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Trails of Cold Steel II photo
Trails of Cold Steel II

Grab your ARCUS units: Trails of Cold Steel II is now out

The wait is finally over
Sep 06
// Salvador G Rodiles
Listen up, everyone: It's time for us to make the best omelet and/or egg soup in the world, because today marks The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel II's arrival in North America for the PS3 and Vita. I guess this means...
Touhou photo

Touhou: Scarlet Curiosity will obliterate your boredom on Sept. 20

Immortality is overrated
Sep 02
// Salvador G Rodiles
Well, folks. It looks like we're in for a September that's filled with lots of colorful bullets since Touhou: Scarlet Curiosity, the Touhou fan game by Ankake Spa that gives off a Ys: The Oath in Felghana and Ys Origins ...
Trails of Cold Steel II photo
Trails of Cold Steel II

Huzzah: Trails of Cold Steel II hits North America next month

It's time to go back to Erebonia
Aug 16
// Salvador G Rodiles
To this day, I'm still amazed that we live in a world where the West is almost caught up with The Legend of Heroes Trails series since XSEED and Carpe Fulgur went through some huge ordeals to localize the franchise. Perh...
Little King's Story photo
Little King's Story

Gather your troops: Little King's Story conquers PC this August

A new kingdom is about to get formed
Jul 30
// Salvador G Rodiles
For the longest time, the original Little King's Story was a game that caught my interest; however, for some unknown reason, I never got around to picking it up. Luckily, it turns out the that game's HD PC release hits Steam,...

Review: Senran Kagura Shinovi Versus

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

Senran Kagura  photo
Senran Kagura

Aw, yeah: Senran Kagura: Shinovi Versus hits PC next month

It's about to get steamy around here
May 25
// Salvador G Rodiles
To this day, the Senran Kagura series remains on my list of games to play, since the franchise's over-the-top beat 'em up combat system (both 2.5 and 3D) and fun cast have caught my interest. Speaking of which, XSEED has...

Review: Corpse Party (PC)

May 09 // Salvador G Rodiles
Corpse Party (PC)Developer: Team GrisGrisPublisher: XSEED GamesRelease Date: March 8, 2008 (JP), April 25, 2016 (NA)MSRP: $14.99 From the beginning, Corpse Party sets the scene for an amusing horror story as it separates the main cast after they were transported to a spiritual plane when they failed to properly recite the charm known as “Sachiko Ever After.” This places the player in an intense situation while they try to escape from Heavenly Host Elementary school, a place that was thought to have been demolished; thus emulating that feeling that comes from being in a scary situation without any means to overcome spirits that are after your life. For the most part, Corpse Party’s scary moments aren’t the type of scenes that’ll make people jump out of their seats or scream loudly. Instead, they’re the kind of segments that are meant to shock players through the use of creepy descriptions and sound effects that complement the segments where someone gets killed in a messed up way, such as seeing a girl turn into nothing but blood and guts after being slammed into a wall at full force by two ghost kids. [embed]35006:5594:0[/embed] Even though most of these segments are shown through sprite animations or text on a completely black screen, the impact from watching your character or one of their friends suffer badly remains intact. To an extent, they give off a similar feeling to seeing one of When They Cry: Higurashi’s violent moments, which was the vibe that I was getting through each of the game’s five chapters. With each stage being around 20 minutes to an hour long during one's first playthrough, people won't have to worry about the scary moments overstaying their welcome. One thing the elevates these scenes, it’s the voice cast’s performances, as each person brings out the true potential of the characters that are experiencing fear or going insane from being in a place that’s hard to escape from. This stood out more during the game’s Wrong Ends, since they act as the “Game Over” sequences for the game and a good majority of them involve various members of the cast suffering an unfortunate fate. In some cases, it made up for the lack of visuals in the scenes with black screens. While Corpse Party’s spirits and messed up situations makes it sound like a really intense title, the game mostly has the players searching for ways to progress through the school without having to worry about facing death, such as finding special items or activating switches scattered across the school. However, this doesn’t mean that thing are safe, as the game has a few segments where players run from ghosts and have to avoid certain traps that could result in absolute death. Since none of the students have any items to defend themselves with, Corpse Party ensures that its players are in a state of vulnerability throughout the entire game. The only thing that can help folks overcome each challenge is to for them to be aware of their surroundings while they search for the items and clues to progress further, as it’s a requirement to overcome each chapter. In some situations, one wrong move could cause specific characters to go mad and do something foolish. Overall, this setup works nicely in making the players feel insecure at times, which captures the essence of many horror films— especially with the fact that the game is riddled with a ton of different Wrong Ends. Aside from school’s intense atmosphere, Corpse Party also involves the players trying to figure out the mystery behind the place they’re trapped in. This was one of the most intriguing parts of the title, as it delves into the twisted tales that lead to the Heavenly Host Elementary School being torn down, along with learning about the deceased students who were sent to the spiritual plane before you. Sure, some of the events were messed up, but they’re all still rewarding since they play a big role in giving the surviving students the ammunition to overcome the source of the hauntings. Despite the game’s creepy nature, the title’s characters are depicted in a simplistic style that gives them a cute look. All in all, Corpse Party’s designs shine well when the cast is placed in various dire situations, as certain characters look extremely menacing when they snap or appear emotionally broken when they watch someone die. While the PSP version’s character designs have a nicer updated look, the 2008 PC release’s portraits still have a special charm to them since their expressions still complement the game’s horror themes. In terms of the title’s presentation, the overhead view format with 2D sprites worked well as a callback to the original Corpse Party being a game that was made in RPG Maker. Other than the game’s five main chapters, the 2008 PC version of Corpse Party features a few extra chapters that expand on a few elements present in the game. While the game’s PSP release has more segments than its predecessor, the main thing that sets the latter apart is the last chapter, which is a retelling of the “Tooth” story from Corpse Party: Book of Shadows. While I didn’t play Book of Shadows, the scenario is still friendly to newcomers, as it expanded on a supporting character that was insane in the main story, along with a specific character that the player can only encounter in one of the game’s Wrong Ends. Compare to the other three bonus stages, "Tooth's" length was close to the game’s first chapter; thus making it a neat addition to this release. On the music side of things, Corpse Party's soundtrack sets the mood for its scary tone, as players are listening to songs that give off an eerie and unsettling vibe. A few of the tunes go well with the Halloween season and some of them play off on that feeling that someone dangerous is about to sneak up on you. With each chapter featuring different types of creepy tracks, players are treated to some variety while they try to survive. If anything, this feature's appearance is likely thanks to game launching as an episodic release in Japan. Corpse Party’s 2008 PC release may sport less extra content that its PSP version, but the game makes it up to people with its ability to let them fast forward the title's text, along with its array of extra Wrong Ends and other goodies, such as its take on the “Tooth” chapter and the title having different voice actors. Thanks to these features, this makes Corpse Party worth it for those who want to uncover Heavenly Host Elementary’s darkest secrets on their computer; thus teaching them the important lesson of not messing with charms that are connected to the supernatural. [This review is based on a Steam copy of the game provided by the publisher.]
Corpse Party photo
Sachiko we beg of you!
For the longest time, I never got the chance to get into the horror genre of video games. It’s not that I’m afraid of playing a scary title; it’s that most of the major ones came out on the original Playstat...

Corpse Party photo
Corpse Party

Let's bring out the punch: Corpse Party is out on PC

Watch out for those Wrong Ends
Apr 26
// Salvador G Rodiles
It's time for us to have a scary celebration as the original PC version of Corpse Party has crept its way to Steam, GOG and the Humble Store on Monday. In this case, it might not be a good idea to drink the punch. Of cou...

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

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

Review: Senran Kagura Estival Versus

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

Japanator Live photo
Japanator Live

Japanator LIVE: Bikini Zombie Slaying

Booby Samurai
Mar 24
// Red Veron
So I just got a copy of Oneechanbara: Z2 Chaos on the Playstation 4 and I heard it's good. So join me tonight to watch some zombie slaying action while in a bikini and/or school girl outfit. [The stream begins at 10PM Central time on our Japanator Youtube Channel]

Review: Return to PoPoLoCrois: A Story of Seasons Fairytale

Mar 23 // Salvador G Rodiles
Return to PoPoLoCrois: A Story of Seasons Fairytale (3DS)Developer: epics, Marvelous Inc.Publisher: XSEED GamesRelease Date: February 18, 2016 (EU), March 1, 2016 (NA)MSRP: $39.99 Perhaps the smartest thing that the team did with Return of PoPoLoCrois was having Pietro get sent to another land while his realm is under attack by an outside force. This allowed for the farming elements to transition smoothly into the game, as the prince’s quest involves helping a fairy purge Galariland’s soil from the darkness that dwells within it. That way, he can return to his own world. Seeing that this realm is an original setting, the only Story of Seasons element present is the farming features. Since it’s been a good while that PoPoLoCrois has gotten a new game, the title’s opening sequence hits the right notes in getting the players interested in Pietro and his comrades. Their tale may not stand out too much from other fantasy stories, but its tone and characters feel like a fun Saturday morning cartoon. Because of this feeling, Return to PoPoLoCrois' ensures its audience that they’re in for a fun ride. [embed]34876:5498:0[/embed] Like with many games where the hero has achieved victory many times, Return to PoPoLoCrois’ beginning presents us with enough aspects to let us be affected by Pietro being stripped of his powers when he arrived in Galariland. While it's obviously a mechanic to keep him from making the title too easy, it also serves as a way for the royal figure to get his hands dirty with the farming life and saving an entirely new world. While the game’s story was charming, the adventure has its own share of problems. Throughout most of the title’s chapters, players have to dive into various crops so they can defeat the Black Beasts that are corrupting the fields. Once they clear this segment, then they have to go to a temple to liberate one of Galariland’s season-themed farmlands. Due to the lack of variety in the designs of these stages, these segments can get repetitive when one has to go through five levels and a major dungeon that look similar during a huge chunk of adventure. In some cases, it takes away from the great simplistic aspects present in the main world’s other areas. If there’s one good thing about this repetition is that it rewards players with more land to grow things, along with some funny to heartwarming segments that push the plot forward. Despite the title's repetitive format with its purification segments, Return to PoPoLoCrois’ content still managed to grow on me. In a similar manner to the Rune Factory titles, the game lets players juggle exploration and combat with their farming life. Thanks to this fusion, players can earn extra money while they tend to their crops and livestock, which is a neat option when they’re not in the mood to gain gold through fighting enemies. Nonetheless, Return to PoPoLoCrois’ combat is enjoyable, as it features a simple strategy RPG system that gives off an old school feeling. With mining, bug catching, and item crafting added to the mix, the game has many ways to keep players entertained outside of the main 20 to 30-hour long adventure. To an extent, these extra bits make up for the title's tedious segments. Since players can alter the Return to PoPoLoCrois' difficulty and encounter rate, this feature lets them tackle the product's offerings at their own pace. However, even at the highest difficulty, Pietro's main quest isn’t a huge pain to get through. Going back to the game’s Saturday morning cartoon feel, another aspect that compliments this feature is Yohsuke Tamori’s designs. His choice to apply the two to three head proportions and one-colored eyes to his character art plays a major role in this feeling. The art also gives off a great children’s book vibe, which contributes to the heartwarming elements present in the game. Even though Return to PoPoLoCrois’ English dub comes off as cheesy, the tone suits the game’s children cartoon-like elements. For example, Colleen O’ Shaughnessey (Digimon’s Sora, Naruto’s Ino) was able to capture the prince’s innocent personality. If the style doesn’t suit your tastes, players have the option to play the game with two types of Japanese dubs. The difference between them is that one was done by regular actors and the other features an array of folks who’ve been involved in anime. All in all, this option was a neat move on XSEED's behalf. Music wise, the game's tracks range from being highly enjoyable to amicable. The battle theme in the outer areas sounds like a tune from a Looney Toon’s short and the dungeon battle themes remind me of a mix between Mortal Kombat's main theme and the opening song used in the English version of Evil Zone/Eretzvaju. Other than that, the rest of the tunes felt mostly subtle, which worked well with the title’s Story of Season aspects. Even though I wasn’t jamming out to most of the songs, the majority of them meshed well with Pietro's adventure. As a newcomer to the PoPoLoCrois series, the Return to PoPoLoCrois: A Story of Seasons Fairytale left me with a fine impression on the franchise. While the title’s field dungeon moments felt like a chore, my desire to see Prince Pietro return to his kingdom grew as I saw him get closer to his goal. Thanks to its efforts in fusing the two franchise’s elements, Return to PoPoLoCrois is the closest thing to a new Rune Factory installment on the 3DS. Sure, it lacks the detailed systems from the signature fantasy farming series, but the game’s silly tale and the Story of Season mechanics balance out to the point where this harvest is worth picking out. [This review is based on a digital retail copy of the game provided by the publisher.] Despite the repetitive format with the title’s purification segments, Return to PoPoLoCrois’ content grew on me. In a similar manner to the Rune Factory titles, the game lets players juggle exploration and combat with their farming life. Thanks to this fusion, players can earn extra money while they tend to their crops and livestock, which is a neat option when they’re not in the mood to gain gold through fighting enemies. Nonetheless, Return to PoPoLoCrois’ combat is enjoyable, as it features a simple strategy RPG system that gives off an old school feeling. With mining, bug catching, and item crafting thrown into the mix, there’s many ways to keep you entertained outside of the 25 to 30-hour adventure. Since players can alter the game’s difficulty and encounter rate, this feature lets them tackle the title’s offering at their own pace. However, even at the highest difficulty, Return to PoPoLoCrois isn’t too tough to get through.
PoPoLoCrois photo
It's a cropload of fun
I never thought that I'd live to see the day when the PoPoLoCrois series would cross over with the Story of Season (formerly known as Harvest Moon in the West) games. Even though the Rune Factory titles mixes raising cro...

Japanator Live photo
Japanator Live

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

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

Rejoice: Trails in the Sky the 3rd crosses the pond

Our prayers have been answered
Mar 11
// Salvador G Rodiles
For a second, I wasn't sure if XSEED's tweet about a priest and a nun was important since they might've been in the mood to tell a great joke. Lo and behold, this statement had a higher purpose as the company announced t...

Review: Nitroplus Blasterz: Heroines Infinite Duel

Feb 13 // Christian Chiok
Nitroplus Blasterz: Heroines Infinite Duel (PS3, PS4 [reviewed])Developer: ExamuPublisher: Marvelous, XSEED GamesReleased: December 10, 2015 (JP), February 2, 2016 (NA), Early 2016 (EU)MSRP: $29.99 (PS3), $39.99 (PS4) The game also features traditional modes such as Versus Mode, Score Attack, and Training. Unfortunately, there isn’t a tutorial mode for you to learn all the functions of the game but at least Training Mode is rebust enough, giving you many ways to improve on your weak points. I may not know the characters, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t have fun using each character either. Each character has their individual moveset catering to all playstyles. So while the game shares the same button input for all characters, the learning curve will vary. The game is also easier to jump in, compared to Examu’s Arcana Heart series which has more mechanics to learn and has a higher learning curve. However, I would say the game is similar to the BlazBlue series. While it’s an easy game to jump in and get familiarized with its combat system, it takes it’s time to master. Of course, the game isn’t as in-depth as BlazBlue.  However, just like Dengeki Bunko and Persona 4 Arena, the game also has the auto-combo feature which I still despise it. Basically, it allows the player to perform a combo by button smashing. While it is easily avoidable, offering such features ruins what could be a fun competitive game and turns it into a casual fest. Unlike the those games though, they can only be performed by the Vanishing Rush, which consumes your power gauge.  You will be able to add support characters into the mix as well, which allows you to push your combos even further, either by adding an additional attack or increasing your power gauge, allowing you to possibly use your character's Lethal Blaze—their special attack.  Naturally, summoning partners has it's cooldown. The game also has a Blast feature, which similar to other traditional fighting games, allows players to escape from combo, which has its own cooldown as well. It also regenerates your power gauge and health.  Having friends that aren’t invested in the fighting game genre too much sucks, but so I heavily rely on the game’s online portion. Nitroplus Blasterz: Heroines Infinite Duel’s netcode is great and I haven’t faced and issue with it so far. It’s definitely an improvement from Examu’s previous titles like Aquapazza. Additionally, the game includes online cross-play, so if you have friends that own the previous gen version, because they don’t want to pay for online or still want to use their good ol arcade stick then you will be able to play with them. I personally tried it with a friend and it works as good as playing with players on PS4. While I believe that the game is great, and would recommend that you add it to your fighting game collection, releasing the game near Street Fighter V is going to hurt the game. Granted, not everyone cares about SFV, but many players will transition into the upcoming fighting game. If you don’t care about Street Fighter V however, then you should definitely buy this game as it’s a fun fighting game with a solid combat system and making likable characters. [This review is based on a retail copy of the game provided by the publisher.]  
Nitroplus Blasterz Review photo
Waifus Unite!
Seeing a crossover game isn’t rare in 2016. During the previous years, we had games like Super Smash Bros. for Wii U and 3DS, Dengeki Bunko, Anarchy Reigns, and PlayStation All-Stars. This time around, we got Nitroplus ...

Nitroplus Blasterz photo
Nitroplus Blasterz

Shift into high gear with Nitroplus Blasterz's gameplay trailer

Gotta mash those buttons hard
Jan 15
// Salvador G Rodiles
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 G Rodiles
[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 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 ...

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 G Rodiles
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...
The Legend of Heroes photo
The Legend of Heroes

Love is eternal: Trails in the Sky SC launches next week

Pigs have finally learned to fly
Oct 23
// Salvador G Rodiles
Well, folks: I'm happy to announce that we now live in a world where pigs have wings, and hell has frozen over. In other words, XSEED has revealed that The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky SC hits the PC and the PSN ...
Akiba's Trip photo
Akiba's Trip

Akiba's Trip gets a release date, PS4 version crossing pond

XSEED going for XS!
Jul 24
// Josh Tolentino
XSEED games are really going all-out with their upcoming release of Akiba's Trip: Undead & Undressed. Not only have they ported the Acquire's open-world Akihabara cosplay vampire-stripping game to the English language, t...
The Legend of Heroes photo
The Legend of Heroes

Cheers! Trails in the Sky's PC version gets a release date

It's time to launch more trailers into the sky!
Jul 23
// Salvador G Rodiles
As XSEED Games and Carpe Fulgur continue to work on The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky SC, the awesome folks at XSEED have announced that the first Trails in the Sky game's hitting Steam and GOG on July 29th (next Tuesda...
Akiba Strip 2 photo
Akiba Strip 2

Akiba Strip 2 has new PS4 sharing gameplay features

You're going to be typing "panty" a lot...
Jun 24
// Josh Totman
If Akiba Trip 2 couldn't get any crazier, along comes it's new 'share & chat' feature. It's bad enough that the game requires you to save Akihabara from the undead by striping them of clothes so that that the sun can des...
Akiba's Trip 2 photo
Akiba's Trip 2

XSEED adding English audio, gender equality to Akiba's Trip 2

Anglophones and androphiles rejoice
May 13
// Josh Tolentino
Do you own a PS Vita or PS3? Do you happen do be an anglophile, or an androphile (or both)? Are you looking forward to XSEED's upcoming localization of Akiba's Trip: Undead and Undressed? If you answered "yes" to at...
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Promoted Blog: An alt-review of Senran Kagura Burst

Spoiler: Karutomaru liked it.
Mar 29
// Karutomaru
[Editor's note: The following editorial was originally posted in our community blogs. While the views expressed within are not necessarily shared by Japanator, or its staff, we occasionally see fit to share unique or interes...
Akiba's Trip photo
Akiba's Trip

Take It Off: XSEED to localize Akiba's Trip: Undead & Undressed

Vampires, underwear and Akihabara
Mar 06
// Josh Tolentino
[Update: XSEED's released an announcement teaser. Check it out above!] It's happening! After quite a while existing for no one's eyes but Japan's (and that of a few curious foreigners), Akiba's Trip, trippi...

Review: Ys: Memories of Celceta

Jan 09 // Elliot Gay
Ys: Memories of Celceta (PS Vita)Developer: FalcomPublisher: XSEEDReleased: November 26, 2013 MSRP: $39.99 The young adventurer Adol has once again found himself in an unknown land without his memories. Bruised and beaten, he wakes up in the small town of Casnan with no information as to why he was there to begin with. It's here that he meets a white-haired man named Duren who appears to have known him since before his memories went bye bye. Adol had made an attempt to venture into the dangerous Great Forest of Celceta, and after going missing for a period of time, resurfaced back in town, collapsed on the ground. While mysteries abound and a giant uncharted land at his very feet, Adol embarks on a quest to retake his past and unlock the secrets of Celceta. My biggest problem with Falcom's previous entry in the series, Ys Seven, was that it attempted to tell a grand story in the most wordy way possible. It was unnecessarily chatty in places that it didn't need to be, and that stretched out the game time in a significant way. I clocked in at around 27 hours by the time I finished Seven on its normal mode. Memories of Celceta, while text heavy compared to other entries in the series, is a much more lean experience. On the standard difficulty level, I completed Memories in a brisk 19 hours.  The narrative here isn't going to win any awards for originality, but Falcom spins a good enough yarn that will keep most folks pushing forward in the game. Memories of Celceta offers a rare peek into Adol's earlier years via the use of memory points hidden throughout the game. These story bits are completely new to this re-telling of Ys IV. The rest of the story involves a Mask of the Sun, a trio of evil soldiers and the slowly growing presence of long-time series antagonists, the Romun army. These are all bits taken from the two previous versions of Ys IV, making Memories a strange mash-up of story elements. One strong point in Memories' favor is how often it allows players to shape Adol's personality. Most cutscenes have multiple points at which dialogue options become available. They don't significantly change the story, but it's a fun inclusion that makes Adol feel more like a fleshed-out character. If I had any major issue with the writing, it'd be how abruptly the whole thing comes to a close. At the end of the day though, this is a Ys game, and nobody plays Ys games for their stories. They come and stay for the high speed action gameplay, which Memories of Celceta provides in bulk. At first glance, things don't seem that far removed from Ys Seven. Much like the aforementioned, Memories makes use of a party system that allows you to switch between controllable characters. Each party member has a different set of skills and attack style, meaning certain situations will call for certain characters. For example, an encounter with a group of armored enemies will call for Duren, the brute of the party. More often than not, you'll find yourself faced with a myriad of enemy types which will have you switching between characters every other attack. You're not doing crazy combos as there are only a couple of attack buttons, but it's simple, it's fast, and more importantly it feels good. Much of the changes to the combat system are under the hood. Flash Guard and Flash Move both make a return in Memories of Celceta, but have seen significant tweaks that make them much harder to break. The window of timing to pull off these parry-like moves is a lot smaller, meaning it'll take practice for players to be able to pull them off consistently. The overall game balance is much stronger, especially due to the way Memories of Celceta opens up the world to players. Ys games have always been fairly open affairs with interconnected worlds not totally unlike a Metroid or an Iga-era Castlevania, but Memories of Celceta takes it one step closer. Most of the adventure takes place in the uncharted forest of Celceta, and so Adol is tasked with mapping every corner of the sea of trees. You get rewards for exploring as much of the game world as possible, much of which is locked off depending on the special powers you possess at any given time. Find an area you can't get through yet? Chances are better than not you have to find a power that'll grant you access. Memories of Celceta even gives players freedom to do certain story events in a different order. For example based on which town you go to, you'll either party up with Karna or Ozma first. It's small, but it adds a lot to the overall experience. There are plenty of little nooks and crannies to search, and I can see many players spending hours away from the main story just to explore the world. It's a unique feel for a Ys game, made even better by the day/night cycle that helps exploration feel fresh. Ys: Memories of Celceta appears to be running on a modified version of the Ys Seven engine, meaning that the graphics aren't exactly built to impress. Everything is still significantly better detailed compared to the previous game on the PSP, but there are some noticeable low resolution textures and the whole shebang doesn't run at Vita's native resolution. That being said, strong art direction and a crazy draw distance win the day. As Adol, you'll be traveling through some beautifully designed locations with thunder and lightning crackling in the background, huge towers in the distance, and massive volcanoes erupting nearby. Falcom has never been at the top of the graphics world, but they still manage to impress due to a strong and consistent vision. Sadly the framerate can fluctuate pretty wildly, especially when there are a huge number of enemies on the screen. It's not game-ruining, but it does standout. Also consistent with previous Ys titles is the guitar-heavy soundtrack by the reliable Falcom Sound Team JDK. A mix of new tracks and arrangements taken from Mask of the Sun and Dawn of Ys, Memories of Celceta is mostly a home-run. Some of the arrangements are a bit disappointing (I'm looking at you, Dawn of Ys), but for the most part it's a collection of nostalgic tracks given new life. Where the soundtrack falls short is in the sheer lack of tracks. Despite having so much source material to pull from, Memories of Celceta's score seems surprisingly brief by Falcom standards. What's there is great, but I just wish there was more. Western action game fans have gone too long without experiencing Falcom's Ys games. Like nearly every one to come before it, Memories of Celceta requires no prior knowledge of Adol's exploits, making it another great place to jump in. Don't make the mistake of missing this one. If you have a Vita, I guarantee you that you won't find a better action RPG experience on the console. 9 -- Superb (9s are a hallmark of excellence. There may be flaws, but they are negligible and won't cause massive damage to what is a supreme title.)  
Review: Ys Celceta photo
Adol goes on yet another danger-filled adventure
Falcom's Ys series is the unspoken hero of the action RPG genre.  Starring red-haired adventurer Adol, the Ys games are sprawling quests that test your reflexes as they throw you into large worlds with monsters that desi...

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Senran Kagura Burst Hebijo & Hanzou trailers

Time to compare and contrast
Nov 15
// Tim Sheehy
XSEED has released their second character trailer for Senran Kagura Burst, this time featuring the deadly vixens of the evil Hebijo Clandestine Girls' Academy. Since they've already released another trailer for the Hanzou sc...

Review: Senran Kagura Burst

Nov 14 // Tim Sheehy
Senran Kagura Burst (Nintendo 3DS) Developer: Tamsoft Publisher: XSEEDReleased: November 14, 2013 MSRP: $29.99 The first thing you're likely to notice is that every time you enter and exit the intro screen, or navigate through the menus you'll be treated to a few untranslated lines of Japanese voice overs. This might irk some, but it's just basic phrases you've probably heard a million times while playing various fighting games or RPGs over the years -- nothing to fuss over. The options menu itself is pretty limited, and only really allows you to adjust the volume of the music, sound effects and voice overs. When you start a new a game, you're given two paths to choose from, the Hanzou school which contains the content from the first game released in Japan, Senran Kagura: Skirting Shadows, or the Hebijo school from Senran Kagura: Crimson Girls. They recommend you start with the Hanzou path. After a short introduction which explains the purpose of ninjas, and the origin of the school your characters attend, you'll be rewarded with an animated opening sequence. It seems they didn't bother subbing the theme song, but I honestly hadn't expected as much. You soon gain access to various features within the game such as the character select screen, dressing room, mission list, library, records and settings. You can either navigate to each option within the classroom, or quickly access each using a menu on the bottom touch screen. You can also converse with characters who happen to be hanging out in the room, though the conversations seem to be dull and one-sided. The meat of the interactions take place during the event sequences between missions. The dressing room allows you to select different outfits, accessories, and wigs you may have unlocked throughout the course of the game. When choosing an outfit, you can cycle through  different color schemes before confirming your selection. Much to my amusement, moving your character model around while in the dressing room will cause their breast physics to kick in, and may even elicit some protests from your character if you're less-than-gentle about it. You can use the library to view your stats, titles, pictures, movies, music and other unlockables you may have obtained through play. You can also look up terms and character bios in case you want to better familiarize yourself with your favorite characters. They don't make it very clear, but you'll need to hold down X while pressing up and down in order to scroll through the text. That said, all the fun and creepy information you could want seems to be included, such as each character's measurements, birth dates, blood type, favorite foods, and so on. Records allows you to save and load your game. The character select screen is pretty self explanatory, and so is the mission list. As you complete each mission, you'll progress through the chapters. Each mission lists out things such as the location, goal, time limit and difficulty, which is ranked on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being the easiest and 5 being ridiculous. They change up the goal from time to time to try and keep things slightly less monotonous, often to little avail. Sadly, simply plowing through your enemies will cause you to achieve whatever goal they've set. I did find that the time limits can make things difficult if you're not constantly mashing your attack buttons. Combat is pretty simplistic. One button for weak attacks, another to punctuate with strong attacks, making combo chains pretty straight forward. There's another button for jump and one for dash, which can be used defensively to avoid enemy attacks. Most attacks and combos can also be performed in mid-air, though pressing down and strong attack allow you to launch an assault strike. Your tech and move list can be viewed on the lower screen, while most action takes place on the top. You'll gain new moves by leveling up over time. You can also select a different "balance" or stance to swap to a different move set, assuming your character has that ability. Like most beat-em-ups that feature leveled move sets however, the early going will feel totally repetitive and may turn off any gamers who lack the patience to grow the characters further. There's also a sweet aerial rave system that lets you chain air combos when you time a jump to coincide with a green ring that appears on the screen mid-combo. If performed correctly, you can keep these going for even more damage, though I found that to be quite difficult myself. You can also launch a limit break by pressing the R shoulder button -- doing so will knock back the enemies who may have you surrounded, but it also drains your health to a measly 10% making it a risky proposition and one that hardly ever seems to pay off. You also have a gauge that builds over time which allows for your character to transform into her special shinobi costume, increasing both attack and speed while allowing you to launch a devastating special attack. So, as some of you are likely aware, taking battle damage in this game results in not only the loss of health, but can actually cause your character's clothes to tear. While you can always restore your health with potions, your clothes not so much. This can have a dire effect if you happen to lose your Shinobi costume, increasing all the damage you take from that point on during the battle. At the start of each battle, you're also given the option to enter frantic mode. This sheds all your clothes down to your bathing suit, which somehow greatly increases your damage and speed at the cost of your defense, and perhaps your modesty. Beating each mission while in frantic mode unlocks something special, and while I wish I had time to attempt this myself, it's something you'll have to try on your own. When you're not in battle, you're either wandering your classroom, engaged in a visual novel-esque conversation, or stuck reading a wall of text set against a static image. These pieces of exposition often read like a bad soft-h fan fiction. Fortunately, you'll find that during the event sequences or walls of text, you're given the opportunity to proceed as normal, fast forward, or skip them entirely. You can also hold down Y to make the text disappear from the top screen, much like a feature you'd find in a typical eroge or visual novel. This, at the very least, lets you move on to portions of the game you may find more enjoyable, such as the actual combat. Unfortunately, while I enjoyed some of what I've played, the game does lack polish in key areas. The music for example is great, however the audio production could have used some serious work -- some of the music tracks will clearly hiss, click or pop which can be a little distracting. The narrative sequences can really drag, and while I'm sure some people out there will love them, others will find themselves skipping through most of it and wondering if they've missed something important. Seeing as Crimson Girls functioned as almost a sequel to the original game, some gameplay elements have been improved. For example, the move sets have better animations and I personally found the combat more enjoyable. That said, the evil shinobi, with the exception of their sexy teacher -- don't ask -- seemed to grate on me, whereas the characters from Skirting Shadows were a bit more humorous overall. The script is completely tongue and cheek, and you basically get what you'd expect from a game that emphasizes breasts, magical-girl transformations, and torn costumes. If you're a prude, you'll probably want to keep your distance, otherwise you'll probably have a good laugh. Overall, the game is a relatively fun experience, but one that will actually require time and effort in order to unlock its full potential. Without that investment, the game play may seem entirely too repetitive -- so much so, that you'll end up tossing it aside and forgetting you had it. The game is packed with plenty of ecchi, so that's a plus depending on how you look at it, but in the end, it's safe to say the game isn't for everyone, and even for those of us who might usually enjoy the beat-em-up genre, Senran Kagura Burst fails to truly innovate.  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: Senran Kagura photo
A busty beat-em-up that lacks some polish
I never thought any of the Senran Kagura games would make their way overseas, but I admit I was pleased to learn that XSEED would be localizing the title. Not because I'm a huge fan of the series, but rather that I ...

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Video game

Senran Kagura Bursts onto 3DS November 14th

To be sold exclusively through Nintendo eShop
Nov 08
// Tim Sheehy
We've known about it for awhile, but it seems XSEED games felt it prudent to remind us that Senran Kagura Burst would be hitting the Nintendo 3DS eShop next week. If you're not already intimately familiar with the series, thi...
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Video Games

Ys: Memories of Celceta bound for Europe in early 2014

Feast on some new art in the meantime
Nov 02
// Karen Mead
Gamers in the United States will be able to play the latest installment in the long-running Ys series before the holidays, with Ys: Memories of Celceta set to drop on November 26th. However, Europeans needn't feel too left ou...
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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: Pandora's Tower

Sep 09 // Salvador G Rodiles
Pandora's Tower (Wii)Developer: GanbarionPublisher: XSEED GamesRelease Date: April 16, 2013MSRP: $29.99 [Buy] After being inflicted with a strange curse, our hero’s love interest Elena is slowly losing her humanity with each passing day. With the help of an old lady named Mavda, the main hero Aeron must venture into the Thirteen Towers to extract the flesh from the Masters that reside in the highest areas of each dungeon. Armed with the Oraclos Chains, Aeron is ready to obtain the tasty morsels that are needed to cure Elena’s curse. Too bad for Elena, she has to go against her principles as a vegetarian for the sake of recovery. For an interesting premise, Pandora’s Tower starts off rather slow. While the game’s story has to do with Elena and Aeron’s relationship, I didn’t feel any sort of attachment to the game’s romance themes. It doesn’t help that Aeron isn't that expressive, since his personality gets in the way of the love story's great potential. Thankfully, the story has other great aspects, since part of Pandora’s Tower’s premise has to do with the mystery behind the Thirteen Towers and the strange curse that changes people into beasts. Overall, the plot outside of the romance was the real meat of the game’s storyline. Even though the bond between both characters starts off weak, things do pick up in the later part of the story, as you start to see some strange occurrences after the first half of the game. During your interactions with Elena, players can give her presents to make her happy, which includes items that can change her appearance – such as clothes or jewelry. Depending on your bond, you’ll be able to trigger different events between Elena and Aeron. I will admit that I found them annoying at first, but the exchanges between both characters manage to grow on me after things picked up in the story. As you’re exploring the Thirteen Towers, players have to worry about the state of Elena’s curse, so you’ll have to return to your base to feed her the flesh of regular enemies to keep her from changing. At first, the whole process can be a little tedious, but each area ensures that you can create some shortcuts to lessen the blow of traveling back and forth between locations. Since you’ll have the option to interact with Elena during quest, the motivation to move forward will grow with each passing hour. While you’re working your way to get to each boss, Aeron is capable of using his chains to work his way through the floors of each Tower. The chain have some useful features that include throwing enemies and objects, binding things, and extracting flesh and items from the corpses of your slain foes. Other than combat, the same features with the chains will be used to solve the puzzles in each Tower. If you’re in the mood to get up close and personal, Aeron has access to some melee weapons that can be used to create combos with the A button. When enemies aren’t going down too quick, players will have the ability to do a charge attack to speed things up. However, the chains still play the bigger role, as they are the main weapon against the Masters that dwell in the Towers. Each Master has a core, and it is up to the players to use their wits to exploit each boss’s weakness. In a way, the battles are like a mix of Zelda and Shadow of the Colossus, due to the puzzle-like elements that players must go through to reach the cores. Since the chains play a big role in the game’s system, I found the Wiimote and Nunchuck to be the most effective controller, since it’s easier to aim the chains. While we’re still on the topic of controls, the Z button on the Nunchuck (Or the L or R buttons on the Classic Controller) will allow you to block or dodge attacks from you enemies, which is an important skill to master. Not only do you receive damage from enemy attacks; your items have a chance of breaking in the heat of battle. Despite the slight drawback from this system, the broken items can be repaired at Mavda’s place. While it sounds like a bit of a pain, Pandora’s Tower is a bit forgiving in regards to its checkpoints and death system. As long as you fail in a manner that doesn’t involve Elena changing into a hideous monstrosity, players will be sent back to the last area where a checkpoint was triggered. Before you label the game as being a cakewalk, you’ll actually be grateful for this feature when you realize how useful it is when a certain boss is giving you trouble. With an intense scenario present in Pandora’s Tower, you would think that the game would have a phenomenal soundtrack to go with your adventures. Sadly, the music is very limited in the game, as the level themes for each Tower remains the same, which can get a little repetitive at times. There are even a few times when the stage themes go silent while you’re exploring the Towers. Besides the level themes, the battle themes have a bit of a Jaws vibe, due to the buildup that occurs with each verse. This actually works well with the tone of each fight, since it can inflict a bit of panic to players who are having trouble with certain enemies. Once you reach the boss, you’ll be welcomed by an intense orchestrated theme that has a glorious chanting that will make your spine tingle as you’re trying to figure out the weakness of each boss. This theme is perhaps one of the strongest in the game, and it really sets the mood for the fights against the Tower Masters. You’ll also encounter some soothing tunes when you’re relaxing at the observatory with Elena, which acts as a balance to the songs found in the Tower. Pandora’s Tower may not be pushing the Wii’s limits in the graphics department, but the modeling and texturing found in the game still holds up. The architecture within each Tower goes well with the elemental themes, and the Tower Masters were given some creative designs. Perhaps the only downside is that a good number of the Towers are palette swaps of the previous ones, due to the recurring theme that’s shared between the Masters. While the room placements are different, the puzzles and basic structures are recycled in each swap. Despite the lazy development behind the later Towers, the bosses were at least given their own unique designs and patterns. Despite the fun times that I had with saving Elena from her curse, the North American version of Pandora’s Tower is filled with a few glitches. Other than the freezing glitch that was reported a while back, the game kept freezing when I would select the 11th or 12th Tower from the observatory. Based on the way how the last two Towers work, the glitch might be associated with their design, since I never encountered this issue during my adventures in the previous Towers. At the moment, the closest remedy that I found was to wait a few second between each loading segment in the level select screen, which prevented the issue a good number of times. Luckily, the glitch doesn’t mess with the game’s date, so you won’t lose anything if this problem occurs – unless if you didn’t save beforehand. Putting that glitch aside, Pandora’s Tower is still a good adventure to overcome. You might have to deal with the slow pacing during the early stages of Aeron and Elena’s relationship, but the reward will come to those who put their time into strengthening the bonds. For a game that was developed by a company that worked on games based off of One Piece and Weekly JUMP, Pandora’s Tower is a fine piece as an original title by Ganbarion. The system with the Oraclos Chains plays out in the manner of how a chain should work, and puzzles still manage to give off a sense of accomplishment. As long as you have the patience to deal with the game’s early problems, you’ll be able to exit Pandora’s Tower with a big smile on your face after you achieve the true objective. With that being said, Pandora’s Towers still deserves the rightful title of being the final game to close off the Wii’s excellent lifespan.  7 -- Good (7s are solid games that definitely have an audience. Might lack replay value, could be too short or there are some hard-to-ignore faults, but the experience is fun.)
Pandora's Tower photo
Sometimes in life, the only way to nurture a relationship is with the power of meat.
Just when you thought that the Wii has sang its last song; the system breaks free from the chains that control its life. Formally known as the last piece of the Triforce in Operation Rainfall’s goal, Pandora’s Tow...

Trails in the Sky SC photo
Trails in the Sky SC

Launch those trailers! Trails in the Sky SC is going west

XSEED and Carpe Fulgur deserve a big salute!
Sep 06
// Salvador G Rodiles
Actually, when I meant trailers, I was talking about using a catapult to launch a bunch of trailers into the sky as a way to celebrate XSEED's new accomplishment. With the help of Carpe Fulgur, the awesome group that localize...
Ys: Memories of Celceta  photo
Ys: Memories of Celceta

Feast your eyes on Ys Celceta's Limited Edition content

The ultimate treasure for any Ys fan.
Aug 27
// Salvador G Rodiles
I honestly feel bad for not playing any of the Ys games yet. I mean, Elliot is one of the biggest Ys and Falcom fans that I know, so his influence should have infected my body by now. Thankfully, his recommendations worked, a...
Senran Kagura Burst photo
Senran Kagura Burst

Surprise Bounce! Senran Kagura Burst is coming to NA

Ninpu Shinobi Rejoice!
Aug 06
// Salvador G Rodiles
Well played, XSEED Games, your sneak attack has rendered me vulnerable to latest video game announcement. Even if your moves were rather sneaky, the peach color wasn't enough to fool the most experience shinobis on the b...

Review: Ys I & II Chronicles+

Apr 22 // Elliot Gay
Ys I & II Chronicles+ (PC/Steam)Developer: Nihon FalcomPublisher: XSEEDRelease Date: February 14, 2013MSRP: $14.99 Young and fearless adventurer, Adol Christin, finds himself shipwrecked on the mysterious island of Esteria. Surrounded by a wall of storms trapping its citizens within, Esteria has had a bit of a monster problem as of late. With the ominous Darm Tower seemingly active again, Adol takes on the monumental task of uncovering the secret behind the reappearing monsters, and saving the people of Esteria. In the process, he might just find the truth behind the land of Ys, an ancient civilization that mysteriously vanished hundreds of years ago.  Falcom's Ys games aren't known for their engaging or complex stories, and the first two entries in the series are no different. Ys I in particular is a very light experience, with supporting characters who appear only to say a line or two before disappearing entirely. You'll spend a decent amount of time talking to each and every villager in order to figure out what your next objective is, as the game very rarely spells things out for you. The world itself, essentially an open field with some dungeons and a couple of towns, is quite small. As a result, there's a lot of backtracking through familiar areas. Fortunately, Adol moves super quickly, so it never takes too long to get where you need to go. While still beatable, the game becomes extremely difficult if you don't obtain a certain set of items. Ys I expects you to be extremely observant, which is a quality that a lot of recent video games lack.   Ys II however is a much larger game with a bigger cast of characters, more dialogue, and even a few plot twists to boot. It is much clearer about how it directs you, and you'll rarely find yourself lost. Towns are plentiful, and the whole thing is a more impressive experience. Adol is now able to transform into a demon, allowing him to talk with every single enemy monster in the game. It's a ridiculous feature, and even now I'm still blown away by how much optional dialogue there is. These little details help to flesh out the game world, and make for a much more compelling narrative overall. Many characters still only have a few lines each, but the whole shebang is grander. Unlike the more modern Ys games, I & II are remarkably simple games. Save for the use of magic, attacking enemies is as simple as running into them. The bump system that the original Ys games employ can be frustrating at first; receiving damage for slamming straight into an enemy is a mistake many players will make. Once you get the hang of it though, very few things beat the feeling of smashing Adol through a group of enemies, and watching their bodies explode into tiny pieces. Boss battles are tough and plentiful, and the inclusion of the bump system means that you'll constantly be trying to weave in and out of attacks in order to get a hit in. At times, especially in Ys II, it almost feels like you're playing a bullet hell shooter as you try to avoid death in the form of nonstop laser attacks. Visually, Ys I & II are beautiful looking 2D games with some cool little flourishes. The first game struggles with bland environments due to its short length (half the game takes place in a single tower), but its sequel has a wide variety of locations and enemy types. Boss enemies are big and animate well, and the game makes use of scrolling layers to great effect. Chronicles+ also gives players the option to switch back to the character artwork from the older Ys Eternal PC release, for folks who prefer the previous character designs. No, these aren't big budget 3D games, but they don't have to be.  The JDK sound team puts in an A+ effort here, with a soundtrack that will have you cranking up the volume as you smash through enemies left and right. The Chronicles+ soundtrack is unchanged from the PSP release, but given how spectacular it was, that's not exactly a problem. Crazy guitar sounds duel with violins in what is one of my favorite overall video game soundtracks. Fans of the older versions of Ys I & II can switch to the PC88 or Eternal versions at any time as well. There are tons of options here, catering to longtime Falcom fans.  The first two Ys games have seen many releases over the past twenty years. Some good and others terrible, things finally came to a head with the 2009 Japanese release of Ys I & II Chronicles for the PSP. It was a great remake with a host of improvements over its precursors, but as Falcom fans are well aware, the Ys games made the PC their home for a long time. Chronicles would eventually make its way to Japanese PCs, though sadly it was through a shoddy port with a slew of issues, many of which had to do with the fact that it was essentially a straight port of the PSP version. Fortunately, XSEED made some big changes that do a lot to fix those problems. Chronicles+ features a wide variety of screen options, fixing what was the biggest issue with the original PC port. Players can choose from filtered or non-filtered options, the latter for folks who like to see their pixels onscreen. Both options look fantastic, though I actually prefer non-filtered for its rougher look. The game has two distinct display modes, "Complete" and "Chronicles." The latter is essentially the PSP version, widescreen but with a smaller viewing space. The "Complete" version frames the action in some beautiful Ys art, and provides a larger field of view, placing your stats on the bottom of the screen. In my opinion, this is the best way to play the game, and I'm pleased as punch that it was included in this release. It's nice to see that Ys is finally getting the respect it deserves out west. The first two games are true classics that, despite their age, are still a blast to play even now. You might find yourself wondering where to go at times, but these are games that hold up strong against the test of time. With the Ys IV remake, Ys: Memories of Celceta hitting North America later this year, what better place to start catching up than with the first two games?  Ys I & II Chronicles+ is an important piece of gaming history, and anybody with a deep love for action RPGs owes it to themselves to download a copy off of Steam. 9 -- Superb (9s are a hallmark of excellence. There may be flaws, but they are negligible and won't cause massive damage to what is a supreme title.)
Ys I & II Chronicles+ photo
The definitive version of two beloved classics.
You may not realize this, but Ys I & II are video game classics that the action RPGs of today owe a helluva lot to.  Up until XSEED's partnership with Falcom, the developers of Ys, North America's exposure to th...


Start off your Valentines Day by giving Adol some love

Valentines Day has gotten even better.
Feb 12
// Salvador G Rodiles
Valentines is only two days away, and XSEED is in for some tasty chocolates. By chocolates, I am talking about the dough that they will rake in from the Steam release of Ys I & II Chronicles +. Other than giving Adol som...

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...


The Wii lives on: XSEED to release Pandora's Tower in NA

The Wii will survive for another year!
Jan 16
// Salvador G Rodiles
It's 2013, and the Wii has yet to sing its last swansong, because XSEED is planning to release Pandora's Tower in North America during the spring season of 2013. Thanks to the Wii U's ability to play Wii games, no one will fe...

PSA: Corpse Party sequel coming soon

Party time!
Jan 09
// Josh Tolentino
Rejoice, fans of horrific games and disturbing scenes: more Corpse Party is on the way to your PSPs and PS Vitas soon. And by "soon", I mean "next week", as XSEED's terrifying sequel, Corpse Party: Book of Shadows ...

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