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  1. Developer: Idea Factory Publisher: Aksys Games Platform: PlayStation 3 Release Date: May 6 ESRB: M (for Mature) Visual novels have certainly hit their stride in the Western world lately. More publishers are willing to bring the genre that used to be seen as uncouth and shallow dating sims over to a small, but steadily growing fanbase. As exciting adventures like Steins;Gate thrill players and hybrid experiences like Virtue's Last Reward give players a bit of gameplay with their text dumps, more gamers come to learn the value of visual novels amongst the many other games and genres available. Even so, while visual novels are in more of a demand, the otome game--essentially a visual novel where you play as the girl as you build relationships with boys--is widely ignored. While Sweet Fuse seemed to make some waves amongst the fanbase, there are very few otome choices out there... and though the Hakuoki series has actually seen a few titles released Stateside, Hakuoki: Stories of the Shinsengumi hopes to win a new audience by being on the PlayStation 3. Will this enhanced port of the PSP and 3DS title Demon of the Fleeting Blossom hold a bright torch for the console visual novel and otome game, or will that torch fizzle out? In Stories of the Shinsengumi, you are Chizuru (whose name can be changed), a young girl who came to Kyoto to look for for her father, who had gone missing a few months before. Upon reaching Kyoto, though, she is accosted by rogue ronin (despite being disguised as a boy to deter that very thing). One thing quickly leads to another, and the girl stumbles upon a dark secret of the Shinsengumi, a group responsible for upholding the peace in Kyoto. After learning of Chizuru's search for her father, who happened to also work with the Shinsengumi, they decide not to kill her to keep their secrets, and instead take her under their (mostly begrudging) care to help find the doctor. Stories of the Shinsengumi follows the path of the force through the entirety of its historical life, from 1864 to 1869. As you might expect, the characters you meet and can eventually build relationships with are actual Japanese historical figures; of course, they have been prettied up a bit to appeal to audience. However, the game isn't purely historical; fantastical sub-plots involving demons and "furies" (which are best described as a form of vampires) add an extra layer of tension to the wars and battles and more weight to the protagonist herself. Granted, these sub-plots are better written into some character paths than others, but for the most part they're a decent, though not particularly great, part of the story. As for the title's overall writing, it usually stays on a pretty high mark. All of the eligible relationship interests and even some of supporting cast get a fair amount of depth to them, mostly avoiding the typical tropes of the genre and giving an interesting plot to work through. Since the men are all loyal members of the Shinsengumi as well, it adds the perspective loyalty, and what everyone does when things take a turn for the worse. The more interesting conversations of the game are between the different captains themselves rather than their relationship with Chizuru, and while it can be questionable why the members of the Shinsengumi would allow a random girl to be privy to all their private conversations, it's an excusable offense to really get a glimpse at the depth these characters have to offer. Due to the fact that this 8- to 10-hour visual novel covers a fiveyear span, the action moves by at a pretty brisk pace. Stories of the Shinsengumi will skip months at the time, and mostly only focus on the major battles of the group, and their eventual downfall. As such, while you get an interesting amount of growth and changes amongst the characters, there isn't too much time for romance. Thankfully, the Hakouki Stories help a little with that, with the Memories of Love offering more tender moments with the eligible bachelors, and the Shinsengumi Adventures are more comical, light-hearted affairs. It's a bit of a shame that these stories aren't integrated into the game proper, but it also makes sense as the small stories would have probably interrupted the flow of the overall story. As you play through these extra Stories, you can bloom your cherry blossom in the Eupherma mode; and as you do so, you'll unlock even more little pieces of content, which is new to the PS3 version from the portable releases. These little bits include random conversations in the Hakuoki world, as well as stints where the the characters are cast into a modern school setting. Honestly, these bits are mostly throwaway, but as you'll likely want to play through the Stories for the extra characterization anyway, it's a nice, but ultimately unneeded, little bonus. Whether or not you'll enjoy Stories of the Shinsengumi depends more on your interest of Japanese culture; obviously, a title involving a historical police force is going to be steeped in Japanese lore. For those not heavily educated on the subject, the game's Encyclopedia helps to explain some of the less known terms, but if you have no interest in Japanese lore, historically accurate or otherwise, it will seem plodding and boring even if it is well-written. Hakuoki: Stories of the Shinsengumi is a good otome game, but it will not be everyone's cup of tea. Those that are willing the take the plunge into a game steeped in Japanese history and sometimes strange demon plots will find deep and multifaceted characters and stories that are worth experiencing. Pros: + The potential relationship paths go beyond simple tropes, giving characters with depth + The graphics are surprisingly nice looking on the big screen Cons: - Some character paths have awkward writing or poorly implemented plot threads - The title's setting isn't for everyone Overall Score: 7 (out of 10) Good Stories of the Shinsengumi provides a good story for those that bring an interest in Japanese history and just a bit of tolerance for demons and vampires. Disclosure: A download code was provided by the publisher for this review.
  2. Marcus Estrada

    Danganronpa 2 Screenshot

    From the album: Review Images

  3. Bringing a gameplay demo to E3 must be terrifying for developers. They“ve got to make a section of gameplay that is fun and interesting within seconds of playing. If not, many people will simply stop playing since time during the convention is so scarce. Visual novels (and story-focused games in general) have it hard because of this. Can they convince people to sit down and read for 10 minutes? Unfortunately not in many cases. I took a look at one definite visual novel and another game showcasing its visual novel-esque mode. Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair comes after the great success of Danganronpa on Vita. The original visual novel set players in a school where only the “last man standing” could ever leave. Danganronpa 2 starts players at the same school initially before whisking all the students off to an island. Here, apparently, they are tasked only with having fun - not killing! If you“ve played the original game though it“s safe to say that you should never trust a weird talking animal. In all other respects, the game feels very similar to the first. Even the character designs seem oddly familiar, as if some characters may be the same. Whether or not this is intentional is currently a mystery to me. Players are still free to examine the environment for information and then talk to their classmates. So far Danganronpa 2 seems like a welcome new experience for fans. One Way Trip is an intriguing new title for Vita. The storyline focuses on two siblings that both drank poisoned water. With only six hours left to live they seek to find a cure. As you might expect, things don“t go smoothly. The demo featured the two as they had met up with a very dangerous character. She seemed insane, with a willingness to kill other people for no reason at all. What makes One Way Trip exciting is that it has two modes of gameplay. One focuses purely on the narrative while the other intersperses story with action segments. Of course, my interest lies with visual novels so I was pleased to see so much story showcased in their demo. The writing is very unique which pairs with the trippy presentation perfectly. Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair will be out on Vita on September 2nd while One Way Trip is out next year on Vita and PS4.
  4. Marcus Estrada

    Review: WORLD END ECONOMiCA episode.01

    Developer: Spicy Tails Publisher: Sekai Project Platform: PC (Steam) ESRB: Not rated (T suggested) Release Date: May 6, 2014 It seems that the acceptance of visual novels has grown a ton over the past few years. Before more game-like titles such as Phoenix Wright and 999 hit the scene, most Western players were either unaware of their existence or put off by the genre“s reputation. Now, Steam Greenlight regularly accepts visual novels such as WORLD END ECONOMiCA episode.01 to their storefront. How does this game stand out and is it the kind that newbies to the genre will want to pick up? Well, that all depends on what you expect out of visual novels. First, let“s go over what kind of visual novel this game is. It is a 100% story driven experience without any sort of gameplay elements wedged in. This is very typical of visual novels although most of the titles released here tend to have various puzzles or other features to make them more appealing to the audience. Unlike others in the genre, it also has no moments for the player to make a decision. Most of the time there is at least one choice to be made over the course of WORLD END ECONOMiCA but that“s not the case here. As such, you“re fully beholden to the story to provide an interesting experience. So what“s the story about? The focus is on a young man who has been living on his own for a few months after running away from home. Although it might not sound that unusual, the backstory helps enhance the storyline. You see, this all takes place on the moon after it has been colonized. People back on Earth immigrate to the moon for a new start just as it had once been the case for the United States. Still developing, the moon has areas of great prosperity but also areas where people struggle to make ends meet. Apparently, living on the moon is not a solution to humanity“s dependence on currency. However, our young runaway has been making money via stock trading, completely ignoring school or any other responsibilities in the process. Soon enough he finds himself in a bind and is saved by a woman named Lisa who takes him into her care. Because he doesn“t want to be sent home, he is christened with a new name—Hal. His hope is that staying with Lisa will be just a temporary stumble on his route to the lavish city. Things don“t turn out as expected, though, when Hal finds himself faced with Lisa“s other tenant Hagana. Hagana is about the same age, but the two are so opposed that arguments constantly flare up. Although Hagana could be at fault sometimes, it seems that most of the blame lies with Hal. For whatever reason, Hal is a truly unlikeable guy. As we play from his perspective, players are often subjected to his completely off-the-wall notions about women. It does eventually subside, but is fairly surprising to see such an unlikeable character at the helm. Yes, Hal has reasons for his constant temper and his uncontrollable greed. Yes, he also manages to do things that prove himself to have a tad bit of decency but he“s still a tough character to process. In a way that“s a bold move for any visual novel because it gambles on players being able to stick with it despite a despicable, unrelatable character at the forefront of WORLD END ECONOMiCA. Regardless of how you feel about the lead“s attitude problems, the storyline itself proves engaging. Hal“s determination to make millions off stock trading sounds like a flight of fancy for a teenager but it“s a neat ride all the same. Things get more interesting once he must enlist the aid of the person he“d hate to work with most. Of course, this is Hagana as she has a hidden talent that can aid him tremendously. From there, things really take off story-wise, although a tenuous romantic thread introduced later seems forced. The storyline is not steeped in economic theory (despite the name) but it does definitely have its fair share of investing “shop talk” which might bore some readers. It also paints an ethically ambiguous plot point as a really great thing which seems quite odd. Eventually Hal stops being as detestable as he was at the start, but it is a shame he couldn“t have shown a modicum of decency to begin with. In some ways, Lisa and Hagana prove the main reason to play ahead in the story because they“re much easier to take interest in. Provided you have an interest in stock trading (and maybe even mathematical theories) then WORLD END ECONOMiCA will prove an interesting, if sometimes difficult, read. Anyone who tuned out during economics class might not find it worth playing though. The hardest reasons to recommend the experience are simply because the main character is so unlikable and that it is purely a digital story with no player input. Still, there“s something interesting about being forced to deal with a character who is antithetical of typical visual novel leads. Hopefully those who purchase will find themselves wrapped up over the course of WORLD END ECONOMiCA“s 8 to 12 hour storyline. Pros: + Unique storyline compared to the average visual novel + Cool world and artwork Cons: - Contemptible lead character - Zero choices to be made by the player Overall Score: 6 (out of 10) Decent WORLD END ECONOMiCA is a visual novel with a very unique story to tell for those who can bear the lead character.
  5. Close to a year ago, we at Game Podunk reviewed Dysfunctional Systems Episode 1: Learning to Manage Chaos. It scored highly with 8.5 out of 10. The game also hit Steam Greenlight where eager players voted for the game. Upon its Steam launch, Dysfunctional Systems ended up being the first visual novel to be greenlit. As good as Episode 1 was, there was no guarantee of future episodes. That is, until developer Dischan Media launched their Kickstarter! By raising $49,000 CAD they would be able to finally complete the series. So far, they've made a little over $39,000 CAD. With eight days remaining they just need a little more to be successful. The campaign includes such reward tiers as: $5 - Episode 1. $25 - Downloads copies of the 2nd and 3rd episodes. $100 - Complete series, digital art book, soundtrack download, and USB drive. Have you played Dysfunctional Systems? What did you think of it?
  6. Developer: Spike Chunsoft Publisher: NIS America Platform: PS Vita Release Date: February 11, 2014 ESRB: M for Mature Back in 2010, a game with the name of Danganronpa arrived on Japanese PSPs and never left the region. With the Vita out, Spike Chunsoft decided to bring their title to this newer handheld as well. It“s thanks to this more recent port and NIS America that Western gamers can finally get a taste of the oddball adventure game - and many have been waiting quite a while for the official debut! But what exactly is Dangaronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc? Dangonronpa is a title focusing on a cast of teenagers with incredible skills. Each is the ultimate in their respective interest (such as baseball, business, and programming) and have been selected to go to an incredibly exclusive high school. Hope“s Peak Academy has long been known as the launch point for students that will make them set for life in their future careers. Unfortunately, as the introduction quickly reveals, something has gone seriously wrong at Hope“s Peak. For some reason, aside from the newest entrants into the school, it is completely empty. Windows are covered with massive metal plates, the exit blocked by a vault-style door, and there“s also a weird bear ordering everyone around. This teddy bear-like being, named Monokuma, plainly states that the group of students are to be stuck in school for the rest of their lives. The only way to leave is to kill a classmate - and get away with it. Of course, getting away with it entails fooling everyone during a trial between peers. If they peg the right person then that student is punished with death. However, point to the wrong person and everyone except the murder will receive death sentences. It seems ridiculous which is why no one wants to believe Monokuma is even capable of carrying out his threats! But soon enough they realize that the claims are real and every one of them is in mortal danger. Players take the role of an “average” student named Makoto and do their best to find clues, solve murders, and make sure innocents aren“t killed. Playing Danganronpa reveals a host of varied gameplay modes that mix point and click adventure, visual novel, and a few other things. A lot of the game is spent watching the story unfold as characters discuss topics with a static image showing who“s speaking. On occasions, you have time to freely choose who to chat with or can scour crime scenes for important clues. Segments like these are played from a first-person perspective, although navigating the school is pretty dull. There is a map function to quickly warp between areas, at least. When on the hunt for clues you simply interact with static screens by clicking on objects to learn about them. After watching events transpire and collecting clues, the gameplay shifts into a class trial mode. At this point, all the living classmates gather up and try to decide who among them has committed murder. This is a recurring event and only gets more stressful as the class body dwindles. As everyone presents their ideas (or accusations) it is your job to find the lies or mistakes and expose them. For better or for worse, almost all of your classmates are complete imbeciles meaning it“s on your shoulders to discern what really happened in each crime. In a way it sounds like a Phoenix Wright game. Actually playing the courtroom aspect of Danganronpa shows it as a completely different beast, though. To go with the theme of murder, you are granted “truth bullets” to shoot at incorrect statements being made. During another courtroom event, you“ll have to play a simplistic rhythm game while shooting down lies. Finally, you have to completely reconstruct the series of events around each murder in comic book format to prove you“ve got it down. Most of these elements seem like silly attempts to make the experience more game-like. Honestly, it would have been fine with simple menus rather than the strangely complex system that is eventually build up during these sections. Although there might be reason to gripe with some of the game“s constraints, it“s hard to get too angry about the writing. As it turns out, it is a surprisingly gripping tale filled with unique characters. Each student is completely different and almost all have their own weird quirks. A few characters fall into stereotypes, but it was nice to see more unique members among the students as well. Eventually you“ll find the students you like most and seek to spend more time with them but you never know who might be murdered next. Part of the tension comes from hoping your specific clique will make it out alive…but that is very unlikely. Another high point for Danganronpa is its art and music. The visual design of each character is fairly unique and drawn nicer than a standard RPG. Similarly, there are special scenes and a few animated ones that showcase even better quality visuals than the main game. As for the soundtrack, it is composed by Masafumi Takada who has worked on a great many Grasshopper Manufacture titles over the years. If you liked his music in titles like Killer7 then you“ll almost certainly love the soundtrack here. Danganronpa offers at least 15 hours of gameplay which spans across a handful of murders that must be solved. The main disappointment is that it isn“t all that difficult. Even when you aren“t clear on how a murder occurred, everything is written to lead you directly to the solution over the course of each case. However, an easier difficulty means this game can be enjoyed by many more people which is a great thing. The main reason to play is to watch the story unfold and see if you“re a good enough detective to pinpoint who will be murdered and by whom before it occurs! The game tells a compelling story all the while offering up a totally unique experience to players. If murder mysteries are your thing then you“d be doing yourself a disservice by not checking out Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc. Pros: + Dark, sometimes humorous writing, sets the tone for a very engaging storyline + Very nice artwork and animation to compliment the large amount of reading segments + Excellent soundtrack that shifts from melancholic to manic Cons: - Gameplay elements feel awkwardly tacked on - Skilled sleuths will find each murder mystery a bit too obvious, especially during courtroom segments - Some of the students are cliched which clashes with the far more interesting ones Overall Score: 7.0 (out of 10) Good Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc is quite the unusual game but its compelling plot is worth investigating. A download code was provided by the publisher for this review
  7. Marcus Estrada

    Steam Weeklong Deals for January 6-13

    Although another ginormous Steam sale won't be around until Summer, the weekly deals are back to keep gamers company. This week there are less games on sale than average, but some notable choices. Here's what you can spend your money on this week: Air Conflicts Collection - $22.49 Anodyne - $4.99 Dysfunctional Systems: Learning to Manage Chaos - $2.49 Guardians of Graxia - $1.24 Hammerfight - $4.99 Lume - $2.10 For those who aren't aware, Dysfunctional Systems is one of the few visual novels available on Steam! Unfortunately, over the weekend developer Dischan Media announced the episodic series was being put on hiatus. Games such as Anodyne and Hammerfight also have their fans. Are you interested in any of these titles?
  8. Marcus Estrada

    Hate Plus Screenshot

    From the album: Marcus's Album

  9. Developer: Idea Factory Publisher: Aksys Games Platform: 3DS Release Date: September 19, 2013 ESRB: M for Mature A download code was provided by the publisher for this review Before Aksys brought Hakuoki: Demon of the Fleeting Blossom to the West last year, otome games were largely unheard of here. Since they took the plunge, we've been getting more and more games in the genre. Now, Aksys's efforts have brought the samurai romancing visual novel to 3DS owners with Hakuoki: Memories of the Shinsengumi. Memories of the Shinsengumi can be described as a port of the original PSP game with some new bonus features. On top of the riveting main game that includes many routes and endings, Memories of the Shinsengumi also totes six new stories and a photo booth mode. Those that have already played Demon of the Fleeting Blossom already know what goes on in the Hakuoki universe. This may be an intimidating title to others, however, especially because it“s an otome game. True, there is some romancing going on from the view of a female protagonist, but the game is largely focused on Japanese history, politics, action, and violence. The point in time that Memories of the Shinsengumi takes place in is during the late Edo Period. As the game“s title implies, the game follows the exploits of the legendary Shinsengumi – a special police force. Much of the game retells the history surrounding the Shinsengumi, of course. However, not everything is as it seems… Supernatural beings such as bloodthirsty “furies†and demons cause strife throughout the story and make for an interesting twist. The protagonist, Chizuru, still manages to find love during these troubling times. Those interested in the romancing aspect might be a little disappointed that there isn“t much of it throughout Memories of the Shinsengumi, but there“s still just enough to satisfy that sweet tooth. All of the characters are quite well developed and have some great backstories. It“s very much worth it to go through each guy“s route and get all the endings. Be careful, though! You just might fall in love with these handsome men and won“t know what to do with yourself. Now, unless you“re very well-versed in Japanese history, you may have a bit of trouble understanding what“s going on through Memories of the Shinsengumi. There are many people, landmarks, and battles you will not know and have to remember during the course of the game if you wish to comprehend what“s going on. Thankfully, there“s an encyclopedia provided for you in the game menu that is filled out each time you come across a new term. The art of Hakuoki is very beautiful, especially when it“s displayed at its best in the special CG scenes. My problem with the art in Memories of the Shinsengumi, however, is simply because it“s on the 3DS. Because the system“s screen is small, portraits and whatnot have been sized down and look very low quality when compared to Demon of the Fleeting Blossom on PSP. It“s a shame to do such a thing to such pretty artwork, but what can you do? What about those new modes that Memories of the Shinsengumi boasts over Demon of the Fleeting Blossom? Well, the “Hakuoki Memories†mode (the six new stories I mentioned earlier) doesn“t offer much. The stories are extremely short, even if they do offer a little insight into the lives of the men of the Shinsengumi. There“s some very lovely pieces of artwork at the end of each story, though. The Photo Booth mode does offer some silly fun, but perhaps only for a few minutes or so. So, is it worth it to get Memories of the Shinsengumi over Demon of the Fleeting Blossom? If you have a PSP or Vita, you should probably get the latter. Those that just have a 3DS, however, should definitely pick up Memories of the Shinsengumi. As for me, I got the limited editions for both versions anyway! I love Memories of the Shinsengumi and the Hakuoki universe. Not only is it an otome game, but it“s a great game for those looking for something different (or for some hot samurai boyfriends). Pros: + Lots of routes and endings + Encyclopedia to help you learn important historical terms + A focus on history and action for those not interested in romancing aspect Cons: - New features aren“t very exciting - Art quality is lowered from original game Overall Score: 8.0 (out of 10) Great Those that have already played Demon of the Fleeting Blossom might want to skip Memories of the Shinsengumi (unless you want to support otome releases in the West!). Definitely pick this up if you haven“t played the original, though.
  10. Marcus Estrada

    25 More Titles Greenlit on Steam

    Last time there was a massive batch of 100 titles Greenlit and now there are 25. Sure, it might seem paltry in comparison to the last set, but it is still far more than what Valve would usually do. This time around there are actually a large amount of titles that aren't horror focused! Here are all the latest Greenlit games (so we are excluding the software): Bugbear Entertainment's Next Car Game Candle Dusty Revenge DwarfCorp Eden Star Gimbal Grimm Higurashi When They Cry Humans Must Answer Lacuna Passage Long Live the Queen Monochroma Mount Your Friends Postmortem: One Must Die SeaCraft SUPERHOT Syder Arcade theHunter U55 - End of the Line Valdis Story Abyssal City Warsow World of Diving WWII Online: Battleground Europe Zombie Tycoon II Most excitingly, we see that the Greenlight community has managed to scrounge up enough attention about visual novels to vote for two of them! This is after the last batch of games which included one as well. Hopefully Higurashi and Long Live the Queen will get more players interested in the genre.
  11. Marcus Estrada

    Review: Sweet Fuse: At Your Side

    Developer: Otomate Publisher: Aksys Games Platform: PSP (PSN) Release Date: August 27, 2013 ESRB: T for Teen A download code was provided by the publisher for this review Chances are, even if you“re reading this review, you“ve never played an otome game before (or only one). Otome games are most generally equivalent to dating sims. Except instead of focusing on a cast of datable girls, you play as a young woman who is surrounding by a bunch of guys. Dating sims themselves are quite the niche, so this genre is a niche of a niche. So far, it seems Aksys Games is the most willing to venture into otome territory. Their most recent otome release is Sweet Fuse: At Your Side by developer Otomate. It“s far from the cute and cuddly title you might be expecting, though. As the story begins, it all seems goofy enough. Your lead character, Sake Inafune, is actually the niece of real life game developer Keiji Inafune. He has just opened up a theme park based around video games and of course you“re excited to check it out during an exclusive opening event. Alongside other curious parties, you arrive, only to see Keiji kidnapped by a strange pig-looking monster. From there, things get weird. This pig guy, named Count Hogstein, is an apparently insane creature who has decided to turn the entire theme park into a massive diabolical game. He requires a cast of seven people to engage in his game and Saki jumps right into the mess. Alongside six men, she learns that the Count is forcing them to solve puzzles as a group. If they fail in their attraction-themed puzzles then they“ll all be caught in explosions rigged to each attraction. The cast of men is pretty varied, even if their presentation harps a bit too much on stereotypical types. There is a musclebound man calling everyone his “bro”, a shut-in gamer with greasy hair, a boy band idol, and a few others. With the vast differences between each character it“s likely that everyone will find one they like more than the rest and wish to focus on. Even if they don“t, the game will eventually push them down the path of whoever they are closest to. Those without interest in the romantic components still have the rest of the game to enjoy, which focuses primarily on the drama of making it through each puzzle alive. One of the most interesting facets about Sweet Fuse is the gameplay. The way Aksys marketed the game made it almost sound like an otome version of 999: Nine Persons, Nine Hours, Nine Doors. However, there is never a point in this game where you are actually solving puzzles on your own. Instead, it plays purely as a visual novel. Characters will slowly come to conclusions about the solutions to puzzles, and likely you“ll come up with them beforehand, but there“s no way to act on them yourself. That doesn“t mean all you do is read, read, and read some more. As with other visual novels, your interactivity is based on making choices at specified times. These choices tend to be focused on what you“ll say to characters next. You might make someone happy, sad, or start yelling at them. Some of these choices affect very little, but others will put you on the path toward romancing one character over the other. There are also special times in puzzles where you must choose the proper hint to move on. Failure to guess the right hint will lead to everyone“s doom - and a game-over screen. But, for the most part, you“ll be doing a ton of reading. It takes five to eight hours to get through Sweet Fuse on a first playthrough depending on your reading speed. Of course, if you like the game enough to get through it once you“ll probably be excited to go through again. There is a lot of replay value simply for the fact of being able to romance a variety of men. A second playthrough in particular even yields an entirely new romance option. Since there“s not too much gameplay to handle, the main point of interest is the characters and their interplay. Thankfully, the translation is engrossing, even if not completely accurate to the original Japanese. Saki herself is an incredibly strong-willed character who serves as a stable base to the more fiery attitudes of some of her team members. It“s fun to see them play around and all that, although it does come across as a bit odd they would be capable of being silly in such a dire situation. Also, one unfortunate aspect is the amount of typographical errors to come across. It seems likely the game just wasn“t enough of a priority or something as it“s rare to see this much wrong in a published title. With that said, the game and its characters are primarily enjoyable. The puzzles are also pretty neat even if you never get to actually “solve” any yourself. With so few otome games out in the West it would even still be worth supporting if the game were not so great. Thankfully, Sweet Fuse is fun and offers a great deal of replay value. Definitely grab it on UMD or as a PSN download and then get to work with Saki and her crew on PSP or Vita. Pros: + Interesting cast of dateable characters + Multiple characters allow for a bevy of playthroughs Cons: - Fair bit of typos to be found - Puzzle interactivity severely limited Overall Score: 8.5 (out of 10) Great With such a small amount of otome games easily available to the American audience, Sweet Fuse shoots up to the top of the top of the list.
  12. Marcus Estrada

    Sweet Fuse Screenshot 3

    From the album: Review Images

  13. Marcus Estrada

    Sweet Fuse Screenshot 2

    From the album: Review Images

  14. Marcus Estrada

    Sweet Fuse Screenshot 1

    From the album: Review Images

  15. Marcus Estrada

    Hate Plus Now on Steam

    A year after Christine Love debuted Analogue: A Hate Story, the sequel is now out. What was first teased as DLC grew into something much larger with Hate Plus. Although the title is a sequel, it is designed so that both players of the original and newbies can start playing. Hate Plus can be defined most easily as a visual novel. That means players are subject to a great deal of reading, but if it's anything like Analogue then the story should be deeply engrossing. The game is available on Windows, Mac, and Linux and even includes achievements (but Steam Trading cards are not coming). You can buy Hate Plus at a 10% discount today which cuts the price down to $8.99. Truly adventurous gamers can shoot for the Cooking by the Book achievement which forces players to take a photo of a real cake while character *Hyun-Ae is on screen - and send it to the developer!