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  1. Plenty of cheap and free stuff for us Vita owners... THERE ARE DOZENS OF US! Sony is throwing in a Toro and Friends PS Vita theme for free from 2/26 – 3/2. There is also a free Gold Coin Pack for the free-to-play strategic Fat Princess: Piece of Cake. The pack contains eight coins and normally retails for $0.99. Finally, you will receive Himiko, a Spirit from Japanese myth and folklore, in the game Destiny of Spirits. The tutorial will need be completed between February 24th and 25th to get the gift as it will be delivered to your in-game mailbox. You can also follow @HeyPlayStation on Twitter for a chance to win Vita games and a Borderlands 2 Vita bundle at the end of the week. The sale items are listed below. Product Name| Platform| Plus Price| Sale Price| Original Price Angry Birds: Star Wars PS Vita $ 9.60 $ 14.80 $ 39.99 Atelier Meruru Plus PS Vita $ 15.99 $ 23.99 $ 39.99 Atelier Rorona Plus PS Vita $ 15.99 $ 23.99 $ 39.99 Atelier Totori Plus PS Vita $ 15.99 $ 23.99 $ 39.99 BEN 10 GALACTIC RACING PS Vita $ 3.00 $ 5.00 $ 9.99 Call of Duty: Black Ops Declassified PS Vita $ 10.00 $ 15.00 $ 49.99 Castlevania: The Dracula X Chronicles PS Vita $ 7.49 $ 8.99 $ 14.99 Deception IV: Blood Ties PS Vita $ 15.99 $ 23.99 $ 39.99 Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Z PS Vita $ 7.50 $ 12.00 $ 29.99 Earth Defense Force 2017 Portable PS Vita $ 12.00 $ 20.00 $ 39.99 Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA F 2nd PS Vita $ 19.99 $ 23.99 $ 39.99 Home – A Unique Horror Adventure PS Vita $ 2.49 $ 3.49 $ 4.99 Hyperdimension Neptunia ReBirth1 PS Vita $ 15.99 $ 23.99 $ 39.99 Jak and Daxter Collection PS Vita $ 8.10 $ 13.50 $ 26.99 Jet Set Radio PS Vita $ 4.99 $ 5.99 $ 9.99 Let“s Fish! Hooked On PS Vita $ 3.00 $ 5.00 $ 9.99 LIMBO PS Vita $ 3.00 $ 5.00 $ 9.99 Metrico PS Vita $ 4.20 $ 7.00 $ 13.99 Monster Monpiece PS Vita $ 11.99 $ 17.99 $ 29.99 New Little King“s Story PS Vita $ 9.99 $ 11.99 $ 19.99 Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 Plus PS Vita $ 15.99 $ 23.99 $ 39.99 Oddworld: Munch“s Oddysee HD PS Vita $ 4.99 $ 6.99 $ 9.99 Orgarhythm PS Vita $ 3.00 $ 5.00 $ 9.99 PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale PS Vita PS Vita $ 5.40 $ 9.00 $ 17.99 Putty Squad PS Vita $ 9.99 $ 14.99 $ 24.99 Ring Run Circus PS Vita $ 2.00 $ 3.50 $ 9.99 Silent Hill Book of Memories PS Vita $ 14.99 $ 17.99 $ 29.99 Sumioni: Demon Arts PS Vita $ 3.00 $ 5.00 $ 9.99 Sword Art Online -Hollow Fragment- PS Vita $ 15.99 $ 23.99 $ 39.99 Tales of Hearts R PS Vita $ 19.99 $ 27.99 $ 39.99 The Amazing Spider-Man PS Vita $ 9.60 $ 14.80 $ 39.99 Tiny Troopers Joint Ops PS Vita $ 3.99 $ 5.59 $ 7.99 Urban Trial Freestyle PS Vita $ 0.70 $ 1.75 $ 6.99 Valhalla Knights 3 PS Vita $ 6.00 $ 10.00 $ 19.99 Cel Damage HD PS4,PS3,PSVita $ 2.10 $ 3.00 $ 9.99 GODS EATER BURST PSP,PSVita $ 6.00 $ 10.00 $ 19.99 Anyone getting anything?
  2. Developer: Sega/Crypton Future Media Publisher: Sega Platforms: PlayStation 3/PS Vita Release Date: November 18, 2014 ESRB: T for Teen This review is based on the PS3 version of the game Hatsune Miku is an anomaly that I don“t completely understand. I get that her rise of fame started as synthesized vocal software (aka vocaloid) and her anime design managed to catch on in Japan. What I understand much less is how she became such a phenomena that she can take over established pizza chains, appear on late night American TV shows, or go on concert tours all over the world. Her cling to the title of the “most popular virtual singer” is not to be belittled. Still, if it means that I get more great rhythm games like Hatsune Miku: Project Diva F 2nd in the process, I could not care less about fully understanding her existence. Despite the virtual idol's strange popularity as of late, Sega still took a chance with bringing over the Project Diva series beyond Japan last year with Hatsune Miku: Project Diva F on PS3 and delayed Vita release early this year. Likely deeming that a success, Hatsune Miku: Project Diva F 2nd now finally sees a simultaneous release on both PS3 and Vita. Little has deviated from the central formula of previous releases in the series. This is by no means bad, of course. As with earlier entries notes appear from pretty much every angle until they overlap with their corresponding face button notes. To also keep the player on their toes, notes also have extra variables like direction based inputs or flicks of the analog stick, with an entire new star note that requires simultaneous taps on the analog sticks. It is certainly not ground-breaking amongst rhythm games, nor does it try to be, but it nails the intrinsic feedback of it. Despite how I may enjoy the recent Final Fantasy Theatrhythm: Curtain Call, that is an example in the genre where the core gameplay somewhat feels off-sync with the music accompanying it. Hatsune Miku: Project Diva F 2nd does not have that problem and pretty much always feels in tune with both the gameplay and music together. It may sound simple and arbitrary, but I think that is what separates a good rhythm game and a great one. Well, that, and the quality of the soundtrack. Vocaloid J-pop music is certainly an acquired taste. To be honest, aside from the soundtrack of Magical Beat it would be difficult for me to say that to say I care for most vocaloid tunes in general. I tend to enjoy the series more for the well-crafted rhythm gameplay than anything else. I say that, but I think the quality of the soundtrack really stepped up overall in Project Diva F 2nd. I have gone from liking less than a small handful in previous releases to finding, erm, multiple handfuls dangerously catchy in Project Diva F 2nd with its 40+ tracks (not including dlc). To match the crazy presentation the J-pop vocaloid soundtrack also likes to utilize bubbly, eclectic beats to some surprisingly intense rock-like rifts. What remains as the series' double-edged sword is how extravagantly it is presented. The visuals are very eccentric with their colorful vibrancy, expressive movements and dances, and the sheer variety of the motifs. One music video may play with an romantic manga style while another is completely different by having Miku fight with dual katanas and then dying (oops, spoilers?). It probably has a bit too much personality in how it is displayed for would-be newcomers. Also, it becomes a developed skill to pay attention to the notes appearing and not constantly miss because of the extremely busy visuals. Heck, even the notes themselves will occasionally leave the player baffled the first time they see them—for example, a series of them will be in the shape of a heart. I may have personally become much better at not getting distracted, but even I get tripped up by several songs the first time I see them because of the aesthetic. I“m not going to pretend that I am great at most rhythm games, but it is clear that the standard difficulty has seen quite a spike over previous releases. So much so, that as one who has been able to complete hard mode in previous games, I have struggled quite a bit with some of the last songs even on the normal difficulty. Some of the last songs have inputs appear so fast that you don“t have any hope of sight-reading them and succeeding on your first try. For the first time ever I turned to the use of "help items" (which makes parts of songs easier at the cost of a score penalty) to even be sure that I even had the skill level to complete the song(s) anytime soon. Which, even then, I repeated certain songs quite a few times before completing them—I'm looking at you 2D Dream Fever. There is certainly more to Project Diva F 2nd than new songs and an increased difficulty, however, even if I don't really understand (or care to know) more than half of it. Customization options are abound from lots of unlockable costumes, accessories, and challenges to works towards, as well as a "Live Studio" which attempts to recreate a concert setting. Refinements have also been added to the edit mode, which allows players to customize music videos and upload/download them with other users, and the Diva Room too. To be clear, Diva Room is sort of a weird sim-like mode where you can use points earned through songs to buy stuff to customize a vocaloid's room and to raise their.affinity level with items, poking them (literally), or various minigames. Really, though, Diva Room occasionally feels creepy, the minigames within it are poorly designed, and room customization unappealing, so I don't really find any personal appeal in it. It also has a few new additions that are neat for returning fans. For example, being able to carry over saves from the previous game for new unlocks or the ability to convert a Japanese save file to English to carry over progress for possible early importers. Cross-save usage between both PS3 and Vita is pretty seamless for those that happen to have both. Also, Sega now has both a Romaji translation and the newly added direct English translation for those who want learn context behind the various songs, which is cool. Granted, I'm convinced that some songs make less sense in English, but it is the thought that counts. Lastly, a subtle, but smart (and dangerous) addition is "spotlight", which randomly selects songs in the main rhythm portion and gives the player one chance to complete a song for significantly more bonus points towards unlocks and pushes that "Just one more song..." mentality. As a smart performer, Hatsune Miku: Project Diva F 2nd improves upon previous gigs in nearly every way. It's flashier, has a stronger overall musical selection, useful new features, and is dense with content and modes to work towards. The only real problems is that its significant raise in difficulty can be rather daunting, especially for newcomers, and some long-standing problems with the series still remain. I may never understand the enigma that is Hatsune Miku, but at least I can be at ease knowing that a lot of fun can still be found with her newest rhythm game performance. Pros: + Music is better than the previous Project Diva F overall + Vibrant, varied, and entertaining visuals + Very responsive controls and gameplay that syncs great with the music + Plenty of unlockables and challenges to work towards Cons: - Standard difficulty has spiked a lot. - Diva Room still weirds me out - Visuals can be distracting Overall Score: 8 (out of 10) Great With a better overall performance and musical selection Hatsune Miku: Project Diva F 2nd has proven that this idol is not out of tricks just yet when it comes to putting up a great rhythm game show Disclosure: This game was reviewed using downloadable PS3 code provided by the publisher.
  3. Developer: Meteorise Publisher: XSEED Games Platform(s): PS Vita Release Date: November 11, 2014 ESRB: M for Mature A rhythm game that focuses on cooking, food, and the girls of the Senran Kagura series? Sign me up. All these things make me as giddy as a schoolgirl, so a combination of all of them should be simply spectacular. Right? Senran Kagura Bon Appétit! is a very barebones rhythm game; the actual gameplay isn“t anything special and leaves a lot to be desired. The way that it is setup is initially somewhat confusing, but that“s simply due to a poorly designed layout. In any case, you“ll get used to it quickly enough. It“s just unfortunate how boring the gameplay is versus other rhythm games such as the Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA titles. Most of the music in Bon Appétit! is forgettable as well. This is extremely disappointing considering that this is a rhythm game and that the main Senran Kagura games have some excellent tracks. The tracklist itself is also very small. Honestly, there“s not much to say about the soundtrack at all. The more exciting parts come in-between the gameplay portions. Throughout each stage, there are three separate portions where your meal course is judged by HanzÅ. How well you perform when pressing buttons to the beat determines your score. The better you do, the better HanzÅ“s reaction. Besting your rival in that round will also strip them of some of their clothing. Be careful, though! It“s easy to become distracted by their sensual body wiggling (it“s happened to me a few times)… If you achieve a super dish at the very end, your opponent will be served to you as a delicious dessert wearing absolutely nothing. Bon Appétit!“s main selling point is obviously its nearly naked women and sexiness, as is the case with the rest of the Senran Kagura series. With food being the theme of Bon Appétit!, it assuredly takes advantage of that and combines it with said risquésituations. So, you“ll be seeing lots of images of bare-bottomed women covered with whipped cream and so forth. Like the rest of the series, this is done mostly in a satirical manner rather than in an effort to demean women. Considering the theme of Bon Appétit! and the fact that it“s a spin-off, this is driven even further to the point of absolute silliness. All of this is made even more fun with the all-important dressing room. By unlocking clothing and other items through the main game and DLC, you“ll be able to dress all the Senran Kagura girls to your heart“s desire. Absolutely adorable or daringly sexy – it“s your choice! While the Senran Kagura series is also known for its surprisingly deep and serious plot, you won“t find any of that here. It“s a rhythm game, after all! As such, the “story†of Bon Appétit! is very simple: a cooking competition is held and the grand prize is a secret ninja art scroll that can grant any wish. Our shinobi girls either want their own wishes granted or want to stop others from causing chaos with such a powerful scroll, so battles in the form of cooking ensue between them. While it is a basic premise, the writing still allows for some amusing and emotional bits, such as Katsuragi wanting to become the queen of the hooters harem. For those that can“t seem to get enough of what Bon Appétit! has to offer, there is a DLC pack available that unlocks Gessen and Hebijo characters (basically, half the roster). If you“ve purchased the Rin and DaidÅji DLC for Senran Kagura: Shinovi Versus, then they will also carry over to Bon Appétit! I hoped for a lot more from Senran Kagura Bon Appétit! Unfortunately, it gets stale very quickly in terms of gameplay. Still, thanks to life and hometown, it“s a nice little distraction for Senran Kagura fans waiting for the next big game in the series. Pros: + Dialogue/writing is still funny, emotional, and fantastic + Lots of clothing items to play dress-up with + Chock-full of sexy moments Cons: - Rhythm gameplay is boring and basic - Tracklist is small and unmemorable Overall Score: 6 (out of 10) Decent Don't expect any sort of greatness from Senran Kagura Bon Appétit! It falls flat as a rhythm game, so only hardcore Senran Kagura fans need apply. Disclosure: This game was reviewed using downloadable Vita code provided by the publisher.
  4. Developer: Tamsoft Publisher: XSEED Games Platforms: PS Vita Release Date: October 14, 2014 ESRB: M for Mature Senran Kagura: Shinovi Versus knows exactly what it wants to be. Whether or not you are willing to accept its identity is another story, but frankly, it really doesn“t care if you do. In the producer“s own terminology, it has its sight set firmly on “Life” and “Hometown”, and you will know that immediately upon starting the game. I was aware of this, but I was still very surprised at how much more risque Shinovi Versus is in comparison to even Senran Kagura Burst. Reviewing Senran Kagura Burst may have caught me off-guard last year, but it was for entirely different reasons. Not because of “Life” and “Hometown”, which were certainly emphasized, but because it surpassed my expectations as a game and, dare I say it, through its storytelling. Neither aspect were terribly noteworthy on their own, but the overall experience ended up being better than the sum of its parts. Trying to balance expectations once again, Senran Kagura: Shinovi Versus attempts to prove that extremely unapologetic "fanservice" and decent storytelling/gameplay can be two sides of the same coin. Much like the original 3DS title, Shinovi Versus plays up the Good Shinobi vs Evil Shinobi theme. Hanzo academy and Gessen academy help depict Good Shinobi, while the Hebijo Academy, and the newly formed Renegades (or rather, former Hebijo students from the Senran Kagura Burst), as Evil Shinobi. Despite their similarities as well as differences, they all have their own perception to the currently prescribed Good & Evil Shinobi beliefs and, unsurprisingly, are brought to conflict for one reason or another. The story does a reasonable job at catching people up who have not played the first game. That isn't terribly important for the mostly predictable main narrative arcs of the four groups, but considering how much more character-focused the storytelling is it's good to know newcomers will be on mostly fair ground. However, the storytelling itself is very hit and miss depending on the group you play. Narratively, I think it is pretty apparent that more substance is put behind the Evil Shinobi characters, in particular Hebijo, while Good Shinobi feel like they are generally driven by much more shallow ideals. The story modes are not as in-depth individually as the Senran Kagura Burst, but accumulatively the story modes end up being quite a bit denser simply due twice as many characters to play as. This is kind of the recurring theme for Shinovi Versus as there is simply more of everything in comparison to the first release: more story, more characters, more gameplay/missions, more unlockables, lot more cosmetic options, and... a lot more perversion. It may be difficult to believe this, but Shinovi Versus is way more perverted than even Senran Kagura Burst. I think a lot of this is attributed to the change from a Teen rating to a Mature rating between both games. Everything from disintegrating clothing in combat, exaggerated physics, to even innuendo in dialogue has really been upped with the release of Shinovi Versus. To give more specific examples, if you use a special move as a final blow in combat, you can destroy a characters bra or panties (granted, censored in a goofy way) and it will carry over into the next story scene, and I'm not even going to talk about how much lingerie the in-game shop has for its multitude of character outfits. It really creates a weird dissonance considering how serious the characters may be in certain story scenes, only to be wearing virtually nothing because of the perverted gameplay mechanics. But, is the gameplay good? Well, this release leaves the 2D beat 'em up plane in favor of a substantial transition to 3D environments as a brawler in Shinovi Versus. I am a bit mixed about the change in gameplay styles, honestly, simply because I have higher expectations in what I'd expect from action games that take place in a 3D space. I think I can subjectively say that Shinovi Versus is a better game than its predecessor. There are twice as many characters and they all feel quite different with their extremely flashy attack combos. Also, in general it simply looks and runs much better than the 3DS title. In a lot of ways, it actually feels like the more natural progression for the series mechanically and it really feels like it is doubling down on its own identity in regards to presentation, for better or worse, even if I really don't inherently care for the direction. That said, I“m going to be upfront—Musou-styled games are not really a sub-genre I care for at all. I re-solidified my opinion of this after playing Warriors Orochi 3: Ultimate recently. While Senran Kagura: Shinovi Versus is technically closer to a brawler more than something of a musou ilk, simply because of its smaller scale and focus on mobility, it does feel like it hits a similar simplistic action gameplay appeal. I may think it is better than what passes for musou nowadays, but I have higher expectations for 3D action releases and in this regard Shinovi Versus has several problems. My biggest complaints with this entry are actually with its camera and gameplay progression in particular. The first grievance is with its camera. There are two key reasons why it has issues, that being a wonky lock-on system and a camera that feels too zoomed. Unfortunately, you can't adjust either of these and you have to accept that it'll be obscured for one reason or another. Thankfully it isn't particularly difficult game at all, as I had only seen the game-over screen once when trying out a character for the first time, but I could imagine it being a big problem for those trying to achieve higher ranks or difficulties. Actually, speaking of that, I also don“t think the skill/combo progression is handled very well in Shinovi Versus either. Some characters feel absolutely useless when you first get them, and most characters don“t show their natural playstyle until hitting at least level 10. In all honesty, it sort of becomes busy work to essentially level grind for certain characters to even be fun to play as. It may not take long to level characters up, especially through the optional "girl's heart" side missions, but it still feels no less tedious especially for an already repetitive level design structure. If there is one thing I can say about Senran Kagura: Shinovi Versus, though, it is that it has a lot of personality. I don“t even mean that facetiously either; well, not entirely. It's visually vibrant and, perversion aside, has a pretty distinct look that looks solid in motion from gameplay, clean menus/interface, and story scenes on the Vita screen. It does have problems with fairly long load times, despite being Dark Souls-ish in terms of giving random tidbits. Also, like the original, the soundtrack is also surprisingly good. The character themes play with a lot of musical styles from rock-orchestra, Spanish guitar, and even creative arrangements of classical pieces. Overall, Senran Kagura: Shivovi Versus is almost unquestionably better than its predecessor. It looks better, plays better, has a lot more content, and goes the extra mile with more of its love or hate it distinct visual sensibilities. The biggest problem is that its transition to a 3D perspective is not completely seamless due to a limiting gameplay progression, awkward camera, and a lot of other quirks bogging it down. While it may have gotten further away from what I found to be a pleasant surprise with Senran Kagura Burst, as a straightforward beat 'em up it is still likely to surpass expectations for those who can cope with its overwhelming amount of perversion with its aesthetic. Pros: + Lots of varied characters with very flashy attacks and combos + Huge amount of story content and missions + Character theme songs are surprisingly good + Many cosmetic options Cons: - Lock-on is unreliable and camera is too slow/zoomed in. - Fairly repetitive level design - Long load times - Leveling-up progression severely limits character abilities early in - Much more perverted than even Senran Kagura Burst Overall Score: 6.5 (out of 10) Decent Despite a not wholly successful shift in gameplay styles from its predecessor, the series remains as a brawler that has more overall substance than you'd expect. Of course, you have to be willing to overlook (or look at?) its extremely unapologetic and perverted presentation in order to do so. Disclosure: This game was reviewed using downloadable PS Vita code provided by the publisher.
  5. Developer: Examu Publisher: Aksys Platforms: PS Vita and PS3 Release Date: September 23, 2014 ESRB: T for Teen This review is based on the PS3 version of the game Have you ever wondered what would happen if you combined underaged anime girls with the power of ancient deities, and also gave them all the ability to fly? Honestly, I haven“t, since it sounds horrifying, but if I were to wager a guess, Arcana Heart 3: Love Max!!!!! is what the developer Examu came up with when mixing those elements together. Examu may not have a whole lot of consistency as a fighting game developer, but the Arcana Heart series has its place as a strange gem among anime-ish fighters despite its anime-pandering motif. Now, more than three years since the first version of Arcana Heart 3 launched, Examu decided to update their former release with Love Max on both PS3 and Vita. If you have never played Arcana Heart before, it may seem daunting because of how different it feels from most fighting games. For instance, the primary means of movement is not by double-tapping forward or back (but it's there), but tapping the homing/glide button to fly directly to your opponent. Arcana Heart is kind of a beast of its own with its relatively unique systems that have an emphasis on gliding, arcana, clashing, and more, all in the midst of what would otherwise seem like standard fare for a 2D fighter. Mechanically speaking, Arcana Heart 3: Love Max!!!!! is actually a good game at its core. The cast of characters play quite varied: like Scharlachrot, who uses lengthy chains to both detonate traps and to traverse to battlefield; Zenia, who has skills that can destroy an opponent's guard if timed perfectly; or Kamui, who sacrifices to her health to strengthen her swords(wo)man abilities. There are a lot of mechanical nuances to take in and this isn't even going into the Arcana system which helps make the series feel even more distinct. Even now the Arcana system is something I would like to see other fighters, like the Persona 4 Arena series, try to copy. Arcana are essentially interchangeable summons that can fundamentally change a character's playstyle, from the skills they have available to even general movement. For example, the literal moe blob (Kira), is a grappler with poor movement and limited range options, but you can change her Arcana to negate her shortcomings. If you wanted to, you could change Moe Blob's Arcana to Metal, which allows her strong ranged skills in addition to her already intimidating close range skills, or you could directly increase her mobility with the Evil Arcana which allows her to teleport. There are many Arcana combinations and it is completely up to one“s playstyle in how they want to make them work with each character. Taking a cue from Blazblue: Chrono Phantasma, the newest modification to the central gameplay is how it plays much faster than the original Arcana Heart 3 release. The primary problem with earlier games is that they played fairly slow in sharp contrast to the mobility and options the characters are given. That said, modifying the in-game speed is kind of the only aspect that they have gone out of their way to improve in Love Max beyond character re-balancing. The 2D visuals have shown their age and they still come as a product of SD fidelity. It is also disappointing that there are no new characters at all, or even Arcana, giving a strong feeling of re-release syndrome for anybody who has played the previous release. While mechanically solid in combat, everything about Arcana Heart's character designs screams shameless anime pandering or a tired character archetype of some sort. Normally I wouldn't draw too much attention to this had they not introduced a completely unnecessary “After Story” visual novel component to Love Max. You could infer that the storytelling wasn“t very good from the arcade mode in earlier games (re-titled "story" in this release), but “After Story” somehow found a way to make it much worse and take significantly longer to complete. If you want a summary of it, the entire “plot” builds up towards a hot springs scene, and that“s how it ends as well. There is no greater context, or real reward for completing it, it was pretty much made for a perverted CG panel at the end and to emphasize how pretty much the entire cast of characters are incredibly vapid. Ugh, I regret of all my time with it. Trying to ignore the pain that “After Story” induces, there is not a whole lot added to Love Max from the original release of 3. If you“re a masochist you could go out of your way to watch new story scenes and 100% the gallery, but aside from that the mode selection is pretty bare bones and the new ones, like Trial and Time Attack, are quite underwhelming. More disappointing is that key modes you would expect from most fighters are merely just serviceable. The online play is functional but not great, training mode is alright but doesn't really go the extra mile like Capcom, Arc System Works, or Lab Zero fighters, and lastly, the tutorial is... no wait, there is no tutorial. I always find it to be a real shame when fighting games do not have tutorials, in particular for something like Love Max that has so many systems and character specific nuances to learn and it does absolutely nothing to draw in a new crowd beyond adding a button-mash friendly "simple" mode. Arcana Heart 3: Love Max!!!!! is a solid game for those who can overlook its presentation and adjust to its obtuse mechanics, but as a re-release it is completely underwhelming. There are no new characters, Arcana, and most of the new modes are not noteworthy in the slightest, with the newly-added “After Story” having been better off not existing at all. The core game is faster and more enjoyable, but as a complete package it does very little to invite newcomers or, regrettably, series veterans who aren't the most devout fans. Pros: + Diverse cast of playable characters + Much-faster and more enjoyable gameplay from previous releases + Unique gliding and versatile arcana fighting mechanics Cons: - No new characters or Arcana added since the original Arcana Heart 3 release - Awful "After Story" mode that is a complete waste of time - Dated aesthetic and unappealing character designs -Sparse amount of modes and options to draw in new players Overall Score: 6.5 (out of 10) Decent A mechanically solid fighter that is unfortunately held back by its lackluster overall package as a re-release Disclosure: This game was reviewed using downloadable PS3 code provided by the publisher.
  6. Developer: Acquire Publisher: XSEED Games Platform: PS3, Vita ESRB: M for Mature Release Date: August 12, 2014 It must really suck to be a vampire in Japan. According to Akiba“s Trip: Undead & Undressed, all vampires want to do is sulk around Akihabara with a hunger for rare goods. Of course, such a simple plan is ruined if the Akiba Freedom Fighters catch up with you. They“ll beat you up and tear off your clothes, leaving vampires to evaporate due to sunlight exposure. Akiba“s Trip puts you on the side of good although the protagonist himself has inherited inhuman powers… This isn“t really a spoiler because the poor hero is captured within the opening moments of the game. There he comes face to face with a man in charge of converting regular otaku into vampire slaves. What“s this all about? As the game progresses, you learn more about this strange organization and its goals. In any case, the basics are that Akihabara is swamped with vampires and you need to stop them from converting more unsuspecting citizens to their side. Thanks to newfound powers, you“re suddenly a super powerful and skilled fighter. Armed with random objects you collect from downed enemies, you enact street justice whenever a vampire crosses your path. Most of the time fights are initiated due to story sequences. However, there“s also a lot of room to simply explore the city. After a smartphone upgrade it“s even possible to sense which NPCs are vampires. No matter what, there are a ton of fights to pick during an Akiba“s Trip playthrough. The game appears to take inspiration from other modern beat ”em ups. At the start you“re given just paltry weaponry, but after downing a few vamps you gain access to greater goods. For example, one might drop a baseball bat which offers increased attack reach. Then again a street sign offers even more reach, although it“s slower as well. Enemies also drop clothes which you can then equip yourself. It“s a bit creepy but each clothing item has its own stats. Basically, you want to have “strong” clothes so vampires can“t strip you as easily. There“s also a special system in play for how to damage clothing. In two of the three difficulty settings, players must target hats, shirts, and pants/skirts separately. Each item of clothing has its own defense and by attacking it you wear that segment down. Once low enough it“s easy to tear off the garment. As you do this to enemies, they do the same to you. Players can return clothes to full health but it takes a few seconds to do this. Usually there“s not many openings to get spruced up. Beat ”em ups are really hit and miss and it feels like it takes a long time before Akiba“s Trip really gets into a groove. Much of the early fights seem almost unfair thanks to super cramped fighting quarters and big groups against you. The camera also tends to get in weird spots. Yes, you can move this but while being beaten by a group of vampires that“s probably the last thing anyone wants to worry about. Eventually, fight areas widen up and you have access to enough goods to balance fights but the game ends shortly after. Thankfully, there is a New Game + mode which lets you restart with all previously collected items and characters already. From the outside, Akiba“s Trip appears like a truly ridiculous, silly title. I came into the game fully expecting juvenile humor, male gaze-y scenes, and a ton of humor. What I didn“t expect to find was unchecked bigotry. You see, there“s a optional message board called Pitter which updates in game with responses to what happens in the story and there“s a particularly hateful user on there. They name call one other user multiple times and somehow this fictional hater shocked and bothered me. Most players were not harmed in any way by these segments, but because I was it“s something worth mentioning. If you might also take issue with it then ignore Pitter entirely. Although Akiba“s Trip had the potential to be a riotously fun title, it feels weirdly restricted. Yes, it“s awesome that Akihabara is replicated in video game format, but it“s cut up into chunks with long loading times between each. Yes, there are a boat load of weapons but what benefit is there to trying each when so many are totally weak? Honestly, the best portion of the game is its storyline and interaction between characters. Every time a battle cropped up I couldn“t help but groan because they were annoying most of the time. It would have been so much better to simply skip all that periphery and enjoy the story alone. Akiba“s Trip is not a visual novel but it might have honestly been better as one. As is, the game is an average beat ”em up with a better than average storyline. Pros: + Surprisingly entertaining story with a fun cast + Lots of character customization, especially during a replay + Incredible visual reproduction of Akihabara Cons: - Fights for majority of game feel especially cramped and annoying - Little reason to utilize the wide array of available weaponry - Camera gets into messy angles at all the wrong times Overall Score: 6 (out of 10) Decent Akiba's Trip is certainly odd, but that alone fails to make the beat 'em up experience all that compelling. Disclosure: This game was reviewed using downloadable code provided by the publisher.
  7. Marcus Estrada

    Review: Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair

    Developer: Spike Chunsoft Publisher: NIS America Platform: PS Vita Release Date: September 2, 2014 ESRB: M for Mature Earlier this year, Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc launched on Vita. With little time to rest, NIS America promptly announced the sequel would also head West. Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair throws players into a similar situation as the first game, but this time with a new cast in tow. In case you missed the original, Danganronpa 2 is an adventure visual novel focused on solving murder mysteries. As such, this review can“t delve much into the storyline, but you“ll still get a taste! Danganronpa 2 begins without much explanation. All you know is the protagonist is named Hajime and he has just been accepted into an incredibly prestigious high school named Hope“s Peak Academy. After meeting up with the other new students, a weird rabbit creature appears and spontaneously transports the group to a tropical island. Apparently, it“s time to relax and have a heart-pounding school trip! Unfortunately, this oddball party is quickly broken up by another, more nefarious character named Monokuma. Monokuma“s aim seems to be causing absolute despair by forcing classmates to kill one another in hopes of leaving the island. Despite the anime aesthetic, this is a surprisingly dark theme. Of course, it takes on more of a black comedy vibe thanks to the many awkward jokes and ridiculous circumstances that everyone gets into. Initially there are so many characters that it“s even difficult to really feel for them. Once numbers begin dwindling, players do start to care about these incredibly unfortunate teenagers. In between more pressing matters such as solving murders, you can chat with various characters and increase friendships in the process. The meat of Danganronpa 2 is in its writing. As with most visual novels, you“ll spend a ton of time reading dialogue. The localization certainly feels anime-like, with excessive flamboyance and weird conversations, but the storyline should hook most players relatively quickly. Solving each crime is also full of convoluted, but logical, twists and turns. Unfortunately, both titles attempt to bring more “gameplay” elements in via minigames during each class trial. These were never that fun to begin with but this version actually made them worse. You see, what makes the game so fun is the storyline and interactions between characters - not Spike Chunsoft“s awkward attempts at gamifying a visual novel. Old minigames such as Hangman“s Gambit have the gall to call themselves “Improved” and are anything but. New minigames include Logic Dive which is a supremely useless board racing game where you try to avoid obstacles. Even the rendition of a rhythm game is marred by awkward controls. All of this is compounded by the fact that the explanations for each minigame are vague and rarely clarify what you have to do. Thankfully, you can view specific controls per game once you“re in the middle of one. That“s not to say issues begin and end with the multiple minigames. There are also a handful of issues with the class trial segments themselves. As with the original, players enter into a trial after collecting evidence. Once there characters will all argue for what they believe happened. Using Truth Bullets (aka evidence) you can refute or strengthen people“s remarks by firing them at the respective statement on screen. Every once in a while though you“ll be stuck guessing as to what Truth Bullet is even needed. This is due to some odd wording/suggestions which don“t seem particularly clear. For the most part everything is logical, but these few instances do dampen the experience if you get stuck because of one. It“s definitely sad to see that minigames were somehow made more annoying and that some puzzles are obtuse, but Danganronpa 2“s story is still what matters most. After all, you“ll likely spend 10 to 20 hours working through it, and most of that is pure visual novel. Once you beat the game there“s also a few extras that fans might like to look into. People interested in a sizeable murder mystery storyline will likely fall for its charms regardless of issues. Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair is a lovely game with a few blemishes but those shouldn“t detract from the overall experience too much. Pros: + Unique cast of characters to befriend + Intriguing storyline with a surprising amount of twists + Each murder mystery is entirely unique and fun to solve Cons: - Minigames somehow made worse for this version - Some puzzle solutions are more unclear than they are complex Overall Score: 7.5 (out of 10) Good Danganronpa is an appealing murder mystery-focused visual novel. Although it stumbles, the overall experience is worth playing. Disclosure: This game was reviewed using downloadable PS Vita code provided by the the publisher.
  8. Marcus Estrada

    Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair Screenshot 3

    From the album: Review Images

  9. Marcus Estrada

    Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair Screenshot 2

    From the album: Review Images

  10. Marcus Estrada

    Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair Screenshot 1

    From the album: Review Images

  11. Marcus Estrada

    Akiba's Trip Screenshot 3

    From the album: Review Images