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Video games

Mitsurugi photo
Mitsurugi

Slice & Slash as a Schoolgirl in Mitsurugi Kamui Hikae


Short Skirt and Sharp Sword
Feb 10
// Red Veron
I remember when Mitsurugi Hikae Kamui first made the rounds on the PC indie game circuit almost two years ago and seeing potential with the sword-wielding schoolgirl action game. Mitsurugi Hikae Kamui is now co...
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Japanator LIVE: Relive the Fourth Great Ninja War with Naruto Storm 4


Time to end this war once and for all.
Feb 08
// Christian Chiok
[Update: The stream is over, but you can watch it here, here and here.] Ever since Naruto Shippuden Ultimate Ninja Storm 4's announcement, which was a month after the manga ended, I've been heavily awaiting for...

Review: Atelier Escha & Logy Plus: Alchemists of the Dusk Sky

Feb 08 // Christian Chiok
Atelier Escha & Logy PlusDeveloper: GustPublisher: Koei TecmoRelease Date: 19 January 2016 (NA), January 20, 2016 (EU)MSRP: $39.99 You will be playing as both Escha and Logy, two alchemists recently hired as as members of their R&D division. While learning the ropes of their new occupation, Escha and Logy gather friends and companions as they unlock the secrets of the nearby ruins and help the citizens in a world that is still recovering from a catastrophic event known as "The Dusk". Depending on who you choose as your protagonist (Escha or Logy), the game will feature different story events and endings, but for the most part, some endings are the same no matter who the chosen protagonist is.  The timed assignments from the Atelier Rorona are back. While that may be a turn off already, though fortunately the timed assignments are a lot more tolerable in this entry. You have one main assignment that must be completed within about 4 months, along with a bunch of other optional assignments as well. While completing the optional assignments isn’t essential, you will be rewarded for completing them. While the timed assignments themselves don’t bother me, I really dislike that I can’t truly freely travel as moving around locations consumes days, so you really got to pay attention to your movements. Personally, the assignments being timed hasn’t hinder my ability to complete the game but I would like to be able to explore the game’s world freely. The battle system is quite an improvement from the other entries. This time around you will be able to control a party of six members—three on the front and three on the back. While the three characters on the front are your main party, you will be able to switch out between front and back at your leisure. Additionally, you will be able to link attacks among other party members and guard them whenever prompted. Using either one consumes from your Link gauge, however, so it is important to have some leftoever when you need to protect your party members from a strong opponent’s attack. With the two alchemy systems, the player can combine different items to create a new item(s). "Item Synthesis" is the area Escha is in charge of, while Logy can create armor and weapons through the "drilling/training” system. Both kinds of synthesis can be performed in the workshop, and it's possible to use both systems no matter who the protagonist chosen is. Atelier Escha & Logy didn’t really suffer from being ported into the PS Vita. Even while playing on the PS Vita TV, the game still is nice to look at. Granted, with the system’s resolution it is still noticeable that it’s a PS Vita game, but it’s something that you would have to pay close attention to since it's barely noticeable.  I would definitely recommend the game if you’re looking for your RPG fix on system, even if you already own the PlayStation 3 version. The new playable characters, enemies and story events are definitely worth it.  [This review is based on a digital retail copy of the game provided by the publisher.]
Atelier Escha Logy Plus photo
An Alchemical Adventure
With games like Persona 3, Persona 4, and many of the Hyperdimension Neptunia games coming to portable systems with new features and improvements, it has been a common practice among Japanese developers, and that includes Gus...

Naruto x Steam photo
Naruto x Steam

Now you can get your Naruto anime fix on Steam


Jouki no Jutsu!
Feb 07
// Josh Tolentino
Rejoice, ninja fans, because Naruto has come to Steam! And no, I'm not referring to the bountiful slate of Ultimate Ninja Storm releases, but instead to a raftload of honest-to-goodness anime, courtesy of ...

Japanator Live photo
Japanator Live

Japanator Live: Gurumin's Phantom Prince is about to get dethroned


Down with the heartless ruler
Feb 06
// Salvador GRodiles
[Update: The stream is over, but you can watch it here. Also, I started Recettear: An Item Shop's Tale, which can be watched here.] I may not have been able to bring peace to the Monster World last week, but I managed to fulf...
RIP photo
RIP

Rest in Peace: Creature Artist Yasushi Nirasawa passes away


An amazing monster designer has left us
Feb 05
// Salvador GRodiles
Sad news, everyone; it turns out that the great creature illustrator Yasushi Nirasawa passed away at the age of 52 on Feb. 2. According to his Twitter page, his passing was caused by kidney failure. In case this is your first...
Japanator Live photo
Japanator Live

Japanator LIVE: CyberSleuthing with Digimon!


Solving CyberMysteries!
Feb 05
// Red Veron
[Update: The stream is over, but you can watch it here and here.] An exciting new Digimon game is here and I can't wait to get a start on it! I'll be playing the latest release Digimon Story: CyberSleuth on the Play...
Japanator Live photo
Japanator Live

Japanator LIVE: Saving the Earth from alien attack!


Earth Defense Force
Feb 04
// Red Veron
I'm back, everyone! It's been ages since I've done a stream and tonight I'll taking on some aliens in the new release of Earth Defense Force 4.1: Shadow of New Despair. I've been hacking away at this game for a while now and...
MangaGamer Giveaway photo
MangaGamer Giveaway

Answer some questions and win a free game from MangaGamer


Show them your Kindred Spirit
Feb 02
// Josh Tolentino
Are you into lesbian ghosts?  If not, how about a free game? All you've got to do is tell MangaGamer, publisher of far more than lesbian ghost games, about what you want to see from them, by filling out this handy survey...
Japanator Live photo
Japanator Live

Japanator Live: Let's bring happiness to Gurumin's monsters


Monsters have feelings too
Jan 30
// Salvador GRodiles
[Update: The stream is over, but you can watch it here.] Most monsters may be immortal beings, but that doesn't mean that they're free of life's problems. With three major bosses down, it looks like I'm closer to rescuing all...
Ys VIII photo
Ys VIII

Get shipwrecked with some new Ys VIII screenshots


When sailing goes wrong
Jan 29
// Salvador GRodiles
It almost feels like it was yesterday when Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana's key details were revealed to the public, as my experience with the series has changed from then. Right now, I was able to go through a majority of the ca...
Nights of Azure photo
Nights of Azure

Grab your potions: Gust-Chan enters Nights of Azure's realm


Let's get mixin'
Jan 28
// Salvador GRodiles
It's been a really long time since I played a Gust game. The last one that I went through was Mana Khemia: Alchemist of Al-Revis, which restored my faith in their alchemy-themed titles after Atelier Iris: Eternal Mana left a...
Japanator Live photo
Japanator Live

Japanator Live: Pierce the heavens with Gurumin: A Monstrous Adventure


Watch out for the cute ones
Jan 23
// Salvador GRodiles
[Update: The stream is over, but you can watch it here.] Due to a majority vote during my final Ys-related stream, Gurumin: A Monstrous Adventure ended up taking the lead, with Recettear: An Item Shop's Tale and Ys ...
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...
Japanator Live photo
Japanator Live

Japanator Live: Ys VI: The Arc of Napishtim's last boss is about to get sunk


Farewell, island life
Jan 16
// Salvador GRodiles
[Update: The stream is over, but you can watch it here. Also, I started a Gurumin: A Monstrous Adventure, which can be watched here.] So I managed to get to Ys VI's final boss last week, but I felt that it would be better for...

Review: Gravity Rush Remastered

Jan 16 // Josh Tolentino
Gravity Rush Remastered (PS4)Developer: SCE Japan Studio and Bluepoint GamesPublisher: Sony Computer Entertainment Japan and AsiaReleased: December 10, 2015 (Japan/Asia), February 2, 2016 (NA/EU)MSRP: $29.99 [Note: This review is based on the English-language version of the game released in Asian regions on December 10, 2015. We expect that there will be few if any significant differences between this release and the upcoming North America/EU releases.] The most striking part of Bluepoint's work on Gravity Rush Remastered is on the technical side. The game runs at a smooth, uninterrupted 60 frames per second, at a native 1080p resolution. Higher-resolution textures sport additional detail and sharpening while improved lighting and antialiasing brings out the color in the game's unique cel-shaded aesthetic. No one's going to mistake Gravity Rush Remastered for a "native" PS4 game, but it does look much like the way I (fondly) remember the Vita original, which is high praise considering that I can compare the two side-by-side and see just how much work went into the porting job.  While Bluepoint has made some considerable improvements to Gravity Rush Remastered's graphical quality and performance, it was more conservative in terms of content, opting just to add the original's three downloadable content packs as standard, and a gallery mode to check out concept art, character designs, and unlocked cutscenes. This may dilute the game's value proposition somewhat for existing Gravity Rush owners on the fence about double-dipping since the game is identical in content and design to the Vita version. [embed]34700:5357:0[/embed] If there's anything about the game that qualifies as "bad news," it's rooted in the fact that the content itself is unchanged. As such, the criticisms raised by Jim Sterling in his review of the original do stand, to an extent. The game's mission design never really lives up to the sheer joy of its central gravity-shifting mechanic, and no amount of frame rate improvement or antialiasing can change that. Combat and control in stressful situations can still be a little squirrely, though the better "feel" of a DualShock 4 controller, combined with the extra awareness afforded by a larger screen, makes it easier to compensate. Even players who enjoyed the tilt- and touchscreen-based features of Gravity Rush are accommodated, thanks to the DualShock 4's own motion sensing and touch panel (though these can be turned off if desired). The narrative is also much more proficient at establishing atmosphere and personality than at answering the questions it raises, and by the end of the campaign it can feel like has read  an incomplete set of obscure foreign comic books, not knowing when or where the next issue will turn up. That said, I'm of the opinion that these rough edges are not nearly as serious in their impact as some may think, and to players in the right mindset, even add to Gravity Rush's considerable charm. The writing, dialog and story all emphasize Kat's character as a somewhat hapless amateur superhero (think "anime Ms. Marvel with a different power set") just getting started in her crime-fighting career, and she's exactly the kind of person who might whiff on landing a gravity kick and go flying into a pile of boxes. Just in the way that deliberately "slow" controls can improve the atmosphere of a horror game like Amnesia,occasional finickiness and flubs reinforce Gravity Rush Remastered's sense of character (albeit unintentionally). In the end, Bluepoint deserves credit for managing to bring out the best in an already-pretty-good game, allowing PS4 owners the chance to experience the charm of Gravity Rush unhampered by the limitations of its original platform.  [This review is based on a retail copy of the game acquired by the reviewer.] [embed]34700:5357:0[/embed]
Gravity Rush Remastered photo
Falling with style
Gravity Rush is and remains one of the coolest games on the PS Vita, even three years after its original 2012 release. Unfortunately for fans of cool games, the PS Vita didn't get into nearly as many hands as Sony was ho...

Nitroplus Blasterz photo
Nitroplus Blasterz

Shift into high gear with Nitroplus Blasterz's gameplay trailer


Gotta mash those buttons hard
Jan 15
// Salvador GRodiles
I may not have gotten the chance to dive into Nitroplus' visual novel games, but their stuff has always been something that I've been interested in checking out (such as Demonbane and Full Metal Daemon Muramasa). However, I ...

Review: The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel

Jan 15 // Salvador GRodiles
[embed]34698:5355:0[/embed] The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel (PlayStation 3 [Reviewed], PlayStation Vita)Developer: Nihon FalcomPublisher: XSEED Games (NA), NIS America (EU)Release Date: December 22, 2015 (NA), January 29, 2016 (EU)MSRP: $39.99 (Regular Edition), $49.99 (Lionheart Edition) Before the game’s main story begins, players are thrown into the middle of a mission you’re storming a military base that’s filled with robots, along with a few tidbits that hint at a major crisis in Erebonia. Then Trails of Cold Steel focuses on Rean Schwarzer's enrollment at the Thors Military Academy, which places him in the newly created class called Class VII. During his new academic life, he’ll have to bond with his classmates as they learn about the reasoning behind their group’s creation, along with encountering a few suspicious scenarios that are happening from behind the scenes. Throughout a good chunk of the adventure, Trails of Cold Steel’s story moves at a very slow place, as it takes a long time for the major events to kick in. Mind you, this isn’t a bad thing, as players are showered with many elements that expand a few great treats, such as the Erebonia region’s historical background, the culture of each location in the territory, and a ton of other stuff that gets people acquainted with the land. This is accomplished through the books that players read throughout the adventure, the characters that they interact with, and the quests (both main and optional) that they undertake. All in all, I was entertained by the title’s presentation since it throws each piece at the player in a steady manner. When it comes to Trails of Cold Steel progression, the whole formula felt similar to titles like Persona 4 and Mana Khemia: Alchemist of Al-Revis since the meat of the game focuses on Rean’s school life and his ordeals with his classmates. You spend most of your time attending classes, spending time with your Class VII buddies, and undertaking different tasks for the Student Council. Then the story takes the group on a field trip where they test their skills in different towns and large environments all over Erebonia. With the group consisting of nobles and commoners with their own problems, the developing chemistry between the party ended up being entertaining. For the most part, the formula doesn’t deviate from this path too much, but that doesn’t stop it from getting dull and/or repetitive as the events and narrative that lead up to each activity holds the entire package together nicely. As players start to see other segments that hint at the real conflicts in the story, the whole segment manages to feel rewarding during each of the game’s chapters. Whether it’s seeing the events unfold through mysterious characters that are up to something huge, political struggles between the top noble classes, or the main cast’s dilemmas, the game's story blends different styles of world-building elements into one tasty treat; thus pleasing those who were pulled in from the beginning. For players who got to play the Trails in the Sky saga, Trails of Cold Steel’s combat system brings back the turn-based benefits and the S-Break mechanic/the ability to use any character's ultimate move during any moment in battle. As an added feature, the game throws in a few mechanics that give off a nice Persona 4 vibe. With the introduction to Link Attacks, this lets players find new ways to exploit their opponent’s weaknesses. All in all, this new addition to the game acts as another feature for players to make sure that enemies don’t take advantage of the random battle bonuses (such as dealing critical damage or gaining life). Throw in the ability to switch party members like in Final Fantasy X, and we have ourselves a some good ways to turn each encounter into a fun time. Perhaps the best part out of the team attacks is that their power can be improved through methods outside of spending time with your classmates. Through minigames and using each character in your adventure, players can increase their link levels of their allies very easily— even if some of the social events can only be done on certain days. Best of all, this allows for other party members to support each other in combat. Thanks to these new features, I found myself coming up with various ways to mop the floor with my enemies. The game’s Arts feature, the Trails series’ term for magic-like abilities, feels like an improved version of Final Fantasy VII’s Materia system, which grants players endless possibilities on how they want to tailor their party; therefore resulting in a rewarding experience when a setup works well in battle. Trails of Cold Steel may not have the greatest looking graphics on the PS3 and Vita, but the simplicity and style behind its designs work well in giving the game a nice presentation that's good enough to pull people into Erebonia. At the same time, the Falcom’s 3D models manage to do great justice to Nakae’s lovely character designs, which is one of the benefits of its simple look. As a person who’s been digging the Ys series’ upbeat and fast-paced music, Trails of Cold Steel’s soundtrack lives up to Falcom’s great record of having some amazing tunes in their titles. For example, the boss theme track known as “Tie a Link of Arcus” is a harmonious fusion between electric guitar and violin music that always gets my blood pumping when I’m about to fight a tough adversary. The same can be said about the main battle song “A Glint of Cold Steel,” a tune that somehow creates a wonderful melody that mixes techno, rock, and piano music together. In terms of the area tunes, they all manage to suit the locations theme, such as the Nord Highland’s piece, "Land of Blue Skies," having some soothing panflute segments that feel you’re exploring the mountain regions of Peru. While we’re still on the topic of sound, the game’s English voice cast knocked it out of the ballpark. Sean Chiplock’s (Magi’s Cassim, Danganronpa’s Ishimaru) performance as Rean worked well in conveying the guy's various reaction in his quest to find his place in life, along with his fumbles during the beginning of the story and his serious moments. Also, Carrie Keranen (KILL la KILL’s Satsuki, Madoka Magica’s Mami) was able to convey the Class VII Instructor Sara’s laid-back personality and drunk side wonderfully; thus making her one of my favorite teachers in an RPG. Overall, XSEED Games did a great job in ensuring that each person gave it their all with their roles in Trails of Cold Steel. At the same time, it helped show how well their localization work on the game blended with each performance. In terms of downsides, there were a couple minor issues present in the game. One has to do with two Quartz items called Dragon Vein and Septium Vein. The former’s description says that it’s supposed to regenerate the user’s HP outside of battle; however, it only restores their EP, the points used to cast Arts. As for the latter, it says that it’s supposed to grant players the healing skill Teara, but the ability isn’t available when someone equips in on one of their party members. Nonetheless, this error is very small, as both items are still useful. Most importantly, it doesn’t change the fact that Trails of Cold Steel’s English script flowed nicely throughout the story, which shows how dedicated the team was at making sure that the lines hit us in a positive way. Also, it was neat to see that one of the academy’s students speaks in a Scottish accent. Another problem includes a few instances where Trails of Cold Steel would lag during panning scenes or when the player is navigating through the Orbment section of the menu in Trista, the game's main town. In the end, these problems don’t happen frequently to the point where the whole adventure goes through tons of slowdowns. When they happen, they are very brief, since a majority of the game’s segments ran smoothly. In the end, my time with Trails of Cold Steel was like a great relationship where the problems didn’t get in the way of the strong bond. The title’s slow narrative and world-building aspects benefit the adventure more than hurting it, as it prepares players for the major events in its sequel. While there were a few references to the previous Trails titles, newcomers to the series aren’t exposed to the who, what, and why behind these events, since they’re more of an extra tasty topping to the yummy Teriyaki Chicken Pizza that’s right in front of us. Just like any tasty delight, the reward for savoring every moment makes this game a nice course that'll satisfy anyone who loves to consume RPGs. [This review is based on a digital retail copy of the game provided by the publisher.] [embed]34698:5355:0[/embed]
Trails of Cold Steel photo
It's time to hit the books!
It’s hard to believe that we live in a world where The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky SC and Trails of Cold Steel went West during the same year. This outcome has made me believe that Hell has frozen over, as this ...

Ghost Dive: Your essential primer to Ghost in the Shell

Jan 14 // Josh Tolentino
The Basics Ghost in the Shell is best known as a 1995 film directed by Mamoru Oshii, but it originated in 1989, as a manga written and illustrated by Masamune Shirow. Since then, several more sequels and adaptations have been produced, including several TV series, manga, and an in-development Hollywood film starring Scarlett Johanssen.  Though never lacking for action-packed gunfights and high-tech mecha designs - particularly the iconic spider-legged "think tanks" - Ghost in the Shell distinguished itself from its "Japanimation" peers by having a philosophical edge. Storylines in Ghost in the Shell frequently tackled larger issues of transhumanism, the nature of consciousness and perception, and the effects of networks and the internet on human society. Even today some of the arguments and dilemmas raised seem timely.  Ghost in the Shell's various works can be organized into four broad categories, corresponding to the original manga by Masamune Shirow, the feature-film adaptations directed by Mamoru Oshii, the Standalone Complex TV series, and the Arise movie series. While not related directly, all Ghost in the Shell works share common themes, and star "Major" Motoko Kusanagi, team leader of Public Security Section 9, a black-ops unit of the near-future Japanese government. The Major and her peers work in a world where cyborg technology is common and "cyberbrains" enable people to access the internet at will, as well as hack everything from senses to memories, giving rise to all manner of new challenges. The Essentials Ghost in the Shell (1995 film) If you're only going to watch one Ghost in the Shell-titled work in your lifetime, you may as well make it the one that made the name popular in the first place. Following the Major and her partner Batou as they solve the case of a mysterious hacker known as the Puppet Master, the film replaced the verbose banter and cheery pin-up character designs with stark visuals and a more realistic style to suit a borderline-dour mood. Director Mamoru Oshii's emphasis on Ghost in the Shell's more philosophical aspects helped solidify anime's reputation as a more diverse, adult medium than the traditionally child-targeted cartoons markets outside Japan.   The Ghost in the Shell (1989 Manga) There's nothing quite like source material, and Masamune Shirow's original manga certainly fits the bill. While its art style and approach to characterization definitely dates it as a product of its era, it's hard not to be impressed by Shirow's attention to detail, conveyed in part through the use of copious footnotes explaining everything from the state of the world to the reason why a gun's barrel is a certain length. Most of the cases, themes, characters and subplots used in future adaptations would also show up in one form or another throughout the series. Ghost in the Shell: Standalone Complex (2002 TV series) For many fans, the 1995 film and original manga exist on opposite ends of the tonal spectrum, with the manga being densely constructed and quickly paced, and the film given over to a more contemplative mode. Standalone Complex, produced by famed studio Production I.G. and directed by Mamoru Oshii's protege, Kenji Kamiyama, took a shot at blending the two approaches, and largely succeeded at it. The result is arguably the best representative yet of what makes Ghost in the Shell unique, portraying the Major and Section 9's adventures as an extended cop show of shorts, and leveraging multiple cases to address a wide swath of themes, including the titular "Standalone Complex". The show also took a more political bent, examining philosophical issues from a pragmatic, grounded position, and developed further plots through its second season, titled Standalone Complex 2nd Gig, and the feature-length Solid State Society.  Standalone Complex also serves as the inspiration for the First Assault Online shooter, with abilities and game systems inspired by the Major and Section 9's feats in the series. Further Study Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence (2004 film) A challenging, divisive entry into the canon, Innocence is regarded by some of its critics as the sequel nobody asked for. Set years after the 1995 film, the story doesn't even follow the Major, but her partner Batou and the then-rookie Togusa as they solve a mysterious case involving rampaging androids and human trafficking. More than the lavish, almost surreal visuals and seemingly inconsequential plotting, some fans disliked the even heavier emphasis on philosophy, with long stretches where characters seemed to interact only by quoting philosophers at each other. At the same time, the film is rich in ideas, if not coherence, and serves as interesting viewing, even if it departs from expectations.  Ghost in the Shell 2: Manmachine Interface (2001 manga) If Innocence tried to tell a Ghost in the Shell story without its ostensible protagonist, the Major, Manmachine Interface tries to tell a Ghost in the Shell story using only the Major. Set five years following the events of the original manga, the story of Manmachine Interface both elevates the stakes of those events, while descending into near-incoherence in terms of storytelling. While it's worth reading for fans of the original manga, it also stands out as the closest Ghost in the Shell comes to "overdoing it".   Ghost in the Shell: Arise (2014 film series) and Ghost in the Shell: The New Movie (2015 film) An attempt to refresh Ghost in the Shell for newer, younger audiences, Arise functions as a spiritual prequel of sorts, focusing on the Major as she goes about forming Section 9 itself, and exploring her personal life in greater detail than was typically alluded to in previous works. Between a younger-looking character design, new involvement from Mardock Scramble author Tow Ubukata, and an all-new voice cast, Arise tried to signal newness at every turn, but struggled to differentiate itself in the face of Standalone Complex, failing to reach the highs of that series despite being enjoyable. The Ghost in the Shell (Manga)
Ghost in the Shell Primer photo
Hack some knowledge into your cyberbrain
It's been more than two decades since the original Ghost in the Shell film came out, and the name still resonates as one of the most well-known examples of Japanese anime around. At the same time, it's been quite a while...

Tekken IRL photo
Tekken IRL

Watch this martial artist bring Tekken's Kazuya to life


Eat it, Evil Ryu!
Jan 10
// Josh Tolentino
Most fighting games may not have an especially strong connection to real-life martial arts, but that doesn't mean they're completely unrealistic or impossible to "do" in meatspace. The trick is in finding the right game to r...
Japanator Live photo
Japanator Live

Japanator Live: Did Sal break Ys VI: The Arc of Napishtim?


Let's fix this thing!
Jan 09
// Salvador GRodiles
[Update: The stream is over, but you can watch it here.] Ladies and gentlemen. There's a small chance that I went against Ys VI: The Arc of Napishtim's natural order. Long story short, I ended up clearing a certain dunge...
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...
Cosplay photo
Cosplay

Beat Down Boogie's newest video gives the spotlight to the kids


Prepare to go 'daw' a lot
Jan 06
// Salvador GRodiles
There's something wonderful about getting the chance to share a hobby with one's own kid. It acts as a way for the parents to bond with their children in a whole new way, and their teamwork gives off a warming aura to those ...

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

Jan 03 // Red Veron
Honorable Mentions: Dragon Quest Heroes, Oneechanbara Z2, Hatoful Boyfriend, Steins;Gate, Bloodbourne, Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Cold Steel, Earth Defense Force 2 Portable.   Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain I easily spent 30 hours in this game and I have only tapped into a quarter of the game's content (if not less). This game, considered now the swan song for the now defunct (but born anew) famed Kojima Productions over at game publisher/developer Konami in the long running Metal Gear franchise. This game, even in the era of first person shooters where you can run on the sides of buildings, can make hiding in the cardboard boxes so much fun. I absolutely loved the fine tuned mechanics such hiding and shooting. The new open world sandbox just keeps it so fresh and each encounter can be new every time adding to the tension you just don't get in other games. There is just so much in this game that you wouldn't think would be there and some even bordering into the absurd.   SuperBeat Xonic From the developers of DJMAX, this new game aims to satiate those rhythm music game fans that loved the DJMAX series and/or just loved the genre. This one has a great selection of music and great gameplay with mechanics that compliment both touch and physical controls well. A great start for the new studio, this new title has the great potential and I can't wait to see the next game in the series.   Yakuza 5 I've only barely scratched the surface of this game, and I am already loving it. This game is basically a Japanese RPG set in modern day Japan with a beat-em-up combat system along with a cheesy, over-the-top dramatic crime drama. I am told by many that this is one of those games that let you experience Japan by walking through the streets and going into places such as restaurants that capture the atmosphere and ambiance really well.   Once Piece: Pirate Warriors 3 I am not a One Piece fan at all but being a Warriors fan, I loved this entry. This game has more improvements over the past two games and runs amazingly. I thoroughly enjoyed this beat-em-up formula set in the One Piece universe that suits it very well. More characters and following the actual manga story, this new entry impresses a lot with also its great stylish combat and overall fun gameplay.   Earth Defense Force 4.1: The Shadow of New Despair A great update to the latest entry of the Earth Defense Force series, this one takes advantage of the new hardware muscle of the PS4 for better performance and added content with some tweaks along the way. Those who got put off by how the game ran on older consoles should give this new one a try, it works so much better and makes it a much more enjoyable game. They added more missions and even a giant robot sequence which regrettably brings the game to its knees in performance.
Japanator Awards 2015 photo
Games from the Far East
Growing up, most (if not exclusively) of the video games I loved came from Japan, but in the previous generation of consoles with the XBox 360 and PS3 took most Japanese game developers quite some time to acclimate to changin...

Touhou photo
Touhou

Here's a nice extra helping of the Memories of Phantasm doujin anime series


The new year is off to an amazing start!
Jan 03
// Salvador GRodiles
As the old year goes away, the gang at Manpukujinja have uploaded the sixth episode of their Touhou doujin anime, Fantasy Kaleidoscope ~The Memories of Phantasm~, on their YouTube page. Just like the previous episode, t...
Japanator Live photo
Japanator Live

Japanator Live: It's time to enjoy Ys VI: The Arc of Napishtim's island life


Grab your coconut drinks, everyone!
Jan 02
// Salvador GRodiles
[Update: The stream is over, but you can watch it here.] Due to some circumstances last time, it turns out that my adventure through Ys VI: The Arc of Napishtim has started sooner than expected. With this game being the first...

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...

Japanator Live photo
Japanator Live

Japanator Live: Let's crush Ys: The Oath in Felghana's last boss


It's time for a cold serving of revenge
Dec 26
// Salvador GRodiles
[Update: The stream is over, but you can watch it here. The Gigantic Army stream can be watched here, and the beginning of my Ys VI: The Arc of Napishtim stream can be seen here. Don't you hate it when you have to leave an im...
Kamen Rider Ghost photo
Kamen Rider Ghost

Kamen Rider Ghost's chiptune opening will brighten your soul


Pixels Open!
Dec 25
// Salvador GRodiles
If there's one thing that I love about watching Kamen Rider Ghost each week, it's the show's opening by the ouendan group Kishidan. On a joyous Christmas day, Megaane has used his Retro Eyecon to turn "We Think, Therefore We...
Jump Festa Cosplay photo
Naruto, One Piece, and more besides
Jump Festa, Shueisha's yearly celebration of all things Naruto, Bleach, One Piece, and whatever else it publishes, happened last week, and our pal Lindo Korchi was on hand to observe the proceedings. You can ch...

Review: Sakura Santa

Dec 24 // Josh Tolentino
Sakura Santa (PC)Developer: Winged CloudPublisher: MangaGamerMSRP: $9.95Released: December 21, 2015 The aforementioned solitary souls seem to be situated smack in the target-audience sweet spot for Sakura Santa's story, as it revolves around Koji, an otherwise unremarkable college student whose main claim to fame is that he'll be lonely on Christmas eve. Yeah, that's really about it. Sakura Santa takes advantage of the fact that Christmas in Japan is more of a romantic holiday than a familial one, and kicks off with Koji visiting a nearby shrine to wish for someone to spend Christmas with. His wish is granted in short order, by fateful run-ins with Itsumi, an old childhood friend, Akina, a local fox spirit, and none other than one of Santa Claus' daughters. Then the only question is: Who shall he spend the time with? Now, before anyone gets any ideas, it's worth pointing out that Sakura Santa is not an adult game. The game's Steam store page takes care to stress that it contains "no sexual content." And they're technically right. There is no nudity, nor are there sex scenes in the whole of the game's two to four-hour runtime. There is, however, plenty to ogle in the form of the three girls' character designs and the event scenes from the four available storylines. The art does stand out as the main draw, given that Sakura Santa has little else going for it. It's shorter and possessed of a much more bland premise than Sakura Spirits, and features a smaller cast to boot. Akina and Santa's stories quickly fall into too-similar "magical/alien girlfriend" templates familiar to anime, and though Itsumi's plotline also veers on the generic side, the story of trying to connect with an old flame after years growing apart is, at least, more inherently engaging. Then again, the other girl has fox ears and a short kimono. A dilemma, to be sure. Ultimately, Sakura Santa fails to stand out from the growing crowd of visual novels on Steam and elsewhere, except in the single respect of being a Christmas-themed story, coming out just in time for the holiday. Unfortunately, one would probably have to be as lonely as the game's protagonist to find a compelling reason to play. Batman: Arkham Knight: Season of Infamy (PC, PS4, Xbox One [reviewed])Developer: WB Games MontrealPublisher: Warner Bros.MSRP: $9.99Released: December 22, 2015 Sakura Santa (PC)Developer: Winged CloudPublisher: MangaGamerMSRP: $9.95Released: December 21, 2015 The aforementioned solitary souls seem to be situated smack in the target-audience sweet spot for Sakura Santa's story, as it revolves around Koji, an otherwise unremarkable college student whose main claim to fame is that he'll be lonely on Christmas eve. Yeah, that's really about it. Sakura Santa takes advantage of the fact that Christmas in Japan is more of a romantic holiday than a familial one, and kicks off with Koji visiting a nearby shrine to wish for someone to spend Christmas with. His wish is granted in short order, by fateful run-ins with Itsumi, an old childhood friend, Akina, a local fox spirit, and none other than one of Santa Claus' daughters. Then the only question is: Who shall he spend the time with? Now, before anyone gets any ideas, it's worth pointing out that Sakura Santa is not an adult game. The game's Steam store page takes care to stress that it contains "no sexual content." And they're technically right. There is no nudity, nor are there sex scenes in the whole of the game's two- to four-hour runtime. There is, however, plenty to ogle in the form of the three girls' character designs and the event scenes from the four available storylines. The art does stand out as the main draw, given that Sakura Santa has little else going for it. It's shorter and possessed of a much more bland premise than Sakura Spirits, and features a smaller cast to boot. Akina and Santa's stories quickly fall into too-similar "magical/alien girlfriend" templates familiar to anime, and though Itsumi's plotline also veers on the generic side, the story of trying to connect with an old flame after years growing apart is, at least, more inherently engaging. Then again, the other girl has fox ears and a short kimono. A dilemma, to be sure. Ultimately, Sakura Santa fails to stand out from the growing crowd of visual novels on Steam and elsewhere, except in the single respect of being a Christmas-themed story, coming out just in time for the holiday. Unfortunately, one would probably have to be as lonely as the game's protagonist to find a compelling reason to play. Batman: Arkham Knight: Season of Infamy (PC, PS4, Xbox One [reviewed])Developer: WB Games MontrealPublisher: Warner Bros.MSRP: $9.99Released: December 22, 2015
Sakura Santa photo
A Christmas Miracle for the Solo Set
[This review was originally posted on Destructoid.] When it comes to holiday traditions, Christmas-themed video games aren't as common as Christmas movies or television specials. For whatever reason, be it development times, ...

Yo-Kai Watch photo
Yo-Kai Watch

Impressions: Yo-kai Watch Manga Vol. 1 and 2


A Spooky Adventure
Dec 24
// Christian Chiok
Ever since the first game released in Japan back in 2013 for the Nintendo 3DS, the Yo-kai Watch franchise has captivated the entire Japanese population. While the manga was published a few months before the game officially re...

Long Lines and Good Times: A Visit to Jump Festa 2016

Dec 23 // Josh Tolentino
Long Lines and Good Times: A Visit to Jump Festa 2016 As my alarm clock goes off at 6:00 am, I'm abruptly taken away from the dream I was in; attending one of the biggest anime expositions in Japan: Jump Festa. “Today's the first day of Jump Festa! I need to grab the train to Chiba now or I'll be late!” I exclaimed. And so, my journey began. But before I continue, I'll briefly go over what Jump Festa is. Since 1999, Shueisha, the creators of the famous Jump magazines, sponsored the event Jump Festa to focus solely on anime, manga, games, merchandise, and alike. In addition, many manga artists also attend the event and have panels along with Q&A sessions. It's difficult to find data revealing the number of attendees for each year of Jump Festa, however, the latest one reported by Mantan-web revealed attendance figures of 145,000 for 2014 – 11,000 more than in 2013 and a bigger attendance size than AnimeJapan. Assuming the trend continued this year, this year's event could have up to 167,000 fans through the doors. Jump Festa having an admission price of just $0.00 (yes, free), definitely adds to those rapid growth prospects. Now that the introduction is out of the way, we can now move on to Jump Festa 2016. As I sprint out the kitchen with a piece of toast in my mouth (I'm in Japan; I had to!), I catch the JR Yamanote Line at Ueno Station to Tokyo Station, then transfer to the JR Keiyo Line to Kaihin-Makuhari Station. After a two-hour journey (which includes the delays I had on the train), I finally arrive at Makuhari Messe, the venue where Jump Festa has been held for over a decade. [embed]34622:5287:0[/embed] “You've got to be kidding me.” I thought as I looked at the excessive lines (yes, that's plural!) leading to the entrance. A little over an hour later, and somehow being able to guide myself towards the front, I was finally in – but then, there were more lines, and it didn't look like an exhibition hall at all. That's when I realized I actually entered the Jump Festa sale zone, where they sell original goods and limited edition items. The area was huge and attendees were separated by groups. Each group was set for a specific anime or manga series, which included the limited edition goods. However, those groups also had lines. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to get a glimpse of them due to the overwhelming amount of people. Interestingly enough, none of the items were on display, instead, attendees were given a piece of paper which noted what was offered (photos of the items weren't on the page; some booths in the exhibition hall displayed photos towards the front or back of the line, though). I attempted to tell staff that I simply wanted to see what they offered, and snap a few photos, but they weren't keen on such. Plus, how would I be able to shoot photos? Unless they were going to bring me to where they actually had the inventory. That wasn't going to happen. Nonetheless, I ventured to find the exhibition hall. Thankfully, I saw Naruto Uzumaki & Sakura Haruno roaming the convention; they were kind enough to lead me to the exhibit hall, where we parted off with a “Dattebayo!” Due to the overwhelming volume of people who lined up for special events, panels, and screenings, I wasn't able to attend any of them. However, it wasn't a problem. My favorite part about any convention is the exhibit hall, I believe it's the heart of it all and either makes or breaks the experience. Most of my time was spent in the exhibit hall, booths, and cosplay corners. Attending an anime convention that's 100% Japanese, 0% English is quite the challenge. But it's the challenge that makes the overall experience an adventure. Jump Festa held an atmosphere that no other convention in America, at least, the ones I've been to, have been able to achieve. As you walk pass the Jump gallery and witness the artworks of recognizable manga artists, such as Tite Kubo, Kazue Kato, and Shun Saek, it becomes surreal. As you look around, you hear the Japanese language flowing in every direction, every piece of content written in hiragana and kanji; you realize that the amazing cosplay you've always thought were semi-fake on Facebook are actually legit as you witness great cosplayers roam the halls. At some point, it finally hits you that you're at the heart of all the original stories, artworks, manga and anime that has captivated you from an early age – that's a special experience and not one that can easily be replicated. Wandering around, I found myself in a new area and was thrilled. “Is that Kakashi-sensei? No way, is that Super Saiyan 4 Goku?! I must've entered the anime zone!” I thought, in excitement. To be frank, it was the dedicated cosplay area. While it's true that I've been to quite a few conventions and am used to cosplay, I'm not exactly accustomed to seeing a lot of high-quality ones, nonetheless gathered in one area. The cosplayers did not only resemble the characters but captured their personality as well. For those who didn't exactly resemble said character, it was just as good because the detail put into their cosplay was clearly shown. The highlight my time there - and my personal favorite cosplay -moment was witnessing a senior in a wheelchair. I noticed that he had some sort of outfit and questioned if he was cosplaying. As I approached him, it was clear that he was cosplaying Akainu of One Piece. It was a special thing to see. Even though he's a senior and must use a wheelchair to get around, he didn't allow his circumstances to limit him from having fun, enjoying life, and preparing his cosplay outfit as the days led to Jump Festa. “Sumimasen. Shashin desu ka?” (Excuse me. May I take a photo?) I asked. The young man who was helping the senior looked surprised, as if no one had asked to take a photo. The senior smiled and nodded his head. As he slowly got up from his wheelchair, he adjusted his cosplay jacket and looked straight into the camera, full of character. After the shot, he was all smiles. He definitely has my respect; it's my favorite shot of the entire event because there's a story behind it. As I walked away, it became clear that it wasn't always about taking photos of the “best cosplayers”, but creating memories of the event and showing all the cosplayers who participated that they're appreciated, just as the senior. It can make all the difference. Just a few of those "unrecognized" cosplayers are in the gallery below. One of the main focus points for Jump Festa was the 20th anniversary of Yu-Gi-Oh! along with the movie, Yu-Gi-Oh!: The Dark Side of Dimensions. But it wasn't just a promotion, it was actually fun. Booths were set up for attendees to have their photo taken and be placed on a Yu-Gi-Oh! card with either Yugi or Kaiba (free of charge). Some areas were dedicated to one-on-one dueling while others pit two teams of five against each other using huge cards as props (similar to the giant chess set). Attendees were also able to get their picture taken, sign their names, and have it displayed in the theatrical version of the movie's ending credits. Large showcases of cards were up for display, along with a Blue-Eyes White Dragon card cosplay. Another cool setup was the special play area for attendees, which included a mini trampoline, a slide, and small ball pool. Many of the booths interacted with the attendees and provided activities, such as Bandai Namco, Square Enix, and PlayStation that let attendees play demo versions of upcoming games, including One Piece: Burning Blood, Dragon Quest Builders, and Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 4. Toho animation held an informative booth, explaining the artwork and how they process the animation. Bandai also held a small musical performance. And, of course, a dedicated area was made for all things Street Fighter. However, I must admit, I was surprised by the lack of non-Japanese fans at Jump Festa. The majority were Japanese, with hardly any westerners in sight. Given that Jump Festa is also a free event, I was baffled. Perhaps it's because Jump Festa isn't really promoted overseas, or at least not to the English-speaking audience. Last year when I was in Japan around the same time, I didn't even hear about Jump Festa. I only discovered it because I was actively searching for anime conventions in Japan for the winter season. I appreciated the fact that throughout the event, the same atmosphere, energy, and hype was still felt, all the way to its final hours. As the event came to a close, I smiled, filled with joy, and looked through the photos I took to recapture the moments. As I took the JR back to Ueno Station, I saw dozens of people on the train with Jump bags. Even though we all didn't know each other, it was our common interest in Jump that brought us together to have a great experience, and that was special. Despite the long lines and lack of English, Jump Festa was an incredible event. They really delivered; the exhibition hall and cosplay area was definitely the heart of the event and were great. The atmosphere, energy, appreciation, and the vibe of being in the home country of Japanese pop culture is a unique experience that cannot be experienced elsewhere. If you ever have the chance to make it to Jump Festa, I'd definitely recommend it. If not, see if you can make it to AnimeJapan, which is held annually in March at Tokyo Big Sight. I'm sure it'll be great as well. What are your thoughts on Jump Festa? Did you attend this year's show, or would you like to see it come to your country? Let us know in the comments, along with your own thoughts on Shonen Jump. For my part, even after the event I found myself learning new things: A number of cosplayers there fans of Tokyo Ghoul, and now I've just got to check out what they were jazzed up enough to dress up for! P.S.: Finally, if there are any Japanator readers in the Tokyo area who's interested in some Jump Festa merchandise, let us know, as well. I came upon quite a bit of swag that I'd love to give away, including manga, stickers, cards, buttons, and other promotional items. Here's a photo of it all:   [embed]34622:5287:0[/embed]
Jump Festa 2015 photo
An event for the best of Shonen Jump
Editor's Note: If you're in Japan and a manga fan, Christmas comes early each year, as Jump Festa, Shueisha's celebration of all things Shonen JUMP, takes place shortly before the big day, promoting manga, anime, video g...

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...
Japanator Live photo
Japanator Live

Japanator Live: Embrace the cold with Ys: The Oath in Felghana


Don't forget to bring your winter coats
Dec 20
// Salvador GRodiles
[Update: The stream is over, but you can watch it here.] If there's one thing that's always consistent in many games, it's that their ice worlds tend to be filled with slippery floors. Because of these designs, this makes it ...
Kingdom Hearts III photo
Kingdom Hearts III

Kingdom Hearts III and HD 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue Trailer at Jump Fiesta


There's a traitor somewhere
Dec 20
// Anthony Redgrave
Over the past weekend anime, gaming and manga fans have been attending Jump Fiesta in Tokyo. One of the new trailers released over the weekend was for the upcoming games Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue and the l...
Trails of Cold Steel photo
Trails of Cold Steel

Aw, yeah: Trails of Cold Steel hits us with its best S-Craft attacks


Let's have a sophisticated fight
Dec 19
// Salvador GRodiles
I may not be too far in The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky but its prologue chapter has already made me a fan of the game already. Since Estelle and Joshua's great chemistry pulled me in, I guess you could say that...
Death Battle photo
Death Battle

Pokemon and Digimon go head to head in Death Battle's season finale


Who are the champions?
Dec 17
// Salvador GRodiles
I may be a fan of the Pokémon game series, but I've always been a loved Digimon more-- at least in anime form. When Ben Singer/Wiz and Chad James/Boomstick announced that they were going to pit Red's Charizard against...
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...
Ys VIII photo
Ys VIII

Land Ho: Ys VIII sails to Japan next Summer


Expect to get shipwrecked again
Dec 16
// Salvador GRodiles
For a long time, the two main colors used in Christmas are red and green. Of course, white happens to be another one that's used during this occasion. Speaking of holiday colors, it turns out that Falcom has revealed new deta...

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