Short Peace (PS3)

By Chris Dahlberg

Published on Sunday, October 19, 2014

Short Peace is a multimedia project comprised of four anime shorts and a video game, with the overarching theme being Japan. Each of the anime shorts represents a different period in the country’s history, with the final short A Farewell to Weapons taking a look into the future. The game, Ranko Tsukigime’s Longest Day, was created as a collaboration between Grasshopper Manufacture and Tokyo Jungle developer Crispy’s and represents the current era of Japan, though as one might expect from anything Suda51 is involved in the overall direction is as over the top as possible. While the four short films and game were bundled together as a physical release in Europe, in North America things are a bit more confusing. The film portion came out on Blu-ray and DVD via Sentai Filmworks earlier in the year, while the film/game bundle for PS3 is available as a digital download from Bandai Namco. That means that if you already bought the films, the only way to get Ranko Tsukigime’s Longest Day is to buy the entire package again. Is the strength of the game enough to warrant a repeat purchase for those that have already picked up the films?

Having played through the game a few times now, it doesn’t quite provide enough value to warrant a repeat purchase for those that have already purchased and watched the four shorts from Sentai Filmworks. But if you’re like me and this is the first time you’re checking out both the short films and Ranko Tsukigime’s Longest Day, I do think it is worth a purchase provided you keep your expectations in check. It’s best to treat the game as another short, as you can see everything the ten levels and cutscenes have to offer in about an hour and a half to two hours depending on your skill level. So if you’re the type of gamer that tends to play through something once to see the ending before moving on to something else, there may not be enough content here to justify the purchase price.

It’s clear that Crispy’s and Grasshopper Manufacture built Ranko Tsukigime’s Longest Day with the classic arcade mentality in mind, that encourages replaying the game multiple times to discover the best route through each level and unlock concept art and character costumes. The game is essentially an endless runner with combat, meaning that you run towards the right side of your screen attacking enemies and jumping over obstacles. You control Ranko, who is a schoolgirl assassin that is tasked with killing her father. In each level she is pursued by spirits on the left side of the screen, and it is your job to make it to the goal without them catching you. This is accomplished by jumping over obstacles and defeating enemies to create chain combos, maintaining your speed and building up the meter to fire your gun. When the gauge is full enough you can fire your gun to temporarily keep the spirit pursuing you at bay, allowing you more time to complete the level. It’s a fairly easy concept to pick up, and you can also hit speed boosts on the ground and slide to move faster through a particular area.

I’ve seen fairly mixed opinions about the gameplay of Ranko Tsukigime’s Longest Day, as the mechanics seem to be of the love it or hate it variety. Compared to some of the others out there everything feels a bit looser, as the jumping has a tendency to let the player float a bit and you can beat the levels while still making the occasional platforming mistakes. When you stack this one up against the types of arcade action/platformers that it seems to be taking inspiration from it is much more forgiving, and I found that it wasn’t until near the last few levels of the game that I was forced to use a continue. The first few levels all have similar setups as well, throwing similar platform challenges at the player. But Crispy’s does shake things up significantly around the halfway point, offering a vertical scaling challenge that serves as a boss fight before throwing a shmup level and 8-bit homage at you. I enjoyed my time with Ranko Tsukigime’s Longest Day quite a bit and did think that the simple to pick up gameplay was fun enough to warrant repeat playthroughs for some additional unlockables, but I do think that initial lack of challenge on some of the levels and quick amount of time to get to the end may be a turnoff to some people.

Despite the fairly simple gameplay mechanics, Ranko Tsukigime’s Longest Day is fun to play through in large part due to how much of a visual spectacle everything is. The game’s cutscenes are something of a cross between Suda51’s usual insanity and a Gainax anime, and what’s interesting is that almost every scene has a different art style. Fairly normal looking anime cutscenes will give way to completely distorted facial expressions, and by the time you end up fighting a dragon while riding a motorcycle you’ll be used to the insanity of the entire affair. This is not only true of the cutscenes but also during the stages, as whenever you nail a combo the screen flashes with bright colors and all of the visual effects pop right off the screen. It’s not the most visually intensive game from a background or character/enemy model perspective, but the sheer speed and amount of things happening on-screen is impressive and the framerate is able to hold up the entire time. Bandai Namco has chosen to keep everything subtitled, and I was surprised to see that only a handful of voice actors/actresses were responsible for the majority of the characters. Maaya Uchida is behind the majority of the female cast, and while the script doesn’t quite provide any truly standout moments the voice acting does fit the over the top tone of the plot that Suda51 has put together.

The four short films install separately, and play as a single body of work (though you can press the square button to select each one individually). These are likely the main reason that many of you are interested in Short Peace, as there is plenty of well-known talent attached to each of the four shorts. The first one is Possession, which finds Shuhei Morita making his directorial debut (he later served as the director for Tokyo Ghoul). In this short a lone traveler takes shelter in an abandoned shrine during a storm, and finds that it is inhabited by all sorts of spirits. Combustible is directed by Katsuhiro Otomo (Akira, Steamboy) and tells a tale of forbidden romance set amongst a firefighting narrative in ancient Japan. Gambo’s the most visceral and violent of the four, as it has a white bear protecting the remnants of a village and fighting off an evil demon. Finally, A Farewell to Weapons is the one that I liked the most. This short is based on a manga Katushiro Otomo wrote and is directed by long-time Super Robot Wars/Gundam designer Hajime Katoki. It follows a band of men in the not so distant future who are exploring a landscape devastated by war in search of supplies and hidden treasures. They get caught in a firefight with an autonomous tank and things don’t go quite as planned.

I don’t want to go too much further in depth about each short, as they only run between 15 and 25 minutes in length so giving away too much would basically reveal the entirety of the plot. But as I often find with most shorts, while the storylines were enjoyable they were only able to scratch the surface. The emphasis therefore falls more on the technical side, and this is an area where Short Peace succeeds. There is heavy use of CG in all of these shorts, and while they were all produced by Sunrise each one has a very different look. Possession gives its main character a three dimensional look that makes it look like he’s coming right off the screen, while Combustible has a style that reminds me of a Japanese painting or tapestry come to life. Gambo is intense and gory, and A Farewell to Weapons has stunning designs and gritty action. A Farewell to Weapons is the longest of the four, and because of this it is able to tell a more complete story and touch on more themes. Short Peace is a visually impressive achievement, though I did wish that some of these films had been able to become feature length endeavors rather than 15 minute shorts as they seemed to be hinting at more.  It’s also important to note that this release is subtitle only, as the dub was produced by Sentai Filmworks and is therefore only on their Blu-ray/DVD.

Whether the Short Peace package on Playstation 3 is worth it or not will depend on your interest level in both Ranko Tsukigime’s Longest Day and the anime shorts. Although the shorts may be more of a visual tour-de-force than stories that will truly stick with viewers for some time to come, they do warrant repeat viewings and I think that some will find this warrants the asking price. But if you already bought Sentai’s DVD or Blu-ray earlier in the year I don’t think the gaming side of Short Peace warrants the $40 purchase price. It is fun to play and is like playing through an interactive Gainax anime, but the short length just doesn’t quite provide enough value on its own. I’d like to see if Bandai Namco will offer it individually later down the road for a reduced price, as Ranko Tsukigime’s Longest Day is still an enjoyable experience overall. Watch the trailer for the game and see if you think it’s something you could see yourself playing through multiple times, as that will determine whether this package is worth buying or if you are better off buying the anime and passing on this Playstation 3 bundle.

http://www.bandainamcogames.com/game/ranko-tsukigimes-longest-day.html
https://store.sonyentertainmentnetwork.com/#!/en-us/games/short-peace-ranko-tsukigime%27s-longest-day/cid=UP0700-NPUB50144_00-B000000000000757?smcid=ps:nav-playstation-store

Short Peace
Verdict6.5

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