Console Gaming

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.

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.

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)

 

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!

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

Get ready for an awesome PlayStation month even if you don’t have extra money to buy new games!

First up, PS3 owners get Lara Croft’s latest adventure for zilch. Tomb Raider was one of our top games of last year and the PS4 definitive edition was just released this month so this is an amazing and surprising addition to the IGC.

The PS3 also gets indie love in the form of Thomas Was Alone — an award-winning platformer, and Lone Survivor: Director’s Cut — a survival adventure game.

Going next-gen nets you a free download of the excellent Dead Nation: Apocalypse Edition. This co-op twin-stick zombie shooter that was originally released on the PS3 is now coming to the PS4 bundled with all the DLC and updated visuals.

On the handheld side of things we get the 3rd person shooter Unit 13 and Monster Hunter Freedom Unite (PSP game, playable on Vita). Kinda lame but you can’t beat free, right?

 

Dead Nation: Apocalypse Edition (PS4)

Dead Nation: Apocalypse Edition

Free for PS Plus members

Run-and-gun through the zombie apocalypse as hit arcade shooter Dead Nation shuffles onto PlayStation 4. Fight for your life alone or with a friend as Jack McReady or Scarlett Blake as you step onto the streets of a city overrunwith undead flesh-eaters. And, if you’re feeling really brave, take a walk down the Road of Devastation – a deadly experiment that pushes your survival skills to the absolute limit as you face hordes of zombies with no extra lives and no second chances. The dead may walk – but you can make sure they don’t walk very far.

 

Tomb Raider (PS3)

Tomb Raider

Free for PS Plus members

This newest rendition of Tomb Raider explores the intense and gritty origin story of Lara Croft and her ascent from a frightened young woman to the hardened survivor that she would become known as. Armed only with raw instincts and the ability to push beyond the limits of human endurance, Lara must fight to unravel the dark history of a forgotten island to escape its relentless hold.

 

Thomas Was Alone (PS3)

Thomas Was Alone

Free for PS Plus members

Thomas Was Alone is the critically acclaimed indie platformer about friendship and jumping. Guide a group of sentient rectangles through a series of environments, combining their skills to reach the end of each level. Listen to awesome music by David Housden, negotiate obstacles meticulously placed by Mike Bithell and immerse yourself in the characters’ journey with a voiceover read wistfully and amusingly by Danny Wallace.

 

Lone Survivor: The Director’s Cut (PS3)

Lone Survivor Director's Cut

Free for PS Plus members

In this psychological survival adventure, the masked protagonist must escape from a city ravaged by disease, by any means necessary. Lone Survivor: The Director’s Cut is a new kind of adventure where the choice of how to survive is up to you. Sneak through without firing a single shot, or kill everything in your path. Eat and sleep well, or resort to drugs to keep going. Search for survivors, or try to escape the city alone. Look after your mental health, or descend into madness. Lone Survivor is a game where your choices genuinely matter.

 

Unit 13 (PS Vita)

Unit 13

Free for PS Plus members

Jump into the action with Unit 13 for PlayStation®Vita and conquer 36 tactical missions and 9 high value target battles as you help take down global terror networks and earn your place in the military elite. With the precision of the PlayStation Vita systems’s dual analog sticks and unique touch interface, Unit 13 is the perfect on-the-go action shooter. Wi-Fi connectivity adds fast 2-player co-op action, and 3G compatibility keeps you connected for instant social updates and new daily mission challenges.

 

Monster Hunter: Freedom Unite (PS Vita)

Monster Hunter Freedom Unite

Free for PS Plus members

In the world of Monster Hunter you’re never alone.
-The biggest Monster Hunter title to date with over 500 hours of gameplay.
-Huge variety of character customizations including 1400 weapons and over 2000 armor sets.
-Players can form a team of up to 4 players through Ad-Hoc play and experience the social gaming phenomenon.
-AI Felyne companion, who will accompany players on quests and provide aid through the challenging battles. With the ‘Felyne Exchange’ feature players can share their companions with other players, transferring data using the PSP’s sleep mode.
-Fans of the series can transfer their data from Monster Hunter Freedom 2.

 

Capcom’s premiere futuristic ninja is finally wrecking havoc both on PS3 and PS4 and Square Enix kicks off the public PS4 beta of their MMORPG. Rayman Legends also makes an upgrade to next-gen and you can also get good ol’ Adewale’s adventure without having the main Assassin’s Creed IV game.

Assassin’s Creed IV Black Flag Freedom Cry ($14.99)
AC Freeom Cry
Rise up against slavery with the latest single-player action-adventure game in the Assassin’s Creed franchise. Assassin’s Creed Freedom Cry is now available exclusively for download on PS4 and PS3. Born a slave, Adewale found freedom as a pirate. Now, 15 years after the events of Assassin’s Creed IV Black Flag, Adewale has become a trained Assassin.
Rayman Legends ($39.99)
Rayman Legends
The Glade of Dreams is in trouble once again! During a 100-year nap, the nightmares multiplied and spread, creating new monsters even more terrifying than before! These creatures are the stuff of legend… Dragons, giant toads, sea monsters, and even evil luchadores. With the help of Murfy, Rayman and Globox awake and must now help fight these nightmares and save the Teensies!
Strider ($14.99)
Strider
Strider returns in a brand new adventure, complete with incredible side-scrolling action, and lightning fast combat all in a massive interconnected world! Download the full game now and become the original assassin!
Final Fantasy XIV: A realm Reborn (Beta)
FF14 A Realm Reborn
Beta test the award-winning FINAL FANTASY XIV: A Realm Reborn now for FREE with players from around the world. The beta will be available from Saturday, February 22, 2014 to Sunday, March 2, 2014. Characters created during the beta are limited to level 20 and progress will not be saved after the beta ends.Create your own unique FINAL FANTASY hero and embark on the adventure of a lifetime to help forge the fate of Eorzea.

The excellent Tomba! 2 makes an appearance in the PSone classics section of the store as a follow to the original Tomba! that was released a couple of weeks ago. PS2 Classics have Neo Contra which I don’t remember ever playing. Heh.

Sales galore! Aside from the huge list this week, there’s a separate Rockstar Sale going on which you should check out. Bully for under $3 is a steal, my friends.

For fellow PS Plussers we are entitled to Remember Me (starring Renz Verano) on PS3 and Street Fighter X Tekken on Ps Vita for the exciting price of ‘free’.

For a complete list of additions and changes to the PS Store, hit the source link!

You can name this game as a Final Fantasy spin-off like “FF: Crystal Chronicles Dimensions” or however you want to fit in the word “3D”. I imagine that they would have called it Final Fantasy something and deferred that idea due to less-than satisfactory sales of non-Final Fantasy Numbers games. Regardless of the glaring similarities in the game system of Bravely Default with Final Fantasy games, credit must be given where it is due, it is a well made game.

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Bravely Default is as turn-based as it gets.

Bravely Default is the summary of the collective experiences of classic Final Fantasy games (I through VI), updated to appeal to a younger/more casual player base. The game is also integrated with a social networking experience (Streetpass and a “Netfriend” system) to deliver a some-what refreshing RPG experience while feeling all yet too familiar to older fans of the genre with classic turn-based mechanics and the ever-loved job class system.

The story revolves around four (4) characters namely: Tiz Arrior, the sole survivor of a great calamity which struck his home town of Norende the wake of the disaster would be known as the “Great Chasm”.  Agnes Oblige, the Vestal of Wind who has the ability to awaken crystals. Ringabel, an enigmatic man with no memories of his past with a penchant of speaking perverted thoughts out loud seemingly without knowledge of basic social graces and Edea Lee an impulsive young girl who has a very simple view on values by categorizing them as black or white. They are accompanied by the ever-charming “cryst-fairy” only known as Airy. She possesses the “collective knowledge” of all vestals of the crystal from the past and guides Agnes in awakening the crystals to prevent the end of the world.

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It’s not a Square game without fantastic graphics (most of the time).

Struggling to save a world in turmoil from the crystals losing its light and the oppressive kingdom of Eternia opposing the religion of the Crystal Orthodoxy our main characters fight an uphill battle against Eternia‘s elite forces and ancient evils which have corrupted the crystals. A new job class is unlocked every time the group defeats Eternia’s top soldiers and leaders by taking their “job asterisk”. These will unlock a new set of active and passive skills which will prove vital in future boss fights and competing the game.

I must emphasize that unlocking all the job classes is absolutely essential not only for beating the game but enjoying the game to the fullest. The combinations of skills from several jobs is key to making your life a whole lot easier as proven by this interesting bit of news from Bravely Default’s Japanese release. While I didn’t bother to attempt that feat, playing Bravely Default smartly is something I agree with. Capping out your character level and getting the best gear means squat because the later chapter boss fights will prove to be impossible unless you figure out the right combinations to outlast them or even to completely suppress their relentless assaults.037

The Brave and Default system makes battles more interesting. Each action a character takes costs one (1) Brave Point (BP), you can have them make a maximum of four (4) actions per turn by using the Brave command. You do not need to accumulate Brave Points to take multiple actions in one turn but when your BP falls below zero at the start of your turn, that character cannot take an action until your BP is at least zero. The Default command simply raises your defense at no expense of BP, allowing you to accumulate Brave Points to take multiple actions without losing turns. This simple system can be used and abused based on your job skill combinations and opens up various ways to beat certain bosses. What I really like about this system is how battles turn into combinations of exciting big swings from you to your enemies at least until you figure out the extremely cheese combos which I abused ’till the end of the game.

It is very difficult to discuss Bravely Default in detail without spoiling the entire game so here is a run down on key features of the game that will help you figure out if the game is worth your time or not. But if you do pick up the game or have already done so, I invite you to look back at this review after completing the game. A lot of things will suddenly make more sense.

Good Points:

  1. Graphics (it’s Square, duh)Once your eyes get settled with the game after the nice CG intro, you will find that the graphics of the game is done really well. Especially with the background environments. When you leave your game idle, the map will zoom out for a breath taking scenery you can further appreciate with the 3D option of your 3DS (because 2Ds owners am cry).

    041
    It looks even better in 3D.
  2. Streamlined game – The character XP and job XP are streamlined so that you can max everything out with little effort if you play smartly. There are a lot of features which make “grinding” a walk in the park like Auto-Battle which remembers the last actions your characters take and the option to increase or decrease your random encounter rate. You will at the least want to max out your job levels to play around with all the skills so Bravely Default gives you all the tools to play your game with ease.
  3. Job Class System – Boss fights in later chapters will prove to be some of the best battles yet. Granted that there are some fool-proof methods to beat them, you are not limited to those combinations only (you also need to figure them out first). You can attempt to beat bosses with the various tools presented to you outside abusing the Bravely Second skill which allows you to take extra actions at no penalty and break the 9999 damage cap. You can try to beat bosses while retaining some of your favorite job classes whilst taking on a handicap because sometimes the journey is more exciting than the answer.
  4. Character Development – There is a surprisingly huge amount of character depth despite the droll plot of the game. As you go through the course of the game, the growing cast of characters keep developing their personality to maturity.

    038
    Unacceptable!
  5. Game Depth – This isn’t a “you will get 60 hours of game-play, this is worth it!” thing. Rather, the meat of the game is in overcoming challenges presented to you. While everything is ruined by consulting an online guide, relying on your understanding of the game’s job system is the real reward in playing Bravely Default. I mean if that is your thing.

Bad Points:

  1. Voice Acting – This could really have been done better. They sometimes sound like they are just being played over a voice recorder and some character voice acting are just plain bland. It really puts a damper of a pretty nice soundtrack. Your usual orchestral fair.
  2. Plot Structure – Einstein once said insanity is “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results” and I couldn’t agree with it more. This does not pertain to grinding in the game but a more core aspect of the game, the plot.
  3. Not expansive – When the game’s plot unravels, you will realize that the game world is not as expansive as you were lead on to believe.

X-Factors:

  1. Micro-transactions – Anything under this is normally bad but it does provide a way for people to share their benefits (of dealing incredibly insane amounts of damage by using Second Points (used to activate Bravely Second) or even buying them. While viewed by some as “breaking the game”, it is an edge you have the option to use. If you pride yourself too much in being “such a hardcore gamer” don’t use: problem solved.

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    One thing I didn’t write much about: Special skills, lots of special skills
  2. Social Networking Features – While Bravely Default is in the strictest sense a traditional RPG. The inclusion of the Abilink and Send Skill feature really helps break in casual gamers into the genre. Abilinks are the collective job levels your registered friends on your 3DS have already attained. You can start out a game at level but have maxed out job levels already. This takes out the grind for the player who benefits from Abilinks from early adopters. With this, new players can focus on core game-play and the story rather than take time to level up. If you have really hardcore RPG playing friends, they probably already found a way to deal hundreds of thousands of damage and can share their skill for you to summon in times of dire need, that’s if they’re not selfish. If they are, you may stumble on someone who is not as selfish, as I have.  Net Friends are random people you can add up as villagers and receive their sent skills. No worries about your privacy, as this is Nintendo, absolutely no personal information Friend Codes included will be shared with these people.
  3. Added Value – On top of the above mentioned social networking features, you can access additional content through the rebuilding or Norende. You can gain access to valuable items, weapons, Special skill parts and new costumes for your character through re-populating Norende and upgrading the shops using villages you acquire through Streetpass or from sending invitess to “Net Friends” daily. You will also receive Nemesis monsters to fight from your Streetpasses and Net Friends. These Nemesis are challenging boss monsters which drop permanent stat improving items provided you can beat them. There is a challenge for everyone all the way to level 99. While entirely optional, rebuilding Norende does unlock a lot of goodies for you.

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    Rebuilding Norende
  4. New Game Plus – That’s replay value for you should you crave for more but honestly, once is more than enough. I’ve enjoyed Bravely Default thoroughly in my first play-though.

Overall, I would still say Bravely Default is an extremely well made RPG which will appeal to its traditional fans and makes a strong attempt to break into non-RPG players through social networking. It uses its fan-base as ambassadors of the genre through Abilinks and Net Friends to give casual gamers a huge edge in the game which they would normally not attempt to achieve by spending their time grinding in the game. If you like role-playing games, this is a no-brainer. Buy it.

There are potential spoilers below. Highlight the space below at your own risk.

As a head-up to current and potential players of Bravely Default, the droll plot of the game will eventually make sense of standard RPG functions which are treated as plot holes such as save-points. He he he.

 

Awesome month coming for PlayStation Plus members. Sony has announced the February lineup for its Instant Games Collection but this time they made a nifty handy-dandy cool video detailing it. So watch it (embedded above) and be informed/amused.

For those of you who don’t want moving images, here’s a list and a picture:

Outlast (PS4)

Metro: Last Light (PS3)

Payday 2 (PS3)

Remember Me (PS3)  starring Renz Verano.

Street Fighter X Tekken (PS Vita)

ModNation Racers: Road Trip (PS Vita)

Square Enix wants to prepare us for the third and final part of the Final Fantasy XIII trilogy and they are doing it in style. They’ve put together an awesome retrospective video summarizing the first two games in SNES-style 16-bit!

Complete with a chip-tuned version of the FFXIII soundtrack, this video makes me all the more excited for when Claire Farron finally returns in less than two weeks from now.

Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII will be available for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 on February 11th, 2014.

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Now that our abrasive hashtag has your attention, on to some real news: according to a recent report from Nikkei, Nintendo will announce this week that they will start creating content for iOS and Android devices, in the form of free promotional mini-games, apps, and trailers for upcoming releases. #Nintendoomed they are not, this doesn’t mean that the company is heading towards the mobile game ghetto but it does make for some interesting headlines, doesn’t it?

Sharp readers may remember that Nintendo, by way of The Pokemon Company, released several Pokemon-related apps for smartphones, acting in a similar fashion as promotional tools. Sony in particular has been doing very well with their PlayStation app for smartphones, which one would imagine be Nintendo’s template for success in this sort of venture.

Starting this Tuesday (early Wednesday morning locally) and through next week, the North American PlayStation Store will offer 11 Final Fantasy titles at a discounted price (bigger savings if you are a PlayStation Plus member).

Prices listed are normal discounted and PS Plus discounted, respectively.

  • Final Fantasy IX — $5.99 / $5.39
  • Final Fantasy Origins  — $5.99 / $5.39
  • Final Fantasy XIII-2 — $9.99 / $8.99
  • Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn Collector’s Edition — $35.39 / $32.39
  • Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn Standard Edition — $23.99 / $21.59
  • Dissidia Duodecim Final Fantasy — $9.99 / $8.99
  • Dissidia Final Fantasy — $9.99 / $8.99
  • Final Fantasy III — $9.99 / $8.99
  • Final Fantasy IV: The Complete Collection — $9.99 / $8.99
  • Final Fantasy Tactics: The War Of The Lions — $4.99 / $4.49
  • Final Fantasy V — $5.99 / $5.39

So are you picking up anything?

Capcom has announced that the much-awaited Monster Hunter 4 is going stateside “early 2015”. The english-speaking world will get the equivalent of Monster Hunter 4G in Japan — an enhanced version of the vanilla Monster Hunter 4 that has more content. Much like what Monster Hunter 3G was to Monster Hunter 3.

Unlike MH3U before it that had both 3DS and Wii U versions, MH4U is only announced for the 3DS. And I don’t have a problem with that.

This one has online multiplayer (finally!) so the days of meeting up in a coffee house to play are over.

Nooice!

mh4u

Squenix’ successful PC/PS3 MMORPG Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn will be gracing Sony’s next (current) generation console officially on April 14th. If you already played this on the PS3 then you are automatically qualified to play the beta which starts on February 22nd. This gives you time to think if you wanna upgrade to the PS4 version.

Square Enix will also release a collector’s edition of the game which will include content from previous PS3 and PC collector’s editions with a Fat Chocobo Mount and a Wind-Up Moogle Minion.

I’m done with MMO’s myself but I’ll be sure to at least try the beta and ogle at the graphics.

ff14ps4b

Weakest release week ever! Boooo!

But I would suggest you get OlliOlli if nothing else (given you have a PS Vita).

 

NO NEW RELEASES

 

Lucifer Ring (PSone Import/PSN)

OlliOlli (PS Vita/PSN)

 

Dead Rising 3 – Operation Broken Eagle (DLC)

 

Insurgency (PC/Steam)

Kickbeat Steam Edition (PC/Steam)