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Review

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.

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Disclosure: 30lives received a review copy of The Evil Within from Bethesda Softworks.

The Evil Within_20141013014022It amazes me how much goodwill Capcom has managed to piss away nine years after releasing Resident Evil 4—a game that (deservedly) sits on every videogame enthusiast’s all-time top five. After releasing two lackluster sequels, a couple more middling spin-offs, and about half a dozen ports, it’s safe to say that we’re all ready for this series to ride off into the sunset (hah! thought I’d make a zombie joke, didn’t you?), at least for the time being.

As cliched as this may sound, The Evil Within is a true return-to-form for the series; albeit one produced under a different moniker, for a different company, and with an entirely different cast of characters. The essence stays the same however, as TEW is directed by Resident Evil creator Shinji Mikami under his new development studio Tango Gameworks. It’s no small coincidence that the series started slipping as soon as Mikami released his reins; and if anything this game proves that Mikami can produce excellence without being constrained by Resident Evil’s now-convoluted mythos.

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Messy!

It is painfully clear however that Mikami has some sort of affinity for policework (and vaguely hispanic avatars): your protagonist Sebastian Castellanos starts off as an unassuming investigator that somehow winds up in a city filled with grotesque zombie-like creatures (wink), creepy raven-haired kids, and of course: a chainsaw-wielding brute set to tear you to pieces for some reason. I always assume it’s because you banged his sister. You never mess with a man’s sister. Anyway, Sebastian and friends find themselves in this twisted environ and feverishly attempt to escape, and of course are met by exceedingly-absurd opposition from not only the ugly creatures that populate their coordinates, but—only a spoiler if you’re an absolute idiot—also themselves. If you haven’t gathered from the game’s title (or hell, even the Japanese title Psycho Break), a good chunk of the game is dedicated to questioning the human condition; yours and your comrades.

For anyone who’s seen a horror movie from the last fifteen years, The Evil Within’s narrative may feel like predictable, run-off-the-mill pap. I’ll concede that point and fire back that its way better than 90% of the garbage most of us have to wade through. (without a skip button!)

Instead of simply relying on horror tropes for quick scares, The Evil Within also features more contemporary chills: you’ll see a lot of non-sequitur scenes in this game, much in the vein of Alan Wake or Deadly Premonition, except far more unsettling.  For instance, a madhouse door leads into a field of sunflowers… But why? Without spoiling too much, at that point in the game, you’re already questioning every single wrench the game throws at you, a sense of helplessness that I haven’t felt in a videogame since Capcom’s own Haunting Ground. (say, whatever happened to that game?)

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A fair warning to all the s-a-w-f-t gamers out there, softened by eighth-generation console trappings: this game is hard.  Harkening back to the first Resident Evil, weapons and ammo are in scarce supply. You essentially have five guns in the entire game, and a pretty badass multi-functional crossbow, but none of them are of much use as you’re probably going to spend the majority of the game scampering around to avoid enemies and find what little scraps of ammunition or curative items the game provides throughout each of the fifteen chapters. Hey, the genre is called survival-horror, ain’t it? Its tough, but fair, a quality that I found endearingly old-school.

That’s not to say that the game completely lacks modern game design niceties: of course the game offers an (optional) upgrade system, one that is fueled by “green gel” (pause) that you find hidden throughout each of the acts. I thoroughly enjoyed this aspect of the game as it felt to me that there was a real risk and reward system at play here: given that

Everything has to be a god damned Metroidvania nowadays, huh?

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Its not all sunshine and sunflowers however: at times I found the game’s reliance on trial-and-error—especially during boss battles—to be incredibly frustrating, further compounded by the fact that the game is inexorably unoptimized, with long loading times cropping up everywhere; puzzling because the game installs on first load and seems to page from my system’s hard drive a lot. .

Alas, these are but small complaints in the grand scheme of things. The Evil Within is the Resident Evil 4 sequel y’all have been pining for. And even if the game aspired to be nothing but that, I can dig it.

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

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Danganronpa 2 Goodbye Despair Screenshot (13)The first Danganronpa was quite the deceiving little gem: underneath the guise of its saccharine-sweet visual style, (deceptively) shallow characterization and general swathe of uguu~ anime charm lied a narrative that painted itself with the same dark and light swatches that its raison d’etre Monokuma displays. One that consistently leads its protagonist and the player through murder, mystery, and the loss of the human condition, segueing at times into what can be construed as a… dating simulator. I booted up its sequel, Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair with both excitement and trepidation; expecting another well-spun yarn leading me through another twenty or so hours of furrowed reading, attachment to characters who—spoilers—might not even make it through the end of the game, and the eventual existential crisis the game puts the player through. At the risk of sounding like a total putz, Danganronpa is a very emotionally-demanding videogame.

As with the first game, the plot centers around the ominous Hope’s Peak Academy, a school vaguely located in Japan that recruits only the best of the best. Goodbye Despair expands upon the first game’s cast of Ultimates and comes up with new über wunderkinds to interact with; and while some of them may sound lame or forced at first glance, each character once again has several underlying secrets hiding behind their archetypal titles.

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Danganronpa 2 Goodbye Despair Screenshot (10)Unlike the first game, which cast the player as the “Ultimate Lucky Student,” a faceless, unremarkable schmuck that only got to Hope’s Peak because he won a random drawing, the events of Goodbye Despair are now told through the eyes of one Hajime Hinata, a bombastic, oft-arrogant and sometimes unlikeable avatar that professes to be the ultimate…. Plot twist! He doesn’t actually remember what he’s supposed to be at the game’s onset. Even this simple bit of unreliable narration clues the player in to the game’s greatest asset: being able to take what is essentially an unbelievable set of circumstances and somehow weave that together into a narrative that appears to be spun-out by the first chapter, off-the-rails by the middle of the game, and somehow neatly tied-together by the game’s conclusion.

For those that haven’t had the opportunity to go through the first Danganronpa, the game can best be described as a strange amalgamation of 999 (or its sequel, Virtue’s Last Reward) and Phoenix Wright, with the design sensibilities of Persona hewed in. The game plays like a standard visual novel for the first half of every chapter and abruptly segues into a morose version of Ace Attorney where you gather clues about each murder, pointing out contradictions later on in the classroom trial and ultimately piecing all of the information you’ve gathered to finger a final suspect. At its core, however, the game is a visual novel through and through, with exploration elements that undoubtedly give the player some semblance of freedom; that is up to the point that he or she realizes that a certain character or event is awaiting to be triggered for the storyline to progress.

As a sequel, Goodbye Despair does not disappoint. The first game ended on a little bit of a cliffhanger, and while the second game does expand on the first game’s lore a little bit, it stands alone well enough without relying too much on the first game’s keynotes. That being said, I think you got to stretch your suspension of disbelief with this game a little bit more than you had to with the first game. It’s not quite the claustrophobic, urgent thriller that Trigger Happy Havoc was either—while one could understand why someone would go stir-crazy in the first game’s sealed, cramped school corridors, the deaths in Danganronpa 2 hit you way harder than they should in that “aw man, why’d you have to do that” sense, simply because there appeared to be a common goal between the participants in part deux of this sick social experiment.

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Goodbye Despair’s failings come at the hands of its own linear trappings. As with its contemporaries in the adventure game genus, solving the game’s myriad mysteries oftentimes falls under the hands of the player understanding the writers’ and developers’ logic, rather than the player’s own. No matter how early or late the player’s own “whodunit” epiphany comes into play, during class trials you are still at the mercy of the game’s pacing, and each mini-epiphany that leads to each chapter’s crescendo needs to be played out first; and that may frustrate some. I personally am numbed enough by “videogame logic” where I can shrug my shoulders and exclaim “welp, comes with the territory” whenever this happens.

Danganronpa 2 Goodbye Despair Screenshot (8)I cannot deny the stigma that the game faces as being part of the visual novel pantheon (a bias that, unfortunately, most cannot look beyond as the genre is saturated with less-than-savory entries). However, with expectations in check I can guarantee that any player will find Danganronpa’s convoluted tale one of the most compelling chronicles to be found on any videogame system, ever.

Platform Publisher Developer
PlayStation Vita NIS America Spike Chunsoft

Disclosure: thanks to the folks at NIS America for providing us with a pre-release copy of Danganronpa. Class starts today for the R3 release at your friendly local Datablitz or iTech-type retailers. The game comes out on the US PlayStation Network this September 2nd.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Hits the mark:

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

Missed it by that much:

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

Blue Estate

Developer: HeSaw

Publisher: Focus Home Interactive

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pros:

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

Cons:

  • Uninspired  level progression
  • Shallow Story
  • Stiff animations

 

Battle Princess of Arcadias

Developer: Apollo Software

Publisher: NIS America (PS3)

Available for: PlayStation 3(Digital)

 

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

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

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

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Derp.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pros:

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

Cons:

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

 

Atelier Totori Plus

Developer: Gust

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

Reviewed: PlayStation Vita version

only magic can support those puppies.

Kill ‘Em All!1

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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

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I’m playing a visual novel that stars high school students physically and psychologically pitted against each other by a sadistic, faceless higher authority figure binding them with the allure of freedom and the constant fear of death and betrayal. What game am I playing? If you answered 999, Virtue’s Last Reward, or even Corpse Party, then you are wrong. Danganronpa (5)Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc takes place in (what appears to be) Hope’s Peak Academy, home of only the most elite students Japan has to offer… And you. The protagonist, Makoto Naegi, is your standard faceless teenager that happened to win the opportunity to join this elite school as part of a random drawing. Unlike most of his schoolmates, Naegi has absolutely zero special skills or remarkable characteristics apart from his apparent luck in being picked to join Hope’s Peak, hence he is dubbed the “Ultimate Lucky Student.” Other such “Ultimates” reside in the school with equally-wacky titles such as the “Ultimate Biker Gang Leader,” the “Ultimate Swimming Pro,” and even the “Ultimate Fanfic Creator.” After much proselytizing from the main character on how lucky he is to be part of that elite academy, he steps foot into the school and faints, awakening to find that all is not what it seems: He and fourteen other schoolmates meet in a soiree of confusion, fear and uncertainty as a deceptively-cute headmaster named Monokuma explains their current predicament in no uncertain terms: they are trapped. Trapped indefinitely inside the very school they wished to attend, with only one option for escape: kill. More precisely, kill and not be caught by the rest of the student body. The game can best be described as a strange amalgamation of 999, Phoenix Wright, and some elements of Persona hewed in. The first comparison shouldn’t come as much of a surprise as both games were birthed from the twisted minds over at Spike Chunsoft. The game plays like a standard visual novel for the first half of every chapter and abruptly segues into a morose version of Ace Attorney where you gather clues about each murder, pointing out contradictions later on in the classroom trial and ultimately piecing all of the information you’ve gathered to finger a final suspect. Danganronpa (3) The characters are but the emptiest of empty vessels and simply serve two purposes. Firstly, to provide the player a fetishistic reference to an understandable common context he/she can latch on to; hence the fifteen initial students presented to the player are relatable, one-dimensional caricatures that the player has probably seen in other media (i.e., anime “archetypes”) or in real-life, perhaps drawing upon his/her experience as a forgettable, nondescript high school student with no discernible skills or abilities (already assumed). Secondly, as each character has unique strengths and inevitable character flaws, they inevitably serve as glorifed storyline cues and ways to advance the plot. Danganronpa (4)To be fair, you do get to know more about each characters’ respective back-stories by building relationships in the game’s “free time” mode, a more shallow take on Persona’s “Social Link” dating-sim aspect wherein the player receives the option to seek the rest of the game’s cast leisurely strolling about the campus. Once you’ve found your target, the game mechanically asks you if you “want to spend time” with that character, which pulls up a choice to give your “date” a gift. Gifts are trinkets that can be won on the game’s solitary capsule machine, which the player can discern and match up to his current date as to what little curio is appropriate to hand out. Positive responses give you additional Skills and Skill Points that make the “lawyer-y” parts of the game a little easier. This, however, exposes an inherent issue with the genre—one can spend easily spend 30 hours taking the “scenic route” in Danganronpa, talking to each and every character, pushing every switch, opening every door; but invariably it will always be the same character that triggers the next sequence in the plot. I realize at this point that deconstructing the mechanics of a visual novel of all things isn’t really giving the game any justice. Ultimately, the game provides the player with a linear path from point A, the opening, to point B, the conclusion; with several false endings strewn throughout. It’s shallow entertainment and isn’t supposed to let the player in on the true meaning of the human condition or anything like that. Danganronpa (2)I suppose a more legitimate reason to fault the game is because it tries to do too many things at the same time. Instead of presenting evidence directly and pointing out contradictions like in the Ace Attorney games, one of the class trials’ (many) mini-games has you shoot “evidence bullets” towards statements that fly by the screen to point out inconsistencies in your classmates’ statements. Then after that you get to play hangman (Hangaroo for the plebians out there) by shooting letters that fly into the screen to suss out key words that turn the case around. Then after that you play a rhythm mini-game reminiscent of Bust a Groove to shoot down any further objections. After you’ve proven your point, you get to rebuild the whole scenario as it played out by putting panels on a little comic sheet that illustrates what really went down during the case. If this all sounds incredibly convoluted to you, that’s because it is; and the same confused design ethos follows through the other mini-games and distractions that permeate this title. They don’t appear frequently enough as to hinder the rest of the game, but are definitely jarring experiences. Danganronpa’s aesthetics shine on the Vita’s OLED screen, with crisp character portraits and bright UI elements that take more than just mere inspiration from Atlus’ Persona 4. And for once, high school kids in a Japanese game look vaguely like high school kids should—i.e., not like toddlers with bolt-on breasts. That said, the audio side of the presentation fares just as well, with a variety of aurally-pleasing tracks that range from cheery to spooky to downright terrifying. The English voice-acting team also deserves similar praise as each character’s voice is spot-on and adds a lot to the game’s ambiance. Maybe I’m a sucker for this particular subset of the genre, but I had a hard time putting Danganronpa down. There’s nothing particularly sophisticated about the game’s plot, game mechanics, or presentation; but as someone who barely reads fiction, I’m assuming my experience with the game wouldn’t be that far from what most would feel reading a good novel from cover to cover. Perhaps it’s because my current living situation mandates I live a boring, vanilla suburban life but I simply could not lay my PS Vita to rest until I reached each chapter’s conclusion and find out what messed-up situation these kids get into next. Thanks to the folks at NIS America for providing us with a pre-release copy of Danganronpa. Class starts tomorrow on the PlayStation Network and at your friendly local Datablitz or iTech-type retailers.

Word.
Word.

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This is not your momma’s Zelda.

The only Zelda game I have thoroughly played is The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, the great classic on the SNES system back in the day. I have always loved how a top-view adventure RPGs can package a lengthy and deep adventure concisely and this new sequel A Link Between Worlds is no exception. While game design and development choices have made me or possibly you cynical about sequels to great classics, rest assured that this is not a soulless shell of a quick cash grab that we have been repeatedly exposed to over the last decade of games.

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That worm dude boss is bigger than this but is still 100% annoying.

While the entire world of Link Between Worlds looks familiar to those who have played A Link to the Past, the similarities end with the familiar locations. Each scene is not a carbon copy of its SNES predecessor nor are the dungeons or bosses in any way rehashed (except for one distinctively annoying worm). Some of them may look derivative (like the Thieves’ Hideout boss) but they don’t play the same. It’s a brand new game with modified mechanics and different challenges (where you still have to collect the same pendants to get the Master Sword, lol) so you can have your slice of nostalgia pie and enjoy an entirely new experience.

One major deviation from the Zelda formula is the immediately availability of most tools (Hookshot, Ice and Fire Wand, etc.) which are rented from one of the supporting characters of the game, the mysterious Rovio. Others may find this change detrimental to the game, I on the other hand appreciate this streamlining. You are not required to take on any dungeon or boss in any particular order. Rented weapons are lost upon dying so there is a bigger sense of urgency to stay alive while you earn enough rupees to purchase the rent weapons so that you can retain them even after getting killed and upgrade them. Yes, you can upgrade all your tools in Link Between Worlds primarily to make your life easier in boss fights if they become too difficult for you.

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Stick to the walls, bub.

The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds also features a new art direction for all the characters. Personally I don’t like it that much but it is certainly pleasing to the eye and the 3D display for once (in a blue moon) is actually utilized in a way for you to solve puzzles easily. While it seems like you are playing on a 2D field, you need to think three-dimensional to get the job done.

Good Points:

  • There are a lot of secrets to discover and challenges to overcome in order to achieve full content completion.
  • A Link Between Worlds has the best 3D visuals to-date. If your eyes can take the strain of 3D display, go for it, it’s worth the effort.
  • This is the first game in a long time I felt compelled to play a game continuously every chance I got. The game’s pace proceeds so well that you just want to continue your adventure and see things to the end.

Bad Points:

  • The game is rather short. It will take you roughly 20-30 hours to complete the adventure if you don’t go with any guides. The game is absurdly easy to finish if you consult a guide (why play a game in the first place if you do consult a guide for your first play-through).

X-Factors:

  • If you find even Hero mode too easy, you can always intentionally “gimp” your character by avoiding optional upgrades for your weapon, armor, hearts, and empty bottles. It will be hell, you might enjoy it.
  • The StreetPass function of the game gives the latest Legend of Zelda game additional replay value. Although a bit shallow and gear dependent, it’s always fun taunting a friend for having a weak-ass Shadow Link.

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The Guided Fate Paradox can best be described as a game with lots of big words in it. It also happens to be a hybrid Japanese RPG/Roguelike/dungeon-crawler. It is also a game where you need to grind. And a lot of it. Or maybe not so much. Thankfully, the punchline here is that the game happens to be unexpectedly fun.

I’m not a fan of grinding. I have terrible ADD and get bored pretty quickly; I was afraid that might happen while playing The Guided Fate Paradox. Thankfully, NIS America’s latest grindy/Anime-infused game has personality. The atmosphere is bright and colorful, the characters are nicely designed with many memorable lines (and have their own voices too! Something we take for granted in this day and age but still greatly appreciated). To briefly sum up the gameplay, it plays a lot like a strange amalgamation between Disgaea, Diablo and Torchlight.

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The story is very interesting and can get pretty deep and will sometimes make you think. Since I’ve been watching too much Anime lately, I’m afraid that I’ll mix up the character’s names (Ed. Note: this is the flimsiest excuse I’ve ever heard about skipping cutscenes). I’ll give it a shot though: you play a normal, boring guy (clearly intended to be relatable to the player, see: wish-fulfillment) named Renya. One day, this pretty lady in a maid outfit says you won the lottery. The prize? You become God. And now, since you have all these magical deity powers, you have to answer certain peoples’ prayers, like a Cinderella who is questioning her fictional existence in a book, or a bullied zombie kid; all the while trying to save the world from a sharply dressed Satan with some plot twists along the way. It’s like an anime Bruce Almighty with some nice DFCs and villains.

You’ll be seeing a lot of (skippable) dialogue in the game especially when starting but you might be missing a lot of funny, or useful dialogue though. The tutorial is accessible anytime in the menus. The game’s music is catchy and does most situations. The original song is pretty fun to sing along to. You also have the option to listen to original Japanese audio or a pretty good English dub.

Combat can feel repetitive and might make your brain go on auto-pilot. You kill monsters in a random dungeon and loot items then repeat. Know that the game is hard and can be frustrating mainly because you lose all your equipment and half your money if you die. I didn’t know this until it happened (though the game did tell me but I skimmed through it. I think). This isn’t a game that you should play continuously for a long time. Take some breaks and you’ll appreciate it more. There are plenty of weapon and equipment that you can loot and each has their own ability and is upgradeable. Fate paradox is a deep game and you will want to read the tutorial to understand it all. This isn’t a pick up and play game and completing and enjoying the game means you need to understand mostly everything you do.

Controller layout has a learning curve but learning is worth it because it makes navigating much easier. Camera angles can be annoying but you can change the camera angle. It would have been better if at least a silhouette of your characters appear when your view gets blocked. One more issue for me personally is the diagonal layout of the level. Even after putting many hours in the game, it still annoys be mainly because it’s not natural.

The Guided Fate Paradox is a long, sometimes tedious but quite fun and entertaining game. It’s a niche genre but fans will definitely love this game. It might be too deep for new players but the tutorials make it accessible and easier. Can’t say enough good things about the game, so here’s my final recommendation: go buy it.

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“Skins,” protective layers of vinyl for small electronics, are a dime a dozen nowadays. Almost everyone’s jumping on this manufacturing bandwagon, and unfortunately, the production values on most manufacturers’ skins are uniformly awful: applying the skins is an ill-documented, bubble-filled malady; and removing the skins is an even worse experience—good luck not leaving semi-permanent gunk on your gadget on the way out. Moreover, skin manufacturers offer the tackiest designs ever. I mean, really, who wants to cover their devices with terrible fractal designs straight out of Kai’s Power Tools circa 1998?

Skinomi’s Techskin miraculously solves all of the complaints I previously had with similar products. I’ve been getting their transparent skins for pretty much every tech device I own (their product range covers quite a gamut of gadgets), and I recently decided to slap their very tasteful Natural Wood skin on my laptop.

Applying the skin was a breeze. Though it’s a bit unfair to assume that given my zen-like skill at applying screen protectors and whatnot to my devices, I didn’t have to wrestle with surface bubbles post-application: a quick swipe with the end of a credit card took care of everything. And though I initially aligned one of the bigger skin chunks on the sides of the device incorrectly, to my surprise, the skin peeled off fairly easily and I was able to reapply it without much fuss.

I found the vinyl covering on the Natural Wood Skins to be more than satisfactory. As Skinomi’s marketing material suggests, three kinds of film make up the Snake Skins’ vinyl facade. There’s a waterproof top layer, followed by two more layers that prevent residue from building up inside, beneath, and around the skin. I performed a couple of cursory tests on the skins to see if they were indeed up to snuff, and they all performed admirably. Keying the skins produced nary a nick on the transparent top layer, and leaving a fine spray of water on the unit for a couple of hours didn’t cause the skin to peel off or slip away.

I don’t think there’s much more to say about this particular product, other than the fact that these guys are my personal favorite out of the bevy of companies that make similar cling-on skin products. They don’t look tacky, leave any residue, and peel away easily; and really, that’s all you need to know. Skinomi currently supports a growing line of gadgets, and the skins are available at brick-and-mortar stores and online starting at $5.

Spelunky

Developer: Mossmouth, Bill Software

Publisher: Mossmouth

Available for: PS3 (Aug 2013), PS Vita (Aug 2013), Xbox 360 (2012), PC (2009), Steam (2013)

Reviewed: PS3 and PS Vita version

Spelunky is a game that takes you deep into a deep magical cave filled with treasure and wonders. But don’t let that fairytale premise get to you. If you underestimate this gem of a game from developer Mossmouth, this tough and sometimes controller-hurling platformer will bury you alive.

Randomly generated levels are the backbone mechanic of Spelunky. The genius of it is even though they are all random, every component of the levels seem to work together like clockwork. Unfortunately, they are all working together towards the goal of killing you. They will achieve that goal many times. True story: I died 90 times before I even got a glimpse of the next main area.

Dying in the game can’t be more hardcore. Finger twitched on the jump button while traversing some spikes because of that sneaky spider? It’s all over. When you bite the dust, you start from the beginning of the game (unless you unlock a shortcut), all the money you’ve been saving up for items, including the items you already have, go poof! All gone.

The game will not reward you with tangible power-ups or anything of the like. You use the knowledge you gained to help you on your next foray into the caverns. The aforementioned spikes for example, you will soon learn that walking through them is harmless and will take care that your finger does not stray to the jump button or it’s gonna be spelunker-kebab time. It’s essentially learning from your mistakes and observing how things work so your next try will be more successful but you can’t just memorize everything because of the levels are all random. Genius.

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Rescuing a damsel in distress gives you one more life point for the next level.

You always start with four bombs and four ropes. These help you traverse the levels to suit your needs. Bombs are useful to blast a path to a goal — be it an item/treasure or the exit to the level. The rope enables you to get to hard to reach places or avoid falling to your death. Other items or more of your basic items can be found from crates and pots but the more unique items, like gripping gloves that enables you to climb walls, are sold via a shopkeeper who appears randomly within the levels. There are also other trinkets like stones and bones that you can use in a number of ways like triggering a trap or throwing to kill an enemy when your trusty whip can’t do the job (square button).

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The game’s main trapping is the Adventure mode. This can be played single-player or multiplayer co-op. The PS Vita shines with multiplayer because each player have their own screen and can go wherever they want in the level as opposed to having to stay on the same screen when played on a TV or monitor using multiple controllers. I haven’t tried multiplayer yet so I can’t say anything about it in this review.

Purchasing Spelunky on PSN entitles you to both the PS3 and PS Vita versions (Cross-Buy). The two versions are compatible to play together for multiplayer. I forgot to mention that the multiplayer modes in Spelunky are local only. No online for a game like this is a missed opportunity in my opinion but being able to play this on the go on my PS Vita is a really good trade-off for lack of online.

Spelunky has been available for the PC and from the Xbox Live Marketplace for quite some time now but the PSN version, specifically the PS Vita one is the version to get if you have the system. With how the game plays, you would want to play as much of it as possible to get good at it. And believe me, getting good at it feels awesome.

The Good Stuff:

Challenging gameplay — Game will keep you on your toes all the time. Dying is a learning experience.

Awesome risk-reward system — Trying things out and learning how to tackle various situations is very satisfying. You start every do-over with more knowledge to go further.

Randomly generated levels keeps the game fresh everytime — You can’t just memorize the game so you will have to rely on your experience and skill.

Playing it on anywhere on the PS Vita — Spelunky anywhere. Hellz Yeah.

Cross-Buy and Cross-Play — Buying Spelunky on PSN gets you both PS3 and Vita versions and they can play together. Aww…

The Bad Smelly Pit:

No Online Multiplayer — This is a missed opportunity. You would think being a game that has been out for years now (original PC version was released 2009) and has co-op, they would’ve added online for the 2013 versions. But nooooooooo.

No Big Bosses — I’m not sure if this game needs them, but I love fighting big bosses. So yeah. lol

Things That Could Swing Either Way:

High Difficulty — I love challenging games but believe it or not there are people who don’t! OH MY!

In Closing:

Spelunky‘s challenging gameplay is geared towards the classic core gamer. Try it out if you think you are up to the challenge. Countless hours of fun (and dying) awaits you.

IMG_0027Growing up, a lot of us did not have the privilege of being able to buy games every week. For the most part, I only got games on my birthday and during the Holidays, which might explain why I’m a savant at platforming games but couldn’t cut it in these newfangled vidya experiences.

I still vividly remember receiving Ducktales for my 6th birthday: my “cool” aunt that liked videogames just kind of handed it to me; a stubby purple cart that didn’t quite look like the rest of my monolithic NES cartridges. Looking back at the happy, long-necked yellow goose (which in no way resembled the Scrooge McDuck I’ve been watching on TV) flashing a grin in my general direction as well as its lack of supporting copyright documentation, even at the time it was fairly easy to deduce that this game was a counterfeit. After my initial look of apprehension, I piggy-backed it on my Honey Bee adapter and popped the game into my NES. It was  magical.

Let’s fast-forward some years later: Capcom inexplicably brings out Ducktales Remastered by way of the ever-loving purveyors of all things retro, Wayforward. Kind of an odd choice, really—no Ducktales-related media was released (or reissued) recently to my knowledge, so the timing of this redux is a little suspect. Heck, I’m not complaining; Alan Young (Scrooge) is 96 years old, so if Disney isn’t doing anything with the license soon this may very well be the man’s final gig before he kicks the bucket. Nice to hear ol’ Unca Scrooge for one last time, at least.

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Cel-Shoddy

I really cringe when I chance upon this cliche on any article that I read, but the graphics really are a mixed bag. I understand that meticulously drawing up backgrounds in 2D is a prohibitively expensive venture, but the difference between the low-poly backgrounds and the very well-animated character sprites (can you really call them sprites if they’re vectors, though? This is an important question) is really jarring and oftentimes distracting. Between foreground and background elements, the shading and lighting isn’t even consistent, so what ends up on screen appears amateurish at times.

Still, the amount of love put into the character design more than makes up for this somewhat-annoying distraction. Every character—from Scrooge himself down to the lowliest bats of the African mines—has been meticulously redrawn to look like close approximations of what Disney would draw for their Saturday morning cartoon block. Embarrassingly enough, the one thing a lot of these “HD remasters” miss from the original NES titles they’re supposed to be supplanting is all the “character” behind the sprites: it’s funny when a 16x16px blob of colors can portray more than a meticulously-drawn vector or a well-formed set of polygons. Thankfully Ducktales Remastered avoids that pitfall: every illustration is drawn and animated well; simply top-notch stuff.

I’ve read a lot of people get all uppity about how Wayforward “butchered” the soundtrack, but since I’m not some mealy-mouthed punk that heard the Moon theme the first time on YouTube, I’d say that virt did a bang-up job and found a great balance in modernizing Capcom’s score.

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One Step Backward

The best remakes often take solid ideas and designs from the original source material and seamlessly add new extensions to it. Bionic Commando: Rearmed was a fantastic remake in the sense that you couldn’t even tell which areas Grin (may they rest in peace) added in; the extended areas kept the same old-school sensibilities in its level design. Ducktales Remastered fails in this regard, as its new areas seem dry and functionless in comparison to the original’s streamlined-yet-expansive layouts. Wasn’t quite a fan of the forced backtracking Wayforward tacked on to the stages: the beauty of Capcom’s original Ducktales was that you could blitz through a level using one path and take another once you revisit the stage, so forcing you to go back and revisit these forks in the road doesn’t really jive with me.

Some of the changes are appreciated, however; cordoning-off or completely changing paths I’ve been used to certainly made for a fresher experience, speaking as someone who’s played the original to death. Additionally, Wayforward spiced up the dull boss battles from the original game by making them setpiece battles with a central mechanic/pattern. This is a welcome change from how the original bosses just kind of flew or moved around the screen, stopping every now and then to set up an attack or leave themselves open for a free hit.

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One addition that I really loathe is Wayforward’s needless addition of exposition and story scenes. Apart from giving nostalgialings a chubby from hearing the cartoon’s original cast all over again, I cannot fathom why they wasted their time on making so many drawn-out, soul-sucking cutscenes in between levels. An in-between cutscene here and there wouldn’t have been bad, but the mere fact that almost everything you do merits a nigh-unskippable cutscene and the fact that they hid the “skip” button in the pause menu is an abomination.

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Do Not Fall (Run For Your Drink) is a platforming/puzzle game where you play as a Bunny who is trying to make healthy drinks like pineapple juice or water. Actually, I’m not so sure with the story either but that’s not really important. The goal of the game is to finish each level and reach the goal using platform jumping and dashing, puzzle solving, and unlocking doors by gathering the scattered keys in each level. Sounds easy but almost each tile that you step on breaks apart in roughly 1.5 seconds. Not to mention the various obstacles and annoyances (I don’t consider them enemies) that you have to evade or allow to fall to their deaths. There are also challenges in each level with certain conditions that can make the gameplay much more challenging.

You may have low expectations when you first look at the game (I know I certainly did) but when you get into the game, you’ll slowly realize that you’ve been playing it much longer than you scheduled yourself to. The game presents you with three modes: single-player, multiplayer and online. two Difficulty levels with Normal (two lives) and Hard (one life and things move around faster just a teeny tiny bit).

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Visually, the game looks good. Even with the bright and colorful graphics, you can still have a sense of depth from the background and the game’s main area. You’ll also be able to tell the depth of certain tiles if they are higher or lower (or maybe not if you’re panicking about the time limit). Character design looks plain and dated but that’s not really a problem for most people. There are some nice CG movies about the drinks but I don’t know why it’s there.

The game’s background music isn’t memorable but it isn’t annoying either. I can describe it as happy and relaxing but you might forget about it while playing the game itself. There’s no voice acting in the game aside from the standard dying scream and some “YEAH I’LL WIN!” words from the main characters. Sound effects like when your dash ability has returned are great and can be helpful to finish the levels.

The gameplay itself is actually pretty fun and frustrating at the same time, which is a good thing. The first levels are cake and may turn people off but as you progress, the game becomes more challenging with bigger levels of multiple depth and harder obstacles. There will be a lot of trial and error and a lot of deaths along the way which will piss you off and make you want to finish the game some more. I played the game mostly on normal mode because I wanted to enjoy the game more. Hard mode is pretty fun for people who want a challenge as the game becomes a little bit faster and checkpoints are gone. Each stage also has a challenge such as not getting hit by sheep, or collecting a certain amount of screws.

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Replayability is average because I feel that the game doesn’t have enough appeal for most people to continue playing it after they complete the game. Aside from the grading system of F to S, completing the challenges and bonus stages, I don’t think I would crave playing it for a long time. Multiplayer mode can be fun with real human beings but I wasn’t able to fully take advantage of it because I am a basement dweller and I only played with the very simple minded AI. There are 6 multiplayer modes that are based on Soccer, King of the Hill, Capture the Flag and others. There are also worldwide scores for competitive people and an online mode that may or may not have a community (currently).

For $10 on the PlayStation Network, this game is pretty fun and well worth the money especially if you want a nice happy fun game that can relax and slowly enrage and raise your competitive spirit. My main negative for the game comes from the fact that you can’t change the controller layout or even use the D-pad which would be great for this game.

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.

Pool (or more popularly known here in the Philippines as Billiards) is a game of skill and concentration. You can’t really become an Efren “Bata” Reyes overnight, and the investment of time and money for equipment and practice make most people shy away from even trying out the sport. That and the lung cancer you get from frequenting the cigarette smoke-filled billiard halls.

But Pool is fun. Even non-players get drawn to the sound of the ivory balls striking each other. The satisfaction of seeing a called shot doing exactly what you want it to. Developer Cherry Pop Games gives us Pool Nation. And for $8.49 you get to avoid the hassles associated in learning to play the sport, but still retain the fun.

Sure, there’s already Hustle Kings for the PS3 and I know it’s a pretty decent billiards game. So what makes Pool Nation different?

The game is at its core, a pretty standard video game version of Pool. But once you delve into the tutorial, you will realize Pool Nation is not just your standard line-up, shoot, an pocket kind of deal but instead use more complicated and realistic ball physics. More emphasis is given to trick shots and skill shots and the excellent tutorial does a very good job of teaching you to pull amazing shots that will have you feeling like a badass Pool Shark.

Single player modes are tournament-based. You have your 8-ball and 9-ball tourneys, with a unique bonus round in each tournament phase. Pretty straightforward.Whereas Hustle Kings has its story mode where you play as a pool player searching for fame and fortune, Pool Nation ismore of a real Pool simulator focusing on realistic physics and gameplay mechanics.

There is also a local versus and an online option which I haven’t tried yet. Endurance Mode was the thing that got me hooked, though. In this time-based mode, you need to continuously sink balls to fill a meter that is constantly being depleted. Get style and combo points to get the meter filled quicker. Once it drops to zero then it’s game over.

I was expecting a bland experience but I played a couple of hours last night and was surprised that I ended up liking the game.

Ok, let’s do the breakdown.

The Good Stuff: poolnation balls

Graphics — This is the best looking pool game on a console I’ve seen. The shine and reflections on the balls and the finish on the table are perfectly rendered. When you make an awesome shot, the camera goes into bullet mode and you will see every detail of the shot; from the particles of chalk exploding from the cue ball to the subtle warping of the cushion when the ball banks.

Very helpful tutorial — In a game that is so technical and one that rewards you for playing technically, you will really need to know what you are doing. Thankfully, the supplied tutorials in this game are clear and precise. It tells you step by step how to do a particular shot and it is very satisfying when you eventually master the moves yourself.

Realistic Physics — A sliver of difference in how you make the shot will affect the ball physics accordingly. Shoot a bit too hard and the balls can even go out-of-bounds off the table and crash to the floor (with a realistic sound that will make you cringe like the real thing). But it doesn’t end with the ball and cue stick — the cushions and even the wood of the table reacts to the shot with amazing detail.

Pulling off trick shots and skill shots is extremely satisfying — I’ve learned a trick where you jump the cue ball to the wood part of the table above the cushion and spin it back to the table to your target. It’s kinda like Sonic the Hedgehog lol. I felt like a badass when I nailed it. The accessibility of these pro techniques is the main draw for me. Shot creativity is the key to advancing through the tourneys.

No clunky menus and loading screens — Menus are fast with no unnecessary things going on. When playing a game like this, being able to restart instantly is something I appreciate. Thankfully this game lets you do exactly that.

The Bad Stuff:

AI opponents — They cheat! One moment you are owning them but when you are about to win and the make a mistake, the AI swoops in and become Efren fucking Reyes. It’s like the rubberbanding AI in Mario Kart. I hate it.

Playing against a friend is really fun, though.

Hard to get online matches — I’m not sure if everyone who has the game was sleeping when I tried to get an online opponent or no one actually has the game except me but I will try again later tonight.

The game could use a bit of personality — Interface is minimalistic and direct to the point. I know the developer meant it to be this way but I think it could use a little bit of shine and flash.

Things That Could Swing Either Way:

More of a Sim, Less Arcadey — I like how it’s a realistic Pool game which was the original intention, but some people used to pool games like Hustle Kings and Inferno Pool might feel it’s kinda boring.

If you are a fan of Pool/Billiards and like the strategy and tecnical aspect of it, then this is worth every cent because quite frankly, this is the best video game Pool sim out there.

In Closing:

If you are a fan of Pool/Billiards and like the strategy and technical aspect of it, then this is worth every cent because quite frankly, this is the best pool/billiards sim out there.

If you are looking for a party game, then look elsewhere.

 

Pool Nation is available via digital download from the PlayStation Network for the PlayStation 3 and XBOX Live Marketplace for the XBOX 360. It is priced $8.49 (or whatever the equivalent Microsoft Points lol)

Big thanks to Cherry Pop Games for providing us with a review code of their game!

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Animal Crossing: New Leaf still has more than a week before official release but my favorite Youtube reviewers went to the future to get a copy and made a review.

Watch the video in case you are wondering if it’s going to be a good investment for you and/or you want to laugh at stupid jokes. You can count on these guys and their robot tummies.

Quote from the review:

“You will also want to commit robot suicide when your favorite walrus character leaves town because you forgot his birthday or maybe clubbed his son to death.”

Animal Crossing: New Leaf sprouts for the 3DS on June 9th.

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“The monsters are big. Bigger than big. We’re talking even bigger than the gigantic black woman we saw at a strip-club once eating butter out of a bucket”.

These guys are hilarious! But not only are they funny as tits, they really do know what they are talking about here. As a Monster Hunter fan I totally agree with them on their review.  They also have an awesomely funny review of the Old Testament Bible in their channel. Yes, the Bible.

Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate will be out in less than 2 weeks time (March 19th).

Source: Youtube