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Found 72 results

  1. Developer: Imageepoch Publisher: NIS America Platform: PSP/Vita Release Date: April 23, 2013 ESRB: T for Teen A download code was supplied by the publisher for this review As an aficionado of odd Japanese game titles, I have often been able to keenly guess at which games are likely to never see an overseas release. A simple glance at something like Black Rock Shooter: The Game on the seemingly forgotten PSP platform definitely seems like an easy example in this regard. One of several varying adaptations of the Black Rock Shooter franchise in Japan, from anime, manga, and in this example, videogames, it's a series that kicked-off in Japan based on concept art from a Hatsune Miku (very popular vocaloid software in Japan) rendition of the popular Japanese song: Black Rock Shooter. Chances are, if you aren't knee-deep in Japanese anime media then that made absolutely no sense to you, further proving my point. However, despite an unsteady release timeframe, NIS America has finally brought over this obscure PSP title for an overseas audience. Does Black Rock Shooter: The Game shine brightly or is it a faint blue ember? In the year 2032, mankind faces the brink of annihilation after a continuously losing battle with a mysterious alien invasion. The twelve remaining humans make a last stand and forcefully awaken a female humanoid weapon by the name of Black Rock Shooter to fight at their side. It is up to the young girl (her name shortened to BRS), to more or less single-handedly push back to alien invasion and keep humanity alive. Despite what sounds like a somewhat generic apocalyptic premise, the narrative is actually a little bit more interesting than it leads on to be early in. Storytelling gets surprisingly dark and there is some intrigue hidden as it progresses. Still, the delivery isn't particularly good, and certainly has some pacing issues like the main game. The main game is straightforward and broken up between various stages with separate missions to complete. Usually it has BRS go from point A to B while killing monsters in between, with the exception of the occasional motorcycle mission. This makes BRS feel mostly familiar from start to finish with very few exceptions, for better or worse. Combat is probably one of the game's strongest points. It is a pseudo real-time action RPG which has the player attack, dodge, and block based on enemy attack patterns. Timing is pretty crucial for evading attacks in particular and I would maybe draw a comparison to something like Punch-Out!!, but with a bit more depth. It takes some time to show its colors but as BRS acquires more abilities to play with as she levels-up it can have an engaging flow. At its best, some of the game's bosses show off some pretty varied tactics and combat skills. But at its worst, the frequency of normal encounters don't hesitate to recycle enemy types, and aren't nearly as varied. Outside of the main story missions, there are other missions to play through. 'Free missions' allow players to obtain unlockables like art, music, and the ability to rewatch in-game cutscenes while serving as an alternate means to level-up. Upon completing the game the 1st time, it also unlocks even more missions. These new missions can help progress towards an alternate ending as well as allowing much more challenging missions. Black Rock Shooter's main campaign isn't particularly long, and can take less than 10 hours to complete, but players can probably be held over by trying to gather optional content for a fair bit longer. Visual presentation of BRS is pretty unimpressive and I don't think it would be too far off to compare it to stuff I've seen back on the PS1. While the 3D character models aren't exactly terrible, animations arguable, some of the environments kind of are, with some of the worst examples appearing later on in the game. In terms of audio, BRS actually has some solid musical tracks with some catchy techno battle themes in particular. In terms of voice acting there is only the Japanese dub to work with, which is understandable. Despite having some Japanese VA's I like, none of them really seem to stand out, which probably goes hand in hand with how the story is paced. Unlike the unkind words I would use to describe different BRS's independent adaptations, like the anime, I didn't regret my time with Black Rock Shooter:The Game. Aside from certain character's disregard of clothing (BRS), it doesn't really offend and does some interesting stuff as a game. Storytelling plays somewhat intriguing but underutilized themes and the combat does have its fun highlights. Honestly, with better pacing and variety for both combat and storytelling, I think the experience could've easily been more noteworthy. Still, because of a very much samey feel throughout, I can't really think of too many reasons to recommend Black Rock Shooter: The Game to many others who didn't already have their fiery gaze upon this title Pros: + Unique real-time battle system that shines in certain boss fights + Various unlockables and extra content + Some solid musical tracks Cons: - Lackluster presentation, especially for environments - Standard battles and enemies will quickly become routine - Relatively short main game overall, lasting under 10hrs - Black Rock Shooter really should dress more conservatively... Overall Score: 6.0 (out of 10) Decent ImageEpoch created a solid template with the Black Shooter Licence, but in terms of actual execution it doesn't make for a very memorable action-rpg to recommend by itself.
  2. The upcoming Time and Eternity from NIS America is looking to be an intriguing RPG with hand-drawn and animated 2D sprites to emulate the look of an anime. If it hasn't interested you already, then maybe this recently announced limited edition for Time and Eternity will convince you to buy it. Here's what comes with the limited edition: Full-color hardcover art book Time and Eternity original soundtrack with jewel case "Double Vision" tear-resistant poster Gorgeous limited edition box to hold all these goodies You can buy the Time and Eternity Limited Edition for a mere $65 with free shipping from NIS America's online store. That's a steal considering PS3 games normally cost $60 anyway! Time and Eternity releases for PS3 on July 16th.
  3. Marcus Estrada

    Indie Publisher Acttil Established

    With the growing popularity of independent games there are more companies attempting to aid in their distribution. One such company is Acttil which has just been announced as a group comprised of former NIS America staff. Their site went live as well as a press release which details the basic idea behind this new venture. First, let's discuss the odd name. Acttil stands for acceptance, creativity, teamwork, trust, innovation, and love. Their founding statement is as follows: "Acttil is a new, independent game and digital contents publisher, established in Los Angeles, CA. Founded by former NIS America members Jack Niida, Hiroko Kanazashi, and Nao Miyazawa, acttil will focus on bringing fun, creative games and digital contents such as eBooks from around the world that will target PC, consoles, web, and mobile platforms. Acttil will deliver products and services that are adventurous and unique, sure to make everyone smile." As a publisher, they are looking toward any and all interesting projects that they can help succeed. To this end, they will help prospective developers with PR, marketing analytics, and even translate titles if necessary. Hopefully Acttil will be of use to indie developers who are otherwise unable to get their games out to a large audience.
  4. Marcus Estrada

    Review: Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory

    Developer: Compile Heart, Idea Factory Publisher: NIS America Platform: PS3 Release Date: March 21, 2013 ESRB: T for Teen A review copy was provided by the publisher for this review Although the cover of the game makes it appear as if this is the fifth (“V”) game in the series, Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory is but the third in a line of PS3-exclusive JRPGs. First came Hyperdimension Neptunia in 2010, which was continued a year later under the name Hyperdimension Neptunia mk2. Despite this being the third game in a series, it isn“t required to play any of the others first. Still, is it a game worthy getting in on now or should it be ignored? The answer to this question depends completely on the kind of games you wish to spend your time with. RPG fans tend to track down more obscure titles and it“s fair to say that the Neptunia series is one of them. As these gamers are probably aware, many titles lack the polish of more popular ones. Still, if there are good mechanics to be found, then they“re worth playing. Other times, truly intriguing stories are available only by reaching for less known games. Victory is definitely a game with low production values. This is readily apparent by simply running the introductory cutscene of the game. It begins with characters engaging in an apparently important battle. As one character is attacked repeatedly, the same pained voice clip plays each and every time. Although other battles in game show a bit more variety, it“s an incredibly simple way to showcase that the game isn“t fussed with trying to be something it“s not. Basically, do not waltz into any Neptunia game expecting Final Fantasy levels of polish. When viewing it from this perspective, Victory seems to be a pretty decent game. You begin by simply seeing a lot of exposition about the world of Gamindustri and the characters that inhabit it. This should get new players accustomed to the world without ever having to have played the previous titles. From there, Neptune is magically transported back in time - to the 80s. She must meet characters over again in this alternate past, which again acclimates new players, as well as gives the series narrative a new twist. One reason that Victory, or the series in general, is worth a look is due to the world. Instead of simply being in a medieval, fantasy past or some some space age future, it takes place in a modern/current age fueled by video games. Each of the main characters is herself a personification of a video game home and handheld systems, called CPUs and CPU Candidates respectively. PlayStation, Microsoft, Nintendo, and even Sega are represented. Fans of gaming will definitely appreciate jokes made between the characters that reference the history of these consoles. Unfortunately, some characterizations don“t seem to make much sense, such as Nintendo“s propensity toward being a potty mouth. At this point both new and old players alike must wade through a fair lot of tutorial screens. Thankfully (or not, depending on your JRPG skill level) these are shown only as still information screens. Most of the game“s complexities are described in simple terms and can be referred back to at any time. Some systems though are left up to players to experiment with to understand fully. Most of the important game elements, such as battles, are easy enough to grasp even with ignoring in-game tutorials. Battles are taken care of in a turn-based fashion but where you control each character directly on the field. During fights, an enclosed area appears which players move their characters around on. Movement is freeform, although you can“t necessarily move one character tremendously far away in one turn. This element attempts to bring strategy into battles, although often ends up playing out in the same way when you“re only grinding. Some simple strategy examples are keeping characters spaced so they can“t be hit by a wide attack, or positioning a healer in a safe spot. It“s not that deep. Although your party begins small, players soon acquire a team of up to four characters. Each have their own talents, and in particular, special ultra-powerful moves. One way in which battles attempt to be more complex is that each character has a meter (after it is unlocked). These meters are charged through fighting and once at a certain amount, allow them to take more attacks and make use of a finishing move of sorts. While using extra attacks doesn“t drain the meter, using the special attack sure does. Of course, these moves are such powerhouses that it sometimes becomes less fun to use them even when they“re charged. Playing through the first few hours of the game is quite easy. It almost leads the player to believe that this may be a rare example of a JRPG that doesn“t require much grinding. Basically, as long as you“re doing what“s required of you quest-wise, everything seems to work out. Of course, this changes the further in you get. Before the halfway point, players will have come across one hit (or close to it) kill creatures which make things quite troublesome. There are even special higher level enemies, but at least they won“t try to attack you. This is possible because players initiate battles through running toward enemies wandering about levels, instead of randomly. After a while, you“re going to have to grind to survive. Grinding proves the battle system to be a bit more trouble than it“s worth. Despite the bit of fun it does provide, it in no way speeds up the process of grinding. Instead of just hitting a menu in a pattern for each battle, you have to of course move each character into positions for each one, and then commence attacking. The result isn“t hugely damaging, but does make things longer than they have to be. Also, if you intend to get rewarded for playing well, you“ll have to spend a lot of time battling. Victory isn“t all about the battles, though. In fact, players might be surprised by how much of the game is filled with story as opposed to fighting. As new places to explore open up, so too do new “events”. These events typically trigger a fairly long round of exposition continuing the story along. Sometimes they are silly, other times they are important plot elements. Regardless, there are a heaping bunch of them. Usually these scenes are depicted with still images of characters. On occasion they are voiced, but most aren“t. This is another way which the budget nature of the game“s development is made apparent. Although I am unaware as to how the original game story progressed, there was a lot of work put in by NIS America to localize it successfully. For the most part, they have done a commendable job. Characters have distinct personalities and say some seriously funny stuff. However, there are points where characters step over the line of what would be expected in a game rated T. Mainly, there are very obvious references to rape and sexual sadism. While these are not inherently things which games cannot discuss, they aren“t handled with much tact here. This sort of humor is probably not set to phase devoted anime fans, but it certainly bothered me. Similarly, character designs may also be offputting to non-anime fans. The majority of characters in the game are female and depicted in revealing attire. Thankfully, most of the young-looking characters are dressed in cute, but “normal” clothes. It“s when they transform into older-looking versions that their bodies are more obviously put on display. Those who have a distaste for sexualized characters should definitely stay away, but it“s likely that the box art itself works as an excellent deterrent. As far as anyone is concerned, Victory is a playable game even with its budget status. However, those who played mk2 will recognize that assets were directly lifted from that game and placed here. Many enemies are the same as well as certain songs on the soundtrack. This means visuals were not upgraded from previous versions and still are mechanically the same. The graphics weren“t special in 2010, so you can imagine how underwhelming they look now, even in their anime style. What has been added here is the new story. Because of this, newbies to the series should probably stick with the latest game though instead of going back. If you“re willing to play an ultimately average JRPG, then Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory is as good a choice as any. Thanks to its humorous take on the video game industry, it manages to be far more interesting than some of its contemporaries. The experience is only marred by standard play, average graphics, and some questionable localization choices. Regardless, there are worse games on the market and Victory deserves some attention for its tongue in cheek depiction of gaming. Pros: + Amusing take on video game console wars + Variety of character-specific moves + Good deal of extra content Cons: - Real-time battle mechanics cause battles to drag on - Graphics do the game no favors - Sometimes questionable localization decisions Overall Score: 6 (out of 10) Decent Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory is primarily an average game but is definitely set to appeal to certain audiences.
  5. Marcus Estrada

    Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory Screenshot 5

    From the album: Review Images

  6. Marcus Estrada

    Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory Screenshot 4

    From the album: Review Images

  7. Marcus Estrada

    Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory Screenshot 3

    From the album: Review Images

  8. Marcus Estrada

    Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory Screenshot 2

    From the album: Review Images

  9. Marcus Estrada

    Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory Screenshot 1

    From the album: Review Images

  10. The media empire that is Black Rock Shooter is set to continue its venture West with release of Black Rock Shooter: The Game very soon. The anime and manga-based title was known to be on NIS America's publishing table, but they kept information of a release date quiet. Those who have the game on their radar have only a little while left to wait. Black Rock Shooter: The Game is coming on April 23rd for North America (and 24th for Europe). The release is entirely digital, which apparently also won't be accessible by certain regions such as Canada or Mexico. However, US residents should all be able to grab it regardless of state of residence. Will the game run on Vita? Unfortunately NIS America did not have this information. While companies probably all desire to have their game on Vita and PSP, things don't always work out that way. For example, recall that Atlus was under the impression Persona 2 would run on both portables only to discover it was not the case at launch. http://youtu.be/GhMtEk3FIcA
  11. Marcus Estrada

    Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory Sees Slight Delay

    If you were amping yourself up for the March 12th release of the latest Hyperdimension Neptunia game then this news will unfortunately cease such celebrations. Publisher NIS America has announced that the game is going to see a slight delay. Thankfully, the game is not being pushed months away or even canceled for US release. The delay sets Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory back nine days so that it will now be out on March 21st for North Americans. Residents of the United Kingdom will see the date pushed back to the 22nd. However, the rest of Europe can still grab the game on the 15th. No explanation was given for the small delay so hopefully it doesn't spoil anyone's weekend. In the meantime, it may or may not be worth it to check out the Hyperdimension Neptunia iPhone app. The app is a free download but gaining access to full versions of characters and extra outfits costs money.
  12. NIS America announced earlier this year that the next installment of the Hyperdimension Neptunia series will land on North American shores during the Spring of 2013, but the company has now pinned the game with an official release date. Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory aims to hit retail shelves on March 12. Victory returns with a familiar cast, who must embark on a journey to defeat a group dubbed the “Seven Sages” after being whisked away to a dimension with a 1980s vibe. Not enough Neptunia? No problem. The publisher also announced that a Hyperdimension Neptunia iOS app will also be made available worldwide, allowing fans to partake in a variety of activities like taking pictures with two of the main characters or awake to character voices. The first trailer is now available on the official Neptunia website.
  13. Marcus Estrada

    Review: Legasista

    Developer: System Prisma Publisher: NIS America Platform: PS3 (PSN) ESRB: T for Teen Release Date: Out Now Have you ever played ClaDun or ClaDun X2? If so, then you will probably be able to jump into Legasista with little to no problems. If, however, you are one of the many more gamers out there who have never tried either game, then your experience will be quite different. Well, what exactly is Legasista? It's a retro-styled top down dungeon crawler with an entertaining little story. What tends to make it stand out is the massive amount of loot that can be collected as well as the fact that you can draw your own sprite characters to push into your party. Is such a game worth investing in or is it just a cute but dull adventure? Well, let's take a look at the story first as that's where RPGs tend to distinguish themselves most. You're plopped down into the shoes of a young man named Alto. His sister has been turned into a crystal due to some magical curse and apparently there is a solution. His hope is to find an infamous ancient weapon, which can cure her, but unfortunately it has to be buried deeply within dangerous dungeons. Quickly, Alto finds help and one of those ancient devices, named Melize, (who seem much more human than machine) but before he can strike a deal with her, she loses her memory. From then on you're forced to explore tons of dungeons in hopes of finding chips to retrain Melize. If you're thinking the story is a bit goofy then you'd be right. The writers were clearly aware of this fact and brought a lot of humor into the script. Although things aren't typically a riot, there are some amusing setups and the characters are all likeable - protagonists and antagonists alike. One other plus of the story is that it tends to switch it up every so often so that it's not as simple as it was initially presented. The narrative isn't so strong that you feel the need to see it all in an evening, but it's not shabby either. When it comes right down to it though, it doesn't matter how good or bad a story is if the gameplay isn't up to par. Thankfully, the gameplay is extremely well done, although it may be too detailed. When venturing through dungeons you will come across a wide variety of enemies, each with their own walking and attack patterns. Being able to predict how they move is important and will aid you well in expeditions. Characters can be equipped with short range weapons such as swords and spears or long range ones such as bows. Spells are also a part of your repertoire, and can be used regardless of which party member is equipped at the time. "Equipped"? Instead of having your party all out at once there will only be one character. You control this one character directly as you traverse dungeons. Switching characters can be done at any time though and is actually strategically useful. There are only three party members that can be brought into levels at a time, but they each possess their own sets of equipment, magic, skills, and health bars. Although each story character comes pre-set with their own specific "job" title this can easily be altered to suit your play style. Beyond this, you can of course create your own teammates but we'll get to that later. Playing itself is fairly simple as it feels mostly like any top-down action game. Various environments affect your progression, such as how a sandy level will make your characters walk slower. Beyond that though there are also many traps laid out through the levels. These traps include spikes, bombs, and health. While you'll happily wander over health traps, it is important to be aware of negative traps around. They can hurt your team, but also enemies, so it's wise to familiarize yourself with them so you can spring them on opponents. Unfortunately, the same is true of healing traps so try not to wander over those with an enemy close behind. Sprinting and jumping will help you get around certain issues, but often playing too recklessly will leave your party losing. Each dungeon visit will typically have you leaving with a fair bit of loot. There's only one main penalty to dying in Legasista, and that's the fact that loot found in your deadly dungeon visit will be taken back. If you don't die though then you can always manage to return to the hub world with some shiny new items. Items are pretty much random and include everything you might ever need in the game. That's because the only way to get items is through dungeons. There are no friendly shopkeepers to provide you with wares. Certain items, such as keys and health, will only be available while in your current dungeon as well. That's because they aren't useful outside of a dungeon, and in the case of health, it fills back up once warped back to safety. Where the real confusion sets in is not with the gameplay itself but when back in the hub world. There is an intense amount of customization to be had in regards to what class you want your characters to be, what skills they should have, and what items they can and would do best to have equipped. It definitely takes a while to get accustomed to the menus within menus to know just what everything does. At least you don't have to dig deep into each thing if you don't want to, as character defaults work well. The only thing you'll really need to do is be sure to equip new items to characters every so often. Unfortunately that is when another problem arises. All that loot you get in dungeons just sits around in the item screens until you specifically say to drop it. This creates some very long lists otherwise which is a bit cumbersome to wade though. Thankfully there is an auto-equip button which will select the best item of the bunch when you're feeling lazy. For some the loads of customization may overwhelm but for others it will be a great added layer of depth. One feature that both groups should enjoy though is the creation and customization of characters. You can start up with a preset pixel person and then draw all over it, or start from scratch to create your masterpiece. Drawing characters, weapons, and simple animations on the PS3 isn't ideal though, which is why there is a feature to import and export PNG files between the PS3 and PC. This way you can draw on the computer and then bring it right back into the game for your newest party member. There are also PNGs floating around of other people's characters in case you don't want to do all the hard work to have a really cool party member. It's hard to fault Legasista for content, as it's bursting with it. There are also a multitude of dungeons to explore that aren't simply part of the story. It's possible to send out little adventurous bean sprouts to find new dungeons (or music tracks) for you. These are not as numerous, but provide extra chances to discover new loot and work on your characters. Beyond that, there are the random dungeons, named Ran-Geons, which are 100 levels of dungeon-crawling madness. They range in difficulty from easy to hard and will take a long time to clear, even on easy. Depending on the portals you head through, you will either make them harder or easier and overall it's a great way to improve your party in a randomly-generated level as opposed to the preset sections for story mode. One strange thing about the game is how quick everything is. Although each story dungeon has multiple levels, each level itself doesn't tend to take long to play through at all. Except on tricky dungeons, you can expect to take only a handful of minutes to clear most. This was something that was a huge plus for the portable ClaDun games but not so much here. Because each segment is so short and bite-sized it often feels like you've done enough after only clearing a handful. It's quite odd to feel fulfilled with a game after maybe only a half hour gameplay session in comparison to many other home console games. For those who don't have loads of time to spend on the couch though, this will probably be a big plus. A problem with all this adventuring is that some dungeons are just too difficult when you first encounter them. It's weird to have easy progression between multiple, then suddenly find yourself dying nearly immediately in the next. It would have been much better to have a smooth progression in difficulty instead of spikes throughout the journey. Grinding is certainly an expected part of many games but if that were the case then it seems the whole game just should have been a bit harder to make that an apparent part of the game. Instead, it leaves you with a lot of easy levels and then ones which are out of your reach until leveling up some more until finally ramping up difficulty across the board late in your journey. Visually, the game is definitely nice to look at. The world is simple, but pleasantly colored although it doesn't seem like a game that had to be on PS3. It definitely looks crisper then the much blockier pixel world of the ClaDun games. You can still create big, blocky characters if you want but otherwise the world looks more refined than a real retro RPG. Character designs are rather hit and miss, with certain characters looking like they could fit into any RPG world. Voice acting is only available in Japanese but this is probably a plus for most gamers interested in it. When it comes to music, Legasista is excellent. The soundtrack is wonderful and full of tracks that cover all sets of moods. This isn't a game with an orchestral score or anything but what it does have is a lot of character. Each track is fun to listen to and tends to get stuck in your head. This is a definite plus if you're trudging through an especially large or difficult level and will be forced to hear the same song looping a bit. In case you don't like certain songs you can also turn them off or even select your favorite for the hub or character customization screen. As far as PSN releases go, this is definitely one of the biggest games available. Legasista excels at giving players incredible control over exactly how they want their party to function and look. Although some may balk at the digital-only release, it manages to hand out tons of content over story and randomized dungeons. Overall it's a pretty polished experience save for a few difficulty spikes and weirdly terse nature. If you've been looking for a solid PSN investment then choosing this is a sound investment. Pros: + Loads of depth to equipping characters + Character customization is a lot of fun + Great music to get you pumped for slaying tons of enemies Cons: - Character designs don't scream originality for the most part - Game feels like something to only play in short bursts Overall Score: 7.5 (Out of 10) Good Legasista is both simplistic and complex which makes it a surprisingly enthralling dungeon crawler that gamers should try out.
  14. Marcus Estrada

    Legasista Job Menu

    From the album: Review Images

  15. Marcus Estrada

    Legasista Dungeon Screenshot 2

    From the album: Review Images

  16. Marcus Estrada

    Legasista Character Customization Screen

    From the album: Review Images

  17. Marcus Estrada

    Legasista Dungeon Screenshot 1

    From the album: Review Images

  18. Marcus Estrada

    Legasista Story Screenshot

    From the album: Review Images

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