What is ASTLIBRA Revision

ASTLIBRA Revision is a fantastic Japanese 2D action RPG game developed by KEIZO. In this game, you are going to explore the world and improve your skills and armor, to confront powerful monsters, and seek your childhood friend who disappeared in a disaster.

You can collect more than 40 weapons and 30 magics. Together with hundreds of skills and the libra system, you can build your own fighting style.


Why ASTLIBRA Revision is engaging

Complex system, but easy to learn

There are in total 7 completely different systems in this game that could affect your character’s power. Aside from the ordinary “character level”, “armor”, “magic”, there is this “libra” system, which allows you to put items on the libra and gain buffs when balanced. Almost every item in this game is associated with a “weight” and some positive buffs. And as you progress through this game, you can put more and more items on the libra, which will make it harder and harder to achieve 100% balance.

(When you first unlock this system, you can only put one item on each side.)

The 7 systems do not unlock at the same time. The author intentionally gives the player some time to fully understand and digest the system, before you can unlock another. After a system is unlocked or upgraded, the game will give you some sort of “challenge” that you can clear within a few tries, if you use the new system well enough. In conclusion, game mechanics are upgrading throughout the whole playing experience. When you feel you have mastered all the mechanics in this game, it will be time for you to face the final boss.

The Elemental Tetrad (Mechanics): 4.5/5.0

The Lens of Interest Curve: The interest curve is periodic. When you start to feel bored, the game will give you some new stuff to play with.

Ravishing story, unexpected plot

Besides the incredible game mechanics, the story is also a great selling point of this game. Story telling was always an advantage of JRPGs, and in ASTLIBRA this advantage is even more noticeable.

The story is just an ordinary “hero save princess”, but with an epic worldview and history. The main character starts his journey seeking his childhood friend, and during his journey, he meets other people, travels through space and time, even fights with divine creatures. Finally, he saves “the princess”. The game does not teach me any great principles, it does not inspire me in any sense. It just tells me a good story.

The story of this game makes me think of another game called FINAL FANTASY XIII, and a Japanese animation called Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann. If anyone has played this game or watched this animation, you can expect a story somewhat like that.

The Elemental Tetrad (Story): 4.5/5.0

The Lens of Hero’s Journey: It is definitely a Hero’s Journey, it has factors such as saving the princess, fighting slimes/goblins to get stronger, defeating “demon king”. However, it does not feel hackneyed, because it also has “time travel”, “spaceship”, “reincarnation”, “future world” to make it less traditional.

The Lens of Story Machine: The interest curve of the story is also periodic, and it is interleaving with the mechanics interest curve. Actually, this is the most amazing part of this game. However, this game does not provide a lot of choices for players to choose from. In some sense, the player’s action can cause some major character to survive/to die. But due to the time travel ability of the main character, you may find some characters suddenly died/revived, because your time travel has rewritten their fate! So in other words, the player’s choice is usually not that important. I do not feel like controlling the story, but just watching it.

“Hit reaction” from obsolete scene, texture and sound effect

By looking at the gameplay, one may not believe this game was released in 2022. In fact, ASTLIBRA was developed by KEIZO, an independent developer, alone, for 14 years. All the scenes, images, textures, music and sound effects are free on the Internet. The original ASTLIBRA gameplay is even more primitive. The author got some help from some artists and musicians after the free version was released. Then, he replaced some images and music in the game, and released the new version “ASTLIBRA Revision”.

With limited resources, this game presents a good “game feel” to the player. With different kinds of weapon, the reactions to hitting an enemy are different, which are the combination of “hit stop”, sound effect, lighting effect and controller vibration. All these factors make the game more qualified as an action game.

Another advantage of this game is the soundtrack. The author has a very good sense of music, he can find suitable soundtracks among enormous numbers of copyfree music.

The Elemental Tetrad (Aesthetics): 3.0/5.0

The Elemental Tetrad (Technology): 2.0/5.0

The Lens of Essential Experience: As an Action RPG, it is essential for the player to feel like “role playing” the main character and fighting with monsters. The “hit reaction” helps the players feel like they are defeating the enemy with their hands.

What is not so good about this game

  • Graphic are too old. Scenes, textures and images of characters are not harmonic.
  • The 7 systems are too complex to find a “global optimum” for player’s battle style. And different battle styles are not equally powerful.
  • The game only has minimal endgame content, players have no motivation to play a “New Game+”
  • System configuration is badly designed, players need to close the game in order to adjust the resolution.

Idol Manager


Idol Manager is a game in which players hire idols, release singles, manage events such as concerts and world tours, in order to build their ideal music franchise. Players need to manage finances, idol stamina and health, along with ensuring idols are satisfied and not being bullied.

The game is available on Steam at this link:

Gameplay demo:

The Elemental Tetrad


These are the main mechanics involved in the game:

  1. Idol stamina. Management of stamina is crucial, because stamina translates into money – everything that idols can do to make money for the company requires stamina, be it practising and improving skills, holding performances or recording singles. If mismanaged, idols can become injured or even depressed, costing the company financially and in reputation.
  2. Idol and staff abilities. Due to the aforementioned idol stamina, the player needs to decide how much time and money to invest into improving their idols’ skills – higher skills will lead to higher popularity with groups of fans. This comes with the opportunity cost of making less money for the company in the short-term, due to the usage of idol stamina. Furthermore, idols do graduate eventually, which means that the investment into skills is only a medium-term affair. Idols also have traits, which can be helpful or hindering, and add another dynamic to the management of idol stamina and relationships.
  3. Idol potential and auditions. While idols can practise to improve their skills, the potential mechanic means that they take a significantly longer time to make any progress once any of their skills reach their potential. Idols are grouped into several categories: normal, bronze, silver, gold and platinum. Idols with better potential categories can greatly improve their skills and become world-class performers. The more money a player spends on auditions, the better their chances of signing such performers.
  4. Fan demographics. There are many options in the game allowing the player to make the kind of music they want, such as genre choice, choreography and vibe. These choices influence the fan demographics that the player’s idol group has. The demographics are further divided into casual and hardcore fans. Casual fans can come in significant numbers, but will make fewer purchases and be less interested in niche genres and choreography. Hardcore fans love these, on the other hand, but there are much fewer of such fans. The player can choose to appeal to a wide audience or specialise in certain flavours, but there is a reward for having a clear direction for their fanbase.


There is a story to Idol Manager which is somewhat secondary to the main gameplay mechanics. The sponsor of the company is attempting to shed his shady past. His daughter (relationship unknown to the player for most of the game) has a rival company and serves as the main antagonist, yet is a mostly likeable character. There is a branching storyline based on what tasks the player chooses to do – for instance, should the player help a freelance reporter with her stories on several occasions, she will be available as an idol in the game.


The game is mainly made out of menus, dialogs and 2D sprites decked out in bright, inviting colours and an attractive but unassuming font. The main office features pixel art and simple animations. There are some cutscenes showing visual novel style aesthetics, again featuring simple animations but high quality 2D anime-style art. These visuals make it easy for the player to navigate through the options in the game, while enjoying the occasional visual surprise brought by the cutscenes.


Idol Manager is technologically simple, with keyboard and mouse controls for the menus and very basic interaction between the player and the game. To my knowledge, the game does not have or need advanced rendering techniques, as it is simple enough to run well without expensive hardware.


The Lens of Pleasure (#20)

Idol Manager causes a player to be invested in their idols. When an idol wins an award, it is a satisfying accomplishment, further rewarded by the bonuses brought about by the accomplishment. The player derives significant pleasure from developing their idols, managing them well and leading them to greater heights.

There is a missing piece of the puzzle though, as the placing of the idol in the world of idol manager is not known. It would be even more satisfying if there were idol rankings that the player could hope his idols would feature, as there are in real life.

The Lens of Endogenous Value (#7)

Idol Manager perhaps places equal importance on idol skills and staff skills. Thus, each of these are seen as extremely valuable. With the best staff, even the worst idols can be developed. With the best idols, the company can be carried on their shoulders even as the staff slowly develops. Interestingly, the player is most motivated by finances at first, as it is very easy for the company to fail in the early-game. As the player gains financial stability, though, the focus becomes on the player releasing the best music possible, which means the player will shift their focus to developing the skills of the staff and idols.

The Lens of Meaningful Choices (#39)

On a less insightful scale, the player does make decisions when random PR hiccups happen – damage control is needed on the part of the player. This is somewhat superficial, as the events are pre-programmed and the player can know what the best decision is. On the other hand, the gameplay mechanics are rich enough such that each choice the player makes – hiring talent through various types of auditions, choosing established staff over rookies, making popular but generic music versus making polarising tracks – decides the path that the player’s company takes, and the player feels in control.

The Lens of The World (#84)

In the world of idol manager, the player is able to assume the role of an idol franchise manager, which is unlikely to happen in real life. The player gets to become invested in the idols he manages, through conversations with the idols (including romancing, though rarely so), developing them and making them successful. However, when these successes are obtained, the world becomes rather one-dimensional with no evidence that a franchise has truly become successful, such as fan-interaction, show appearances, cult status etc. Furthermore, it can be hard to believe that there are other competing franchises in the world, aside from some generic song names sharing the monthly hits charts. While there are some elements of the world that are rich and enjoyable, it is largely not dynamic enough to be truly believable in the context of idol management.


Overall, Idol Manager is a challenging and rewarding game where the idols truly shine, and the fun of the game is in the rise to the top. That being said, it can be one-dimensional once the peak is reached, though the player can just choose to start with all new idols (but now with well-equipped staff and facilities).

Guilty Gear Strive



Guilty Gear Strive (GGST) is a 2D anime fighting game developed by Arc System Works. The game was released in June 2021 and is the latest game in the Guilty Gear series. It is currently one of the top 3 traditional (1v1) fighting games on Steam alongside Tekken 7 and Street Fighter 5.

The Elemental Tetrad


What sets GGST apart from other (older) fighting games is its smooth online experience thanks to rollback netcode. Players are no longer stuck playing offline with consoles or at arcades, and you can actually fight your friend from another continent without lagging to the moon. I love you rollback.

Netcode? What?

I don’t want to spend an entire page explaining delay vs rollback so here’s an answer from a dude from quora:


As with most fighting games, its core mechanics revolve around “rock paper scissors” type interactions. Players get to mindgame each other by mixing up their offensive options, striking high when the opponent expects a low, blocking an attack to counterattack, throwing someone that has been conditioned to block, mashing an attack button when expecting to be thrown, etc. It all sounds easy but is hard to master, and honing your skill is the name of the game. As you master your offense and defense, one day, you will go toe to toe with fighting game veterans that have been with this genre for years.

While GGST has some relatively unique mechanics amongst fighting games such as Roman Cancels, Burst, wall breaks, Faultless Defense, Tension and Overdrives/Supers that are really, really cool, describing them in detail to people who might not even play fighting games is not, so I’ll just leave some cool images.

Roman Cancel to do a sick combo!
Wall breaks!


It’s an anime fighting game, what else can I say?

Slow-mo close-up pan to face during supers just hit different
Source: my actual gameplay LMAO


While you don’t even need a story for a fighting game, GGST itself has 4 hours worth of cutscenes in the story mode. The entire GG series has days worth of lore for those who enjoy it, but honestly it’s entirely optional. I just enter a floor and fight people.


The Player (#19)

Fighting games retain specific kinds of players. Players that are ok with getting crushed 0-30 against better players if it lets them improve. Players that are ok with grinding the same combo for hours in the training room until they never drop their combos in a live match ever again. When playing a match, I can sometimes feel the amount of effort my opponent has put in. This mutual respect and competition is part of what drives me to keep playing and improving.

Skill (#34)

A good GGST player needs to know how to properly execute their character’s combos and defensive options. No one is born knowing how to do a combo, when to use it, or whether to use another one. All these come with practice, and that’s what makes it fair. If I want to beat someone, I have to put in more time and effort than them. I’m not paying for stronger weapons/characters, I’m not grinding for better gear. I’m grinding for a better me.

Head and Hands (#42)

Some may think fighting games are all muscle memory and no mental, but it actually alternates between the two. When the combo begins, it really is all muscle memory, but players can use that time to plan their next move. When attacking, players have to consciously weigh their risks/rewards and decide how to mix-up the opponent to overload their mental stack and land a hit, then convert into the right combo. It’s therefore incredibly rewarding when my head and hands succeed in tandem to defeat my opponent. If my mix-ups don’t work and I get blown up, it’s actually my fault for not thinking good/hard enough.

Competition (#43)

GGST, as a 1v1 PVP game, inherently draws out the competitive nature in its players. There’s no “support” class. There’s no teamwork aspect where I hope my teammates can cover for me. There’s no objective to capture or bases to destroy. It’s just me, fighting against another human on the other side of a screen until one of our hp falls to 0. Nothing quite scratches my “lizard brain” or gets my heart pumping like a match with an evenly skilled opponent. GGST gives next to no rewards for winning, but I still want to win. That’s because winning 1v1 against a real human, who has put in just as much, maybe even more effort than me, is it’s own reward.

Text: The only difference between us was the strength of our resolve.
Source: another one of my old videos