Tags Posts tagged with "Atlus"

Atlus

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Daylight is a poorly-executed mess of a horror game. You have my permission to stop reading this review and judge it by my first sentence. If you do, then I will envy you for not wasting time playing this.

For those of you who still want to read why, alright: Daylight is a first-person horror game where you navigate a procedurally-generated dungeon-like map. You find a set of items, you find the key, get our of the area onto the next, then rinse and repeat. No real combat here, you are just haunted by shadow creatures called “witches” which gets defeated if you light up a flare.

A horror game’s typical strength is with its intricately-created set pieces that lead you to to memorable moments; which is a fancy word of saying lures to a trap. Remember the first time Nemesis showed up and chased you around in Resident Evil 3? Nothing of that sort happens here, really. The idea of having randomly-generated content completely tramples this formula and the whole game suffers because of it.

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You will always be holding your tablet up. #Ngawit

Cheap scares are brought to you in a non-thought of way. Sure, the first time it happens it’s a chilling moment but it shortly becomes laughable because of the repeatedly clumsy way it’s being delivered to you. The video below is me encountering an enemy for the first time. The surprised scream coming from me did not come back on subsequent encounters. Believe me. Please.

Internet celebrity/IGN personality/licker of handheld systems Jessica Chobot was the much-ballyhooed pen behind Daylight. She might also be the voice of the protagonist but I didn’t bother to look it up. The voice acting is entirely made up of gasps and exclamation of dread that is so random and repetitive, it becomes hilarious really quick. The narrative is a fairly run-off-the-mill horror asylum/Cthulu mythos tale. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but seeing pentagrams, human sacrifice, and the devil never looked so bland. Seriously, it’s like the developers ran through a checklist of tropes and environments from every horror videogame, ever and just went with it.

On the technical side of things, the game is also a mess. It’s the first game I’ve ever played on the PlayStation 4 that dips below 30 frames per second. Unbelievably, it does this all the time! There are instances where the game will stutter and freeze for a few seconds. Completely unforgiveable, given that the visuals themselves are less-than-impressive.

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Hey. it’s an abandoned asylum! So original.

You can finish the game in less than two hours. The developers claim it is meant for multiple playthroughs because of the procedurally-generated levels. No thanks.

In my opinion, Daylight has nothing to offer to my gaming tastes. My limited gaming time is better spent on something else. A poorly-crafted tale behind a poorly-crafted gameplay system makes Daylight easy to put down and ignore.

Redemption:

  • It’s not a retail priced game (though $15 is still not cheap enough for this)
  • The buttons work and there is video and sound.

The Human Sacrifice:

  • Random generated levels =  stupid idea for a game like this.
  • Repetitive and bland gameplay progression
  • Technical issues galore.

Factor that can swing either way:

  • You might die tomorrow.

Daylight

Developer: Zombie Studios

Publisher: Atlus

Available for: PlayStation 4, PC

Reviewed: PS4 version

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WE CALLED IT. Well, kinda. After much speculation and months of nail-biting from the weeaboo crowd, Sega Sammy Holdings announced yesterday that they are purchasing Index Corp (or, to be more real, the only part of the conglomerate that actually makes money: Atlus) for 14 billion yen (roughly $140 million). Looks like that pachinko money is serving ’em well…

Details are a little vague at the moment, but it appears that the transition will begin this November and will involve a complete restructuring of the company, natch. Index Corp has been in a little bit of hot water lately, facing allegations of fraud and having to file for bankruptcy earlier in the year. And because things go full-circle in this industry, it should be noted that Atlus GM Mitsuhiro Tanaka was a former executive of (what was then known as) Sammy Studios, Inc.; hence the educated guess. So scandalous incestuous.

Japan had this patch couple of weeks ago and now I fire up my PS Vita version of Dragon’s Crown and was greeted with the much-awaited prompt:

DCPATCH

The patch adds:

  • You can pickup hidden items with the finger cursor.
  • The L1 button on PS3 and the L button on Vita can be used for item shortcuts.
  • The dagger and bomb can be thrown diagonally by pressing the left stick up and pressing triangle.
  • An added feature allows you to repair all of the items in your bag at once.
  • The online menu has a feature to select an area so you can play with other adventures from the same region.
  • Runestones are more visible in the background.
  • Various other gameplay tweaks like more arrow drops depending on the number of Elf players in the party.

Pretty neat, eh?

It would’ve been more neater if they made it available before I got the Platinum Trophy for the damn game. (Grr)

UPDATE: I checked and the update also popped up for my PS3 version.

 

Stuck at home with nothing new to play? Fret not, Atlus is here to save your day (and wallet)! You can buy select Nintendo 3DS Atlus titles at a discounted price until August 31st on the eShop so now is the best time to catch up on your backlog.

Code of Princess drops to $19.99 from its usual price of $29.99. This is great for side scrolling action fans who are on a roll from the recent hit Dragon’s Crown.

If you’re more into Shin Megami Tensei, Soul Hackers is also on sale for $29.99. This is a remake of the 1997 game optimized for the 3DS so get it if you passed before.

Finally, we have Etrian Odyssey IV, also for $29.99. I bought it months ago but still remains in its sealed packet so this makes me sad.

See? No more excuse for you to be bored this day even if you’re at home! Stay dry and safe, guys. Spend the time off with your 3DS instead of going out.

I’m really enjoying this generation’s coin-op remake revival craze. Thanks to the myriad of digital download services out there, I’m able to eat up both retro and newly-made games with the same sensibilities that may not necessarily survive a full, $60 retail release. And for the most part, these revamped coin-op games typically have an extra layer of polish such as improved assets, polished interfaces, or robust online modes.

Dragon’s Crown is possibly the first Vanillaware game I’ve ever played that didn’t manage to wear out its welcome.

Dragon’s Crown (ironically, a full retail release) to me, feels like a culmination of sorts for these bite-sized neue arcade experiences, one that successfully blends the pick-up-and-play mechanics of the beat ’em up genre with modern game design sensibilities. Oh, and sweet, sweet loot. Yes companies, you don’t need boobs to market to me: as long as the game has numbers coming out of critters when I whack them with stuff, and better whacking-stuff appears when I whack enough critters, you already have me by the love spuds.

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The Art: Of Bosoms and Blades

I really feel that Dragon’s Crown enjoyed an unfairly tumultuous development cycle in the years leading to its release. I really felt that people jumped at the game’s decidedly-tacky character design and that seasoned artist George Kamitani got a bad rap from the public’s outcry when far more detestable games manage to slide by with little public ridicule. I’m not defending the man’s severe obsession with drawing females possessing 50DD chests, but then again there is some merit to the argument: the game’s supposedly a spiritual sequel to Capcom’s pair of Dungeons and Dragons arcade games, which featured more balanced depictions of its female characters.

Maybe it’s because I have the innate ability to not get hung up on details like that (which from recent experience appears to be some sort of superpower), but playing through the game as the Amazon and Sorceress, even as silent avatars I never felt that the game treated them as mere eye-candy: they were equals of their male counterparts. Sure, the Sorceress’ breasts flopped with every step, but her support magic (cue brassiere joke) was invaluable for online matches; and I noticed the far-seasoned Japanese players enjoyed playing as her not because they wanted to furiously masturbate to her gigantic ta-tas, but because she was actually useful. The Amazon was my character of choice, not because the game’s perverse artists drew her jumping animation by having her face the screen and expose her thong-covered posterior, but because she had a lot of overpowered melee attacks that I could spam, which reduced frustration on boss battles.

I understand that some people have a hard time mouthing off “oh Japan” and letting things be, but on the flip side it’s a lot of fuss for what’s essentially a niche game that will sell to a very select, hardcore audience that understands the cultural context that formed the game’s art style. If that wasn’t clear enough, let me repeat: who gives a shit? Certainly not the mortifying crowds of “englightened” gamers out there that feel their passive-aggressive swipes at the industry somehow helps anyone in the grand scheme of things. Then again, as I played through the game I found it increasingly difficult to defend its art style (see below for an example).

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Yeah, kind of hard to defend a game that contains a NUN LYING SPREAD EAGLE WITH A FACE FILLED WITH RAPTURE.

You Got Vanillaware’d!

On first playthrough, Dragon’s Crown seemed to be rife with content, which was very uncharacteristic of the genre, to say the least. Five hours in, and I was in awe of the variety and complexity the game’s very detailed levels presented. Every single stage seemed more impressive than the last, and each section’s tableau bloomed with wonderful, hand-drawn art that matched the intricacy of the game’s character design (almost too much at times, as it got progressively difficult to watch what my character was doing). I think you all know where I’m going with this, but the game presents a huge gotcha right around this point where you have to replay each stage again. But unlike, say Wind Waker’s pointless fetching of Triforce pieces (which is my all-time least favorite artificial extension of a game, ever) Vanillaware gives the player even more content to explore, as there are alternative paths the game takes you, featuring bosses far more imaginative and engaging than the ones you have encountered prior. What a twist!

And only at this point is the game’s online functionality unlocked. It may seem cumbersome at first to have to unlock online co-op play, but it makes sense: at this point, your character has sufficiently leveled-up and has enough decent equipment to actually hold his or her own while battling with more seasoned warriors. No pa-tank puh ate beggars. The co-op experience was fantastic: even on the Vita version via Wi-Fi, I had very little latency problems playing with three other Japanese-based players. It is worth noting that I had a more difficult time playing with fellow 30lives editor Shin on the PS3 version on a wired connection; but I’m placing the blame solely on our country’s dire broadband infrastructure. This fantastic online component is only hindered by the esoterically Japanese way its online features function. I swear, Japanese developers are almost unilaterally 10 years behind their Western counterparts in terms of defining UI and abstraction layers on top of their netcode. It’s not that the actual network modes are bad, but the severely clunky and unclear way that you connect to peoples’ games is almost laughable compared to the seamless co-op experiences I’ve been spoiled in with games past.

[Shin butts in: Although you will need to unlock online and even adhoc play on the PS Vita version, on the PS3 the local multi-controller co-op mode is available out of the box. That’s a big thing to consider for buyers, I think.]

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The game also features some hot dudes. Get it?

Exploring Bolder Lands

The game’s weakest points are ironically the game’s most initially-laudable ones. Both the loot and mini-RPG systems seem way half-baked once you get down to it. It’s an odd comparison, but I hope Dragon’s Crown drums up enough sales to receive a sequel, because I can see the developers exploring a similar jump in the quality of both aspects as we did in Borderlands. The similarities between the first Borderlands and Dragon’s Crown as far as gameplay-related pitfalls are actually quite striking, as both games attempt to kind of blend two genres that don’t necessarily belong together. Take the skill system, for instance: you complete sidequests to gain skill points among other rewards, but there is hardly any motivation to do so as the game does not reward you sufficiently for progressing and gaining more skills. There are combo/attack modifiers, and some sweet perks like being able to auto-block, but those are handled individually instead of with a skill tree, which means there is no risk/reward system of min/maxing sets of skills. Ultimately, there is no motivation to pick up skills, and I found myself going back to the guild surprised that I still had leftover skill points that I was almost forced to spend.

The loot system seems fairly intriguing on the surface, as you can choose after the end of round to either sell or appraise the mystery loot you and your thief underling picked apart from the various treasure chests littering the stages. You can either sell the loot outright without taking any risks, or appraise it for a higher price and see if you end up with an item you can either use for yourself or (rarely) something that’s worth more than the price of appraisal. The game ranks loot via a letter-grade system, but doesn’t provide enough quirks or modifiers in the lower-level tiers to make them worthwhile, so you end up just selling everything with a Treasure Rank of B or below, and keeping the rest.

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Subversion in Version Control

I was fortunate enough to be granted access to both the PlayStation 3 and Vita versions of Dragons’ Crown, and they are fairly identical apart from interface differences (using the touch screen instead of the analog stick to boss Rannie the erstwhile thief companion around), the higher-resolution assets in the former and pinches of slowdown on the latter edition. Content-wise, they are the exact same game. Cue my puzzlement at the game not featuring any cross-play features. I believe Atlus’ official review guidelines for the game addressed this omission with something to the effect of “becaz aliens,” so I’m thinking this is a Sony-side issue. At any rate, this would have been a perfect showcase of synchronicity between the PlayStation Vita and PS3 systems, but alas, it’s a missed opportunity. For people who want to buy into both versions of the game, the developers thoughtfully included a cloud-saving feature that allows you to upload/download your saves from either system and pick up your progress from there. The only other game I own that does this is Retro City Rampage, and it’s actually pretty slick… when it works.

Though no fault of the game (I blame my own idiocy for relying on the feature in the first place), I lost two hours of progress thanks to the game’s cloud save feature erasing my progress as I moved my save back from the PS3 version to the Vita. Thankfully, completion time per character is a scant ten hours, which honestly is a little longer than I’d care for a game of this genre. But that’s an achievement! Dragon’s Crown is possibly the first Vanillaware game I’ve ever played that didn’t manage to wear out its welcome.

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Because we like rustling peoples’ jimmies.

Snide remarks aside, I’d really be sad if that and “boobgate” are the only things Dragon’s Crown will be remembered for. Quite frankly, it would probably be the perfect game for my twelve year-old self: taking me back to the days as an arcade rat, playing games like Knights of the Round with my equally-broke friends on germ-infested arcade machines in Cubao. Even my tastes in women were much different then: I could recall myself fantasizing about tall, large-chested women, where the fashion of engorged mammaries toppled the function of saving the owner from immense back spasms. But hey, awkward nostalgia about puberty aside: Dragon’s Crown is a game that deserves your attention and financial support. They don’t make games like this anymore—not only in the technical sense of it being the first game of its kind to come out in quite a while, but in a more lachrymose sense of its artists and developers putting so much care, love and soul in the game’s construction. Polarizing art aside, if you can’t get over that and play the game for what it is, then I’m just going to straight-up assume that you are a terrible human being with bad taste.

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ATLUS and Vanillaware’s RPG brawler Dragon’s Crown is one of our most anticipated games of the year. We’ve been playing our review copies of the game (Thanks, ATLUS!) here at the 30lives non-office for almost a week now and we haven’t even scratched the surface of this deep and satisfying adventure.

“If you are expecting a D&D Mystara clone, be prepared to be blown away.”

We’re not allowed to post specifics about the game yet because of the embargo (will be lifted on July 31st) but here are the things we can say about it:

  • Lots of things to do besides the main quest. Side-quests are very rewarding and you will want to complete them.
  • Artwork is amazing — as expected from developer Vanillaware.
  • The 6 character classes offer VERY different gameplay experience, providing much replay value.
  • Tons of equipment and skills to collect and learn.
  • I thought it would be the reverse, but Dragon’s Crown is more RPG than brawler IMHO. If you are expecting a D&D Mystara clone, be prepared to be blown away.

Dragon’s Crown releases on August 6 for the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita. Watch out for our official review on July 31st!

 

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EOURated
The game’s box art.

The remake of the original Etrian Odyssey for the Nintendo DS now dubbed Etrian Odyssey Untold: The Millenium Girl will be released for North America on October 1, 2013. The game will feature a story mode with pre-created characters complete with their own personalities with voice acting in animated cut scenes by MADHOUSE and during story and battle scenes.

While Etrian Odyssey Untold is meant to be an entry point for newcomers to the series, the game will also feature new dungeons, improved graphics and even orchestrated music to get fans of Etrian Odyssey since the beginning interested  in the game, such as myself. Also, if the whole story mode isn’t your cup of tea, you can still play this new game in classic mode which offers the traditional Etrian Odyssey gameplay with all the convenient functions found in Etrian Odyssey IV.

Etrian Odyssey Untold: The Millennium Girl will be available on October 1, 2013 at retail and on the eShop for $39.99.

More details will be  made available in the near future at http://www.atlus.com/untold.

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Upcoming PS3/PS Vita fantasy brawler Dragon’s Crown‘s character art has been the topic of heated discussions in a number of video game communities. Controversial or not, it is still developed by Vanillaware — which means it looks absolutely amazing.

You get a 64-page art book by George Kamitani if you pre-order the game. Atlus has provided us with an 8-page sampler below for your perusal.

Dragon’s Crown will jiggle its way to stores on August 6.

Boobs.

We here at 30lives hardly ever fight over games to review; it’s either we draw lots for review copies or we review whatever we’re playing. That relaxed environment changed when I received a review code for Shin Megami Tensei IV. Our editor-in-chief fumed when I announced that I received a review code for the game; figuratively flipping tables and wreaking havoc over our non-office. He had a point: he’s played every single Megaten game (even the Namco-published Famicom ones), while I’m not too well-versed in that universe. Tempers cooled when we all realized that we’d rather have a fresh, unbiased review of the title: this is my first time to delve in the series, with Persona 4 Golden being my first Persona as well (review here). This indeed is the Year of the Jack Frost for me, personally.

cut_anim004(left).avi-05162013-0393Shin Megami Tensei IV is set in the Eastern Kingdom of Mikado where Samurai are duty-bound to protect people from demons and uphold the peace in their land. An annual ceremony where Samurai are chosen marks the game’s outset. Youths from Mikado ceremoniously try to wield a mysterious gauntlet and only a few pass to become an actual Samurai. People dream of being drafted into being a Samurai as this essentially gives them a chance at a better life once they start serving the kingdom. Mikado—albeit peaceful—is divided into two classes: the Casualries (laboring class) who live in the outskirts of the castle, and Luxurors (thinking, skilled artisans) who live inside the castle city. In the game, you play as Flynn (in this case, I was Cheena—certainly a name befitting a manly samurai, no?), one of the chosen few who hailed from the casualries to serve as a Samurai in Mikado. You begin your training with fellow casualry Walter, and luxurors Jonathan and Isabeau as Samurai, but odd things start to happen in the kingdom. Demons start appearing through the land, and an enigmatic being only known as the Black Samurai is suspected to have summoned them from outside the contained dungeon, Naraku.

The Good:

Engaging story. Shin Megami Tensei IV had a lot of twists that I did not expect. I am not sure if this is because I do not know a lot about the Shin Megami Tensei games, but SMTIV had my mouth agape in some of the crucial parts of the game so it is a nice treat. The writing is also of note in this game; the dialogue bits really helped shape the main characters as well as the demons, and made them more interesting. It is worth mentioning that the setting served as a good backdrop of the story. It is a wild mix of contrasting elements which would be best for you to experience firsthand.

cut_anim001(left).avi-05162013-0380Character art. I enjoyed the look of the characters and the Samurai garb they are wearing reminded me a bit of the Shinsengumi coupled with modern military uniforms. The art is very clean and rendered as best as the 3DS’ low-resolution screen can muster. The facial expressions are well-drawn and complements the excellent voice work of the game.

Voice acting. I found that the voice work for SMTIV was better than P4G. You can still hear some of the Japanese words being mispronounced, but it is a lot bearable this time around. Definitely an above average effort from Atlus. Also, I’m not sure but Walter sounds a bit like Kanji…

Animation cut scenes. It’s easy to take anime-style cut scenes for granted since they don’t produce as much wow factor as they did back in the old PlayStation days, but I’ll have to say the little animated breaks in this game are done very well. Nice detail on the character animation as well as background bits.

Difficulty setting. I talked to the editors to confirm if Shin Megami Tensei is supposed to be ball-bustingly hard. Almost everybody said yes, and I guess this is part of the game’s charm as well. Fortunately for people who cannot keep up with the challenging boss fights, there is a difficulty setting toggle from Prentice (Normal) to Fellow (Easy). This will at least help you not get stuck to the point of giving up on a great game because of a few roadblocks; so it is a good addition to the game. SMT purists might think otherwise about this inclusion but I find it a good call on the part of Atlus (see: Fire Emblem: Awakening casual difficulty’s success with players new to the franchise).

Burroughs and streamlined interface. As a Samurai, you have access to your gauntlet and AI which I call my annoying secretary, as she always has to announce that she’s registering a quest when it is as simple as getting breakfast with friends. Burroughs will help you complete quests and keep track of things inside Mikado and in  places high and low. You can further improve Burroughs by purchasing useful ‘apps’ that will also benefit you and your demons (more skill slots, lessened MP cost for skill casting, etc.). I find this as a nice touch in the game as you have free reign on prioritizing which apps you think will help you better so this makes for a more personalized strategy. The user interface accessibility is also nice; it is pretty easy to control via the directional pad or the touch screen panel.

image2013_0517_1058_1Addictive gameplay. Whenever I try to start a session of the game, I almost always exceed 3 hours. I just can’t seem to stop playing; the quests are compelling enough to make you think you can do “just one more quest and after that I’m done”, but this never comes until you are dead tired and your hands are about to fall off and your eyes about to shut down because it’s already 4 am and you need to sleep a bit so you can go to work. Aside from completing the quests, it’s the demon fusion feature that triggers the OCD in me. I just have to collect all (or two, as an extra fusion fodder). Like in P4G, this is an evil game feature for people who want to complete everything.

Streetpass Feature. Like all 3DS games worth their salt, Streetpass features make them all the more interesting and interactive as you get to give (and receive) player profiles to help a bro out. In SMTIV, there is a Digital Demon Service feature that lets you attach a demon for other people to get and use in their own games. I haven’t tested this feature yet with anyone for obvious reasons, but I am betting that this will be a nice sharing feature among friends and people you get to Streetpass on a regular basis.

The Bad:

Hodgepodge of art assets. I am not certain if SMT fans are used to it by now, but there seems to be a huge pool of dated art assets that are still being used for SMTIV, some dating back to the Saturn/PSone days. It doesn’t really bother me that much, but for others the difference in the art styles of the demons (some are painted and some are drawn comic-style) may be jarring.

Eleventeen million spawns. This can be another SMT thing, but I noticed that a LOT of demons spawn everywhere. The auto battle mode makes life easier as you can just nominate the AI to fight for you to speed up the combat (it uses default attacks only until you get to buy apps that will detect demon weaknesses and use apt skills instead) but it takes toll sometimes, especially if you just want to get from point A to point B but have to fight tens of repetitive battles to get there.

image 2Dying in the game. Macca (the in-game currency) is hard to come by in the game and I am always so poor. Dying in the game will port you to the River Styx and will prompt a conversation with the boatman Charon. He will convince you to go back to the land of the living as he is dealing with too much souls who are in queue to cross the river. By paying Macca, you will be revived to your original condition before you died, but he just charges so much! There’s also the option of paying in Play Coins (he charged 10 when I tried paying mine) and it also felt like you’re ponying up a lot. Sudden Protip: always save so you can just reload your game when you die.

Things That Could Swing Either Way:

Camera controls. The camera controls of P4G on the PlayStation Vita was very intuitive and easy to use. Since the 3DS lacks the luxury of a second analog stick, this omission makes the camera controls a bit clunky. You have to use the L and R shoulder buttons to adjust your view and it feels a bit awkward pressing it as opposed to using an analog stick for easy access and control. This might be more of a personal preference though.

Forgettable music. I might not be fair in saying this, but the music did not really leave an impression. I am not sure about the other SMT titles, but the music in SMTIV feels a bit bland and none of the tracks really stood out for me.

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You’ll always need a lot of Macca in your pockets.

Hard negotiations. The game’s combat is primarily hinged on being able to convince demons to join you as an ally and fight for your team. To do this, you have to communicate with them during your attack phase and try to convince you to join your ranks. You are questioned by the demon why he would want to join you and will ask you stuff such as consumable items or Macca to help sway their hearts to join you. Sometimes, the demons will ask you casual questions and depending on your answer, they will either join you immediately or start to dislike you. A failed negotiation will result to losing half or all of your turns, and this is a major pain especially if you are trying to recruit a higher-level demon. Failed negotiations can also lead to death at times as you lose your precious turn and will make the demons attack you right away, so you need to plan wisely. However, it must be stressed that I’m not sure if I am the only person having a hard time here by picking wrong answers all the time (I blame my lack of social skills), so I don’t know if you’ll have the same experience.

No Japanese voice option. The voice acting in the game is above-average so this omission didn’t bother me, but I can see some fans who might be disappointed by not having the Japanese voice over option.

All things said, Shin Megami Tensei IV is a solid RPG that you shouldn’t miss if you are a fan of Japanese games, especially Atlus titles and the series itself. It has all the makings of a great RPG, with top-quality production and the usual polish that you’d expect of Atlus.

Shin Megami Tensei IV is exclusively released for the Nintendo 3DS by Atlus USA. Pony up $49.99 to get a copy; you won’t regret it.

Author’s Note:

I would like to thank ATLUS for providing me with a review code and early access to the game. I can’t wait to get a physical copy as well to get the SMTIV and Fire Emblem Awakening rewards at Club Nintendo, not to mention the preorder freebies from the pack!

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With just a few days away before we post our Shin Megami Tensei IV review and a little over a week before the game official hits the stands on July 16, 2013, Atlus saves everybody the trouble of making annoying unboxing videos by posting their own video on youtube:

 

Assuming our friendly neighborhood game stores pre-ordered all their copies of Shin Megami Tensei IV, we can expect to grab these limited edition box sets which include a Strategy & Design Book, Music CD, and of course the game.

For more details on Shin Megami Tensei IV you can visit their launch site and even pre-order the game (and then worry about how to get it shipped back to the Philippines).

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Some fairly significant news broke within the last twelve hours; the gist of it being that Index Corporation—already in danger from being kicked out of the Japanese stock market—are going bankrupt and will have to be restructured by creditors.

According to the official press release sent out by Index last night, the company will opt for “civil restructuring,” which will shift management partially to the debt-holders and a government-appointed mediator. Being that the game division is the most profitable facet of the business, they are apparently searching for a potential buyout/partnership with a larger investor in order to expand or completely jettison Atlus before things get worse. Below is a helpful chart to understand how Index is currently structured:

index corporation

Like ’em or hate ’em, Atlus has built an impressive and successful back-catalog of niche titles and have had great success eyeing titles to publish under a supply-and-demand scheme. Their US division in particular deserves mention as a company that has always delivered in bringing in titles that probably wouldn’t have made the voyage across the pond in the first place—Demon’s Souls being a very recent example. Oh God, now it feels like I’m writing their eulogy.

Our take? If another, larger entity doesn’t buy ’em out (Nintendo, Sega Sammy or even Namco-Bandai are likely candidates due to their history with both publishers), Atlus (or perhaps their North American division) will probably end up being folded into Marvelous somehow—through some hot-potato shenanigans XSEED (now part of Marvelous and headed by former Atlus USA CEO Shinichi Suzuki) acquired Atlus Online earlier in the year and was gobbled up by Marvelous Entertainment shortly thereafter. This is obviously speculation, if we haven’t made this clear yet. Regardless, the industry at large recognizes them as a valuable entity so I don’t think we should fear for the future of the Megami Tensei series just yet. Atlus is no THQ, after all.

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Atlus recently announced the day 1 downloadable content (DLC) that will be available for Shin Megami Tensei 4 on its release month. The DLC includes three different looks for the main protagonist (relevant to meeee) so you can change his hairstyles if you do not like the default. This is free for everyone who has the game, and will remain so.

The next DLC is a stat-boosted armor which is also tagged free. This is good reward for players who are jumping in the SMT bandwagon right away on its birth month. The armor (called Platinum Surcoat Set), will help players in the early parts of the game and is also relevant to me since I am new to the Shin Megami Tensei franchise. This DLC will be free until August 16th, and will then be priced at $1.00 after.

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An extra map pack will also be available to aid players in getting more experience points at the start of the game.  A collectible demon will also be part of this DLC and will set you back $2.00 to get it. Reminds me of the EXP and Gold map pack from Fire Emblem: Awakening. Hmmm, are games really taking this direction now? I guess DLCs like this are meant to help new or casual gamers beat the challenging hump at the start, but I’ll try playing without it to compare the experience and let you guys know.

According to Atlus, more DLC news will be announced before the game’s release date of July 16th. I’ll definitely be picking up this game for July so I can get the free armor, but we’ll see if I can play it right away because Animal Crossing: New Leaf might still be eating my time by then, haha!

 

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For the past year, my Nintendo 3DS usage has easily trumped my PS Vita play time by hundreds of hours.  Our editor-in-chief has recommended Persona 4 Golden to me when I was complaining that Vita had no games, and boy, am I glad I listened to him (for once)!  I am now a converted Persona 4 Golden fangirl and I foresee myself spending more time with it (to platinum the game), and shell out more monies for game merchandise (hello Nendoroids, Figmas and figures).

Persona 4 Golden is an enhanced PS Vita port of Persona 4 for the PlayStation 2.  I don’t know why, but I overlooked Persona during my PS2 gaming days probably because I didn’t like the first game that came out for the PlayStation 1. Anyway, my first impressions five minutes into the game are:

  • Damn, that intro is colorful… could easily give me a headache.
  • Hey, awesome music! Thanks Shoji Meguro!
  • The interface is really flashy and funky!
  • Why is my avatar running like a caffeine junkie?

It took me a good while to get used to the “flashiness” of the user interface and the art style of the game.  To be honest, I kind of hated it at first but it grew on me; I now appreciate the art as an essential part of the game that gives it its own unique charm. There’s really something fresh about the experience I had with Persona 4 Golden that drew me in more and more from the moment I started playing it.  I didn’t even notice the time — after looking at my desk clock, I’ve spent a good three hours without getting bored (which is quite rare). Luckily, we had a pretty long weekend when I started playing the game so I got my fix.

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In Persona 4 Golden, you play the nameless ‘city boy’ character (in my game, he is named Cheena, hahaha) who recently transferred to Inaba, which is pretty much the boonies.  You move in with your uncle, Ryotaro Dojima, who is a police investigator and his little daughter Nanako. Shortly after, a series of strange murders occur in the region involving a rising star reporter who had an affair with a married government officer. You get acquainted with the key characters in the game, mostly your high school classmates, and get sucked into a strange alternate world inside a… television.  In this world, you discover your innate power of being able to summon your ‘Persona’ and get into the heart of solving the mysterious murders that happened as well as the recent kidnappings that’s affecting the town. The game has a very long introduction before you get to your first battle (about one and a half hours of setting up the scenario and story, and loads of running around town), but this is well worth it.

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Persona 4 Golden is quite deep in the sense that there are many things that you can do while playing.  This may seem overwhelming when you start, especially during the introductions, as you get to see what kinds of activities you can take part in, but you will get the hang of this as you progress in the game.  Here are some notable features that you might be interested in!

Time.  The game is divided into different time events:

  • Early Morning – this happens when someone calls you during the weekdays or during Sundays so you can watch the TV shopping program.
  • Daytime – this is the time when you are going to school from Mondays to Saturdays.  You have this as a free time during Sundays and holidays.  Walking to school and your school lectures also happen at this time.
  • Lunch – this triggers when you prepared lunch to bring to school.  Also, school mates may approach you during this time to invite you to spend time with them after school.
  • After School – this is your free time.  You can spend this by going around town to do whatever it is you want to do.  More on this later!
  • Evening – this is the time you go home.  You can also do one more activity before going to sleep and proceeding to the next day.

Persona 4 Golden has a calendar.  You start the game around Spring time when you first move in to Inaba.  After doing a bunch of activities per day during the different time intervals, you will progress and move on to the next day.

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Inaba.  This is the main setting of the game, and as mentioned above, you have recently moved in to this fog-laden place from the city.  The place is divided into different areas:

  • Yasogami High School – the school you go to.
  • Central Shopping District – where all the local stores are, plus the shrine and the bus stop.
  • Junes Department Store – newly erected mall that is threatening the business in the shopping district.
  • Samegawa Flood Plain – this is where you walk to get to school.  The riverbank is also located here.
  • Dojima Residence – where you live.

There are more places that you can unlock later in the game, but of course I don’t want to spoil you!

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Persona.  This is actually the ‘battle’ part of the game.  Half of the game involves a ‘simulation’ of choosing responses and actions in your day-to-day life, while the battle part is the one where you actually get to kick some ass!  This happens while you are inside the television world investigating the murders and kidnappings of the different characters in the game.  Personas are creatures that you summon from your own being to help you fight the ‘shadows’ that roam around the dungeons.  The dungeons are also themed according to the case that you are trying to solve but I won’t delve on this further as you need to experience it firsthand to understand completely.  The dungeons are randomly generated with treasure boxes littered around the area for extra items.

Shuffle Time.  By performing attacks or casting spells which shadows are ‘weak’ on, you get the chance to earn more experience points, items, or even Personas.  A bunch of cards will be laid out in random and you get to choose prizes that you want to keep.  You can choose cards that allow you to pick more cards and if you successfully get all of them, you get a sweep bonus that will give you 3 picks on your next shuffle time.

Fusion, Compendium and Skill Cards.  You have a limit on the number of Personas that you can carry with you.  I guess it’s weird if you have too many personalities in real life!  To unload your Personas, you can fuse them to create stronger types that you can then bring into battle with you.  Fusing Personas can pass on abilities that they have to a new one, so it’s great to have different kinds on your hands to use different skills during battle.  The compendium is like your Pokedex where you can store Personas and call them again when you need them (by spending money).  You can also acquire Skill Cards from your shuffle times and use them to make a Persona learn a certain skill.  Or, you may also opt to give it to Marie, the card keeper, so she can store it for you.  Doing this will make you lose your card, but at least you can buy them as many times as you want when you need them in the future.

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Social Links.  This is actually one of the most interesting features in the game.  As you might already know, the Persona being referred to in the game comes from the Jungian philosophy of having different selves.  As the main premise of the game, you build Personas by establishing ‘social links’ with the different characters in the game.  You do this by spending time with them doing different activities or idle chat — just like a dating sim.  Different characters hold the keys in creating other types of Personas as well as powering them up through bonuses so it is recommended to build strong relationships with the people in the game.  Stronger relationships = stronger Personas in battle.

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Characters. The characters in the game are pretty memorable, especially the ones who join your investigation party.  I don’t want to discuss this too much as I might spoil something important in the game, but I have to say, I love the character progression.  I think Atlus really spent time on this since the game focuses on Social Links so you really get to know more about the characters and their motivations.  Another good thing is the quality of the dub.  Sure, it can be improved but the dub quality of North American releases are getting better now as compared to the really dismal jobs during the late 90s and early 2000s.  Atlus did a good job of getting voice actors that bring these characters into life.

Character Stats.  As a high school boy, you have five stats that you have to work on to stay strong in Yasogami High and Inaba in general.  Knowledge can be acquired by studying on your desk, the library, listening intently to lectures or answering your teacher’s questions correctly.  Expression can be honed by helping your friend answer the teacher’s question and doing some translation jobs (more on this later).  Courage can also be strengthened by doing some pretty stupid things like choosing bold responses during conversations, eating strange things in your refrigerator, or working the night shift at your local hospital.  Understanding is improved by strengthening your relationships with other people, talking with them and picking the ‘correct’ responses that make you understand their behavior better, or by doing pro-bono work.  Lastly, Diligence is a trait that can be worked on by doing typical menial work and training, as well as tending your vegetable garden.  Reading books can also help you improve your stats depending on what reading material you have.

Jobs. You can go around town looking for jobs to fund your investigations by way of buying weapons, armors, and accessories for your party. These bastards don’t pony up so you’ll have to earn on your own to equip them. You can do different jobs according to your qualifications (if you have enough stats) like envelope stuffing, translating, origami folding, daycare assistant and more.

Quests.  There are a bunch of people in the game who will eventually go to you for help in finding random stuff in Inaba.  Most of the things that you need to look for actually exist in the TV world so I have no idea how they know about these things!  Successfully completing quests will earn you item rewards or Yen that you can use to buy…

Equipment.  You can either buy weapons, armor or accessories in the forgery or the home TV shopping channel.  In the forgery, you may need to sell materials that you acquire in the TV world for the smith to create new items that you can buy.  Each character has a specialty weapon as well as costumes that change when you are inside dungeons.  It’s pretty cosmetic more than functional sometimes but it’s fun to look at.

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As for the overall gameplay experience, it might be a bit confusing at the start because a lot of the features are introduced to you in quick successions so you don’t have enough breather to fully comprehend what’s going on. However, as you play and get to understand the different aspects of the game, you’ll be able to appreciate the different features in the game and why they make the game so enjoyable. As I mentioned earlier, the game is actually divided into two – simulation and RPG, so you can enjoy both genres in one game. What is also good is that the game has a lot of room for replayability – there will be stuff that you will surely miss in your first playthrough and the game’s real ending is only revealed in your second finish. But this shouldn’t be a problem because you will surely be compelled to give the game a second go because it is that good.

Anyway, here’s the TL;DR Review!

Good Points:

  • Interesting story line
  • Well-written character dialogues
  • Memorable characters
  • Battle system is also fine-tuned for turn-based RPG lovers
  • Packed with tons of things to do inside the game
  • Free Jungian philosophy lessons
  • Free Persona concert videos

Bad Points:

  • Animation quality can improve, but no biggie
  • English dub can improve, but I actually enjoyed hearing “Yokiku-senpie” all the time, so whatever

Things that can swing either way:

  • Requires at least 50 hours to finish. This is okay with me, but for people who are used to playing next-gen games that run only at about 6 hours to complete, this can be an issue.
  • Replayability. This can also pose problems for people who want to just play once and move on to the next game, but to fully enjoy P4G, you need to invest at least two playthroughs.

Persona 4 Golden is $29.99, available for the PlayStation Vita and via digital download in the PlayStation Network.

Author’s Notes:

LTTP stands for Late to the Party. I played this a few months ago and even had the draft of the post sitting around in the site, but I never got around to finish writing it. This masterpiece here even preceded the new review format, so yeah, it is what it is.

Despite a very crappy launch, Old School Games set things straight and released a patch, although not perfect. It did make God Mode playable, and that’s what counts. This 3rd person shooter isn’t necessarily original in concept, but at least it’s of a different flavor: a mythical theme. You play as a descendant of a fallen god that was made mortal by Hades, and as the game starts you must venture into this purgatory called The Maze of Hades and survive (metaphorically) to avoid an afterlife of eternal damnation.

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During the course of the game you will be heckled on by an obnoxious and stupid annoying yet to a some extent funny narrator, played by popular motion capture actor Oliver Hollis-Leick (who has done works for Harry Potter: Order of The Phoenix and Iron Man 2).  While the narrator makes fun of you for your crappy shooting skills, hordes of demons, undead and beasts will gangbang you, and we’re talking about A LOT OF THEM. Coming from all directions. At the same time.

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Kill these abominations for EXP and gold. Gold is the main currency of the game which you use to unlock costumes and upgrade weapons and skills. EXP is used to level up. The higher your level, the better weapons and skills you can unlock and buy, perfect for some post-death perennial ass kicking. The game boasts a lot of customization, you can change your appearance, weapons and special skill. Before you start a map you can even add handicaps called Oaths, equivalent to the skulls in Halo games. They make the game harder, but the rewards greater.

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There are only 5 maps in this game, divided into different sub-sectors, and each sector has what is called a Test of Faith, challenges and obstacles created by the gods that serve as game modifiers. Tests of Faith can include awesome ones like Book (EXP up) , completely pointless/amusing ones like Hat (enemies wear Bowler Hats) or F@#%ING irritating ones like Dice (weapon change every few seconds). Win each sector one at a time until you eventually reach the boss room, kick its ass, enter a gold room to get mountains of cash, and end the play session.

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God Mode heavily emphasizes multiplayer, which is how it was designed and meant to be played in the 1st place. You can play solo, although it’s not obvious at the beginning. You do this by creating a match and choose “ready”, without inviting anyone beforehand. Be warned that this game has no solo campaign and its difficulty was made with the assumption that there are a lot of players in mind. Solo play is absolutely irritating, unrecommended and not fun. You will die, and most likely will lose, unless you’re a high level player with all the upgrades with extensive experience. Not that multiplayer is already chaotic and you’ll most likely die doing it anyway.

The game has some obvious bugs, but the developers already are on it to fix them slowly. Reviews on the internet, especially on Metacritic have been lukewarm because of the pre-patch problems, notably the inability to shut people up on multiplayer (no mute), and of course, the various incompatibility and data dump issues associated with low-end machines for the PC version. Hopefully in the advent of more fixes, the game will be in a state where people can just stop whining.

For the price of $10, it’s a budget title, so keep expectations low. The graphics are beautiful, but we’re mostly after the gameplay mechanics. Pick this game up if you have friends to play it with, it’s VERY fun, or if you’re willing to risk teaming up with jerks online. Don’t bother playing this by yourself. Although so far the God Mode community has been very nice and tolerable, you get more dissing from the narrator himself than the players. I can recommend this game, with reservations. Look videos of it up online and judge it for yourself. 10 bucks isn’t necessarily a big loss.

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Atlus posted on the PlayStation Blog today announcing the much-awaited Vanillaware beat-em-up Dragon’s Crown will release on August 6th 2013. They also announced that it will cost $50 for the PS3 version and $40 for the PS Vita version.

That’s right, no cross-buy — you will have to buy each version seperately or you can just buy one version and play online with the other ver… wait, NO! Atlus also revealed that the planned cross-play between versions is not a thing anymore but you can still transfer saves between versions.

So if you have a PS3 and a PS Vita and would like to be able to transfer saves to the same exact game between the two machines, it’s $90.

 

Thank you for your support,

Fatlus Friend.

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If there’s one thing that pisses off gamers other than lag, it’s not being able to play, for any goddamn reason. Take Old School Games’ new third person shooter God Mode. It’s published by Atlus and the game’s out on Steam, Xbox LIVE and PSN, but still Steam players keep getting crashes, and a lot of them (myself included) are stuck on the loading screen. Although the devs already got the message from a mob of cranky people (aka customers), they said they have no definite date on when a patch/fix will be released, but it is coming. Until then, if you already bought the game on Steam, you can either:

  1. Be patient,
  2. Ask Steam (nicely) for a refund,
  3. Bitch at the game’s Community Hub on Steam and be ignored for being an ass.
  4. Do nothing.

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At least last year, this guy up here wasn’t BSing you and shooting it straight.

Hey guys! Wanna know what games to expect this week? Here is the list of major releases for the week starting April 15th 2013:

Lego City Undercover: The Chase Begins (3DS)

Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Summoner: Soul Hackers (3DS)

Injustice: Gods Among Us (Wii U)

Pandora’s Tower (Wii)

 

Injustice: Gods Among Us (PS3 Retail)

Dragon Fantasy Book I (PS3/VITA PSN)

Mad Dog 2: The Lost Gold (PS3 PSN)

RPG Maker III (PS2 Classic PSN)

Sacred Citadel (PS3 PSN)

Sniper Ghost Warrior 2 (PS3 PSN)

Dishonored – The Knife of Dunwall (PS3 DLC)

 

Injustice: Gods Among Us (Retail)

God Mode (XBLA)

Sacred Citadel (XBLA)

Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 – Uprising (DLC)

Dishonored – The Knife of Dunwall (DLC)

Injustice: Gods Among Us Season Pass (DLC)

 

Dishonored – The Knife of Dunwall (PC) [Steam]

Eador: Masters of the Broken World (PC) [Download]

God Mode (PC) [Steam]

La-Mulana (PC) [Steam]

Papo & Yo (PC) [Steam]

Sacred Citadel (PC) [Steam]

Victoria II: A Heart of Darkness (PC) [Download]

 

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Another bad news for the gaming industry.  Index Digital Media, parent company of Atlus, has declared losses for the second quarter of fiscal year 2013 at $27 million.  Although the first quarter showed good profits from Persona 4 Golden and Persona 4 Arena releases with $58 million in sales, they still come off with a debt of $14.75 million.  There were no concrete details provided as to why they have acquired this much loss for the quarter.

Index is now performing cost cutting measures to pay back the debt by reducing their work force and keeping the company lean for the time being.  The company will be releasing Shin Megami Tensei 4 and Dragon’s Crown soon so let’s show our support! Don’t let good developers stop making quality games for us fans.

 

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Spotted at the Play-Asia listing today is a gorgeous Shin Megami Tensei IV 3DS LL bundle.  The unit has been recently announced for Japan and pre-orders will be taken in soon by the website.  Of course, being a Japanese 3DS unit, expect it to be locked to Japanese games and content only.  Sadface for us who can’t speak Nihonese!

But there is another listing for Shin Megami Tensei IV accessory pack, so non-weeaboos need not fret.  The accessory pack comes with a pouch, cleaning cloth, and games case according to Siliconera, but there’s also a Famitsu DX pack that has more goodies like t-shirt, postcards, clear files and a… tapestry.  This will retail for about $105 (Famitsu pack), while the normal accessory pack is at about $44.

Shin Megami Tensei IV will have a summer (July) release in North America and we are stoked beyond belief, and so should you.

Watch the links above so you can shoe in a pre-order over at Play-Asia as I doubt local stores will be selling these.  And as usual, these limited edition things go out pretty fast so keep checking.

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Vanillaware’s RPG brawler now has a release window of Summer 2013.

Dragon’s Crown is a 4-player 2D RPG brawler inspired by Capcom’s D&D arcade games. It is currently announced for the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita and will feature cross-platform play.

Vanillaware releases are far in-between so it’s always a treat when we get a game from their studio. I’m personally stoked about this game and from the trailer I see that their trademark hand-drawn style graphics is as gorgeous as ever.