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April 30, 2016

Reviews: Freedom Wars (Vita)

Filed under: General,Reviews,Video Games — Tags: , , , , , — Bryan @ 8:24 pm

Freedom Wars was a game I had specifically ignored for a long time when it was launched because everything I saw about it in promotional materials led me to believe it was primary an online, multi-player experience.

I don’t do MMOs.

But then a couple of months back I found myself suddenly reading some retrospectives about the title and also learned that it had an achievable by mere mortals Platinum trophy status. Both of these bits of info peeked my interest and shortly after that I ended up with the game so I decided I’d give it a shot.

I am so glad I did. I’ve been looking for a Phantasy Star fix since playing Conception II and many times had almost broken down and picked up my PSP to get the job done. Freedom Wars totally did the trick. Imagine my surprise when I booted the game and discovered that it was actually a single-player story. Short of a couple of really bad grind points the game progressed nicely. Play control was tight and NPC AI satisfying. The graphics where console grade.

Granted the story was a little confusing at points and when you get to the credits you’re left feeling like something more is coming in the story… and that’s when the final stages become available. Unfortunately those final stages don’t resolve the story and it is unlikely there will be a sequel since the creative mind behind the game left the studio to move onto other projects.

Online multi-player is certainly a part of the experience of this game though and some co-op gaming is required to get your last couple of trophies, but it’s never required to actually complete the game. On the note of online, I’m glad I checked it out. I found a pretty friendly community who are happy show you the ropes and take turns on grind missions “For the Greater Good!”

Percy Propa

April 8, 2016

Reviews: Steins;Gate (Vita)

Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors and Zero Escape: Virtue’s Last Reward gave me a strong introduction to the world of Japanese visual novel adventure games. While I had long been aware of visual novels like this, none of them really grabbed my attention. Finding that I simply can’t wait for Zero Time Dilemma (the conclusion of the trilogy) to get my next fix I decided to take a shot at Steins;Gate since almost every conversation swings back to it being the defining title for the genre. While originally released on the XBox 360 in Japan, it has gone on to be released on other platforms and spun off anime, manga and a sequel that I hope to be able to play some time. For this review I played the Vita release.

If you’re looking for a great read, Steins;Gate has you covered. Unlike most of the games in the genre which are more akin to a Choose Your Own Adventure story, Steins;Gate doesn’t have bad endings. Just different endings…

The story is riveting and very hard-core science fiction on the topic of time-travel. It also deals with topics of identity and relationships. No puzzles. Just branching story elements that lead you to one ending or another. Also the story may seem slow to start but as you get into it you realize you’ve been getting critical plot elements right from the beginning. Then throw in a smörgåsbord of hacking and Otaku cultural references along with a dose of heavy innuendo to keep you snickering. Did I mention the story is really great?

I know that purist are going to hate me for this but I enjoy games like this with a good spoiler free branching guide at my side while I play in order to experience all of the story arcs and endings without having to take away from the experience by thrashing around, wasting hours on repeating things I’ve already read. These guides take the form of “At this prompt, Save and pick X for ending #3 or Y for ending #5, reload from here to resume to the ending you didn’t watch” with no context so you really need to be reading the story and paying attention, but this saves you time at guessing where the critical forks are. I know for some people that’s part of the experience, but I’ve got a life and I’m just here to read the full story. Yes, I could simply watch a video but that’s really just not the same.

The bottom line is if you like this genre and you haven’t played this game yet then YOU GO, YOU GO NOW.

Next up… the Corpse Party series (PSP/Vita)… we’ll see how that goes unless Zero Time Dilemma comes out first… or I break down and watch the Steins;Gate anime. Much dilemma.

Lotus hacking

Junpei in awe of Lotus the supa hacka from 999.

April 5, 2016

Reviews: Criminal Girls (Vita)

So all I wanted was some old school RPG action. Honest. What I got was Criminal Girls: Invite Only on the Vita which was a fantastic, 100% solid, old-school, 90’s RPG experience if you don’t count the bizarre, pervy mini-games that unlock your team member attacks. No seriously, I could have really done without the mini-games and those alone make this game almost un-recommendable to pretty much anyone who… hmm… yeah, I got nothing. I almost regret playing this game. For comparison this was way worse than Conception II which reaalllllly bothered me as well. 🙁

The game… you are in hell and you are escorting a group of “teen” lolly girls (they really make a point to age them as all high-school graduates… yeah) out of hell by directing them to fight monsters. The pervy mini-games for boosting their skills consists of one-on-one sessions where you drive out their temptations by spanking, tickling, etc… Just typing this out is making me uncomfortable again. Look, I know there are people that like this stuff but frankly I can’t imagine how this got released outside of Japan. Worse yet, they made a lame-assed attempt at censorship of the mini-games for the Western market that really didn’t make the mini-games any less pervy to the point where they probably shouldn’t have even bothered since all it did was get everyone online bitching about the censorship. Why am I playing this again???

Criminal Girls

Mini-games aside though the RPG part of the game was great fun, the music was fantastic, very much a solid 90’s style RPG experience. Hat tip on grind management as well. At one point you can get a spell that allows you ward off monsters (not bosses) while you wonder dungeons, and a second spell to summon a monster encounter at will. This allows you to perform grinding on top of the save marker. Fight a few battles, rest, save, repeat until you’re ready to continue the game. I never really felt like grinding was a chore, or atleast I never felt like the task of grinding was going to risk me getting killed where I would have to repeat level building for the sake of not being able to save. Dungeons were pretty linear with minimal back-tracking that was fairly straight forward when it did happen.

Now I have to debate whether I leave this review up and admit to playing the game. I need a shower and some eye-bleach.

Why!?!

Next up we’ll cover Steins;Gate.

 

March 30, 2016

Reviews: Project Diva F2 (Vita), Persona 4DAN (Vita)

Over the last many months I’ve bounced between StreetPass mini games on my 3DS and playing Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA F2, followed by Persona 4: Dancing All Night on my Vita.

As far as rhythm gaming goes on the PlayStation Vita, these two are the top choice. They both are fun to play on Easy difficulty, nicely challenging on Normal and time to move on to something else on anything harder (lol). Both of them have excellent music with a soundtracks that will stick in your head and make you want to jump back into the game at the first chance you have. They both also have nice clean interfaces and in the case of Project Diva you have a tuning option in the config to help with tuning your button reaction time to the beats.

Project Diva was so much fun that I tracked down copies of the original PSP import games as well (which you can get translation patches for) to play through. They’re pretty much the same game mechanic minus the touch screen. Great stuff. Also, if you don’t have a Vita and you’re not looking to import (or download) Japanese PSP games you can get pretty much all of the best songs and then some on the two U.S. PS3 releases. Although I think F2 is probably the definitive version right now (I haven’t played the 3DS release though, so I can’t compare) until Diva X comes out.

Hatsune Miku

P4DAN was an odd one. I really enjoyed playing Persona 4 Golden and simply couldn’t imaging how the hell that could be translated into a rhythm game but wow, once I played it I was instantly sold. They actually tie the whole thing together with a sequel story of sorts that follows after Persona 4. While I would say it’s a very strange story, it’s pretty much in line with the Persona series. They brought back all of the original voice actors as well, so it was fun hearing all of familiar characters working through the story.

Rise Kujikawa

February 6, 2014

Handheld gaming, mini reviews.

For the last few years, the majority of my gaming has been happening on handhelds. Between the Nintendo 3DS and Sony’s PSP and Vita systems, this really has been a phenomenal era for hand held gaming. Due to the length of this list though I’m going to break it into more than one post.

Highlights in no particular order:

Patapon 1 and 2 for the PSP/Vita (Patapon 3 was a real disappointment and the first of the series I didn’t bother solving)
I played this series so much that I regularly would joke that PSP actually stood for “Play Some Patapon”. It’s a brilliantly stylized game that combines the genres of Beat and Action Platform with RPG style elements. The music is catchy and the game play is intense to say the least.
Uncharted: Golden Abyss for Vita
A full blown, console quality Uncharted game for hand held. The story is fun, the graphics are top notch. Some of the mini-game elements were annoying but fortunately not required to progress the game. Play control was solid. The story is pretty stand alone and does not require you to have played the other games to follow, but it does add some extra dynamic between Drake and Sully. The game really sets the bar for hand held and I’m disappointed there have been so few games of this caliber for the platform.
Gravity Rush: for Vita
A visually stunning game to say the least. Even with it being free via the PS+ program for a good year, it’s still worth buying just to show some love to the developers. This is the first game in my opinion that truly pulls off frenetic 3-D air based hand-to-hand combat (don’t get me wrong, Zone of the Enders (PS2/PS3) and Omega Boost (PS1) still hold a fond place in my heart and certainly set the bar for their platforms… hmm… all Sony platform games… trend?). Play control took a little bit to wrap my head around but once I was into the game it became second nature. The manga/comic style approach to cinema/story segments was phenomenally executed. Seriously, it’s just an all around great game and a must have for any Vita owner.

(cont…)