultaneously is a bit silly (and not Yakuza-silly if you know what I mean), but even if we forget about that for a moment — some of the stories and minigames are pretty fun whereas others are dragging for seemingly no reason. I gave up when I opened the biker’s gang quest. I just can’t imagine there are too many people who find those races enjoyable, and as far as I understood I couldn’t move on with the dance club (the one I actually liked) until I’d finish a few races. I still haven’t deleted the game and one day might circle back to it and finish these side-quests but for the time being it’s simply too much.

Overall, Lost Judgment is neither a step forward nor it is a step back. If you ignore the weaker comparing to the first game plot it’s a very good and, most importantly, entertaining game that can easily make you sink 100 hours into it. For me personally it was a let-down because the story was the main thing I’d been looking forward to. Oh well, will set my expectations accordingly for the third game.

Random Saturday Photo

We took a walk from Springbank Park back home (just about 7 kilometers), and I’m genuinely surprised we managed to finish it, considering that we’re walking with the baby who isn’t especially calm and doesn’t usually enjoy long periods of doing nothing in the car seat or stroller. Adult life heh.