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Christian Chiok

Impressions: Golden Kamuy Manga Vol. 1

Jun 24 // Christian Chiok
[embed]35706:6207:0[/embed] Golden Kamuy takes place in early 20th century and it introduces us to Saichi “Immortal” Sugimoto, a Russo-Japanese War veteran, who has become a miner in Hokkaido to provide for the widow of his dead comrade, Toraji. When he stumbles across a map to a fortune in hidden Ainu gold, he sets off on a journey to find it. As expected, Sugimoto isn’t the only one interested in finding the fortune, and everyone who knows about it is willing to kill to possess it. During his quest, he meets an Ainu girl named Asirpa, who helps him survive the harsh conditions of the northern wilderness, ruthless criminals, and rogue Japanese soldiers. The story starts with a flashback/dream where Sugimoto was still in the Russo-Japanese war and mercilessly attacking his enemies, showing how he earned his nickname as “Immortal Sugimoto.” Then the story fast forward a little bit and we see Sugimoto talking to a man while scraping for gold, with no luck, however, and that’s where he learns about the gold rush that happened back then in every river of Hokkaido. At the same time, there was a group of Ainu secretly gathering funds to build an army so they can fight back the Japanese and ban them from fishing and hunting. They managed to gather a lot of gold, however, a man was able to steal all of it and kill all the Ainu guarding it. Then the police were pursuing the man for quite a while until he's sent to prison and sentenced him to death. Before then, the guards, just like everyone else, were trying to figure out where he hid the gold. But because he couldn't send letters to his friends, the prisoners that shared the same cell with him tattooed the location of gold stash hid into their bodies If he reminds me of someone, it would definitely be Gold D. Roger from One Piece — it's probably why I enjoy it a lot, since aside from the Nakama bond and epic fights, I really enjoy stories revolving around the quest for treasure. Speaking of epic fights, while they are more realistic, they still keep you at the edge of your seat as he's been on the verge of death in a few encounters. He's also battle smart, as expected, so that's fun to see. If you want to explore new series, especially seinen, then Golden Kamuy is a great series to pick up. It offers a suspenseful story that keeps you at the edge of your seat as you flip every page and interesting story. If you enjoy stories about journeys with a resolution to find a fortune, but in a mature setting with badass and interesting characters, then Golden Kamuy is for you.  
Golden Kamuy photo
Call Me Immortal Sugimoto
One of my favorite things as an Otaku is being introduced to series that I had no idea they existed. When receiving my Dragon Ball Super manga volume from Viz Media, I got Golden Kamuy alongside it. J...

Review: Digimon Adventure tri: Reunion Blu-Ray Set

Jun 23 // Christian Chiok
[embed]35707:6208:0[/embed] Digimon Adventure tri: Reunion (Blu-ray [reviewed], DVD)Studio: Toei AnimationLicensed By: Shout! FactoryReleased: May 16, 2017 (NA)MSRP: $24.99 (Blu-Ray), $15.99 (DVD) Right from that start, things get interesting. Though nothing was shown about the Adventure 02 kids before the movie came out, which was very concerning; we finally got to see them—though they were defeated by an unknown enemy in the digital world. After the sequence, we get to see our favorite fearless leader Taichi Yagami, oversleeping as always and heading to his soccer practice. During the opening sequence, we get to hear a beautifully made version of Butterfly made by the now late Koji Wada, or if you watch the English dub, a bad rap song repeating the word Digimon indefinitely. The movie starts off a bit slow, we the gang just chilling at school with typical High School student predicaments, where everyone is doing their own thing and it’s hard to hang out as much. With Yamato a performance, and Taichi having a soccer game, Sora doesn’t know what to do as she wants to attend both but she’s racing against time. During that time, however, the Digimon, like previous times, could enter the human world, but this time they appear to be infected and causing destruction So far, it’s nothing we haven’t previously seen before, but it was still enjoyable. The action in the movie is pretty good, which starts with a throwback from the first episode from the first series Greymon Vs KuwagamonGreymon Vs Kuwagamon. Due to the infection, it seems that Kugawamon can make portals so during their fight they change locations a lot. Afterward, two more Kuwagamon show up, which all gang up on Greymon until the rest of the gang show up, in which we get to see all the Digimon in their Champion (or Adult in the Japanese version) forms back in action. I’m not too fond of the new Shinka/Evolution sequence, but it doesn’t bother me since Brave Heart was still part of it, albeit a new version just like Butterfly. We don’t see much action afterward until we get to the final battle between Omegamon and Alphamon, which was epic. Something that really bothered me was Taichi’s new interpretation as a character. As a Digimon trope, each leader, excluding Takato from Tamers, were always knuckleheads that went head on without thinking but with a lot of heart, which kept the team going. It’s understandable that Taichi is more conscious of his actions as he’s a second year High School student, but it still felt out of character. In fact, this cautiousness feels more like Yamato’s character, though it doesn’t mean that he was out of character either. Him wanting to fight to protect his friends is very much his character. The rest of the characters are okay so far; they act like we remember them. Hikari is the same lovely girl, Mimi is as fabulous as ever, and Koushiro is the same tech guy. Takeru, understandably, has changed as he's more interested in girls now. As for Jo, my gripe with him starts to evolve more so in the second movie than this one, so let’s save it for that review. My annoyance with how they handled his character does start from this movie, so it was worth noting.  This movie also introduces a few new characters, such as Meiko Mochizuki, a transfer student from Tottori whose is partnered with  Meicoomon, who is a Champion/Adult Digimon just like Tailmon. So far Meiko doesn't add much to the story aside from being Meicoomon's partner, who was being attacked by Alphamon for unknown reasons. If anything, she's just the cliche shy girl with glasses so far. We're also introduced to Daigo Nishijima and Maki Himekawa, who are members of Incorporated Administrative Agency, who aid the Chosen Children. They haven't gotten much character development yet.  While Digimon Adventure Tri is still being animated by Toei Animation like all previous Digimon series and movies, the artstyle has drastically changed. Instead of Katsuyoshi Nakatsuru, who handled the original series, Digimon Adventure Tri’s artstyle is by Atsuya Uki who is known for 2012’s Tsuritama. Personally, while I would have preferred that Nakatsuru stayed on board, Uki’s design never bothered me and grew on me quickly. They are far from bad designs, but Nakatsuru’s design would have made this nostalgia ride better. I grew up with the Spanish dub when watching Digimon, since I was still in Peru when the first four series aired, but I still experienced the English dub and it grew on me, so I was bummed out when a lot of the original cast didn’t reprise their role. Luckily, Joshua Seth returned to reprise his role as Taichi Yagami. I try to be open about English dubs, but I personally didn’t like this one too much, particularly the newcomers. While there was some I liked, like Daigos’s. As much as I love Vic Mignogna’s performances, I didn’t like his as Yamato. There were parts, to me, that he sounded younger than he should. For the most part, all the returning cast did pretty good as their roles. To some, if may not be important, but it always bothered me how in some anime releases, they only include English subs for the original Japanese track and not the English dub. It’s often different from there’s always a few changes in dialogue. Luckily with this Blu-ray set, it includes subtitles for both the Japanese audio track and the English dub. It’s just lazy not to do both and much credit to Shout for taking the time to do so. Additionally, this set includes interviews with the English cast and director, as well as a look at the Los Angeles theatrical premiere of the movie. If you didn’t get the chance to watch Digimon Adventure Tri: Reunion in theaters for that one special day that they showed the movie, and want to see some of the old cast from the original two series back in action, then definitely get this Blu-ray set. If you can overlook the awful rap song that repeats “Digimon” over a hundred times, like the option to watch the movie in both languages and like special features including behind the scenes, then you won’t regret this purchase. 
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A New Di-Adventure Emerges!
One of my favorite franchises without a doubt has to be Digimon. I just have so many memories of it during my childhood. From watching Digimon Adventure to playing Digimon World on the original PlaySt...

Impressions: Dragon Ball Super Manga Vol. 1

Jun 22 // Christian Chiok
Dragon Ball has always been alive in Japan as we always got video games here and there, and a few specials such as Episode of Bardock, Yo! Son Goku and his friends return, and the Plan to Eradicate the Saiyans remake, in addition to the Dragon Ball Heroes manga by Toyotaro. Then in 2013, comes Battle of Gods, which took the Dragon Ball fan base by surprise—we were finally going to get new material. Afterward, it led to 2015’s Resurrection of F movie and finally the announcement of a new series, in both anime and manga forms, which we know as Dragon Ball Super, the latter which is aso being made by Toyotaro. For those who don’t know, Toyotaro was previously known as Toyble, and was known for creating a Dragon Ball AF manga in the 2000s. Though the manga is still behind, I’ve been enjoying it much more than the anime and I’m really liking the touches Toyotaro is adding (or removing) from the story. The first arc was adapted much better as well. There’s also some things that they added that I really like, like giving Vegeta a Super Saiyan God transformation, and things I didn’t like as much, as Goku not having Super Saiyan Blue Kaioken transformation. Overall, I feel like the manga offers a more cohesive structured storytelling, though I recommend keeping up with both regardless. Dragon Ball Super’s manga, just like the anime, starts with an adaption of Battle of Gods, and it’s much better. Not only does it straight to the point, stretching the movie for no reason like the anime did, but the artstyle was much better. I felt like it highlighted the most important points of the movie well, minus the Bingo scene, sadly. A huge difference from the movie is that this arc introduces us to Champa and Vados—siblings of Beerus and Whis respectively. Considering the manga already expects the readers have seen both Battle of Gods and Resurrection of F, we are only given a few panels of the latter before it moves into the Universe 6 arc. If you’re watching the anime and have yet to read the manga, please do so. Even though the manga is behind the anime, and from the surface both the anime and the manga are the same. You’re missing out on an interesting perspective of the series and doing yourself a disservice if you’re not reading the manga.  
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Subarashii Ningen!
Dragon Ball has been one of the most popular franchises in Japan during the last three decades, and with good reason, and when it finally ended, it really makes you feel empty, at least it did for me when I finished watc...

Review: One Punch Man Blu-ray Set

Jun 21 // Christian Chiok
[embed]35704:6206:0[/embed] One Punch Man (Blu-ray)Studio: Mad HouseLicensed By: Viz MediaReleased: April 25, 2017 (NA)MSRP: $29.99 (Standard) and $34.99 (Limited Edition) If you read my past reviews, you know that I really enjoy the shonen genre, especially battle series. However, I especially appreciate series that can action-packed but at the same time not take itself seriously—exactly like Dr. Slump, which shares the same premise of a main character that can outclass their opponents effortlessly, though Arale can stop Saitama easily, as someone who can play soccer with planets, or even making cracks with playful punches, but I digress. The premise of One Punch Man is much better as it involves superheroes saving the planet from strange monsters and supervillains have been mysteriously appearing and causing disasters. Saitama, who is one of these superheroes, can easily defeat these monsters and villains with a single punch, hence the name. Naturally with that much power, as become of it and only gets truly excited when fighting strong opponents that can challenge him. Throughout the series, he encounters various superheroes, supervillains, and monsters and gains a disciple named Genos, who is a Cyborg with various modifications. They eventually join the Hero Association in order to gain official recognition. Expected from Madhouse, the animation is quite amazing, especially the battle scenes. Seeing Genos activate his Arms Mode or especially using his Incineration Cannons was nothing short of amazing, and its really shows how much talent the studio has. The artstyle was great, especially the change in Saitama depending his mood, which was goofier looking when he wasn’t serious, and more muscular and detailed when he engaged in battle. Throughout the years, English dub has somewhat grown on me. Naturally, I still prefer the original Japanese track, as I always enjoy the original language in any form of media. Having already seen One Punch Man when it was released in Japanese, I decided to watch it in English to experience the series in a different form. Both Max Mittelman, who voices Saitama, and Zach Aguilar, who voices Genos, did well voicing both characters. I felt like perhaps Genos voice could have been softer though it didn’t feel too unfitting, and I thought that Max sounded a bit too serious for Saitama. Nevertheless, both of their works were enjoyable. There are certain characters that I prefer their Japanese voice by far over their English counterpart, but the dub was overall enjoyable. One of the gripes I have with these Viz Media releases, as the same happened with the Boruto film, is that the English subtitles featured on this set it’s the same as the original Japanese option, and not it’s own, so, for the most part, the dialogue in the English dub doesn’t match the subtitle track. They are minor differences and you still get the overall idea of what is being said but it still feels a bit lazy on their behalf and hopefully it isn’t a problem in future releases. Though I didn’t include it in my Top 5 Anime of 2015 last year, One Punch Man was still up there for me. If you loved the series, consider investing in the Blu-ray set—it comes in a standard edition which comes with Blu-ray discs of the series, or the limited edition with comes with two Blu-ray discs, two DVD discs, 96 page full-color Booklet including Chapter 1 of the smash-hit manga, and six art cards, which can be used as the cover of the set. Definitely worth the purchase. 
One Punch Man photo
Okay
It really doesn’t feel like too long ago when One Punch Man first aired back in 2015, as I still remember it like yesterday when I was watching it alongside other Fall seasonals, like My Love Story. Honestly, not only b...


Review: Boruto: Naruto the Movie Blu-ray Set

Apr 03 // Christian Chiok
[embed]35667:6197:0[/embed] Boruto: Naruto the Movie (Blu-ray [reviewed], DVD)Studio: Studio PierrotLicensed By: Viz MediaReleased: March 28, 2017 (NA)MSRP: $29.99 The Boruto: Naruto the Movie Blu-Ray & DVD Combo Pack comes with both the Blu-Ray and DVD versions of the movie. It also includes special features such as storyboards, showing how the movie was made, a clean version of the ending sequence—meaning no credits shown so you can enjoy the animation sequence, the Japanese trailers, artwork and The Day Naruto Became Hokage OVA, which debut in the Japanese limited edition of the movie, and released in North America two weeks prior this Blu-ray release.  The movie comes with an English audio track, English audio track with English subtitles, and the original Japanese audio track with English subtitles. My problem with the English with English subtitles option is that it does not match the dialogue from the English audio and most likely it's the same subtitles from the Japanese version, which is very lazy. Including the Japanese version with no subtitles would have been nice as well as there isn't a logical reason not to include it. If you're familiar with the English dub, the quality in this one is no different from the past. I personally like it.  If you missed out watching the movie in theaters (though by now you probably watched it by other means), or are a fan of the English dub and was waiting for the English release, then you should definitely get this set. The extra content is definitely a nice bonus and it will give you everything you need to know before the Boruto series debuts this anime season. 
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The New Generation hits Blu-Ray!
It's incredible how fast time flies. I remember like it was yesterday when I wrote my review for Boruto: Naruto the Movie, which was also my first piece on Japanator. You can read the full review here. Considering the movie c...

Review: Your Name. (Kimi No Na Wa)

Apr 02 // Christian Chiok
Your Name (Kimi No Na Wa) Studio: CoMix Wave Films Licensed by: FUNimation Release Date: August 26, 2016 (Japan), April 7, 2017 (North America) The movie introduces us to Mitsuha, a high school girl living in the fictional town of Itomori, who is tired of her life in the countryside and wishes to be a handsome Tokyo boy in her next life. Next thing we see Taki, a high school boy living in Tokyo, who wakes up and realizes that he is Mitsuha, who somehow switched bodies with Taki. When both Mitsuha and Taki realized that they have switched bodies, they start communicating with each other by leaving notes on paper or leaving memos in each other's phones. As time goes on, they become used to the body swap and start intervening in each other's lives, like Mitsuha becoming more popular in school and Taki scoring a date with his female coworker, Miki Okudera While the movie starts off comedic, it takes a more dramatic turn during the second half of the movie. After his unsuccessful date with Okudera, Taki decided to contact Mitsuha but failed. He later finds that they have stopped switching bodies and eventually decides to visit Mitsuha in her hometown in the Hida region, with no information of where she lives and relying solely on the sketches of the village's scenery he has drawn from memory. With no luck finding the place, he decides to go back to Tokyo, until a restaurant server recognizes the town in Taki's sketch as Itomori. He is then told what happened to Itomori three years ago, in which is when the movie takes its dramatic turn. [embed]35666:6196:0[/embed] Your Name is kind of complex movie that will take more than one watch to fully understand. It took me watching the movie twice — both in Japanese and English, to fully understand it. There’s so much going on in the movie that just leaves you confused. Already understanding the movie because of my first watch, when watching it a second time, a lot of things started to make more sense to me, especially everything involving Mitsuha, such as her sake, rebirth and when they kept forgetting each other. The animation was fantastic, as expected from CoMix Wave Films, who were responsible for animating 5 Centimeters Per Second back in 2007. It felt so vivid, and it was beautiful to look at, especially certain scenes with the meteor. It’s going to be a great experience watching it in theaters. Both voice work and soundtrack were nothing short of amazing, especially the vocal songs by RADWIMPS. It added so much dramatic effect that made certain scenes feel more powerful. I also had the opportunity to watch the movie in English, which features an all-new English-language soundtrack created by RADWIMPS, who also were responsible for the original Japanese film soundtrack and score. I personally enjoyed the dub but the voices were a bit too soft for some of the characters, and just didn’t fit. As for the English soundtrack, while the original versions remain the best, RADWIMPS outdid themselves. Another thing is that with any translation, whether it’s anime or live action, the jokes, references, or language rules are lost in translation. Though it didn’t affect the movie too much. Your Name was a great movie, but it wasn’t as good or sad as people publicized it to be. Coming from someone who shed tears when reading One Piece or even actual tearjerkers like Clannad, the movie didn’t affect me emotionally at all, though there were sad parts.  Still, the concept presented in Your Name was unique and captivated me all the way through.  [This review is based on a commercial screening attended by the reviewer]
Your Name photo
Can I ask you your name?
By now, many of the anime fanbase has seen the critically acclaimed Your Name, or Kimi no na wa as known in Japan, which will hit theaters in North America this April. The movie is based on the novel of the same name by Makot...

Review: One Piece Film Gold

Jan 21 // Christian Chiok
One Piece Film Gold Studio: Toei Animation Licensed by: FUNimation Release Date: July 23rd, 2016 (Japan), January 10, 2017 (North America) Naturally, like most Anime movies based on a long running series, like Naruto and Dragon Ball (for the exception of the latest ones), they are non-canon. It’s been a while since we have seen all nine members present in a story that's implied to take place after the Dressrosa arc since Gold mentions the Straw Hats defeating Doflamingo for him, not to mention, if you keep up with the manga, the crew is once again separated, so it makes it difficult to fit it in a canon setting. The movie starts with the introduction of the movie’s antagonist — Gild Tesoro, the owner of the massive ship with a large entertainment city built on it, and known for having 20% of the world's money in it. This place is known as Gran Tesoro — the setting of the entire movie. Just from this opening sequences, you can witness the quality of the animation, these being Gild Tesoro and his partner Carina dancing and singing while the Straw Hats are fighting off a pirate crew of disposable while introducing each of the crew members, their personalities, unique abilities, and bounties. [embed]35497:6027:0[/embed] Personally, while the Vegas-like setting certainly made the movie quite interesting, story-wise, this was probably the weakest out of the three. I really enjoyed the back story between Nami and Carina — back when they were working together as thieves. As for the rest of the Straw Hats, they didn’t get much development, but they were still the great characters we’ve grown to care and love. While not really a bad antagonist, Gild Tesoro wasn’t too interesting in my opinion albeit he isn’t too generic either. During the movie, it is shown that he went through a rough childhood of poverty. The premise of the movie is that Gild Tesoro tricks people into getting into debt, and because they victims can’t afford to pay back their debt, they become his slaves for an eternity. With the help of his underling, Baccarat, who can steal the luck of anyone by simply touching them, making them extremely unlucky, she was able to trick the Straw Hats into a debt – initiating the main conflict of the movie.   The comedy in the movie was just as you would expect from One Piece — Luffy being the goofy captain and messing up things, Sanji always falling beautiful women, even if they are in the opposing side and thus falling for their trap, Usopp and Chopper alongside Luffy and their shenanigans and much more that had the entire theater laughing throughout the movie. Being disconnected from One Piece’s English Dub for over ten years, since I watched most of the movies with the original Japanese voices and most recent One Piece games only offer Japanese voices, being presented with the English dub once again was refreshing. The cast outdid themselves and hearing the talented Vic Mignogna portray Luffy's older brother Sabo was great. Keith Silverstein’s portrayal of Gild Tesoro was great as well — being able to sound as smooth and confident as the character is supposed to be. Overall, I am glad that I got to experience One Piece Film Gold in theaters. While the movie is certainly the weakest out of the latest three, Film Gold delivered with its great fight scenes, animation, soundtrack, and character interaction. While it’s not something that might captivate newcomers of the series, it’s certainly a ride that all One Piece fans will enjoy. 
One Piece Film Gold photo
Welcome to Grand Tesoro!
If there’s something we can all agree on, it’s that the recent One Piece movies has been epicuticular — Strong World, Film Z and now Film Gold. It’s no wonder that these films have been great since Eii...

Japanator Awards 2016: Christian's Top 5 Anime of the Year

Jan 01 // Christian Chiok
[Editor's Note: As with last year's Japanator Awards, our lists are arranged in order, with our #1 pick being our favorite of the year. To qualify for inclusion in the Japanator awards, a candidate must have concluded a broadcast run or season ("cour") within the calendar year of 2016.] 5. Keijo!!!!!!!!! This series had to make it into the list somehow, right? Like many have said before, Keijo!!!!!!!!! Is definitely the gem of the season. Keijo offers the flashiness similar to Kuroko’s Basketball, where techniques are exaggerated and shown as attacks from your typical Shonen series. Additionally, it manages to combine both a wacky and serious tone quite well.  From the outside, it may look like a perverted series of clashing boobs and ass. From the inside, however, the series is about an intense sport called Keijo and the hardship of many of the students that work to be the best at it.  If you like sport series, I would definitely recommend it. Don’t let the wackiness fool you. Additionally, Aoba is definitely the best girl in the series. 4. Haikyuu (Season Two & Three) Aside Kuroko’s Basketball, Haikyuu is definitely one of my favorite sport series in recent anime history. While it doesn’t give out the same intense for “Dragon Ball in sports” feel, the series does a good job at keeping you at the edge of your seat. Coming from Production I.G, the animation is certainly phenomenal as well. Both seasons, the second one which started last year but ended this year and the third one which both aired and concluded this year were certainly enjoyable. Both protagonist, Shoyo Hinata, and deuteragonist, Tobio Kageyama, made tremendous development in both seasons. This isn’t saying that the rest of the Karasuno team didn’t make any development, but these two guys went through a lot which eventually made them better characters. I don’t think Volleyball is as interesting as Basketball, and not to mention, Haikyuu isn’t as unrealistic as Kuroko’s Basketball. Still, a lot of the plays were quite intense and watching them in anime form was enjoyable thanks to Production I.G. 3. Shokugeki no Souma: Ni no Sara Just like last year, Shokugeki no Souma delivered once again with its craziness and delicious plates. Additionally, I also appreciated the references put in some of the matches, especially the one with Megumi and Ryo where both of them had Stands. The tournament arc was quite enjoyable to watch as well — from its delicious food to the same intensity that you get from watching a sport series. My thoughts haven’t changed from last year when I put the first season on my top as well. The series features a variety of characters with different personalities who are certainly memorable. 2. Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure: Diamond is Unbreakable If you took your time to read my Top 5 from last year (which I’m thankful for if you did), then you saw this one coming, because I did say I was going to automatically make it my Top 5 of 2016. To me, Diamond is Unbreakable is the best Jojo arc for many reasons. First, it features one of the best villains ever featured in a Shounen series, if not the best. He isn’t your generic “I am evil just because” or “I turned evil because I got friendzoned (looking at you, Obito). Yoshikage Kira has a unique background compared to other villains, and his purpose of doing what he does is unique as well. To add, Killer Queen was great antagonistic stand. Just like it features a great villain, the series though has a great protagonist as well. Joseph and Jotaro are great, and while Giorno Giovanna is my favorite JoJo, Josuke Higashikata definitely comes in second. He’s a hilarious character with a great personality but when it comes to being serious, he’s not playing around. Just like his father, he’s certainly a smart fighter as well. The side characters such as Jotaro, Joseph, Okuyasu and especially Koichi add to the series as well. 1. Orange This is the series that a lot of people in my circle called “If Clannad and Erased had a baby,” including myself of course. However, Orange’s traveling concept isn’t the same as Erased’s. In Orange, the protagonist, Naho Takiyama received letters from her future self to save her classmate, Kakeru Naruse, from comitting suicide. Each letter details on the things present Naho must do to save present Kakeru. Similarly to Clannad, Orange will also take you through the feelings roller coaster, similarly to the former. You’ll find yourself easily attached to many of the characters and feel what they are going through, which is an accomplishment considering the length of the series. I’m no afraid to admit that I shed some tears here and there watching the series. My only gripe is that the series was a bit short but perhaps it’s better if it was “short and sweet.” Honorable Mentions: Mob Psycho 100, Yuri On Ice, Re:Zero, My Hero Academia, Erased, All-Out, and Drifters.
Japanator Awards 2016 photo
Emotional Coasters, Boobs, Food, & More!
With another batch of enjoyable anime released this year, another Top 5 article was certainly obligatory. Unfortunately, just like last year, I didn’t invest my time much in Anime and spent it a lot more video games ins...

Impressions: Jojo's Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders Manga Vol. 1

Dec 13 // Christian Chiok
For those unfamiliar with Jojo’s Bizzare Adventure, it all starts with the legacy of Jonathan Joestar, the protagonist of Phantom Blood, the first part of the series. In short, the series consist of his struggles with his adoptive brother Dio Brando, which ends with Dio being defeated, or so we thoughts. A hundred years later, we are introduced to Jotaro Kujo who is the grandson of Joseph Joestar, the protagonist of Part 2: Battle Tendency and grandson of Jonathan Joestar. The volume starts off introducing Jotaro, starting off with his childhood years then transitioning to his present teenager years. During a school fight with four delinquents, he discovered that an “evil spirit” possessed him so when incarcerated, he decided to stay. Then comes Joseph Joestar, who already knew the “evil spirit” that possessed Jotaro when Holy mentioned it to him over the phone. This “evil spirit” is known as Stand, which will be a common thing throughout the series. A stand us a powerful apparition created by one’s energy and because it stand’s next to the user, it’s called a “Stand.” With Holly being part of the Joestar bloodline, just like her father and son, she gained the power of a Stand, but unfortunately because of her gentle and non-violent nature made her lack the mental strength necessary to control the Stand, slowly making her ill with a harmful high fever and putting her life at risk. Knowing that, Jotaro and Joseph decided to make a trip to Egypt to defeat Dio and stop the curse. As soon their trips began, Dio’s lackies already started assaulting them and intervening with their trip to prevent them from finding Dio’s hideout.   From beginning to end, I was definitely satisfied with how Viz Media handled the first volume. If you’re a huge fanatic of Jojo prior the new wave of fans that just discovered the series due to the 2012 anime, you probably already have it, but if you’re part of the latter and never read the manga, then I would recommend you to do so. It’s better to start from Phantom Blood, but since you are already up to date with the series, it should be fine to start your manga collection from Stardust Crusaders and experience the series in its original form. 
Stardust Crusaders photo
A Very Bizarre Adventure
If I have to name my favorite Shonen series, more specifically battle series, then I would have to say Jojo’s Bizzare Adventure.  If you been keeping up with Japanator and read my Top 10 from last year, you’l...

Japanator Unboxing: Persona 5 20th Anniversary Edition

Sep 15 // Christian Chiok
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Persona 5 photo
Take Your Heart
Persona 5, one of the most anticipated games of the year, has finally hit Japanese shelves as well as the PlayStation Network. We were blessed with the opportunity to obtain the Persona 5 20th Anniversary Edition which i...

Here, have some Starter Crate DLC for Ghost in the Shell: First Assault Online

Sep 15 // Christian Chiok
EDIT: The giveaway has ended. Winners should expect an email from us soon.  [embed]35260:5840:0[/embed]
Ghost in the Shell photo
Dive Beyond Humanity
Back in December, I had the chance to play Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex First Assault Online when it first launched as closed beta and Early Access via Steam. A few months after that, the game went into open b...

Review: The King of Fighters XIV

Aug 22 // Christian Chiok
[embed]35211:5799:0[/embed] The King of Fighters XIV (PlayStation 4)Developer: SNKPublisher: Atlus USAReleased: August 23, 2016 (US), August 26, 2016 (EU), August 25, 2016 (JP)MSRP: $59.99 Regardless, I decided to be open-minded and not completely trash the game, so I was still looking forward to it, but with less excitement compared to XII, however. I definitely made the right decision of still giving the game the chance since as the months went by, and as information came in, the game was shaping up to be good, and definitely a lot more robust than one of its competitors when it came to content.   King of Fighters XIV marks the beginning of a new canonical saga for the series. Compared to previous entries, I don’t think the story is that exciting this time around since the story is more streamlined compared to other King of Fighters.  The story revolves around a billionaire known as Antonov, who claimed to be the “first champion” of the KOF tournament and bought out all of the rights for the KOF Tournament. His announcement of a new KOF Tournament created unprecedented enthusiasm around the world. From there, this excitement reached many of the veteran participants of the legendary tournament directly in the form of an official invitation. After finishing up Story Mode, which should be fairly quick, there are other modes you can try out like Versus Mode, Training, Online, Mission and Tutorial. Naturally, Versus Mode is just like previous King of Fighters where it gives you the option to do both Single and Team VS matches. After selecting your character, you got a handful of handicaps you can choose from, such as 50% health, 75% health, an extra bar of power gauge and lastly your power gauge completely filled. After that, you choose your stage and the rest is history. Practice Mode offers a variety of options that will help you on your training such as changing the position of you and your opponent, change whether they are standing, crouching, jumping, as well as have the AI completely take over. You can also set up so the training dummy guards, counters and recovers.  All of this is definitely good if you want to have great training sessions. Additionally, there’s also Tutorial Mode which shows you the ropes. It helps if you’re new to the series or fighting games in general. Mission Mode consists of Trial, Time Attack, and Survival. In Trial, you will attempt a set of challenges for each character. They usually consist of pulling off combos.  Time Attack and Survival both are self-explanatory. I personally liked playing through Trial since it helped me out practice some combos for some of the characters that I used. Now to address the elephant in the room—Online mode. The previous game, King of Fighters XIII, was known for its awful netcode on consoles. While the Steam version heavily improved this, it still wasn’t perfect.  It’s really noticeable that they actually worked hard to improve the netcode in this game. I played around 10 matches or so without any lag—I had a smooth experience all around. Additionally, the game offers some features that make the online better as well. Ranked Match takes you straight into a 3-Man Team Battle, which affects your rank depending whether you win or lose. For advanced players, it gives you the option to play 10 battles and depending in your wins, it sets you into a Rank much faster.  Free Match is most robust as it gives you more modes to play such as Team VS, Single VS and Party VS. The first two work just as if you were playing offline with another player in the same room. What I really love is the addition of Party VS, which lets six players instead in a 3-on-3 fight. If you got a group of friends, it’s definitely a lot of fun. Room settings are the same as any fighting game in general, such as making the room public or private, the number of players, the round time, and the number of rounds. Inside a room, you’re allowed to play multiple set ups, such as Tourney, Elimination and Series. Tourney removes the losing player after the fight, Elimination removes the winning player after the fight while Series allows you to face the same opponent continuously. There’s also Online Training, which allows you to train with a friend online. This is definitely helpful for those who lack a training partner outside of the Internet. Naturally, there’s also Online Replay, which you can view all the replays submitted by players, whether it’s Team VS or Single VS matches. Spectators can join to watch the match up with an integrated voice and text chat. Additionally, a "Crowd SE" option is available for spectators, which allows them to root, applaud, and boo the match current players.There's also a Live feature, but that's just a shortcut to game's Live from PlayStation menu. While the game resembles the Maximum Impact series graphically, it still remains on a strictly two-dimensional plane and keeps the same basic mechanics as its predecessors. New features have been added such as a new Max mode system, allowing players to access the EX moves, which can be activated by using one bar of the power gauge. Additionally, using three bars of the power gauge can allow players to unleash Climax supers. With the game catering to newcomers as well, the added a feature called Rush Mode, which is similar to games like Dengeki Bunko and Persona 4 Arena. Just like those games, it can be activated by repeatedly hitting the light punch button, however, will do lower damage compared to normal combo attacks. While I’m certainly not a fan of these types of things, it doesn’t really hurt the game either. Overall, I am definitely pleased with King of Fighters XIV. While the story was kind of bland compared to the previous games, and the graphics are a bit disappointing, it still offers a great experience that both King of Fighters fans and fighting game fans can appreciate. There’s just so much content from the get-go, like a game should, that can keep you occupied for a while. It definitely makes up for the game's flaws. You can bet I'll be playing this for months. 
The King of Fighters XIV photo
Burn To Fight
Since I’ve been writing for Japanator for almost a year now, some of you may already know I’m a big King of Fighters fan and it’s one of the first series I ever played as a child. Even since then I haven&rsq...

Review: A.W. Phoenix Festa

Aug 10 // Christian Chiok
[embed]35189:5778:0[/embed] A.W Phoenix Festa (PlayStation Vita)Developer: APLUSPublisher: Bandai Namco EntertainmentReleased: July 26, 2016 (US), July 26, 2016 (EU), January 28, 2016 (JP)MSRP: $39.99 When launching the game, you can either choose to play as Ayato Amagiri or an original character, which you can name whatever you wish. While the game doesn’t specifically state it, it is implied that playing as Ayato is easy mode since your stats are already high enough and ready for the Phoenix Festa as opposed to the original character who starts with lower stats, thus making the game more challenging, but you are given more time to prepare before the Phoenix Festa. What I didn’t like about Ayato’s storyline is that you need to find a partner for the Phoenix Festa before the deadline, which is 2 weeks after the game starts. While that may sound like a lot, time really flies fast in the game. While it’s doable to choose the partner that you want, those two weeks could push you to make a rash decision since if you don’t find a partner in due time, the game will end prematurely. While I personally do like Saya, at the same time, it as a rushed choice since I only had one day to find a partner. With the original character however, you are given two months before the Phoenix Festa thus giving you plenty of time to build up your character as well as his relationship with the rest of the cast. I felt a lot more comfortable doing his path since it gave me time to think work on who I wanted as a partner as well as build up my stats the way I desired. Though it was somewhat harder compared to Ayato’s playthrough, I definitely recommend playing his story first since it’s a lot more flexible and gives you more room for enjoyment. Like a lot of Dating Sims, the game is time dependent. You are giving a calendar in which you can set up appointments, train, go shopping, upgrade your equipment and even take on a job. There are two time slots for each day —AM and PM, and which gets fill up depending on what activity you choose to do. Setting up appointments allows you to either duel or take the person on a date.  Though I would recommend on challenging them on a duel first since it not only boosts up your stats but it also raises your affinity with that character as well. However, the battles aren’t really enjoyable, which I’ll get into later on. Training allows you to boost up a stat individually such as Life, Attack, Defense, Insight, etc. However, in return, training takes a toll on your health and body condition, which reflects on your battles, so it’s imperative not to overdo it, or heal up before proceeding to battle. Job requests are like side quests in which nets you extra money that can be used to buy weapon upgrades in the laboratory, or buy medicine or even presents to raise your affinity with the girl characters in the Shop. All in all, if you enjoyed the anime’s story, then you’ll most likely enjoy the dialogue in this one as well. However there were times where the game got too repetitive with the dialogue and kind of boring. There were times where I took Saya to a date multiple times, but unfortunately they were the same scenario most of the time, though that’s because though affinity cap isn’t really that high either. Most anime games don’t offer too much depth in their combat system, and that should be expected, however, the combat system is this game is so bland that it makes the game not so fun to play. You only have two attacks, mapped to the square and tringle button as well as a special attack which is used by pressing L1 and Triangle. While the special attack is spammable as long as you go stamina, it’s blockable, though it can make battles pretty annoying. At least since each character wields different weapons, it somewhat offers different play styles for each character. Whether we’re gaming or working on a project, we know how imperative it is to save your progress. While I appreciate that the game auto-saves your progress, I feel that as a Visual Novel, it does it excessively.  There was times where I lost matches or made the wrong choices, so I wanted to revert to a previous point but realized it was too late. Naturally there’s always the option to quit the game before the game saves your progress but that still feels like too much of a hassle, even when the game doesn’t take much to load. Considering I somewhat enjoyed the series, I really wanted this game to be enjoyable as well since it looked enjoyable from first impressions. I wasn’t expecting for too much, but something I can turn to for some quick fun on the go and don’t have to invest too much time in. Even if for some reason you really enjoyed the series, it’s hard to recommend this game, even when it hits a sale. I wanted to enjoy this game but every aspect of it it’s really weak.  [This review is based on a copy of the game provided by the publisher.]
A.W. Phoenix Festa photo
Bland Stories & Battles
In this gaming generation, especially with both the PS Vita and the 3DS, it’s pretty common for Bandai Namco to make a quick cashgrab of anime series currently airing in Japan. It happened to Kuroko’s Basketball, ...

Review: Romance of the Three Kingdoms XIII

Aug 07 // Christian Chiok
[embed]35186:5776:0[/embed] Romance of the Three Kingdoms XIII (PlayStation 4 [reviewed], PC)Developer: Koei TecmoPublisher: Koei TecmoReleased: July 5, 2016 (US), July 8, 2016 (EU), January 28, 2016 (JP)MSRP: $59.99 Right off the bat I could tell how deep the game is, and I was going to have a hard time learning the many features the game offered, as it easily one of the deepest game in the PS4 library. As a matter of fact, the game doesn’t do a great job of explaining many of the features to new players, so trying to play through the first few hours were really overwhelming. When booting the game, you get a message that it’s recommended to play through Hero Mode, otherwise known as the game’s Tutorial Mode, to get a good grasps of the game. Immediately as the game showed the introduction, it captivated me and couldn’t wait to progress through the game. At first, the game holds your hand a little bit, pointing out what you need to do and such, as well as explaining the game features. After that though, I couldn’t help to feel a little lost on the mechanics. I spent a few hours fooling around with the game so I can get a good grasp of it. With help, I was able to manage and get a decent understanding of the game, so I proceeded to the main mode, in which traditionally offers a different scenarios to play. The main goal of the game is to stabilize your territory, gain more officers, conquer more territory, and ultimately unify the land, under the flag of Han, Wei, Wu, Shu, Zhong, Jin, or another force. To accomplish this, players will be using the several options and sub-options to increase your territory domestically, which you can do so by appointing yourself or one of your men to the tasks such as Commerce, Farming and Culture. Commerce gives gold, which you can use to pay your officers. Farming feeds your men. Culture attracts people. You can also improve your territory militarily, which is done by hiring new officers. The battle system in Romance of the Three Kingdoms XIII is similar to the previous games, where you encounters an enemy force and takes control of the battle. Otherwise, the AI will decide the outcome. When taking control of the battle, you will leave the world map and enter a more detailed battle map. How it looks depends on where you encounter your opponent, so it can be on the ourskirts, near a city, in a forest. Romance of the Three Kingdoms shares the same epic cinematics found in the Dynasty Warriors series, though not as dynamic and animated. Instead, the cutscenes are still images with little animation. However, it still has that epic feel thanks to the voice acting and the effects added to them. Though I would have proffered if the game had fully animated cutscenes. The soundtrack is also as amazing as in the Dynasty Warriors games as well. As hard as it was to get into at first, I did enjoy my time with the game, such as plotting my dominion over China as well as growing my civilization through the basics of successful commerce, culture, farming and military training. However, after investing my time into it, I don’t think it’s my type of game either. I personally think that Romance of the Three Kingdoms is far from a bad game for what it offers, and I can really appreciate a game that offers a lot of depth. However, as a newcomer to the series, it was really difficult and frustrating for me to get into it at first. According to friends familiar with the series, this was probably a bad entry to start with, and I should play ROTTK10 instead to get into the series, and if you want to get in to the series, I would advise to do so as well. Otherwise, it’s probably a good game for veterans of the series.  [This review is based on a copy of the game provided by the publisher.]
ROTTK photo
Expand Your Empire
Being interested in Japanese culture, learning about the Sengoku era came with the territory. While learning about the history about the era as well as its historical figures, I stumbled upon Samurai Warriors back in late 200...

Ghost in the Shell: First Assault Online rolls out the big guns ahead of launch

Jul 28 // Christian Chiok
As a Ghost, you’ll be utilizing the Therm-optic Camo, making you invisible to the Cyborgs. It’s really useful since it saved my skin when I was close to the Cyborgs although they could still detect me with their radar. You also have around 20 bullets to your disposal but unfortunately you can’t melee the Cyborg. As for the Cyborg, you’ll have six bullets to kill a Ghost, after that you’ll have to rely on melee and stealth attacks. You will have radar at your disposal which allows you to see if a Ghost is nearby. I had a blast playing this mode, especially a full room with other 15 more players, though it makes things harder but still an enjoyable experience. For my own sake, I personally enjoyed playing four against four since it was the perfect balance between not making it too hectic or too boring.  As the Ghost, it allowed me to stay hidden well but it also gave the opponent a fair chance to find me as there were many times we crossed paths. I can fairly say that both my teammates and opponents had the same experience. While it was fun, playing the game with eight players made the experience too hectic, thus enjoying the role of a Ghost a bit less. While playing through Ghost Assault I also had the chance to try out the new maps, Headquarters, which is currently in prototype, and the Underground base, a permanent map featuring the changes from the community feedback. Personally I never played the Underground Base map in its prototype stage (or don’t recall the map from my first time playing it) but I thought that map was too small for Ghost Assault and I didn’t have the opportunity to play it in any other mode. I really liked Headquaters in Ghost Assault however since it offered nice hiding spots and had different paths that made avoiding the enemy easier. I didn’t have the opportunity to try this map in any other mode however. Lastly, there’s Kuro, the newest operative who will be available once Open Beta launches this week. Kuro specializes in incapacitating enemies with short-range pulses using focused EMP devices. Considering we can’t use their skills in Ghost Assault, we played a few Team Deatmatch matches, though not in the new maps. I really had fun using Kuro and using his skill net me and my teammates a lot of kills since a few times multiple enemies were within the range, making them sitting ducks for a few seconds. Overall, I really enjoyed my experience in this open beta and might go back to it when it officially releases. Ghost Assault is definitely what I enjoyed the most. The game is now available for free to everyone via Steam and the Nexon Launcher. You can check out Ghost Assault in action below: [embed]35172:5750:0[/embed]  
Ghost in the Shell photo
Play Hide and Seek in Style
So it’s been almost eight months since I had the opportunity to play Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex - First Assault Online before it went Early Access, in which I wrote my thoughts about. To keep it short, I en...

Review: 7th Dragon III Code: VFD

Jul 19 // Christian Chiok
[embed]35164:5744:0[/embed] 7th Dragon III Code: VFD (Nintendo 3DS)Developer: SegaPublisher: SegaReleased: October 15th, 2015 (JP), July 12th, 2016 (NA & EU)MSRP: $39.99 The game starts off with the player going to 7th Encount, Tokyo's hottest new multiplayer VR game. From there, you will complete a virtual dragon slaying dungeon that is a recruiting tool in disguise by its dragon-hunting developers, Nodens, to help prepare for the coming of an all-powerful, world-destroying dragon, code-named 'VFD'. From there, you will prompt to create your team of three characters who will be traveling through different eras to gather as much information as you can. I found the time-travel mechanic quite interesting as you will be brought to fascinating places, such as a technologically advanced sea-kingdom of Atlantis in the past, and a medieval Eden in the future. You’ll find that the game has quite an interesting cast of characters that are quite memorable. Luckily, while you will encounter references to the lore of past games, it won’t hinder your understanding of this game. The character creation isn’t as robust as I would like but it still offers enough options to leave you pleased with your choices. You will be given eight appearances in which you can change their style by pressing the X button. They also come in different colors. Unfortunately, those are the only options you have as far as your character appearance. What I really enjoyed was the variety of voice actors and actresses that the game offered, including Aki Toyosaki, Yoko Hikasa, and Yui Horie. There will be eight classes to close from including Samurai, God Hand, and Rune Knight. Once you finish setting up your team, you’ll jump straight into the story. Noden’s Headquarters will be your main hub where the company’s time-traveling Portal is located. When using the Portal, you’ll be presented with a menu with your current available locations that you can travel in the world map. It will detail how many dragons you got yet to defeat in that location. Once you selected the area you want to travel, you’ll be teleported and that’s when your mission will start. Unlike your average RPG where you have to approach the enemy to fight it, this game has a colored gauge at the top of the screen will let you know how close an enemy is to attacking. Once it hits red, you’ll be sent to battle that monster. They are unavoidable but you can slow down the gauge by using the camouflage item. Even though the enemy approach is different, the combat is similar to your typical Turn-Based JRPG. You will be able to attack, defend, and use skills and items. The type of attacks and skills in your arsenal depend on what class you chose for your characters. The classes available are Samurai, God-hand, Agent, Duelist, Rune-knight, Fortuner, Mage, and Banisher, each which offer a different playstyle. For instance, there’s the Samurai who are adept with two different forms of swordplay: using longswords, or dual blades. Depending on their weapon of choice, they have access to a different range of skills. There’s also the Agent who keeps a low profile, staying out of the spotlight for the sake of long-distance attacks, inflicting status ailments, manipulating enemies to attack each other with skilled hacking, and setting traps to toy with their foes. With all classes having a different role in battle, this makes the experience more engaging. Always attack isn’t help you in battle, as there will be times where you would need to heal your team as well as weaken the enemy. Even with weaker enemies, it’s important to strategize instead of full on attacking to get the best results possible. Even when playing the game in Casual, the game’s easiest difficulty, it will give you a hard time so it’s still important to strategize and not spam the attack option. Each character can also develop and level up skills via a tree system though it’s recommended that you focus on skills that go according to your character’s class. Aside from battling Dragons, you’ll be able to the save any survivor wandering around the map which automatically happens just by interacting with them. While it’s almost meaningless, it’s a nice feature that makes the experience more real. The dungeon design can vary per area thus giving you a unique experience for reach era that you travel. Noden’s Headquarters isn’t your regular hub as players can customize it to their liking using Dragon Points, which you'll earn in dungeons. Once giving the feature, you’ll start with your dormitory room where your party rest, but you’ll be able to start various construction projects such as turning a basement floor into anything you like. Once of the options is the Skylounge, where it allows players to go on dates with their teammates and story characters, a common feature in various JRPGs. While it doesn’t really benefit you in combat, it’s still a nice feature that I can appreciate since I got to see interesting cutscenes with my own characters. It was definitely fun to mess with for a bit. Graphically the game looks as good as a 3DS game should, especially since characters are shown as Chibi, similar to Bravely Default. I think it’s rather lacking that it doesn’t have the 3D feature as a 3DS title but personally I barely use it. The game also runs at a steady framerate giving you a smooth experience. Additionally the game has a fantastic soundtrack to go with it as well. Overall, 7th Dragon III: Code VFD is an excellent addition to your 3DS RPG collection. It offers a unique experience no other RPG on the 3DS has offered, and has an interesting story to go with it as well. The combat system is pretty robust combat system with plenty of customization options as well as classes to choose from. It’s a lovely game and makes me wish that they brought the previous games to the States.
7th Dragon III Code: VFD photo
Dragon Slaying Adventures
By now, the 3DS has been known to be the perfect platform for gamers to get their JRPG fix. Games such as the Etrian Odyssey series, the Shin Megami Tensei series, the Bravely Default series and naturally the Pokemon games ma...

Review: Grand Kingdom

Jun 21 // Christian Chiok
[embed]35113:5710:0[/embed] Grand Kingdom (PS Vita [reviewed], PS4)Developer: Spike ChunsoftPublisher: NIS AmericaReleased: November 19th, 2015 (JP), June 17th, 2016 (EU), June 21st, 2016 (NA)MSRP: $49.99 (PS4), $39.99 (PS Vita) Unfortunately, the story is only about 12 story chapters each lasting at least 30 minutes to one hour.  On top of the short story, the game only gets interesting near the end.  It’s unfortunate since some of the characters are likeable as well as the voice acting work. Some of the characters reminded me of the typical ones found in Shonen series so I was really looking forward on seeing more of them. However, all the 36 chapters that were delivered as DLC in Japan are going to be included in the western release, giving you a total of 48 chapters of story from the get-go.  In the DLC chapters, you’ll have the chance to delve yourself in the story of each of the four Great Nations, allowing the player to align themselves with a particular nation and dig deeper into that nation’s motivations and history. Each campaign will introduce you to brand new characters, deeper ties that bind rulers to family and nation, and perhaps even discover something about yourself as you decide which nation tugs at your heart the most. The uniqueness of the gameplay styles with each mission taking place on a large game board in both you and enemies move around in, one turn at a time. Your team will be represented by a silver piece while the enemies’ will be represented by a purple and red piece, the latter being a stronger enemy. Additionally, the game board will have items lying around which can improve your journey. The concept may sound simple from first looks, but there’s a lot more to it. Depending on the mission, there will be a limit of how much you can move your piece, and reaching the limit results in an automatic failure. However, for the most part, you realize that you will have a lot more turns than that mission requires giving you room for mistakes and dawdling. You’ll also encounter invisible enemies in which you can only see their movement every three turns. Once you encounter the enemy, you will be taken to battle in a beautiful and crisp 2D art style similar to the Dragon’s Crown and Odin Sphere. In a way, you can say that the game is similar to Valkyria Chronicles, except in a side-on view with three rows for characters to stand on and move around in. Each turn, you will move your unit to a desired spot until your action gauge is emptied, then you can perform a skill, which can range from melee or ranged attacks as well as heal your comrades.  While on the hub and the quest map, you’re allowed to visit the Party menu in which you can form different formations. The game already has two default ones, however, both Offensive and Defensive in which you can modify.  You can also set shields or even medical boxes, which both are very helpful in battle.  Including DLC, which will be available to western players from the get-go, the game offers over 17 classes including Melee, Ranged, Magic, and Specialist units. You’re only allowed to hire a certain few classes in the beginning of the game but it’s enough to create a competent troop to beat the game. You’re allowed to make up to six troops consist of four units each. When hiring, you can customize your character ranging from their hairstyles, voices, colors, and starting stats. Melee units are characterized by their high attack and defense and specialize in close combat. They also have the ability to Guard, allowing the unit to negate all damage until their guard gauge depletes. Melee units have low magic defense, so it’s best to be careful when facing Magic units. Ranged units can attack from longer distances. With their extended attack range, they can reach enemies at the other side of the map. Unfortunately, Ranged units have low defense, so it's imperative that you place them in places where it’s hard for them engage in close combat or being hit by other Ranged units. Magic units have medium attack range, and use ranged attacks which allow the player to target multiple enemies. Some of their more powerful skills must be charged before they can be used, leaving them vulnerable to an enemy's ranged attack, in which results your attack being disrupted as well. Remember that the game has friendly fire so make sure that your units are out of the way as well. Unlike the Melee, Ranged, and Magic units, Specialist units lack a clearly defined role in battle. These units have individualized abilities that can be a great asset in battle, but their specialized nature affords little room for flexibility. They range from Medics, Challengers and Dragon Mage. Medics heal your units, Challenger places explosives and Dragon Mage allows the player to perform powerful melee attacks. One of my issues when using the Medic is that while angling where you want to throw your potion, it’s never accurate.  There will be times where you accidentally hit your unit with a poisonous potion or accidentally heal the opposing unit. While you’ll eventually adapt to the weird aiming, but this still proves to be a hindrance.   Aside from the story missions which usually consist of going from Point A to Point B, the game also features different side quests with variety of missions such as Stealth Missions and Guarding missions. In Stealth missions, you’ll navigate the world-map in a puzzle-like fashion to avoid encountering any enemies at all. As for the Guarding missions, you’ll be moving around the map to defend certain spots from incoming enemy assaults. Once the enemy reaches the spot, the missions fails. A big letdown with this game is that it doesn’t support cross-save so any progress that you made on the go with your PS Vita won’t be transferable to your PS4. It was a bit bothersome since when I got my hands on the PS4 version, I wanted to continue my journey on a bigger and better screen. At least the game allows cross-play support across both systems, expanding the amount of players you can play with in the online multiplayer modes.  Naturally the PS4 version is the superior version as it runs at 60 frames per second at 1080p. However, that doesn’t mean that the game is less enjoyable on PS Vita as it runs very smooth as well. If you’re looking to expand your Tactical JRPG library on PS Vita, I can definitely recommend Grand Kingdom.  Including the integrated DLC chapters, the game offers many hours of fun with more hours on top if you play the side missions. While the main story is short, it still features likeable characters making the journey worthwhile. With the PS Vita not getting many games lately, you can’t go wrong with Grand Kingdom. It’s an excellent addition on PS4 as well, though. 
Grand Kingdom photo
Fight For Your Grand Nation
Being a fan of the JRPGs, I always look forward to new additions to the genre, especially ones that offer a unique gameplay style that separates itself from other series. While not entirely unique, when first announced, Grand...

Review: Senran Kagura Shinovi Versus

Jun 12 // Christian Chiok
[embed]35088:5690:0[/embed] Senran Kagura: Shinovi Versus (PC [reviewed], PS Vita)Developer: TamsoftPublisher: Marvelous Entertainment/XSEED GamesReleased: June 1st, 2016 (PC), October 14, 2014 (PS Vita)MSRP: $29.99 This game brings back the Shinobi Battle Royale, an ancient tradition amongst numerous Shinobi schools whereby every 50 years, the five elite students of each school will do battle in which result the winners will have the opportunity to burn down the loser’s school and allow them to continue their training to be a legendary shinobi, The story is your typical Shonen-esque (battle manga) so it can be quite enjoyable if you’re a fan of the battle series. Additionally, each character has their individual story allowing you to witness the hardship as well as their preparation for this ancient tradition. From the four schools, you will be able to choose among five characters and go through their individual story. I recommend playing through their individual stories first as it informs you more on the characters’ personality, albeit it may have a small correlation with the main story. Most of it is satire, but is definitely worth playing through. By the end of each of their stories, your characters will be well leveled-up and ready to breeze through the main story. In Dojo Mode, you and three other friends will be able to battle it out online or through the system’s ad-hoc feature. The mode offers three different types of games or six if you include their “Team” variation. There’s Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, Strip Battle, Team Strip Battle, Understorm and Team Understorm. In Deathmatch, you will battle it out with your opponent to get the most points. To win, you must inflict damage to your opponents and reach the set amount of points per match, or at least acquire the most points by the end of the match. Avoid getting hit or dying as that can decrease your points. Random enemies will be wandering around as well, which can help stack some extra points. Strip Battle is just like its name suggest. It shares similarities to Deathmatch, but offers its own little twist. Depending on how much clothing you destroy, the number of points you acquire will vary. The more you destroy, the greater the number of points you’ll get. Lastly, Understorm is quite different than the other two modes. In this mode, players need to collect as many pairs of “Skimpy Undies” as possible as they rain down from above. Additionally, you can mug other players for their lingerie they collected thus far.  Overall, I had a lot of fun playing this mode with friends the most. While not exactly a Musou game, the game has some similarities to the genre, such as beating multiple foes on the field while leveling up your character. You’ll have two attack buttons, normal and strong attacks, which can be used to chain up powerful combos as you level up. You can also block and parry attacks when blocking timely. The more leveled up the character, your arsenal of combo chains increases. Just like many beat-em-up games, this title has a lock-on feature in which you can use to concentrate all of your attacks into an enemy but it comes with its downsides. Locking on really limits your camera control and leaves you vulnerable to the enemy. From my experience, it seems that the camera angles have been improved as well compared to the Vita version where it switched to a first-person like view, putting your own character out of view and leaving you vulnerable. With XSEED porting the game to PC, the game received graphical and performance enhancements. While it doesn’t look as Estival Versus on PS4, you can tell that XSEED took advantage of the capabilities on PC.  Additionally, they improved the frame rate issues the game had on PS Vita, as well as made the game 60 frame per second, making it a lot more enjoyable. Only issue I have is that character animations are awkward when in the hub, almost as it wasn’t meant to be 60 frames per second. You have two transformations at your disposal—a Shinobi Transformation and a Frantic Transformation, both giving enhancements to your character. When using the Shinobi Transformation, it allows you to perform continuous attacks by pressing the various action buttons repeatedly. In addition, both your attack and defense will be increased.  In Frantic Mode, you can execute Weak Attacks and chain them together infinitely. You will also receive a huge boost to your attack power but your defense drops drastically.  You will also gain two Secret Ninja Techniques, which deals a lot of damage to the opponent. To use your Shinobi Transformation, you merely press the L and the R buttons; using Frantic Mode requires a bit more. Your Secret Ninja gauge will need be full first, then you press R and Triangle. That will later prompt you with a close-up of the character’s breast on the touch screen, which you must slide outwards. Granted that’s an easy task on a regular Vita, but playing it on a PlayStation TV requires more work to execute, which leaves you vulnerable to attack. When you take damage, not only will your lose health but your outfit will rip and tear. If you take enough damage, your clothes will fly completely apart.  Outfit damage goes through three different stages: Costume Break, Lingerie and Naked. If you want to fully strip an opponent, you will have to bring her down to “Lingerie” and execute a Secret Ninja Art as a finishing blow.  Normal attacks will destroy their lower body’s clothing while Strong Attacks will destroy the top part of their clothing. As expected from Senran Kagura, it has its shares of perverted moments.  You can customize the characters’ apparel, such as their normal attire and their Shinobi and Frantic Mode attire. The customization extends to equipping extra accessories such as tails, glasses, gloves and more. As expected, the clothing options are exotic and really bring out the character’s outer beauty. When in the Dressing Room, you can fully view the character models from multiple angles, and it includes a “perverted” mini game, if that’s what you can call it. In this mode, you can harass the character in multiple ways using your mouse. Lacking the some of the features the PS Vita has, unfortunately this isn’t as fun as it could be. Even with the in-depth gameplay, like every niche Japanese video game, Senran Kagura is aimed to a selective audience. It has fun gameplay alongside good multiplayer modes that add replay value to the game.  I think that the breast galore and panty shots could be a turn off, but beneath all that, it’s fun title that fans of action games should get.  
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The Shinobi Battle Royale, Now in HD
It’s been almost two years since I had the opportunity to play and review Senran Kagura: Shinovi Versus when it finally made its way outside of Japan. With XSEED willing to port most of their games into PC, it was about...

Review: One Piece Burning Blood

Jun 07 // Christian Chiok
[embed]35078:5681:0[/embed] One Piece Burning Blood (PS4 (reviewed), PC, PS Vita & Xbox One)Developer: Spike ChunsoftPublisher: Bandai Namco EntertainmentReleased: April 21, 2016 (JP), May 31, 2016 (NA), June 3, 2016 (EU)MSRP:$59.99 (PS4, PC & Xbox One), $39.99 (PS Vita) When playing Anime fighting games, unless it’s Dragon Ball Z in which I already experienced the story mode so many times, I generally like playing through long hours of story mode. In One Piece Burning Blood, you’ll only play through the Marineford arc from four different perspectives — Luffy’s, Whitebeard’s, Akainu’s and Ace’s. It gave few hours of entertainment, especially since the cutscenes were great looking. I still think we could have gotten more than that, though. Aside from Story Mode, there’s also the Wanted Mode which allows players to hone their skills while taking on a series of wanted posters, earning yourself in-game currency which can be used to buy the remaining of the locked characters. The higher the bounty, the higher the reward you will get. While the mode is generally fun, the serious spikes of difficulty can be off putting. This was also an issue with Story Mode during the end. However after beating a difficulty fight, it definitely feels satisfying and you come out a better player. Like a good anime fighting game should, the game offers a Free Battle mode allowing players to fight against the computer or a friend. There’s also a Training Mode, giving the player various options like Opponent’s action as well as gauge levels. One of my favorite features is that the game lets you choose nine playable characters and three support characters. The only catch is that the game divides it into three teams (3 vs. 3), so once you lose the first round with the first set of three characters, then you’ll be allowed to use the second set of characters. You can also just do 1 vs. 1 battles. You will also be able to take the battle online, allowing you to play the usual Ranked and Player match types. From experience, the network is pretty solid so you’ll be able to play the game flawlessly with friends, the way it’s meant to be played. Although the story mode only covers the Marineford arc, most characters shown in recent arcs as well as popular characters from old arcs appear in the game, totaling over 40 playable characters and 65 support characters. My gripe with the support characters is that a lot of them should have been playable like Rob Lucci or Arlong. In top of that, support characters don’t appear on increase but give you battle effects such as restoring part of your HP or making your attacks a little stronger. In comparison with J-Stars Victory Versus, Spike Chunsoft’s previous anime fighter, I feel like this game is a lot better in terms of gameplay. The square and Triangle buttons are your main basic attacks which can also be used to create combos or even stronger attacks.  There are more in-depth features such as ranged attacks, special moves, guard-breaks, tag moves called Unity Assists and Breaks, and the powerful Awakened state, allowing you to perform your special attack as well. After three One Piece games with only the Original Japanese track, by now it shouldn’t be a surprised that Burning Blood only includes the original Japanese voices. Even with the Naruto English dub (the other languages too) not being caught up with the game, they were still able to get the game fully dubbed. While it’s really a shame, I think it’s something minor and shouldn’t dictate if you should skip the game. With the power of current gen consoles and PC, this game manages to be the most beautiful One Piece game up to date featuring cinematic cutscenes and amazing in-game graphics. My only gripe with the game is that it runs at 30 frames per second, with the upcoming PC version running at 30 fps as well. While the game still runs well at that frame rate, 60 frames per second could have definitely been better. If you’re like me who’s been wishing their One Piece fighting game fix for a while, Burning Blood definitely meets the criteria. While it lacks some essential playable characters, the game still offers a variety of good characters, both who are present in recent arts as well as popular ones.  
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Fighting To Be The Pirate King
Ever since the consistent video game releases of the Ultimate Ninja Storm series by CyberConnect2, the 3D Anime fighting game based on the popular Shonen Jump series Naruto, One Piece fans have been wishing that the series wo...

Review: Stranger of Sword City

May 04 // Christian Chiok
Stranger of Sword City (PS Vita [reviewed], Xbox One, Xbox 360 [Japan only])Developer: Experience Inc.Publisher: NIS America (PS Vita), Experience Inc.Release: April 26, 2016 (Vita), April 29, 2016 (Vita [EU]), March 22, 2016 (Xbox One [US]), March 29, 2016 (Xbox One [EU])MSRP: $39.99 (PS Vita), $40.49 (Xbox One) One of the things that really caught my attention was the game’s robust character customization. Aside from the five races and eight classes to choose from, the game offers character portraits sporting three different art styles, one which makes your character look like an anime character. Unfortunately, you can’t alter a character portrait and the age, gender and race you choose for the character doesn’t really modify it either. On the subject of different art designs, for NPCs, the game allows you to switch between original art design by Yoko Tsukamoto and anime-inspired design by En Okishiji. Personally, I had to go with the new anime design since it was livelier for me. While the original design by Yoko Tsukamoto isn’t dreary by any means, as an anime fan, I just had to go with the anime option. Being used to games like Fire Emblem, the permanent death aspect of the game didn’t really bother me, especially since they still have a certain amount of life points before they are no longer at your disposal if they died. The amount of life points depends on the age of your character, so the younger they are, the more life points they will have, but the limit is three.  You should keep in mind though that the older you make the character, they stronger they will be. Permanent death isn’t really what made the game tedious for me though, because like Fire Emblem, restarting the game is an option. Me never playing any Dungeon RPG in my life, I treated the game like my usual Turn-Based or Tactical RPG, but oh boy I was wrong.  I would even say some Tactical RPGs are more forgiving than this game. Realizing that I was playing the game wrong, I decided to take a different approach. Instead of powering through the dungeon like I would usually do, I decided to go back to base every time my characters were in danger of dying. I would say that the game kind of encourages you to retreat often too since one of your Divinity abilities, called Flash Retreat, allowing you to retreat from any battle other than those against certain Lineage types. Considering that it takes half of your Divinity gauge, I thought that I should save it for very crucial moments but then I realized that I constantly faced those moments where I should have really used it. After your characters die, you can always go back to base to heal them but they still come back after a certain amount of time, usually 24 hours, which of course, it isn’t real time. Since not having a party of 6 usually put my other characters at risk, I usually navigated through the first stage of the dungeon, but even then the game was a bit difficult and some of my characters ended up losing a lot of health. Coming from Persona Q and from the general conscious with dungeon crawlers, I was already prepared to start marking the map myself, but thankfully the game did it for me. It didn’t make things any easier though as the maps was still full of roaming monsters and risky dark rooms. When I knew I had to go back to the guild and save though, I always crossed my fingers that I don’t encounter any random monsters or else that would mess me up. Besides saving of course, the guild has many uses. As previously mentioned, you can revive your characters depending if they have any life points left or even recover their health for a certain cost. You may also create other party members which will replace the fallen ones. Your created characters will start off leveled up equal to your main character. On top of the hard monsters you have to overcome, leveling up your character can get tedious as well. The grinding can get incredibly slow and it was a bit annoying trying to get some of my new characters up to speed with the rest of the current party. Sending a lower level character could really put you at a disadvantage since not only is that character vulnerable but protecting that character would only hinder collecting Blood Crystals. Stranger of Sword City may not have been the best choice to introduce me into the genre, due to it being challenging, but I still find it quite enjoyable since I do love challenges but I think the game would have been a lot more enjoyable if I had any other Dungeon RPG experience prior to this game. It definitely made interested in the genre and I feel veterans will definitely get their money’s worth with this game. 
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Challenging Dungeons
Being a fan of all kind of JRPG games for as long as I’ve been a gamer, I always wanted to try my hands playing a Dungeon Crawler JRPG. I played so many types of JRPGS, such as turn-based, action and strategy. While I d...

Annotated Anime: Ace Attorney Episode 5

May 02 // Christian Chiok
Right after, we jump straight to the case. Will Powers, the actor who plays the Steel Samurai, was accused of murdering his co-start Jack Hammer, the actor who plays Evil Magistrate, the villain of the series.  Phoenix not having a client in so long, Maya suggests that he should take this case as she believes in his innocence. Naturally, they go to the detention center to talk to their new client. So far, the episode remains faithful to the series, with Maya instantly changing her mind about Will Powers’ innocence after taking a look at him but after Will Powers showing how nice he actually is, caring about what the kids that look up to him would think of the Steel Samurai, she changes her mind once again. Will Powers was portrayed really well, too. I try not to be too picky when it comes to anime adaptations but this is where things start to feel disconnected.  After meeting Will Powers, Phoenix and Maya decide to go to the studio to find clues, and this is where they meet the security guard—Wendy Oldbag. While in the game she comes out really obnoxious, it didn’t transfer too well into the game, but at least her talkative trait remained intact. This entire scene already feels rushed as they already introduced a character that isn’t supposed to appear until a lot later in the case and combined the interaction between Wendy Oldbag and Detective Gumshoe. Right after that, most of the investigation part got completely skipped. Luckily, even in the original game the investigation part of the case wasn’t too exciting but it shouldn’t have been skipped either. Then we jump straight to the trial, which of course, it was a bit rushed as well, especially after skipping the investigation part which actually brings some details into the case. Just like the previous two cases, it indeed gives you the gist of the trial but it gets to the point too fast. At least, during the final part of the first trial, it was very on par with the game—with both the dramatic and intense feel that it emitted as well as the soundtrack from the game. While not really a gripe, this episode made Maya look a lot more young compared to previous episodes. I thought she look really cute but maybe a little a little bit too cute for her age. While she is indeed a fun and charismatic character, I feel like the anime series is obviously trying to make her too “moe.”
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A Hero On Trial
So Episode 5 is the start of "Turnabout Samurai,” the third case in the original Phoenix Wright game.  Just like the game, it begins with Maya watching “The Steel Samurai: Warrior of Neo Olde Tokyo,” a ...

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Grand Kingdom

Grand Kingdom: Over 80 Minutes of Story Mode Footage


Build your Guild and Set for Quests
May 02
// Christian Chiok
Prior to it's official release, many users had the honor to play the beta for NIS America's upcoming Tatical RPG. Grand Kingdom on PlayStation 4. The beta will be available on May 3rd for both North America and Euro...

First Impressions: Ace Attorney

Apr 24 // Christian Chiok
The series began just like the very first case of the game began—showing off the murder and the culprit. Right off the bat, it already felt rushed and not as dramatic as the game. Afterward, the series introduces Ryuuichi Naruhodou, or rather Phoenix Wright for us English fans, riding his bike heading to his first case ever. While not part of the game, I liked this scene since it’s a common way to introduce the main character of a series.  Then we are introduced to “The First Turnabout,” also known as the tutorial case of the first game. The anime took a less dramatic approach by having a less intense background song during the introduction of the case. Not using the original game soundtrack, and well as using rearranged versions of some of the iconic tracks was definitely something many fans of the series, including myself, found bothersome. It made things feel less authentic. I know some people hate when they use CGI on anime but I personally thought that they pull it off well when they introduced the court. While many fans are complaining that the art style of the series doesn’t match the game, I personally have no complains with it. I do think that the art style is less serious than the game, but it doesn’t take away from the series. Then are introduced to Masashi Yahari, also known as Larry Butz, who is the accused of this case, childhood friend of Phoenix Wright, and the reason why Phoenix Wright became a defense attorney. While the first case does indeed reveal that Larry is the reason Phoenix became an attorney, the series did get a bit ahead of itself showing scenes of what is supposed to appear in latter cases. During the testimony cross-examination sequences, I really like the formats that they are using, but going back to the soundtrack issue, the lack of the original songs such as the famous testimony and cross-examination tracks from the game was disappointing and took away its identity. I did like that they added one of the wrong answers he usually says though. I thought it was a nice touch, especially with this being the first case. Being that the first case/tutorial case was actually short in the game, I felt like it was nicely adapted into the first episode, naturally any longer would have been highly unnecessary. Some stuff felt highly unnecessary like when the witness was pointing his finger at Phoenix, air emitted out of the witness’ hand this pushing down Phoenix, as well as Phoenix’s “Objection! scene, which the same thing again but this time with the witness, blowing his wig off his head. Nevertheless, that scene was great. Starting from the adaptation of the second case, “Turnabout Sisters,” is where the series felt a bit underwhelming since It feels a bit rushed. Starting from Episode 2, we got the main gist of it, such as the crime and the main dialogue with the involved characters.  What makes it feel rushed is that some of the extra details were excluded, which gives a better understanding of the overall case. Both Episode 3 and Episode 4 cover the main gist of the case—the two trials and the interaction with key characters of the case. Cross-examinations and testimonies felt rushed, and even a witness was removed. Things just happened too fast and it feels 25% of this case was removed. I did enjoy when Phoenix Wright was asking multiple questions to the witness though, something very common in the games to squeeze out more information. So far the series is a bit underwhelming, but enjoyable nonetheless. I just feel that it shouldn’t been rushed. If you aren’t familiar with the games, you can still watch it as it could be enjoyable but you aren’t getting the full set. 
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Rushed & Underwhelming Trials
Growing up as handheld gamer during my middle school days, I played many games on the DS including the Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney series. What made Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney more interesting than your average Visual Nove...

Review: Nights of Azure

Apr 14 // Christian Chiok
Nights of Azure (PS4)Developer: GustPublisher: Koei TecmoReleased: October 1, 2015 (JP), March 29, 2016 (NA), April 1, 2016 (EU), April 8, 2016  (AU)MSRP: $59.99 Players will play as Arnice, a holy knight and half-demon agent serving Curia who has been asked to investigate the occurrences on Ruswal. In Rusawl, she was reunited with her childhood love Lilysse, a Saint whose fate is to seal the remains of the Nightlord. With the story taking a "yuri" route with both protagonists, the "main character's love must sacrifice their life to save the world" trope isn't the common one found in most game. In Nights of Azure, instead you will get a  charming, adorable romance that isn't filled with the usual stereotypyes one might dread from the portrayal of a same-gender relationship.  The gameplay itself is a bit simplistic but still good nonetheless, especially as Gust's first take on Action-RPG. As Arnice, you will be able to execute strong and weak attacks as well as guard and dodge from your opponent's attacks. You can use various overpowered transformations and perform special attacks. Luckily, offering a variety of weapon types adds more to the gameplay, Is important to choose the right servants to accompany you in your quest. Servants vary from those that specialize in offense, defense and healing, so it’s important to have a good mix all of three. Additionally, each servant will have its Burst attack that can be used in exchange of Arnice’s SP. Most of the fun relies on using the servants than Arnice herself. It's even better when you equip the right servants and use them appropriately.  When not spending time completing the story, you'll be spending your time at the Ende Hotel where you will be completing Daytime Activities, Events as well as visiting both the Arena and the Altar of Jorth. Everything servers to add more content to the game. The game includes a lot of “Events” in which can result in a side quest or an exchange of dialogue among the characters. While a lot of it is full of the generic tropes you find in your usual anime series, it doesn’t make it less charming. Unfortunately, it can get real repetitive. In the Arena tasks you to complete battles with certain objectives such as only defeating enemies with servants, or beating certain amount of enemies in given time. The better you perform, the better result you will get thus better rewards.  The purpose of the Altar of Jorth is to level up Arnice and her abilities. While servants level up after returning to the hotel, Arnice must collect Blood via quests and combat for her power up and learn nice skills. You may only level up once per visit, sadly. You can also complete Daytime Activities which will grant you skill points that you can use to strengthen yourself for the next fiend hunt.  Unfortunately the game suffers from being one of those games that is awfully easy until the final boss battle where it receives a severe difficulty jump. Additionally, with the Arena's task being easy to complete, the only challenge is aiming to get the highest result in them. I also had a bit of an issue with the 15 minutes limit every time you went out to hunt, but it wasn't a concern either.  The game has that typically beautiful art-style commonly found in Gust games, and with the power of the PlayStation 4, it’s more beautiful than ever. Om top of that, the game also runs at 60 frames per second which is essential for Action RPGs or any action games in general. You will encounter stuttering moments a lot though, and moments when the game feels that is running below 30 frames per second. It can easily mess with the gameplay when the action gets heavy. It’s a bit of a shame that the game didn’t offer cinematic cutscenes, which is common in many RPGs, especially if they aim if they aim to add another layer of emotion to the scene. Thanks to the dialogue, the cutscenes are still enjoyable however, especially when accompanied possibly one of the best selection of soundtracks found in any recent game by Gust.  It definitely had this Final Fantasy vibe. I would still recommend Nights of Azure if you're looking to expand your Action RPG collection on PS4. With a well-crafted story that offers multiple endings, combined with good gameplay mechanics, a variety of Servans add another layer of strategy to the real-time combat. Not to mention that aside from the man story, players will be able to enter the battle arena as well as complete side quests, adding more hours of fun while leveling up your characters.   [This review is based on a digital retail copy of the game provided by the publisher.]
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Would You Save The World Or Your Friend?
Being a big fan of Gust, I always anticipate their next RPG title. When Nights of Azure got introduced, I thought the premise and the characters were quite interesting. Focusing on a same-sex relationship right off the bat be...

Franchises That Would Be Great With PlayStation VR

Apr 01 // Christian Chiok
Here’s a list of games that will be fantastic via PlayStation VR: Senran Kagura: I mean, the game has both Asuka and Yumi, the most waifu material compared to many characters from any franchise. If you read my Senran Kagura: Estival Versus review, you already know that the game features a Dressing Room where it allows you to play the 2D grils as you wish. Instead of rubbing your hands on the PS Vita screen, just imagine yourself actually grabbing them. Granted, you’re probably still grabbing air but since you can see yourself virtually grabbing them it would be a lot better, right? With PlayStation VR, being in Katsuragi's place will be reality.  Dead or Alive: Probably a lot more realistic than the former since the characters aren’t animu grils. With the release of Dead or Alive Xtreme 3, just imagine how great that game would be with PlayStation VR? Never again will you have to go outside since you will be able to do many things with them, such as playing Volleyball, or perhaps take them on a date. Being able to watch my waifu Honoka playing in the beach as I was with her will finally become reality. PlayStation VR will make RL grils irrelevant and will show the world how that vidya/2D grils is the true answer to happiness.  Free!: Who says PlayStation VR can only be enjoyed by men? I personally never watched Free! since it has too many naked men for my taste, but I’m pretty sure the ladies love it. I don’t think the series never has any video games so this would be the perfect opportunity to makes its debut. I mean, the series has a lot of naked men and bromance—which women love, I think. If you're a guy that enjoys Free!, which obviously is fine, you'll be able to experience the splash with your bros as well, as the GIF shows. Obviously there’s also the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift, which are going to be compatible with PC gaming. With PC being an open platform and even Steam allowing all types of games, just imagine all the types of games we can enjoy, considering there isn’t an age restriction when it comes to PC games. Websites like J-List, which specialize in adult products will sure benefit from it. I mean, they already have products that will almost let you experience the real thing. How better would it be if you can visualize it? It is obvious that VR technology will take over the world, and probably lead us to extinction since it is perfectly obvious that 2D people will triumph over 3D people. For once taking care of a 2d people, whether it’s a waifu or husubando, takes a lot less effort, and secondly, they will be under your total control. 
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A Dimension Closer To 2D Girls
Ever since Sony unveiled the pricing and the release date for the PlayStation VR, many PlayStation fans were excited about this upcoming piece of technology. I mean, just imagine the entire possibilities of lewd games that we...

Christian's Top 5 Games of All Time

Apr 01 // Christian Chiok
5. Dragon Ball Z Sagas Easily the best Dragon Ball Z game of all time, even above old classics like Dragon Ball Z: The Legend, Budokai 3, Tenkaichi 3 and the recently released Xenoverse. There’s so much depth in this game that it puts many games like Devil May Cry to shame. Additionally, the graphics were fantastic that it could have been released in the following console generation. Personally, it looks a lot better than Burst Limit. 4. Naruto: Uzumaki Chronicles (& 2) These games were so great that I didn’t even finish them. During the first couple of minutes into the game, I realized that this game was too great for a pleb like me, and I should probably stick to crappy games like the Narultimate or the Gekitou Ninja Taisen series. The game adapted the Naruto series perfectly, as we know it’s the best anime of all time. 3. Naruto Shippuden: Dragon Blade Chronicles Probably the best game Takara Tomy ever made, even above Gekitou Ninja Taisen 4. The story craps all over the original Naruto series, which is the best anime ever made as I stated above. Not to mention that the game was released on the best and most powerful system of the seventh generation, the Wii, meaning that it’s graphics were fantastic, looking better than most games on PS3 and Xbox 360. 2. Dragon Ball Final Bout I take it back. This is the best Dragon Ball game of all time. I remember being the cool kid that played this game while all of my pleb friends played The Legend. The game is EVO material and it craps on games like Street Fighter. I mean, have you seen all the high-play videos of this game? The voice acting was amazing too. It's definitely the best Dragon Ball games forever. 1.  Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo Hajike Festival It was only obvious that this gem should be my Top Anime game of all time. As a matter of fact, this game is my favorite game of all time period. The depth this game has is too much for our unintelligent minds. There’s so much that you can do in this game that it puts free roaming games like Grand Theft Auto V to shame. I mean who wouldn’t want to just walk forward and press buttons and do nothing else? So yeah, this concludes my Top Anime Games of all time. Now that you learned it, you probably feel ashamed of yourself. Hopefully, you learned a lesson here and realized you need to up your taste and try these fantastic games. 
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The Best Anime Games of All Time
Since I made a Top Anime and Top Video Games of 2015 earlier this year, I thought that it would be a great idea to share my favorite Anime/Japanese games of all time. I take much pride of my list and I figure that the world needs to know how glorious it is, and that my taste in video games is better than anyone else. With no further delay, here are my Top Anime/Japanese games of all time.

Senran Kagura Estival Versus: PS4 vs. PS Vita Comparison Video

Mar 28 // Christian Chiok
With the power of the PlayStation 4, fans can now experience the franchise in smooth 60 frames per second and crispy 1080p with great graphics.  Luckily, the PS Vita version doesn't fall too far behind. While cutscenes and stages may look less defined, it still manages to hold it's own and looks a little and performs better than the previous entry Shinovi Versus. As for performance differences, the PS Vita version loads levels a lot slower compared to the PS4 version, which jumps right ahead into the action. Additionally, the PS Vita version uses the system's features such as it's touch screen and gyro sensors, giving you a better experience when messing with the characters in the Dressing Room.  Check out the differences between the PS4 and PS Vita versions below: [embed]34893:5515:0[/embed]
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Console vs. Handheld Comparison
Senran Kagura: Estival Versus is the first game in the franchise that makes it's way into consoles. Originally, the series was handheld-exclusive, with it's previous titles being on available on both the 3DS and the Vita, even counting other spin-offs like Senran Kagura Bon Appétit!

Review: Senran Kagura Estival Versus

Mar 28 // Christian Chiok
[embed]34893:5514:0[/embed] Senran Kagura: Estival Versus (PS4 [Reviewed], PS Vita)Developer: TamsoftPublisher: Marvelous EntertainmentReleased: March 26, 2015 (JP), March 15, 2016 (EU), March 18, 2016 (NA)MSRP: $59.99 Unlike the previous game which had a more serious tone, which involved the destruction of schools via the Shinobi Battle Royale, the ancient tradition amongst numerous Shinobi schools whereby every 50 years, the five elite students of each school will do battle, this time around the franchise took a more amicable turn, showing all the characters getting along, at least during the beginning. This time around, Hanzo Academy, Gessen Academy, Hebijo Academy and Homura’s Crimson Squad were brought to the Kagura Millennium Festival, an event hosted by Master Sayuri, the Mikagura sisters, and Ryoki, which took place in a world where our characters reunited with their dead loved ones. This time around the game offers a unified story instead of separating it per school. Learning from Shinovi Versus, I didn’t expect the story to be amazing this time around either, as a matter of fact, I appreciated that it didn’t take itself too seriously during the beginning, especially since it took place in a beach most of the time. However, during the second half of the story, the game took a more serious approach, showing character progression, and story progression, where we learn why this event was hosted in the first place. Just like any of the previous games, alongside the main story, you will be able to play the character’s individual story (Shinobi Girl's Heart) which stirs away from the main story. Depending on who you are playing as, their story could either be comical or dramatic. Overall each story is highly entertaining and adds many hours of action to the game.   Unlike the other games though, in Estival Versus, you got to unlock the character’s Shinobi Girl's Heart, probably because they contain spoilers. While that’s reasonable, I really that it gave you that freedom to play the game in whatever order you wanted. In Shinovi Versus, I wanted to get invested with the characters first before proceeding to the main story. Unfortunately, most of the stages feel repetitive as you're basically revising every stage in most chapters. The only difference would be the main boss you're facing at the end of the stage. If I wasn't really invested in the story, the game would be rather boring. The Shinobi Dojo returns, allowing you to play with other friends locally via ad-hoc or via online. You will be able to play free-for-all or Team Battle in various game modes such as Point Battle, Understorm, Capture the Bra, Shinobi Survival, Walker Battle, and Shinobi Deathmatch. The only difference between the PS Vita and PS4 is that the former lets you play up to four players while the PS4 version allows you to play up to 10 players. Naturally, the more the merrier, so the PS4 version is the way to go with this mode. With the power of the PlayStation 4, the game’s visuals have heavily improved, even on the PS Vita version. The characters model look a lot closer to an anime series, allowing you appreciate their beauty a lot more. Gameplay-wise the game shares similarities to the Musou genre, which consists of beating multiple enemies on the field and leveling up your character while doing it. Just like Shinovi Versus, Estival Versus is NOT a Musou, but a 3D beat’em up instead. You’ll have two attack buttons, normal and strong attacks, which can be used to execute powerful combos as you level up. Just like the other games, you will be able to perform a Shinobi Transformation, allowing you to each girl's true shinobi form and allows for powerful special attacks called "Secret Ninja Arts." These special attacks deal massive damage and have a wider range than normal attacks. You may also use Frantic Mode, which in addition to using Secret Ninja Arts, it makes you more powerful, but it weakens your defense. You can also block and parry attacks when blocking timely. While there might be a feeling of repetitiveness, the game does a really good job at making you feel like a badass, especially with a powerful and completely leveled up character (especially if they are wielding a cool weapon). One of the major improvements is the lock-on feature which now allows you to control the camera while still being locked on. In the previous game, locking on into your enemy limited your camera control by having the angle fixed into your locked on opponent, making you vulnerable to other enemies. However, even with the lock on feature, sometimes your attack doesn't go directly to your enemy, thus ending your combo.  Stages will now have Bombs hidden inside creates. Each Bomb will have a different effect, such as poisoning or electrocuting your enemy, making you invisible or even summon a Puppet, which is technically a robot that deals a great amount of damage. Naturally with the game running on PS4 as well, you will be able to enjoy the smoothness of 60 frames per second. Even the PS Vita version of Estival Versus has improved a little bit from the previous entry as it definitely feels a bit smoother as well. It wouldn’t be Senran Kagura without its perverted moments.  Naturally, the game allows players to customize the characters’ apparel, including their normal attire and their Shinobi and Frantic Mode attire. An improvement from the first game is that you can also customize their hair’s color, offering five options of different colors. Additionally, you can equip extra accessories such as tails, glasses, gloves and more. A lot of the clothing options are exotic and really bring out the character’s outer beauty. However, the customization menu also allows you to fully view the character models from multiple angles, and it includes a “perverted” mini game, if that’s what you can call it, that allows you to harass the character in any way that you wish. The PS Vita works similarly to Shinovi Versus and Bon Appétit, where it uses the system’s PlayStation Vita’s features such as its touch screen, back screen, microphone, and gyro sensors. However, in the PS4 version, you will have to use the PS4 controller, which works similarly as putting any of the previous game on the PlayStation TV. Personally, I prefer this minigame on the PS Vita version, as it is more natural. There’s also a Diorama feature, allowing you to control the girls by putting them in any pose that you wish, change the condition of their clothing, as well as their expression. You may also change the background and add any type of visual effect to it. It is obvious that the Senran Kagura franchise is aimed to a selective audience, but that obviously doesn’t make it a bad game. Estival Versus offers improved gameplay mechanics alongside an improved multiplayer mode that adds replay value to the game.  The game has a galore breast and panty shots shown during gameplay in the most comedic way, but beneath all that, it’s fun title that fans of niche Japanese games or Anime-style games should get. So if you own a PS4 or a PS Vita, then you should pick up the game.  Check out a comparison video between the PS4 and PS Vita versions here.
Senran Kagura photo
The Path to Become a Strong Shinobi
After a year from its Japanese release, Senran Kagura Estival Versus made its way outside of Japan, making PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita owners very happy. This game is sequel to Shinovi Versus, so if you played it then ...

Review: The Witch and the Hundred Knight: Revival Edition

Mar 22 // Christian Chiok
[embed]34875:5497:0[/embed] The Witch and the Hundred Knight: Revival Edition (PS4)Developer: Nippon Ichi SoftwarePublisher: Nippon Ichi SoftwareReleased: September 25, 2015 (JP), March 1, 2016 (EU), March 4, 2016 (NA)MSRP: $39.99 In the case of The Witch and the Hundred Knight Revival Edition, it includes improved graphics and features not found in its previous generation counterpart. These features include being able to take control of the dastardly witch Metallia, as well as the Tower of Illusion, in which is a nifty way to challenge yourself and gain some sick loot. Players will take control of the Hundred Knight, a legendary creature under the command of the Swamp Witch Metallia, and will be on a mission to release all Pillars and spread the swamp across the world to extend her power and reach. Right off that bat, I thought Metallia’s character was just awful and didn’t care much about her throughout the game. Her vulgarity was hardly humorous (this comes from someone that still enjoys shows like South Park) and her edgy personality seems like something meant to appease middle schoolers. However, the game offering an ironically cheerful story of vengeance kind of made up for her bad character. As someone who played multiple JRPGs, semi-long to long text cutscenes don’t really bother me, especially when the dialogue is entertaining. So on top of tolerating Metallia’s vulgar mannerism, you’ll have to overcome long sessions of cutscenes of her speaking. I always found Nippon Ichi’s ability to create fresh gameplay experiences quite interesting.  While the game is still essentially an action RPG, it offers mechanics that differentiates itself from other games of the genre, and it’s actually quite fun. You will be using a mix of dodging, defending, and a range of attacks backed up with some special skills to overtake the enemy and reach your destination. You will be able to build up different combos depending on your current weapon, allowing you to combine slash, blunt, or magic attacks. I really like that it punishes players for mindlessly attacking the enemy instead of strategizing and probably reaching your destination without the need to attack any enemy. There will be scenarios were the enemies will able to defeat you in a couple of hits, so it’s better to just avoid them. Once you master the combat, you will feel like a badass when destroying everything and anything in your path, giving the player plenty of fun. It actually makes the game a lot more tolerable, but of course, after overcoming the many minutes of dialogue before jumping back into the action. Unfortunately, I can’t recommend this game at full price, unless you can tolerate Metallia and her actions. The gameplay mechanics alone make the game worthwhile, as there is plenty combat system and skills to master as well as the new mode Tower of Illusion, providing more hours of fun. If you missed out on the PS3 version, you can’t go wrong with this game for the right price. [This review is based on a digital retail copy of the game provided by the publisher.] [embed]34875:5497:0[/embed]
Hundred Knight Review photo
Expand Your Swamp, Witch.
From the looks of it, this is the generation in which many games from last generation get ported into this generation’s console. While it may not be ideal that we get an old game instead of a sequel or new IP, those who...

Japanator Live photo
Japanator Live

Japanator Live: Party Like A Shinobi in Senran Kagura: Estival Versus


Follow the Path of Kagura
Mar 21
// Christian Chiok
[Update: The stream is over, but you can watch it here, here, here, and here.] The latest installment of Senran Kagura is here, but unlike the previous game, Shinovi Versus, where the girls aimed to destroy each oth...

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