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Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA f Review

Developer: SEGA, Crypton Future Media Publisher: SEGA Platform: PSN – PS3, Vita It’s a joy to see Hatsune Miku slowly, but surely, becoming fully recognized in North America. Heck, she’s even opening for Lady Gaga! The best part, however, is that we’re […]

RefleX Featured

RefleX Review

Developer: SITER SKAIN Publisher: Nyu Media Platform: Desura, GamersGate, Nyu Media, Rice Digital, Steam Digital distribution is quickly changing the landscape of games available to players. In the days when arcades still existed, it was likely most had tried at […]

Euro Truck Simulator 2 Featured

Euro Truck Simulator 2 Review

Developer: SCS Software Publisher: SCS Software Platform: PC – Amazon, Direct, GamersGate, Green Man Gaming, Humble Store, Steam Thanks to a continuous deluge of them on Steam, many gamers are tremendously annoyed with simulation games. Getting into extreme minutia such as Munich […]

Dengeki Stryker Featured

Cho Dengeki Stryker Review

Developer: OVERDRIVE Publisher: MangaGamer Platform: PC – MangaGamer Dengeki Stryker is a visual novel that tells the story of a young boy named Yuuki Yamato and his unyielding desire to be a hero. Thanks to some extremely strange circumstances, h […]

Moebius: Empire Rising Featured

Moebius: Empire Rising Review

Developer: Phoenix Online Studios Publisher: Phoenix Online Publishing Platform: PC – Direct, GamersGate, GOG, Steam In 2012, beloved game designer Jane Jensen started a Kickstarter campaign for her own development studio named Pinkerton Road. Money was raised for Moebius and Mystery […]

 

Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA f Review

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Developer: SEGA, Crypton Future Media
Publisher: SEGA
Platform: PSN – PS3, Vita

It’s a joy to see Hatsune Miku slowly, but surely, becoming fully recognized in North America. Heck, she’s even opening for Lady Gaga! The best part, however, is that we’re getting Project Diva games published here now. I already played Project DIVA F on PS3 last year and loved it, but I wanted to see if its handheld counterpart was an even better experience.

Like any other rhythm game, you press buttons to the beat of the music in Project DIVA f. There are also moments where you must swipe either the front or back touchscreens. With faster songs and higher difficulties, swiping quickly enough feels almost impossible, especially with the fact that they are sometimes not recognized. In any case, the more accurate you are with your timing, the better your score.

Miku-5

Paired with a selection of over 30 catchy tracks, Project DIVA f‘s main gameplay will have you hooked. It can get really crazy and demand your utmost attention and reflexes, but it sure as hell feels good to do well on that super difficult song that you’ve had trouble with for so long.

When you want to take a break from the main portion of Project DIVA f, you can interact with Hatsune Miku and the other Vocaloids in their rooms. This includes dressing them up, giving them gifts, and redecorating. It’s oddly satisfying.

Other modes include Edit Mode and Portrait Mode. Edit Mode allows you to create your own music videos, which is sure to please creative folks out there. Portrait Mode, on the other hand, lets you take photos of Miku in your environment.

Customization

Having played both versions of Project DIVA f, I can safely say that I vastly prefer the Vita version. Although it’s lovely seeing Miku dance and sing on a large television screen, the gameplay feels much more suited to a handheld platform.

Why choose Project DIVA f over other rhythm games? Well, its appeal lies heavily in the Vocaloid franchise. So, if you’re not interested in Hatsune Miku and her friends, you’re probably better off skipping over Project Diva f. But for those of you that are fans, even just a little bit… Definitely add it to your gaming library and help show support for Miku in the states!


Pink Score: 44 out of 5 alpacas


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RefleX Review

RefleX Featured

RefleX Boxart

Developer: SITER SKAIN
Publisher: Nyu Media
Platform: Desura, GamersGate, Nyu Media, Rice Digital, Steam

Digital distribution is quickly changing the landscape of games available to players. In the days when arcades still existed, it was likely most had tried at least one shoot ‘em up there. Afterwards, the genre trended toward niche with releases that mostly just fans were aware of. Nyu Media, known for their doujin releases, recently brought RefleX to a western audience.

Interestingly, RefleX is the second game in The Tale of ALLTYNEX trilogy by independent developer SITER SKAIN. Yet, it is the first released to Steam. The game includes eight stages complete with large bosses and tons of regular enemies. Of course, this is what is par for the course with shooters.

RefleX Featured

What is it that makes the game stand out against countless others? The most interesting feature is a reflect system. Using a shield during battle protects your ship but also reflects enemy bullets. Where bullets bounce back is dependent on the angle they struck your shield to begin with. So, in theory, these reflected bullets are a great way to weaken enemies. In play I found this hard to control simply because there’s so much going on.

Bullet hell shooters are famous for having tons of visual clutter thanks to ridiculous bullet patterns and enemies. With so much going on, using the reflective shield to its best is beyond my reach (at least right now). At least RefleX grants failing players extra continues! There’s a lot good about the game, but it seems opposed to novices, despite appealing to them with more lives. RefleX is best played by fans of the genre or those who really, really want to play a solid shooter regardless of difficulty.


Score: 3

3 out of 5 alpacas


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Moebius: Empire Rising Steam Giveaway!

Moebius: Empire Rising Featured

Hello and welcome to our latest contest on Pixel Pacas! Last week was a momentous occasion for adventure fans thanks to the release of Moebius: Empire Rising. This Kickstarter-funded title was helmed by none other than Jane Jensen (Gabriel Knight series). Thanks to Phoenix Online Studios we have a couple copies of Moebius to give to our readers!

Here are your options for entering our giveaway.

Option One:

1. Follow our Twitter account - @PixelPacas

2. After you’ve followed us, post the official contest tweet: I love adventure games and can’t wait to check out Jane Jensen’s Moebius: Empire Rising. Pick me, @PixelPacas ! http://wp.me/p3taEI-zH

Option Two: 

1. Leave a comment on this post describing why you’d like to play Moebius: Empire Rising

Note that you are allowed to use both options! This will grant you two entries into the giveaway instead of one. If you do both, make sure you tell us your Twitter handle in the blog comment so the entries get paired up.

Our Moebius: Empire Rising giveaway ends on Sunday – April 27th at 10 AM PST. Good luck!


If you’d like to stay in the loop about our contests and content our Twitter is always kept up to date. But if you don’t use Twitter, we also have a Steam Group that updates whenever a new giveaway goes live.

TPB Bundle 2: A Lonely Moon

A Lonely Moon Logo

Developer: Tyrus Peace
Platform: PC - Direct

This post is part of a series on The Pirate Bay Bundle.

Made as a Ludum Dare entry, A Lonely Moon at first appears to be a fairly standard platformer. You play as a little dark grey cube with eyes and stubby feet. The landscape is similarly cube-like and not particularly incredible. Walking to the right, you begin your brief adventure.

Apparently the game jam theme was “alone” which definitely helps explain why there are no enemies to stomp on. Well, there is an enemy thanks to lava, but that’s not likely to be considered a living being. Although it feels very much like an average platformer, A Lonely Moon subverts that notion by leaving this poor cube all by itself.

A Lonely Moon Screenshot

The concept of aloneness is further intensified as the screen subtly pulls back as you play. Eventually, the character is practically a spec against the landscape. It’s a very cool element and I didn’t realize it was happening until the most pivotal moment in the game.

As with most Ludum Dare experiments, the game is quite short. It takes five minutes or so to beat. I just wished it could have pushed itself to even more microscopic limits. A Lonely Moon is playable via browser or as a download for Windows or Mac PCs.


Developer’s comment: Thanks for playing A Lonely Moon, or at least downloading it and glancing at it after unzipping the archive. That’s nice of you. I appreciate it. You can check out my other, potentially more long term, projects at tyruspeace.com .

Euro Truck Simulator 2 Review

Euro Truck Simulator 2 Featured

Euro Truck Simulator 2 Boxart

Developer: SCS Software
Publisher: SCS Software
Platform: PC – AmazonDirect, GamersGate, Green Man Gaming, Humble StoreSteam

Thanks to a continuous deluge of them on Steam, many gamers are tremendously annoyed with simulation games. Getting into extreme minutia such as Munich Bus Simulator and Warehouse and Logistics Simulator, well, it is easy to see why such distaste exists. Euro Truck Simulator 2 blended into that lot for me until I finally played it. Then I realized that this is not just a dull budget release but an excellent game overall.

As you might guess, the game is focused on driving through the European continent in a big truck. You’re a trucker who takes on the missions of others and can even run their own company. To start with players can only tow newbie cargo for lower prices, but eventually you level up to transport fragile and dangerous materials.

Much of Euro Truck Simulator 2 is spent on the road between destinations. If you need your gameplay fast and exciting then run away now. Everything about this experience is slow but it works well. I’m someone who has always enjoyed simply “touring” games such as Grand Theft Auto and obeying the traffic laws. Doing so here is expected (unless you want to get ticketed all the time).

Euro Truck Simulator 2 Featured

Only this time, all the minutia I’ve always wanted to live out my mundane driving fantasies are available here. There are windshield wipers, turn signals, headlights, and more on every truck that players have total control over. Many won’t find this exciting but this is just the kind of simulated features my interests trend toward.

My inaugural drive with the game lasted five straight hours. That says something, especially when my average gameplay sessions typically last an hour. Euro Truck Simulator 2 is such a simple concept and is executed near to perfection.


Score: 4

4 out of 5 alpacas


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Exploring itch.io: Belong

Belong Logo

Developer: Liz Threlfo
Platform: PC – itch.io

Even if we don’t admit it, oftentimes people simply want to feel like they “belong” somewhere. This is why we often see groups and cliques form. The gaming community is notorious for this by trying to shoehorn out people who like different games than them, or speak about games in a different way. Belong takes those experiences of being shunned and transforms them into a poignant game.

You start out as a small shape and explore a black landscape for others willing to accept you. Some are different shapes or different colors but no one wants to let you in. Yet, the game has suggested that there is a place for you. But where is it? Wandering the bleak blackness leads one to believe there is no end to the game. Maybe there really is no place for you?

Belong Screenshot

Visually, Belong removes anything that could be construed as distracting from the experience. There are no genders or races or religions on display but simply a square, triangle, and circle of three color configurations. Simplicity allows all players to wedge themselves into the plight of one lone, slightly different shape.

There is an ending, and I felt surprisingly satisfied by it. All in all the game takes ten or so minutes to complete so there’s little reason to avoid playing. It’s a very simple title with a message that we can all relate to. Belong may have been the first game I’ve played by Liz Threlfo but it definitely won’t be the last.

Cho Dengeki Stryker Review

Dengeki Stryker Featured

Cho Dengeki Stryker Boxart

Developer: OVERDRIVE
Publisher: MangaGamer
Platform: PC – MangaGamer

Dengeki Stryker is a visual novel that tells the story of a young boy named Yuuki Yamato and his unyielding desire to be a hero. Thanks to some extremely strange circumstances, h gets his wish and the superhero Dengeki Stryker comes to life. Cho Dengeki Stryker is the ultimate version of the game as it adds on new chapters to fully flesh out the story. If you’ve never played Dengeki Styrker then check out our review. This review is focused purely on the new content. Interested players can purchase Cho Dengeki Stryker as either a patch or complete game depending on their needs.

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Moebius: Empire Rising Review

Moebius: Empire Rising Featured

Moebius Logo

Developer: Phoenix Online Studios
Publisher: Phoenix Online Publishing
Platform: PC – DirectGamersGate, GOG, Steam

In 2012, beloved game designer Jane Jensen started a Kickstarter campaign for her own development studio named Pinkerton Road. Money was raised for Moebius and Mystery Game X (which was later revealed as a Gabriel Knight remake). I backed the project because of my longstanding love for her work and waited impatiently. We’re finally at that point. Moebius: Empire Rising has launched and it does not disappoint.

Malachi Rector is an antiques dealer with more than just a keen eye for detail. For reasons unknown, he has incredible powers of deduction that allow him to “see” things not apparent to normal people. Because of his talent, his antiques business is quite successful, but there’s not much else to his life. This changes once Malachi gets wrapped up in a very unusual murder and subsequent investigation.

Moebius Empire Rising Screenshot 1

A mysterious government agency takes him in and asks him to comply with very strange requests. They want to use his power to match living people with the historical figures their biographies most mirror. Both Malachi and the player are initially in the dark, but agree to the request. Even if you’re not a history buff you’ll leave Moebius with a great deal of new information thanks to an interesting puzzle system.

Most of the game plays as a standard point and click adventure. From a third person perspective you click on objects to look and interact with them. Inventory is kept in check to keep it from getting unwieldy, and there’s always the option to look at hints if you get stuck. Where Moebius diverges from the crowd is in asking you to identify characters as people from the past. After gathering clues about their lives, you sort through a list of pre-determined historical names to see which is the best match. In doing so, you get a huge dose of information about these people and their contributions to society, whether positive or negative. It’s not all based in “literal” history either as names like Medea make an appearance.

Moebius Empire Rising Screenshot 2

One of the most exciting aspects of Gabriel Knight for me was always the amount of history intertwined in the storyline. Moebius attempts the same goals although I feel it doesn’t do so with quite as much tact. Yes, the storyline revolves around it, but you are still “taught” a lot directly through the identification puzzles.

As has always been the case, any game involving Jane Jensen has stunning backdrops. In this specific instance, areas appear hand drawn and are expertly designed. Colors are bright or dulled as need be and bring locations to life. Unfortunately, the character models do betray their gorgeous setting somewhat. Mostly, that’s thanks to the incredibly off animations on display. Malachi shambles weirdly around, stopping and going with no regard for actual human movement. Eventually you get over it and stop noticing (at least I did) but it was an unfortunate note to start off on.

Moebius Empire Rising Screenshot 3

All of that is fine and good, but what of the story? Moebius was anticipated for a reason and it should stand proudly as another great tale by Jane Jensen. Malachi has a dry wit that endears us to him and the other characters have wonderfully distinct personalities as well. The way the story intertwines between everyone is intriguing and urged me to continue playing despite sleep, work, and other tasks. On the rare occasion I got stuck in a puzzle, it would frustrate me primarily because that meant I couldn’t yet get to the next part of the story.

Adventure fans who have been waiting for this game should feel secure in purchasing it immediately. Moebius offers an immensely engaging story, great characters, and a neat mechanic. There are points where it stumbles but they can mostly be forgiven. It’s a shame the package couldn’t be a bit more polished, but even then Moebius: Empire Rising still shines through as a must-have title.


Score: 4

4 out of 5 alpacas


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Harvester Review

Harvester Featured

Harvester Boxart

Developer: DigiFX Interactive
Publisher: Merit Studios / Night Dive Studios
Platform: PC – DOS, GOG, Steam

Harvester, along with a few other FMV adventure games, paved the way for ridiculous violence in the 90s gaming scene. Of course, this was right around the time that people began to express concern and attempt to enact legislation about violence in video games. Instead of taking on the issue in a professional manner, developers rushed to make the most foul media possible. Harvester is a tremendous product of that era and somehow still manages to be shocking.

The town of Harvest is stuck in the 50s. Women are obsessed with the PTA bake sale and little else while men appear to have their own fascination with meat. Everyone is in love with the mysterious Lodge. Steve wakes up in Harvest with no memory and realizes the townsfolk are completely out of it. He finds his supposed wife-to-be Stephanie is also aware of the disturbing nature of Harvest. Steve decides to join the Lodge in hopes of finally leaving this ridiculous town.

As this is an adventure game, there’s a ton of puzzles to solve as you point and click your way around the small town. Most aren’t too difficult but some do seem to expect solutions without ever hinting at them. One nice feature of Harvester is that it won’t let the game progress if you’ve missed out on any key items. There are a good deal of colorful townsfolk and you’ll want to talk to most of them each day, although some are best left alone (nuclear base, anyone?).

Harvester Screenshot 1

The real meat of the game is simply talking with the townspeople and seeing what ridiculous event transpires next. Everyone is just so odd that they captivate you for the hours it takes it beat the game. I was perturbed by certain characters because things have changed over the years.

Is it really a great gag when the firemen are all lisping interior decorators? No, not really, nor are other characters who refer to them in derogatory ways. There’s also Stephanie’s proclivity to wearing lingerie and nothing else multiple times during the game. If aspects such as these were left out the experience would be easier to recommend. And even so, Harvester lends itself to a car crash reaction, where you can’t help but explore it entirely despite its inherent nastiness.

Harvester is beyond the B-movie. It reaches Troll 2 levels of ridiculous and that’s why it makes you need to beat it, just to see this all through to the end. As it turns out, Steve isn’t nearly as much of a kidder as DigiFX Interactive were. Playing Harvester takes one back to an absurd era of gaming where developers would rather give legislators the finger then ever tone down their games.


Score: 3

3 out of 5 alpacas


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Mission Runway Review

Mission Runway Featured

Mission Runway Boxart

Developer: Virtual Playground
Publisher: ValuSoft
Platform: PC – Steam

Being a fashion designer is something I’ve never dreamed of, but for some reason I am still compelled to play any fashion-related game that comes into my hands. From Barbie Fashion Designer until now, I’ve been seeking the perfect fashion game. Nope, Mission Runway isn’t it, but it is better than some out there.

In Mission Runway you participate in a TV show competition (modeled no doubt after Project Runway). Each “week” the designers compete in a themed challenge, get their fashions judged by a panel of celebrity experts (Tyra Banks lookalike and all), and someone always gets sent home at the end of a show. Hopefully, you can become the contestant that wins big!

Mission Runway Featured

Like most mission-based fashion games you simply have to create designs that relate to the themes in question. If the contest is for business wear then you’d better not throw your model onto the stage with a ball gown. Similarly, beach outfits should not likely contain pants and a giant jacket. That said, you can still mess around with the different style types and clothing once you get a feel for how generous the grading is.

That’s one of my favorite things in these otherwise not particularly deep fashion titles. I love attempting to game the system by creating the strangest outfits that still succeed at their goal. Of course, there are times I try to make pretty outfits too but my eye for it is pretty poor. With that said, the game takes less than two hours to beat if you know what you’re doing and there are not enough outfit choices that look anything other than horrendous. Since Mission Runway is supposed to be all about fashion it would have been nice to see more on display.


Score: 1

1 out of 5 alpacas


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