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Joker Quest volume 1 – Review by GeneSmith

Aug 12th, 2016
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  1. By: GeneSmith !118LTnv3DE (a.k.a. CosmicWatcher)
  2. Originally posted: 12.08.2016
  3. ----------------------------------------------------------------------
  4.  
  5. JOKER QUEST VOLUME 1 (1-11) REVIEW
  6.  
  7. THE CAPSULE
  8.  
  9. We play as a guy with no personality who fights other guys with no personality and has a stocking fetish waifu with an annoying personality. The lore and plot of the world exist solely to facilitate fights between no personality MC and no personality enemies. The fights, which is the main draw of the quest behind devil girls in stockings and cringe, are told in long exhausting paragraphs that if you squint at actually bleed purple ink.
  10.  
  11. I am told it gets better.
  12.  
  13. And perhaps it will. All stories have a last page after all.
  14.  
  15. FIRST THREAD PROBLEMS
  16.  
  17. I am told this quest borrows from something called "Accel World" but I'm too scared to see how much it borrows. I've learned long ago to avoid anything Japanese that checks the boxes "virtual reality" and "ritualized deathmatch tournament".
  18.  
  19. Is the Japanese preoccupation with virtual reality and ritualized deathmatch tournaments a commentary on the increasing social isolation in their country and how the hyper competitive job market literally kills young people fresh out of high school by rocketing up the suicide rate to world class?
  20.  
  21. Is Joker Quest secretly brilliant? Is it a commentary on the belligerent nature of 4chan and how Anons will fight for the sake of fighting without caring about wider context or the character of themselves or others?
  22.  
  23. I'm sorry. It's the useless anthropology/sociology classes speaking. I'll behave from now on.
  24.  
  25. So we open up fighting a dragon named Baphomet and its sad that Eliphas Levi's update of the gnostic Abraxas is reduced to level one cannon fodder. We fight it under a sky the color of raw meat in a deserted city and its METAL and COOL and if you like that Northern Lights Flash video or the trailer to Kingdom Hearts 2 I'm sure it made you lose your shit.
  26.  
  27. I thought it was cool.
  28.  
  29. For three posts.
  30.  
  31. We do a quick character gen which makes us a gunfighter character.
  32.  
  33. Has there ever been a quest where Anons pick the sword over the gun? Even in my Sibella Quest the anons picked gun.
  34.  
  35. Oh well. It's fine. I'm sure we'll fight enemies that take advantage of our CQC blindspot. Maybe some enemies that rush us down. Or enemies that snipe us from a distance outside our range and won't try to shank us with a fucking knife when they dominate over us in range so we can get an easy victory (DEATH CALIBRE cough cough DEATH CALIBRE)
  36.  
  37. Naw its a power fantasy quest. We rape everyone we fight because we are Joker and we are the unique card in the deck. Yes, even more unique and special then our first opponent that shoots hell cherubs. The best they ever do is inflict a no heal status aliment on us that our magical waifu cures with a plot device that also makes us even more special unique and bad ass.
  38.  
  39. We're also a Japanese high school kid in case that wasn't already obvious. I think the first post after the high school review shares my view:
  40.  
  41. >"Hey, Anon-kun!"
  42. >school uniform
  43.  
  44. GOD DAMMIT, JUST LIKE THAT I'M IN A SHOUNEN AGAIN!
  45.  
  46. -cont
  47.  
  48.  
  49.  
  50. Also the last post of the first thread:
  51.  
  52. >Reading quest
  53. >Oh this is pretty cool
  54. >Awesome futuristic robot duels, hell yeah!
  55. >SUDDENLY! "Anon-kun~"
  56. >This is Chinese Cartoons!
  57.  
  58. There are warning signs in the first thread.
  59.  
  60. PURPLE RAIN
  61.  
  62. Joker Quest tends to describe things in a pseudo stream of conscious style that screams first draft no edit. And that's fine. Quests are improv. First drafts are fine.
  63.  
  64. But there are limits.
  65.  
  66. Take this for instance:
  67.  
  68. "As a baleful yellow light winks to life within the smoke. A humming ray of heat sweeps across the cracked ground, leaving a scorched crescent to your right - The enemy is firing blind, an oddly hunched shape resolving into view, at the heart of the impact zone."
  69.  
  70. A little purple, but in comparison to other lines its subdued. But the structure is off.The reader's attention is yanked around to too many elements. It doesn't flow.
  71.  
  72. "A baleful yellow light winks to life in the smoke before sweeping across the cracked ground in a humming ray of heat. It vanishes and leaves a crescent burned in the ground a few feet from you. Only now do you feel the heat on your armor. Through the clearing smoke you see an odd hunched shape. The enemy is firing blindly..."
  73.  
  74. You get a clear sequence of events in the second. Beam charges, beam fires, beam misses, we see the bad guy through the smoke. But what is more important is that it involves the character and their senses and feelings in the action. You get a sense of dangerous near miss in the second and a sense that Joker has an "a-ha" moment at the end and realizes an opening to attack.
  75.  
  76. And if its not creating a fragmented, detached picture of the action its saying too much nothing in too many words:
  77.  
  78. "You can hear the steady hum of the generator at the very core of your being, a reassuring contra tempo: You turn in a single sweeping motion, both arms raised, gatlings blasting. Not solid rounds, this time - Cohered projectiles of fiercely seething plasma, the nuclear flame scorching your mark into the side of the mirrored building."
  79.  
  80. And that's all one single sentence.
  81.  
  82. Joker Quest's writing needs to be less purple, fragmented, and it needs to involve the character far more in it. Far too often it reads like some sort of an over-embellished battle report. We shoot the giga-laser and it shines like a galaxy of scintillating stars in ball gowns.
  83.  
  84. Maybe Joker Quest really wants the writing to be exciting over informative. Maybe he/she wants the prose to crackle with immediate energy and summon up a sense of overwhelming awe at what we see?
  85.  
  86. Such writing is an acquired taste, but if that is the route we're taking it then it needs to be like pic related. It needs to be like Jack Kirby, quick, punchy, and not bloated with adjectives and adverbs. It needs to be bold and declarative over meandering and frilly.
  87.  
  88. I've been told that Joker Quest's QM is ESL and that they get better. That's fine. But for these threads the writing was excruciatingly bad.
  89.  
  90.  
  91. "You can hear the steady hum of the generator at the very core of your being, a reassuring contra tempo: You turn in a single sweeping motion, both arms raised, gatlings blasting. Not solid rounds, this time - Cohered projectiles of fiercely seething plasma, the nuclear flame scorching your mark into the side of the mirrored building."
  92.  
  93. What the hell is a reassuring contra tempo at the core of our being? No serious, what are we supposed to picture in our mind? Is Joker worried his inner working are damaged after the fight and is glad to hear them working? Is it a "I hear my heartbeat in the silence and know I am the winner" thing?
  94.  
  95. Just drop the line.
  96.  
  97. "You turn and punch both arms forward. Your gatlings scorch your mark on the side of the building. It smiles at you and you smile back."
  98.  
  99. What's important is that we blow our mark on the side of the building and what it means to us. Not that we have a reassuring contra tempo at the core of our being, not that we pirouette or what ever before firing, and not that we use nuclear flame.
  100.  
  101. The act and the feeling are what you have to capture in writing. Good writing is just doing it again and again and again.
  102.  
  103. WHO WANTS TO READ FOREVER?
  104.  
  105. Now, I say that there's no world building or meaningful character development someone is going to say "it's only the first ten threads. You don't expect a glut of exposition at the start of a story do you?"
  106.  
  107. Do you remember Highlander? I like Highlander. Highlander has been compared to Joker Quest. Highlander opens like Joker Quest and immediately thrusts the audience into something strange and weird to catch their attention.
  108.  
  109. Joker starts with a red robot man fighting a dragon. Highlander starts with two modern guys having a sword duel in a parking lot until one of them gets their head chopped off and electricity goes everywhere.
  110.  
  111. Except in Highlander you have flashbacks to Connor with Ramirez and they explain immortals and the prize and the gathering and everything. Now, we aren't told where the immortals came from or anything superfluous like that, and I'm not asking for Joker's DEEPEST LORE to do anything superfluous as that in turn. But Highlander told us what we needed. Here is why Connor fights. Here are the "rules" of being an immortal. Here is a big bald man that killed his waifu and best friend.
  112.  
  113. Joker doesn't give you that. We murderfuck a guy, go to high school like its no big deal, then murderfuck another guy.
  114.  
  115. Why are people fighting to kill one another and level up in a world populated by giant monsters?
  116.  
  117. Why don't they team up and gang rape Joker if he's so OP?
  118.  
  119. Why don't they try to kill him in the mundane world, like through a bomb or something?
  120.  
  121. Why has no one leaked stuff to the media and world at large so scientists can study the weirdness and find some way to stop these people from murdering one another?
  122.  
  123. I'm sure someone will say that it all gets explained. I just have to hang in there and keep my chin up.
  124. -cont
  125.  
  126.  
  127. Lost said everything would be explained if you kept watching.
  128.  
  129. Lost lied.
  130.  
  131. But say it does get explained. Say it gets explained well even. Lets return to the Highlander example.
  132.  
  133. Imagine if the Ramirez flashbacks happened after Connor fought four more guys?
  134.  
  135. It wouldn't be such a good movie then, would it?
  136.  
  137. -cont
  138.  
  139.  
  140. Lost said everything would be explained if you kept watching.
  141.  
  142. Lost lied.
  143.  
  144. But say it does get explained. Say it gets explained well even. Lets return to the Highlander example.
  145.  
  146. Imagine if the Ramirez flashbacks happened after Connor fought four more guys?
  147.  
  148. It wouldn't be such a good movie then, would it?
  149.  
  150. -cont
  151.  
  152.  
  153. HIGH SCHOOL!
  154.  
  155. You know what totally isn't incongruous to a lone warrior fighting a never ending series of death matches in the shadow realm? High school hijinks!
  156.  
  157. We have best friend guy. We have red head girl with tomboyish tendencies. We have cute awkward librarian girl with glasses.
  158.  
  159. Joker could have been any age. He could have had any job. He could have had friends a loved ones that know about the death battles and the quest and writing could have explored how they felt about all this and how they talked about this...
  160.  
  161. And he's a Japanese high school kid with a secret. He's another Japanese high school kid with a secret.
  162.  
  163. And best friend guy is probably a "player" as well. Either that or one of the girls. One of our friends has to be super powered as well, its like a rule.
  164.  
  165. We check out a convenient plot device book that probably has all the lore in it. We don't read it yet. I'm waiting until we do. We also ask the librarian girl out for coffee.
  166.  
  167. We quickly forget about her when stockings demon shows up. Because Joker Quest has a horrible fanbase. Almost GOT Quest level bad.
  168.  
  169. We keep a butterfly knife in a box under our bed for protection, which gives me hope that maybe the "attacked in the mundane reality" angle will come up in the quest.
  170.  
  171. We fight a forgettable wolf-musician themed guy. We shoot at his speakers and then shoot at him. Pew Pew.
  172.  
  173. DEATH CALIBRE
  174.  
  175. Death Calibre is our third opponent and he looks like he'll be interesting to fight. He's a sniper. We watch him kill Blue Cobalt (also the name of a Cape World character I helped write the lore on. Is is synchronicity that a character I helped developed dies horribly in this quest?) by never once revealing himself to fight like a man.
  176.  
  177. Remember this. This is important.
  178.  
  179. He's talked up to be this total badass. And while we watch him we meet Hecate, pic related, full on otaku catnip. (https://imgur.com/a/6VUgp)
  180.  
  181. She's described as being out of place among the normal armored warrior looking players. And yeah, she is.
  182.  
  183. We start chatting her up. Because of course we do.
  184.  
  185. You know, I'm fine with anti-hero protagonists. But this feels less like a conscious decision to play a character that thinks with his dick and more the players thinking with their dick.
  186.  
  187. Death Calibre dies like a bitch. He does the thing where he gets attacked and oh no its just his clothes!
  188.  
  189. He attacks us with a punch dagger until we blow him away with our guns.
  190.  
  191. Compare how he fought Blue Cobalt. Now compare how he fought us.
  192.  
  193. The sniper came at us in hand to hand with a knife. That's DSP levels of bad tactical planning.
  194.  
  195. It smacks of the QM not knowing how we're supposed to beat this guy so he has him job. It's not like he was putting us in the red in terms of health though. He only got us down to 65 percent.
  196.  
  197. Oh well.
  198.  
  199. He has a plot device pistol that belongs to the BLACK JOKER. It's one of those cursed weapon things and when it hits us it prevents us from healing ourselves.
  200.  
  201.  
  202. The health effect is probably why the QM didn't want Death Calibre leaving us with less than half HP. Although he should have by all rights left us near dead considering his rep and counter to our strategy of "fucking shoot it until we unlock the bigger gun then shoot that at them".
  203.  
  204. Don't worry. Hecate know a top secret base filled with robots and a plot device machine that can take away our debuff and make us more powerful.
  205.  
  206. And she's willing to blow that on us because she wants our dick.
  207.  
  208. I fucking hate Hecate. I'm told she dies. Good. I hope she died screaming. She exists as nothing but instant player gratification. She exists to be flirty and cute and wear stockings. She exists to give us the plot device and to have a magic device that can open doors to everywhere and a secret base that are by extension our things as well. She's absolute garbage in a fight because we don't want a character to detract from our cool badassness.
  209.  
  210. She is pure gratification without any real work at getting that gratification. We say hi and she immediately jumps on our dick and gives us to the keys to the secret base and upgrade chamber.
  211.  
  212. Now, in more capable hands she could be interesting. She can't fight but she can teleport away form a fight and she knows secrets. She could have been like an information broker or a spy and when she cozied up to us we wouldn't be sure if it was because she wants a protector in case her schemes go south or if she really likes us.
  213.  
  214. That's called "character development". Instead she's less character and more upgrade pack.
  215.  
  216. I think what the character is and what she means can be summed up by the infamous SUCH DEFIANCE scene that happens at the end of the Armory Guardian fight.
  217.  
  218. That was written in earnest.
  219.  
  220. That was used by the QM in earnest.
  221.  
  222. It was gushed over by the players in earnest.
  223.  
  224. And that is what Hecate is. Something that will always gratify the player no matter how stupid he is.
  225.  
  226. WHAT WE KNOW WE DON'T KNOW
  227.  
  228. Hecate is also a source of information...very little information. We learn that there is an end goal of the game...what it is and why people want it enough to kill for it and why its a prize in a tournament and not something -there- for the taking and who keeps this prize when its not being fought over isn't given, but we do know that there is an end game.
  229.  
  230. We also learn that we are not the first Red Joker. The previous Red Joker saved our life and in return we mercy killed him and became the Red Joker. The details of this encounter are vague. It involved burying him in a giant crater.
  231.  
  232. This is frustratingly bad backstory development. And its made all the more frustrating because in character we know more than we do outside of character.
  233.  
  234. Joker-kun seems to KNOW what happened. He knows the rules and history of the game.
  235.  
  236. The anons don't however. The anons know every little. And its hard to play a character who has a story you don't know, who has a personality informed by decisions you don't know.
  237. -cont
  238.  
  239.  
  240. If he had amnesia it would actually be better. Because then we could form the personality out of his immediate actions. And the players could ask other characters about the world and backstory and such and be informed about it this way.
  241.  
  242. But we have a character who knows things we don't know.That can only end in awkwardness and disaster.
  243.  
  244. Anons should generally know everything the person they're playing knows.
  245.  
  246. VERDICT
  247.  
  248. I give volume 1 a HARD NO RECOMMENDATION. It's poorly written. The characters are poor. The backstory is poor. The fights are poor. Everything just sucks.
  249.  
  250. Velo, on the off chance you're reading this I want you to know that you are not the worst QM. You are not.
  251.  
  252. I'm starting to wonder if there isn't an inverse correlation between quality and popularity, or maybe something like a threshold where super popular quests just suck?
  253.  
  254. Northern Beasts absolutely destroys Joker. It just destroys it. But it has a lower rating on sup tg and doesn't get talked up like Joker Quest.
  255.  
  256. Something is wrong here.
  257.  
  258. Maybe it does get better? I sure hope it does.
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