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Review: The King of Fighters XIV

Aug 22 // Christian Chiok
[embed]35211:5799:0[/embed] The King of Fighters XIV (PlayStation 4)Developer: SNKPublisher: Atlus USAReleased: August 23, 2016 (US), August 26, 2016 (EU), August 25, 2016 (JP)MSRP: $59.99 Regardless, I decided to be open-minded and not completely trash the game, so I was still looking forward to it, but with less excitement compared to XII, however. I definitely made the right decision of still giving the game the chance since as the months went by, and as information came in, the game was shaping up to be good, and definitely a lot more robust than one of its competitors when it came to content.   King of Fighters XIV marks the beginning of a new canonical saga for the series. Compared to previous entries, I don’t think the story is that exciting this time around since the story is more streamlined compared to other King of Fighters.  The story revolves around a billionaire known as Antonov, who claimed to be the “first champion” of the KOF tournament and bought out all of the rights for the KOF Tournament. His announcement of a new KOF Tournament created unprecedented enthusiasm around the world. From there, this excitement reached many of the veteran participants of the legendary tournament directly in the form of an official invitation. After finishing up Story Mode, which should be fairly quick, there are other modes you can try out like Versus Mode, Training, Online, Mission and Tutorial. Naturally, Versus Mode is just like previous King of Fighters where it gives you the option to do both Single and Team VS matches. After selecting your character, you got a handful of handicaps you can choose from, such as 50% health, 75% health, an extra bar of power gauge and lastly your power gauge completely filled. After that, you choose your stage and the rest is history. Practice Mode offers a variety of options that will help you on your training such as changing the position of you and your opponent, change whether they are standing, crouching, jumping, as well as have the AI completely take over. You can also set up so the training dummy guards, counters and recovers.  All of this is definitely good if you want to have great training sessions. Additionally, there’s also Tutorial Mode which shows you the ropes. It helps if you’re new to the series or fighting games in general. Mission Mode consists of Trial, Time Attack, and Survival. In Trial, you will attempt a set of challenges for each character. They usually consist of pulling off combos.  Time Attack and Survival both are self-explanatory. I personally liked playing through Trial since it helped me out practice some combos for some of the characters that I used. Now to address the elephant in the room—Online mode. The previous game, King of Fighters XIII, was known for its awful netcode on consoles. While the Steam version heavily improved this, it still wasn’t perfect.  It’s really noticeable that they actually worked hard to improve the netcode in this game. I played around 10 matches or so without any lag—I had a smooth experience all around. Additionally, the game offers some features that make the online better as well. Ranked Match takes you straight into a 3-Man Team Battle, which affects your rank depending whether you win or lose. For advanced players, it gives you the option to play 10 battles and depending in your wins, it sets you into a Rank much faster.  Free Match is most robust as it gives you more modes to play such as Team VS, Single VS and Party VS. The first two work just as if you were playing offline with another player in the same room. What I really love is the addition of Party VS, which lets six players instead in a 3-on-3 fight. If you got a group of friends, it’s definitely a lot of fun. Room settings are the same as any fighting game in general, such as making the room public or private, the number of players, the round time, and the number of rounds. Inside a room, you’re allowed to play multiple set ups, such as Tourney, Elimination and Series. Tourney removes the losing player after the fight, Elimination removes the winning player after the fight while Series allows you to face the same opponent continuously. There’s also Online Training, which allows you to train with a friend online. This is definitely helpful for those who lack a training partner outside of the Internet. Naturally, there’s also Online Replay, which you can view all the replays submitted by players, whether it’s Team VS or Single VS matches. Spectators can join to watch the match up with an integrated voice and text chat. Additionally, a "Crowd SE" option is available for spectators, which allows them to root, applaud, and boo the match current players.There's also a Live feature, but that's just a shortcut to game's Live from PlayStation menu. While the game resembles the Maximum Impact series graphically, it still remains on a strictly two-dimensional plane and keeps the same basic mechanics as its predecessors. New features have been added such as a new Max mode system, allowing players to access the EX moves, which can be activated by using one bar of the power gauge. Additionally, using three bars of the power gauge can allow players to unleash Climax supers. With the game catering to newcomers as well, the added a feature called Rush Mode, which is similar to games like Dengeki Bunko and Persona 4 Arena. Just like those games, it can be activated by repeatedly hitting the light punch button, however, will do lower damage compared to normal combo attacks. While I’m certainly not a fan of these types of things, it doesn’t really hurt the game either. Overall, I am definitely pleased with King of Fighters XIV. While the story was kind of bland compared to the previous games, and the graphics are a bit disappointing, it still offers a great experience that both King of Fighters fans and fighting game fans can appreciate. There’s just so much content from the get-go, like a game should, that can keep you occupied for a while. It definitely makes up for the game's flaws. You can bet I'll be playing this for months. 
The King of Fighters XIV photo
Burn To Fight
Since I’ve been writing for Japanator for almost a year now, some of you may already know I’m a big King of Fighters fan and it’s one of the first series I ever played as a child. Even since then I haven&rsq...

Japanator Live photo
Japanator Live

Japanator Live: Turn up the heat with Fortune Summoners


Let's set this place on fire
Aug 20
// Salvador GRodiles
[Update: The stream is over, but you can watch it here and here.] Summer tends to be one of the hottest seasons in many regions, which results in people trying to find a way to stay cool while they endure the heat. In the cas...
MangaGamer photo
MangaGamer

MangaGamer announces two Rance titles, Sona-Nyl, and more


In which six becomes an awesome number
Aug 18
// Salvador GRodiles
I may not have gotten the chance to dive into more traditional visual novel titles, but I still enjoy keeping with the stuff that gets announced for the West. That way, I have an idea on which games to jump on when I get the ...
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 GRodiles
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...

Kingsglaive Final Fantasy photo
Kingsglaive Final Fantasy

Here's some Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV to salve your pain


Magic v Magitek
Aug 16
// Josh Tolentino
Final Fantasy XV the game may not be in the cards for another few months, but that won't stop some of the other stuff scheduled to happen. The CGI film Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV is still on track for a late Augu...
Final Fantasy XV photo
Final Fantasy XV

Despair: Final Fantasy XV delayed to late Fall


A special message from the director
Aug 15
// Josh Tolentino
One of the most remarkable things about Final Fantasy XV's development isn't its epic length, but how open the process has been over the last couple of years. Since the reins were handed over to director Hajime Tabata (who ha...
Japanator Live photo
Japanator Live

Japanator Live: Destroy the scorching heat with Fortune Summoners' water dungeon


Status ailments are the worse
Aug 13
// Salvador GRodiles
[Update: The stream is over, but you can watch it here.] When people said that Fortune Summoners was a bit challenging, they weren't joking around. While I didn't get a "game over" yet, the game encourages the players to take...
Yoshitaka Amano photo
Yoshitaka Amano

Rejoice: Viz Media to release a new Amano art book next week


Summer plus art equals a great time
Aug 10
// Salvador GRodiles
There's something nice about companies releasing art books that feature an artist's older pieces. Not only do you get the chance to see how the person's work has evolved, but it also gives people the chance to see that creato...

Review: A.W. Phoenix Festa

Aug 10 // Christian Chiok
[embed]35189:5778:0[/embed] A.W Phoenix Festa (PlayStation Vita)Developer: APLUSPublisher: Bandai Namco EntertainmentReleased: July 26, 2016 (US), July 26, 2016 (EU), January 28, 2016 (JP)MSRP: $39.99 When launching the game, you can either choose to play as Ayato Amagiri or an original character, which you can name whatever you wish. While the game doesn’t specifically state it, it is implied that playing as Ayato is easy mode since your stats are already high enough and ready for the Phoenix Festa as opposed to the original character who starts with lower stats, thus making the game more challenging, but you are given more time to prepare before the Phoenix Festa. What I didn’t like about Ayato’s storyline is that you need to find a partner for the Phoenix Festa before the deadline, which is 2 weeks after the game starts. While that may sound like a lot, time really flies fast in the game. While it’s doable to choose the partner that you want, those two weeks could push you to make a rash decision since if you don’t find a partner in due time, the game will end prematurely. While I personally do like Saya, at the same time, it as a rushed choice since I only had one day to find a partner. With the original character however, you are given two months before the Phoenix Festa thus giving you plenty of time to build up your character as well as his relationship with the rest of the cast. I felt a lot more comfortable doing his path since it gave me time to think work on who I wanted as a partner as well as build up my stats the way I desired. Though it was somewhat harder compared to Ayato’s playthrough, I definitely recommend playing his story first since it’s a lot more flexible and gives you more room for enjoyment. Like a lot of Dating Sims, the game is time dependent. You are giving a calendar in which you can set up appointments, train, go shopping, upgrade your equipment and even take on a job. There are two time slots for each day —AM and PM, and which gets fill up depending on what activity you choose to do. Setting up appointments allows you to either duel or take the person on a date.  Though I would recommend on challenging them on a duel first since it not only boosts up your stats but it also raises your affinity with that character as well. However, the battles aren’t really enjoyable, which I’ll get into later on. Training allows you to boost up a stat individually such as Life, Attack, Defense, Insight, etc. However, in return, training takes a toll on your health and body condition, which reflects on your battles, so it’s imperative not to overdo it, or heal up before proceeding to battle. Job requests are like side quests in which nets you extra money that can be used to buy weapon upgrades in the laboratory, or buy medicine or even presents to raise your affinity with the girl characters in the Shop. All in all, if you enjoyed the anime’s story, then you’ll most likely enjoy the dialogue in this one as well. However there were times where the game got too repetitive with the dialogue and kind of boring. There were times where I took Saya to a date multiple times, but unfortunately they were the same scenario most of the time, though that’s because though affinity cap isn’t really that high either. Most anime games don’t offer too much depth in their combat system, and that should be expected, however, the combat system is this game is so bland that it makes the game not so fun to play. You only have two attacks, mapped to the square and tringle button as well as a special attack which is used by pressing L1 and Triangle. While the special attack is spammable as long as you go stamina, it’s blockable, though it can make battles pretty annoying. At least since each character wields different weapons, it somewhat offers different play styles for each character. Whether we’re gaming or working on a project, we know how imperative it is to save your progress. While I appreciate that the game auto-saves your progress, I feel that as a Visual Novel, it does it excessively.  There was times where I lost matches or made the wrong choices, so I wanted to revert to a previous point but realized it was too late. Naturally there’s always the option to quit the game before the game saves your progress but that still feels like too much of a hassle, even when the game doesn’t take much to load. Considering I somewhat enjoyed the series, I really wanted this game to be enjoyable as well since it looked enjoyable from first impressions. I wasn’t expecting for too much, but something I can turn to for some quick fun on the go and don’t have to invest too much time in. Even if for some reason you really enjoyed the series, it’s hard to recommend this game, even when it hits a sale. I wanted to enjoy this game but every aspect of it it’s really weak.  [This review is based on a copy of the game provided by the publisher.]
A.W. Phoenix Festa photo
Bland Stories & Battles
In this gaming generation, especially with both the PS Vita and the 3DS, it’s pretty common for Bandai Namco to make a quick cashgrab of anime series currently airing in Japan. It happened to Kuroko’s Basketball, ...

Review: Romance of the Three Kingdoms XIII

Aug 07 // Christian Chiok
[embed]35186:5776:0[/embed] Romance of the Three Kingdoms XIII (PlayStation 4 [reviewed], PC)Developer: Koei TecmoPublisher: Koei TecmoReleased: July 5, 2016 (US), July 8, 2016 (EU), January 28, 2016 (JP)MSRP: $59.99 Right off the bat I could tell how deep the game is, and I was going to have a hard time learning the many features the game offered, as it easily one of the deepest game in the PS4 library. As a matter of fact, the game doesn’t do a great job of explaining many of the features to new players, so trying to play through the first few hours were really overwhelming. When booting the game, you get a message that it’s recommended to play through Hero Mode, otherwise known as the game’s Tutorial Mode, to get a good grasps of the game. Immediately as the game showed the introduction, it captivated me and couldn’t wait to progress through the game. At first, the game holds your hand a little bit, pointing out what you need to do and such, as well as explaining the game features. After that though, I couldn’t help to feel a little lost on the mechanics. I spent a few hours fooling around with the game so I can get a good grasp of it. With help, I was able to manage and get a decent understanding of the game, so I proceeded to the main mode, in which traditionally offers a different scenarios to play. The main goal of the game is to stabilize your territory, gain more officers, conquer more territory, and ultimately unify the land, under the flag of Han, Wei, Wu, Shu, Zhong, Jin, or another force. To accomplish this, players will be using the several options and sub-options to increase your territory domestically, which you can do so by appointing yourself or one of your men to the tasks such as Commerce, Farming and Culture. Commerce gives gold, which you can use to pay your officers. Farming feeds your men. Culture attracts people. You can also improve your territory militarily, which is done by hiring new officers. The battle system in Romance of the Three Kingdoms XIII is similar to the previous games, where you encounters an enemy force and takes control of the battle. Otherwise, the AI will decide the outcome. When taking control of the battle, you will leave the world map and enter a more detailed battle map. How it looks depends on where you encounter your opponent, so it can be on the ourskirts, near a city, in a forest. Romance of the Three Kingdoms shares the same epic cinematics found in the Dynasty Warriors series, though not as dynamic and animated. Instead, the cutscenes are still images with little animation. However, it still has that epic feel thanks to the voice acting and the effects added to them. Though I would have proffered if the game had fully animated cutscenes. The soundtrack is also as amazing as in the Dynasty Warriors games as well. As hard as it was to get into at first, I did enjoy my time with the game, such as plotting my dominion over China as well as growing my civilization through the basics of successful commerce, culture, farming and military training. However, after investing my time into it, I don’t think it’s my type of game either. I personally think that Romance of the Three Kingdoms is far from a bad game for what it offers, and I can really appreciate a game that offers a lot of depth. However, as a newcomer to the series, it was really difficult and frustrating for me to get into it at first. According to friends familiar with the series, this was probably a bad entry to start with, and I should play ROTTK10 instead to get into the series, and if you want to get in to the series, I would advise to do so as well. Otherwise, it’s probably a good game for veterans of the series.  [This review is based on a copy of the game provided by the publisher.]
ROTTK photo
Expand Your Empire
Being interested in Japanese culture, learning about the Sengoku era came with the territory. While learning about the history about the era as well as its historical figures, I stumbled upon Samurai Warriors back in late 200...

Japanator Live photo
Japanator Live

Japanator Live: Vanquish deadly cute foes with Fortune Summoners


Adorableness is the best deception
Aug 06
// Salvador GRodiles
[Update: The stream is over, but you can watch it here.] As I promised last time, I was going to try out a different doujin title for this week's segment. Since I was in a mood for a challenge, I'm going to tackle Fortune Sum...
Kamen Rider Ex-Aid photo
Kamen Rider Ex-Aid

2016's Kamen Rider series gets Lupin the 3rd Part 4's Writer


Press start to transform
Aug 01
// Salvador GRodiles
If there's one thing that most of my favorite Rider shows have in common is that they're written by folks who were involved with anime, such as Kamen Rider Fourze and Gaim. Speaking of which, it turns out that Yuuya Takahashi...
Japanator Live photo
Japanator Live

Japanator Live: Overcome large waves of monsters with Croixleur Sigma


Someone is about to get cut
Jul 30
// Salvador GRodiles
[Update: The stream is over, but you can watch it here.] So I was able to get VA-11 Hall-A's good and bad ending last time, which means that it's time for us to start our next adventure. Tonight, I felt that I should sli...
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 GRodiles
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,...

Ghost in the Shell: First Assault Online rolls out the big guns ahead of launch

Jul 28 // Christian Chiok
As a Ghost, you’ll be utilizing the Therm-optic Camo, making you invisible to the Cyborgs. It’s really useful since it saved my skin when I was close to the Cyborgs although they could still detect me with their radar. You also have around 20 bullets to your disposal but unfortunately you can’t melee the Cyborg. As for the Cyborg, you’ll have six bullets to kill a Ghost, after that you’ll have to rely on melee and stealth attacks. You will have radar at your disposal which allows you to see if a Ghost is nearby. I had a blast playing this mode, especially a full room with other 15 more players, though it makes things harder but still an enjoyable experience. For my own sake, I personally enjoyed playing four against four since it was the perfect balance between not making it too hectic or too boring.  As the Ghost, it allowed me to stay hidden well but it also gave the opponent a fair chance to find me as there were many times we crossed paths. I can fairly say that both my teammates and opponents had the same experience. While it was fun, playing the game with eight players made the experience too hectic, thus enjoying the role of a Ghost a bit less. While playing through Ghost Assault I also had the chance to try out the new maps, Headquarters, which is currently in prototype, and the Underground base, a permanent map featuring the changes from the community feedback. Personally I never played the Underground Base map in its prototype stage (or don’t recall the map from my first time playing it) but I thought that map was too small for Ghost Assault and I didn’t have the opportunity to play it in any other mode. I really liked Headquaters in Ghost Assault however since it offered nice hiding spots and had different paths that made avoiding the enemy easier. I didn’t have the opportunity to try this map in any other mode however. Lastly, there’s Kuro, the newest operative who will be available once Open Beta launches this week. Kuro specializes in incapacitating enemies with short-range pulses using focused EMP devices. Considering we can’t use their skills in Ghost Assault, we played a few Team Deatmatch matches, though not in the new maps. I really had fun using Kuro and using his skill net me and my teammates a lot of kills since a few times multiple enemies were within the range, making them sitting ducks for a few seconds. Overall, I really enjoyed my experience in this open beta and might go back to it when it officially releases. Ghost Assault is definitely what I enjoyed the most. The game is now available for free to everyone via Steam and the Nexon Launcher. You can check out Ghost Assault in action below: [embed]35172:5750:0[/embed]  
Ghost in the Shell photo
Play Hide and Seek in Style
So it’s been almost eight months since I had the opportunity to play Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex - First Assault Online before it went Early Access, in which I wrote my thoughts about. To keep it short, I en...

Review: God Eater Resurrection

Jul 28 // Red Veron
God Eater Resurrection (Playstation 4 [Tested], PlayStation Vita [Reviewed], PlayStation TV [Reviewed], PC)Developer: ShiftPublisher: Bandai Namco EntertainmentRelease Date: October 15, 2015 (JP), June 28, 2016 (NA), August 30, 2016 (EU, PC)MSRP: $19.99 The God Eater games have always been visually unique, unlike the many medieval fantasy-like set Hunting games, God Eater differentiates itself with a post-apocalyptic, dystopian science fiction setting coupled with fashionable anime character designs that look straight off the streets of Tokyo. First released for the PlayStation Portable in 2010 in the USA under the renamed title Gods Eater Burst (to not offend those who believe in only one god), the game never had a chance to show its stuff due to the PlayStation Portable being deemed commercially dead in the US at the time. Now in 2016, God Eater gets another chance in the west with God Eater Resurrection. Don't think that this is just a simple remaster, this enhanced remake serves up a second helping that brings more than a visual upgrade and retroactively receives new content from the sequel and the recent anime adaptation. The new added content comes in the form of weapons, moves, voice acting, story elements, and new enemies as well as changes to the old enemies. God Eater is set decades in the future where creatures called Aragami have climbed to the top of the food chain and what's left of humanity fights to survive everyday. The eponymous "God Eaters" are the wielders of  special weapons are called "God Arcs", giant blade weapons that are the only ones that can slay the Aragami, and can grow a giant pair of sharp jaws that can take a bite out of the Aragami to extract temporary buffs and materials from the enemy. The "-gami" in Aragami means god (which in this case they are powerful beings), hence the title "God Eater". God Eater Resurrection is a hunting game in the vein of Monster Hunter, but with with its own take on the formula and is much more accessible than most of the older Monster Hunter games that came out before it in 2010. The combat of God Eater leans toward more of an hack-and-slash action game than the more methodical timing in the combat of Monster Hunter. God Eater's God Arc alternates between a melee and ranged weapon, both of which have different types each that allow for different combination of play styles.  The first few missions are short and ease you in to the hunting mechanics while you shoot and wail away at the enemies, it does a quick job in getting you going compared to most other Hunting games. God Eater is still true to the genre and has you going on missions to gather materials (though not to same degree as Monster Hunter) from enemies and the environment to improve your gear and learning the different ways to effectively fight the enemies. Among the unique ways to fight enemies effectively is a bullet customization system (revised in this new version) for the bullets fired from the God Arc which allows for unique ways to fight with the different combinations of elemental and projectile types. This new version also adds in new weaponry from the sequel, God Eater 2: Rage Burst, that gives players a new way to play such as the Valiant Scythe and the Boost Hammer. New additions include "Predator" moves that allow you to bite enemies in different ways to activate ability boosts. Do not let the accessibility of the game fool you, there is a lot of depth with the combat and even more with this new version. Utilizing everything at your disposal, from equipment to tactics, to give you an advantage in defeating your enemies is still paramount in getting far into this game, especially for near endgame content and beyond. God Eater Resurrection still plays very much like the original but with the added benefit of the right stick for improved camera controls and adds a host of control options. It also takes advantage of the new platform with options to use the touch controls on the Vita, which makes me favor the handheld version over the prettier console version. The corners of the Vita's touchscreen, as well as the R3 and L3 buttons on the controller enabled versions of the game, can be assigned to function as extra buttons that either let you quickly access items, team commands, or the map menu. Playing the Vita version on the PlayStation TV microconsole provides a very close core experience to the PlayStation 4 version just without the extra graphical muscle and PlayStation 4 console functionality. The Vita version does have that lack of anti-aliasing but is easily overlooked since still looks good with its nice anime art style and keeps up even in the graphically intense fights in the game. God Eater Resurrection allows cross-save and cross-play between the PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita it will be easier to find people to play with, which is important and is a fun time for a hunting game. God Eater Resurrection is rather affordable at $19.99 and not bad for those wanting to check out a solid hunting game experience for not a lot of money, but do check out those special offers where you can get God Eater Resurrection for free when you preorder God Eater 2: Rage Burst on the PlayStation. These offers vary by territory and is a nice way to check out the original as well as get yourself a newer hunting game. All the new added content, better controls and visuals serve to improve the experience quite a lot from the original release. However, the game still feels too similar to the original game, it feels like an older game in the genre, along with the limitations of the original platform. Shift, the developer of this God Eater Resurrection whose prior work the year before, the impressive Freedom Wars, improves on the hunting genre in many ways but not much of those improvements made it back into God Eater Resurrection. Those wanting more of a modern experience may just want to check out the second game, which releases a little after the North American release of God Eater Resurrection. If you are a God Eater veteran and have time for a refresher before the sequel God Eater 2: Rage Burst hits, it is definitely worth it to check it out. If don't have the time to commit, you can skip this one and probably check out some summaries of the new story content out there on the internet to get you ready for the sequel and there's even that anime adaptation to supplement the experience. God Eater Resurrection is a good introduction to the franchise and the genre, overall a good game with the new bells and whistles but is showing its age in a world where newer hunting games exist. [embed]35158:5751:0[/embed]
God Eater Resurrection photo
Back for Seconds
The Monster Hunter franchise's meteoric rise in Japan in the past decade has given birth to a new genre that is still going strong in Japan with numerous contenders that spring up every so often. While many Japanese game...

First Impressions: Danganronpa 3: The End of Hope's Peak High School - Despair Arc

Jul 27 // Salvador GRodiles
With hope and despair being two things that go hand in hand, Danganronpa 3: The End of Hope Peak’s High School – Despair Arc’s first two episodes work well in making the audience feel relieved after witnessing the intense moments that happened earlier in the week. Hell, the whole thing played out like an over-the-top high school comedy series, as the Ultimate Housekeeper Chisa Yukizome goes out of her way to make sure that the main cast of Danganronpa 2 (except Hajime) uses their school time to create great memories. A majority of the great laughs came from the gang’s exaggerated and wacky personalities, a feature that made them very fun to follow during Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair. With the animation being completely original, this lead to some a priceless segments throughout the series, such as Gundham the Ultimate Breeder appearing on top of a bunch of ruins while performing an incantation that might summon a powerful demon, or Nekomaru the Ultimate Team Manager’s deadly farts that are on par with One Punch Man’s Saitama’s punch. So far, it lives up to the game's comedic aspects that occur when no one is getting murdered. When you compare the effort put into the show's crazy scenes alongside Danganronpa 3 – Future Arc’s stuff, it’s possible that a majority of the manpower was placed into Danganronpa 3 – Despair Arc; however, these differences are likely a matter of the latter starting off as a comedy than budget management, so there’s a chance that the folks at Lerche are making sure that both sagas have their own distinct style. Overall, this move benefits the series since the audience is getting their taste of hope and despair during the same week. Of course, the best moment from this format is going to be when the tones of the show's two arcs decide to trade places. Even though Danganronpa 3 – Despair Arc made sure that Yukizome and the Danganronpa 2 gang’s best quirks were at their highest, the show still reminds us of the later events that’ll set the pieces for the first major tragedy to occur. The interesting part about it is getting to learn about Hajime’s predicament that made him decide to be part of the Ultimate Hope project. In Danganronpa 2 and the light novel known as Danganronpa Zero, I felt that the Hope’s Peak High School Board forced Hajime into this project against his own will. The idea that his desire to remain at Hope’s Peak played a role in being part of the experiment adds a new layer to his character. He saw this opportunity as a hope to overcome the despair of not being able to continue his studies as a reserve course student, yet this choice ruined his future (and the world’s state) until he found his new path at the end of Danganronpa 2. Seeing that the original mastermind is definitely plotting her actions from behind the scenes, the subtle elements of this segment act as the main aspect that goes against the show's current positive vibe. While we’re on the topic of things that’ll lead to absolute despair, the fact that Chiaki was an actual person is one of the most surprising things to come out of Danganronpa 3 – Despair Arc. This opens up to a lot of questions in regards to the events in the present; however, there’s still a chance that she might not survive, so this possibility could be thrown out the window. I guess the important question is whether or not something happens to her that results in Yukizome's students becoming the original mastermind's loyal followers. Since both Danganronpa 3 Arcs have a few references to each other, Chiaki’s role as the Ultimate Gamer has the potential to lead to some juicy aspects if she’s a Remnant of Despair that’s still out there in the present. Either way, her inclusion in the series was a nice addition to the “Despair Arc’s” humor, as her passion for games brought everyone together in a fun way. However, once we get past the show's silly segments, I'm certain that her role is likely going to have a large impact on the story later on. Despite the original Danganronpa anime failing to do justice to its source material, Danganronpa 3 – Despair Arc was able to overcome this burden and show its audience that it has the potential to become a worthy successor to the previous Danganronpa installments. Since the show’s “Future Arc” accomplished this as well, this proves that a studio that threw a foul ball in the past can step up their game when you have people who care about the series managing the project. If the gang can keep up this up this great record, then they’ll make their audience smile with their complete comic book that’ll present the last piece of evidence that's required to bring Danganronpa’s Hope’s Peak High School story to a triumphant close. In other words, the future is going to be a hopeful one after all. [Fall into despair with Danganronpa 3: The End of Hope’s Peak High School – Despair Arc at FUNimation.]
Danganronpa 3 photo
This is not going to end well
Sometimes in life, the greatest things are those that occur out of an unexpected turn of events. These opportunities can give many people the chance to do things that they normally couldn’t do. In my case, Spike Chunsof...

Japanator Live photo
Japanator Live

Japanator Live: VA-11 Hall-A's New Year's Eve event is about to get celebrated


Let's break open the celebratory booze
Jul 23
// Salvador GRodiles
[Update: The stream is over, but you can watch it here.] I may have been in a pinch last week, but I was able to somehow save Jill from being evicted from her humble abode; thus preventing her from living in Glitch City's dan...

Review: 7th Dragon III Code: VFD

Jul 19 // Christian Chiok
[embed]35164:5744:0[/embed] 7th Dragon III Code: VFD (Nintendo 3DS)Developer: SegaPublisher: SegaReleased: October 15th, 2015 (JP), July 12th, 2016 (NA & EU)MSRP: $39.99 The game starts off with the player going to 7th Encount, Tokyo's hottest new multiplayer VR game. From there, you will complete a virtual dragon slaying dungeon that is a recruiting tool in disguise by its dragon-hunting developers, Nodens, to help prepare for the coming of an all-powerful, world-destroying dragon, code-named 'VFD'. From there, you will prompt to create your team of three characters who will be traveling through different eras to gather as much information as you can. I found the time-travel mechanic quite interesting as you will be brought to fascinating places, such as a technologically advanced sea-kingdom of Atlantis in the past, and a medieval Eden in the future. You’ll find that the game has quite an interesting cast of characters that are quite memorable. Luckily, while you will encounter references to the lore of past games, it won’t hinder your understanding of this game. The character creation isn’t as robust as I would like but it still offers enough options to leave you pleased with your choices. You will be given eight appearances in which you can change their style by pressing the X button. They also come in different colors. Unfortunately, those are the only options you have as far as your character appearance. What I really enjoyed was the variety of voice actors and actresses that the game offered, including Aki Toyosaki, Yoko Hikasa, and Yui Horie. There will be eight classes to close from including Samurai, God Hand, and Rune Knight. Once you finish setting up your team, you’ll jump straight into the story. Noden’s Headquarters will be your main hub where the company’s time-traveling Portal is located. When using the Portal, you’ll be presented with a menu with your current available locations that you can travel in the world map. It will detail how many dragons you got yet to defeat in that location. Once you selected the area you want to travel, you’ll be teleported and that’s when your mission will start. Unlike your average RPG where you have to approach the enemy to fight it, this game has a colored gauge at the top of the screen will let you know how close an enemy is to attacking. Once it hits red, you’ll be sent to battle that monster. They are unavoidable but you can slow down the gauge by using the camouflage item. Even though the enemy approach is different, the combat is similar to your typical Turn-Based JRPG. You will be able to attack, defend, and use skills and items. The type of attacks and skills in your arsenal depend on what class you chose for your characters. The classes available are Samurai, God-hand, Agent, Duelist, Rune-knight, Fortuner, Mage, and Banisher, each which offer a different playstyle. For instance, there’s the Samurai who are adept with two different forms of swordplay: using longswords, or dual blades. Depending on their weapon of choice, they have access to a different range of skills. There’s also the Agent who keeps a low profile, staying out of the spotlight for the sake of long-distance attacks, inflicting status ailments, manipulating enemies to attack each other with skilled hacking, and setting traps to toy with their foes. With all classes having a different role in battle, this makes the experience more engaging. Always attack isn’t help you in battle, as there will be times where you would need to heal your team as well as weaken the enemy. Even with weaker enemies, it’s important to strategize instead of full on attacking to get the best results possible. Even when playing the game in Casual, the game’s easiest difficulty, it will give you a hard time so it’s still important to strategize and not spam the attack option. Each character can also develop and level up skills via a tree system though it’s recommended that you focus on skills that go according to your character’s class. Aside from battling Dragons, you’ll be able to the save any survivor wandering around the map which automatically happens just by interacting with them. While it’s almost meaningless, it’s a nice feature that makes the experience more real. The dungeon design can vary per area thus giving you a unique experience for reach era that you travel. Noden’s Headquarters isn’t your regular hub as players can customize it to their liking using Dragon Points, which you'll earn in dungeons. Once giving the feature, you’ll start with your dormitory room where your party rest, but you’ll be able to start various construction projects such as turning a basement floor into anything you like. Once of the options is the Skylounge, where it allows players to go on dates with their teammates and story characters, a common feature in various JRPGs. While it doesn’t really benefit you in combat, it’s still a nice feature that I can appreciate since I got to see interesting cutscenes with my own characters. It was definitely fun to mess with for a bit. Graphically the game looks as good as a 3DS game should, especially since characters are shown as Chibi, similar to Bravely Default. I think it’s rather lacking that it doesn’t have the 3D feature as a 3DS title but personally I barely use it. The game also runs at a steady framerate giving you a smooth experience. Additionally the game has a fantastic soundtrack to go with it as well. Overall, 7th Dragon III: Code VFD is an excellent addition to your 3DS RPG collection. It offers a unique experience no other RPG on the 3DS has offered, and has an interesting story to go with it as well. The combat system is pretty robust combat system with plenty of customization options as well as classes to choose from. It’s a lovely game and makes me wish that they brought the previous games to the States.
7th Dragon III Code: VFD photo
Dragon Slaying Adventures
By now, the 3DS has been known to be the perfect platform for gamers to get their JRPG fix. Games such as the Etrian Odyssey series, the Shin Megami Tensei series, the Bravely Default series and naturally the Pokemon games ma...

Japanator Live photo
Japanator Live

Japanator Live: Celebrate Mega Christmas in July with VA-11 Hall-A


It's the season of drinking
Jul 16
// Salvador GRodiles
[Update: The stream is over, but you can watch it here.] After I felt sad over failing to pay Jill's electric bill last week, I decided to reload my previous save date in VA-11 Hall-A to see if I could fix things. Lo and beho...

Review: JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Eyes of Heaven

Jul 11 // Nick Valdez
[embed]35131:5738:0[/embed] JoJo's Bizzare Adventure: Eyes of Heaven (PS4 [reviewed] and PS3) Developer: CyberConnect2Publisher: Bandai Namco EntertainmentReleased: December 17, 2015 (JP), June 28, 2016 (NA), July 1, 2016 (EU)MSRP: $59.99 With a story overseen by series creator Hirohiko Araki, JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Eyes of Heaven takes place after the events of the manga's arguably most recognizable arc, Stardust Crusaders. After Jotaro Kujo and crew defeat the evil vampire Dio, Jotaro is suddenly caught up in a new adventure. As deceased friends come back to life and start attacking thanks to the effects of a purple fog, Jotaro and the gang realize they have to collect pieces of a mystical item called the Holy Corpse across different periods of time and space. Then time shenanigans lead to an overpowered villain who can alter reality and every iteration of the eight generation strong JoJo family must band together to stop them.  Eyes of Heaven is created with fans in mind, so unfortunately, they are the only ones who can truly appreciate what the game has to offer. Other than a brief summary detailing the final events of each arc before story chapters, there is no real introduction to the game's 50+ characters (all unlocked from the jump). Assuming you already know every member of the cast, the game's central plot moves at a breakneck pace with characters constantly being introduced through its six to seven hour run time. The only problem with this being that even while you end up fighting some characters multiple times (as the game continues to pad its short plot with repetitive battles), you never learn anything new about them even when there is plenty opportunity to do so. But in that same breath, the plot itself is just a huge excuse to give into "fandemonium" and give fans situations that would not normally occur otherwise. For example, seeing 17-year-old Jotaro interact with his 20-something-year-old future daughter from Part 6 lead to some cute exchanges between the two. I know JoJo is not a show known for its plot, but the property's charm stems from it essentially making mountains out of molehills. Eyes of Heaven had the potential for a great, hilariously dramatic JoJo story but lacks the follow through of a traditional manga arc. That seems to be the problem with the title overall. Lots of Heaven's problems are rooted in poor follow through. So many interesting ideas are crushed under the weight of its poor systems. Beyond Eyes of Heaven's story mode, the core of the game is focused on its battle system. Each fight is a two vs. two affair (which can involve four players online if at least four people have the game, which I have yet to see myself or even connect to on Heaven's piss poor netcode) on a 3D map littered with pitfalls and hazards a la games like Power Stone. Unlike most arena fighters, however, each attack has cooldown times meaning you cannot spam skills as you wish. To counter these skills, each character also comes equipped with a rechargeable "Flash" gauge with allows them to either break out of a characters combo or cancel their skills mid-attack. Coupled with the team based Dual Combo system (which builds up a meter with you and your computer controlled partner's hits before a super finish) and Dual Heat Attacks (which unite both characters in a flashy super skill) and you could potentially do a lot of damage. The problem is the game is incredibly stiff and it's got quite the adjustment curve. It does not take time to learn the game's systems, but it is going to take some time to get used to how often the attacks miss.  Rather than sparking strategy, the cooldown system instead breeds frustration. To put it bluntly, battles are ugly. Each battle comes with a cluttered HUD, including giant controller symbols signifying when each skill is available. On top of that is the wonky lock-on system which leads to some terrible camera angles that caused far too many losses than they should. Which means a lot of the time, Heaven is unfair. Often times I found myself missing my opponent directly in front of me, and since each skill locks you in a single animation for some time, it gave them plenty of opportunity to do damage to me. And despite the game's attempts to balance this by incorporating RPG like skill trees, none of the skills have enough of an effect to warrant utilizing them. No matter how much you level up a character, they'll still do the same amount of damage per hit. And the computer opponent will always do more damage than you. recover their gauges faster, and you will always constantly struggle against the game's ugliness and poor design to completely catch up.  Playing through JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Eyes of Heaven is a purgatory from which I could not escape. With no attention paid to non-single player modes, it is also a battle fought alone. With no support in sight, and with no reward for the struggle other than occasionally seeing your favorite character do something you like, there is little reason to stick through Eyes of Heaven even with its occasional bursts of personality.  JoJo's Bizarre Adventure may have had its eyes on heaven, but its soul is trapped in hell. [This review is based on a copy of the game provided by the publisher.]
Eyes of Heaven Review photo
Sighs of heaven
JoJo's Bizarre Adventure is the only property with such, well, bizarre characters, insanely disproportional art, backbreaking victory poses, operatic plot, and enough bravado to carry all of this on machismo alone. Thanks to ...

Valkyrie Drive: Bhikkhuni photo
Valkyrie Drive: Bhikkhuni

Valkyrie Drive gets weaponized for the West


Let's get physical!
Jul 10
// Salvador GRodiles
Now this is a bit of a surprise: It turns out that PQube is bringing over Valkyrie Drive: Bhikkhuni, the 3D brawler game by Senran Kagura Series Producer Kenichiro Takaki where girls turn other girls into weapons through...
Japanator Live photo
Japanator Live

Japanator Live: Mix up some tasty drinks with VA-11 Hall-A


Bartending looks fun right now
Jul 09
// Salvador GRodiles
[Update: The stream is over, but you can watch it here.] If there's one thing that I love about alcoholic beverage mixes, it's the random names that each concoction gets. In many cases, the drink's title represents the feelin...
Deep Silver x Atlus photo
Deep Silver x Atlus

Deep Silver to publish Atlus and Sega games (and Persona 5) in Europe


Took 'em long enough
Jul 06
// Josh Tolentino
Time for some relief, European otaku: You'll get Persona 5 - and more - in your neck of the woods. Atlus and Sega have found a new partner for European publishing. The agreement comes in the wake of NIS America cutting i...
Japanator Live photo
Japanator Live

Japanator Live: Get comfortable with VA-11 Hall-A's bar setting


Relaxation plus booze equals a good time
Jul 02
// Salvador GRodiles
[Update: The stream is over, but you can watch it here.] You know that you're in for a great time when a game presents you with a message that encourages the players to get comfy before they continue playing. In fact, this mo...
Hearthstone photo
Hearthstone

Brilliant Hearthstone ad pokes fun at Japanese corporate culture


Well Played
Jun 28
// Josh Tolentino
It's a cliche at this point to describe Japanese work culture as "quite hierarchical", but it is true that bosses, company officials, and executives are afforded a level of deference that's not as common in other cultures. Un...
Japanator Live photo
Japanator Live

Japanator Live: Drink away your problems in VA-11 Hall-A


Cheers, everyone!
Jun 25
// Salvador GRodiles
[Update: The stream is over, but you can watch it here.] Now that I've fallen into the deepest pits of despair, it's time for me to drown my sorrows with the finest booze from VA-11 Hall-A's signature bar. For the record...

Here are the otaku games to eye this Steam Summer Sale

Jun 24 // Josh Tolentino
[Note: Pricing and actual percentage discounts can vary based on your region, so check your local Steam page to get the exact numbers.] The Fruit of Grisaia - The well-regarded visual novel series recently got an anime adaptation and was localized by Sekai Project last year. Its sequel, The Labyrinth of Grisaia, is also on sale, as is the Michiru-led comedy spinoff The Leisure of Grisaia. Higurashi When They Cry - The classic and now terribly ugly "sound novel" series was being sold for impulse-buy money even without a discount, and now the whole series, including Umineko, is up for the cut. Also interesting are other MangaGamer offerings like lesbian ghost sim Kindred Spirits on the Roof and Nikola Tesla pretty-boy sim Gahkthun of the Golden Lightning. Bandai Namco felt the touch of the green percentage as well, with all three Dark Souls games facing significant price cuts, as well as Tale of Zestiria, which has an awesome Japanese intro whose lyrics didn't make it into the English version. The Naruto Shippuden Ultimate Ninja Storm games are also on sale, so if you want to catch up with the last quarter of the Naruto manga's plot while also having cool graphics, that's up. Dragon Ball: Xenoverse and One Piece Pirate Warriors 3 also flesh out the roster of Shonen JUMP titans. Square Enix is as well-known these days for publishing western games as much as Japanese ones, but as far as relevance goes, Final Fantasy titles are where it's at. VII, VIII, IX, X, X-2, XIII, XIII-2, Type-0 and Lighting Returns are all on sale. And if the thought of playing all those JRPGs makes you want to strangle someone, they're also selling a handful of cool Hitman games. Capcom also brings a slate of offerings headlined by a much-needed discount on the beleaguered Street Fighter V. By most accounts, the fighting-game core of this unfortunate beast is strong, but the damn thing simply isn't finished yet. Capcom are promising a free "cinematic" story mode soon, as well as some new characters. Fans of Dead Rising can snag a hefty discount off a bundle containing Dead Rising 2, Dead Rising 2: Off The Record, and Dead Rising 3. The PC version of Dragon's Dogma: Dark Arisen is also available, spreading its cult appeal beyond the consoles. Look at Sega's store lineup and you'll find more Total War and Company of Heroes than the games most folks used to associate with the company. That said it would be a "shameful display" if a self-respecting, PC-owning otaku didn't at least try Shogun 2: Total War at the price it's being sold at now. It's the most Japanese game to ever come out of West Sussex, where developer Creative Assembly is quartered. People who do remember what Sega used to mean can drown their sorrows in a hefty collection of retro rereleases, or maybe some Valkyria Chronicles. XSEED, which has in many ways overtaken Atlus as the premier English-language localizer of note, has a number of PC offerings on sale, including the PC versions of Akiba's Trip and Senran Kagura Shinovi Versus. Fans who don't need too much anime boobies in their life can turn to a host of Ys games and The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky. Ghostlight, publisher of many a localized game in the UK, has a handful of Agarest titles up for discount, but the real prizes in my mind are Way of the Samurai 3 and 4, the quirkiest open-world games this side of a Yakuza spinoff. They're also basically better, more thought-out takes on what you may have tried in Akiba's Trip, but with more swords and S&M torture and less anime boobies. Speaking of games that were published by Spike Chunsoft at some point (they handled the original versions of Way of the Samurai and Akiba's Trip), you also can't forget Danganronpa 1 and 2, which are arguably two of the best visual novels available in English right now.  In keeping with the fact that Idea Factory International mostly just handles a few games these days, a truly absurd number of Hyperdimension Neptunia games and DLC are on sale, with Fairy Fencer F and the redundantly-titled otome game Amnesia: Memories rounding out the offering. Playism brings a raftload of fairly obscure titles, but the headliners here are Swery's D4: Dark Dreams Don't Die, and the Indiana Jones-like metroidvania La-Mulana. NIS America, for its part, only started releasing PC games recently, and its availablity of old PS2-era strategy titles, including Phantom Brave and Disgaea alongside tough games like htoL#NiQ: The Firefly Diary and Stranger of Sword City  are up for some modest price cuts. Other discounts of interest include the brilliant Stardew Valley, which does Harvest Moon better than its current masters in Japan have managed, and Undertale, a loving and subversive send-up of JRPGs. That's just a smattering of the most notable otaku-oriented offerings this summer. There may be more or larger discounts rolling in as the sale develops, so keep an eye on the storefront if there's something you're hoping to pick up.
Steam Summer Sale photo
And, like, five thousand other games
It's that time again, eager gamers and deal-conscious customers: Valve's yearly Steam Summer Sale has just kicked off, and the prices are a-dropping. That's especially relevant to you, the fan of games from Glorious Nippon, a...

Review: Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE

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

Code: HARDCORE photo
Code: HARDCORE

Feast your eyes on Code: HARDCORE's sweet robot sprite animations


Giant chest beams included
Jun 22
// Salvador GRodiles
For a good while, I've been waiting for the day that someone would create an indie mecha title that was inspired by the Super Robot Wars series. While this day hasn't arrived, the Chinese Indie Game Development Team known as...

Review: Grand Kingdom

Jun 21 // Christian Chiok
[embed]35113:5710:0[/embed] Grand Kingdom (PS Vita [reviewed], PS4)Developer: Spike ChunsoftPublisher: NIS AmericaReleased: November 19th, 2015 (JP), June 17th, 2016 (EU), June 21st, 2016 (NA)MSRP: $49.99 (PS4), $39.99 (PS Vita) Unfortunately, the story is only about 12 story chapters each lasting at least 30 minutes to one hour.  On top of the short story, the game only gets interesting near the end.  It’s unfortunate since some of the characters are likeable as well as the voice acting work. Some of the characters reminded me of the typical ones found in Shonen series so I was really looking forward on seeing more of them. However, all the 36 chapters that were delivered as DLC in Japan are going to be included in the western release, giving you a total of 48 chapters of story from the get-go.  In the DLC chapters, you’ll have the chance to delve yourself in the story of each of the four Great Nations, allowing the player to align themselves with a particular nation and dig deeper into that nation’s motivations and history. Each campaign will introduce you to brand new characters, deeper ties that bind rulers to family and nation, and perhaps even discover something about yourself as you decide which nation tugs at your heart the most. The uniqueness of the gameplay styles with each mission taking place on a large game board in both you and enemies move around in, one turn at a time. Your team will be represented by a silver piece while the enemies’ will be represented by a purple and red piece, the latter being a stronger enemy. Additionally, the game board will have items lying around which can improve your journey. The concept may sound simple from first looks, but there’s a lot more to it. Depending on the mission, there will be a limit of how much you can move your piece, and reaching the limit results in an automatic failure. However, for the most part, you realize that you will have a lot more turns than that mission requires giving you room for mistakes and dawdling. You’ll also encounter invisible enemies in which you can only see their movement every three turns. Once you encounter the enemy, you will be taken to battle in a beautiful and crisp 2D art style similar to the Dragon’s Crown and Odin Sphere. In a way, you can say that the game is similar to Valkyria Chronicles, except in a side-on view with three rows for characters to stand on and move around in. Each turn, you will move your unit to a desired spot until your action gauge is emptied, then you can perform a skill, which can range from melee or ranged attacks as well as heal your comrades.  While on the hub and the quest map, you’re allowed to visit the Party menu in which you can form different formations. The game already has two default ones, however, both Offensive and Defensive in which you can modify.  You can also set shields or even medical boxes, which both are very helpful in battle.  Including DLC, which will be available to western players from the get-go, the game offers over 17 classes including Melee, Ranged, Magic, and Specialist units. You’re only allowed to hire a certain few classes in the beginning of the game but it’s enough to create a competent troop to beat the game. You’re allowed to make up to six troops consist of four units each. When hiring, you can customize your character ranging from their hairstyles, voices, colors, and starting stats. Melee units are characterized by their high attack and defense and specialize in close combat. They also have the ability to Guard, allowing the unit to negate all damage until their guard gauge depletes. Melee units have low magic defense, so it’s best to be careful when facing Magic units. Ranged units can attack from longer distances. With their extended attack range, they can reach enemies at the other side of the map. Unfortunately, Ranged units have low defense, so it's imperative that you place them in places where it’s hard for them engage in close combat or being hit by other Ranged units. Magic units have medium attack range, and use ranged attacks which allow the player to target multiple enemies. Some of their more powerful skills must be charged before they can be used, leaving them vulnerable to an enemy's ranged attack, in which results your attack being disrupted as well. Remember that the game has friendly fire so make sure that your units are out of the way as well. Unlike the Melee, Ranged, and Magic units, Specialist units lack a clearly defined role in battle. These units have individualized abilities that can be a great asset in battle, but their specialized nature affords little room for flexibility. They range from Medics, Challengers and Dragon Mage. Medics heal your units, Challenger places explosives and Dragon Mage allows the player to perform powerful melee attacks. One of my issues when using the Medic is that while angling where you want to throw your potion, it’s never accurate.  There will be times where you accidentally hit your unit with a poisonous potion or accidentally heal the opposing unit. While you’ll eventually adapt to the weird aiming, but this still proves to be a hindrance.   Aside from the story missions which usually consist of going from Point A to Point B, the game also features different side quests with variety of missions such as Stealth Missions and Guarding missions. In Stealth missions, you’ll navigate the world-map in a puzzle-like fashion to avoid encountering any enemies at all. As for the Guarding missions, you’ll be moving around the map to defend certain spots from incoming enemy assaults. Once the enemy reaches the spot, the missions fails. A big letdown with this game is that it doesn’t support cross-save so any progress that you made on the go with your PS Vita won’t be transferable to your PS4. It was a bit bothersome since when I got my hands on the PS4 version, I wanted to continue my journey on a bigger and better screen. At least the game allows cross-play support across both systems, expanding the amount of players you can play with in the online multiplayer modes.  Naturally the PS4 version is the superior version as it runs at 60 frames per second at 1080p. However, that doesn’t mean that the game is less enjoyable on PS Vita as it runs very smooth as well. If you’re looking to expand your Tactical JRPG library on PS Vita, I can definitely recommend Grand Kingdom.  Including the integrated DLC chapters, the game offers many hours of fun with more hours on top if you play the side missions. While the main story is short, it still features likeable characters making the journey worthwhile. With the PS Vita not getting many games lately, you can’t go wrong with Grand Kingdom. It’s an excellent addition on PS4 as well, though. 
Grand Kingdom photo
Fight For Your Grand Nation
Being a fan of the JRPGs, I always look forward to new additions to the genre, especially ones that offer a unique gameplay style that separates itself from other series. While not entirely unique, when first announced, Grand...

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