PlayStation Network

Golden Week Sale! photo
Golden Week Sale!

Celebrate Golden Week with great discounts on PSN!


Japanese Games and Movies on sale!
Apr 29
// Red Veron
It's Golden Week once again and the Playstation Network is here again with some discounts on Japan-inspired games and movies! I've been waiting for these games for a few of these games to go on sale since I love Japanese game...
PSN games photo
PSN games

Japan's PSN users sure love them some western games


Downloads aplenty!
Jan 10
// Josh Tolentino
If there's one stereotype about the Japanese game industry that's more true than not, it's that Glorious Nippon hasn't gotten the hang of The Internet and its many facets quite as quickly or in the same way as the rest of the...
Suikoden 1/2 photo
Suikoden 1/2

Oh man, Suikoden 2 is out, go get it now now now


Get HYPE for 16 years ago!
Dec 09
// Josh Tolentino
Oh, finally. It only took, like, sixteen years, but Suikoden II, one of my favorite games of all time and one of the greatest RPGs ever made, to come to downloadable platforms on this side of the pond. Konami's made the thing...

PSN Sale photo
PSN Sale

PSA: Dragon's Crown free, more discounts on PSN Sale


Get them while they're hot
Aug 08
// Josh Tolentino
It's not every day that you can get a bunch of good deals on a cool games, and that day has come if you're the type to buy things on PlayStation platforms. Both versions of Atlus' excellent Dragon's Crown are free to members ...
Ultra Street Fighter 4 photo
Ultra Street Fighter 4

Ultra Street Fighter 4 gets release dates, alternate costume trailer


It's almost here!
May 15
// Pedro Cortes
After months of devouring any news that escaped the clutches of Capcom, we finally know when we'll get our hands on Ultra Street Fighter 4. Come June 3, you'll be able to download the upgrade on Playstation Network, or June ...
Video games photo
Video games

Play Battle Princess Arcadias this June in NA and Europe


A Battle Princess' work is never done.
May 08
// Dae Lee
Some of you may have been following the NIS-developed Battle Princess Arcadia, a side scrolling action RPG for the PS3. We've been treated to a few screenshots and videos, but NISA just dropped the release date for the locali...
Shin Megami Tensei photo
Shin Megami Tensei

Atlus outs Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne, discounts classics


An old classic goes digital again
May 07
// Josh Tolentino
I know a lot of folks loved Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne. I know a fair few who think it's the best MegaTen game of all time, and it was Nocturne's unique look and balls-hard difficulty that helped pave the way for Atlus...
PSN photo
PSN

Sony unleashes JRPG sale on PSN for Golden Week


It's a digital fire sale!
Apr 29
// Pedro Cortes
April 29 is the beginning of Golden Week, a series of holiday over the course of several days that's been converted into a sort of national spring break. In order to celebrate it this year, Sony is discounting a ton of Japane...
Suikoden II photo
Suikoden II

Star of Destiny: Suikoden II finally coming to PSN


Die pig!!!
Apr 22
// Josh Tolentino
Well, this news just made my day. It seems that the ESRB ratings, always a good source for accidentally outing new games, has opted to rate a very old game: Suikoden II. Konami's classic JRPG (and one of my favorite games of ...
PSN sale photo
PSN sale

PSA: PlayStation 99-cent weekend is on, get Tokyo Jungle now


GET TOKYO JUNGLE
Apr 18
// Josh Tolentino
Doing something this Easter weekend? Well delay that, because you may want to check out the PlayStation Network store's new 99-cent flash sale, which puts a buttload of games on sale of just short of a dollar. The list is a m...
JoJo: All-Star Battle photo
JoJo: All-Star Battle

Go download the JoJos Bizarre Adventure All-Star Battle demo


It's probably a good way of wasting the week between Stardust Crusaders episodes
Apr 11
// Chris Walden
You've just finished a week at work. Tough, right? You want nothing more than to just collapse at home, enjoy a nice cold drink and chill out. Don't worry, you deserve a good rest, but what are you going to do? Watch TV? You ...
Gundam photo
Gundam

Dynasty Warriors: Gundam Reborn to hit PS3 this summer


Say goodbye to your free time
Feb 28
// Brad Rice
Dynasty Warriors: Gundam is a hell of a drug. I'm going to decline to state just how much time I've spent chasing 100% completion in that game, but know that it's a lot. Well, it looks like I'm about to kiss my summer goodbye...
Lightning Returns photo
Lightning Returns

Lightning Returns demo and DLC up on Japanese PSN


I love moogles, too!
Nov 28
// Eric Koziol
It’ll be a while before Lightning Returns makes is North American and European debuts (2/11 and 2/14 respectively) but if you have a Japanese PS3 account, you can grab the demo right now. For those of you with the game,...
Video game photo
Video game

Soul Sacrifice is free for North American PS+ members


Just a friendly reminder
Nov 27
// Tim Sheehy
Just a friendly reminder for those of you who haven't already purchased a copy, or have yet to check out PlayStation Network this month. For a limited time, the PlayStation Vita action-roleplaying title Soul Sacrifice w...
iM@S photo
iM@S

New Idolm@ster PS3 game produces all 13 girls (updated)


One for All, all for your money
Oct 28
// Jeff Chuang
After the launch of iM@S Channel with the PSN download games Shiny TV and G4U!, Namco Bandai has teased two new additional games or features via the "???" prompts in the main menu of iM@S Channel PS3 app. This could very well...
XSEED photo
XSEED

Corpse Party on sale and more from XSEED this Halloween


Just in case you need some nice and cheap horror
Oct 24
// Eric Koziol
Have you been sleeping well? Been looking for a way to remedy that? As it is October and October means scary movies and stuff, right? (Interestingly enough in Japan that time is summer, actually.) So XSEED has let the prices ...

Review: One Piece: Pirate Warriors 2

Sep 07 // Chris Walden
One Piece: Pirate Warriors 2 (PS3)Developer: Tecmo Koei/Omega ForcePublisher: Namco Bandai GamesRelease date: March 20, 2013 (JP), August 30, 2013 (EU), September 3, 2013 (US)Price: $49.99 Instead of opting to create gameplay around key story moments like the first game, PW2 decides to explore a new story in its primary game mode: Pirate Log. The Strawhats run into some trouble on Punk Hazard; every member of the crew besides Luffy and Nami end up breathing in some strange gasses, turning them against their former comrades. Along with Smoker, a marine who has on many occasions attempted to successfully arrest the Strawhats, they temporarily escape from the island in order to formulate a plan. While the story focuses on finding the missing crew mates, the plot is used as an excuse to bring back some of the old scenery and characters, allowing new alliances to form between evildoers of old. There's a fight against the Whitebeard pirates in an attempt to gauge Luffy's strength, as well as the return of CP9, the assassin-police that put the Strawhats bonds to the test, and early antagonists like Don Krieg and Wapol. It's good to see they haven't been forgotten, and it's made even better when you are using Luffy's newer abilities to take them out. The story features a few pre-rendered cutscenes, and while they are few and far between in comparison to other forms of dialogue, they look absolutely stunning. They all share the same quality as the intro movie and serve as a great way of adding life to the new characters that show up without having to resort to text boxes and descriptions. Much of the remaining dialogue is done in a typical visual novel way, with characters facing each other while text appears beneath them. This is also dubbed over, so it never feels like a slog to get through. The dreaded walls of text from the first game also return, but this time they really aren't as important so you don't need to feel guilty skipping them. Most of the Dynasty Warriors-esque gameplay is present, with your typical square-to-triangle combos, a jump for aerial attacks, and a special move tied to the circle button. The aim of the game is to complete a main mission objective, usually the defeat of an important enemy, while dealing with the hoards of minion fighters along the way. There are plenty of options for wailing on these enemies, including Crew Strikes in its new, revamped form. When your style meter is full, you can activate it to enter your Style Action mode. Your attacks hit harder and you're a lot faster, so it's great for making short work of large crowds. While your style meter slowly drains, you can earn the option to use a Crew Strike by attacking multiple enemies. Calling in a Crew Strike gives you access to two special moves and the ability to use your partner on the battlefield for a short time. Some of the named enemies can also activate a partner-less variation of this mode, and while this is active you will be unable to land regular hits on them. You can counter this by using either your special attack or by using your Style Action, so it's always worth keeping that meter charged up and ready for bosses in case you wind up in trouble. The gauge also refills over time, so you won't have to wait too long if you desperately need it. As for miscellaneous in-game changes, the quick time events have been removed! It seems that breaking up the gameplay to watch Luffy swing around on conveniently placed posts really wasn't fun, so that's a huge bonus. The camera has also been reworked and feels a lot more sensible. The lock-on feature is very useful against targeting specific bosses and works, for the most part, like you'd want it to. It did seem to get caught up in walls once or twice, but nothing that couldn't be solved by slightly knocking the right analogue stick. While navigating the many battlefields in this game, you may come across treasure chests. The regular brown chests will contain a consumable item of some kind, like a health recovery item or a temporary stat boost. Gold chests are less common, but contain either some Beli that can be used outside of battle, or one of many different collectible coins. If you complete secret/hidden objectives (which, oddly, aren't all that secret as they appear in the menu before starting a stage), you can also make blue chests appear, which will grant you a special coin exclusive to that mission. Indeed, the coin system that had so much promise is carried over from the first game, only this time with some much-needed tweaks. As mentioned previously, coins are available in gold chests in levels, but they can also sometimes be earned as drops by named enemies. This means you'll end up swimming in them, with a typical story mission giving you somewhere in the region of 8-10, not counting those from secret missions or assist-character level-ups. You can set these coins on your characters to increase their health, attack, and defence stats, and you can further increase this boost by picking coins which share some kind of link. For example, placing a Luffy coin next to a Nami coin grants you an extra bonus because they are shipmates. Placing a Nami coin next to a log pose coin will grant you a bonus because of her navigational skills. When equipping a coin, those that gain these link bonuses will flash as an indication, so you don't need to have an expansive knowledge of the show to benefit from this feature. In another change from the first game, link skills are no longer acquired by having particular coins equipped, but instead are unlocked by obtaining skill notes. Skill notes feature nine coins in a 3x3 grid, and you are rewarded with link skills for all of your characters whenever you get three in a row. You can set these abilities before each mission, and you'll be able to equip stronger/multiple abilities as each character levels up. This means you're not forced to use particular coin combinations in order to take advantage of skills, and all potential unlocks are handled automatically at the end of each mission. No more messing around for ages to hunt for minor bonuses. PW2 boasts a playable cast of 27 characters, with new additions including Buggy the Clown, Trafalgar Law, Aokiji and Monkey D. Garp. Each character feels noticeably different in how they play, with characters like ghost-girl Perona being able to depress people, Marco flying about with his phoenix power and Jinbe being slow to move around, but incredibly powerful to compensate for it. There are also some interesting twists on gameplay relating to how some of the characters act. Perona can't depress Usopp (because he's always depressed), Boa Hancock can't turn Luffy or Chopper to stone and Sanji doesn't inflict nearly as much damage as he usually would on women. It's arguable whether these alterations are fun from a gameplay perspective, but it's certainly great for flavour's sake.  There are also 17 characters who are limited to a supporting role in battle as NPCs and via Crew Strikes. It's a bit of a shame that characters like Bon Kurei, Lucci and Magellan did not make it as fully playable characters, but people like Hannybal and Sentomaru get a bit of limelight where they otherwise would not. Interestingly, while the Strawhats sport their post-time skip designs and abilities, none of the enemies they've encountered since the jump are featured, which is especially strange when the story kicks off in the post-time skip locale, Punk Hazard.  One of my favourite additions to this game is the ability to spend accumulated Beli on levelling up your characters. There are limitations to this, as you can't buy your way to a level greater than your current highest level. This means that if my best character is level 10, I could spend Beli to immediately bump another character to level 10. You get so much Beli through regular gameplay anyway, and the concept art and miscellaneous unlockables in the in-game shop aren't all that appealing, so this is a great way to try out new characters without having to worry that you're not strong enough to do so. If you want to level them up the hard way, you're free to spend your Beli in the shop instead, so we're getting the best of both worlds. Besides the Pirate Log mode, there is also Free Log, your run-of-the-mill free mode to collect more items and boost your stats, and Challenges, which are pretty self explanatory. There's a surprising amount of content tucked away in this game, and so long as you can get behind the basic premise and gameplay, you'll be clocking the hours in this game without a second thought.  The famous Dynasty Warriors guitar tunes are back, layering high-energy riffs over the top of the gameplay. It doesn't take any cues from the anime, but then again, can it? It's the right move, adding to the atmosphere and keeping you pumped up while you are smashing into hordes of enemies. Regarding audio, you'll only find a Japanese dub in this game. Good news for most One Piece fans, but rather unfortunate for those who are getting into the series for the first time after hearing the FUNimation dub.  One Piece: Pirate Warriors 2 is exactly what you would want from a hack-and-slash game based on the famed franchise. It effectively brushes away the clunky mechanics from the first game while reshaping the good ideas into features to be proud of. Sure, this might not change your mind if you dislike Dynasty Warriors games, but it'll be this game, if any, that will make you reconsider your opinion on the genre. This is definitely setting the bar for future One Piece titles. 8.0 -- Great (A great example of its genre that everyone should see, regardless of their interest.)
Review: One Piece PW2 photo
Yo-ho-ho we...did this joke already?
"A fusion of Dynasty Warriors and One Piece? Sign me up!" That was my reaction to the news that One Piece: Pirate Warriors (reviewed) was in production, sometime near the end of 2011. It was one of the titles topping my "game...

Ace Combat Infinity photo
Ace Combat Infinity

Ace Combat Infinity gets cooperative in its new trailer


The free fighter sim drops some famous names
Sep 03
// Josh Tolentino
Just in case you've forgotten about it, Ace Combat is back! Sort of. Namco Bandai have just released the latest trailer for Ace Combat Infinity, a downloadable, free-to-play PlayStation 3 incarnation of the famous fighter je...
Miku Miku Hockey for Vita photo
Miku Miku Hockey for Vita

Use the power of AR to play hockey with Miku this fall


Only if you have a Japanese PS Plus subscription and a Vita
Aug 21
// Salvador GRodiles
It's been a long time since I've gotten the chance to play a good game of air hockey. One of the issues in playing the game is finding a location that has a an air hockey table. Even if I was able to own a own table, certain ...
Japan PS Vita Sale photo
Japan PS Vita Sale

Japanese games star in the next PS Vita sale


Hook some big savings!
Aug 14
// Josh Tolentino
Hey, you know what's cool? Games from Japan for the PS Vita! You know what else is cool? Not paying a lot for videogames! It just so happens that Sony agrees with me, and has decided that for the next fortnight or so, you won...
Ace Combat Infinity photo
Ace Combat Infinity

Ace Combat Infinity sounds like a proper Ace Combat game


Things look Strangereal up here
Aug 02
// Josh Tolentino
Namco Bandai's just dropped a new teaser for Ace Combat Infinity, and I'll be damned if what's shown doesn't look like proper Ace Combat. Let's go down the checklist of "Ace Combat-y Things", shall we? Vaguely awkw...
Ace Combat Infinity photo
Ace Combat Infinity

The next Ace Combat game is Ace Combat Infinity


Lady, quit humming!
Jul 20
// Josh Tolentino
Rejoice, jet fighter fans! Turns out that the new Project Aces game Namco Bandai teased earlier this week is in fact an Ace Combat title. It's a downloadable game coming to the PlayStation 3 under the name of Ace Combat Infi...
Good stuff coming. photo
Good stuff coming.

Demon's Souls, Malicious, more free on PS Plus in April


A pretty nice collection of stuff here
Apr 01
// Eric Koziol
Demons, Zombies, Swords.Even a labyrinth too.All coming to you. 
Tokyo Jungle photo
Tokyo Jungle

Tokyo Jungle and other PSN gems go retail, says the ESRB


But Tokyo Jungle is what you want
Apr 01
// Josh Tolentino
"The Best of PSN", Tokyo Jungle, plus three more. Sound Shapes is good, too.
Vividred Operation PS3 photo
Vividred Operation PS3

The Vividred Operation game's trophies are mayo-tastic


All the creamy egg product spread you can earn!
Mar 26
// Josh Tolentino
Like pretty much any reasonably game-lookin' anime out there these days, Vividred Operation is getting a game adaptation courtesy of Namco Bandai. That might sound like a quick-and-cheap cash grab, and we won't trul...
Atelier Totori photo
Atelier Totori

PSA: Atelier Totori for Vita stealth-released on PSN


No marketing + no announcement = Success!
Mar 20
// Josh Tolentino
I'd like to believe that Tecmo Koei actually do care a whit about their publishing the enhanced PS Vita port of Atelier Totori  (called Atelier Totori Plus), but the fact that they didn't even bother to tell an...

Review: Corpse Party: Book of Shadows

Feb 04 // Chris Walden
Corpse Party: Book of Shadows (PlayStation Network)Developer: Team GrisGrisPublisher: XSEED GamesRelease date: January 15, 2013MSRP: $19.99 First of all, there really isn't any point in you playing this game if you haven't reached the end of the first game. Doing so will leave you confused about most of the characters and events, as well as why certain characters end up with memories from the first game. That's a little misleading I suppose, as like I've already said, this isn't a sequel. Book of Shadows takes scenarios from the first game and expands them a bit. Some things happen differently for one reason or another, so you get to see some new things along the way. For example, the first scenario you play follows Naomi and Seiko. However, instead of heading straight to the ritual scenes, we get to see Seiko...have a sleepover at Naomi's place? There's also some nudity and plenty of touchy-feely antics? Okay, it starts off a little misleading, but soon enough we're wandering the halls of Heavenly Host. The events play out a little differently this time around, but I'll get back to that. As I mentioned in the intro, gameplay is a little different this time around. When you aren't in the typical visual novel-style conversations, you'll be navigating a map of Heavenly Host to systematically explore different rooms to figure out how to progress. While you are in a room, you enter 'search mode', which allows you to move a reticle around the screen in order to explore the environment and potentially pick things up. Half visual novel, half point-and-click. Nothing wrong with that at all. Ditching the sprite art certainly improves the overall look of the game. The art is very impressive and looks great on the PSP, so while I personally didn't mind the sprite art in the first game, I wasn't too hung up about it. Everything is static, so don't expect to see any moving images. Most of the dynamic effects are done using image layers, camera shakes and colour flashes, which works pretty well at making it look like there is more action happening than there actually is.  The music is as great as the last game, there's no question about that. One thing I did want to point out is that you should definitely play this game with headphones. The game uses directional sound extremely well, making people speaking behind you actually sound like they're coming from that direction and so on. It definitely helps to build the right kind of atmosphere, so be sure to try it out. It's kind of a shame that a lot of the sound effects are terrible, in particular the sound of a hammer being dragged. It sounds almost like it was ripped from the Internet, so it's kind of a shame.  There are some real gruesome death scenes waiting for you too. One in particular during the second scenario left me feeling pretty ill, as while it isn't graphic visually, it did a good job of describing what was going on. This isn't a criticism, far from it, as they are undoubtedly written extremely well. I'm also certain that people will find them, well, enjoyable. On the flip side, if you aren't a fan of seeing the shocking demises of school children, then perhaps you will want to consider giving this game a miss. The 'bad ends' far outweigh the interesting dialogue, so just be aware of that if you got squeamish during the death scenes in the first game. Decision making certainly doesn't hold as much importance as it did in the original Corpse Party, for a few reasons. As you are largely playing scenarios you have already seen, you tend to know where to head and what to do. This isn't the case for every scenario due to the differences in how the stories play out, but it also seemed that decisions really didn't have too much of an effect, either. When you go to pick up an item, you'll be prompted to decide whether you want to pick it up or not. 90% of the time you simply have to pick it up to progress, and leaving it only serves to make your game last a little longer while you work out that there's nothing else to do and you need that item.  One of the most annoying new features of this game is the school map, in particular the number of rooms there are to explore. You are often given a section of the school to explore at a time, with obstructions and holes stopping you from walking all over the place. However, because sections of the hallway count as separate locations, there are often around 25 or more screens available to explore at one time. The first time I saw this menu, I was well and truly overwhelmed. I had no idea where to start.  I soon learned that the hallways usually had nothing going on, and that if they did, the game would stop you when you 'walked through' them to play whatever scene you had triggered. That's fine, right? Well no, as near the beginning of the second chapter, you need to look in the hallways to find a particular item, and it doesn't stop you if you manage to walk through the room it's in. There are way too many of them (on the second floor I counted 18, and this doesn't count those on the floors above/below), they reuse the same two or three pictures and most of them serve absolutely no purpose. You'll spend way too much time stepping through each section, looking around and finding out yet again that you've wasted your time in doing so. Key hallway sections, sure, keep those, but there really was no need for all of them. It's not a deal breaker, but it's definitely the most aggravating feature in Book of Shadows. Can I really say that this game is a simple expansion of the story in the first? No, not really, and that's because there isn't any mystery. Throughout the first game you were kept on your toes, curious as to what was really happening in Heavenly Host, thinking about who Sachiko is and wondering whether you can make it out alive or not. The horrific death scenes fit well, but you were soon back at it, trying to lead the students to survival. There is none of this in Book of Shadows, because we already know what happens. Rather, Book of Shadows is a large collection of gruesome student deaths.  The charm of the goofy characters is also somewhat lost here. It's not like they've really gone anywhere, but we don't really learn anything important. Most of the dialogue involves characters in terror, pain or both, and we aren't finding out more about what kind of people they are, as we largely already know. I guess you could argue that in the case of Seiko, we did learn something new (or rather, we had something confirmed), but it was unnecessary from a story standpoint. We've swapped the adventure gameplay for a clunky point-and-click system and changed the death/s at the end of each scenario. That's about it.  I guess I wouldn't have felt nearly as disappointed if it wasn't that Book of Shadows seems more about seeing the 'bad ends' than seeing the conclusion of a gripping story, like the original. For me, Corpse Party was about the narrative and the characters, both of which we seem to have lost somewhere in the transition. It's still going to creep the hell out of you, and for that it should be commended, but it's a darn shame that there isn't more too it.  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.)
Review: Corpse Party: BoS photo
Do not play directly after eating.
It was a little over a year ago that I parted my review of Corpse Party by wishing that the sequel would also end up getting localised. Here we are with another game in the series in a language I understand, and while it's no...

 photo

PSA: Persona and other Atlus titles on sale for Euro PSN


Persona, troll boulders, a funny way to say 'droplets', and the holy Trine-ity
Jan 16
// Josh Tolentino
Are you a fan of deals? Sure you are! That's why Atlus is offering those of you European deal-lovers that also happen to be game-lovers a deal...on games. Atlus-published ones. On the PlayStation Network.  From now until...
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Kiss and Tell: Chulip coming to PlayStation Network


It rhymes with 'tulip', get it?!
Nov 27
// Josh Tolentino
If there's anything good that can be said about Sony's decision to remove PS2 backwards compatibility from the PS3, it's that the inability for gamers to play their old discs may have spurred the company to encourage releasin...

Japanator Recommends: Growlanser: Wayfarer of Time

Oct 08 // Eric Koziol
Growlanser: Wayfarer of Time (PSP, PS Vita-compatible)Developer: Career SoftPublisher: Atlus USAMRSP: $39.99 (PSN download only)Release: July 31, 2012 It seems difficult to pick an exact genre for the Growlanser series, and that's a good thing. There’s a hearty mix of traditional console role playing, strategic and tactical battles, along with a hint of dating sim. Nonetheless, of all its various parts, the strategic and tactical aspect is probably the most strong and potentially alluring. Let me note right now that the Strategy RPG genre is one that I have found requires an amazing amount of my patience. Growlanser: Wayfarer of Time has been no different for the twenty five or so hours I have logged so far. (My game clock says about 18 hours - but, we'll get into that discrepancy shortly.) The game wastes no time in showing what kind of experience it will be. Turning it on starts with a gorgeous animated opening that fits right into my feeling of what “classic anime” looks like. Colorful characters with just the right amount of detail in habit this colorful yet familiar world. Satoshi Urushihara’s character designs manage to display a quite classic and refined style. (Although do be careful when googling his work in public.) This lovely art style is consistent and well dispersed throughout the game. Large portraits for important characters are displayed during all major story parts.Here is where my first complaint about the game comes in. The translation is by no means awful, yet it occasionally feels a tad stilted or awkward. Given the fantasy setting, the occasional line can come off as a bit jarring. I wouldn't say it marred the experience, but it was something that stuck in the back of my head. Maybe I'm just getting old but I don't know what it means to "build our names on your corpses." Then there are sometimes where it just feels wordy, like the description of the familiar creation process where I am asked to note the densities of the fluid (liquids I don't really get to see) and it just feels kind of weird. Anyway. It's not at all bad, but there are just these moments. It didn't have a strong negative impact on my opinion.  After naming the main character the game begins to paint its scenery of war. Crevanille, as the game offers by default, does not say a whole lot directly but instead fueled entirely by lines chosen by the player. And there are a lot of choices. On occasion options are grayed out, implying multiple replays or previously unchosen options being required to go these ways. These greyed out options are many times the most interesting ones, An adopted son of the leader of a band of mercenaries, Crevanille is quickly thrusted into a variety of situations that blend the issues of his unknown past, the warring countries of the world and the destructive powers of "angels" who leveled the world's advanced civilization 2000 years prior. War, destruction and loss are frequent occurrences and test the various characters throughout the story. With so much talk of war, Wayfarer of Time smartly blends into a very appropriate battle system that focuses on strategy but also allows it to be used for random encounters as the party traverses the world. The battle system is an interesting combination of strategy RPGs and active time systems. Positioning matters and the game is nice enough to help with this. If a character is ordered to attack an enemy and they are not close enough, they will walk to them. This of course costs time and time is very valuable in Growlanser.There are not only the basic attacks but spells, skills and knacks as well. Spells are charged and invoked. This brings up an interesting mechanic where the difference between a level five spell and a level one spell is only the amount of time required, not MP. While preparing to cast spells, however, units are more vulnerable. Skills are innate abilities that affect various aspects of the characters. They allow attacks to inflict status or help improve the way the characters perform their other actions. Knacks are special tricks that the character can do such as analyzing enemies or making the character the target of all the enemies attacks, taking the heat off the other charters.These spells, skills and knacks are not built into the characters, however. Instead of equipping weapons, the characters in Growlanser use "ring weapons". These not only function as weapons but are how the characters grow. By equipping spellstones into the ring the characters are able to both gain bonuses and learn new abilities.This was a bit confusing at first. A spellstone not only does its own thing, but also allows the characters to learn a variety of tricks. For example a stone that increases a character's chance to get a critical hit may also teach the Analyze knack.How fast they learn is based on if the color (green, pink or yellow) matches the slot color of the equipped ring. Each ring has three slots, which are not necessarily each a different color. These slots each have their own level which determines how powerful of a spellstone can be equipped to the slot. Rings themselves can level up, allowing higher level stones to be equipped to the slots. On top of all that, the rings grant bonuses to the equipping character's stats. Often a the choice of better stats or learning skills and spells quickly is placed in front of the player. I never felt there was one set in stone "best way" to level up my characters. I like that. With multiple replays implied within the game itself, it means there is enough freedom to work with that I do not feel locked into a predetermined optimal path for the characters. Battles tend to come in two flavors, even though they are both run on the same battle engine. Normal battles, which are fairly frequent when traveling between areas, simply require all enemies to be defeated or that the player runs away. In these cases only an entire party wipe will end the game. However there are often missions which can have more complex goals and are these are where the majority of the game's challenge comes from. In these missions some enemies may have to be defeated before they run away, some NPCs must be protected or it may even be as simple as just surviving for a certain amount of time. Sometimes simply fighting the enemies is not enough. Destroying objects on the field or flipping switches may be necessary for victory. There is quite a variety.Most of my frustration, and a huge chunk of lost time, came from these battles. What becomes unfortunate is a few poor design choices that led to my major complaints with this game. A game generally wants to give the player a challenge. How much of a challenge usually varies from game to game, but it is my belief that the more of a challenge you want to present a player with, the easier you must make it for the player to take the challenge.Dialogue skipping is not an option in Wayfarer of Time. Restarting at the beginning of a lost battle is not either. A game over means a return to the title screen along with loading, going back to the last saved point and a general repeat of the same dialogue and events over and over. Heck, let's just say that I am just no darn good at Strategy RPGs. The issue I have then is that Wayfarer of Time does not seem to be interested in holding my hand and easing me into the genre. A lack of options for even speeding up the text or mid-battle saving makes this clear. It made each one of my losses a personal matter of "Do I really want to keep playing?" Then we get into little details, things that start to stick out once I already have slight annoyances with the game. Petty things? Perhaps. I would not expect it to bother all gamers. However buying items in the store is a one at a time deal. Same with selling. Spell animations can be long and once I discovered I could skip them with a button press I found myself doing it all the time. So therein lies the rub. Had I not had those losses, I probably would have had more steam. If I didn't have to see one particular scene eight times, I don't think I would be writing these things. I probably wouldn't have even thought about the lack of dialogue skip.I believe there are many gamers who would both want and enjoy the kind of challenge that Growlanser offers. Which is why I do actually recommend this game, but not to everyone. Actually finishing those missions that I retried time and time again was immensely satisfying. Put the system down and fist pump type satisfying. The question is, how long will you stay with a game until you can achieve that?  In its core mechanics, Growlanser: Wayfarer of Time is a solid experience. The battle system is well designed. The spellstone system is both interesting and enticing. I would even go so far as to place the story in the "enjoyable camp" despite my earlier gripes. It is the little things - the pebbles that fill up the rest of the jar, if you will - that made the game not my personal cup of tea. If you are the type of gamer who is willing to sit down, give a game your all and accept the lumps that it is going to give you, Growlanser: Wayfarer of Time is a game worth your time. It's one I'd recommend to any Strategy RPG aficionado.[8.0 - An interesting spin on the Strategy RPG genre with a sprinkle of small but unfortunate design choices that could easily prevent some players from really enjoying it. Not for the easily intimidated.]
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A shiny, hard-as-nails tactical game built for the dedicated
The Growlanser series has had a slightly inconsistent release schedule in the West. The second, third, and fifth games made it out --while the first and sixth never did. Now the PlayStation Portable version of the fourth game...


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