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  1. The Wii's most likely last major title is coming soon. That game is Pandora's Tower, which has secured an April 2013 release. The RPG, developed by Ganbarion and published by XSEED Games, tells the classic tale of a maiden in distress. Except this maiden, Elena, is suddenly cursed and slowly turning inhuman. Aeron, a solider that loves Elena, aims to lift this wretched curse from her. And the only way to do so is by killing 12 "masters", and feed their flesh to her. How long you take to perform this arduous task and how you interact with Elena affects which ending you may get. So act quickly!
  2. Jason Clement

    XSEED Announces Their 2013 Lineup

    We had known of a few of the games XSEED planned to release in 2013 prior to today (most notably the recently released Corpse Party: Book of Shadows and the recently announced Pandora's Tower for Wii), but today the company revealed its hand as far as what they're publishing throughout the year. “This will be an amazing year for us,” said Ken Berry, Executive Vice President of XSEED Games. “Our portfolio continues to expand and it“s evident by this stellar lineup of titles, so we“re excited to share more details and hear what our fans are most looking forward to playing in the coming year.” The lineup includes Killer is Dead (the details of which you can read about here) and the following games- Rune Factory 4 (3DS, Summer 2013) Being the first Rune Factory game to release on the 3DS, Rune Factory 4 adds new romance options, the ability to select a male or female character at the beginning, and many crafting, cooking, and farming opportunities. The player is a prince or princess that can manage a village and do other series staples such as explore the countryside and tame wild monsters. Valhalla Knights 3 (PS Vita, Fall 2013) This will actually be the fourth title in the Valhalla Knights series published by XSEED despite the fact that it's the third numbered game. The game will feature a robust character creation system, seven-on-seven party-based combat, seven different races, and 20 different job classes to choose from with 2 sub-jobs as well. YS: Memories of Celceta (PS Vita, Fall 2013) Memories of Celceta is not only described as an extensive remake of YS IV, but it's also considered a pseudo-sequel as well. Features include more enemies on the screen, the largest non-linear world in the YS universe yet, and an evolution of the fast-paced gameplay that the series has set the standard in. The story sees long-time protagonist Adol Christin in a distant land, unable to remember how or why he got there as he sets out to piece things together while struggling to figure out who he can trust. YS I & II Chronicles+ (Windows PC, Steam, February 2013) PSP owners already got to experience YS 1 & 2, but this enhanced remake of the first two games will be coming to Windows PC (Steam) for the first time. Are you looking forward to any of XSEED's newly announced games?
  3. Developer: 5pb Publisher: XSEED Games Platform: PSN (PSP, Vita) Release Date: January 15, 2013 ESRB: M for Mature A download code was supplied by the publisher for this review It looks like our unfortunate crew from the original Corpse Party has become trapped in the cursed and hellish Heavenly Host Elementary again. That“s okay, though, because now we get more of the delicious horror that the Corpse Party series has to offer! But is Corpse Party: Book of Shadows worth the expense of having our high school crew experience the terrors of Sachiko and the elementary school a second time? Book of Shadows isn“t a prequel or a sequel. Rather, it“s a handful of short stories that take place in an alternative universe or set before, during, or after the events of the previous game. And in those chapters containing alternate universe experiences, our protagonists have an inkling of knowledge as to what“s in store for them. Maybe some of them will be able to prevent their grisly and unfortunate fates this time… As such, it is highly recommended that you have played the original Corpse Party through to the end before getting your hands on Book of Shadows. There are immense amounts of references made to the previous game that would go unnoticed to a newbie of Corpse Party. There“s also that valuable knowledge you would need from the original Corpse Party in order to understand much of Book of Shadows, such as who Sachiko is and why she“s in Heavenly Host Elementary. Nonetheless, does Book of Shadows even add anything of worth to the Corpse Party universe? Sure, it gives us more of that horror, violence, and gore that we all love so much. The writing is also superb as usual and adds even more to that with sickeningly wonderful descriptions and whatnot. However, I think I preferred the original Corpse Party“s story a bit more to Book of Shadows“. The alternate universe tales in Book of Shadows feel pointless at times and they“re pretty much left without any sort of conclusion. The chapters that offer points-of-view from minor characters of the previous game are pretty fun, though. Book of Shadows also offers an unlockable extra chapter that shines light onto what happens approximately two weeks after the events of the original game. You“ll be able to unlock it either by importing a beaten save file from the first game or by seeing every single wrong and clear end in Book of Shadows. It is very much worth putting effort into getting and playing through this chapter (even if the conclusion to it is very… weird). As you may have figured, Book of Shadows puts a lot into its story. Thus, it“s a game that is more suited for visual novel enthusiasts. There are some long stretches of pure text and reading, so it can be pretty tedious during these parts with no important decisions popping up and no exploring to do. A big step up from the original Corpse Party includes the options to skip previously seen text and the ability to save at any time (even during important decisions). The lack of both of these made getting all the wrong ends in the previous game an absolute chore. Now that Book of Shadows does feature such integral visual novel elements, it makes completing the game 100% much easier and more satisfactory. When Book of Shadows isn“t playing its part as a visual novel, it acts out as a point-and-click adventure game. That means there“s no more of the little pixel sprites walking around that you may have become accustomed to in the original game. I somewhat miss those retro-looking graphics, but this new style is just as fine. It also means there“s no more of those irritating chase scenes from the previous game. Now, onto the audio… Oh, the beautiful audio. As in the original Corpse Party, it“s as good as ever and undoubtedly the best element of Book of Shadows. Since the game uses 3D binaural audio effects, it“d be a grave mistake to play without headphones. With headphones on, you“ll hear terrifying sounds and voices from seemingly all around you. It's absolutely realistic and adds so much to the experience, especially at moments like when the evil little Sachiko is whispering and cackling in your ear. The audio itself without the help of the binaural effects is still perfection. I personally prefer English dubs in my games (and therefore usually won“t throw a fit when a game is localized without an option for the original Japanese voice-acting), but the original voice work for this game is top-notch. The voice actors do an impeccable job in capturing emotions such as fear, pain, or malice. It“s as believable as it can get. The rest of the sound work, too, is just as great. You“ll definitely squirm and wince at some of the sound effects that the game will throw at you. Maybe even gag and vomit. As for bonus content, Book of Shadows offers a bit of that for completionists out there. Nametags of dead students that are scattered around Heavenly Host Elementary are once again collectable throughout the game. You are also able to view all the beautiful (and sometimes disgusting) CG artwork and listen to music tracks that you“ve come across in your playthrough. Wonder what the voice actors have to say about Book of Shadows? Well, lucky you, because voice actor interviews are unlockable in here! And last, but not least, is a mode where you can construct your own custom conversations from a selection of the game“s voiced lines. Corpse Party: Book of Shadows is a bloody good time. The scares and violence will please any horror fan, and the visual novel fanatics out there will surely love its story and writing. The audio and voice work is so, so good – some of the best out there! Sure, Book of Shadows has some of its own little issues and some pointless moments, but it“s still pretty sick and very much worth playing through. Pros: + Voice-acting and sound work is phenomenal and amplifies the experience + Well-done writing that does a fantastic job at describing scenes + Neat unlockables such as voice actor interviews and a custom conversation-constructing mode Cons: - Newcomers that have not played the original Corpse Party may feel incredibly lost - The alternate universe stories don“t add much to the series“ overall story/mythos and feel somewhat pointless Overall Score: 8 (out of 10) Great Corpse Party: Book of Shadows is a must-have for anyone that enjoys horror and visual novels. Play the previous game before this, though!
  4. Late yesterday, XSEED Games posted a single photo to their Twitter feed. It was a photo of a tower obscured by rain. The company has been known to do this before (such as the set of photos they used to announced Unchained Blades) so fans were quick to guess what it meant. Today, XSEED has announced that they will be bringing Pandora's Tower to the North American market. The Wii exclusive action RPG had, until now, seemed to never be coming for U.S. gamers. It was one of the three games targeted by Operation Rainfall but it seemed that only Xenoblade and The Last Story would actually make it out here. With this announcement, Wii owners now have at least one more game to look forward to. Of course, Wii U users can just pop the game into that system instead. President and CEO of XSEED Games, Shinichi Suzuki had this to say about the title: “It“s fantastic to be bringing such a highly-anticipated title like Pandora“s Tower to such a vocal fan base. North American gamers have been very patient in waiting for this game to be released, and we“re confident they will be pleased when they get their hands on the title.” Pandora's Tower will be released for Wii in Spring 2013. Expect to hear more about this game in the coming months. Were you still expecting to see Pandora's Tower release in North America or had you given up hope?
  5. Corpse Party: Book of Shadows, the sequel to the original Corpse Party (also on PSN for PSP), was intended to come out this quarter, but who knew it would be so soon! Yup, this terrifying horror game will be available on the PSN on January 15th for $20. Each chapter in Book of Shadows is its own standalone story that takes place before, during, or after the events of the original game. There are even some chapters that take place in an alternate timeline. What's new in Book of Shadows that makes it even better than its predecessor? Point-and-click gameplay in first-person environments, a skip feature, and the ability to save anywhere, for starters. There are also unlockable bonus features such as art and music! You can . Please be advised that the game is rated M. Will you be downloading Corpse Party: Book of Shadows when it releases on January 15th?
  6. Marshall Henderson

    Review: Ragnarok Odyssey

    Developer: Game Arts Publisher: Xseed Platform: PlayStation Vita Release Date: October 30, 2012 ESRB: T for Teen Japanese media has a strained relationship with giant monsters. Maybe this was born as a natural progression to kaiju films like Gojira and the like, where giant beasts acted as natural disasters, leveling cities or causing general mayhem until they were barely defeated, scared off by a superior monster, or just got bored and went back home to make some ribs or something. The fact is, this trend is maybe even just as popular in gaming, with Monster Hunter games being almost assured sales in Japan. Japanese media has capitalized on the villainization and wholesale slaughter of the giant beasts, and that has built a comfortable niche for Ragnarok Odyssey. The Vita title adapts the Monster Hunter concept of hunting giant monsters, but the framing forms the distinction between titles. This can be a challenge, and not every game is up to the task. Unfortunately, in a world where Monster Hunter would be Godzilla, Ragnarok Odyssey is strictly a Godzooky title. Ragnarok Odyssey follows the tale, as so many games do, of a mercenary fresh to the company. As the newest member, players must aid in a war of Norse influence and Ragnarok Online lore, in a conflict waging between humankind and the Giants. Recent history has giants right at the doorstep of Rune Midgard, the main kingdom, so the burden of victory is all the more important. It's a Monster Hunter-like game, so the story clearly is not hugely present nor important, but it is designed, at least, to be enough to frame the gameplay. The player's first steps on the shore of Ragnarok Odyssey are into the character creation. Players can choose from 18 faces, 19 hairstyles and 16 voices per sex, plus several skin-tones and six classes. It“s a pretty decent array of selections, though the classes are initially bound, causing for a frustrating lack of experimentation in the player“s initiation into the world. This is irritating if you end up pouring any resources into your weapons and armor. Fortunately, this isn“t a permanent condition, as players can, after a while, switch classes in their room freely. This is a heavily equipment-based game, however, so it is wise to keep to one class and roll with that -- or would be, were the equipment not so bottlenecked. It“s an issue compounded by the fact that this freedom comes only after the tutorial missions are done, meaning one will either have to experiment with a completely different class in an environment lacking the safety of tutorial, or will have to halt the progress they“ve just made to go back and do early missions. Ragnarok Odyssey requires players to continuously make progress in order to improve equipment, and there“s no significant benefit to sticking around a chapter in order to grind or gather. (Un)fortunately, the narrative takes care of the grinding for you. Instead of missions being generally substantial in some way, the large majority of them are just glorified fetch missions. These missions require killing a certain amount of random enemies, or collecting a certain amount of objects from defeating enemies or breaking boxes. Occasionally, Ragnarok Odyssey requires boss fights, as to be expected, and these are gratifying, but not generally worth the hassle of those in between. Aside from that, while later bosses do require more strategy, the most challenging part is frequently just a grind to bring down the huge amount of health they have, which tries patience more than wit, especially with the less beefy classes, such as Assassin. Ragnarok Odyssey presents itself well on the Vita hardware, however. It isn“t the pinnacle of what the PlayStation Vita is capable of doing, but it looks good, even inviting, with a wealth of colors in an era of brown-and-blooms. It shows off what one can expect to generally see in a Vita title, which is a high standard, even if environments of the hub town and level designs of the different areas themselves are relatively bland by way of repetition. Character designs are interesting, and, while many missions have players trudging through the same monsters by virtue of the repetitive quest design, the monsters are relatively diverse at least, and bosses, within the constraints of the art design and lore, are varied enough to be interesting to look at. The best way to describe the OST would be “perfectly adequate.” It varies enough, but isn“t a stand-out feature, and the fact that a lot of missions are mundane, you“ll likely find yourself putting on your favorite Shania Twain tracks or LFO albums and muting the game“s audio. Also, given the fact that many missions require trekking through the same areas to perform mundane tasks, many of the songs will become as repetitive as the gameplay itself. The PlayStation Vita is still a new console, offering new options for control and design, and Ragnarok Odyssey does the most important thing many games can do with this: it avoids using that to a fault. When a new console offers some new gimmicks and doo-dads to play with, it“s easy to fall into trying to use those for every possible thing, but the Vita“s new features are very lightly implemented into Ragnarok Odyssey, primarily using the back or front touchscreen for extraneous special attacks that can be used instead through other means made clear in tutorials. In fact, the actual gameplay itself is the most enjoyable part of Ragnarok Odyssey. The speed and strength of different classes are balanced nicely, allowing the Hammersmith to do massive damage, but being slow and more likely to take damage, whereas the Assassin can weave in and out of attacks to hit the enemy, but do small amounts of damage. All the classes, except maybe the mage, play smoothly, but every one of them serves a different play style. Played with friends, everyone could serve a function, and the multiplayer element may take the edge off of the monotony. Unsurprisingly, Ragnarok Odyssey“s a multiplayer game, through-and-through. The single-player campaign offers little excitement, and has too many pratfalls to make it great. It is very front-heavy in hurtles for getting into gameplay, and when it picks up, it never really feels like it earns its keep. Friends are an absolute commodity for taking Ragnarok Odyssey from a mediocre title to being a draw for Vita owners. Genre fans may find this title to be just the beast they were looking for, but in a world of giant monsters, Ragnarok Odyssey may find itself best suited to return to the sea. Pros: + Gameplay is fluid and fun + Classes are diverse + Graphics and art design are sharp and attractive Cons: - Missions are monotonous - Beginning bottlenecks experimentation - Boss fights are often HP tanks Overall Score: 6.0 (Out of 10) Decent Ragnarok Odyssey is a genre piece for fans of the franchise or Monster Hunter-like games that doesn“t compete with either.
  7. The Last Story was a game many weren't certain would reach North America at all (especially prior to 2012), but when NOA President Reggie Fils-Aime announced via Nintendo Direct earlier this year that XSEED would be publishing the game, that was almost two revelations in one. Mistwalker's swan song for the Wii would become one of the first modern and widely known Nintendo-owned IPs to be licensed out to a third party publisher for printing and release in a certain region (in this case, North America). Interestingly enough, though, this development almost didn't happen. Though XSEED representatives have repeatedly stated (in subsequent interviews after the game's release in August) that they released it because they believed it was a quality game and thought that it should have been brought to the US, the full story wasn't brought to light until now. It turns out that, in fact, not everyone on XSEED's staff shared the enthusiasm that it would be great to license and publish the game. Namely, the sales reps. In an interview with Kotaku, XSEED Vice President Ken Berry spoke about how difficult it was to convince the sales reps that they needed to take a chance on releasing The Last Story here. One of the main issues was that the sales reps considered the Wii a "dead platform." Berry recounted the situation in the interview, saying: "It was a constant fight even within our own organization, To our external sales reps, we'd be saying, ”No, like you guys don't understand. There's tons of fans out there that are asking for this. There's a huge fan movement.' I mean, so yeah. In the end, I think we were right." Of course, the publisher ended up publishing the game in the end, and the rest is history. He also added that the fans were to thank for their enthusiasm and fervor in the game, and that collectively they put their money where their mouths were (figuratively speaking, of course). In the end, the game scored critical acclaim among most press outlets and websites (even in our own review), and even ended up becoming XSEED's biggest hit, with Berry's gamble having effectively paid off. The whole interview is itself a fascinating read, delving into the company's origin and how the merger of Squaresoft and Enix led to several of the North American Square branch departing to form what would become XSEED. If you're interested, you can check it out on Kotaku.
  8. barrel

    Review: The Last Story

    Developer: Mistwalker, AQ Interactive Publisher: Xseed Games Platform: Wii Release Date: August 14, 2012 ESRB: T for Teen With the Wii's waning hardware considered long-abandoned by developers and gamers alike, Mistwalker's ambition to create a fully-featured, action role-playing game on it with The Last Story was nothing short of, well, ambitious. With gaming icons like Hironobu Sakaguchi, regarded as the father of Final Fantasy, at the helm, Nobuo Uematsu for its musical score, and a team founded by ex-Square employees, the staff's pedigree has the possibility of overshadowing the final product. When presented as a fresh bold statement against the once-proud juggernaut Final Fantasy, and possibly a stagnant genre as a whole, does The Last Story embody an adventure worth telling? The player embarks as a fellow sellsword, Zael, who works alongside a colorful troupe of mercenaries. They are hired to work as monster exterminators by a powerful noble, which causes Zael and the rest of the group to be dispatched to an underground cavern for what would seem like a routine job with a big payout. That is, until plans take a turn for the worst and the band finds themselves separated against overwhelming odds. Amidst the confusion and fear, Zael unknowingly beckons a mysterious power, imbuing him with the ability to mend fallen allies in battle and debilitate any foe into an uncontrolled rage. Zael harnesses this strange power for his own to protect the ones he cares about and to pursue his dream beyond a mercenaries' lot. It“s apparent that The Last Story doesn“t really try to stray far from a familiar narrative path. Depending on the individual, the story can come off as either a nostalgic and endearing take on a familiar formula or be worthy of an occasional eye-roll because of it. What“s interesting about the story, though, despite its common narrative devices, is that it focuses on a much more localized adventure as opposed to a grandiose scale. Interactions between characters, who are more than likely to grow on you over time, remain at the forefront throughout and, despite its predictable structure, it weaves together well, leading to a surprisingly satisfying conclusion. While the story attempts to introduce some interesting themes, particularly in the latter portion, the player“s investment overall will most likely rely more heavily on what one gets out of the game“s cast of characters. The Last Story“s best argument comes not from not its storytelling but what it tries to achieve through its gameplay. Tossing players immediately into the midst of it upon starting the game, The Last Story“s action battle system is completely real-time. Initially, the game“s combat is likely to come off as rather simple, if not a bit automated, without adjustments to the default control scheme. What The Last Story does to compensate is introduce extra layers of depth with its strategic, and even stealth, elements, encouraging players to utilize terrain, issue commands, alter spells mid-battle, and more. Altogether, it is likely to sound a little overbearing, but will rarely feel like that in practice. It“s fun overall, encouraging varied play throughout, though it isn“t until the later stretches of the game that one will feel obligated to fully utilize the combat“s many intricacies. When not transitioning from one battlefield to another, players are free to explore the various junctions of Lazulis Island. Technically taking place in one city, which sounds terrible on paper, Lazulis actually feels quite populated and expansive. Outside of the main story, players are encouraged to explore Lazulis“s nooks and crannies, undertake sidequests, justify playing dress-up, and even participate in online multiplayer. As tempting as it may be to pick at The Last Story“s individual facets like an open-world nowhere near the scale as a lot of sandbox games, or customization as deep as the best of role-playing games, and, well, any sort of online multiplayer on the Wii“s infrastructure, it“s easy to appreciate the genuine attempts at changing up the pace throughout. The experience overall can only be best described as better executed than the sum of its parts. Perhaps one“s greatest fear when approaching a good majority of Wii games nowadays is the controls and the woes of the ever-dreadful “waggle”. The standard control scheme with the Wii-mote and nunchuck is surprisingly functional, however, not forcing motion controls at all. That said, without some adjusting to the control“s schematics, it is quite possible to run into some unwieldiness in the game“s battles. Without personalized tweaking in the game“s control settings, or, from what I hear, simply using the preferred classic controller, the camera in particular can be a bit unyielding in the more narrow environments, and enemy targeting in general can be clunky. It can be easy to be a bit spoiled, and to find a Wii game like The Last Story to be a bit jarring visually. Of course, after spending some time with the game, it“s quite possible to notice its strengths and weaknesses under closer scrutiny, with its strengths lay primarily in its character models and environments, giving both a fair amount of variety throughout with the environments in particular. However, its weaknesses lie more with its technical blemishes, with an art direction that doesn“t hide the Wii“s hardware limitations very well, revealing plenty of muddy textures, and also sporting some awkward slow down in certain scripted events and the busier battles. Even if the game is technically impressive for the hardware, it seems like it could“ve benefited from a bit more polish. Fitting for yet another nod against Final Fantasy, the series“s former and most heralded composer, Nobuo Uematsu, takes the reins for the game“s score. For an individual who is generally grounded in a classical composition style, he actually takes quite a few liberties with The Last Story“s soundtrack. Everything from some surprisingly intense battle themes to some tracks with nostalgic audio queues reminiscent of classic Final Fantasy games, Nobuo manages to blend a lot of old and new with the game“s score. Also on the audio front, the game is surprisingly dense, with well-done voice acting with a British English flair. From flavor dialogue that various NPC have in the background to the banter between characters of the main story, it goes a long way in making the overall game more engaging, even if it doesn“t always have the best writing or script to work with. What is probably The Last Story“s greatest fault is how much it undermines its own potential. Though a solid game in its own right, it simply isn“t as groundbreaking as it tries to be. With a narrative that plays it too safe and gameplay that doesn“t realize its full potential, it can come off as a bit disappointing in the grander scope. That said, The Last Story is still a fun and ambitious game. It doesn“t always hit all of the right notes, but it is certainly worthy the attention of any Wii owner (or newcoming Wii-U ones) or those jaded towards Nintendo“s previous home console. Pros: + Fun and interesting real-time battle system + Well-done musical score and voice work + Lots of variety in gameplay scenarios and sidequests + Satisfying conclusion Cons: - Predictable narrative structure with familiar story devices - Inherent clunkiness with standard control scheme. - Awkward slowdown in combat and story events - Game is rarely challenging and combat takes time to unravel Overall Score: 7.5 (out of 10) Good While The Last Story isn't quite as revolutionary as it tries to be, it is still a fun and solid action-rpg that should not be overlooked by Wii owners.
  9. barrel

    The Last Story Screenshot

    From the album: Barrel's storage of pics

    © http://www.dualshockers.com

  10. Marcus Estrada

    Orgarhythm Launch Screenshot 2

    From the album: Orgarhythm

  11. Marcus Estrada

    Orgarhythm Launch Screeshot

    From the album: Orgarhythm

  12. Marcus Estrada

    Orgarhythm Arriving on Vita Later this Month

    Are you a rhythm gaming or real time strategy fan who has been waiting for Vita games up your alley? If either (or both genres) are to your tastes then Orgarhythm should definitely be on your radar. The oddly named game has been known to be coming for months now, but was finally given a release date. XSEED Games has announced it will be coming on October 23rd. Orgarhythm is a RTS and rhythm hybrid which sees players controlling small armies to combat opponents with. Controlling troops in particular is done with screen prompts which should be hit to the beat of the music. Although it sounds a bit odd, it plays well once you get the hang of it. If you're wondering who would come up with such a thing it might help to know the studio that developed the title. The game was developed between AQUIRE and Nielo, the latter of which was founded by Takashi Hirai of Rez and Space Channel 5 fame. On October 23rd, Orgarhythm will arrive exclusively on Vita. It will only be available as a digital download and is set to cost $30. In case you were wondering about the contest to get your own music in the game, it's now over, and winners are expected to be announced soon.
  13. Marcus Estrada

    The Last Story Launch Screenshot 7

    From the album: The Last Story

  14. Marcus Estrada

    The Last Story Launch Screenshot 6

    From the album: The Last Story

  15. Marcus Estrada

    The Last Story Launch Screenshot 5

    From the album: The Last Story

  16. Marcus Estrada

    The Last Story Launch Screenshot 4

    From the album: The Last Story