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  1. Bandai Namco announced yesterday that the game Sword Art Online: Hollow Fragment will be making its way to North America. The title is based on the popular anime series (now available for streaming on Netflix if you're interested) Sword Art Online which follows a number of gamers trapped in a MMORPG. The story of the game is alternate to that of the series so expect a few changes here and there. In addition to the main story the title features a dating mini game and a multiplayer mode. Hollow Fragment will be available via download on the Playstation Store exclusively for PS Vita sometime this summer! As always, stay tuned to Game Podunk for future updates. Source: BANDAI NAMCO, Siliconera Are you excited to see this game coming to the West?
  2. Jason Clement

    Tales of Xillia 2 Dated for Release in August

    If Tales of Xillia left you wanting more when you played it last year, then you'll be happy to know that you won't have to wait much longer for its sequel. Namco Bandai has announced that Tales of Xillia 2 will be releasing on August 19 in North America first, followed by a European release on August 22. Xillia 2's storyline follows a chef from Elympios named Ludger Kresnik, along with his brother Julius and their cat, Rollo. Ludger's bloodline is said to have possessed a terrible power, so the three embark on an adventure that affects the recently united world. A Collector's Edition of the game was also announced, which includes a figure of Ludger Kresnik, music CD, soundtrack, Rollo key charm, replica pocket watch, and 3 DLC costumes (one each from Vesperia, Symphonia Chronicles, and Graces F). Source: Press Release Are you looking forward to Tales of Xillia 2?
  3. As you might have known, a rogue GameStop listing teased that Tales of Hearts R, an enhanced Vita port of the original DS title, was coming Westward. While the source seemed dubious, it was apparently correct. Hideo Baba has released a video confirming a Western release of the title. You can see it below: The Vita title will apparently be hitting during Winter 2014. There is still a little confusion about the some specifics, though: Originally GameStop had a page saying that the title would be a GameStop exclusive, but that page has since been taken down. Also, the video itself seems to have been unintentionally leaked, and the original has also been taken down, though the video itself doesn't look to be fake in any way. Are you excited to snatch up this Vita Tales title?
  4. Jason Clement

    Review: Star Trek

    Developer: Digital Extremes Publisher: Paramount Pictures, Namco Bandai Platform: PS3, Xbox 360, PC Release Date: Out Now ESRB: T for Teen This review is based on the PlayStation 3 version of the game, which was provided by the publisher 2009's Star Trek faux-reboot had quite the polarizing reaction from fans, but the one thing Paramount seemingly understood was that movie tie-in games are generally pretty bad. Thus, the world was spared another potentially rushed, bad licensed game at the time. Or perhaps they just didn't think to capitalize on it in that fashion. In any case, they apparently had a change of heart because they had since partnered with Namco and tapped Digital Extremes (of Prototype series fame) to create a Star Trek game that would coincide with Star Trek Into Darkness' release in theaters earlier this year. Early on, there were signs that perhaps this would actually be the Trek game to end all Trek games. Screenshots indicated it would have heavy inspiration from games like Mass Effect and be heavily action-oriented, unlike previous games. Would they boldly take licensed games where few have gone before? Fortunately for Star Trek: The Video Game, it is not based on the story of the 2009 Trek film or its recent sequel, Star Trek Into Darkness; instead, it features a brand new story. Unfortunately, it's not very good... at all. The plot revolves around the Enterprise investigating a distress call on New Vulcan, where an extremely powerful device called "The Helios Device," which can create wormholes, is stolen. Turns out the thieves are none other than the classic TOS villain, The Gorn, who have been re-imagined as a cross between Jurassic Park's raptors and the 1998 remade Godzilla. Naturally, it's up to Kirk and his crew to track down the Gorn and retrieve the Helios device before the space raptors can wreak havoc on the rest of the galaxy. Unfortunately, that's about all there is to it - the plot is just about as shallow as it sounds. Star Trek plays mostly as a third-person, cover-based shooter that puts you in the role of either Kirk or Spock. Whoever you don't choose becomes your A.I. or human partner, depending on whether you've opted into playing online or not, or with a friend. Throughout the course of the game, your partner will help assist you by helping to pry open stuck doors, giving you a boost in order to reach out of reach areas, helping you hack a console, reviving you when you're critically injured, and engaging the enemy with gunfire (phaser-fire?). In theory, the whole partner system is an intriguing idea; after all, games like Bioshock Infinite have proven that it can work well, but there are more than a few setbacks caused by it in this game. If you're playing with a human friend, things should work as intended, but playing with an A.I. partner will often lead to many frustrating glitches over the course of your playthrough. Here are a few examples: At certain points throughout levels, the A.I. partner would just stop following; fortunately, there is a command that will call them to your spot if such an occasion arises. This would be a perfect fix... if it actually worked 100% of the time. In many cases, I would have to guide the A.I. partner using the button multiple times to the spot I wanted it to go to instead of simply having it navigate the area to the spot on its own. At this point, I thought I was in the clear, but looked back only to find that Spock was slowly floating upwards in the air and through the ceiling. Fortunately, the game's use of checkpoints is fairly liberal, so I didn't lose too much progress when I had to restart from the last one, but that kind of glitch is unacceptable. In another extreme, I was progressing through an area outside a space station in a space suit, but I had lost Spock. I tried going back to find him, but somehow he was upside down with his head in the platform, all while still in a running motion. No joke. Shortly after that, I clipped through a floor panel only to slowly fall and drift away from the space station, seeing it become smaller and smaller. Surely the game would register a death for the character and respawn at the last checkpoint... right? Nope. In fact, I purposely let Kirk keeping falling away until the Space Station was no longer visible, and then he just sorta hung there, helpless. Don't ask me how any of this got past Namco Bandai's QA. Other minor yet annoying glitches I encountered include instances where I couldn't pick up weapons in an area, making it difficult since I could only rely on a phaser (which doesn't use ammo) until I reached an ammo reload point; several points where Gorn soldiers partially clipped through walls; and more than a few instances where either the partner A.I. was not assisting in a gunfight or the Gorn were unresponsive and wouldn't fire, making them easy targets. Not everything is painfully bad, though. There are some genuinely exciting moments and parts where it feels like Digital Extremes almost got it; such as a jaunt through a collapsing space station, traipsing through a fire-filled section of the Enterprise, and a thrilling chase with the Gorn through a New Vulcan base. These areas attempt to add a touch of Uncharted-style platforming and action to an otherwise fairly mediocre game with by-the-books gameplay. When the game is working, there is at least some enjoyment to be had while playing, but that may depend on how much you actually like Star Trek as a franchise. Also helping the game a bit is the addition of voice-acting from the cast of Abram's new Trek movies, with Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto carrying most of the dialogue. Their performance varies in quality, with Pine delievering some lines that would almost have you believe you were playing through the movie itself, to an almost phoning-it-in quality ("Spock, I'm hurt bad!"); Quinto's performance is a bit more consistent, though the quality of the delivery is a bit worse than his film work. In general, the voice-work is mostly solid, even with NPCs. Thankfully, the music is reused from the films, so Michael Giacchino's soundtrack is one of the bright spots in an otherwise soured experience. When it comes to the game's visuals, it's a mixed bag. At certain points, the bridge and hallways of the Enterprise look fairly good and representative of what was shown in the movies (minus lens flare), and certain character models' textures look fairly decent. Much of the time, though, both Kirk and Spock look underwhelming as character models and often have a muddy type of texturing; this is especially noticeable when their mouths move. It's a shame that Digital Extremes didn't have more time to touch up on this a bit. By and large, Star Trek is one of the most conflicting games I've ever experienced. On one hand, there are some fun, exciting segments, the story set-up is otherwise fairly good, and there's decent voice work to be had for the most part. Even with mediocre, run-and-gun gameplay that does nothing new, and some of the lamest hacking mini-games ever, if there were no substantial bugs, this would be a relatively above-average game. As is, Star Trek is a complete mess of a game that should have had another few months of QA testing. It shows some signs of promise early on, but this is not the title Trekkers/Trekkies have been waiting for. These are not the voyages of the Starship Enterprise you want to experience. If you're still curious due to being a big Trek fan, it might make for a decent rent provided the bugs don't get to you. Otherwise, Star Trek continues a long line of underperforming and underwhelming video game releases in a series that doesn't quite know what to do with itself. Pros + Voice actors from the two new Star Trek movies reprise their roles here + Some fairly decent and dare I say, exciting parts. These are brief, however. + Music is taken from the films, meaning it's fairly good as well. Cons - Bugs, glitches, and the like mar the game to a point where it's sometimes unplayable without restarting to the last save point. - While it starts out somewhat strong, the plot is really, really dumb. - Underwhelming, bland visuals - Gameplay is typical third-person cover shooter fare; adds nothing new; dumb, useless minigames Overall Score: 4.5 (out of 10) Below Average Star Trek could have been a relatively passable experience had it been given a few more months of QA testing to sort out a multitude of bugs. Sadly, it didn't have the luxury, and the end result is a Star Trek game that plays badly and is as unremarkable as the games that have come before it in the series.
  5. Jason Clement

    Soulcalibur 2 HD Online Coming This Fall

    Namco Bandai announced that an HD update to the classic fighting game Soulcalibur 2 would be heading to Xbox 360 and PS3. According to Polygon, it's a straight and faithful port rather than an entire remake. Players of the original 2003 version of the game will remember that each platform had a unique special character included in that version, with Heihachi being exclusive to PS2, Link being exclusive to Gamecube, and Spawn being exclusive to Xbox. However, the teaser shown at Comic-Con only showed Heihachi, so it would seem that Spawn is out of the question, as is Link (especially since the game isn't coming to Wii U). Also notable - Tekken producer Katsuhiro Harada announced that Masaaki Hoshino would be serving as producer on the Soulcalibur series from now on. Soulcalibur 2 HD Online will be coming to Xbox 360 and PS3 this Fall.
  6. You'll soon be able to form relationships with and date your favorite Namco Bandai characters! Yes, this is a real thing in the works from Namco Bandai Games' ShiftyLook, What Pumpkin Studios, and Andrew Hussie (most known for webcomic Homestuck). This crossover dating sim is being called Namco High. As the name suggests, the setting takes place in a high school "just for video game characters." Namco High will be using "cutting edge HTML 5-based technology from developer Date Nighto LLC" that claims to work on any device with a good browser. Why Hussie as the creative director behind it all? Rob Pereyda, NAMCO BANDAI Games' ShiftyLook Producer and Editor-in-Chief, explains: "There is no creator with more of a vibrant originality right now than Andrew Hussie. We are beyond excited to see where he takes these characters and the unique relationships that will literally unfold between them." Namco High will release sometime before the 2013 holiday season.
  7. Don't have enough money to buy the Tales of Xillia Collector's Edition? Can you forgo that lovely Milla figure? Then you're in luck, as Namco Bandai has just announced that all first-print copies of the standard edition of Tales of Xillia will be upgraded to a limited edition. Here is what is included: The game, with limited edition packaging Character profile booklet Music CD 2 DLC costumes It is unknown whether or not the character profile booklet and music CD are the same as the ones in the Collector's Edition, and if the Collector's Edition will also be receiving the DLC costumes. All current pre-orders have been automatically updated to the limited edition. So fret not if you've already pre-ordered your copy! Tales of Xillia releases for PS3 in North America on August 6th.
  8. Idolm@aster has remained a Japan-exclusive series... until now. Namco Bandai has finally decided to officially introduce western gamers to the series with a English release of The Idolm@ster Shiny Festa (originally for PSP). Unfortunately (depending on who you ask), Shiny Festa is a spin-off of the main series. That means that rather than being an idol training sim, it's just a rhythm game. And here comes the bad part: The Idolm@ster Shiny Festa Melodic Disc, The Idolm@ster Shiny Festa Harmonic Score, and The Idolm@ster Shiny Festa Rhythmic Record are only available for iOS and are $55 each. Ouch. In any case, each game has different groups of idols and different animated sequences. There's some free DLC out for it now, and future DLC to come. Well, maybe this gives a little more hope that Namco will localize more Idolm@ster games. What do you think about The Idolm@ster Shiny Festa being exclusive to iOS? What about the high price tag?
  9. Ridge Racer is one expansive racing game series. Since starting out in 1993 as an arcade game, it grew and grew. There have since been innumerable iterations across various systems and arcades. Until now, Ridge Racer Unbounded was the latest version out. Now Namco Bandai have announced Ridge Racer Driftopia to appeal to a new audience. Oliver Comte, senior president of Namco Bandai Games Europe, made this statement to Siliconera to explain why Driftopia exists as a free to play title: “At Namco Bandai Games we are committed to embracing new business models alongside the still vital traditional retail sector. Free-to-play is playing an increasingly important role, so it“s very exciting to be bringing one of our most successful franchises to the free-to-play space for everyone to enjoy.” The F2P model for this game includes optional purchases for repair kits, XP boosts, and more cars. No date has been revealed yet but Driftopia is coming to PS3 and PC later this year.
  10. Project X Zone is one of those games that many thought would never leave Japan. Thanks to Namco Bandai taking care of publishing in North America, however, 3DS owners will get to play the Capcom/Sega/Namco Bandai SRPG collaboration this summer. On top of releasing a new trailer today, which you can view below, Namco Bandai also announced that all copies of Project X Zone will be upgraded to a "limited edition." This limited edition includes a mini-art book, poster, and music CD. Project X Zone releases exclusively for 3DS on June 25th in NA and July 5th in Europe (no word yet if Europeans will also be receiving this limited edition).
  11. Get your wallets ready, Tales fans! Namco Bandai has announced a rather fetching collector's edition for the upcoming Tales of Xillia. This collector's edition includes the game, a 100-page art book, music selection CD, and a Milla Maxwell figure. All packaged in a limited edition box, of course. If you're interested, the Tales of Xillia collector's edition will run you $100 in North America and €100/£86 in Europe. While various participating retailers will have the collector's edition in NA, Europeans are are only able to purchase it at the online Tales' store (limited to 10,000 copies). Tales of Xillia releases for PS3 on August 6th in NA and August 9th in Europe.
  12. We had previously heard that the mega crossover tactical RPG Project X Zone (which stars popular characters from Capcom, SEGA, and Namco Bandai games) would indeed be making its way to 3DS in North America this Summer, but now it seems that Namco Bandai has an official release date set: June 25. Unfortunately, Europe's release date remains unspecified, though it is still scheduled to come out sometime in 2013. GameInformer reports that the game won't have localized voices (unfortunately), only subtitles, so it shouldn't take too much longer to arrive in that territory. In the meantime, 3DS owners can look forward to playing Project X Zone in a few short months. Source: Namco Bandai
  13. It's been a while since we've gotten any new information on Tales of Xillia, apart from the fact that a trademark for the title had been registered nearly a year ago, but now Tales franchise producer Hideo Baba has confirmed via the Playstation Blog that the game will be coming to North America this Summer. The game features two main protagonists (one male and one female) that you'll be able to choose from and experience the story from their perspective; a series first according to Baba. Additionally, it was revealed that Tales of Graces F will be coming to PSN next week in two versions: the Standard Edition, which will cost $35; and the Knight Edition ($54.99), which comes bundled with more than 10 DLC items (which include increased stats, health, and currency). If you haven't played the game when it originally released last year via retail, be sure to check out our official review of the game. Baba also said that there were more announcements planned for games in the Tales series later this year. Perhaps we'll see a localization for Tales of Hearts R, which just released recently in Japan for the Vita. In any case, keep your eyes peeled for more news on this in the coming months ahead. Source: Playstation Blog Are you excited for Tales of Xillia?
  14. Developer: Level-5, Studio Ghibli Publisher: Namco Bandai Platform: PlayStation 3 Release Date: January 22, 2013 ESRB: E10+ for Everyone 10 and up Ever since Level-5 and Studio Ghibli announced that they were working together on a video game, I had been waiting anxiously for its release. I wasn“t even sure if it would have been released outside of Japan. Thanks to Namco Bandai, however, it did (they even went as far as to give us a special edition with the exceedingly gorgeous Wizard“s Companion), and I“m forever grateful that we did get Ni no Kuni, because it“s one of the best games I“ve played in a long time. Ni no Kuni throws us into a world of magic and fantasy that we are familiar with in Ghibli films. This world is in need of saving from the dark djinn and White Witch, and that“s where our protagonist, Oliver, comes in. It may be a bit clichéthat Ni no Kuni is the tale of a random young boy that“s declared as the “chosen one†that will save the world, but there“s a sort of charm that exudes from it that you can“t resist. Our tale begins in the sleepy little town of Motorville, where Oliver leads a normal and happy life with his mother. His life is suddenly turned upside-down following an accident, however, and he learns that he is a wizard that must save a mysterious other world. Oliver, Drippy, Esther, and Swaine work together to mend the broken hearts of those in the magical world and ultimately prevent it from being destroyed. Their travels bring them to a wide variety of lands where they meet all sorts of interesting people and creatures. While I do wish that the exciting parts were spread throughout Ni no Kuni rather than being stuffed together at the very beginning and near the end, it“s worth playing until the very end. I guarantee that you“ll get that sense of achievement and contentment of just finishing a great game with a heartfelt story. Studio Ghibli“s involvement with Ni no Kuni definitely helped it form into a unique gem. The in-game graphics are perfect; it“s as if you“re right in the middle of an anime. The animated cutscenes, too, are the usual gorgeousness you would expect from Ghibli (though I wish there were more of them throughout the game). And then there“s the absolutely beautiful soundtrack composed by Joe Hisaishi. Each and every track in the game is perfectly arranged and orchestrated. The main theme is especially powerful and heartfelt. Hisaishi“s work in Ni no Kuni makes me wish the Wizard“s Edition had included a full album rather than a few select tracks! Ni no Kuni“s battle system can be described as something like a mash-up of Pokémon and a Tales game. While you can control and attack with Oliver, Esther, and Swaine, you“ll mainly be battling with little creatures called 'familiars.' There are tons of familiars throughout Ni no Kuni that you can tame, nickname, train, feed, and metamorphose. Each familiar has a first and second stage, and then two final stages that you can choose from. The large variety of familiars allows for lots of personal choice and attachment. There are so many cute and awesome ones, which makes it incredibly difficult to have just a select few on your team! Each member of your team can carry three familiars at once, and they are sent out in battle one at a time (where they can only be out for a certain length of time and then must “recharge†their stamina bar). While familiars all share the same HP gauge as their owner, each has their own stats, spells, and strengths and weaknesses. When your familiar is ready to metamorphose after gaining plenty of levels, you must feed them a “drop†that matches their sign. Then they revert to level 1 (while still keeping some of their old stats). Repeat the process one more time, and then you“ll be able to choose from two different forms for your familiar“s final stage. While the familiar system has a lot of depth and uniqueness to it, the battle system could use a tad more work. Ni no Kuni feels like an action RPG with turn-based elements, and that becomes a cause for some problems in many battles. Oftentimes your actions and attacks are cancelled when an ally or foe performs something with a cutscene. When this happens repeatedly and even right after the other, it can become incredibly frustrating. That“s one of my biggest gripes with battling in Ni no Kuni, along with some other minor things. Though it actually is a rather fun and interesting concept, and I did enjoy battling very much, I think it should have been a pure real time action RPG, a la the Tales series of games. Just the main story alone will take you a good 30 hours or so to beat. It obviously doesn“t stop there, of course. There“s a bevy of side-quests for you to partake in that offer not only more time to spend with the game, but lots of incentives. This includes money, great items and weapons, and merit stamps. The more merit stamps you get, the more completed merit cards you have to turn in for special perks. What kind of perks? Being able to move faster, higher chance of taming a monster, and finding very rare items after battle are a select few. The side-quests, or “errands†as they“re referred to in Ni no Kuni, vary in type. Many will have you mend the broken hearts of people across the world, which is as simple as finding the appropriate piece of heart from someone and giving it to the brokenhearted person. Other errands include bounty hunts to kill rogue monsters and taming specific familiars to show to a familiar enthusiast. The latter type of errand gave me a bit of trouble at one point, as it took me literally hours to tame one of the familiars he wanted. Oh well; such is life for a completionist! Errands extend to post-game as well. They aren“t the only thing that will keep you busy after saving the world, however. There are also other things such as catching and metamorphosing every possible familiar and gathering the remaining pages of your Wizard“s Companion. Not to mention achieving Ni no Kuni“s trophies – some of which are deliciously challenging. All of this is sure to please any completionist. I can“t stress enough how much I love Ni no Kuni and how much I want you to play it. Everything comes together into a spectacularly beautiful and charming package of a game. Not just a game, but also an unforgettable experience. An experience that made me feel so happy for once and helped me learn to love video games again. Regardless of how strongly it will potentially affect you in particular, Ni no Kuni is one of the best games out there and it“s one you should play sometime in your life. Pros: +Top-notch graphics and animation courtesy of the legendary Studio Ghibli + Familiar system is great and has quite a bit of depth to it + Phenomenal orchestrated soundtrack from Joe Hisaishi + Plenty of side-quests throughout and post-game Cons: - Battle system needs a bit more fine-tuning - While the story is fine, it isn“t the most original and full-fledged one out there Overall Score: 9.5 (out of 10) Fantastic Ni no Kuni is not only one of the best JRPGs of this generation, it's one of the best games, period. This wonderful marriage between Level-5 and Studio Ghibli deserves to be played by everyone.
  15. Free DLC is always nice! Namco Bandai is offering just that for the recently released Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch. This free download is for a familiar to add to your team (monsters that fight for you in the game). The little guy is called a Draggle. It can learn Phantom Fangs Whirligig, and Hot Huff. And if you wish, you can metamorphose your Draggle into a Dragette, and then into a Dragamuffin or Bedraggle. Unfortunately, it's not an extremely rare golden kind, like the other DLC familiars we've seen for Ni no Kuni! You can download the fiery dude starting February 12th. Have you been playing Ni no Kuni? Will you be downloading the free Draggle and adding it to your team?
  16. Namco Bandai unveiled its newest vision for Tekken, a game best known for its bare-knuckle brawling, with Tekken Card Tournament. Tekken Card Tournament is a free-to-play fighting game designed for tablets and browsers, but its money-making capacity will come from the booster packs which will make their way to retail shelves this spring. The physical cards will be used to unlock new characters, upgrade existing characters and even let characters make real-world appearances via Augmented Reality. The game hopes to blend the button-mashing fighting experience with a more strategic approach. Namco also announced in their press release that the card game and digital game will both be playable as standalone games. Does the prospect of a portable, card-based fighting game appeal to the Tekken fan inside of you?
  17. Marcus Estrada

    Project X Zone Screenshot 8

    From the album: Project X Zone

  18. Marcus Estrada

    Project X Zone Screenshot 7

    From the album: Project X Zone