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Square Enix has been on a roll as of late in churning out mobile ports of popular game franchises (Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest) in the midst of several lack-luster original mobile games such as the Chaos Rings franchise. Indeed Square still has ways to go before lining itself up with mobile games publishing giants in Japan like Gung-Ho, Gumi, Gree, and the like.

Enter the company’s latest original entry into the free-to-play mobile gaming platform: Heavenstrike Rivals ( released globally in March 2015) is a turn-based strategy game under the art direction of Ryoma Ito (FF Tactics Advance) and the musical scoring of Ryo Yamazaki (FF: Crystal Chronicles). The game is played on a 3 x 7 (Height x Width) board where two players take turns in placing units with the ultimate goal of dealing enough damage to take down the opposing team’s captain. As simple as it sounds, things get complex when you factor in the different unit classes, unit races, levels, and ranks (upgraded units).

Heavenstrike Rivals: Captain skills sometimes spell the all the difference in combat.
Heavenstrike Rivals: Captain skills sometimes spell the all the difference in combat.

Captains are not only an avatar representation of you in the game, they can also equip a skill ranging from direct damage, buffs, or healing. These are charged after usage by turn (6-9 turns) If used strategically, can instantly turn the tide of battle. If anything, Heavenstrike Rivals plays more like a collectible card game (CCG) placed on a grid board than your typical square grid strategy game like FF Tactics and similar games. Heavenstrike Rivals features six (6) unit classes and four (4) unit races: Humans, Ogurs, Felyns, and Lambkin. Each class has an inherent skill and an extra ability based on the unit type and its rarity. Unit class and race are also the basis for buff and debuff skills.

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Heavenstrike Rivals: Fighters are pretty underrated due to their short attack range vs ranged units.

Fighters (movement range 2) normally have high HP and moderate amount of ATK. Their class skill is the ability gain 1 ATK every time they hit an opposing unit or the opposing captain. The longer they stay alive in combat, the higher their ATK will be.

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Heavenstrike Rivals: Defenders break most rush strategies.

Defenders (movement range 2) have the highest base HP in the game and have the ability to taunt opposing units to prevent them from changing lanes. This forces attacking units to deal with the defender and prevents them from attacking your other units or your captain.

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Heavenstrike Rivals: Makes opponents suffer for putting their units in a straight line.

Gunners (movement range 1) are indirect damage units capable of hitting all targets 3 spaces in front of them. Best used against enemy formations who run in a straight line.

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Heavenstrike Rivals: You can beat an opponent with one attack from Scouts given the right amount of buffs and assuming they survive long enough.

Scouts (movement range 3) are the fastest units in the game who are able to attack opposing captains by their second turn. They have the lowest HP among all units but are offset with extremely powerful damage dealing capabilities through their double strike skill (attacks twice per round).

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Heavenstrike Rivals: Mages are extremely powerful units. Many people hate these units.

Mages (movement range 1) attacks have splash damage. They deal half the amount of their base ATK to all adjacent units which is ideal for clearing out crowds of enemy units should they happen to be bunched up. These units can attack units or captains 3 spaces in front of them.

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Heavenstrike Rivals: Priest keep your offensive units alive longer to maximize their utility in battle.

Priests (movement range 1) heal the unit with the lowest HP in the board once per turn. They are support units with low ATK and moderate HP to keep your attacking units in combat alive for as long as possible. They can attack units and captains two spaces in front of them.

Each unit class has either an ETB (enter the battlefield) effect or activated ability (by chance) as a skill which varies per unit. Tthe higher the rarity, the more powerful the effect. These abilities on top of the class based ones create a deep strategic environment where timing and synergy of your units with each other is key to controlling battles. This system in my opinion is what really got Heavenstrike Rivals going for me. Players Heavenstrike Rivals start out with two (2) mana and can accumulate a maximum of ten (10) mana after the first five (5) turns in combat. Units have varied casting costs from 2 to 4 mana. A player can have a total of ten (10) mana worth of units at any given time so as much as timing is the key to beating your opponents, you must also keep track of how much resources you will spend to field your units. There are cases when you max out your mana to field units and your opponent can isolate them in one side of the battlefield and create an opening for them to attack your captain with impunity. In this case, you could potentially lose the battle without any way of turning the game around.

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Heavenstrike Rivals: Microtrannies, they’re never cheap.

New units can be earned through completing story missions, normal missions, daily missions, and special missions. But the quickest way to earn powerful new units is through recruitment which requires cores (the game’s cash currency). Cores can be farmed from a daily quest (1-3 cores per day) and completing story quests. As a starting player, you can accumulate over one hundred (100) cores by playing the daily core quest and completing all story missions. It takes five (5) core to recruit one 3-5 star unit or 45 core to recruit 10 3-5 star units. Statistically speaking, you will at least gain two (2) 4 star units which are more then enough to help you plow through story missions. As such, you cannot escape the fact that Heavenstrike Rivals adheres to common standards in Japanese mobile games which easily translates to spend money to recruit better units. But like most of these types of games, there are system events which will give you better incentives for recruiting at those times. You can simply save up your core for 10 recruits and consume them during these system events. All 2-5 star units can be upgraded to increase their stats and effect abilities through unit promotion and maxing out their levels. Legendary units (5-star) when promoted will become 6-star or basically “broken” units.

Ace Quickshuffle is one of the most hated units in Heavenstrike Rivals
Chance Quickshuffle is one of the most hated units in Heavenstrike Rivals

Units with skills (outside class skills) can level-up their skills up to 4 times (to level 5). One skill level can be gained through promoting the unit to its final form, the rest leaves little to be desired. The only other way to increase skill level is to train units with the exact same unit. In other words, you need at least 4 of one specific unit to max out their skills and based on my experience, maxing skills out matters. Fortunately, most functional units can be farmed from story missions, daily missions, and special missions. Units you can farm for are actually just as important as legendary units you can gain through recruitment.

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This part will actually need some time and effort through gaining unit experience and acquiring promotion items farmed through daily quests. Upgrading units will certainly help you plow through story missions but these are really meant for you to keep up with the weekly PVP leagues, one of the biggest endgame features of Heavenstrike Rivals. If you get down to it, the AI of Heavenstrike Rivals does some pretty stupid moves (occupy one lane and keep staying there regardless of battlefield conditions) in missions as well as with your squad should you chose to use the game’s auto-play feature so the best place to get your competitive gaming fix is in the weekly PVP league. Newbies will probably fall to the bottom of the ladder due to the lack of 4-6 star units and completely upgraded regular units. The difference is overwhelming and it might discourage you granted that top players receive high tier units as rewards, as such is how mobile games operate. Game balance is skewed towards paying and long time users. Catching up to them is a matter of leveling up relevant and powerful low cost/lower rarity units (most of which can be acquired or farmed in daily and weekly missions) to their full potential. Outside of regular daily missions and recruitment using cores, Heavenstrike Rivals features weekly missions where you can farm powerful super rare units (4 star).

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Farmable units are just as important as high rarity ones in Heavenstrike Rivals

I find that these units are commonly used in PVP and have great utility in PVE missions so they are must-farm units. For new players, you could miss out on the previous characters, but it is up to Square Enix to ensure that old and new player alike will be able to enjoy these farmable characters eventually. There currently are sixty-two (62) story missions for the first chapter of Heavenstrike Rivals each with increasing levels of difficulty. There is still no word on when the next chapter is set to be implemented but as most story-driven games, chapters are released in a span of more than 1 month intervals. The story of the game isn’t exactly compelling or poor, I just find it a necessity for the flavor of the game. I found that the AI is able to circumvent regular squad building rules such as (2 per unit type restrictions imposed on players) as compensation for rather shifty game-play logic. After completing the story missions, you will gain access to a high stamina and high difficulty cost dungeon which randomly rewards you with high EXP and gold along with unit EXP items, new units, and even cores.

As a relatively heavy user, I haven’t spent any money on buying cores but I have assembled a pretty strong line-up of units, the difference is my units haven’t reached maximum promotion so the odds against me when faced off with higher level squads but I will be able to catch up in due time. The PVP metagame in Heavenstrike Rivals can change on the fly like with its latest PVP league that just concluded this week which banned the usage of the Defender unit class. This modification strongly reinforced fast moving units like Scouts being able to get in range with your opponent’s captain easily since there are no enemy units which can taunt your offensive units to delay imminent attacks. With the addition of these type of PVP events, things certainly are about to get more interesting.

Heavenstrike Rivals is focusing a lot on PVP. So far, it's pretty balanced. You just need to grind to catch up.
Heavenstrike Rivals is focusing a lot on PVP. So far, it’s pretty balanced. You just need to grind to catch up.

The visuals of Heavenstrike Rivals are vibrant and well animated but they seem to be quite heavy on resources for a mobile game. You need Android 4.1 and up or iOS 7.0 for Apple devices as a minimum requirement so older and weaker devices will not be able run the game at all. Each unit type per race have a template form factor but their costumes and design vary widely. You can clearly see a great degree of character design put into each unit type and this definitely puts extra value into collecting units. The music in Heavenstrike Rivals utilizes an orchestral ensemble and produced some of the best mobile game music I’ve heard but the voices of characters are pretty generic and bland.

Heavenstrike Rivals makes hardcore and casual PVP equally rewarding.
Heavenstrike Rivals makes hardcore and casual PVP equally rewarding.

I am hooked Heavenstrike Rivals but it does demand a certain level of dedication and play frequency which I am unable or unwilling to fulfill most of the time, hence losing some opportunity to acquire the maximum attainable daily grind benefits. However, it isn’t that much of a turn-off as I do enjoy the PVP content even if I am frequently mismatched with extremely powerful squads. The next step for furthering game balancing could be setting squad cost requirements based on unit rarity and maximum level to prevent paying users to simply field a team with top units and maxing out their stats to dominate PVP. The game at its core is a strategy game after all. It is a pity that this game found its way to the mobile platform, I would pay for a retail version of the game (minus the micro-transactions).

Other things I would like to see in future versions of Heavenstrike Rivals: friends lists, PVP directly with people in your friends lists (playtesting), and daily Login bonuses. Come on, every other game in the same genre does it, why not here?

 

DSC02511Despite popular opinion, Nintendo is actually a company of iterative refinement—a company that does not simply rest after unleashing its creations, instead finding ways to subtly improve on them. This is especially true in their hardware offerings, all but one (the beleaguered and short-lived Virtual Boy) receiving some sort of incremental upgrade during their respective lifetimes. Remember those mystery ports on the NES and SNES? Though often appearing stunted from a technological standpoint, Nintendo always seemingly looks ahead and somehow sneaks in some sort of improvement in their consoles or handhelds, mysteriously forcing their consumers hands and snaking in a quick payment when, really, the “old” version of the hardware worked just fine.

Whether it’s slapping add-ons to the system (the Famicom’s Disk System), miniturization (SNES Jr., Game Boy Pocket), slight spec bumps (Game Boy Color and this very piece of hardware), or correcting a terrible, terrible mistake (the Game Boy Advance SP and its actually-legible scren), all of us have paid for a “standard” mid-cycle Nintendo upgrade one way or the other.

DSC02514I suppose where I’m getting at with this is, yes, Nintendo has a giant hard-on for improving their existing hardware, for better or for worse. Enter the “New” Nintendo 3DS. In what’s probably the least-creative console rebranding this side of the PlayStation twos through fours, the New Nintendo 3DS (or NN3DS, as abbreviated by absolutely nobody) is simply just that, a newer, mid-cycle version of its vintage-2011 Nintendo 3DS handheld awkwardly slotting in a couple years before its real successor comes out. Unlike the Nintendo DSi right before it, Nintendo isn’t immediately halting sales of the “older” 3DS units in lieu of this iteration, instead puzzlingly choosing to market this in North American regions as a premium version of the 3DS hardware. Irritatingly, Nintendo of America has decided to not release the New 3DS XL’s smaller sibling at all, choosing to keep the “old” 3DS and XL, as well as its forlorn stepsibling, the adorable but maligned 2DS. It doesn’t take a marketing degree to realize that they’ve made a mess out of this.

That aside, the short story with the New 3DS is that its actually a worthwhile upgrade to the original 3DS and 3DS XL. Much unlike how a typical Nintendo fan fails to refine him or herself into a nuanced adult, the NN3DSXL feels like a more premium, mature product. Even the intangibles such as heft and gloss were taken into account when crafting Nintendo’s final revision of the 3DS product. On paper it sounds like a dicey cash-grab, but when you actually have one in your hands, the New 3DS XL looks, sounds and feels exactly how the handheld should have been in the first place.

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Small things, such as the volume slider being relegated to the top of the clamshell instead of its irritatingly easy-to-cajole former home on the bottom half of the console, turn into vast improvements once you spend some more time with the console. Little nuances, such as the brightness controlling itself automatically, or the Wi-Fi no longer needing to be switched on and off, pop in every now and then and remind the end-user that, yes, this is a better 3DS than the one you had. And of course, there are the tiny, irritating screw-ups that remind you that this is a Nintendo product: the MicroSD slot being nigh-inaccessible is definitely a Luddite decision that the tiny Kyoto company would make. I’m not even surprised that the New Nintendo 3DS doesn’t come with a charger: they know their target audience for these things, and their target audience has like four or five of those things kicking around from the DSi’s heyday. Whatever, I don’t even use them—I vastly prefer and recommend those knockoff USB chargers from China. Plug ’em into a sentient box that has a USB port (such as a cable/digibox) and voila, instant charging station.

DSC02515One immediate drag with owning a New Nintendo 3DS is the system transfer process. I can count the number of digital games I have with one hand, yet it still took four hours to move less than four gigabytes worth of data from my old 3DS XL to my New 3DS XL. It’s almost useless to hope for at this point, but it’s 2015 and the fact that Nintendo still doesn’t have a unified account system at this point is borderline laughable. I can literally run to the store, buy a new 2000-series Vita, download roughly 64GB of game data and saves from the cloud, make myself a mean osso bucco, and still clock in less time than it takes for a standard 3DS system transfer to finish. It’s insane.

Let’s talk about super-stable 3D: it’s awesome. Forget the bad, disjointed 3D experience from the old 3DS, that’s dead and buried now. The New 3DS tracks your head with some sort of proximity sensor and adjusts the 3D image in real-time to compensate, making playing in 3D on the darn thing actually feasible now. I hardly ever use the 3D feature on my old 3DS because it was such a pain to get into that “sweet spot” to enjoy the effect, but I have 3D permanently turned on with my New 3DS and apart from the quick jitter ever now and then when it fails to adjust for whatever reason, its totally seamless and immersive.

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DSC02512As for the new control features, they’re alright. The C-stick feels a lot like the eraser-nubs on old IBM Thinkpads, and is surprisingly solid-feeling once you get a hang of it. After clocking in a few hours on Monster Hunter 4 and The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask, sweeping the camera across the screen came as second nature, and the little nub deftly did its job when needed. I can’t see the C-stick ever working for FPS games, but given the fact that so few of those come the system’s way, I’m sure it’s not even a concern. I forgot the ZL and ZR triggers even existed, given how sparingly MH4 used ’em. I suppose we’ll have to wait for a “real” NN3DS exclusive to come out before we even see the little buttons get used.

DSC02517A small sidebar on software compatibility: it may be placebo effect, but games do in fact load faster on the New 3DS. Newer titles like Majora’s Mask and Smash Bros. aren’t a surprise since they were probably developed with the New 3DS in mind, but even older titles that I’ve revisited such as Snake Eater 3D (still a bad port) and Pilotwings Resort (super-underrated, even as a launch title) seemed snappier to load. My hope is that Nintendo and its third-parties patch out some of the older titles to fully take advantage of the New 3DS’ hardware, even to improve simple things like framerate and draw distance.

So for better or for worse, the New Nintendo 3DS is just that: its a New Nintendo 3DS. Despite the minor spec-bump, the system still sports sub-iOS level graphical capabilities, an insultingly low-resolution screen (exasperated by the XL’s massive berth) and shockingly bad online capabilities (the eShop is still a poorly-designed nightmare). Still, there’s a reason these things crush the competition, and thats simply thanks to an amazing software lineup. For those that happen to enjoy the 3DS’ roster of fine videogames, the New 3DS XL is almost a required purchase as it improves the 3DS experience so much.

Fantasy Hero: Unsigned Legacy is an action RPG by Arc System Works who is famous for games such as the Guilty Gear and BlazBlue series.  They are releasing more games outside the fighting game genre lately (there is also Magical Beat, a rhythm game that will be out soon), so this is quite exciting news for ASW fans.

In Fantasy Hero, the game’s world has been overrun by alien beings known as Decoders and humans were driven away from their homes after being attacked. After twelve years in the game’s setting, you are introduced to (and will be asked to choose from) the four main protagonists in the game such as:

  • Acress, a justice-obsessed swordsman
  • Haul, the mysterious Crow with a penchant for guns
  • Ashta, inventress with a giant robot and a bone to pick
  • Mask, a well-muscled luchador
Mask the Shout
Mask the Shout

Each of these heroes have different fighting styles — Acress of course specializes in slashing, Mask wrestles, Haul is the ranged shooter guy and Ashta uses a robot to attack with. The game sets you off and introduces you to your wild band of party members (all the protagonists are working together but you get to control only one during the game). A woman named Gram gifts you with your Hero Artes (equipment that makes you super strong) after returning from a two-year expedition and sends you on a quest to become stronger and take back your land. You play the fairly easy to go through tutorial and eventually do the missions (core of the game) while progressing in the game’s story. Easy peasy.

Is this real life? (AKA the good stuff)

  • Good visuals – I always appreciate good character designs and especially like cel-shaded graphics in RPGs. Fantasy Hero has interesting character designs for the protagonists especially Mask (my favorite because luchador), but the other guys like Haul, Acress and Ashta aren’t bad either. The environment is not mind-blowing and could probably use more inspiration and uniqueness but it still works.
  • 140313FANTASYHERO_ss_01Character customizationFantasy Hero has a good system of customizing skills for your characters and make them play either as a DPS or a support unit. There is also assigning of stats which can really make each character you play unique from your friends.
  • Fully voiced characters – All characters are fully dubbed with Japanese voices and have some popular seiyuus doing them. There is no option for English voices however, but then again who plays with that.
  • Game Controls – The game is easy especially if you have experience in RPGs. There is no way you will have a hard time learning the controls as it is very simple and streamlined. Attacks are assigned to two buttons, movement to the left analog stick which is really everything you need to play. Skills and items are mapped to your directional and command buttons later on and can be activated by pressing the LB button.
  • 14 Player Local Co-Op – I like playing with friends in games so this is a good addition. If you want someone to get into multiplayer games like Monster Hunter, you can start them up in Fantasy Hero as the game is fairly easy to learn and get into mostly because of the simplified controls.
  • Mission Division – The bulletin board where you can get missions divides them into main and side (and DLC), so you can easily breeze through the story if you want to. However, during the first few hours of the game you are compelled to do the side missions to learn controls and the basics of the game.
  • Difficulty Toggles – You can make the missions harder if you are more confident of your level and skills and can get more rewards from it which is a good touch. New players can stick with recommended levels or if you just want to enjoy the game and run through it.
  • Near System – Like 3DS’s street pass, you can get gifts from others players if you bump into them which I always enjoy in handheld games.

Is this just fantasy? (AKA the bad stuff)

  • Generic story line – Cookie cutter storyline in RPG: get. Unknown monsters suddenly invade peaceful land and drive people out of their homes yadda yadda. I wish they would’ve gone the extra mile and make the plot more engaging but it is what it is.
  • 140313FANTASYHERO_ss_02Dialogue font – Not that big of a deal but the dialogue is hard to read at times because of the kerning / spacing. I wish that they patch this game to improve readability.
  • Entire Map view – It would have been so much better if they assigned a button in the game to view the entire map instead of going inside the main menu (accessible by the start button) and going through it to access. It somewhat breaks the game’s momentum especially if you are in a mission.

Caught in a landslide (AKA can go anywhere)

  • Super linear gameplay – I am all for linear gameplay in RPGs but I know most people like variety and choices. The game is straightforward as straightforward goes.
  • DLC – Extra missions can be acquired in DLCs. Again, not many people might be up for that but it won’t hurt if you don’t get them. Here is what’s available in the game:

DLC Available:

  • Mission Pack #1 “Birth of the Sacred Treasures” – 5 new missions with new weapons and equipment
  • Mission Pack #2 “Then and Now” – 5 new missions with post-story content
  • Character License and BlazBlue Color Set
  • Character License and Guilty Gear Color Set
  • Character License and Special Color Set
  • Character Color Pack (Ashta, Haul, Shout, or Acress set)
  • Basic Upgrading – The game has super simplified upgrading in equipment. You just go to the NPC with the stuff required to upgrade and you can choose an effect whether to have a higher damage output or increased effectivity. There’s not much to do with changing the looks and other stats like in other games.

No escape from reality (AKA the verdict)

10928847_10153688488167137_7789638585044720629_nIf you are looking for a lighthearted action RPG, Fantasy Hero is not a bad choice. Priced reasonably at $14.99, you definitely get your money’s worth from the game content, especially since you can go play local multi on it. It’s also a good idea to have new players start on this game to learn the basics of action RPGs and Monhan type of games. The game also works on the PlayStation Vita TV so that’s great.

Fantasy Hero: Unsigned Legacy releases on February 10th in the Americas, and February 11th for select countries in Europe, Middle East, Australia, and New Zealand. The game is exclusively available for PlayStation Vita as a digital download on the PlayStation Network. The game is currently available in North America.

Disclosure: 30lives.net has received a review copy of the game from Arc System Works.

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Good news, PC gamers! Taiwan’s Biostar has partnered up with their official local distributor to start offering full, three-year warranmties on select products sold here. In our estimation, this is a fairly competitive warranty that definitely makes grabbing their ‘boards a very enticing proposition. Three years is just about enough time in between upgrades, so it’s nice to have that extra piece of mind that you’re covered in case your motherboard conks out. Because, hey, it happens to the best of us.

 

Press Release follows.

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November 10th, Manila, Philippines – BIOSTAR, based in Taiwan, is growing the distribution network in Asia and is now partnering with EA GLOBAL SUPPLY CHAIN SOLUTIONS INC. and offering a full 3 year warranty for products sold in the Philippines. BIOSTAR is famous in various computer product family areas including: Embedded solutions, Mini PC barebones systems, Graphics cards and Motherboards.

BIOSTAR “A58MDP”, micro-ATX form factor that supports AMD Socket FM2/FM2+ APUs and offers native support for USB 3.0 and dual-channel DDR3 memory motherboard is the most cost effective solution in the market. The board features the latest BIOSTAR technologies such as BIOS Flasher and BIOS Online Update for easy updating and restoration of the BIOS, as well as BIO-Remote2 for remote control of the system via Android and Apple devices.

Another popular board, based on the Intel H81 chipset, is the “H81MHV3”. It supports Intel 4th generation Core i7 and Core i5 processors, with integrated HD 4600Graphics, memory speed supports up to 1600MHz. The H81 chipset has two SATA 6Gb/s ports (plus four SATA 3Gb/s ports), and two USB 3.0 headers. The H81MHV3 is a great combination for low-cost but with rich features; video output includes HDMI support as well as USB 3.0 support. It makes it a great option for small form factor systems where you rarely have more than one discrete card and two SATA drives. Being Intel based boards, they also feature Intel Rapid Start Technology and Intel Smart Connect Technology.

Lastly, BIOSTAR is also going to release a new “Gaming” series motherboard soon, so stay tuned for more great things from BIOSTAR.

H81MHV3 – http://www.biostar.com.tw/app/en/mb/introduction.php?S_ID=693

A58MDP – http://www.biostar.com.tw/app/en/mb/introduction.php?S_ID=704

For local Philippine representation contact EA GLOBAL SUPPLY CHAIN SOLUTIONS INC. at the website: www.EAGLOBAL.com.ph

About BIOSTAR

BIOSTAR, a manufacturer dedicates in motherboards, graphics cards and industrial computing systems. Since its establishment in 1986, the BIOSTAR GROUP has become a major motherboard supplier in the PC industry. In order to pursue continuous growth, BIOSTAR has invested heavily in acquiring the physical and human resources to excel at research and development. With a constant emphasis on quality, BIOSTAR always seeks to offer products with the highest price-performance ratio.

At the Kaihinmakuhari station
At the Kaihinmakuhari station

Major item in bucket list crossed, y’all. Finally got into Tokyo Game Show this year which is definitely one of the biggest events in all of gaming. All the giants in the video games industry were at the Makuhari Messe to showcase their latest games and titles under development that we should all look forward in the next few months. Notable attendees were Sony and Microsoft (Nintendo does not attend TGS for some reason but was still present through 3rd party devs), Konami, Sega, Capcom, Square Enix, Bandai Namco and more. We were super stoked to see the presentations by esteemed game directors, squealed loudly with more than 220,000 game fans, and shared some of the disappointments as well. Here are some of the pictures I took in the event (and some captioning for context). Enjoy!

More pictures and coverage on Alex’s post soon! I will also be posting about select games that we got to test on the floor as well.

Fairy Fencer F is a tough sell. It’s what most people like to call a ‘niche game;’ meaning a game that will only appeal to a specific minority of PlayStation 3 gamers. Set in a world that combines modern settings and medieval fantasy with magical beings that turn into weapons.

The game takes place in a time where two deities are locked in an endless grudge match. In an act of desperation, they both decide to seal each other with an innumerable barrage of swords. However, most of the swords miss and end up in the human world where they are known as Furies. These weapons have spirits within them that are known as “fairies” and those spirits engage in pacts with humans to release them from their seal in exchange for a wish granted to the savior. Humans who form these pacts are hence known as “fencers”.

Enter Fang, a lazy jerk wishes for nothing more than to sleep and eat all day. After pulling a sword from the ground, in the hopes to get an endless supply of food, He unwillingly gets pulled into a contract with an amnesic fairy named Eryn. He then sets off on an adventure to collect furies in order for him to recover Eryn’s memories. While the game’s main plot is nothing special, It makes up for it with an enjoyable cast of characters and fun events that add a tinge of lightheartedness.

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Fairy Fencer F shines most in its fun battle system which is a nice mix between turn-based and real-time elements. Anyone who has played the Neptunia games or Mugen Souls will be get used to it very quickly. During your turn you get to move around the field in real-time while your enemies hold still, providing you with all the time necessary to plan out your moves. Choosing From sword, knuckle, glaive, axe etc. attack types, you exploit enemy weaknesses to deal more damage. Further adding to dynamicity of battle is the “tension”, this gauge fills up as you deal and receive damage but goes down as you get healed and miss attacks. Tension increases your physical attack the more filled up the gauge is and at a certain point you can “Fairize” which greatly increases your stats.

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Outside of leveling you can augment your characters with “Weapon Boosting” in which you choose upgrades for your each of your characters separately with WP (Weapon Points) you gain from battling. These upgrades can range from as simple as stat increases to new moves and skills for exploration. The moves you take into battle are set in the combo editor where you customize each hit of your combo that is assigned to the cross, triangle and circle buttons. Equipping other fairies creates a “resonance effect” that gives bonus stats and other special effects that are strengthened by pulling the swords that sealing the gods.

The quest system on the other hand is shallow and doesn’t contribute anything to the plot. Most of these tasks are basic kill/fetch quests that tell you to “go hunt ten of these”, or go “gather five of these” which makes it feel more like chores rather than quests. The pub where you obtain quests usually has several missions at a time but don’t mistake that for freedom of choice. Nothing is keeping you from accepting them all because most of the tasks are naturally finished through your routine grinding. This makes quests no more than mere bonuses for grinding as opposed to meaningful tasks that reward the player for the extra effort.

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The overall look of the game is rather sub-par due to the fact that the game reuses a lot of assets from other games. While the 3D models of the characters are decent, most of the backgrounds and terrain are somewhat low-res and makes it feel cheap but the particle effects of moves are flashy enough to entertain. But the beautiful 2D art makes up for it and is brimming with personality. The soundtrack on the other hand shines with high quality songs that are reminiscent of classic final fantasy tracks. The voice acting on the Japanese side is superb but the English cast does manage a job in selling the characters as well.

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The main theme and atmosphere of the Fairy Fencer F is nothing you wouldn’t expect from the wacky crew at Compile Heart. With plenty of quirky characters who are parodies of stereotypes and 4th wall breaking jokes. Tons of fan service is not unexpected, with plenty of well-endowed women and lots of little girls that will satisfy everyone’s preferences. Unlike other Compile Heart games; However, It felt like the game was trying to tell a more compelling and serious story but its overtly cute art style doesn’t really help it.

Fairly Phenomenal:

  • Fun and engaging combat
  • Entertaining character interactions
  • Awesome Soundtrack
  • Deep upgrade system

On the Fence:

  • Sub-par graphics
  • Tons of reused assets

As avid gamers, we always want to be ahead of the game (awful pun intended) by having the latest gadgets that enable us to play all the best games, either on the big screen or on the go. Y’see, games aren’t just played on consoles or handhelds nowadays: gaming is now a ubiquitous enough hobby that one can enjoy on any piece of tech with a screen. For instance, here’s my personal list of gadgets that I enjoy playing games on!

IMG_26171. HP Envy 15″ and Macbook Pro Retina 13″ laptops – I only play Diablo III Reaper of Souls and a bunch of Steam games on PC so I fire one of these two from time to time. I use the HP when I’m docked as it is heavier but it’s where I mostly play because of the bigger screen,  hard disk and a fuller keyboard. I use the Macbook when I’m stuck outside and more for work, but I also have a limited number games installed on that machine (like yep, Diablo III; if you haven’t figured out, I’m a D3 addict).

2. PS Vita and Nintendo 3DS – If I have to go out and I know I have to wait long for something (pay for a bill, or wait for someone to arrive), I almost always carry one of these babies depending on what I am currently playing. The titles are pretty diverse in each so you can always find a few games that will sit on your GOTY of the forever (for me it was Persona 4 Golden and Fire Emblem Awakening).

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3. iPhone 5 – If I have a spare minute (or thirty), I fire up Clash of Clans or one of my favorite Kairosoft titles (now being Ninja Village) to get my gaming fix. LINE also has a bunch of games like Puzzle Bobble (who hasn’t played or got addicted to that game though) but it gets pretty limited because of the fatigue-based mechanic (5 stages at a time, then you have to wait 30 minutes to replenish one stage turn). It’s pretty lightweight as a gaming platform but with millions of users, even Square Enix has picked up the pace and ported some of its most popular titles on iTunes.

4. PlayStation 3, XBOX 360 and Wii U – Exclusive titles and things more epic go to one of these consoles. Admittedly, I haven’t fired up anything recently (probably Wind Waker U from a few months back), but I still have a few discs lying around that I should look into finishing before I get a…

5. PlayStation 4Dragon Age: Inquisition comes out in a few months; I happen to be a big DA fan so this is the title that will make me break the bank to get a unit. Priced competitively and having supported off-screen play through the PS Vita, this is definitely the next step to my gaming progression.

From upgrades to new models to competing brands, deciphering what’s worth the splurge is an exhausting, confusing feat. So, SM Supermalls is making it easy for you as they celebrate Cyber Month for the whole month of August.

Get a gadget upgrade and join in the geeky fun with SM Supermalls’ exciting line-up of activities that will make all tech lovers go crazy:

  • Tech Sale – Stock up on the latest gadgets at discounted prices in the biggest technology sale of the year.
  • Cybervasion – Discover and experience the latest gadgets at their interactive tech displays.
  • Game Station – Check the hottest gaming consoles and videogames of the season.
  • Cosplay Parade – Catch your favorite characters and the most outrageous costumes at their exciting cosplay parade.

Even more surprises await online with SM Supermalls’ #31HappyCyberDays promo:

  • DigiTalk – Answer Cyber Month-related questions on the SM Supermalls Facebook page and win cool prizes.
  • Cyber Rave – Listen to what your favorite blogger has to say about their favorite gadgets of 2014.
  • Tech Throwback – Send in a pic of your “antique” gadget together with a clever caption or funny story and win its modern-day counterpart.

Be the first on scene with the newest gizmos as SM Supermalls celebrates Cyber Month until August 31. For more details, like SM Supermalls on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram (@smsupermalls), and use the hashtag #EverythingForTheTechieInYou. You can also like their SM Cyberzone Facebook Fanpage at https://www.facebook.com/smcyberzone. Contact these numbers for queries: (02) 876-1111 (Metro Manila) / 0917 876-1111 (Globe) / 0908 876-1111 (Smart) / 0922 876-1111 (Sun).

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post.

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423140When I was little, one of my favorite cartoon series was Duck Tales just because of the catchy opening theme song (Duck Tales, awoo-hoo!) and lead character Scrooge McDuck diving into a ton of gold coins in his personal vault. “That was the life!”, I thought. Now in my early 30s, I still have no vault of gold coins, but I can still dive into riches virtually in a whole realm. Enter WAKFU‘s latest update: Enurado the Golden Realm.

Being a strategy nut, I got engrossed with Ankama‘s first game DOFUS. I played it like crazy during my stint as an online game playtester (aka content coordinator) when I was still working in Level Up! International. DOFUS ended up being published only in the Brazil arm which made me a bit sad as I really wanted to have the game released locally so I can play with the thriving online games community here in the Philippines.

mapHowever, I am psyched that they have upgraded the game with WAKFU, which also has a cross-media experience of being in all of relevant geek media like comic books, animated series, and video games (both online and console). Best of all, it didn’t lose all that strategic gameplay charm that DOFUS had because it is practically the same universe (called Krosmoz) in the game, only with extra cool features like ecology and citizenship. Now, WAKFU is also being hosted in Asia with a local service specifically meant to cater to us. That is pretty sweet!

So anyway, this update is set in a new map called Enurado which is basically a map made of riches. This is best explored with a party of your friends so round-up your posse now-ish because the update is already live. Below are the newest things to make the update:

  • 1 new dungeon for level 160-170 so keep up with the program and hit the max level pronto
  • 1 new Enutrof monster family, led by Cledus ‘Onist the Key-Keeper
  • 9 main quests to keep you busier
  • 4 environmental quests
  • 9 achievements
  • 53 new items to loot and make you richer

entree_djYou can line your pockets with treasure inside Enurado as the update is now live in the site as I’ve mentioned, but before you go, you might as well grab some riches in this here site! Below are codes that you can enter in your WAKFU game account that will net you:

10 Glossy Runes (used for upgrading items) for just liking and sharing this post! Limited to 100 WAKFU players!

(Note: You can only redeem this code once per game account)

…And a very rare (classed as mythical) item in WAKFU called Virulent Treacherose. Only 10 codes will be given away so aside from liking and sharing, you need to answer a question as well!

Question: What crafting profession in WAKFU can make all sorts of dishes from meat, fish, fruit and vegetables, and fine herbs? Their dishes not only give your taste buds a treat, but they’re also highly sought after as they grant special bonuses that no other items offer.

CLICK HERE AND ENTER YOUR ANSWER AS THE PASSWORD TO WIN!

(Note: You can only redeem this code once per game account)

Within the week, we are also going to raffle off some VERY COOL action figures inspired by WAKFU. The game has amazing art and it is actually one of the most endearing things about it for me so having these action figures will add a lot of pizzazz in your desktop or display cabinet! Just to tease you, we are giving away:

  1. Collectors Edition Remington action figure x 1pc
  2. Wakfu Collection Yugo action figure x 1pc
  3. Wakfu Collection Nox action figure x 1pc

Here are some of the pictures of the action figures! They are pretty awesome, right?

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The patch is live now so you can go to www.wakfu.asia to continue playing or sign up for an account if you haven’t yet. You also need to like the Philippine Facebook page as they are hosting a lot of events in their page for local fans (and their GMs are funny)!

Ready to line your pockets?

I wasn’t aware that this little shooting game from developer HE-SAW was based on a comic book.  I played the demo and actually enjoyed myself through it so I felt I had to experience the full game. So I did.

Blue Estate is an on-rails arcade shooting game. If you remember playing Time Crisis or House of the Dead then you already know what you’re in for. Now the main difference is you are not using a light gun peripheral. You use the DualShock 4’s sixaxis accelerometers to aim your reticule and shoot the bad guys in the nuts (there is an actual bonus for shooting enemies in the balls. Seriously).

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The game let’s you take control of either Tony Luciano, son of a mafia mob boss who is in love with a hooker or Clarence, an ex-Navy Seal hired by Tony’s dad to take clean up Tony’s mess and rescue his favorite race horse named Blue Estate. Yes, the game is named after a horse. To be honest, I did not pay too much attention to the overall story because you don’t really need to. The game itself even acknowledges this by offering to fast forward to the gameplay part when there’s a story sequence/cutscene. Blue Estate tries to be funny but aside from an ocassional giggle or two over an immature/racist quip or a pop-culture reference, you can just skip to the killing.

Like I said, Blue Estate forgoes the gun peripheral in favor of the Dualshock 4 controller. In addition to the aiming with the gyroscopes, the game utilizes the face and shoulder buttons for actions like reloading and hiding. Pressing up on the D-pad will quickly center your reticule to re-calibrate your aiming. This is a real smart way of making sure the gyros are accurate and you will be pressing it a lot. The DualShock 4’s unique touchpad is also an important piece for the control scheme. Context-based commands, like opening a door, dodging an obstacle, and brushing up Tony’s hair when it obstructs his vision (I’m not kidding) are executed by swiping in different directions on the pad. The game also has 2-player co-op mode.

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On the visual side of things, Blue Estate is not pretty. The game can easily be done on a last-gen system. To be fair, I’m sure it’s going for the dirty gritty look of the source material but it I’m also sure it could look much better. Of course the PS4’s extra horsepower is making it sure that it all runs smoothly without slowdowns and such, but a next-gen title it is not.

Music is the kind that you would expect of a game in this genre. Besides, heavy metal guitar riffs and beats go really well with gunshots and big explosions, doesn’t it? Voice acting is pretty much okay except for the annoying narration from a character named Roy — who is described in the comic’s website as “The ace private eye who never sleeps (and rarely bathes)”.

The game from start to finish has seven stages that is each immediately selectable and replayable after you finish them opening up chance to improve your score or play on a different difficulty. That’s great for trophy hunters because there are stage-specific acheivements. Each level takes about 15 to 20 minutes to complete making Blue Estate a very short game if you just want to finish the story.

 

Hits the mark:

  • The DualShock 4’s motion controls work surprisingly well as a replacement for a gun peripheral.
  • Killing people and keeping up your combo meter is satisfying.
  • Mini-game mechanic dispersed throughout the stages are fun.

Missed it by that much:

  • Game looks like last-gen. Looks outdated.
  • Story does not deserve your attention.

Blue Estate

Developer: HeSaw

Publisher: Focus Home Interactive

 

Prior to playing Battle Princess of Arcadias, All I knew was that it was a side-scrolling action RPG and somewhat resembles games like Dragon’s Crown or Muramasa: The Demon Blade. But that alone made me want to try out the game for myself and I was happy to have played it, for the most part.

Battle Princess of Arcadias is a downloadable PlayStation 3 game developed by Apollo Software and published by NIS. The story surrounds a battle princess named Plume and her quest to defend the kingdom of Schwert from evil monsters. But, as one might be able to deduce, the narrative here is anything but serious. As a matter of fact, that helps Battle Princess of Arcadias‘cause, as it comes off as a light-hearted stroll down fantasy lane with plenty of charming characters to boot. Despite this being a title that emphasizes gameplay above anything else, though, it still manages to take special care of developing a fairly large cast in a comprehensive way. In fact, the plot can become so front-and-center that certain scenes between dungeons can drone on for far longer than desired, simply because there’s quite a bit of text to read while the game tries to flesh out its world.

The game’s focus partitions into three distinct slices. Most common and obvious is the form of a traditional 2D beat ’em up. From Double Dragon to Muramasa, the need to roam across the land and smack the crap out of monsters is a call to adventure no one, battle princess notwithstanding, can deny. Arcadia’s modest attack suite, a light and heavy attack for each character, is confidently basic with the ability to string together different combos to spice it up. In the game, only one of three different characters at any given time. Blocking is not really encouraged due to the fact that it breaks your combo which goes into your overall rank at the end of the stage.

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Outside of these basic battles, there are also sieges and skirmishes that you can take part in. Sieges will have you and your brigades do battle against a single boss enemy. These battles are rather tricky, as you have to maintain your brigade’s formation and watch out for your own health and the enemy’s attacks. Formations are basic, a middle ground between attacking and defense. Attack formation is high damage but lowered defense and of course defensive formation is the exact opposite of attack. You must use the morale that you have gained during battle to switch out the different formations, with each switch reducing morale by a certain amount. There is also a retreat option if your brigade gets low in health. This option is great to try to quickly replenish your units but leaves you all along against a boss that you really cannot do damage against. Once you have done enough damage with your group, you can stun the boss and then with 100 percent morale, you can unleash a showdown move. This will have you button mashing the square button before the time runs out to attempt getting a high-powered attack.

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The third type of battles are skirmishes. These are sections that have players amassing troops to face off against an army of enemies. In this mode, players are asked to do what they did in the first but they are to also issue commands to their underlings. In this, we get a sort of strategic combat that really helps deepen the battles at large, as the straight-forward hacking and slashing components previously mentioned can be a bit shallow. It feels odd initially to go from playing the game in a typical beat’em up way to having to think tactically and adapt to situations on the fly; being able to order attacks, defensive maneuvering and retreats all come into play here, requiring a sound mind to topple the enemies that stand in a player’s way. In fact, these portions are extremely difficult simply because folks have to take on waves of enemies until a certain condition is met. It’s not a cheap difficulty, however; if players die, it’s on them, not some flawed mechanic 0verlooked in the development process. Lastly, we have the boss encounters. These work in the same way as the formation battles, except they’re usually a bit harder given the circumstances.

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From any point of view, Battle Princess of Arcadias’ looks quite nice. Or at, at the very least, it shows well does in screenshots. It’s also careful to make its characters sweet without feeling too saccharine, suggesting an appreciated amount of restraint in the art department. That being said, characters don’t animate particularly well – often times Arcadias feels like a highly polished browser game – but it’s something you seem to get used to after few hours have passed.The menu and interface are clean, intuitive and easy to navigate. The audio does a nice job complementing the aesthetics, with a soundtrack that is especially whimsical. Dainty compositions mixed with rocking anthems in boss battles were just the right blend to keep me hooked. There isn’t a dual voice-track option, which means Battle Princess of Arcadias‘spoken dialogue is all Japanese, which is perfectly fine with me but might turn some people off.

Pros:

  • Fun but somewhat simple gameplay
  • Deep equipment customization
  • Beautiful 2D art
  • Awesome soundtrack

Cons:

  • Uninspired  level progression
  • Shallow Story
  • Stiff animations

 

Battle Princess of Arcadias

Developer: Apollo Software

Publisher: NIS America (PS3)

Available for: PlayStation 3(Digital)

 

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Giveaway time! I know you guys like free stuff and we do like giving stuff, so it’s a win-win sitch right there. The good folks from Garena gave us some Elsword in-game item codes plus awesome real life stuff like t-shirts, baller bands and ID lanyards so read on to know how to get your hands on some.

Elsword is launching its second season TODAY, July 10! Aside from fixing major game issues such as getting rid of horrid hackers and other nasty vidya problems, new character Ara Haan’s highly anticipated release is also being celebrated by game fans as well as more exciting stuff coming up in the next few weeks.

For the uninitiated, Elsword made its way to the Philippines last October 2, 2013. It is a 2.5D MMO game that was awaited by a lot of casual-MMO players for over 5 years since its debut in Korea. The game is developed by well-known developer, KOG’ Games.

Anyway, let’s cut to the chase and check out what’s new in the game. For your easy reading pleasure, here’s a bulleted rundown of what’s happening in Elsword Season 2!

  • Ara
    Season 2 features new character Ara Haan

    Antihack System – I bet this is something all online gamers would want for their game. Garena is strictly implementing the Elsword PH Clean Up Drive which has helped curb hackers and the videogame villains from abusing the system. With the installation of the new anti-hack feature now in effect, gamers can now play without worries.

  • New UI – Elsword has also revamped the game’s UI which is now well-organized and user-friendly. But if you prefer the old UI, there’s also an option to keep using it so don’t fret.
  • New Characters – Aside from the awaited Ara Haan, all your favorite characters will have a big update! Each one will have a third job branch beginning with titular character Elsword (which becomes a Sheath Knight), Aisha (Dimension Witch), Rena (Night Watcher), Raven (Veteran Commander), Eve (Code: Battle Seraph), and Chung (Tactical Trooper).
  • New Dungeons – Teamwork is key in the game’s new dungeons as you need to work effectively with other players to conquer the quests at hand. Secret dungeons also appear when you hit level 50 so don’t slack off! Dungeons reward players with materials that can be used to craft powerful items so it is worth going through them.
  • New Pets and Mount System – Pets, aside from being super cute, are also super helpful during dungeon runs as they can loot stuff for you and also can unleash devastating attacks once their affinity reaches 100%. Mounts are ever present in MMOs as they provide you with mobility, but did you know that they can also attack in Elsword? Pretty awesome.
  • Wedding System – Lots of benefits for couples deciding to get marriedin game! Aside from looking snazzy with the wedding costumes that you get for 30 days, you also get an exclusive skill called Extreme Heavenly Love! You also get a chat tab exclusively for you and your honey’s use too so you don’t bombard the regular chat with the mushy messages.Awww.

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    Wedding!
  • PvP – What’s unique in Elsword’s Player vs Player is the introduction of the sparring and arena modes. Feisty adventurers who want to compete against other players can go to the arena and get ranked. Sparring is a game mode where you can practice your skills against other players. The match isn’t recorded but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give your all!
  • Hyperactive Skills – Once you reach level 65, you can get these ultra powerful attacks for your characters! Whirling swords, elementals storms, rain of arrows, large exploding hands, deadly laser beams, destructive missiles, you name it. These skills are the deadliest of the deadly and requires you to be at your best.
  • Ara Haan – New character Ara is the daughter of Warrior family called ‘Han’ in Northern Empire of Fluone Continent. She uses the long range benefits of the spear, but is also dangerous close up.
  • Other stuff to look forward to – Little Hsien as Ara’s first class and Sakra Devanam as second job for Ara, Sander 5th and 6th dungeons, and level cap increase to 70.
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Moby Chariot mount

So here’s the exciting stuff! We have in-game item codes to share with you so you can start with a bang in Season 2. Just like and share this post via your Facebook account to claim! Reminder though, you can only claim one code per game account so don’t be greedy and share with your friends!

Here’s what you can get in the game:

  • El Search Party Officer Full set cube (3 days) x 1
  • Mount 3 types random cube (7 days) x 1
  • EXP 15% medal (7 days) x 1
  • Magic Necklace (7 days) x 1
  • Luriel’s complete recovery potion x 10

You can start redeeming them today until August 10, 2014.

 

We’ll also raffle off a set of Elsword t-shirt, baller bands and a lanyard to some lucky winners who will like and share the post so make sure you do (and tell all your friends about this raffle while you’re at it).

See you in Elrios!

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hyperdimension neptunia producing perfection (2)Upon final reflection, there really isn’t any sensible way to describe Hyperdimension Neptunia: Producing Perfection (which I am abbreviating to PP for no other reason other than the fact that I am an immature cad). It’s easy to compare the game to contemporaries that some may have heard of (i.e., Idolm@ster or even the Princess Maker series), but there aren’t any checkboxes, descriptors, nor genres that accurately depict the game’s scope, much less in a Western gamer’s context and worldview.

The game opens up with you, the player (clearly assuming that you are a heterosexual male, of course), somehow finding himself within the confines of Gamindustri, Hyperdimension Neptunia’s game world. As one can surmise, the world is a metaphor for the game industry, with four Goddesses lording over it: Neptune (the series’ protagonist representing Sega; let’s not laugh at the irony here), Noire (cold, raven-haired vixen representing Sony’s monolithic corporate values), Blanc (meek and introverted, somehow signifying Nintendo), and Vert (Xbox-tan, shockingly the only character that appears to be over 18, also has the largest rack out of the group because ‘MURRICA). Somehow the player has to help either one of these fine gals become the number one idol in Gamindustri and defeat the looming menace of rival group MOB-48, who are slowly winning over the populace’s love with music and (assumedly) hips that won’t quit.

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I suppose the most apt one-liner that describes the game is that it is an “idol raising simulation.” No doubt this summary raises even more questions about the game’s milieu. Perhaps “Tamagotchi with underaged anime girls” would be a more apt description? Either way, the game plays out as a fairly competent management sim, albeit a little more shallow than others. Essentially you plan out activities that raise your charge’s abilities in singing and dancing, while keeping their stress levels down by getting to socialize with the other goddesses, taking short vacations, or even going out with them on dates yourself (conflict of interest alert!). At times you do get to man the producer’s booth and plan out concerts featuring your idol, letting you pick the setting, attire, and song for the day, and later letting you blow up pyrotechnics and change camera angles while your idol is actually on-stage.

The whole management aspect of the game is actually fairly fun and light-hearted, with the only problem being that there isn’t much motivation to soldier forward. The plot moves at a glacial pace, with surprisingly few snags on your idol’s way to success (I jest, but shouldn’t every idol have to deal with bulimia, cocaine addiction, and unwanted pregnancies?). Depending on your tolerance for the game’s brand of humor, you may find the dialogue and jokes Neptune and gang spit out endearing, or simply a reason for NIS to have a “skip” button. I personally found the game’s dialogue detestable and jammed on the skip button with incredible eagerness.

hyperdimension neptunia producing perfection (6)With that being said, PP is clearly a niche game for a niche audience. It’s actually in a very odd space; a casual game wrapped in a presentation that unfortunately most won’t be able to look past. I’ll concede that the pace is okay for a handheld game where one can only stomach thirty-minute spurts at a time, but it’s a tough sell even for Vita owners that are desperate for any sort of games on their handheld.

It’s tough to give Producing Perfection a solid recommendation either way. Starved Vita gamers have lots on their plate over the next few months if they’re in the mood for niche Japanese games. Neptunia fans, the weird lot they are, will probably buy this game for the simple opportunity to see their favorite console-tans dolled up in highly-questionable clothing. I’d like to support the fact that NIS America continues to localize extremely niche titles, but unlike Danganronpa, this may be too niche of a title, and could have stayed in Japan.

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I always appreciate it when JRPGs stray from the typical “saving the world” quest in favor of a more personal and focused one. With that being said, I’ve always had an affinity towards the Atelier series, whether it’s because of the beautiful anime art style or the deeply addictive crafting system, they always got their hooks into me and Atelier Totori Plus was no different. But if you’re a person averse to the overly cutesy, somewhat awkward, moekko brand of fan service that Japan usually traffics in then you’d probably want to stay clear from this game at all costs. But if you can get past that aspect you’ll be pleased to find a unique, incredibly addictive, item-driven RPG.

Atelier Totori Plus is a Vita port of Atelier Totori, a PS3-exclusive that came out in 2011, that brings over all the content from its PS3 counterpart, along with a few bonuses to sweeten the deal. This version comes with all the DLC previously released on the PS3 variant with a bunch of unlockable costumes and a new post-game dungeon that fans of Atelier Rorona would recognize. This gives returning players something to look forward to but not much.

You play as Totooria Helmold (Totori for short), a 14 yr. old girl (13 in the Japanese version) aspiring to be an alchemist in order to become a registered “Adventurer”. She wants nothing more but to see her mother who went missing a few years back and the story throughout remains focused on the people who cares and supports her and it never really develops into anything convoluted or world-altering and the game is better for it.

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Derp.

Thanks to Atelier Totori’s simplistic visuals and design, it was never an enormous drain on the PS3’s hardware which makes it perfect for the Vita. In fact, it looks better on the Vita’s smaller screen than it did on the PS3. It’s worth noting that there are minor frame rate drops and somewhat longer loading times but nothing that overtly ruins the experience. As for the art style itself, Atelier Totori touts highly detailed, hand drawn character portraits that you’ll frequently see throughout the story and is really brought to life thanks to the artistic vision of Mel Kishida. The core game features a light color palette and cel-shaded character models that add a certain je ne sais quoi to the game that makes it stand out.

As for the gameplay, it is divided into three different aspects, combat, exploration and crafting. From fighting monsters to synthesizing items, everything you do in the game consumes time and learning how to manage that is the key to achieving success. Side quests in Atelier Totori come in the form of bite-sized requests, which can be as simple as collecting ingredients to fighting challenging boss monsters. And like everything in the game, time management is key because all of these quests have deadlines and it’s pretty easy to overwhelm yourself when you take on too many at once.

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The game utilizes an old-fashioned system. And when I say turn-based, I don’t mean some sort of real-time/turn based hybrid; I’d place it in the same vein as Final Fantasy X or Lost Odyssey where you have allies lined up with a turn grid at the bottom of the screen. In regards to the actual combat, it’s rather dull at the start but picks up later on as the story progresses.

They also add in some features to add flavor to the battles. Sometimes, when Totori is about to be attacked, you’ll see button prompts over your other two other characters. Above the two will be L or R which, when pressed, will allow them to support Totori in various ways. For example, Mimi will jump right in to absorb the attack, and Gino will execute a follow-up attack.

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Exploration mainly comprises navigating through the world using map and running through a wide variety of areas that open up as you gain adventurer points that you earn from doing in game achievements. In these areas you will find gather points in which items are procured from.

Combat is further enhanced with the staggeringly deep crafting system that the series is known for. With the ingredients that you can find in the world, Totori can create a wide variety of items that can be used to heal, attack, or support the party. Every Recipe calls for at least two ingredients, which can either be one specific item or any item that falls into a category (like Lumber, Gunpowder, or Herbs).  As well, each ingredient has its own quality between 1(low) and 100 (high), and effects (such as lightning enchantments or smelling funny) that contribute to your synthesized item’s overall rank – which ranges from a quality A to a crappy E.  Although, just because you use quality ingredients, that doesn’t mean your alchemy will turn out.  As you synthesize more and more, you’ll level up Totori’s Alchemy rank, which you’ll need for the harder Recipes – as until you reach higher levels there is a chance you’ll fail and waste your ingredients.  Should you succeed, you will be able to add the sub-effects of your ingredients into the final product.This concoction, mixed with the ingredients’ overall quality and your rank makes just about every single item you create unique, with no two outcomes ever being the same.

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Atelier Totori Plus contains English and Japanese language tracks as well as a very unique musical score. I didn’t quite care for the English voicing, it worked but not well, Peter’s voice made me wish I was deaf. Atelier Totori Plus is a very silly and cute game; that doesn’t often translate well into English. So it was a welcome addition that Japanese tracks were included. From a perspective of the Japanese voice tracks, it was very well done. Hearing Mimi throw a tantrum after being thrown some prying words or Totori try to defuse an awkward moment was just classic. It’s also important to note that not all of the game was voiced in English. Many tasks such as synthesizing have Japanese voice over, but no English.

The music itself is hit and miss. There are some very beautiful scores that set a tone of adventure and immersion. However I found myself killing the music as some areas, like Totori’s hometown, features some really odd tunes. It might be me, but I didn’t find the soundtrack appealing at all.

Pros:

  • Accessible, and unlike most RPGs, ideal for short bursts of gameplay.
  • Unconventional design, opting for free-flow player progression.
  • Item synthesis compliments the core gameplay, offering plenty of depth.
  • 10 unique endings to unlock that extend replay value considerably.
  • Great anime art style and character designs.
  • Bite-sized quests that is ideal for on the go gaming.

Cons:

  • Minor frame rate issues and technical hiccups.
  • First few hours can be tedious.
  • English voice acting on the male side is weak overall.

 

Atelier Totori Plus

Developer: Gust

Publisher: NIS America (PS3) Tecmo Koei (PS Vita)

Reviewed: PlayStation Vita version

Alas, it’s that time of year again where every otherwise-rational gaming enthusiast turns into drooling manchildren, evacuating their trousers for games that will never live up to their expectations. It must be E3 season!

Due to… scheduling conflicts (yeah let’s go with that), 30lives won’t be able to actively cover E3 this year like we were able to last year. However, we promise that we’ll be sending out smarmy tweets and Facebook posts whenever appropos, so make sure to watch our social media pages for ’em. Predictions? We haven’t been paying much attention. Personally I’m pining for a Fallout 4 trailer (with gameplay this time) and for Nintendo to pull something cool out their behinds. Otherwise, it’s looking like a “safe,” sterile and uneventful E3 this year, as none of the expected announcements really excite me.

If you’re new to E3, you’ll soon figure out that the actual press conferences (i.e., where the actual hype/hilarity happens) actually take place a few days from the conference. That’s right, starting tomorrow, all bets are on as to which company’s PR/marketing department deserves to be fired. Microsoft will kick off the pressers at 9:30am (PST, which is… 12:30am Tuesday Philippine time), followed by EA, Ubisoft, and Sony. Nintendo won’t have a live press conference; instead they’ll be broadcasting a live Nintendo Direct to take the company’s yearly dump on their fans. I really liked this chart from NeoGAF, so I’ll be stealing it. For those that didn’t make it past grade school, the Perth/AWST schedule is what you’re supposed to be looking at.

e3times2014

Twitch.tv will be the official streaming partner for this year’s E3, and will be broadcasting a smorgasbord of content throughout the next week. For your convenience, here’s what’s on their schedule; please note that all times specified are in Pacific Standard Time.

Monday 6/9 PT

  • 9:30am – Xbox E3 2014 Media Briefing
  • 11:00am – Xbox E3 2014 Media Briefing Post show
  • 11:30pm – Hotline Miami 2 (Dennaton Games/Devolver Digital)
  • 12:00pm – EA World Premiere: E3 2014 Preview
  • 1:00pm – Battlefield Hardline Live Stream
  • 2:00pm – EA World Premiere: E3 2014 Post show
  • 2:30pm – Battlecry (Bethesda)
  • 3:00pm – Ubisoft 2014 E3 Media Briefing
  • 4:00pm – Ubisoft 2014 E3 Media Briefing Post show
  • 4:30pm – Witcher 3 (CD Projekt RED)
  • 5:00pm – Dying Light (Techland)
  • 5:30pm – Final thoughts
  • 6:00pm – PlayStation E3 2014 Press Conference

Tuesday 6/10 PT

  • 9:00am – Nintendo Digital Event
  • 10:00am – Deep Silver (Unannounced title)
  • 10:15am – Deep Silver (Unannounced title)
  • 10:30am – Dragon Age: Inquisition (EA)
  • 11:00am – Ubisoft (Unannounced title)
  • 11:20am – The Division (Ubisoft)
  • 11:40am – Farcry 4 (Ubisoft)
  • 12:00pm – Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare (Activision)
  • 12:20pm – Microsoft Studios (Unannounced title)
  • 12:40pm – Microsoft Studios (Unannounced title)
  • 1:00pm – DRIVECLUB (SCEA)
  • 1:20pm – Evil Within (Bethesda)
  • 1:40pm – Lords of the Fallen (NAMCO)
  • 2:00pm – Destiny (Activision/BUNGIE)
  • 2:20pm – The Order: 1886 (SCEA)
  • 2:40pm – Nintendo Demo
  • 3:00pm – Evolve Special Tournament (2K)
  • 4:00pm – Super Smash Bros. Invitational (Nintendo)

Wednesday 6/11 PT

  • 10:00am – Alienware
  • 10:30am – Twitch Time
  • 11:00am – Sunset Overdrive (Insomniac Games/Microsoft Studios)
  • 11:20am – ID@Xbox (Unannounced title)
  • 11:40am – Killer Instinct: Season Two (Iron Galaxy/Microsoft Studios)
  • 12:00pm – Square Enix (Unannounced title)
  • 12:20pm – Square Enix (Unannounced title)
  • 12:40pm – H1Z1 (Sony Online Entertainment)
  • 1:00pm – EA (Unannounced title)
  • 1:20pm – Batman: Arkham Knight (Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment)
  • 1:40pm – Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor (Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment)
  • 2:10pm – Nintendo Demo
  • 2:30pm – Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment (Unannounced title)
  • 2:50pm – Crytek (Unannounced title)
  • 3:00pm – SCEA (Unannounced title)
  • 3:15pm – SCEA (Unannounced title)
  • 3:30pm – Hohokum (Honeyslug, SCE Santa Monica Studio)
  • 3:45pm – Helldivers (Arrowhead Game Studios/Sony Computer Entertainment)
  • 4:00pm – Alien Isolation (The Creative Assembly/SEGA)
  • 4:20pm – Civilization: Beyond Earth (2K)
  • 4:40pm – Diablo III: Reaper of Souls – Ultimate Evil Edition on PS4 (Blizzard)
  • 5:00pm – Evolve Special Tournament (2K)

Thursday 6/12 PT

  • 10:00am – Tetris w/creator Alexey Pajitnov
  • 10:15am – Zombies Monsters Robots (Ying Pei Games)
  • 10:30am – Guinness World Records – certificate presentation
  • 11:00am – Fable Legends (LionHead/Microsoft Studios)
  • 11:20am – #IDARB (ID@Xbox)
  • 11:40am – Project Spark (Team Dakota/Microsoft Studios)
  • 12:00pm – Nintendo Demo
  • 12:20am – Square Enix (Unannounced title)
  • 12:40pm – PlanetSide 2 PS4 Edition (Sony Online Entertainment)
  • 1:00pm – 505 Games (TBD) 1:20pm – Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment (Unannounced title)
  • 1:40pm – Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel (Gearbox/2K)
  • 2:00pm – Ubisoft (Unannounced title)
  • 2:20pm – The Crew (Ubisoft)
  • 2:40pm – Nintendo Demo
  • 3:00pm – Tecmo Koei (Unannounced title)
  • 3:20pm – Disney Infinity 2.0: Marvel Super Heroes (Disney Interactive)
  • 3:40pm – SEGA Sonic BOOM! (SEGA)
  • 4:00pm – Evolve Special Tournament (2K)

Freedom Wars, SCE Japan Studio’s interesting action-RPG hybrid with a Foucauldian twist, will receive a local release via Sony’s official retail partners on June 26th for the price of PhP2499, coinciding with its Japanese release. The interesting bit about this news is that we’ll apparently be getting the Japanese-language version on launch, with a completely different launch for the Chinese-language version to follow in August. Not sure what this means for us indios who deal strictly in Latin-based alphabets, but we’ve contacted Sony to clarify.

Maybe there’s a stealth English translation on the Japanese release we don’t know of? Japanese-release games having a complete English translation on launch isn’t that far-fetched; the first three Phoenix Wright re-releases had dual language on the Japanese carts, for instance. Anyway, press release follows after the cut!

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Something to get excited about, folks. Local game developer Altitude Games is releasing a mobile game reminiscent of your favorite Tokusatsu shows from the 80s called Run Run Super V.

RRSV_ScreenMockup_VehicleModeThe game has three different modes:  Run mode which is a side-scrolling runner game mode set in the city, Vehicle mode where you can blast baddies in a shooter type of game and this is where it gets interesting, the Robot Mode where you can all “volt in” to fight a daikaiju (giant monster) and time your attacks to defeat it. The game uses one-touch controls like tapping or swiping so casual gamers can get in on the fun without breaking a sweat.

An interesting social feature is also integrated in the game where you can invite your friends for team missions. Each friend can play one of the sentai guys (or girl!) and play the different game modes together. Special rewards are acquired if your team performs well in each mission, and these are stuff that you cannot get in the single player mode too.

Each ranger is customizable with power ups, vehicles and other stuff and you can do that by getting rewards or buying them in the game’s store.

“Robots, aliens, rangers doing hero poses, and a burning team spirit. That’s what Sentai is all about. It’s flashy, epic, and never gets old,” said Jan Rey Solomon, Product Manager at Altitude Games. “We’re super-psyched to let everyone experience THAT, on the go.” RRSV_ScreenMockup_RobotMode

“We love playing mobile games that combine familiar gameplay with cool and unexpected themes, and that’s what we want to do with Super V,” Luna Cruz, Altitude’s Creative Director added. “We want it to be a game people get excited about, and they can’t wait to form squads with their friends and do missions together. That’s the dream.”

Run Run Super V is set to launch at Q4 of this year for Android and iOS devices and will be free to play.  Hopefully we can review it when it comes out!

So I read about a “big issue” in the “e-sport world” of the Philippines from a phrase uttered by one of local e-Sport’s more prominent figures. The issue is apparently so big that it deserved coverage on some tech blogs; of course spouting the ever-so cliche feel-good ideas of “love of the game” and blatantly implying that the next generation of “cyber athletes” shouldn’t be “such money-grubbers”.

Excuse me while I laugh my ass off.

As offended I am at the sensibilities of the people who wrote that (blog post) garbage, I find it laughable that people still think that e-Sports is a thing in the Philippines or even in the world. Okay, maybe it is a thing with some local guys posing for MSI‘s gaming hardware, one of them being the subject of the other blog’s scrutiny. Or with the resurgence of Mineski and their brand of tournaments along with other emerging e-Sport promoters. More recently, there is a renewed interest in online games with Smart Telecom’s Game X platform for purchasing game credits for local game publishers. They also hosted a rather big tournament for Massive’s games with a more gratuitous prize pool in comparison with Assault Fire’s measly prize pool tournament which started this whole “debacle”. Mmm… maybe e-sports IS a thi—NOPE.

Are Filipino online gamers just that cheap, poor, or have they just moved on to other games?
Are Filipino online gamers just that cheap, poor, or have they just moved on to other games?

Still a big fat nope. E-sports is still not a thing in the Philippines, no matter how hard people try. It only appears to be a thing on the off-chance that people actually get with the program and make big money for e-sport promotions, game publishers, and sponsors. One of the key ingredients to making a successful e-Sport league is a big budget coming from a sustainable revenue stream. The lack of a sustainable revenue stream is something all online game publishers in the country have in common. I believe we have seen Level-Up, the country’s largest game publisher change hands more than three times in the past few years. It’s like passing a hot potato that nobody really wants.

If you actually follow e-sports, you will know that it goes with the game with the biggest player base and revenue stream. Back in the day it was Counter-Strike, and then Starcraft. There were many games they experimented in-between but it ultimately landed on massive online battle arenas (MOBAs), starting with that Warcraft III mod to League of Legends and then finally DotA 2. Most e-sport games in the spotlight are online games and there is no doubt as to why they are capable of having large prize pool tournaments continuously. That’s because they have a large base of players who buy their virtual items, merchandise and/or services regularly to the point that it has become the equivalent of printing money. It’s true, people go where the money goes both promoters and players and some people make it sound like a bad thing. As if these competitive e-sport types of games are the only games you can play “for-the-love-of-fucking-gaming.” By the way, I love how DotA 2 did their merchandise, that’s how I would have done League of Legends.

It really does print money.
It really does print money.

I’ve always told my colleagues that these e-sport events are necessary costs for the sole purpose of advertising your online game. They are glorious spectacles that cost a lot of money. You can hardly measure the results because there is a limited number of people you can accommodate in a day for a tournament so you won’t see a big spike in any measurable key performance indicators. But you know what, if you want to push your game into the mainstream, this is the road you have to take. You also need to keep your players interested in playing your game and spending money. Competitive games like first-person shooters and MOBAs thrive on competition so you need to conduct tournaments and the more newsworthy they are, the more advantageous it is to the game you are promoting.

Anybody remember this? It never materialized.
Anybody remember this? It never materialized.

The cost for logistics for a weekend tournament is already more than enough to make you shake your head in disbelief should you actually try to make money from these events; then there is the prize pool. What is the prize pool meant for? To reward players for their time and hard work? Hardly, it’s to make the tournament attractive enough to motivate people to take a crack at it and to make people talk about it. Then comes the hours of training, going through strategies, and even buying virtual items when needed. Preparation for these tournaments cost money too, if you’re serious about it. It’s an ersatz marketing tool, if anything.

Any spectator who comes into contact with staff or people in-the-know will scoff at a tournament with a small prize pool whereas their jaws will drop at disbelief at a fat prize pool. Big money tournaments are newsworthy, they can and will be talked about but that doesn’t equate an instant increase in your player base. A P1.5 million prize pool didn’t help Ragnarok Online keep it’s player base from bleeding to Ran Online. E-Game’s nationwide tournament for the now dead and buried Operation 7 which was also barking about a one million peso prize pool failed to garner enough interest and the tournament fizzled, never seeing the light of day.

I just contradicted myself. First they are a necessary spectacle and then they don’t really work. Why? I guess you’ll have to tune in tomorrow, as I dissect the requisite evils of these tournaments. Then, I will address the issue made by ignorant peanut gallery bloggers and the butt hurt of Assault Fire’s Community Manager. Also, it’s two parts because we are in dire need of hits before we “go red” and unlock the “In-debt knowledge of blogging” achievement. That sentence before this was sarcasm because I know it has to be pointed out.

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Hey MMO gamers! Through some happenstance and magic, we happened to stumble upon 400 beta keys for the much-anticipated Southeast Asian release of Phantasy Star Online 2. After quickly finding out that online gaming beta keys aren’t accepted as currency or barter for, um… questionable things, we decided to whip up some code sorcery and give ’em out to you, our wonderful readers.

Phantasy Star Online 2 is coming out at an unspecified date courtesy of Asiasoft, giant corporate entity most recently known for buying out Level Up Philippines. The publisher plans to release the game throughout their SEA area of responsibility, which includes Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam, Indonesia and the Philippines. So if you happen to be in that area of the world (if you’re reading this very post, chances are, you are), please enjoy the unique beta key below this post.  Oh yeah, this is for the PC version of the game; yes we are equally upset that Sega won’t get off their FAAAAT ASSES and localize the game’s Vita version.

Fine print and details ahoy!

  • Date: Thursday, 10 till Sunday, 13 April 2014
  • Beta Starting Time: 1500HRS (Philippine time, GMT +8), Daily
  • Beta Closing Time: 2359HRS (Philippine time, GMT +8), Daily
  • Beta Activation Page: http://bit.ly/PmhHJa

Developed by SEGA Corporation, Phantasy Star Online 2 is a Massively Multiplayer Action Online Role Playing Game (MMOARPG) where players get to experience revolutionary combat in an action-driven gameplay, to take a journey into an immersive sci-fi fantasy narrative and to explore mysterious worlds to unravel their secrets.  For more information, check out the game’s official website: http://pso2.playpark.com/en/ and follow the game on Facebook for community updates: https://www.facebook.com/playpso2.ph.

Ladies and Gentlemen, boys and girls, children of all ages. We here at 30lives.net is proud to present our new review series, Retro Reviews. Sometimes we all have that itching to play something from the past, something close to our hearts and we are not that different. All of us, right here in 30lives.net, will never let go of our childhood as they were precious to us and to our readers. We start our series with an old indie game: Frank’s Advanture 2.

frank 0

Franks Adventure 2 was released by the now defunct?/retired developer Wiesi-Mausland (Now called Wiesi) back in November 2003. This was a follow-up to the hugely popular Frank’s Adventure released earlier in October. Frank’s adventure 2 vastly improves everything that was great about the first game, while also removing the few negative things that hurt the original. It can be classified as a sandbox adventure game with item-trading as one of its biggest points.

frank6
It’s frank.

 

You play as Frank, just a regular guy who seems to have a talent for entrepreneurship, meeting people and a taste for adventure. Immediately the character relates to the player due to his desire for adventure and fun and love. After the saving the publishing company that he works for in the previous game, his boss asked trusted him to help their main branch in the city to help their financial situation. Frank, being the professional and great businessman that he is, bought a plane to the city to save the publishing company that he loves so much.

frank 3
we should be like Frank and be a professional

 

Immediately after taking control of Frank, you’ll see the difference in graphics from the original. Sharper and clearer outlines and colors, tall buildings and busy streets. The game map is nearly 1.5x the size of the original, and there are more dangers in the city than the countryside in the first game. Crossing the street feels just as dangerous due to the many cars, and other surprises that you encounter during the game that truly challenges anybody who wants to complete the game. Character models are also improved massively with the semi-celshading (remember this was 2003) that produces more realistic looking characters during the time of course.

The catchy music that plays while you move around the city is relazing in contrast to the busy streets. However, because of the limitations of the time and the developer’s own indie cred, no voiceovers were given for the great dialogue in the game. They won’t lose points for this because it also shows how focused Frank must be to block out all the distractions in the city just to finish his goal.

frank2
Characters with great unique personalities and backstories. This was ahead of it’s time.

 

Controls are insanely simple and you can pretty much play this game one-handed, a great feature at the time compared to other games released at the time. This is actually the best and greatest thing about this game. More games need to be playable one handed especially in our more busy lives.

frank 4
Cameos from some popular characters are here

 

 

Franks adventure 2  was released free as well, and still accessible in the internet. This truly is, one of the greatest indie games released in history and was very influential for many games that we enjoy today.

You can play Frank’s Adventure 2 online at Newgrounds. http://www.newgrounds.com/portal/view/134777

only magic can support those puppies.

Kill ‘Em All!1

cool picture
The Witch and the Hundred Knight

The Witch and the Hundred Knight sounds like a storybook fairytale full of magical creatures, royalty, enchanting forests, lavish kingdoms and eloquent speaking characters to fill your imagination of happiness and love. The game has all of this actually, with an extra spoonful… no, mouthful.. no, maybe a tub full of evil with an awesome soundtrack and deep and strategic gameplay. Development started in 2010 and was released in Japan on July 25, 2013. The localized release for the US is on March 25, 2014 while Europeans can except the game to release a little earlier on March 21, 2014. The Witch and the Hundred Knight (I’ll shorten it to Witch Knight) is an Action-RPG with Rogue-like qualities where your main goal is to help your master pretty much destroy the world. You play as the Hundred Knight, a tiny black familiar that kinda looks like Midna from Twilight Princess, to serve the foul-mouthed, slender, pretty, and powerful swamp witch, Metallia. You start out as a dumb and weak familiar with little to no abilities but as you progress through the unique and interesting story, you’ll start to figure out a lot about the game’s setting and the mystery of Metallia’s life while learning strategies for combat. The dialogue in WitchKnight is one of its best qualities as it will keep you interested in reading/listening through the whole script. It also comes with both English and Japanese voice acting. You’ll slowly start to realize why Metallia is a stone cold bitch as you learn more about the story, while accompanied by character art in the dialogue screens.

only magic can support those puppies.
Only magic can support those puppies using that Bra.

The soundtrack of WitchKnight is incredible as it feels cheery and quirky despite the game’s dark humor based storyline. It doesn’t feel repetitive at all and helps keep you alert through some of the grinding you need to do. Most enemies have their own voices too and the sound of the pillars you need to find is an important part of the gameplay. Witchknight has a nice storybook look in terms of its stage design and colors. They all seem to look good together as if it looks like a painting. Although the game is 3d and plays in 720p, the in-game character models really could have been much better. It’s already 2014 and even if the game was developed in 2010, the character models could have looked a little bit more… “HD,” a little sharper and a little less PS2-like. Would have been great if they could have made the characters stand out from the background more, especially Metalllia’s. For the gameplay, combat is basically hack and slash with some QTE’s for dodging. However, as the tutorials will show you, there is a lot more to the gameplay that it seems. You will need to develop a strategy per stage due to the Hundred Knight’s GCals, enemies and weapons. Gcals is basically like charmander’s flame. As you move through the stage, it slowly lowers until reaching 0 which will make you incredibly weak. You also have access to 5 types of weapons, with 3 weapon qualities among all of them. The rogue-like nature of WitchKnight also gives you random loot and weapons, a limited storage space (at first) and random bonuses depending on how much combos you pull out. There’s also a damage-chaining and a grading point system that could have used a tutorial but is actually easy to figure out once you notice it. There are many mixes of strategies that you’ll need to use every time you go out to fight, each with its advantages and disadvantages. Because of the combat system and customization you’ll be doing, the game can be pretty easy or pretty hard, depending on what you use and what level you are. Stat growth is dependent on what facet/form you will use throughout the game. While it might be tempting to spam attacks, the 5 weapon system will actually make you think about not spamming certain attacks to certain enemies. I recommend playing in Hard mode, just so it feels more fun.

You need to use specific weapons or your damage will be worthless.
You need to use specific weapons or your damage will be worthless.

Despite the need to grind in some stages, it doesn’t really feel boring and you definitely need to be alert because you need to monitor the Gcals, your HP, and what weapon you use, and the way of attacking you do. It’s hard to go on auto-pilot mode because of this, and that’s a great thing for the game. WitchKnight has a top-down view style and the controls are solid. The game also allows you to move the camera around which is very useful for this type of game. A concern about the camera though, is that certain stages have elements like trees or houses that block and hide your character. This is mainly annoying during combat, especially since you need to know what’s going on and what to do. And again, the character models sometimes blend too well into the background that it may sometimes be hard to find enemies especially if their colors are similar to the stage. Thankfully, the locking system will be able to counteract some of these issues. Those character models still really should look better even if the game was developed in 2010.

Stages look nice and painting-like but the Character models really could have looked much better.
Stages look nice and painting-like but the Character models really could have looked much better.

Another negative thing about the game is that even though it guides you through a tutorial for many of the features of the combat system and the game itself, most of the tips appear only during the loading screen and there is no ability to find these tips in the options or extras. The tips are very useful and could have been easier to access. But I guess it also makes the game more challenging, so it didn’t bother me that much and it helps players think about things which is something of a lost art these days. No tutorials option might alienate stupid people though. Some of WitchKnight’s features such as raiding houses and upgrading weapons do become useful, it also feels unrewarding and unneeded at times. Repeating the stages also doesn’t feel necessary to finish the game. Only super-completionists may really appreciate these features of WitchKnight. In conclusion, The Witch and the Hundred Knight is a solid, well-made game. It’s very enjoyable to play, the story is great and interesting (for me anyways), the characters are very unique and have plenty of personality, the soundtrack is great to listen to and is well worth buying the Limited Edition for. 1 – GET IT? METALLIA’S JAPANESE PRONOUNCIATION SOUNDS LIKE METALLICA, SO I USED METALLICA’S FIRST ALBUM AS A REFERENCE FOR A TAG LINE. IT IS ALSO A REFERENCE TO THE EVILNESS OF THE WITCH METALLIA

:yes I Liked These

  • The combat system in relation to the item customization
  • The music is great and should be in your playlist
  • The characters are fun
  • Metallia is such a great heel
  • I like the dark storyline; if you think it’s too dark, you’re too sensitive

:kobeyuck  I don’t like these

  • The PS2-like character models in 2014
  • So many bars at the HUD to monitor
  • Sometimes the background and elements makes your characters hard to see