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  1. Editor's Note: Instead of using our traditional reviewing method with breakdowns and a final score, these games were reviewed by giving a short yet concise overview of each game; thus they were not scored. A download code was supplied by the publisher for this review Despite the PS3 being out since 2006, only a handful of games have been made available through the PSone Classics section on the PS Store. Some true classics have been posted, but so too have games that no one would rightly define “classic.” A subset of the section, PSone Imports, saw such little use that it has now been merged with the main section. Still, near the end of its lifespan, GungHo Online Entertainment has brought out their second batch of import games onto the Store. They first released a batch of import titles last year and it was a pretty interesting selection. Despite being in Japanese, most of the games could be understood by anyone. This time around, the six new games are not as friendly to non-Japanese speaking/reading audiences. All the same, someone must play them to see just how likely it is we may enjoy them! Here“s the take on these six imports from someone who definitely cannot read Japanese. Favorite Dear ~Enkan no Monogatari~ Here is one game that is a surprise to see available to a western audience. Favorite Dear is a series of games, with this being the third in the series, that focuses on RPG and visual novel elements. Players interested in these genres may at first be excited by its availability on PSN, but those without knowledge of Japanese won“t be able to do anything with it. As all these games are pure imports, you“ll be forced to wade through countless menus and text all written in Japanese. If you have no clue about Japanese, then don“t even bother. Those who are students of the language might be able to work their way through, but this is a game best for fluent readers. After all, the game offers up so much text it just isn“t worth it to skip through everything to say you“ve played it. First Queen IV This game seems to be a boilerplate mashup between RPG and SRPG. Although fans can never have enough strategy titles, this is one that is probably best left to those who can actually read Japanese. The game is full of story, none of it voiced, and it seems much of the point in playing is lost through simply not understanding what is happening. Granted, strategy games can flourish based on simply great mechanics. In my case, I found even these aspects difficult though as menus are full of Japanese text. If you can learn them and then memorize what they each mean then the game becomes playable but why put so much effort in? In the case of First Queen IV, it would probably be better to seek out a different SRPG. Mahjong Uranai Fortuna ~Tsuki no Megami Tachi~ Although we may have never played it, many are probably familiar with the game called mahjong. This board game which originated in China revolves around tiles and has four players (typically) facing off against one another. Although the exact mechanics vary by region, the four player games of mahjong are extremely popular in China and Japan. If you want to give this game a shot then make sure you know how to play mahjong (or at least, are willing to read up on it). That“s not to say the game is just a digital rendition of the classic game. It also features fortune tellers which you can play and square off against. It“s also possible to get your fortune from them, but of course it“s all announced in Japanese. Those who can understand spoken Japanese should appreciate that text is also said by characters as well as displayed on screen. Oz no Mahoutsukai ~Another World~ RungRung In this game, you play as Dorothy as her and her pet dog Toto travel about the mysterious realm of Oz. Yep, this is a PS1 rendition of The Wizard of Oz and, despite having similar hallmarks, takes a fair bit of artistic liberty to the world as well. Visually, the game is very bright and looks good for the era. Understanding the game is a bit more complex though. Thankfully many lines of dialog are voiced, which may help some, but otherwise you mostly have to guess as to what to do next. Obviously, missions typed in Japanese text alone leave little room for understanding for the non-Japanese speaker. This is unfortunate considering the game has a cute style. Sentimental Graffiti Of all the games GungHo brought West this time around, Sentimental Graffiti is by far the most head-scratching addition. Although the name certainly doesn“t reveal it, this is a dating sim. While some may be initially very excited by a “new” dating sim being made available it is of little use to non-Japanese readers. The game is completely full of Japanese text. The original game was released on PS and Saturn and was later granted both a sequel and anime series. There are 12 dateable girls and, although you can find a guide, it isn“t particularly able to help you enjoy the story any. It“s probably best that those of us with no Japanese knowledge skip out on Sentimental Graffiti. Trump Shiyouyo! Fukkoku-ban Although this name might sound a bit rude, it ends up being the easiest game to get into by far. As may be inferred by the “Trump” in the name, this is a card game collection. The art style is very cartoony and as such it seems this set was made for children, although they probably wouldn't know the rules of all the included card games. There are ten card games included in all and many should be familiar to US gamers. They are: Baba-nuki (Old Maid), Blackjack, Daifugou (Grand Millionaire), Dobon, Page One, Poker, Seven Bridge, Shichi-narabe (Sevens), Shinkei-sujyaku (Concentration), and Speed. Unfortunately, most of the game names are written in Japanese on the main menu. Once you“re in a game though, most of the information is conveyed through card faces (which don“t change due to differing regions) and so it“s not hard to discern what you“re playing. Overall, GungHo“s latest Imports are an incredibly brave attempt by the company. However, those of us who are unable to read or speak Japanese will find these games too much work to play (aside from the card games). It“s a shame considering the likes of Oz no Mahoutsukai ~Another World~ RungRung seem very appealing and then there“s Sentimental Graffiti which would no doubt sell to dating sim hopefuls in America if it were translated. Still, if you read Japanese or have friends who do, let them know about these unusual PSN releases playable on PS3, PSP, and Vita.
  2. Marcus Estrada

    GungHo Bringing Yet Another Batch of PSOne Imports

    It's hard to say that many companies have been keeping the PSOne Classics section alive on PS Store. The digital storefront has been built up over the years, but seems mostly static now. Lately though we have seen one company push handfuls of niche games onto the service: GungHo Online Entertainment. Their interest is purely in import titles, which makes it even more interesting. GungHo is at it again as they shared upcoming releases with the PS Blog. There are six in all, although only three are released this week. The other three will arrive on May 7th. Today's imports include Evergreen Avenue, Favorite Dear ~Jyunpaku no Yogensha~, and Zero Kara no Mahjong ~Mahjong Youchien Tamago-gumi~. The first game is a visual novel with minigames and other elements, but is probably not likely to attract players who don't understand the language. Favorite Dear continues the series of dating sim/RPG, which is also text-heavy. Finally, the mahjong game is, well, mahjong. The May games are Motto Trump Shiyouyo!, Zero Kara no Shogi ~Shogi Youchien Ayumi-gumi~, and Zero Kara no Mahjong ~Mahjong Youchien Tamago-gumi 2~. This includes a card game collection, shogi, and more mahjong. Although these selections aren't as exciting, they could theoretically be played by a Western audience as long as the player understands the card or board game in question.
  3. Marcus Estrada

    First Queen IV

    From the album: Review Images

  4. Grasshopper Manufacture, home of acclaimed developer Suda51, has officially been bought by up-and-coming publishing powerhouse GungHo Online Entertainment. The news was announced through GungHo's website and states that GungHo is "fusing the planning and development power of Grasshopper Manufacture with the power of managing online games cultivated by both companies to produce higher quality content" (as translated by Gematsu). GungHo is most notable for producing the massively popular MMO Ragnarok Online, and already has a stable of developers under its belt, including Game Arts, Gravity Co and Acquire. One of their last major releases was Dokuro for the PS Vita (of which our own Marcus Estrada gave a very favorable score to in our official review). Just last year, the company established GungHo Online Entertainment America, which is being led by former Square Enix and XSEED executive Jun Iwasaki. As for Grasshopper Manufacture, the studio is most well known for developing cult classics Killer 7, No More Heroes, and Lollipop Chainsaw among others. They are currently in the midst of developing their newest title, Killer is Dead. Via: GamesIndustry Source: GungHo (as translated by Gematsu) Are you surprised by GungHo's acquisition of Grasshopper Manufacture?
  5. Marcus Estrada

    GungHo Bringing More Obscure Games to PSN Imports

    Most PS3 users look through PSN every once in a while, but may not be aware of the PS One Classics Import section. This area features games which were only available on PS1 in Japan. So far, publisher Monkey Paw Interactive has served up most items available within it. Today, GungHo Online Entertainment has just pushed six titles to PSN. You may recall this company as they were the ones who also brought Dokuro to PSN. Now it seems they're in full swing, releasing lots of very Japanese content to Sony fans. The six new games are as follows: Art Camion Sugorokuden Finger Flashing Lup Salad Makeruna Makendo 2 Vehicle Cavalier ZANAC x ZANAC Chances are, most, if not all, of the titles mentioned are not ones you're familiar with. As such, here are some incredibly brief descriptions for each. Art Camion Sugorokuden is a board game of sorts based around garishly decorated delivery trucks. Finger Flashing is basically rock, paper, scissors, except that you use the luck game to fight off monsters and other enemies. Lup Salad is mostly a typical puzzle game focused around matching three blocks of a kind. However, movement is limited as blocks may fall and crush the character if they aren't careful. Continuing on, Makuruna Makendo 2 was initially a SNES-era fighting game. It was updated for PS and features a cast of strange characters to fight with. Vehicle Cavalier is a game of giant robots battling each other. You're able to customize your mech as well. Finally, ZANAC x ZANAC is a package of two games, Zanac and Zanac Neo. These are both sidescrolling shooters which fans of the genre are probably familiar with. Each title is $6 and is completely in Japanese. Do you appreciate how the digital era is giving players access to games never before available in their regions?
  6. Marcus Estrada

    Review: Dokuro

    Developer: GameArts Publisher: GungHo Online Entertainment Platform: PS Vita (PSN) Release Date: October 16, 2012 ESRB: E10+ Vita owners are slowly gaining a nice library of games to play, but there“s very little for puzzle fans to get excited about. Puzzle games might not be viewed often as massively important to a console library, but sometimes they can end up being amazing. Hits like the original Tetris and Portal definitely showed that these games can captivate everyone, and in a way, it seems like Dokuro is a game for the larger Vita-owning audience. Dokuro is a simple game focused around a small skeleton who wants to help a princess on her travels through a castle. She has been placed there by a demonic king who plans on wedding her. Although your character is a simple underling, he musters up the courage to get her out. Weirdly enough, the princess can not even see the skeleton most of the time. It“s only when you use a magical potion to transform into a prince that she perks up and pays attention. The game“s story is far from the most important thing about it. Mainly, you“re going to be focusing on gameplay which is related to your little skeleton and the princess he“s aiding. On a 2D plane, you must progress from left to right with the lady by your side. Each level itself is fairly small and the only requirement is to get both characters over to a flower, which signifies the end of a stage. As you might expect, this is easier said than done. In order to make it from level to level you“re going to have to solve puzzle after puzzle. While levels initially start out simple, they quickly grow in difficulty. At the start, all you really have to do is push boxes or lower platforms to get the princess to the goal. Because she cannot jump or walk up steep inclines on her own, your goal will basically always be to give her flat ground to walk across on each stage. Sometimes it may seem impossible but there are always ways to do it. Of course, pushing blocks and using levers aren't the only features of the game. First, there is the potion which makes you a prince, as was mentioned earlier. This isn“t just for fun, though, as it serves the purpose of allowing you to carry the princess. This is useful at times when you need to move her with specific timing, such as through moving obstacles. There are also other additions such as colored chalk. Red chalk works to bring fire to objects such as explosive barrels or candle lights. These features all end up being integral to certain puzzles or to defeat enemies. Enemies in the game are varied but you“ll tend to see the same set of faces over and over. There are monsters who will die with a quick hit, but others are much more of a challenge. Sometimes, they can“t even be beaten easily, but require the help of environmental objects. Although they add more challenge, it almost feels like they aren“t necessary when there are such great level-based puzzles going on. They usually aren“t a hindrance, but the developers probably would have had no trouble simply making puzzles difficult without the aid of creatures bumbling around. It“s a fairly simple game overall, but level and puzzle design get it to be quite complex. Oftentimes there will be barriers to progressing, such as walls, enemies, spike pits, and more. Everything in the game works against you in an attempt to make puzzles harder to solve. Although it is often easy to grasp what you need to do, it“s harder to get things in the right order to carry out the plan. Dokuro even becomes a frustrating experience at times when you“re well on your way to completing a level and then come across a fault in your plan that wasn“t anticipated. Still, these mistakes show that the design is tightly woven and leaves little room for error. Those who dislike having to think, or to work quick, will probably dislike it. For everyone else though, it becomes an addicting experience. When levels typically only last from 30 seconds to a minute, you“re going to have all the time you need to play through a bunch, or simply play a little bit at a time. Being on the Vita is a big plus for the game as it“s the perfect kind of game for a portable system. Even though stages are brief, this doesn“t mean they all will be. The first time you encounter a particularly difficult puzzle will probably require a great deal more minutes with loads of failed attempts to solve it. Thankfully, the really tough stuff is sprinkled through and doesn“t all hit you one after the other. After a while, and some truly tough sections, you“ll begin to really get into the flow of Dokuro. Instead of feeling like you have no clue for solving something, strategies will start to form easier. The act of playing helps you master it and manage to have even more fun. Even when you reach this point, at about the halfway mark, you will still have loads of worthwhile levels ahead of you. Despite being a handheld title, it still manages to give you about 20 hours of gameplay (more if you“re trying to get top times on each level). Although the game itself is solid, some choices around how it was implemented on the Vita are not. For one, the basic method to transform into a price requires you to tap touch sections of the system twice in quick succession. This is fine, except when you“re trying to turn into him and require 100% certainty the transformation will occur. Often, it doesn“t. Thankfully, you can edit it so the move is triggered with the right bumper. Similarly, there is an enemy in the game who clouds the screen with white chalk. In order to get rid of it you must wipe furiously at the touch screen for a while. Sometimes, after clearing the screen, it will happen again because you were unable to see the creature to kill it in time. It“s fairly frustrating and could have definitely been cut down. Strangely, there are also features you might expect to interface with the Vita that don“t. For example, none of the menu objects can be touched to activate. This isn“t particularly a complaint, but it does feel weird after entering the game from the touch-based Vita interface. Also, the D-pad isn“t mapped to anything so don“t expect to use it for menus or during game. That“s all up to the analog stick. These things don“t hurt the game unless you“re entirely devoted to touch screen, but it“s worth noting. Really, with such little to criticize, Dokuro shines as a great Vita title. Not only is it a great game in general, but it manages to be the perfect type of game for a handheld system. Puzzle fans will get the most out of it, but others may find it an addicting title to chip away at. If you“re a Vita owner whose device is currently collecting dust then give the game a shot. Dokuro may just become the reason you start actually using it again. Pros: + Top-notch puzzle design + Easy to start, but tough enough to be rewarding + Full of puzzles that take around 20 hours to complete Cons: - Standard enemies are a mostly unnecessary addition - Touch controls can be frustrating at times Overall Score: 8 (Out of 10) Great Dokuro is a wonderfully-designed puzzle game to grace the Vita.
  7. Marcus Estrada

    Dokuro Screenshot 3

    From the album: Review Images

  8. Marcus Estrada

    Dokuro Screenshot 2

    From the album: Review Images

  9. Marcus Estrada

    Dokuro Screenshot

    From the album: Review Images