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Found 8 results

  1. Marcus Estrada

    Review: Gurumin: A Monstrous Adventure

    Developer: Nihon Falcom Publisher: Mastiff Platform: PC (Steam, GOG) Release Date: March 30, 2015 ESRB: E10+ Gurumin: A Monstrous Adventure is the kind of game that is easily thrown by the wayside. When it launched in the US on PSP in 2007, well, the existing interest in the platform wasn“t exactly booming. Many unique titles failed to make a splash and Gurumin was one of them. Now it“s being given a second chance via a digital PC release on Steam and GOG. I“ll admit to having never played the game on PSP, but now I wish I really had. As it turns out, the game is 100% classifiable as a “hidden gem” which is finally getting its much-deserved chance in the spotlight. So, what the heck is Gurumin? The game stars a young girl named Parin who has just moved in with her heavily-bearded grandfather. Unfortunately, this town is completely deprived of children! What the heck is Parin supposed to do with her time? Well, luckily for her she just so happens to discover that a group of monsters live right outside of town. Because adults cannot see them, she is totally free to goof around with her new buddies. This excitement is short-lived, though, when the monster village is decimated by other, crueler monsters known as Phantoms shortly after their meeting. Parin takes arms against them with an ancient monster weapon—a drill. From there, players must adventure through tons of levels to defeat Phantoms and collect items stolen from her monster buddies. Gameplay feels pretty standard with its 3D action-platforming style. After selecting an area from a world map, you enter into a level—drill in hand—and beat up basically anything in your path. Alongside Phantoms, this also includes rocks, pillars, and walls which tend to crumble under the drill“s power. Breaking stuff yields coins and sometimes even unveils secret items or areas. Basically, you want to cause as much damage as possible on every stage, but it“s not that hard to do. Phantoms start off pretty easy but after a while you“ll definitely want to upgrade weapons and items for an easier time. After the first few hours with Gurumin: A Monstrous Adventure you“ll also settle into the basic pattern of gameplay. You“ll visit a level, complete it to collect an item at the end, bring the item to the monsters, and then see a new area unlock. Sometimes more puzzling elements are added in, but for the most part the same pattern repeats itself throughout much of the game. It“s not a bad thing, as the gameplay is enjoyable, just that it might feel a little too obvious at times. There are boss battles thrown in between as well as story segments which help keep things fresh. And really, it“s that storyline which turns the game from simply an enjoyable action-based time into something truly special. You see, despite (or because of) having played so many games over my lifetime, it“s rare to find one that feels endearing and honest. Gurumin provides a wonderfully adorable world with goofy monsters peppered throughout. All of Parin“s friends are unusual, such as a gigantic cat who has a deep voice and shy demeanor. Then there is a fellow who dances continuously for no apparent reason. Every single character is charming in their own strange ways and these quirks help the game stand out against its contemporaries. Even now, the humor still (mostly) hits as cutely irreverent. After hours of play there were just a few facets which caused caused annoyance. The biggest is the default camera“s problem following Parin in an intelligent fashion. Of course, you can manipulate it on your own to fix its issues. The controls display for PC keyboard users, but unfortunately don“t change if you swap to gamepad controls. Because control instructions sometimes focus on “mouse cursor” location, though, it becomes slightly confusing to figure out how exactly to pull a special move off via controller. In all, these complaints are minimal and pale in comparison to the pure joy of playing. It“s rare for a game to provide such a simple, wonderful experience like Gurumin: A Monstrous Adventure. Many 3D games in general tend to age poorly, but this one still manages to be a highly enjoyable experience. Without the charming storyline and cast, it probably wouldn“t work so well, but their inclusion makes it stand out. If you missed out (like many of us did) on the PSP release back in the day, then make up for it by grabbing the PC release now. Gurumin: A Monstrous Adventure is a wonderful title which deserves all the attention it can get. Pros: + Adorably weird cast of characters + Mostly simple, enjoyable action and platformer gameplay + Bright, cartoony world that is fun to explore Cons: - Default camera movement is iffy - Button prompts aren“t tailored for gamepad players Overall Score: 9 (out of 10) Fantastic It's rare for a game to provide such an overwhelmingly charming experience as Gurumin. More players simply must give it a try! Disclosure: This game was reviewed using downloadable Steam code provided by the publisher.
  2. Marcus Estrada

    La Pucelle: Tactics Screenshot 3

    From the album: Review Images

  3. Marcus Estrada

    La Pucelle: Tactics Screenshot 2

    From the album: Review Images

  4. Marcus Estrada

    La Pucelle: Tactics Screenshot

    From the album: Review Images

  5. Marcus Estrada

    Review: La Pucelle: Tactics

    Developer: Nippon Ichi Software Publisher: Mastiff Platform: PSN, PS2 Release Date: September 11, 2012 (Original: 5/4/04 ) ESRB: T for Teen If you were the owner of a PS2 back in its heyday and were a fan of Japanese games then Disgaea was probably big on your radar. When Disgaea: Hour of Darkness launched on the system it was met with loads of praise. Gamers quickly snapped it up and waited for Atlus to publish more. Because of the unexpected success, publisher Mastiff decided to bring Nippon Ichi“s previous game stateside. La Pucelle: Tactics had actually come out a year before Disgaea in Japan, but would not be arriving a year later in North America. The question was (and still remains): Just how good is this game and was it worth the translation? Despite similar gameplay mechanics, La Pucelle certainly had a different backstory going for it. In the Kingdom of Paprica, there is a church which works toward fulfilling an ancient prophecy. Said church has a little gang called La Pucelle which work on destroying evil in the land. Although the game has a very “I“ve heard this before” start the story at least grows out of the simplistic start it establishes. Characters, too, aren“t a revelation and align with many that we“ve seen before. The lead character, Prier, is a cocky tomboy but at least it“s fun to see her interact with others. Although there is a fair bit of time devoted to the story the main thing worth focusing on is gameplay. Many conventions of a typical strategy RPG are involved although La Pucelle also brings out a lot of creative twists. First, let“s talk about the more average elements. As you jump into a match the game allows you to place up to eight characters onto the battlefield. From there, characters move about the isometric field, carry out their orders, then wait for the enemy to make their turn. Taking higher ground over an enemy yields stronger attacks, characters can execute group attacks, and all the other stuff you expect. Group attacks in particular are fun because of how easy they are to make work. Unlike games which might require a specific alignment, La Pucelle just asks that two characters are in adjacent squares or next to the same enemy. This means that four of the team can group up around a particularly tough enemy and smack at it all from all angles. Actually, it“s possible to even offer up more damage if four more characters group up behind the main ones. Although this arrangement isn“t likely to happen often, it“s nice to see that the whole gang can be used in one go. Having one character be called in for a group attack also doesn“t use up their turn, if they weren“t initiating the attack to begin with. Predictably, enemies can also make use of groups so try not to lots of them on at once. Then there“s the other features that make this game a bit more exciting or cumbersome, depending on your viewpoint. First there are the Dark Portals which exude different-colored paths of energy. Colors are pertinent because they each denote what specific effect the energy has. Some will heal while others are damaging so it“s best to keep track of what each color means. While your team can stand on the energy, and even change the direction of the path, it only effects enemies. Monsters who sit on the path while you “purify” the Portal will be zapped, burned, or whatever else. By directing the paths so they form a large completed square you can even execute a highly powerful attack on everything within it. With that said, it“s important to talk about the whole purification concept. As La Pucelle is a religious organization they are of course focused on ridding the land of impure things. The Dark Portals are one such object as they are able to spawn new enemies. After a certain amount of turns they will pop out a new creature which easily prolongs battles. In order to stop this process you must purify them beforehand. Although this seems simple, it“s a bit tough considering there are always other enemies to contend with too. This isn“t the only way to use purification skills though. Enemies are also able to be hit with purify although it functions differently than the Portals. Monsters don“t just switch sides because you want them to; they require convincing. Giving it a go for a few turns typically sways them over, but not always. Either way, once you think an enemy is ready to convert then you have to defeat them. Sure, it would have been nicer to have them automatically switch sides after enough coaxing, but the mechanic isn“t broken. It is however tiresome to have enemies attacking you in between attempts to convert. Once an enemy is under your wing you can summon it into battle and have it fight for you. With one creature of that type on your side now though it makes it more difficult to capture others of the same variety. It“s a bit of an odd caveat but still not an issue. Boss enemies also are not able to be purified but this is to be expected. Outside of battle monsters can be trained. It“s possible to work them harder to become stronger, but then they become less happy with you. The way monsters are trained is also strange as it focuses around giving the right responses to them, but you won“t know outright what the right ones are. It“s certainly useful to have monsters on your team but as long as you grind it won“t be mandatory. Speaking of leveling up, let“s discuss how it is implemented. In this game there is no point where you select what stats to upgrade and assign points to. Instead, the items each character poses are what attain higher levels. It“s unusual at first, but easy to get into the mindset of. Depending on how you want the character to progress you just need to select the types of items that would work best for that goal. Stick on loads of defensive objects for a character with higher defensive abilities, or give them specific weapons for the fight style you want. As the game progresses it doesn“t seem entirely difficult. With only one difficulty setting you are quickly able to get into the strategy of the game after the tutorials. Unfortunately, it doesn“t feel like there is that much offered by La Pucelle to urge players forward. At times it feels too simple, and at other times it seems like it“s more important to grind then have a winning strategy. Certain bosses definitely emphasize this point which is a real shame. Strategizing in the game is actually pretty open-ended so when you are able to wrap your mind around the intricacies it feels rewarding. If you can“t though the game definitely drags on. Both types of players will probably find it a bit dull though. This is not due to any gameplay elements in particular but the way battles play out. When attacking or being attacked, the game switches into a 2D battle view. Then it plays out the hits and misses in simple little animations. Practically at the start of the game you realize this isn“t going to be an asset. It only really accomplishes making battles last longer than they need to. Sure, it“s rewarding to see your teammates gang up on an enemy at first but eventually it wears out its welcome. It would have been smart to add an option to turn them off. How does the game stand up today? The visuals were never mind-blowing then and look a bit cheap now. Sure, Nippon Ichi still retains the same general style to this day with Disgaea but it has gotten upgraded over time to be less sprite-y. In regards to the voice acting, it seems better than some of the other early Japanese PS2 games, which is a blessing. Although some games always had bad voice acting, reflecting on them now becomes an even more ear-grating endeavor. If you still don“t like it, the game at least retained the original Japanese voices which can be switched on at any time. When La Pucelle: Tactics originally launched it had to contend with the raised expectations of gamers thanks to Disgaea. It certainly offers a great deal of strategy and isn“t a bad game, but it isn“t quite as good as it could be. Playing it versus Disgaea 3 or 4 reveals that a lot of subtle tweaks have come to the genre after years to make them better. La Pucelle will still be fun for hardcore fans but others would probably do better by simply picking up a newer game. Still, if you want to experience everything the world of strategy RPGs has to offer then this is a good choice. Pros: + You won't be lacking for strategic options when playing + Dark Portals and purifying enemies are neat features + Game offers a lot of content for the price Cons: - Battle animations are unnecessary and increase game length - Often strategy is unnecessary if you use brute strength - Game isn't as polished which modern strategy fans will notice Overall Score: 6.5 (Out of 10) Decent Better games have come since, and were even available at the time, but there's still worth in giving La Pucelle: Tactics a shot.