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wii U

Review: Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE

Jun 22 // Nick Valdez
[embed]35079:5680:0[/embed] Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE (Wii U (reviewed))Developer: AtlusPublisher: NintendoReleased: December 26, 2015 (JP), June 24, 2016 (NA and EU)MSRP: $59.99 When shadow monsters known as Mirages invade Tokyo in search of Performa (which is the energy created from singing and acting performances), childhood friends Itsuki and Tsubasa get suddenly thrown into the battle as it changes their lives forever. Uniting their skills with ghosts of characters from the Fire Emblem series (like Chrom and Caeda), the two strive to become pop idols in order to strengthen their bonds with their new friends from Fortuna Entertainment (which is secretly full of other Mirage Masters) and help prevent the world from plunging into darkness. Told entirely through the Japanese VA track, TMS has personality to spare. But those who do not understand the language will miss some of the personality TMS is so proud of. It's not a huge issue, but the characters are always talking to one another during battles and 50 hours in you'll definitely wonder what they're saying.  Complimenting that strong personality are Tokyo Mirage Sessions' equally strong visuals. From the opening title screen to the final battle, it is bursting at the seams with color. The UI is clean and bright (the main menu is graced by a gorgeous spread of all the characters), the character design is typical Atlus fare marrying cuteness with style (enough so that you'll most likely have a favorite cast member), when you clear certain side stories or story chapters the player is rewarded with full cutscene performances animated with the Fire Emblem engine, and there is an overall attention to clean design. Only the battle menu and HUD feel cluttered, but that also alleviates over time the more you play it. The game's design serves to emphasize accessibility, so the over world and dungeons have checkpoints which make it easier to travel back to the home base to craft your weapons and skills and the like. Thanks to the lack of egregious load times, there is no hefty punishment for retreating from a dungeon from time to time which further encourages the player to do so.  Helping with this clean design is Tokyo Mirage Sessions' utilization of the Wii U's gamepad. Acting as Itsuki's cell phone, the gamepad occasionally receives text messages, or "topics," which keep you up to date on the character's reactions to the story (which can be a bit banal, but further build the world's personality), tells you when side missions become available (which are avoidable but help boost a character's stats and skill set), and also serves as the dungeon map. Crawling through the game's laborious dungeons is much easier since you don't have to cut away from the game in order to pull up your map. And when the story forces you to retread through many of its dungeons later in the game, you'll be glad traversal is easy. The dungeons themselves are heavily padded with frustrating "puzzles" which force you to backtrack and do not inspire cleverness. Rather than celebrate when you finally get to the dungeon boss, it's more of a sigh and "finally."  But the major draw of Tokyo Mirage Sessions, is the battle system. This is definitely where all the time and effort was placed. While there is no permadeath from the Fire Emblem series (though the punishment for a game over is having to reload your save), its weapon triangle (a rock, paper, scissors like system where certain weapons deal more damage to others) unites with Shin Megami Tensei's elemental weaknesses (a la Persona or Pokemon) into an obtuse system that takes some time to get used to. But it's a rewarding battle system to learn as there are plenty of options to do damage. Couple that with TMS's Sessions, which are secondary attacks that chain when you hit an enemy's weakness and earn you bonuses, Special Perfomances, which are super skills that deal more damage, Ad-lib Performances, which randomly take effect when you activate a character's skill, and by the end of the game the player can theoretically attack an enemy 19 or 20 times in a single turn. Unfortunately while these attacks are satisfying and stylish the first couple of times you pull them off, eventually the battles will start to feel like they are dragging on rather than engaging.  For example, to compensate for how strong the player can become when they utilize sessions, enemy weakness, weapon crafting, and character switching (which allows you switch your teammate on the fly in exchange for taking their next turn a bit later), TMS suddenly ramps up its difficulty midway through. Enemies suddenly become attack sponges and deal far more damage, so the player not only is forced back through dungeons they have already visited but they are forced to grind for experience in order to stay competitive. It artificially lengthens the game and eventually becomes frustrating since you won't likely be attached to the story enough to push on through. TMS' story just is not compelling enough to keep you entertained for its 40-50 hour length. Like its J-Pop soundtrack, the story is fun but inconsequential until its final set of chapters. Anyone looking for the level of depth seen in both Fire Emblem and Shin Megami Tensei, will find it in its battle system and not much else.  Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE is built with a very specific audience in mind. While its casual and accessible appearance may draw you in, only the truly hardcore RPG fans will dig deep enough into its battle system to fully enjoy everything the game has to offer. But on the other hand, if you do put in that work you are rewarded with a battle system full of so many options that no two people will have the same strategy.  It may be more of a game for Shin Megami Tensei fans than Fire Emblem ones as it's not a complete marriage of the two, but to bring it back to the Reeses analogy, if you like the taste of chocolate and peanut butter, then you will like them together. You just won't like it that much. [This review is based on a copy of the game provided by the publisher.]
Tokyo Mirage Review photo
Like chocolate and peanut butter
When Nintendo first announced a crossover project between their Fire Emblem series and Atlus' Shin Megami Tensei series, no one expected the final project to a videogame where pop idols transform into heroes in order to fight...

Legend of Zelda photo
Legend of Zelda

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild trailer looks absolutely beautiful

That painterly look
Jun 15
// Josh Tolentino
I'll freely admit that unlike many gamers that grew up as Nintendo loyalists in the late '80s and '90s, I don't have a very strong connection to The Legend of Zelda. I more or less skipped everything past A Link to the Past. ...
Tokyo Mirage Sessions FE photo
Tokyo Mirage Sessions FE

Come to New York and check out Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE next week

The fruits of Atlus and Nintendo's union
May 21
// Josh Tolentino
I've been trying to avoid all mention of Nintendo and Atlus' joint project Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE, partly because I don't want to be tempted into picking up a Wii U. That said, the thing really does make an impressio...
Star Fox Zero photo
Star Fox Zero

Behold the glory of the Star Fox Zero anime

Barrel Rolls aplenty
Apr 20
// Josh Tolentino
Star Fox is back, folks! And it seems back in a way that explicitly recalls the glory days of SNES-based 3D games and peppy animal-people bloodlessly fighting other animal-people. If nothing else, that Saturday morning carto...

The Japanator Awards 2015: Christian's Top 5 Games of the Year

Jan 01 // Christian Chiok
Honorable Mentions Toukiden; Kiwami (PS4, PS Vita, & PC), Dragon Quest Heroes (PS4, PS3, & PC), Senran Kagura 2: Deep Crimson (3DS), Disgaea 5: Alliance of Vengeance (PS4), Ys VI: The Ark of Napishtim (PC), and The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel (PS3 & PS Vita) 5. Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water (Wii U) As a huge fan of the Fatal Frame series (or Project Zero as known in Japan), I was really happy that Nintendo of America took the risk to port this game over to the west. While some of the costumes as well as scenes were unfortunately censored, it doesn’t hinder from the overall gameplay and it’s a gem you must play if you need to add to your horror game’s collection. 4. One Piece: Pirate Warriors 3 (PS4, PS3, PS Vita, & PC) It’s really hard to say that Pirate Warriors 3 isn’t the best entry in the series. While I enjoyed the first title since it did a great job recreating the first part (before the time-skip) of the One Piece series, the gameplay was really annoying and hard to appreciate, as if it was trying to separate itself from the Musou genre while still being a Musou. The second title fixes that issue, but the “What If” story wasn’t really that appealing.  Then comes Pirate Warriors 3, which mixes both the great gameplay from the second title, and improves it, and it actually retells the story of One Piece, starting from the first arc. So if you’re and One Piece fan and own any of the platforms above, but still haven’t gave the game a chance, then do yourself the favor of playing the game. 3. Dragon Ball Xenoverse (PS4, PS3, Xbox One, Xbox 360 & PC) This definitely had to go on my Top 5 of 2015 for various reasons. For once, it’s the first Dragon Ball game that implanted “Create a Character” that right way, giving us various races and options for our character. Second of all, it’s almost original story was definitely felt fresh and it was a good change from the usual story mode we have been playing for the past two decades. While the gameplay isn’t on par with games like the Sparlking or the Budokai series, this is definitely the best Dragon Ball game we have received since Raging Blast. 2. Bloodborne (PS4) At first, for the sake of making this list “Otaku”, I wanted to exclude Bloodborne from the list and make Dragon Quest Heroes my fifth recommended title. However, Bloodborne is a Japanese-developed game, so it counts. If you haven’t played the game yet and own a PS4, I don’t know what you have been doing all year. While the combat isn’t an exact replica of the Souls games, Bloodborne is still a game that Souls fans can enjoy. It’s certainly faster too. 1. Xenoblade Chronicles X (Wii U) Considering I kept this list exclusive to Japanese games, this made it easily as my favorite game of 2015 (Otherwise it would have been a tie with The Witcher 3). Xenoblade X is a great game for many reasons, including its massive world, gameplay, combat, and it’s variety of classes and weapons. While the story is definitely enjoyable, it’s definitely inferior to its predecessor. The same can be said about its soundtrack.   Note: For those curious of my overall Top 5 Video Games of 2015, it would be; Xenoblade Chronicles X, The Witcher 3, Bloodborne, Splatoon, and Fallout 4.  
Japanator Awards 2015 photo
A Great Year For Fan of Japanese Games
First of all, I would like to wish everyone a Happy New Year. Like I stated on my Top 5 Anime of the Year, I mostly spent my time playing video games, so making this list was a lot easier to make than the former. However, sin...

Splatoon photo

Behold the glory of Splatoon's Squid Girl gear

Coming soon to everywhere!
Aug 07
// Josh Tolentino
It's happening! Everyone's favorite cephalopod-children combat painting simulator, Splatoon, is getting the long-awaited crossover with everyone's favorite cephalopod-conquest documentary, Squid Girl. Scans from the latest is...
Splatoon photo

Transform and Ink-Roll Out: Splatoon gets a Transformers homage

Make like a Squid, Kid
Jun 12
// Josh Tolentino
Nintendo's friendly shooter Splatoon is definitely looking to be the mimetic flavor of the moment, judging from the amount of buzz it's been generating online, but hey, if it somehow results in awesome art and whatnot, I...
Squid Girl x Splatoon photo
Squid Girl x Splatoon

Ain't Squiddin': Splatoon x Squid Girl is the crossover to watch

The deal is inked
Jun 05
// Josh Tolentino
It looks like Splatoon's the game to take the world by storm this year. Nintendo's paint-themed squid-kid shooter's quickly barged its way into the gamer hivemind on a spray of bright paint, and you know what that means: Cros...
Xenoblade photo

XenobladeX checks all the right boxes

Can not wait
Apr 23
// Hiroko Yamamura
I haven't touched my Wii U in quite some time. While I don't game nearly as much as I should, it's the system that's seen the least amount of miles in my collection. Luckily, XenobladeX will likely change all of that. This i...
Megaten X FireEm photo
Megaten X FireEm

Shin Megami Tensei X Fire Emblem trailer explodes my mind

Apr 03
// Hiroko Yamamura
I watch a lot of anime and video game trailers, as you can probably guess. However, I can only count on one hand the times a video has totally blown my mind and left me confused! During the Nintendo Direct show yesterday, a ...
Kamen Rider Summonride photo
Kamen Rider Summonride

Kamen Rider Summonride's new screenshots are all about the stages

This gallery needs some boss images
Oct 27
// Salvador G Rodiles
Even though Kamen Rider Summonride contains a few features that should've been in the Battride War series (such as a co-op option), I'm still on the fence on whether to Drive the Game or not. As a series of new images enter t...
Kamen Rider Summonride photo
Kamen Rider Summonride

Kamen Rider Summonride's first trailer gives off a Gauntlet vibe

That kid is way too excited
Oct 05
// Salvador G Rodiles
When Bandai Namco announced that they were giving Kamen Rider the Skylanders treatment in Kamen Rider Summonride, I will admit that I was a bit curious about the title will play. Now that the team has shown us the ...
Smash Bros 3DS photo
Smash Bros 3DS

Even AKB48 want to kick Nintendo's butt

48 New Challengers Appear!
Sep 08
// Josh Tolentino
Nintendo's been ramping up the hype train for its next Super Smash Brothers game, and in Japan, that means getting AKB48 involved, naturally.  It's a good thing that one of the key features of the upcoming 3DS and ...
Kamen Rider Summonride photo
Kamen Rider Summonride

What?! Kamen Rider Summonride contains a Skylander-like system

It's time to toy around with with our favorite Riders
Aug 11
// Salvador G Rodiles
Oh my. I never expected to see the day that the Kamen Rider franchise would receive a game that'd be similar to Skylanders, Disney Infinity, and Nintendo's Amiibo toys. Then again, both Kamen Rider and Super Sentai have their...

Review: Kamen Rider Battride War II

Jul 29 // Salvador G Rodiles
Kamen Rider Battride War II (PS3 [Regular Edition Reviewed], Wii U) Developer: Eighting Publisher: Bandai Namco Games Release Date: June 26, 2014 MSRP: Regular Edition: ¥ 7,689 [PS3, Wii U], Limited Edition: ¥ 11,286 [PS3, Wii U] Starting off with the latest Kamen Rider series, Kamen Rider Battride War II focuses on Kamen Rider Gaim, Baron, and Ryugen, as they’re sent into a strange movie theater. In this mysterious cinema, the three Riders meet two ghost-like children and suspicious fellow who goes by the name of Sinema. As Kamen Rider Gaim’s characters try to assess the matter at hand, our heroes end up being taken to various realms that Sinema sends them to. Of course, these areas are based off of the Kamen Rider movies from the Heisei Rider shows. [embed]32905:4076:0[/embed] First and foremost, Kamen Rider Battride War II’s plot is very straightforward. Gaim and his crew travel to different stages until they meet up with the other Heisei Riders. Then the players have to help the Heisei Riders win their signature battles in their corresponding films. Aside from that, the game throws in a few surprises when Sinema decides to change things up for our heroes, which acts a way to add variety to the story. Sadly, Battride War II's Chronicle/Story Mode wasn't executed well. Instead of utilizing elements from every Heisei Rider film in existence, Eighting chose to use one film per Rider show. Because of this decision, players were forced to re-battle the game's bosses more than twice. Ironically, this choice was an element that affected the first Battride War game’s quality as well, so it’s a bit disappointing to see that Eighting didn’t learn from their previous mistakes. On top of that, the most of Battride War II’s movie stages are missing certain Riders and monsters that played a major role in the original Heisei Rider films (such as Shadow Moon from the All Riders vs. Dai-Shocker film). Perhaps if Eighting chose to split each film into three stages to represent the movie’s key points (beginning, middle, and end), then we could’ve gotten the chance to battle every Heisei Rider movie villain during the game’s Chronicle Mode. If there’s one good thing about Eighting's involvement with the Battride War series, it's the Riders themselves. Players have access to three special finishing moves that can be executed with the Triangle, Circle, or Triangle and Circle Buttons together. When you press the Square Button, you'll be able to execute the Riders' normal combo. Despite the title’s simplistic combat actions, each Rider is capable of changing various forms, which changes the way how their combos and special moves work. While they could’ve added some branching combos to each character, Eighting still managed to capture the feel of using our favorite Bug-Eyed Heroes against hordes of enemies. Thankfully, Kamen Rider Fourze Base States and Gaim Zenith Arms are capable of doing different moves based on when you press Triangle during their combos, so players at least have the option to use a character with a broader move set. Aside from capturing each Rider’s fighting style, Eighting managed to improve Battride War’s II gameplay. For example, Kamen Rider OOO’s Tajador Combo now has an actual move set, and players are able to equip different Super Forms to Riders like Fourze and Wizard. While we’re on the topic of powerful transformations, if a player changes into a Rider’s Super Form, then they’ll be able to unleash the hero’s ultimate finishing move on your targets. Afterwards, you’ll be able to play as a Super Rider until your special gauge goes down; thus granting players the ability to feel like a true Kamen Rider. In addition to the Riders' Super Forms, Battride War II added an Ultimate System where players can change into the Riders' Movie Forms. Unlike your Super Transformation, the Ultimate Special only increases your strength while slowing down all enemies and bosses on screen. If a Rider lacks an Ultimate Form, then they’ll remain in their Super Form while receiving the Ultimate System’s benefits. Besides the game's two destructive specials, players can now cancel their combos with the X Button. Depending on the Rider that you select, players’ll get to roll, jump, or use a special ability when they cancel a combo. Other gameplay features include the Assist Rider System, which allows players to summon a Rider to hit an enemy or boss with a special attack. Thanks to this system, a good chunk of the Heisei Rider series’ Secondary Riders are now usable in the game. While it’s unfortunate that Kamen Rider Accel, Birth, Meteor, Beast, and Baron are the only playable Supporting Riders, it’s nice to see that Battride War II put some of the other Riders to good use. Best of all, the main Riders can be set to Assist Characters as well, so you’ll have a ton of combinations to experiment with. Since the new system allows you to summon an extra attacker, I found this feature to be very useful when I needed to break out of a boss' combo. All in all, the game's new elements allows players to implement more effective strategies against Battride War II's challenges, which act as a nice warm welcome to the series. When you’re not playing through Battride War II’s story, players have the option to test their skills in the game’s Survival Mode. In this segment, you’ll get to fight your way through random stages while overcoming various handicaps, which is very similar to the Rider Road Mode from the first game. If you managed to reign supreme, then you’ll be rewarded with special Figures that can be used to improve each Rider’s ability. Unlike the first Battride War, the Figures can now increase a Rider’s stats while retaining their special abilities. On top of that, the Toys are now capable of leveling up in battle, which adds a neat layer to the game itself. Unfortunately, Survival Mode is the only way for you to unlock Figures, so you’ll want to switch between the title's two options if you want to awaken your favorite characters true potential. Despite Eighting's attempt to improve Battride War II’s gameplay, this didn’t save the title from its flaws. Besides battling human-sized bosses, the team decided to add giant adversaries to the game’s sequel. While this concept sounds great on paper, the battles themselves were annoying to get through. Since it seemed that Eighting didn’t program the large boss’ hit-boxes properly, I found it very difficult to land a hit on most the title’s huge enemies. Compared to games like the Monster Hunter series, I felt that my attacks had little to no impact on the title's ginormous foes. Thankfully, these battles weren’t frequent, so it wasn’t enough to turn Battride War II into a terrible game. Other than that, it's still unfortunate that players can't run over enemies with their motorcycles, and the lack of a co-op option continues to be two minor recurring issues that have yet to be resolved. Besides my issues with most of the game's mechanics, I encountered a few glitches in Battride War II that prevented me from clearing certain stages. On a few occasions, I fell through the stage, which meant that I had to replay the entire level all over again. Luckily, I only encountered this bug twice, so there’s a chance that it might not happen too frequently. Other issues include the game's sound muting in most areas, and a freezing issue that occurs when you continuously use your Ultimate in any area that takes place in the castle from the Kamen Rider Wizard movie. While none of these glitches have messed with my game file, they can be annoying when you’re doing great during certain stages in Battride War II. As for Battride War II’s graphics, the game looks no different from the first title, as it still looks like an early PS3 game with HD PS2 quality environments. In fact, many of Battride War’s previous assets were recycled in the second installment. From the stages to the Riders and enemies from Kuuga to Wizard, none of these aspects were given a graphical update. While the Kamen Rider franchise has been known for reusing sets and locations, this doesn’t mean that Eighting should use the designs from the previous game without improving them. Despite being a person who favors gameplay over graphics, I felt that Battride War II could've look a bit better to warrant the title’s retail price. On a more positive note, the second game’s animations are better than before, which meant that Eighting touched up the characters who didn't receive new moves and/or Forms. Music wise, the game's soundtrack was disappointing, as each track felt like a generic freeware song or a rejected Kamen Rider battle theme. Sure, “Break the Shell” by Kamen Rider Girls was amazing, but one tune isn’t enough to save Battride War II’s entire music track. Luckily, players are given the option to create a Custom Soundtrack with any song that's on their PS3 console. On top of that, you also have the option to decide when the game plays your selected tracks (such as the menu, stage music, or the Riders’ transformation themes), which can be set to each Rider as well. Thanks to this feature, players can bypass the game’s mediocre tunes. Overall, Kamen Rider Battride War II had the potential to be a great game for the franchise's viewers, but the title's various flaws held it back from becoming a fine product. Even then, it was still a blast to obliterate waves of enemies with the Riders that Battride War II had to offer. While the title has enough content to please most Kamen Rider fans, I recommend waiting for Battride War II to go down in price before diving in. In the meantime, if you’re interested in a good Kamen Rider action game, then I recommend checking out All Kamen Rider: Rider Generation 2 for the PSP or DS, since it’s a beat em’ up title that contains over 50 Riders and villains. 6 -- Alright (6s may be slightly above average or simply inoffensive. Fans of the genre should enjoy them a bit, but a fair few will be left unfulfilled.)
Import Review photo
Journey through the Decayed
Back when Kamen Rider Battride War was first announced, many toku fans were excited over the fact that they were getting a Dynasty Warriors-like game that featured their favorite Heisei Riders from Kamen Rider Kuuga...

Kamen Rider photo
Kamen Rider

Watch Part 2 of Kamen Rider Girls' Kamen Rider Battride War II playthrough

Gaim's gameplay is looking great
Jun 17
// Salvador G Rodiles
It's been three weeks since we last saw the Kamen Rider Girls play Kamen Rider Battride War II. Now the idol group is back to try out Kamen Rider Kiva, Den-O, Gaim, and Wizard. Unlike Bandai Namco's last video...
Kamen Rider photo
Kamen Rider

Kamen Rider Battride War II's new trailer shows off Zenith Arms DLC

Lock Open!
Jun 13
// Salvador G Rodiles
It was only a matter of time until we got to see Kamen Rider Battride War II's Gaim Zenith/Kiwami Arms DLC in action. Lo and behold, the folks at Bandai Namco uploaded a brief trailer that shows off the Mighty Warlord's...
Kamen Rider photo
Kamen Rider

Fruit Basket! Kamen Rider Battride War II gets Zenith Arms DLC

M-M-M-M-Mighty Warlord!
Jun 11
// Salvador G Rodiles
I had mix feelings with the original Kamen Rider Battride War game. While the first title's playable Riders were very close to the ones from the TV series, Battride War felt like an incomplete game. Thankfully, Battride ...
Super Smash Bros. photo
Super Smash Bros.

E3 2014: Palutena's anime reveal is glorious

We need a full season of this!
Jun 11
// Josh Totman
One thing I got to give the people at Nintendo, is that they know how to make a reveal for their Super Smash Brothers games. In the trailer above, we get a beautiful anime sequence of Pit and Link fighting it out. When, all ...
Hyrule Warriors photo
Hyrule Warriors

Hyrule Warriors releases in Japan this summer

Thousands of mobilns will weep and bleed
May 08
// Pedro Cortes
Back when we first found out about Hyrule Warriors, there was much excitement in the collective pantaloons of Japanator. I mean, combining The Legend of Zelda and Dynasty Warriors seems like a match made in gaming heaven. Unf...
Mario Kart photo
Mario Kart

You can finally defeat the Spiny Blue Shell in Mario Kart 8

Not lying.
May 03
// Ben Huber
Nintendo recently had a Mario Kart 8-centered Direct, and they ran through a bunch of the new features in game. They revealed some new playable characters (Baby Rosalina and Pink Gold Peach), the new ability to upload replay...
Fatal Frame photo
Fatal Frame

Fatal Frame Wii U in the works: Plus a film, novel and comic too

The question is, will ANY of this stuff find its way over here?!
Apr 22
// Dae Lee
Fatal Frame and the Wii U were destined for each other. The Wii U tablet was practically made to become my Camera Obscura, fighting for my life and sanity with my dwindling Type-Zero film. With no title or date released yet, ...
Sonic: Lost World photo
Sonic: Lost World

The Legend of Zelda drops into Sonic: Lost World via free DLC

Ruppee joke
Mar 27
// Chris Walden
Nintendo certainly seems to at least be trying to step up their Wii U offering, and while Zelda DLC for a Sonic the Hedgehog game is hardly a system seller, it's the right kind of attitude to have. The game is already a 3DS ...
Attack on Titan x MonHun photo
Attack on Titan x MonHun

Attack on Titan invades Monster Hunter Frontier G

Next up, Pokmon x Attack on Titan
Mar 21
// Chris Walden
Those titan hunters sure get around, don't they? It's pretty impressive actually, considering their species is essentially trapped in one place. This time they've managed to dodge harms way outside the city walls long enough ...
Video Games photo
Video Games

Huzzah! New gameplay footage for Monolith Soft's X

It's very chatty
Feb 15
// Elliot Gay
I love Monolith Soft. I've been following the company ever since it was founded by Tetsuya Takahashi and Hirohide Sugiura after they left Square Co. in the late 90s. I dug the Xenosaga titles, adored Xenoblade, and even like...
Bayonetta 2 photo
Bayonetta 2

Bayonetta 2 still exists, gets new trailer

Why is this game not in my Wii U now?
Feb 14
// Pedro Cortes
Yesterday's Nintendo Direct gave us a lot to be excited about. For me, the biggest news was the new Bayonetta 2 trailer. We saw more of short-haired Bayonetta, the Joe Pesci knock-off and a kid with white cornrows. Oh, there...

Import Preview: Puyo Puyo Tetris

Feb 12 // Elliot Gay
Puyo Puyo Tetris (PS Vita, PS3, Nintendo 3DS, Wii U)Developer: SegaPublisher: SegaRelease date: February 6, 2014Price: $50.99 [PS3: $50.99] [Wii U: $51.99] [3DS: $50.99] I've been playing puzzle games for a very long time, despite having never been any good at them. Tetris got a whole lot of attention from me on the original Gameboy, but it was Puyo Puyo that made falling blocks truly amazing for me. Originally developed by Compile, the arcade version's big claim to fame at the time was its focus on two player competitive modes. While Tetris eventually ended up adding head-to-head to its repertoire, the basic game mechanics stayed mostly the same. In Compile's series however, players were constantly forced to think quickly about how to create combos and send useless garbage over to the other player's side. The competitive element was strong, and it felt good watching another player, be it your friend or the CPU, struggle under the weight of colorless puyo blobs. It was fast paced, exciting, and perhaps just as importantly, super cute thanks to the odd cast of characters taken from Compile's other series, Madou Monogatari. So here we are, 13 years after the initial release of Puyo Puyo for the MSX and Famicom systems. In what can only be described as one of the oddest crossover games I've ever seen, Sega has given birth to Puyo Puyo Tetris. It combines the two massive puzzlers into one package, bringing both styles of gameplay together for the first time. If this sounds crazy to you, that's because it probably is. It's so crazy that it actually works. Puyo Puyo Tetris is a a package of significant volume, featuring game modes for every type of possible player. This means that if you just want to play Puyo Puyo the traditional way, you can. Feel like taking on a game of Tetris? Go right ahead. It mostly definitely feels as though Sega designed this game to celebrate these two beloved puzzle franchises. New modes include PuyoTeto Mix, Swap, Party, Big Bang, and Tokoton. The first of the bunch combines Tetris blocks and puyos together on the game field, forcing you to think ahead for when the rules change without notice. It's frantic and incredibly demanding, but also quite exciting. Swap mode has you playing only Tetris or Puyo Puyo as a timer counts down. When that timer hits zero, the other game is swapped in. This creates a situation where you have a limited amount of time to push ahead of your opponent before you're forced to focus your attention elsewhere. Party allows players to pick whichever game style suits their needs. Big Bang is played entirely in Fever mode, making for high speed puzzle battles in which the goal is to do damage to your opponent's life bar. In my experience, these matches don't ever last very long, making it great for short bursts. Tokoton takes you through six different rule sets. Each of these modes are available in local and online multiplayer. Regardless of your play style, there's something here for everybody. The online tools are also extremely robust, allowing for ranked matches, non-ranked matches, watching replays, and a setup for an entire country-wide puzzle league. I've only played a few matches online, but the latency was fine. For the record, the PS3 and Vita versions are cross-play, and so are the Wii U and 3DS versions. The feature set is the same across the board, so feel free to pick the platform of your choosing. This wouldn't be a proper Puyo Puyo game without a ridiculous story mode. Fortunately, Puyo Puyo Tetris brings the heat. The Adventure mode is a sprawling quest that tells the story of what happens when the denizens of Puyo Puyo's world meet the new characters from the Tetris side. It's cute, it's genuinely funny, and it's a great way to learn the mechanics of both games. I know that for some folks, the idea of a story mode in a puzzle game seems odd, but the cast of Puyo Puyo has always made for lots of funny moments. Puyo Puyo Tetris continues using the art style first used  Puyo Puyo Fever, which means the it's bright and resembles pop art. The UI is friendly and easy to navigate, making for a stress-less experience. I purchased the game on the Vita, and have thus far encountered no slowdown or graphical issues. I'm fairly certain the game runs at native resolution as well. When Puyo Puyo Tetris was announced, I have to admit that I had a good laugh over the whole thing. Who in their right mind would really get that excited over a crossover between two puzzle games? The whole thing seemed ridiculous to me. I'm more than happy to admit that I put my foot in my mouth on this one, because Puyo Puyo Tetris is the most fun I've had with a falling block game in a very long time. The whole package has been refined and polished, with so many different ways to play and share your experience. If you've ever been a fan of either of these series, I can't recommend Puyo Puyo Tetris enough. This may very well be a game of the year contender come the end of the year.
Puyo Puyo Tetris photo
A fantastic celebration of two classic series
Those of you who follow me on Twitter have probably read my tweets hyping up Sega's new crossover puzzle game, Puyo Puyo Tetris. A few folks have expressed confusion toward my excitement, going so far as to wonder if I'm...

Go West! Sixty-Four: You got Puyo all up in my Tetris

Feb 08 // Elliot Gay
Releases for the week of February 2 - 8: Playstation 3: Super Heroine ChronicleBandai NamcoOnline Price: $79.99 [Vita: $70.99] At long last, Bandai Namco's latest strategy RPG has hit the PS3 (and Vita), but is it any good? I have no clue. Super Heroine Chronicle brings together a bunch of female anime characters from a wide variety of series for a game not at all unlike Super Robot Wars. Combat is conducted on a big field, but when you move your character to attack the enemy, the game cuts to bigger, more detailed 3D models for a flashy move alongside some character animation. If it sounds like and looks like SRW, it's probably based on SRW.  That isn't necessarily a bad thing though. Most Super Robot Wars fans will speak pretty highly of that series' combat, so if Super Heroine Chronicle has managed to emulate even 50% of it, that's probably a good thing. The main drawback here is that the roster is what'll make or break the appeal of this game. SHC pulls from a lot of C and B string TV anime that run the gamut from ok to terrible. There are definitely some gems in here (Kyousogiga for example), but for the most part the big shows are missing in action. There's absolutely no chance of this ever making it over the big pond. Potential importers? Take a look at the list of characters and see if you're feeling it. Otherwise I'm gonna say pass.   Playstation Vita: Puyo Puyo TetrisSegaOnline Price: $50.99 [PS3: $50.99] [Wii U: $51.99] [3DS: $50.99] I've put about ten hours into Puyo Puyo Tetris since grabbing it on Thursday, and my addiction doesn't look to be going anywhere. I know some of you might be giving me a strange look right about now, but the reality is that Sega has hit another home-run with Puyo Puyo Tetris, the unlikely crossover between two of the best falling block games of all time. Every conceivable way of playing is included in the package, along with a host of online options that make for one of the most robust digital puzzle leagues I've ever seen. Want to watch replays between the two top players in the country? Just flip to the online mode and check out the replay library. As if that wasn't enough, Sega included an adorable and often hilarious fully voiced Adventure mode that does a great job of getting new players used to the variety of additional game styles. These feature a mix of classic characters from Compile's Madou Monogatari series, and Sega's Puyo Puyo Fever franchise. There are also a host of new characters representing the Tetris side of things, each one more screwed up in the head than the last. If you've ever been interested in either of these franchises, import Puyo Puyo Tetris. The chances of it hitting the west are close to zero at this point, as much as it pains me write.  Still on the fence? Check out my full import preview early next week for more details. Nintendo 3DS: Dragon Quest Monsters 2: Iru to Ruka no Fushigi na Fushigi na KagiSquare EnixOnline Price: $55.99 As much as I love Dragon Quest, I just can't seem to bring myself to care about the Monsters spin-off series. The whole "collect monsters and fight" concept doesn't really excite me all that much in a DQ setting. Dragon Quest Monsters 2 is a ground up remake of the second game in the series, meaning it's pretty much nothing like the original for the Gameboy Color. If you played SE's DQ Monsters remake, you should know what to expect from this. It features a completely 3D world running on what seems to be the same engine, a slightly more fleshed out story, and some more monsters. The biggest addition that Monsters 2 adds to the equation is the robust online system. Network battles, various personal settings, and all sorts of different modes make taking your monsters onto the net a lot less of a hassle. There's just a whole lot more to do here, which is important for this kind of game. There's no doubt that this'll sell well right out of the gate, but I just can't bring myself to care. Hurry up and announce Dragon Quest XI please. [And that's all for this week! Not a whole lot hit shelves, but at least they're all somewhat relevant. Next week will be a bit more dire, but fear not. Big things are on the horizon. Until then, feel free to follow me on Twitter and on Twitch where I stream JP games. Catch you later, smooth criminals.]
Go West! 64 photo
The game of the generation has arrived
Welcome to another riveting, awe inspiring, and emotionally draining edition of Go West!, your [inconsistently] weekly column about Japanese video games and some masochistic idiot. This week, the game of all generations hits ...

Zelda is back for Smash photo
Zelda is back for Smash

Princess Zelda returns in Smash Bros. as a stand user?

Introducing Empress Pink?
Dec 26
// Chris Walden
The official Smash Bros. website has been slowly drip-feeding new information into the public in tandem with Masahiro Sakurai's Miiverse account for quite some time now, but to coincide with the Japanese launch of A Link...

Nominees for Japanator's best game soundtrack of 2013

Dec 25 // Josh Tolentino
Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch (PS3) Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch was the kind of JRPG that reminded people just why JRPGs were virtually synonymous with top-tier gaming experiences for so long. And a big part of that is its music, which uses the talent of legendary composer Joe Hisaishi to create a score that's utterly "Ghibli"-feeling (no surprise, considering that he's composed for many of Studio Ghibli's most iconic films) while also seeming to channel the sense of epic adventure and nostalgic fantasy that many people associate with the greatest RPG outings. Like the game itself, Ni no Kuni's score reflects the best memories of gaming's past while remaining comfortably in its spectacle-filled present.   Ace Attorney 5: Dual Destinies (3DS) You wouldn't expect it out of a game Capcom wasn't confident enough in to even give a full retail release, or for that matter, out of a series that lives on mobile/handheld platforms that many people don't even turn on the sound for most of the time, but Ace Attorney 5: Dual Destinies has a surprisingly good score. Or, then again, maybe you would expect it out of Ace Attorney at least, because Noriyuki Iwadare's jazzy, upbeat compositions have always done a great job of ratcheting up the game's tension, drama, fun, or whatever other mood is on Ace Attorney's always-wide range.    Super Mario 3D World (Wii U) Why is the best Nintendo-published platformer in the so-called "Year of Luigi" a Super Mario game? That's a question for a different "Best of 2013" list, but there's certainly no debating that Nintendo's stable of veteran composers (led by Koji Kondo and featuring Toru Minegishi, Mahito Yokota, and Yasuaki Iwata) have hit it again with Super Mario 3D World. Their varied, lively score continues to capture the essence of Mario while putting a whimsical face on the barely-controlled anarchy that is the game's multiplayer mode.   The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds (3DS) Given that A Link Between Worlds is ostensibly a remake of 1991's The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, nominating this could almost be considered cheating...if Ryo Nagamatsu's rearrangements of Koji Kondo's original score weren't so great. But they are, thank goodness for that. Brilliantly, A Link Between Worlds' score "feels" just as you imagined the original Link to the Past sounded like, freed of the warbling and machine-sythesized noises that the Super NES had to make do with.    Dynasty Warriors 8 (PS3/Xbox 360) No, seriously! We're being totally serious about this, because outside of your usual "rock/metal radio station" in your average crime game, it's frankly rare to have a game that has a soundtrack with so much awesome butt rock in it. The composers at Tecmo Koei, including Haruki Yamada, Yosuke Kinoshita, Yojiro Yoshimatsu, Masato Koike, and MASA continue to outdo themselves, which is a tough task considering just how many Warriors games there are out there, all with fairly similar requirements in the "music that gets your frickin' blood pumping to kill like a billion effing dudes" department.
J-tor Awards 2013 photo
Far beyond the bleeps and bloops
The roll of nominees keeps on scrolling for this years Japanator Awards, and just as we tallied up our nominees for Best Anime Soundtrack of 2013, we aren't about to ignore the many Japanese games that tickled our ears with t...

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