‘Sony Systems’

Hooters Road Trip Review

Hooters Road Trip Featured

Hooters Road Trip Box Art

Developer: Hoplite Research
Publisher: Ubisoft
Platform: PlayStation, PC

The PlayStation was the start of something amazing for console gamers. This system brought about fan-favorite franchises which continue to this day such Metal Gear Solid, Resident Evil, Silent Hill, and many others. Of course, tons of shovelware came alongside the classics. Enter Hooters Road Trip.

Hooters Road Trip is supposedly about traveling between various Hooters restaurants across the United States for no good reason. This manifests as an OutRun-style racing game. As such, the different courses link together, meaning that each race brings with it different state-themed backdrops. It’s rather blurry, though, and the draw distance on the PS1 version leaves much to be desired.

Hooters Road Trip Featured

The racing itself is miserable. Until you unlock the final vehicles (or cheat your way to them), the controls are outrageously slippery. Instead of racing you’ll be careening across the road like a pinball. Suffice it to say this doesn’t work well with aiming for first place. You can’t even do the full road trip right off the bat! Instead, players must run partial trips five times beforehand because the developers wanted to artificially extend their awful gameplay or something.

It’s not all bad. Apparently, Hooters Road Trip launched at $9.99 making it bargain bin trash from the get go. The only enjoyment comes from watching the FMV sequences with Hooters waitresses who all seem to slyly be making fun of the camera person/player. Here’s hoping Hooters never lends their brand to a game again.


Score: 11 out of 5 alpacas


About our rating system

Ray Gigant Review

Ray Gigant - Header

Ray Gigant Boxart

Developer: Experience Inc.
Publisher: acttil
Platform: PlayStation Vita

Having recently played Stranger of Sword City, I was ecstatic about Ray Gigant. Finally, Experience would be trying something new! A battle system that’s quick but encourages varied fighting and skill trees to differentiate characters and roles. In many ways, it’s intriguing for the very fact that it breaks out of the standard Wizardry mold. Every change could have lead to an amazing RPG, but unfortunately Ray Gigant feels like a collection of sophomore mistakes.

Read more »

Z-Run Review

Z-Run Featured

Z-Run Logo

Developer: Beatshapers
Publisher: Beatshapers
Platform: PSN – Vita

So, what would you do when placed in the middle of a zombie apocalypse? Run! In Z-Run that’s exactly what you do. Playing as one of two characters you simply try to maneuver through zombie-infested streets safely. Of course, you’re still free to pick up a weapon or two along the way to make the trek easier.

After choosing to play as Clair or Alex players get to either work through story mode or test survival mode. Story mode sends players through a variety of increasingly difficult levels. Levels themselves have a third person perspective with the character running directly “forward” in a 3D space. As zombies or other obstacles appear, you can whip out a melee weapon, kick them, or even try to dodge. As the playing field is fairly narrow dodging in particular can be hard to do successfully.

Z-Run Featured

One important aspect to note is the two bars (health and stamina) which must not drain. Stamina is used whenever you attack, dodge, or sprint. Health drains by being hit. Luckily there are item pickups to restore both bars. Visually, the game is gloomy and a bit repetitive with only a few stage designs to speak of. Sometimes zombies glitch out and that makes for unexpectedly humorous moments. Those spoiled by modern zombie games may also be disappointed by a meager dozen weapons. Still, Z-Run does throw players a bone by letting them level up a host of stats as they play.

Z-Run is a pretty difficult runner that excels in some areas and is lacking in others. It might not have a huge variety of stuff to do, but the core gameplay feels competent. This being a Vita game also makes sense considering each stage isn’t terribly long to complete, lending itself well to portable play. Still, there have been many entries into the runner genre over the years and Z-Run doesn’t quite reach the bar.


Score: 2

2 out of 5 alpacas


Review code provided
About our rating system

Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes Review

Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes Featured

Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes Boxart

Developer: Kojima Productions
Publisher: Konami
Platform: PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One

Metal Gear is a longstanding franchise which gains a larger audience with each and every release. By this point, fans have been aching for Metal Gear Solid V but that’s still a ways away. As a way to tease fans (and make some extra money along the way) Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes launched. This, apparently, is just a sampling of the “next generation” gameplay and visuals. Oh, and it also introduces a bit of the storyline which will pick up again once V comes out.

As someone who at one point considered themselves an avid Metal Gear Solid fan, my experience with Ground Zeroes was immediately disappointing. Oh, no doubt it looks astonishing (mostly). Yes, there is excellent music. Controls also handle with ease and precision. But none of that could compel me to have much interest in anything that was going on. Fans like to praise Hideo Kojima’s wacky, twisting narrative sensibilities but at some point it just seems unintentional parody.

It was all thanks to a (since removed) interview with Metal Gear Solid 2 translator Agness Kaku that these thoughts first entered my mind, but now with Ground Zeroes I can clearly see what she meant. Kojima has an obvious love for Hollywood action films and, by effect, our government affairs. Injected in these action-genre sensibilities are his own concepts but these concepts no longer appeal to me. For example, early on you meet a character named Skull Face. And guess what? His face is horrifically burned and white – just like a skull! Maybe for some this seems completely awesome but at some point the mishmash of wannabe serious military narrative and ridiculous flourishes become too much.

Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes Featured

This is only further compounded by the fact that (spoilers?) the introductory chapter takes us to a fictional section of Guantanamo Bay. Is it possible to have Metal Gear silliness in such a serious location? Maybe, but it would take incredible skill. I do not feel that is demonstrated in Ground Zeroes. Snake mutters about how he “kept you waiting” but this was not the game I was waiting for. Thankfully, it took only an hour and 45 minutes to finish. Apparently it was only at 7% completion but there was no drive left to attempt to unlock more.

At one point I would have made the ideal candidate to review a Metal Gear Solid game, but that time has apparently passed. Those who know and love everything that Kojima does will likely enjoy this too, even though some of the more obvious wackiness has been toned down. Snake may have a new voice actor but this game still follows down the gameplay path that Metal Gear Solid 4 brought about. With that said, it was not fun for me to play at all, which makes it impossible for me to recommend.


Score: 2

2 out of 5 alpacas


About our rating system

Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA f Review

Untitled-1

image

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


Review code provided
About our rating system

The Witch and the Hundred Knight Review

The Witch and the Hundred Knight Featured

The Witch and the Hundred Knight Boxart

Developer: Nippon Ichi Software
Publisher: NIS America
Platform: PS3

Back before I became a curmudgeon old games reviewer, I spent hours upon hours in Diablo and Diablo II. There was something incredibly appealing about clicking away at enemies in these ARPGs. As such, upon hearing about The Witch and the Hundred Knight I found myself intrigued – if a bit wary. But, curiosity persisted and I’ve ended up playing it. So, is this a game worth pursuing?

Maybe. First, let’s get all the basics out of the way. In this game you start out as a teeny, cute blob creature (supposedly male). A crude, cruel witch finds and names you Hundred Knight because it sounds cool. After a brief tutorial session with her, you’re brought back to the real world where she introduces herself as Metallia and that you are now completely under her command.

Metallia is a monster. She might look like a swamp witch but her meanness never skips a beat. It’s hard to recall that many games where you actually are forced to work under someone who could be quantified as evil. With that weird perspective in place, you go about doing things that you know are wrong but simply have to do anyway. That’s where all the ARPG hacking away at enemies comes in.

The Witch and the Hundred Knight Screenshot 2

The Hundred Knight can equip multiple weapons and get to work beating on everything in sight. Well, there is a bit more strategy to it than that. There’s the ability to chain together multiple weapons for greater attacks, as well as types of weapons which enemies are weak or strong against. The latter is particularly annoying as you may have to frequently switch out weapons when dealing between two distinct creature types.

Another, stranger, feature of The Witch and the Hundred Knight is the GCal system. GCals are effectively a timer placed on you throughout every stage. Work through the whole thing before the GCals deplete or you’re dead! Luckily, there are a variety of ways to replenish it but I still died a lot before figuring out the most efficient methods. That honestly might be one of the biggest issues with the game: Its obsession with systems.

This genre of game doesn’t necessitate massive complexity. And yet, the experience is filled to the brim with them. And for all that work, you can basically ignore 80% of them. Perhaps some will find them intriguing, but that was not a favorable aspect in my opinion. No doubt many will be bothered by Metallia’s attitude as well, but I dug her no-holds-barred cruelty… and was much disappointed by the designer’s intentions with her outfit.

The Witch and the Hundred Knight Screenshot 1

Visually, many have suggested it looks like a game from the PS2 era but I just don’t see it that way. The character models might be simplistic but they honestly looked really good to me. Similarly, the backdrops were nicely fanciful. The biggest problem with them were that foliage would often obstruct the playing field view. The soundtrack definitely meshed with the visuals, and maybe even did it one better. Every song had a real “character” about it and that made levels more enjoyable than they otherwise would’ve been.

It’s a shame, then, that for as simple as the experience could be that it wasn’t all that compelling in the long run. The Witch and the Hundred Knight doesn’t contain that engaging spark that more famous games such as Diablo managed to have. Without it, you’ll simply have to get by on enjoying the visual design, excellent soundtrack, and unusual narrative. All told that’s not a horrible thing but it could have been better.


Score: 2

2 out of 5 alpacas


Review code provided
About our rating system

Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc Review

Untitled-1

PCSE00261_DNG1_VITA_US_Titlesheet_Packshot

Developer: Spike Chunsoft
Publisher: NIS America
Platform: PlayStation Vita

What the heck is Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc?  Its name doesn’t reveal much, and it’s actually quite misleading. You see, it’s a murder mystery visual novel of sorts with a bunch of various elements from other genres mixed in. Its like the Ace Attorney, Zero Escape, and Persona series had a crazy baby. And this baby is really awesome.

As Danganronpa relies on its story as its primary appeal, I won’t go into it too much lest I spoil anything! I’m sure you’re intrigued about what the basic premise is, though. Basically, incredibly talented “Ultimate” students from various fields are chosen to attend a prestigious school known as Hope’s Peak Academy. Unfortunately for these students, they quickly find out that they’ve actually been trapped in this school and must kill each other if they want to leave. When these killings do happen, you’re forced to take part in class trials in order to figure out who murdered your fellow classmate.

2013-10-18-153642

These class trials are reminiscent of Ace Attorney games, though they’re done quite differently. They are composed of four different parts: Nonstop Debate, Hangman’s Gambit, Bullet Time Battle, and Closing Argument. Nonstop Debate is the main portion of class trials, and it’s where you use “truth bullets” (evidence) that you’ve gathered against contradictions in the arguments being thrown about. There are also times when one remark that is being made during the discussion must be used against the contradiction. The way that the Nonstop Debate mode is laid out is pretty interesting and unique!

Hangman’s Gambit simply involves shooting letters to form a word that is relevant to the trial. Bullet Time Battle is a rhythm minigame that feels extremely unnecessary and is probably my least favorite part of class trials (and I love rhythm games). Lastly, the Closing Argument section is a kind of puzzle where you put the correct image in the blank spots of a comic book in order to retell how the murder went down. It’s kind of annoying how tiny the images are, which makes it difficult to figure out what exactly is going on in it.

08

The characters of Danganronpa are definitely what make the game shine. At the very beginning, I honestly couldn’t see myself liking more than one or two of the students. As Dangaronpa progressed, however, I grew to love most, if not all, of them. And to my surprise, the people that I thought I would like the least ended up becoming my favorites! They’re an eccentric, lovable bunch that had me laughing constantly.

Being a game that relies on its “craziness,” Danganronpa is full of twists and shocking moments. The way the murders are carried out can be quite predictable, but you’ll be on edge throughout the whole game that it doesn’t really matter in the end. Like a good book, you’ll want to get through it from start to finish in one sitting and won’t want to put it down.

2013-11-04-173947

It’s hard to keep myself from babbling incoherently about Danganronpa because I enjoyed it so much. I’m in love with the story, characters, music, and mostly everything about it. So I can’t stress enough how much I recommend it for Vita owners. Grab yourself a copy, play it, and savor it. Then you can wait patiently (or impatiently) for the recently announced Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair!


Pink Score: 4.54 1/2 out of 5 alpacas


Review code provided
About our rating system

Furmins Review

Furmins Featured

Furmins Logo

Developer: Housemarque
Publisher: Beatshapers
Platform: Mobile – iOS PSN – Vita

What the heck are furmins? Apparently, they’re weirdly adorable orb-shaped creatures that require your aid to get back to their nests. In the game, aptly titled Furmins, you do this by solving physics-based puzzles. It starts out easy, but gets tough pretty quick!

Every stage of the game requires the player to do at least one thing to help the furmins reach their goal. Levels are small (each fits squarely on the Vita screen) and may have interactive elements. For example, you might be required to activate a bumper when a furmin lands on it to shoot them into the air, arcing toward the goal. Other times, you’re required to use bounce plates and such to get them going in the right direction.

The concepts behind Furmins are very easy to understand so anyone should be able to start playing. However, their continued enjoyment may very well waver depending on their puzzle aptitude. Despite being a well-rounded player, I found some of the puzzles quite challenging. If this is the case for me, then what of those who enjoy easier physics games such as Angry Birds? That game has seen success by being immediately playable in short bursts. Here, you might be stuck messing with a plank to try and get the right bounce arc for a while. It lacks the “ease of play” spark.

Furmins Featured

Why is this an issue? Simply because those who don’t consider themselves fan of casual games will likely skip over Furmins. Of course, if they played they would find out that it offers a true challenge… but how many players really test out a game before discounting it entirely? In this age, the practice is slim.

At times, it feels that the game is too skewed toward difficulty. Each level grants up to three stars depending on whether you save all the furmins, get all the candy collectibles, and beat the par time. The first two are not too tough, but times are completely unforgiving. It really seems you would have to arrange the stage in the exact way they did to attain most of them. Why worry about stars? They’re needed to unlock later stage sets, as well as all bonus sets.

All in all, it seems Furmins is in an odd place. It presents itself as what many consider a casual game but offers real challenge to players. Touch screen and rear touch pad implementation is fair, although it is probably best to turn off the latter due to unintended triggering. If you’re looking for a quick play game on Vita that offers more challenge then most, Furmins might be right up your alley.


Score: 3

3 out of 5 alpacas


Review code provided
About our rating system

Stick It To The Man! Vita Review

Stick It To The Man Featured

Stick It To The Man Logo

Developer: Zoink!
Publisher: Ripstone
Platform: PC – Steam PSN – PS3, Vita

“Stick it to the man” is a phrase I don’t think I’ve ever heard used in a serious context. The Man, of course, is meant to be big government or any sort of authority figure. In the case of Stick It To The Man!, there is actually someone called The Man and he’s coming for Ray. Ray’s story begins on the way home from work. Everything is going fine until a secret government weapon flying overhead crashes directly on top of him. Ray doesn’t die but he does end up with this weird thing lodged in his brain. Now, Ray has got a noodly pink arm coming out of his head and it can read people’s minds.

As you might have already guessed, this is quite the silly game. Ray isn’t particularly adept at anything himself. Instead, the hand is used to interact with the world. After reading thoughts, puzzles are revealed. Sometimes, people even conjure up images in their mind for Ray to take in the form of a sticker. Here’s where the name mainly comes in, as these stickers must then be used to solve other people’s troubles. Removing and applying stickers is the main goal, although there are “stealth” sections as well.

Stick It To The Man Screenshot

There are times when The Man’s goons are on patrol on platforms. Your goal is to make it through without getting nabbed along the way. Although it seems simple enough, there is a lot of room for failure. On the Vita, you are supposed to be able to touch strategically placed pins so the hand will grab them and drag Ray safely along. Perfect timing is necessary because these areas are often cramped, meaning bad guys might be only an arm’s length away. Unfortunately, more often than not I found myself pressing the touch screen directly over a pin but the touch wouldn’t register. This caused many frustrating deaths. Although there are ways to make these sections easier (via sticker usage) I still found them harder due to technical troubles.

If you ignore those sections though there is definitely a lot to dig about Stick It To The Man! First, there is the world. Everything is done up to look like cardboard cutouts. Buildings and other features look simply like sharpie drawings and it is very cool. On the Vita the graphics shine and it seems they look even better on PS3. Stages have their own style and it’s a lot of fun to see what the world has in store for you.

Then there’s the writing. I won’t say the story is fantastic, because it’s still a pretty simple “go from point Y to Z – oh, and save your girlfriend” affair. What does stand out is the script for all the characters Ray comes across in the game. Each expresses their problems mentally with ridiculous candor. There were a multitude of times that I just had to stifle laughs at something a character had said. Many games try to be funny, but it’s hard to actually find one that is.

Stick It To The Man Featured

Of course, not everything is perfect. One of the strangest aspects of Stick It To The Man! is how much of a dark comedy it turns out to be. Despite having stickers and a pink noodly appendage on his head, Ray meets with primarily unhappy individuals. Many begrudge their horrendous life circumstances, poor jobs, lost loves, and more. Sure, many characters have positive conclusions, but the path to them can be quite awkward.

All in all, Stick It To The Man! is a fairly fun, but flawed experience. The weird sometimes non-functioning of the Vita touchpad is the biggest strike against it. Even so, some have complained about the PS3 version accidentally targeting the wrong objects. Perhaps the PC version will be the best way to play? In any case, check Stick It To The Man! out if you have three to five hours to kill and don’t mind putting up with a few technical snafus. The writing and attractive visuals definitely make up for it.


Score: 3.5

3 1/2 out of 5 alpacas


Review code provided
About our rating system

The Guided Fate Paradox Review

The Guided Fate Paradox Featured

The Guided Fate Paradox Boxart

Developer: Nippon Ichi Software
Publisher: NIS America
Platform: PS3

One of the most popular storytelling ideas for fantasy games is that a young person is somehow divinely selected as the world’s savior. Of course, as long as the title provides entertainment, then it doesn’t matter how the plot itself is constructed. The Guided Fate Paradox gives us a very different take on common tropes. Protagonist Renya is indeed a young man, but he is chosen for a much greater role. For whatever reason, he has been chosen to become God.

This must be the greatest wish-fulfillment game ever, right? Well, not quite. Despite the incredibly imposing job description, his role is far less powerful than one would expect. God/Renya is not free to do as he wishes but must instead work tirelessly to fulfill the prayers of all living things. Via a machine called the Fate Revolution Circuit, he is able to hone in on specific wishes and make them come true. Said machine generates an alternate reality which can be manipulated by defeating enemies.

The Guided Fate Paradox Screenshot 1

So that’s how they wedge gameplay in with Godly powers. The Fate Revolution Circuit is a dungeon generator! With it, Renya and his angelic partner(s) are able to explore randomly generated dungeons to defeat enemies, level up, and grab loot. The gameplay takes on a distinctly roguelike edge with how it handles leveling up and death. After successful completion of a dungeon, your level returns to 1. However, there is an “overall” leveling system which never resets. If Renya dies, he will be ejected back to the hub with all his items and half his cash destroyed. It’s rough, but dying is definitely part of the picture.

What kind of wishes does God have to answer to anyway? The first chapter starts off in a way that shows every wish is valid, because the wisher is none other than Cinderella! Things get increasingly unusual from there. For all the same-y anime tropes wedged into some characters, other points have much more interesting narrative through-lines. Perhaps the most disappointing aspect of The Guided Fate Paradox is how it presents itself. It works hard to look like it panders to fanboys with all women angels dressed in maid outfits from the get go. That, and the 17-year-old hero Renya who begins as nothing other than your “average teenager”. When the plot started to kick into gear I was honestly shocked by how good it turned out to be.

The Guided Fate Paradox Screenshot 2

Earlier I said that the game has a lot of roguelike elements. Don’t let this aspect turn you away, though. It is one of the easiest roguelikes that I’ve played (out of a dozen or so). Although The Guided Fate Paradox is not a breeze, there is a lot put in place to make sure players can make it through the game alive. The only thing that could have been improved was that the “fog of war” on stages gets far too enclosed at points. It is a conceit acknowledged by the game, but left me rushing into the arms of enemies without feeling prepared. This is a relatively small issue, all things considered. Positives of dungeon exploration include cute and/or weird enemy types and creative boss battles.

There is a lot of depth to playing The Guided Fate Paradox and it somehow manages to keep from becoming too complex. Dungeon crawling is a lot of fun, as is slowly revealing the story. The concept behind it sounds supremely goofy, but thankfully the full game reveals far more interesting aspects. The Guided Fate Paradox is a massive, and entertaining, surprise.


Score: 4

4 out of 5 alpacas


Review code provided
About our rating system