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Namco Bandai

Idolmaster/Civil War photo
Idolmaster/Civil War

Get Lady for idol-on-idol violence in this Marvel-Idolmaster mashup


Pick a side, Producers!
May 20
// Josh Tolentino
Putting anime in my superhero comics? It's old hat. But putting The [email protected] in my blockbuster Hollywood hero brawls? Now that's something I can get behind! From the galactic heroes at Bin1 Pro...
Idolmaster PS4 photo
Idolmaster PS4

Behold the glory of Idolmaster: Platinum Stars' full gameplay


Get Happy!
May 01
// Josh Tolentino
The time has almost come for the PlayStation 4 to be graced with a proper [email protected] presence, and Bandai Namco has seen fit to remind us all of that fact, with some new gameplay footage straight from the Nico Nico Chou...
Steam Anime Sale photo
Steam Anime Sale

Steam's Anime Weekend sale reveals the depths of our infiltration


'Send the rest', he said
Apr 29
// Josh Tolentino
Sony isn't the only place putting the deals out for Golden Week. Steam, that hive of all other things Japanese when it comes to gaming, has just pulled the trigger on its Anime Weekend Sale. Running through Monday May 2nd, th...
God Eater 2 Rage Burst photo
God Eater 2 Rage Burst

Satisfy your hunger with God Eater 2 Rage Burst's tasty bundles


Tastes like sweet heaven
Apr 24
// Salvador GRodiles
With two God Eater titles heading West within the same timeframe, the gang at Bandai Namco have prepared a banquet that'll please those who want to feast on roasted Aragami. For the folks in North America, anyone who gets th...

Review: Project X Zone 2

Apr 19 // Anthony Redgrave
Project X Zone 2 (3DS [Revieweed])Developer: Monolith SoftPublisher: Bandai Namco EntertainmentReleased: November 12, 2015 (JP), December 10, 2015 (KOR), February 16, 2016 (NA), February 12, 2016 (EU, AUS)MSRP: $39.99 Project X Zone 2 is a strategy role-playing game featuring characters from SEGA, Namco Bandai, and Capcom. It will be one of the most bizarre crossovers for players that are not familiar with a lot of Japanese franchises as the game goes deep into each company's library bringing out characters from Sakura Wars, God Eater, and yes, even the Sega Saturn Mascot Segata Sanshiro. The large variety of characters can be intimidating but the game doesn't go too in-depth narratively into any one franchise going for generalised statements around the lore of each one. The game contains an encyclopaedia or "Crosspedia" for players wanting to learn more about each character, terminology, and aspects of the game. It's an all-inclusive document that works well for explaining the background behind each character but not so much for teaching players the advanced aspects of gameplay.  This title is a sequel to Project X Zone and continues the story of two warring factions Shinra and Ouma. They're original teams containing original characters for this cross-over series that recruit heroes and villains from games to fight for their cause. As the story progresses you will collect a bevy of different heroes, anti-heroes, and even antagonists to fight for Shinra as they try to stop Ouma and their plans. The story is pretty thin and serves as a means of delivering all the characters to different franchise locals like Kamurocho, Mallet Island, and Sword Valley. It is thrilling to see where the game will take you next and which character will be recruited into the party. As a newcomer to the Project X Zone games, I did not feel I was missing much from not playing the prequel. A lot of the story is self-contained bar some lines of dialogue making light reference to previous iteration or characters mentioning that they have met before. Plot progression can be meandering at times especially during the middle-end of the game as once you've seen all the characters the circumstances you end up in makes you feel you're taking one step forward followed by two steps back.  On the gameplay side, Project X Zone 2 is fairly shallow on both the strategy and role-playing sides of the SRPG. The game is too easy for strategy and positioning to have any impact on battles and choosing upgrades feels less of a customizable choice but rather a necessity so you aren't underpowered for the next stage. I never felt my choice in upgrades affected my gameplay or strategy when going into battle. In the later game when your party size balloons, micromanaging equipment, and upgrading attacks become tedious and would have benefitted from an auto-assign function. The positioning of units only mattered when it came to the combat portions as they adjacent units can be called for assists or support. Therefore, bunching units together as much as possible was the strategy I utilised throughout the game with little consequence. Almost all the stages require the player to eliminate all targets so more variety would have been welcomed to incorporate more strategy in the game.  The actual combat is an area where the game really shines. Having to choose attacks carefully and choosing the right time to attack confirming critical hits helps keep the fights engaging each time you do them. I really enjoyed the displays of signature moves that can be combined with support attacks and assists to become a large ball of chaotic numbers flying around with a cinematic finish. The developer had fun to include as many nods and authentic moves from each series' to help sell the game as a large collaboration of different franchises.  I think my favourite thing about Project X Zone 2 is the way it treats each franchise. The title gives each one respect and an opportunity in the limelight. Having the music change to the respectful game track of the character being controlled tickles my nostalgia nerve and is a very nice touch. It works especially well when the music cue kicks in before the character is introduced giving hints of the next party member. As a game light on story, it is also light-hearted with the scenarios it puts the party in. One moment you are walking down the catwalk Space Channel 5 style then frolicking amongst sakura petals recreating a Sega Saturn commercial. If you find this baffling, the game does too with characters acting appropriately to the situation. It's goofy, funny, and really endearing to the each franchise. It's the characters portrayals that I really like within this title and the ways they interact with each other. Sleaze ball characters like Majima and Vashyron will get rebuffed by females, Chun Li's maternal relationship with her partner Xiaoyu, and Ryu's obsession with training. Sadly the same cannot be said for all original characters as Reiji is a boring straight man present to move the plot forward. The art for Project X Zone 2 does a good job in normalising all the characters from the different series into one style. Some realistic characters like Natsu, KOS-MOS, and Segeta Sanshiro look great in their stylised cartoony form while Kazuma Kiryu didn't fair so well in transition. The sprite work and animation are phenomenal keeping everything smooth during fights and looking amazing as each move is executed. Due to the gameplay, everything meshes together into a flurry of attacks and numbers but heading into training mode and trying each move individually you can see the sum of their parts and it is excellent.  Overall I enjoyed my time with Project X Zone 2. The action portion of the combat felt like a good mix of action and strategy, I had a lot of fun with the character interactions, dialogue, and premise of the game. The game works best in short bursts as each stage is 30-40 minutes long bracketed by dialogue scenes that allow players to quickly catch up with the skirmish before engaging in battle once more. The title does have issues with narrative pacing, strategic and gameplay difficulty so while not posing a challenge for strategy fans, it will allow more action centric players to complete the game without frustration. It's a great game to have in your collection if you want to experience a fun wacky side quest with many special guests along for the ride. [This review is based on a digital retail copy of the game provided by the publisher.] Kizumonogatari: Wound TalePublished by: Vertical Inc.Written by: NisiOisiNIllustrated by: VOfanTranslated by: Ko RansomReleased: December 15, 2015MSRP: $14.95
Project X Zone 2 photo
Hey, I think I know that guy!
As an idea Project X Zone 2 is wonderful. It takes players through different worlds celebrating the creativity and unique aspects of each game. Having our favourite characters mingling together as they form a vanguard against...

Review in Progress: Project X Zone 2

Mar 19 // Anthony Redgrave
Project X Zone 2 is a fan service game. It's not a fan service game as in Jill Valentine starts to strip into her underoos because she was ambushed by an enemy tentacle monster. It's because this title is proud of each and every franchise and loves to show them off in detail. Characters will reference various bits of lore from their respective franchise expecting the player to have some knowledge of their origins if not then there is an encyclopedia included for new players to catch up. To keep things open the actual main story isn't related to any specific franchise. It's about two warring factions: Shinra and Ouma and how they hate each other because one likes opening portals and other wants to shut them. You are in control of the former as they chase the latter through each game world trying to find out what they're up to. Throw in some gold chains, anime and game references with small hints at the previous game's story and you have the plot of Project X Zone 2. Along the way, you do join forces with Capcom/Namco Bandai/ Sega representatives to form a rag-tag group of heroes, anti-heroes, and villains. Every stage is based on a different franchise and you can guarantee that each stage is based on a franchise. The plot is pretty thin in stringing together the different levels as an excuse for the party to travel there. They pretty much cross time, space, dimensions, and a mixture of the three or four to get them to the different worlds. It's pretty amazing the story is able to explain Dante (Devil May Cry) fighting alongside Valkyrie (Legend of Valkyrie) with support from KOS-MOS (Xenosaga) and Fiora (Xenoblade) and still take itself semi-seriously. The most ridiculous and probably amazing part of the entire scenario is how the characters try to convince themselves and others that all of this still makes sense. The gameplay is a turn-based strategy with more interactivity due to active time attacks. Once you enter an attack on an enemy, you are given different attacks and supports to lower the enemies HP. These attacking sessions are the best part of the game. They're dramatic, high octane, and flashy. It's amazing seeing familiar characters delivering their signature attacks with numbers flying everywhere, all without any slow down. The game benefits from some amazing sprite work making all the animation smooth and refined. Once you get a hang of how the attack system works, there's an added incentive to learn how each move affects the enemy as well-timed executions can reward players with critical hits turning the tides of battle in one move. However, these game-changing executions are rare as the game has been fairly easy and strategy lite for the most part. It has been rare that I had to restart a battle or game because of a wrong move or down unit. All your pieces are resilient and can deal enough damage that you never really worry about where they're facing or their position. Items are aplenty so death isn't a problem worth thinking about. Each stage also lasts about 30 minutes so there isn't a massive investment even if you do lose. Battling will make up half of your experience with Project X Zone 2 and the other half will be reading through dialogue. There is a Japanese dub but it only occurs sometimes appears during the story. There is a lot of flitting between spoken and unspoken dialogue throughout the story scenes. Whenever something happens, every member of the party has to get a line of dialogue in to voice their emotions in their own unique way. I would say that this is a make or break for the game as some may find it charming to see Phoenix get completely exasperated at his company of martial artists, robots, and BSAA special agents or may find it completely aggravating that the team must talk amongst themselves literally when anything happens. For the latter mindset player, there is a start button to skip all the exchanges. Since this game is made up of different franchises and company representatives, it's appropriate that they have music and levels from the different games. As you switch from character to character, their respective themes play which is a nice touch when battling as them. Musically there isn't a lot of clashing as each theme weaves smoothly from one character to the next. The pixelated representations are also really nice to look at and the portraits are all in the same anime style so helping each character fit into the Project X Zone world.  A large part of my enjoyment stems from the mystery of which character will appear next. I really like how each character plays off one another and how their personalities are kept faithful to their franchise origins. I sometimes find myself entering training mode just to see the character specific dialogue for unique team match ups. I've played around 15 hours of the game so there is still a lot to go considering it is an RPG.  Stayed tuned to Japanator.com for the full review. Project X Zone 2 is out right now exclusively for Nintendo 3DS. #3DS #Capcom #Devil May Cry #Fire Emblem #Mega Man #Namco Bandai #Nintendo#Resident Evil #reviews in progress #Sega #SRPG #Strategy games #Street Fighter#tactical #Tales #Tekken #Xenoblade #Xenosaga #Yakuza
Project X Zone photo
Everything goes in with the kitchen sink
Dream match up games between companies is few and far between. Licencing issues, accurate portrayals, and regional differences in licencing can cause a cross-over game to be left on the cutting room floor of any game developm...

Kamen Rider photo
Kamen Rider

Check Out Kamen Rider Specter in Battride War Genesis


First DLC character now available
Mar 09
// Christian Chiok
Two weeks after it's release, Kamen Rider Battride War Genesis has gotten it's first free post-launch DLC Character–Kamen Rider Specter. The size of the DLC character is about 1.1mb and it's available for PS4, PS3 and PS Vita if you have a Japanese account. 
Battride War Genesis photo
Battride War Genesis

Check Out The Full Playthrough of Kamen Rider: Battride War Genesis


Masked Riders Now On Next-Gen
Mar 02
// Christian Chiok
As a Kamen Rider fan, I heavily anticipated this entry to hit consoles, especially since it took a bit over a year compared to the second game which released around a year after the first game. Naturally, the game would have ...
Tales of Berseria photo
Tales of Berseria

Let's dive into a sea of Tales of Berseria screenshots


More challengers have arrived
Feb 27
// Salvador GRodiles
Whenever I hear about something that's related Tales of Berseria, my desire to check out the game continues to go up each time. With Bandai Namco sharing some more details and screenshots of the title, the game's premise cont...
Super Robot Wars OG photo
Super Robot Wars OG

Rejoice: Super Robot Wars OG: The Moon Dwellers gets an English release in Asia


Dreams really do come true
Feb 18
// Salvador GRodiles
Remember all of those times that I've said that hell has frozen over? Well, it looks like the underworld is going through an ice age, as Bandai Namco Asia announced that Super Robot Wars OG: The Moon Dwellers hits Indonesia,...
Super Robot Wars OG photo
Super Robot Wars OG

Get Pumped: The next Super Robot Wars game gets an amusing teaser


It's about to get hot in here
Jan 22
// Salvador GRodiles
No matter what type of mood I'm in, a new Super Robot Wars trailer always manages to lift my spirits. I guess this just has to do with my love for seeing cool-looking machines doing badass things. Speaking of which, it turns...
Kamen Rider photo
Kamen Rider

Kamen Rider Battride War Genesis' opening will turn the world into your stage


Gotta Break Those Chains!
Jan 07
// Salvador GRodiles
After hearing Kamen Rider Girls in the first two Kamen Rider Battride War titles, it feels a bit strange that the group didn't return to sing Battride War Genesis' theme. My guess is that it might have to do with their album...
God Eater photo
God Eater

Bon appetit: God Eater Resurrection and Rage Burst go West


Dinner is served
Dec 22
// Salvador GRodiles
Ever since I got addicted to the Monster Hunter series, I've been hoping to play a hunting title on a home console instead of a portable system. Thanks to Bandai Namco's efforts, it seems that this will finally happen, as Go...
Tales of Berseria photo
Tales of Berseria

Awaken your inner beast with two minutes of Tales of Berseria


What a horrible night to have a curse!
Dec 17
// Salvador GRodiles
From day one, I was on board with Tales of Berseria's idea of letting the players sail through the game's world on a pirate ship. However, I didn't expect to see the game's latest trailer hitting us with werewolf-like creatu...
Kamen Rider photo
Kamen Rider

Kamen Rider Battride War Genesis' five minute trailer is filled with Segata Sanshiro goodness


RAIDAAA KICK!!!
Dec 11
// Salvador GRodiles
You know that the universe is about to explode when Segata Sanshiro appears in not one but two games. Besides his appearance in Project X Zone 2, the legendary mascot of the Sega Saturn is reprising his role as Takeshi Hongo...

Naruto Shippuden Ultimate Ninja Storm 4's demo goes big and sparkly

Dec 05 // Josh Tolentino
[embed]34555:5235:0[/embed] The demo itself is fairly lightweight, at under a gigabyte, and contains nothing more than the cold open and title card for the main game. But what a title card it is! Things kick off immediately, flashing back to the epic battle between Madara Uchiha and Hashirama Senju, the progenitors of Naruto's ninja world. History is in the making for fans, as this is the fight that ultimately created the Valley of the End, the massive hole in the ground that serves as a place of dramatic import for many key moments in the series proper.  Madara and Hashirama duke it out with Wood-style jutsu, massive weapons, and huge creatures like the Nine-Tailed Fox and Hashirama's tree giant grappling in the background. For better or worse, Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 looks to be almost unchanged mechanically from previous games. The controls are simple, with buttons for melee and ranged attacks, as well as ones for channeling Chakra magic and dashing around. The Chakra serves as a modifier, supercharging the next action when pressed, turning a regular dash into a chakra dash, and turning a standard attack into a special. So far, so Storm.  The main differences between this year's release and the last are largely presentational. CyberConnect2 largely maintains the games' style of cell-shaded polygons, and if not for the likes Guilty Gear Xrd, this would easily be the best-looking "anime-style" game on the market.  That said, where Arc System Works maintain their lead in detail, the Naruto title wins out on sheer scale. The aliasing present on the polygons is much less pronounced, and the most noticeable addition are veritable founts of glowing particle effects. Dust clouds, debris sprays, and novel takes on fire, both actual and magical, spice up the game's look. It's so intense that framerate issues sometimes crop up in the most intense scenes, such as when Madara fills the screen with burning triple-tornado. The game also doesn't skimp on the Quick-Time Events. Though a hoary old design contrivance at this point, CyberConnect2 has at least mastered the form, using the button prompts in a way that engages with the onscreen insanity, and promising rewards for players with impeccable timing. One can only hope that the team decides to get all meta with the user interface, like they did in Asura's Wrath way back when.  From the looks of things, Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 will be off to a promising, if perhaps too-familiar start. Fans of Naruto and of the games themselves can look forward to a game that covers the thrilling conclusion of the Naruto story, while everyone else can expect a good dose of over-the-top anime spectacle. And with luck, CyberConnect2 will have something just as insane, and perhaps more ambitious, planned for the engine they've created here. Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 will be released on February 9th for PS4, Xbox One, and PC. [embed]34555:5236:0[/embed]
Naruto Storm 4 photo
Talk to the Thousands Of Hands
Naruto may have ended more than a year ago, but nothing keeps a good franchise down. Between the lagging anime series, books, more manga, and several feature films, Masashi Kishimoto's world of superpowered ninja is far ...

Salty Thoughts: What a One Piece superfan thinks of Pirate Warriors 3

Dec 01 // Anthony Redgrave
As a quick background before diving into the game, I'm a massive One Piece fan. I do a weekly recap on the site, I've watched close to all seven hundred summit episodes of the anime including half the released movies. I spend hours on the Wikia to brush up on the lore while tip-toeing around manga spoilers and won't shut up about it whenever it's brought up in conversation. On the other hand, Dynasty Warriors and musou games are completely alien to me. My history with the gameplay style can only be described as a lazy afternoon keeping my nephew entertained at a family affair. Flashy action on a split screen with little interest in Japanese military history or strategy. Diving into One Piece: Pirate Warriors 3 was an interesting affair for a guy with a mixed background such as I.  Looks like the show, sounds like an elevator lobby Presentation wise the game looks great. Like a high definition moving coloured manga, the looks and feels stunning. This is supported by having the seiyu reprise their role from the show making it feel like playing through an episode. The game captures all major set piece events from the story and animates them wonderfully. Unlike Toei's ever fluctuating animation budget for the show, this animation is crisp and detailed. The cutscenes recreate the key visuals featured in the story helping fans reminisce on the many adventures they have embarked on with the Straw Hat crew. For me, it felt like a trip down memory lane taking Luffy from his humble beginnings in Shells town to becoming a major enemy of the world government for the sake of his crew. I'm really glad they spent the time to keep as accurately as possible to the original story and try to cram as many references to the arc as possible into the 30-minute missions. A really nice touch was having the 'To be continued' end cards at the end of each mission hammering home the fact you are playing through the anime.  But it's not all there. Although the game feels like a One Piece title from the visuals, the vocals can only take the game so far. There are no familiar tracks in this game. Having the unique themes of each Straw Hat as you play as them would've really made me connect with the game on a much deeper level. After 700+ episodes, you really grow attached to the tracks. I was expecting to hear; Mother Sea for the tragic cutscenes, character eye-catch motifs for the results screen and Overtaken for the finale of each stage. They would've tied the knot on this incredibly immersive experience. Instead, the music that is provided is forgettable.  It's in the little details...and the big ones, too The game gets very bipolar about the amount of detail it would like to have with the franchise. To date, it's the most accurate One Piece video game title. It's a game that doesn't allow players to purposefully retcon the story mode. You can only play as certain Straw Hats on certain levels as long as they were participating in the bulk of the fighting in the arc. For example, you cannot play as Robin in the CP9/World Government Arc as she was being held hostage and you cannot take Franky back to Syrup Village to Strong Right Kuro in his smug face. Only the characters that fight in the show, fight in the game. That also means unlocking Nami can only be done at the Alabasta arc since she is fairly useless without her Clima-tact arts even though she was recruited in the Arlong Arc.  I really like how the game incorporates the different devil fruit abilities into the gameplay rather than just being a purely cosmetic addition. Logia Devil Fruits are considered the most powerful since the user embodies the element it possesses. This means typical sword swings and gun shots should not be able to affect them and it's shown in game by having many attacks being useless when pitted against a Logia user. It's not completely foolproof as spamming attack (like you're doing every 2 seconds) will cause the armour to break but I appreciate the extra effort they went with incorporating it into the gameplay.  All devil fruit were not made equally regardless of Oda's weird way of power boosting some of the most inane powers I've seen in fiction. There are some gameplay issues that just go against the lore of One Piece and there is two that stand out the most to me. The first is Luffy's Gum Gum Fruit. It's supposed to make him immune to gunfire and it's shown off a lot in the show from him ricocheting back bullets and cannon balls. Playing through the first level, you can still get hurt by bullets albeit really minor chip damage. But it just doesn't make sense especially when the cutscene he is shown saving Zoro by bouncing bullets back at the attackers. My second gripe is the second level that features Buggy the clown, a clown pirate that ate the chop chop fruit. By definition, this guy cannot be cut up. Not slashed or stabbed, completely immune to sharp objects. In the show, the world's best swordsman Dracule Mihawk couldn't damage this East Blue Rookie in the battle of the best. In the second level, you are allowed to take the role of Zoro, the Straw Hat's first mate and resident swordsman. As always at the end of the level you have to fight the main pirate and, in this case, it was Buggy. I was expecting a difficult fight due to my poor choice of fighter or even an option to switch back to Luffy. The game ended up letting me fight Buggy as Zoro and winning without any resistances to any of my attacks. This just shouldn't happen. His body can be sliced in any way and survive so by theory he shouldn't have been able to lose. You could apply this logic to when Luffy fought Enel but even in the manga and anime Luffy got fried a few times despite the natural advantage. Enel was able to power himself up into a electric god compared to Buggy not changing anything about himself.  And other nerdy nitpicks Like Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 3, Pirate Warriors 3 follows the story up until the current arc and just like the Naruto, provides an alternative ending to the incomplete arc. In this case, the Dressrosa arc is heading towards its end in the manga and finally coming to the showdown between Luffy and the big bad Doflamingo. Unfortunately, the ending in this game has a lot to be desired. Just like Ultimate Ninja Storm 3, the game plays it incredibly safe and has the bad guy escape just after defeat.....It really leaves a sour taste in my mouth especially when Law and Luffy are backed by the entire Straw Hat crew and Aokiji (yeah he's there too). Doflamingo is still able to run away into the sky without any of them giving chase. This is wrong for so many reasons. Doflamingo had so much stake in Dressrosa not only as his Kingdom but also for business purposes. Would he really run away from a factory producing artificial devil fruits to supply to one of the four emperors of the sea? Or even abandon his head scientist Caesar after bargaining and scheming to get him back from Law. Doflamingo doesn't even attempt his signature move Bird Cage trapping the Straw Hats and their allies on the island! Despite my old man ramblings about the smallest detail (the default costumes aren't even canon!) I still really enjoyed the game. Every character feels unique and unlike most games I've played recently, I still want to jump back on and mindlessly attack drones with my favourite One Piece character. A current favourite is post time skip Tashigi but it just feels wrong attacking Marines as her. It is definitely the best One Piece game I've played so far and has the most comprehensive retelling of the story outside of the anime. Any One Piece fan should try to check this out as the reviews are indicating it's better than the previous two. Just try to take everything with a pinch of salt otherwise you'll end up as a salty sailor like me. ricochet To be continued
One Piece photo
Setting sail for the virtual seas!
It's been nearly 8 years since I've started watching One Piece and it seems to be one of the only constants I have kept when transitioning from adolescence to adulthood. So you can bet your bottom beli I jumped at t...

Ray Gigant photo
Ray Gigant

Sound the Alarm: Ray Gigant to wreck havoc in the West next Spring


No one is safe
Nov 20
// Salvador GRodiles
Now here's something that came from the left field. Acttil has announced that they're bringing Bandai Namco's dungeon crawler RPG, Ray Gigant, to North America and Europe. Compare to most titles of its genre, one neat th...

Review: Sword Art Online: Lost Song

Nov 13 // Josh Tolentino
Sword Art Online: Lost Song (PS4, PS3, PS Vita [reviewed])Developer: ArtdinkPublisher: Bandai Namco GamesMSRP: $39.99 (Vita), $59.99 (PS4)Released: November 17, 2015 (NA), November 13, 2015 (EU), April 28, 2015 (SEA), March 26, 2015 (JP) [Note: This review is based on the English-language version of Lost Song released in Southeast Asia on April 28, 2015. While there may be some differences between this version and the North American/EU ones, we expect the core experience will be highly similar, if not identical.] Let's not mince words: Like its predecessor Sword Art Online: Hollow Fragment, Lost Song is meant for existing fans of Sword Art Online (or at least of Hollow Fragment), and few else outside that sphere. In fact, Lost Song's main plot virtually ensures that only those invested Kirito and the gang's adventures and interactions will find fulfillment from the game's narrative.  But first, an aside: When it came to the anime and novels, the reason the ALO-set story arcs felt so weak was the overriding sense that the show was treading water. In contrast to original's grand hook of "dying in the game means death for real", the goal of Kirito playing ALO to search for Asuna carried not nearly as much weight. This was exacerbated in the second season, which followed up an excellent murder mystery plot set in Gun Gale Online with Kirito and his pals literally just doing a raid and some quests in ALO for a nice sword. It came to pass that when ALO was onscreen, Sword Art Online became less about exciting adventures and speculative future game design than essentially watching a bunch of nonexistent Let's Players play a nonexistent game. Lost Song's story falls afoul of ALO's curse as well, with even its central plot afflicted with the same sense of meandering and lack of stakes. Still placed in Hollow Fragment's alternative timeline (which saw the cast stuck in SAO for much longer than in the "canon", and adding characters like Sinon under different circumstances), Lost Song sees Kirito and his posse moving to ALfheim Online right on time for the game to debut "Svart ALfheim", its first expansion, consisting of five massive floating islands. Being the top-class gamers they are, the crew resolves to be the first to burn through it. The quest for "world-first" (a motivation familiar to anyone who's played an MMO) eventually brings them into conflict with Shamrock, a massive guild run by Seven, an idol/scientist (!) who's taking the opportunity run a big social experiment within ALO. If the whole premise of Lost Song's plot sounds like the kind of inter-guild "drama" that plays out on forums and social media feeds for actual games today, one wouldn't be too far off. This puts the bulk of the game's narrative appeal in the interactions between cast members new and old, told via entertaining Tales of-style vignettes, in-game events, and lengthy personal quests, some of which adapt storylines from the canon like the well-received "Mother's Rosario" arc. Those invested in seeing those characters again, sporting ALO-styled redesigns and touting long-running in-jokes, will get their fill, but players seeking epic adventure or the kind of JRPG story that ends with the heroes saving the world will come away disappointed. It doesn't help, either, that Lost Song doesn't work very hard to introduce players to the characters themselves. In some ways that's to be expected, seeing as this is a sequel to Hollow Fragment and mostly features the same faces (with a few more added), but curious folks who just want to know what the fuss over Sword Art Online is all about would be better served by picking up Re: Hollow Fragment (the "Director's Cut" PS4 port of Hollow Fragment), or just watching the anime. Narrative pitfalls aside, Lost Song is at least less of a slog to play, mechanically, bringing some new, entertaining gimmicks to the table. The combat system ditches the auto-attacks, casting times, and menus of Hollow Fragment for a straightforward, directly-controlled action-RPG setup. Players can string together combos of light and heavy attacks, controlling any three of up to seventeen playable characters (they can even replace Kirito as the leader!), each wielding a number of weapons with signature skills and magic. Special moves and magic can be triggered by combining shoulder and face buttons. New attacks, spells, and passive effects can be unlocked by leveling up leveling up their weapon skills through use, and assigning them to preferred button combinations. A Union gauge fills up in battle, and when triggered enables devastating "Switch" attacks involving the whole party. While simpler and arguably less deep than Hollow Fragment, the new system is more engaging and wastes less time. Most low-level foes can be dispatched in seconds, and fighting large bosses rewards mobility and effective use of buffs and debuffs to chop away at their massive, stacked health bars. AI companions fight and support effectively, and need little in the way of handholding unless severely under-leveled. New gear can be found in the field, or bought, identified, and upgraded at Agil and Lisbeth's shops while Side Quests and Extra Quests can be accepted at the hub town's tavern. Side Quests usually fall into the "Kill X number of Y enemy" category, but Extra Quests usually pose an additional challenge, involving big takedowns of one or more boss-class foes for better rewards. And then there's the flying. Being a fairy-themed game, ALO plants wings on all its characters to enable long-distance travel and a level of verticality rarely embraced in the RPG space. Lost Song gladly obliges, featuring huge, open-world maps populated by roaming enemies and dotted with dungeons at varying altitudes. Players can switch from running on the ground to hovering to racing through the air with a flick of the D-pad. While a bit fiddly at first, this mobility quickly becomes second nature and makes a genuine difference when fighting outdoors, as aerial dashes can be used to set up powerful charging attacks, and hovering up high can put safe distances between players and ground-bound foes. Fighting indoors, however, is more of a chore, as most dungeons prohibit flying and often take place against large numbers of enemies spawning in ways that cause the combat camera and lock-on function to freak out unpleasantly. Worse still, the dungeons themselves are so bland and unimaginative that I initially mistook them for being procedurally generated. Having players visit these dungeons in order to progress the story just hammers home the apathetic level design. And there's even multiplayer. Local and online play sessions are available, including a PVP versus mode, and team battles against roided-out versions of the single-player bosses. It's an alright option to have, but there's little compelling reason to engage with it. Players can use custom characters, but the customization options are so limited that anything created just resembles the generic NPC characters littering the hub world. For better or worse, Sword Art Online: Lost Song replicates both the highs and lows of its predecessors. Existing fans of the series will find plenty to like in the further adventures of Kirito and his MMO pals, despite a dull main story. The revamped mechanics also support a steady drip-feed of Sword Art Online fan service mainly by not getting in the way too much. Unfortunately, Lost Song stumbles hardest when trying to engage players outside that sphere of pre-existing investment, and in some ways ends up an even less suitable jumping-off point for newbies who want to get in on enjoying the franchise. My advice to those folks would be to watch the anime or try out Hollow Fragment first. If they're still jonesing for some more of this motley crew of irredeemable MMO nerds when they're done, then Lost Song will be music to their ears. [This review is based on a retail copy of the game acquired by the reviewer.] Fallout 4 (PC, PS4, Xbox One [reviewed])Developer: Bethesda Game StudiosPublisher: Bethesda SoftworksMSRP: $59.99Released: November 10, 2015 Fallout 4 (PC, PS4, Xbox One [reviewed])Developer: Bethesda Game StudiosPublisher: Bethesda SoftworksMSRP: $59.99Released: November 10, 2015 Sword Art Online: Lost Song (PS4, PS3, PS Vita [reviewed])Developer: ArtdinkPublisher: Bandai Namco GamesMSRP: $39.99 (Vita), $59.99 (PS4)Released: November 17, 2015 (NA), November 13, 2015 (EU), April 28, 2015 (SEA), March 26, 2015 (JP) [Note: This review is based on the English-language version of Lost Song released in Southeast Asia on April 28, 2015. While there may be some differences between this version and the North American/EU ones, we expect the core experience will be highly similar, if not identical.] Let's not mince words: Like its predecessor Sword Art Online: Hollow Fragment, Lost Song is meant for existing fans of Sword Art Online (or at least of Hollow Fragment), and few else outside that sphere. In fact, Lost Song's main plot virtually ensures that only those invested Kirito and the gang's adventures and interactions will find fulfillment from the game's narrative.  But first, an aside: When it came to the anime and novels, the reason the ALO-set story arcs felt so weak was the overriding sense that the show was treading water. In contrast to original, grand hook of "dying in the game kills means death for real", the goal of Kirito playing ALO to search for Asuna carried not nearly as much weight. This was exacerbated in the second season, which followed up an excellent murder mystery plot set in Gun Gale Online with Kirito and his pals literally just doing a raid and some quests in ALO for a nice sword.  Lost Song's story falls afoul of ALO's curse as well, with even its central plot afflicted with the same sense of meandering and lack of stakes. Still placed in Hollow Fragment's alternative timeline (which saw the cast stuck in SAO for much longer than in the "canon", and adding characters like Sinon under different circumstances), Lost Song sees Kirito and his posse moving to ALfheim Online right on time for the game to debut "Svart ALfheim", its first expansion, consisting of five massive floating islands. Being the top-class gamers they are, the crew resolves to be the first to burn through it. [embed]318569:61068:0[/embed] The quest for "world-first" (a motivation familiar to anyone who's played an MMO) eventually brings them into conflict with Shamrock, a massive guild run by Seven, an idol/scientist (!) who's taking the opportunity run a big social experiment within ALO. If the whole premise of Lost Song's plot sounds like the kind of inter-guild "drama" that plays out on forums and social media feeds for actual games today, one wouldn't be too far off. This puts the bulk of the game's narrative appeal in the interactions between cast members new and old, told via entertaining Tales of-style vignettes, in-game events, and lengthy personal quests, some of which adapt storylines from the canon like the well-received "Mother's Rosario" arc. Those invested in seeing those characters again, sporting ALO-styled redesigns and touting long-running in-jokes, will get their fill, but players seeking epic adventure or the kind of JRPG story that ends with the heroes saving the world will come away disappointed. It doesn't help, either, that Lost Song doesn't work very hard to introduce players to the characters themselves. In some ways that's to be expected, seeing as this is a sequel toHollow Fragment and mostly features the same faces (with a few more added), but curious folks who just want to know what the fuss over Sword Art Online is all about would be better served by picking up Re: Hollow Fragment (the "Director's Cut" PS4 port of Hollow Fragment), or just watching the anime. Narrative pitfalls aside, Lost Song is at least less of a slog to play, mechanically, bringing some new, entertaining gimmicks to the table. The combat system ditches the auto-attacks, casting times, and menus of Hollow Fragment for a straightforward, directly-controlled action-RPG style. Players can string together combos of light and heavy attack, controlling any three of up to seventeen playable characters (they can even replace Kirito as the leader!), each wielding a number of weapons with signature skills and magic. Special attacks and magic can be triggered by holding down a shoulder button, and unlock new attacks, spells, and passive effects by leveling up their weapon skills through use. A Union gauge fills up in battle, and when triggered enables devastating "Switch" attacks involving the whole party. While simpler than Hollow Fragment, the new system is more engaging and wastes less time. Most low-level foes can be dispatched in seconds, and fighting large bosses rewards mobility and effective use of buffs and debuffs to chop away at their massive, stacked health bars. AI companions fight and support effectively, and need little in the way of handholding unless severely under-leveled. New gear can be found in the field, or bought, identified, and upgraded at Agil and Lisbeth's shops, while Side Quests and Extra Quests can be accepted at the hub town's tavern. Side Quests usually fall into the "Kill X number of Y enemy" category, but Extra Quests usually pose an additional challenge, involving big takedowns of one or more boss-class foes for better rewards. And then there's the flying. Being a fairy-themed game, ALO plants wings on all its characters. Lost Song gladly obliges, featuring huge, open-world maps populated by roaming enemies and dotted with dungeons. Players can switch from running on the ground to hovering to racing through the air with a flick of the D-pad. While a bit fiddly at first, this mobility quickly becomes second nature and makes a genuine difference when fighting outdoors, as aerial dashes can be used to set up powerful charging attacks, and hovering up high can put distance between you and a ground-bound foe. Fighting indoors, however, is more of a chore, as most dungeons prohibit flying and often take place against large numbers of enemies spawning in such a way as to cause the combat camera and lock-on function to freak out in unpleasant ways. Worse still, the dungeons themselves are so bland and unimaginative that I initially mistook them for being procedurally generated. And with having players visit these dungeons in turn to progress the story just hammers home the apathetic level design all the more. And there's even multiplayer. Local and online play sessions are available, including a PVP versus mode, and team battles against roided-out versions of the single-player bosses. It's an alright option to have, but there's little compelling reason to engage with it. Players can use custom characters, but the customization options are so limited that anything created just resembles the generic NPC characters littering the hub world. For better or worse, Sword Art Online: Lost Song replicates both the highs and lows of its predecessors. Existing fans of the series will find plenty to like in the further adventures of Kirito and his MMO pals, despite a dull story. The revamped mechanics also support a steady dose of Sword Art Online fanservice, mainly by not getting in the way too much. Unfortunately, Lost Song stumbles hardest when trying to engage players outside that sphere of pre-existing investment, and is an even less suitable jumping-off point for newbies who want to get in on enjoying the franchise.  [This review is based on a retail copy of the game acquired by the reviewer.] Fallout 4 (PC, PS4, Xbox One [reviewed])Developer: Bethesda Game StudiosPublisher: Bethesda SoftworksMSRP: $59.99Released: November 10, 2015
Sword Art Online photo
A Familiar Tune
Ask most folks who watched the Sword Art Online anime series, and they'll likely tell you that the show's weaker moments usually coincided with events set in ALfheim Online (ALO), a fairy-themed virtual re...

Review: Dragon Ball Z: Extreme Butoden

Nov 08 // Anthony Redgrave
Dragon Ball Z: Extreme Butoden (3DS [Reviewed])Developer: Arc System WorksPublisher: Bandai Namco GamesReleased: June 11, 2015 (JP) / October 10, 2015 (US) / October 16, 2015 (EU)MSRP: $29.99 Dragon Ball Z: Extreme Butoden is a simple fighter that has a few rough edges that, unfortunately, tarnish an otherwise solid game. The title has a limited amount of modes that are initially locked away until playing through the main story mode titled Z Story. After that, you are introduced to What If scenario's which is the same story mode you had just played but with different characters and the adventure mode where most of the unlocking takes place. You can blast through each campaign in about 15 minutes and even shorter if you skip the dialogue. It takes you through the major fights in the series, from the initial conception of the Z Fighters against Raditz up to Goku and Vegeta's final stand against Kid Buu in the Buu saga. It is a heavily cut down and abridged retelling with players unfamiliar with the show's lore and storyline being kept in the dark about the various character dynamics and intricacies the show has. The what if scenario's are misleading as it's just a retread of the same story but through the eyes of another character. Even as Vegeta defeating Goku in the Vegeta Saga will still  result in Vegeta retreating and reuniting with the Z fighters on Namek.  The main mode is Adventure mode as it is here you will be spending the most time unlocking assists to use in the other modes. The story provided is very silly as it involves all the villains being resurrected thanks to the power of the black star Dragon Balls and it's up the Z fighters to set things straight. Both adventure mode and Z story mode follow a dialogue, fight, dialogue progression in each stage is the player can keep count of what is happening and the consequences of each fight. However, the dialogue scenes often take longer than the actual fighting sessions causing a large break in gameplay flow between each fight. I found myself skipping the dialogue just to get to the next fight. This game could have really benefitted from a streamlined arcade mode. Rounding off there is a standard vs. mode against computers or local and a Quest mode involving guild cards. At the point the review I have not been able to use the Quest mode as I did not Street Pass with anyone with the game. It's disappointing to see Dragon Ball Z Extreme Butoden omit standard fighting game modes like a training mode, tutorial, and online play as the gameplay is fast, frantic, and fun.  The game plays similar to Naruto's Ultimate Ninja series. Every character has the same control scheme and button combination to pull off their unique special moves. There is no Street Fighter-esque quarter circle backs or charge moves. Instead, it's repeated button presses and at most two button combinations. My only gripe with this control scheme is that assist characters and tag ins/outs are confined to pressing the bottom screen on the DS which is very difficult in the heat of battle. The story mode will not challenge you in the slightest as you will breeze through Goku's legacy in 15 minutes. The Adventure mode is slightly more challenging, testing you to beat each match under certain conditions for assist unlocks. I found it difficult to obtain an S rank on any of the missions due to my limited grasp on the more advanced tactics and move sets. This is where a training mode would've come in handy so players can practice their combos and come to grips with the finer nuances of the characters.  Easily the best part of Dragon Ball Z: Extreme Butoden is the presentation. Arc System Works have gone for sprites instead of 3D polygons contrary to the 3D moniker of the 3DS and they made the right choice. While the 3D does look fairly basic putting fighters in the immediate foreground and adding some depth to the background, it's the most impressive when the beam struggles are being fired off. The 3D adds that extra oomph to the scene making the glow of the ki blasts more epic and visually pleasing. This series provides a lot of variety of Dragon Ball characters going as far back as Goku's original aggressors in the Red Army to his modern day antagonists seen in the movies including Golden Frieza and Beerus. Unfortunately, not all of them are playable. They are assists that can be summoned to help out during a battle a la Marvel vs. Capcom: Clash of Super Heroes. The actual roster is actually quite small for a Dragon Ball Z title clocking in around 18 (including the 4 forms of Goku you can play as). There are many many assists you can unlock completely dwarfing the playable roster. Unskilled players do have the option of looking up cheat codes if the Adventure Mode prove to be too difficult to obtain S ranks in each mission.  Dragon Ball Z: Extreme Butoden is one more the better portable Dragon Ball Z fighters on the market. It's gameplay is great and finding a friend to play local wireless with is a blast. But there is very little growth that comes with this game. Without an in-game tutorial, the download code I was given didn't explain the fancier concepts like executing a reply beam struggle. A lack of a training mode and easy AI opponents means the player cannot find new and better combos to use resorting to either the same combo or button mashing to get the job done. I wanted more to do with this game since I liked the gameplay, but the game got repetitive fairly quickly. Fans of the series may want to pick this up when it's discounted or wait for a sequel.  One Piece Pirate Warriors 3 (PS4 [Reviewed], PS3, PS Vita)Developer: Omega ForcePublisher: Bandai Namco GamesReleased: March 26, 2015 (JP) / August 25, 2015 (US) / August 28, 2015 (EU)MSRP: $59.99
Dragon Ball Z photo
Kamahamahas in my pocket
I think every 90's kid remembers Dragon Ball Z as their first foray into anime and was eagerly anticipating a decent Dragon Ball Z game. We waited, and waited and then sometime during the noughties there was an explosion of y...

Review: One Piece Pirate Warriors 3

Nov 02 // Red Veron
One Piece Pirate Warriors 3 (PS4 [Reviewed], PS3, PS Vita)Developer: Omega ForcePublisher: Bandai Namco GamesReleased: March 26, 2015 (JP) / August 25, 2015 (US) / August 28, 2015 (EU)MSRP: $59.99 From Gundam to Fist of the North Star, the Dynasty Warriors formula works well with anime-styled action and the One Piece series is one of those that excels using that gameplay style. This new entry to the Pirate Warriors series has us playing through some of the official One Piece story arcs from Romance Dawn to the latest Dressrosa Atc, unlike the previous game that had its own original game-exclusive story. Though a "Dream Log" mode is there to satisfy those who would like to play some "what if" scenarios with their favorite characters and/or various team-ups/duels. The Dream Log mode is somewhat similar to Samurai Warriors' Chronicle mode. You get play through a map filled with different points that each have scenarios with certain objectives. These scenarios are short and have different choices to change things up, such as choosing to side with different factions of different characters.   The action in this new Pirate Warriors provides more variety than most Warriors games, each character will play differently whether it is in their speed or strength. Each character will have their own combos and even those who seem to have similar weapons do play differently, which adds plenty of replay value. This is a great way to showcase the uniqueness of the One Piece characters in more than just the way they look, button-mashing isn't going to work here. Another thing that differentiates this title is the use of a dodge button that replaces the jump button, this lets you dodge in any direction on one plane and works well when timed right. Co-op play adds much fun to the game but the online co-op is limited to the Legend and Free logs, while local split-screen co-op works with all modes.The different ways to play against or with characters feed into the way you increase your character's stats. Beating or teaming up with the differing characters gives you access to the specific character's coins. These character coins will upgrade each character's specific stats, adding a loot aspect to the game. Leveling up characters is easy, especially for those who like sticking to one character. You can just boost other characters' level to the highest level character you have using the generously abundant in-game currency. There are more playable characters in this new entry, which is great for local split-screen play and also adds to the new "Kizuna Rush" attack mechanic. The new "Kizuna Rush" system allows your player character to team up with up to three other characters for support that provide more stronger attacks at the end of your combos as you level up your Kizuna gauge. When you max out the Kizuna Gauge, you can perform a Kizuna Rush that obliterates all non-special characters onscreen and deals a good damaged to special characters. This adds more to your combat variety and timing your Kizuna attacks just feels satisfying, especially when clearing out huge mobs quickly.The Kizuna system works with "Hero Powers", filling up the Kizuna gauge beyond level 3 with certain characters allow for map-wide affecting specials which can range from healing your allies to landing attacks that damage all acitve enemies on the map. One thing that kept from enjoying the different Warriors games in the past was the performance and visuals of the games. I am very pleased that this latest Pirate Warriors game on the Playstation 4 runs great (with very rare minor hiccups) and looks great. This game is also on the Playstation Vita which looks good and runs just as well as its console counterparts. Pirate Warriors 3 also features cross-save support which allows you to upload your save to the cloud and lets you continue your progress on any platform. Pirate Warriors 3 being on the Playstation Vita is probably why the levels can be finished in around 10 minutes and have reasonably sized maps, this is great as it keeps you from getting bored in running around a map or dying accidentally and losing a lot of progress like in the mainline Dynasty Warriors game. Levels that have those timed objectives are much more balanced compared to the strict time limits or easily killed allies that end up in mission failure in the previous game. Presentation of the story is pretty but a bit inconsistent. There are nice looking full CG animated scenes adapted from the show but not all parts are presented in this manner, some scenes are done in the minimal animated voiced character models with a text box; then there there are the plain text exposition voiced over by the narrator. It may be confusing to those unfamiliar and the drama that fans love from the anime will be lost on One Piece newcomers since it just doesn't have the impact. There's plenty of content in this game for fans and those just wanting to play some Warriors action. Those wanting a different take on the Warriors formula and die-hard One Piece fans should find something in this new game, it's an improvement over the previous game but those tired with the second game won't find much different here. If you've never played a Pirate Warriors title and want to play a great take on the Warriors formula, Pirate Warriors 3 provides a great fun time.
One Piece photo
King of the Pirates!
As someone who isn't into One Piece, it's always a surprise for me every time I am reminded that the franchise is still wildly popular around the world. Its enduring popularity remains strong especially in its native Japan wi...

Kamen Rider photo
Kamen Rider

Eyes Wide Open: Kamen Rider Battride War Genesis gets a new trailer


Get Ready People!
Oct 30
// Salvador GRodiles
As we get closer to Halloween, the folks at Bandai Namco have channeled their spiritual energy to bring us a new trailer for Kamen Rider Battride War Genesis. Honestly, it looks like it isn't much of an improvement over the ...
 photo

Ouch, that's harsh, Bandai Namco


Sorry, Vesperia fans
Sep 28
// Josh Tolentino
I guess it's time for Tales fans to give up on the dream. Even Bandai Namco's Twitter account is quick to put the kibosh on any hopes these last few holdouts had. Then again, it has been years and years since Tales of Ve...
Summer Lesson photo
Summer Lesson

Summer Lesson becomes a real thing


Along with the rest of PlayStation VR
Sep 20
// Josh Tolentino
I remember back at E3, when Katsuhiro Harada and the Tekken team updated their little VR experiment, Summer Lesson. I remarked that the little tech demo featuring players nodding their heads at young teens represented p...
Gundam VS Force photo
Gundam VS Force

Praise G: Gundam Extreme VS Force heads to Asia in English


Cheers, Mobile Suit fans!
Sep 17
// Salvador GRodiles
Now here's something that you don't see every day: During TGS '15's SCEJA Conference Asia Session, the folks at Bandai Namco have announced that they're bringing Mobile Suit Gundam Extreme VS Force, the upcoming title i...
Kamen Rider photo
Kamen Rider

Kamen Rider Battride War Genesis' first trailer misses its Climax


Catch the waves!
Sep 10
// Salvador GRodiles
Wow. That was fast. I didn't expect for Bandai Namco to upload Kamen Rider Battride War Genesis' first trailer so soon. Then again, the Tokyo Game Show '15 is almost here so it would make sense for them to start building peo...
Kamen Rider photo
Kamen Rider

Finally: Kamen Rider Battride War Creation has more playable secondary Riders


It's about freaking time!
Sep 09
// Salvador GRodiles
[Update: Images from Dengeki's latest issue confirms that Kamen Rider Ibuki is playable.] For a good while, it's been confirmed that the latest installment in the Kamen Rider Musou-like game series was in the works. Prio...
Attack on Titan photo
Attack on Titan

Oh, finally, a proper Attack on Titan game


Dynasty Warriors: Giant Cannibals
Aug 09
// Josh Tolentino
What's that, you say? There's already been a proper Attack on Titan game? Well, that is technically true, and Atlus USA even brought it to English-speaking shores as Attack on Titan: Humanity in Chains. Unfortunately, that t...

First Impressions: God Eater episodes 1-3

Jul 30 // Josh Tolentino
The good news is, that visually, God Eater is one of the best-looking shows I've seen in years. And it's not just getting by on style, either. Ufotable, as is their way, has created a technical tour de force with their newest series, using multi-layered shading and coloring techniques to create a unique look for God Eater, as well as finally make an anime where CG creations - in this case, the Aragami monsters and large parts of the backgrounds - don't stick out like a sore thumb.  That doesn't sound huge on its own, but considering the way CG is employed in most traditional 2D anime, it's significant. The few shows to do it well were often all-CG (like Fireball Charming or, err...Sega Hard Girls) or kept the 2D and 3D portions carefully separated (like Ghost in the Shell: Standalone Complex and Etotama). Even Ufotable itself never quite managed the blend with last season's Unlimited Blade Works adaptation. They kept mostly to digital effects, and the CG still looked awkward and out-of-place when used for things like Caster's skeleton warriors or that red water pouring out of the Holy Grail. In most 2D shows, you can usually tell when something's been modeled someone CG comes in just by looking. Whether it's slightly flat colors or an unusual slowness (or smoothness) to the movement, being able to spot the CG in an anime is the "Conspicuously Light Patch" of its age.  To be perfectly honest, that's still technically true in God Eater. It's easy to tell that the Aragami are mostly done in CG, and it's more evident when both monsters and people are on the screen together. Still, the blend on display is better than ever, to the point that after watching the stream on Daisuki, I deliberately sought out a higher-resolution version of the broadcast to see for myself. God Eater just looks that good. More's the pity, then, that the narrative portions of the show simply don't live up to the lavish visuals. In fact, many of the fears some Ufotable fans had about the studio's ability to take on a "heavy" narrative show after five years adapting Type-MOON's "Nasu-verse" for the screen have proven at least partly true so far. Without the dense (and more importantly pre-existing) fiction of the Fate franchise to back it up, God Eater comes across as an Attack on Titan clone where righteous anger has been replaced by a dreary, somewhat undeserved sense of self-importance. It's not all Ufotable's fault, of course. God Eater compared favorably to Monster Hunter in the story department mainly by virtue of actually having a story. As a TV series, God Eater faces much stronger competition, not least of all Ufotable's own stellar work expanding Unlimited Blade Works, just weeks ago. I'd have hoped that they'd be able to make God Eater's world seem less threadbare than in the game, but instead the early results actually seem more stilted than before. In a bitter irony, the game versions of the characters actually seem livelier than in the anime, despite the anime having more "cutscene" in the first three episodes than in the entirety of the game itself. The setup is simple: Ravenous monsters called "Aragami" have destroyed most of humanity, which now hides behind large walled cities under the administration of FENRIR, which employs "God Eaters", warriors that gain superhuman ability when infused with Oracle Cells (the same ones as in the Aragami). God Eaters wield massive weapons called God Arcs to defend mankind's last sanctuaries against the monstrous hordes.  Lenka Utsugi is a newly recruited God Eater in FENRIR's Far East branch. Quite, stoic, and obsessed with taking vengeance upon the Aragami for eating his loved ones, Lenka's a "New-type", who can wield a new, transforming variant of God Arc. His can turn from a massive sword into a massive gun. Being talented, though, makes no substitute for experience, and Lenka's impulsiveness quickly gets him into trouble, forcing the veterans of the 1st Squad, including laid-back badass Lindow Amamiya and his pals Soma and Sakuya to bail him out. Naturally, the kid's got that "something" about him, and by episode 3, Lenka and the squad are working together, and meeting Alisa, another Russian New-type who's got a great hat and, judging by the underboob, might have had the rest of her outfit chosen by her creepy scientist mentor/father-figure. I'm not the kind of guy to go drawing parallels to Attack on Titan When everyone an anime features gross monsters and the people who fight them in a bleakly-toned story, but in this case the parallels are warranted, and unfortunately leave God Eater wanting. The raw anger and passion that underpinned the mood of Eren Jager's saga is here replaced with a dull kind of stoicism. Lenka's strong-but-silent demeanor may be an improvement from the goofball harem tediousness of the God Eater manga's lead, but not by much, and certainly not enough to make Lenka a better lead overall. Worse, points of characterization and flavor that helped the game set a mood in spite of a barebones plot are excised or missing in action here. Story points that might have made God Eater feel less, for lack of a better word, generic, like the privileged status of the God Eater corps or other dynamics, are nowhere to be found, leaving a by-the-numbers "soldiers at the end of the world" moodiness in its place. To be fair, it's still early going, and the show is already forging some newer territory by using flashbacks to the apparent origin of the Aragami and its involvement with FENRIR's higher-ups. It's a sign that Ufotable is beginning to plumb deeper into the lore, which has historically been a strength of theirs as opposed to natural-feeling characterization. Events are moving at a good clip, too, skipping over some of the game's high school shenanigans (at the time used to lazily deploy exposition without spending on animation), so it might not be long before all of it takes a more intriguing turn. Still, there's no avoiding the sense here that some opportunities to make God Eater a more vibrant setting have been missed, and I've no doubt that at least some viewers not hooked on the visuals were turned away by this early narrative blandness. Heck, I'd probably drop the show if I weren't already interested in seeing my favorite MonHun clone get some love.
God Eater photo
No Free Lunch
I've said time and again that God Eater is one of the best - if not the best - attempt yet by competing publishers to take a sip out of Capcom's giant Monster Hunter milkshake. With God Eater, developer Sh...

Tales of Berseria photo
Tales of Berseria

Anchors Aweigh: Tales of Berseria enters the high seas


Let's set sail for adventure!
Jun 22
// Salvador GRodiles
There's something nice about sailing to places in video games. Whether it's Wind Waker's open seas or Skies of Arcadia's vast skies, the idea of exploring vast areas on a ship has always been a thing that I've enjo...

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