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Found 13 results

  1. WildCardCorsair

    Review: Megadimension Neptunia VII

    Developer: Compile Heart, Idea Factory Publisher: Idea Factory International Platform: PlayStation 4 Release Date: February 2, 2016 ESRB: Teen Megadimension… that isn“t right, is it? It“s some strange error on the box, much like Resident Evil Revelaitons (sic)? Well as much as it might seem like that, it actually isn“t. The longstanding ”Hyperdimension“ moniker is dropped for the first time in the series (no, Hyperdevotion Noire, you loner, you don“t count.) I guess it kinda makes sense, though? Like those mega bundles, Megadimension Neptunia is sorta three games in one. Why sorta? Well, all the different worlds are connected plot wise, but they are also not immediately connected to each other, meaning you can“t travel between them as you see fit. On one hand, I feel like Megadimension Neptunia VII tries to give us the series“s most complex plot yet. Which hey, I can totally appreciate. The first “game” takes us to the Zerodimension. A world on the brink of collapse, populated by a sole CPU. So naturally most of the game“s chief characters aren“t available. Thankfully this amounts to basically a prologue of sorts, but the problem of having access to the characters we“ve come to know and love. However, once the Zerodimension prologue is over, the problem is hardly fixed, cause immediately after you“re thrust into one of four “mini episodes” that limits you to certain small groups of characters. So yeah, we have a more complex plot that revolves around something other than an allegory about how piracy ruins video games, but at the cost of 40+ hours of the game limiting you to three characters at most at a time. In a game that revolves around personified video game consoles, was anyone looking for that kind of depth, especially at the cost of running around Gamindustri having to repeat the same levels among different groups of characters? Indeed they were not, says I. Other than that, the new characters from Gold Third, B-sha (Bandai Namco), C-sha (Capcom), S-sha (Square/Square Enix), and K-sha (Konami), are all cool additions with hilarious side stories based on the history of the companies they represent. So, like the plot, the combat system sees some added complexity as well. Mechanics that have evolved slowly in the Re:Birth games are all but turned on their head here. The previous title, Re;birth 3: V Generation ditched SP, adding it to the EXE gauge. Well the two are separate once again, but that isn“t the only change. This time around the EXE gauge actually resets between battles, meaning that you can“t spam attacks until it“s full and save that bad boy and say “Make my day.” All Clint Eastwood style when a wannabe tough guy rolls around. The basic nature of attack chains have also changed, somewhat for the better, somewhat for worse. Megadimension still features three different attack types, but because enemies no longer have a guard gauge, “Break,” as it existed previously, is replaced with an attack type that“s simply a mix of the other two. How you set combo attacks has changed as well. Before, each attack in the combo had a point value, but this time around weapons determine how many combo attacks can be set for characters. It“s a confusing change as the original combo system remained largely the same for many of the previous titles, and quite frankly I felt like I“d just woken up in an alternate dimension after seeing it. As time went on I started to like it more though, as choosing a weapon based not only on its damage value and attack area, but how it affects the combo system, injects more strategy into the game at the cost of the set-it-and-forget-it ease of combos in games past. Furthering the changes to combat system, Combo Traits make the order of attacks in the combo matter as each attack has criteria for additional damage based on your previous attacks. This makes certain attacks more useful in conjunction with others so you are encouraged to experiment and change them often, which certainly beats the old strategy of “find the one that hurts the bad dude the most and use it three/four times in a row.” But the changes hardly stop there. A key feature added to the game revolves around the ability to break parts off bad dudes like Beatrix Kiddo at the House of Blue Leaves. Early on it isn“t explained much but most tougher enemies and bosses have destructible bits that can break off if you attack them from a certain angle. You“ll want to experiment with this anyway since in this game characters“ positions actually affect how much damage you deal, but hitting them just right can actually net you cool stuff, and in some cases is even required if you don“t want to spend all day on a boss that might as well be a 'Sham Wow.' I“m pretty sure this was meant to replace enemies“ guard gauges but it ends up being more practical and rewarding than the old system ever was. The Formation system has also seen big changes. Just like positioning can enhance damage and break parks, you“ll also have to specifically position your team to unleash an F-Skill. Basically all these changes make for the most strategic combat in a Neptunia game yet, which I personally appreciate, for for plot reasons mentioned above, you won“t get to experience much of it until much later in game. Oh, and there“s this new thing called NEXT forms for the main CPUs, which are about as much of an afterthought mechanically as this mention of them is. On the subject of what hasn“t changed. Well. There“s no easy way to say this. Get ready to see the same areas that have inexplicably been around forever. Again. And again. And again. You get the idea. The Re;Birth games have received a lot of flak (from myself included) for reusing so many assets but those were developed back-to-back with little time for implementing feedback, and even if they hadn“t been, their status as remakes don“t lend themselves much to the possibility for drastic changes anyway. With Megadimension Neptunia VII that excuse simply does not exist. While there are plenty of new enemy models, the same old repeat offenders rear their tired faces yet again in this title. The running gags surrounding Arfoire“s frequent opposition are as tired at this point as actually fighting Arfoire several times a game for the last 145,179 games. Ok, maybe it only feels like there“s been that many, but seriously. Can we give Arfoire a break? For the love of all that is holy? Even a self aware joke about how tedious your mid-boss fights are don“t excuse them after this many games. Hashtag sadface. Look, I“ve been asking for change in these games since I started reviewing them, but this is like one of those freaky Twilight Zone, Stephen King, M. Night Shyamalan type things where I have all the time in the world but my glasses break while I come home and my family is eating the pie meant to curse an old gypsy and it turns out I was dead the whole time. Basically, "be careful what you wish for" should be a huge sticker on the front of this box because reviewers and fans alike have been asking for changes and we got them… but not for what we“d hoped. Done-to-death elements like much of the music, dungeons, and recurring boss battles are still beating that same dead horsebird. I“m surprised there“s anything left of that poor horse-birdy to be honest. And breaking up the game into a series of “episodes” with limited character selection for much of the game is a pretty baffling decision if you ask me. The changes that have been made though, actually make this title the most strategic and challenging that the series has seen in a long time. And let“s face it, if your game is known for 1) self referential, third-wall-breaking, and gaming industry humor, and 2) gameplay, there is absolutely nothing wrong with strengthening the weaker of the two. Just be careful what you lose along the way, and more importantly the changes maybe you should be focusing on a little more. Pros: + Trademark Neptunia series humor is back! + Huge overhauls to equipment and combat greatly reward players for strategy and planning Cons: - Still many repetitive boss fights and reused dungeons - Disjointed narrative removes many of the characters from use for too much of the game - Bath scenes. Plural. Why? That“s all I“m saying. Overall Score: 6.5 (out of 10) Decent Megadimension Neptunia VII may have the least confusing title in the series, but changes to combat and lack of changes in other areas may still confuse players. Disclosure: This game was reviewed using downloadable code provided by the publisher
  2. Developer: Experience Inc/Team Muramasa Publisher: Nis America/Experience Inc. Platform: Vita/Xbox One Release Date: April 26, 2016 ESRB: T for Teen This review is based on the PS Vita version of the game It is sort of easy to use Etrian Odyssey games as the catchall example for recent handheld first-person dungeon-crawlers. Which, in all fairness, they are held in high regard for a reason. Still, the Vita has managed to sneak in a few solid, though admittedly often fanservice-y, titles of their own on the often overlooked library. My own personal favorite dungeon-crawler of the batch was Experience Inc's Vita release, Demon Gaze. It managed to be surprisingly approachable as a game for a subgenre that is often steeped in archaic design, as well being fairly dense with audio and visual personality. So, as soon I heard about a new title from Experience Inc. called Stranger of Sword City, I was on-board to check it out. That said, boarding planes seems to be a bad idea in accordance to the lore of this game. This is because planes have a tendency to disappear from the modern world that we know of and crash-land into a new, and harsh, world that this title is based off of. Those that survive such abnormal plane crashes tend to become regarded as "Strangers," as they often possess abilities stronger than those that naturally inhabit the land. So, after some crazy old man tries to kill you and a lady in a school-girl outfit saves you by decapitating monsters, the player character eventually finds themselves in "Sword City." It's basically a sanction for Strangers because they are in high-demand for their combat prowess and can easily find work. The most common work for Strangers is hunting powerful foes known as "Blood Lineages" in various dangerous labyrinths. Even though the art style could not be more different... well, for the one art style that matters (there are technically two to choose from), Stranger of Sword City strongly feels like a spiritual successor to Demon Gaze. If the directly lifted assets such as certain audio effects did not tip one off, some of the familiar dungeon motifs will. Not that either aspect were by any means bad, far from it, it is just that I got around to finishing Demon Gaze recently so it certainly stood out. Thankfully, Stranger of Sword City manages to not only distinguish itself but it also refines upon Demon Gaze in many ways. For one, Stranger of Sword City is much more challenging on the standard difficulty. The biggest factor for this is through the threat of permanent death (except the lead, though they can be injured.). This may sound like a contrived mechanic in nature but it actually smartly encourages the use of different party formations rather than forcibly sticking to one party through thick and thin like most in the genre. It works even more because inactive party members gain experience (unlike Demon Gaze...), and you can simply try something different with another character while others are knocked out and recovering, or... replace "vanished" characters (i.e. dead.). Like most good first-person dungeon crawlers, customization is a strong component of the experience. Creating characters and allocating stats from scratch D&D style are all there and then some. What is different from Demon Gaze in particular is that you can reclass characters, like Final Fantasy Tactics, and transfer skills. While it is unlikely that you will fully level multiple classes to complete the game, it can be hugely beneficial to steal some early abilities and transfer them to one's likely primary class for that character. For instance, I made my main character a tanky Knight. But, before committing her to the would-be Knight profession, I had her learn the Counter skill from the Fighter class, which I found very valuable for someone who's destined to get attacked so often. In addition to the abilities you get from various classes, you can also gain unique abilities from the various faction leaders in the main story. By giving "blood crystals" that you get from killing the "Lineage" bosses, you get the choice to earn powerful skills that consume "morale," which will be the key to survival against tougher encounters. Of course, with something as ominous of a name as "blood crystals," this mechanic helps decide the fate of the world in a classic Shin Megami Tensei style (with some obvious Law, Chaos, and Neutral narrative counterparts) based on which leader you favor too. Unfortunately, neither the characters or the storytelling seem to be very deep (or as philosophical as SMT tends to be), but it is still is a neat concept and a fun take on skill trees. Though it has its unique elements, Stranger of Sword City just plain feels like an all-around solid title. What it lacks in likely budget (considering some familiar Demon Gaze dungeon themes) it makes up for in the developer's clear experience with the subgenre. Useful tools one should expect modern dungeon-crawlers like the ability auto-move to places you've been, various clean interface options of combat, and the satisfaction of learning the lay of the land are all certainly there. I even dig the original art style and music (though, you do have to option to make it more... anime, with the less detailed character portraits and adding a vocaloid accompaniment to the soundtrack, if you so choose so.). Most importantly, however, the moment to moment dungeon-crawling is enjoyable and addictive despite its fairly mean, old school feeling difficulty at times. Perhaps the most annoying aspect that Stranger of Sword City even has is the varying requirements to encounter certain "Lineage" enemies. Many of the requirements are inoffensive with their scripted events associated with them, like carrying an item on you that they like, paying attention to shopkeep rumors, or simply going far enough into a dungeon to stumble upon them. That said, the most obnoxious Lineage types tend to be entirely luck-based to encounter when you are "hiding". While the "hiding" mechanic itself is cool, as it is the primary means to getting random loot as you ambush enemies in specific parts of dungeons, having to rely on luck in order to have the chance to encounter the boss you want to find is far less compelling (especially since defeating them is required for the main progression.). Stranger of Sword City is one of those bizarre games where I actually don't really have many strong criticisms against it. It generally sets out and achieves what it intends to do with an addictive, well-made first-person dungeon-crawling formula that also allows for a lot of party flexibility. The game is certainly challenging, and sometimes the progression can be needlessly obtuse, but that often comes with the subgenre's territory. At the end of the day, if you want an enjoyable first-person dungeon-crawler without too many unnecessary frills, or possibly an improved spiritual successor to Demon Gaze, then Stranger of Sword City is a great example to check out. Pros: + Rewarding character progression that allows for a lot of control over your party composition + Addictive, well-made dungeon crawling gameplay +Provides a satisfying challenge despite the threat of character permadeath + Great (original) character art and solid music + Shin Megami Tensei-ish approach to endings Cons: - Some entirely recycled assets from Demon Gaze from sound effects to even certain dungeon motifs - Encountering certain "Lineage" bosses is basically random, which can needlessly slow down progress - Main story/characters are unremarkable Overall Score: 8 (out of 10) Great Stranger of Sword City does not attempt to reinvent first-person dungeon-crawlers by any means, but it manages to stand out amongst others in the genre with the sharp execution of its addictive gameplay. Disclosure: This game was reviewed using downloadable Vita code provided by the publisher.
  3. NISA has announced their latest title that they're bringing to the West; this time a dungeon crawler RPG called Operation Abyss: New Tokyo Legacy. If the art style looks familiar to you, that's because it's from the same studio who made last year's Demon Gaze. Operation Abyss is set in a near future Tokyo where the city is under threat from genetically-engineered monsters called Variants, as well as the appearance of portals leading to a dimension called the Abyss. Due to these events, the government has commissioned the Xth Squad—a team of technologically-modified teens—to confront the monsters and investigate the mystery behind the Abyss. As the player, you'll recruit and train a group of six Xth members, customizing each one's appearance, class, personality, and morality to your preference. The laybrinthine dungeons themselves are said to offer over 40+ hours of dungeon-crawling gameplay and feature traps, secret doors, challenging enemies, and more. Operation Abyss: New Tokyo Legacy will be coming to the PS Vita via retail and digital download on April 14 in North America, and then on April 17 in Europe. Check out the game's first trailer below. Source: Press Release Are you interested in checking this out?
  4. Jason Clement

    NISA Reveals Huge 2014 Game Lineup

    Yesterday NIS America held a press event in San Francisco where they presented their game lineup for 2014 and it's easily probably the biggest year yet for the niche publisher. First off, NISA announced four brand new titles to their lineup: Battle Princess of Arcadias, a sidescrolling brawler RPG for PS3 (via PSN); Disgaea 4: A Promise Revisited (also for Vita), which is the definitive version of the game and comes complete with all the DLC from the PS3 plus brand new content; Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair, the Vita sequel to the recently released Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc (which we reviewed here); and Fairy Fencer F, NISA's newest acquisition and a PS3 title that sports talent from Final Fantasy veterans Nobuo Uematsu and Yoshitaka Amano. Also revealed were release dates for previously announced games such as The Witch and the Hundred Knight, which is now coming in March for PS3, and Demon Gaze, which is coming in April for Vita. Mugen Souls Z (PS3) and Hyperdimension Neptunia Producing Perfection (Vita) still don't have specific release dates yet, so stay tuned for announcements about that later in the year. In all, that brings NISA's lineup to 8 games for 2014, and they remain one of the few publishers bringing some exclusive love to the Vita over the year. Hopefully this is a good sign of what to expect similarly from other niche publishers like Atlus and XSEED when they reveal their lineups soon as well. Source: Press Release Are you excited for any of these announced titles?
  5. NIS America announced today that they'll be releasing Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc on the PS Vita in February next year. This version of the game is actually a revised version of the original, which released on PSP in Japan back in 2010. The story focuses on a teenager named Makoto Naegi, who is accepted into a prestigious school, Hope's Peak Academy, only to discover that he and the other students have been trapped and imprisoned in the school by a murderous little bear known as Monokuma, who promises freedom to anyone who can murder a fellow classmate and get away with it. As such, you'll need to investigate each murder incident in the school, search for clues, and talk with fellow classsmates to get to the bottom of each case. You can look forward to playing Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc when it releases via retail and PSN on February 14, 2014 in North America and Europe.
  6. Disgaea fans: Did you realize the SRPG series has just reached its 10th anniversary? Seriously! It was in 2003 that Disgaea: Hour of Darkness originally launched on PS2 in North America and Japan. Now we're finally coming up on Disgaea D2: A Brighter Darkness which brings back classic characters for a new story. To help celebrate the anniversary, NIS America has revealed a special edition. Here's what can be found in the Disgaea 2 Limited Edition: 2 small figures of Etna and Flonne 5 collectible cards Collector's box Copy of game Hardcover artbook Soundtrack The price for this package is $85. Of course, if you want to spend more then you can buy the bundle of Limited Edition with strategy guide for $105. Those who simply want the game can pick up Disgaea D2 for $50 when it launches on October 8th for PS3.
  7. Fans of the Atelier series will be glad to know that the most recent entry, Atelier Ayesha: The Alchemist of Dusk, has been dated for release on PS3 on March 5 and will be published by Tecmo Koei (as localized by NISA). The game's story focuses on Ayesha's Altugle, a girl who supports herself by making and selling medicine, and who has lived alone in a workshop ever since her grandfather died and her sister went missing years ago. Of course, this all changes one day when she discovers that her sister is still alive somewhere out in the world, and her journey to find her begins. Atelier Ayesha features a brand new cast of characters; a new diary system that will allow players to keep a log of activities and gain more items, bonus stats, etc.; a new battle system that puts emphasis on character positioning and distance from enemies (including back attacks); new character skills; an updated synthesis system, and more. Tecmo Koei also promises future DLC releases of new costumes, characters, additional areas, and more. You can check out screenshots of the game in the image gallery below. Are you looking forward to Atelier Ayesha?
  8. Number 905

    Review: Mugen Souls

    Developer: Compile Heart Publisher: NIS America Platform: PS3 Release Date: Out Now ESRB: T for Teen No matter how big the gaming industry grows and how commonplace multi-million dollar budgets become, one of the most wonderful aspects of the market is that there is always room for small titles. Some companies have forgotten this, but if there“s one thing the medium is, it“s diverse. Unfortunately, niche appeal only goes so far if the game can“t deliver a quality experience. Mugen Souls is the latest in the ever growing genre of anime-inspired JRPGs designed for a niche market. Conceptually, the game has a lot going for it. The story focuses on a girl named Chou-Chou, a self-proclaimed undisputed god, and her conquest of the universe. Her grand plan is to subjugate the hero and demon lord of each world by transforming into their specific desire and performing a moe kill. It“s definitely an over-the-top premise, but it“s a fun idea and the different moe forms are interesting. The combat isn't groundbreaking, featuring turn-based gameplay with free movement, but it spices things up by allowing you to knock enemies around the field and into other objects to increase the damage you do. It can be a little hectic at times, but it is satisfying to send a foe bouncing around the field with a well placed attack. The make-or-break feature of Mugen Souls is the grind. In addition to the standard level grind, Mugen Souls also lets you level up spells and equipment to varying degrees, with level caps to unlock and a peon subjugation system that lets you teach different moves to characters. Like most RPGs, there are optimal ways to gain the points and money you need, but the sheer number of stats you can grind is staggering. If you“re a fan of min/maxing, there“s a lot of content for you and the optional dungeons will keep you challenged even as you reach for omnipotence. If you don“t like grinding, you“ll become quickly frustrated when you hit a grind wall and realize progressing will require more than raw levels to advance. Unfortunately, the game“s level progression is poor. As mentioned, raw levels aren't a huge advantage; you“re going to need to level up equipment and spells at some point to stay ahead of the curve. My biggest issue is that the best way to grind is in the form of an optional dungeon on your ship, the Mugen Field. Because of how small the planets are, there isn't a solid sense of enemy progression, so it“s easy to find yourself outclassed by a boss if you don“t grind like a fiend in the field or spend a little time in the Mugen Field. On a technical level, Mugen Souls is a mess. Movement on the field is hampered by a poor camera and a framerate that, while not choppy, is definitely struggling. The loading times are ridiculously long, even with the game“s data installed, with some taking longer than a minute. Viewing skits also requires the area to reload, making multiple scenes a chore to watch. The real killer comes in battle. With battle animations turned on, loading isn't bad as the animation covers most, if not all, of it. You can turn the animations off in an effort to speed up the game, but you may find that it only makes things worse. With the animations off, the attacks still have to load, sometimes taking as much as five seconds for each turn. In addition to this, turning off animations results in more hectic battles, as the camera doesn't focus on the target of attacks. It makes it hard to keep track of how much damage has been done without manually checking at the end of every turn. I have heard that changing the PS3 to output at 720p can improve performance, but I noticed no significant benefit while playing. Although the concept behind the story is interesting, the actual content is dull and rife with generic cliches. Most of the game“s humor comes from breaking the fourth wall and low-brow sexual jokes and situations, which isn't inherently terrible, but it does become grating over the course of the game. While most of the situations are pretty tame, with things like bloody noses from arousal being commonplace, Mugen Souls holds the unique honor of being one of the few games to actually repulse me with its content. Even with the content that“s been cut from the Japanese version, the game still manages to cross the line by applying sexual situations to young characters. The story itself is fairly predictable and not very compelling, so if you“re not head-over-heels for ecchi and perverted situations, Mugen Souls won“t offer much outside of gameplay. As is the fate of games targeting a niche audience, you probably already know if Mugen Souls is in your wheelhouse or not. If you“re on the fence because you like the anime style but are concerned about depth and content, there still might be something for you if you love grinding. For those of us that aren't number crunchers though, Mugen Souls just doesn't offer a compelling reason to be played. Pros: + The moe kill system is a fresh concept + Solid soundtrack with Japanese and English voices + Tons of levels to grind Cons: - Tons of levels to grind - Poor framerate and even poorer load times - Low-brow humor ranging from cliched to offense Overall Score: 3.5 (out of 10) Poor Mugen Souls will appeal to very small audience that likes ecchi humor and grinding. If that isn't you, chances are it just isn't your game.
  9. PSP and JRPG fans rejoice! The PSP isn't finished by any means just yet, and NISA is seeing to it that it remains the de facto choice among gamers for their JRPGs with the announcement of a new Idea Factory/Sting strategy RPG called Generation of Chaos: Pandora's Reflection. The story stars two siblings - Yuri, a girl that has a disease draining her life away; and her older brother Claude, who will stop at nothing to find a cure in order to save her. In their journey to find a cure in the lifeless world called Hades, they'll become enveloped in a conflict that will decide their fate and that of the entire world. As far as gameplay goes, the game features an active-time battle system where players can position their units in real time across sweeping battlefields, and you'll need to exploit terrain, occupy key locations on the map, set up ranged weaponry and more if you hope to be successful in your quest. And if that isn't enough, there will be multiple endings to the story as well. Generation of Chaos: Pandora's Reflection will be coming to PSP via PSN in both North America and Europe in February 2013. Check out the trailer for the game below.
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