Posts Tagged ‘2014’

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.

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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.

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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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Cho Dengeki Stryker Review

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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The Witch and the Hundred Knight Review

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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.

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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.

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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


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Goat Simulator Review

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Developer: Coffee Stain Studios
Publisher: Coffee Stain Studios
Platform: PC – Steam

Out of nowhere it seems that 2014 has become the year of goat games. First there was Escape Goat 2 and now there is Goat Simulator! If you ever felt that simulator games weren’t quite niche enough then this should show you that – yes – there really is a sim for everything out there. Of course, upon playing, you’ll likely realize that the “simulation” part of the title isn’t quite accurate.

Well, I don’t know. Do goats lick everything and have obscenely long tongues? Can goats climb ladders, jump on trampolines, and wreak absolute havoc? Maybe. At least in Goat Simulator you can do all of these things, as well as perform even more ridiculous feats. Although the game isn’t tremendously expansive, it provides a hilarious experience while it lasts.

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As a goat, you meander around. The player can jump, lick, and ragdoll out. There’s no real story to speak of and the only goal is to complete a handful of missions. Missions ask for certain high scores or actions. Sometimes the names of said missions are funny, as are what triggers their completion. Although there aren’t a ton to play through they do offer at least an hour of gameplay. Beyond that, fun can be had screwing around with your ridiculously wobbly and sticky-tongued goat.

The sad thing is that Goat Simulator wears itself out relatively fast. At least, that’s true right now. Once Steam Workshop support really kicks off it will lend itself to many new user-created levels to enjoy. Checking out some of the best from the community is definitely recommended because the default world provided is quite small, although peppered with hilarious parts. Goat Simulator is not just the only bovid simulator out there but the funniest!


Score: 3

3 out of 5 alpacas


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Escape Goat 2 Review

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Developer: MagicalTimeBean
Publisher: MagicalTimeBean
Platform: PC – Direct, GOG*, Steam

Escape Goat is a wonderful puzzle platformer that I finally had the pleasure of playing late last year. As a newfound MagicalTimeBean fan it was tremendously exciting to know that Escape Goat 2 was coming at some point in the future. Now it’s here! How does the game hold up against its predecessor?

Escape Goat 2 follows the hooves of the original, although diverges in unique ways. First, let’s go over what is the same. You’re still a purple  goat who platforms around increasingly complex puzzle stages to unlock the exit. A little mouse is also able to aid you at many junctures. Features that the mouse had before, such as a transportation ability, are back as well.

Puzzles have been given new twists and you’ve been granted new abilities to make everything more interesting. For one, the mouse now has an ability to spawn multiple versions of itself across a stage. It’s quite odd, but also handy! Stages now have branching paths as well. You can ascend the castle as quickly as possible, or take the time to veer off course to save more sheep. Personally, I made sure to visit every side area to get as much puzzling goodness as possible out of it.

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Puzzle games often add and tweak a few things upon their next iterations. The biggest change though might just be the art style. No longer is the game comprised of pixel art that looked at home on Xbox Live Indie Games. Now it has an attractive cartoonish glow about it. The soundtrack is as good as (if not better) than the first game. All in all, it might not look exactly like the Escape Goat you already knew but it certainly feels like it.

The puzzle platform genre is packed full of games but few are as uniquely entertaining as Escape Goat 2. If you’ve never played the original you’d be safe to jump right into the new game first. If you end up loving the purple goat’s adventures then you can always go back and buy the game that started it all after!


Score: 4

4 1/2 out of 5 alpacas


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Gigantic Army Review

Gigantic Army Featured

Gigantic Army Boxart

Developer: Astro Port
Publisher: Nyu Media
Platform: PC – Direct, Desura, GamersGate, Rice Digital, Steam

If mechs are your thing then Gigantic Army is probably already on your radar. The doujin title brings back memories of classic SNES and Genesis games, although it isn’t attempting to recreate any of those titles exactly. What Gigantic Army does best is give more realistic control of a huge robot on a 2D battlefield.

Your machine is massive and it feels the part. Each step is slow and heavy, clunking as you progress forward. This isn’t a bad thing in the least, although you might need to get used to the feel of controlling such a hefty robot. Enemies blast you continuously but most shots feel like nothing against your machine’s powerful armor. In fact, often times you can simply trod up to a weak little enemy and destroy it point blank. It’s pretty cool how powerful the game allows you to be!

Does that mean Gigantic Army is a super easy game? Not at all. Levels get progressively tougher, although if you need a better challenge you can always switch difficulty. If anything, it seems your toughest enemy is the clock. It counts down as soon as you start the stage – impatiently waiting for the player to finish. With that said, you can make the game easier (or harder) on yourself by the right selection of main and sub weapon as well. They aren’t all balanced in power levels meaning ones like the grenades are super powerful while others are far less so.

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The graphics paint a pretty dismal picture for the state of this war-torn world. Everything is painted in hues of brown and orange, with bullets being the most brightly-colored objects around. Enemy designs aren’t particularly inspired although bosses are still pretty neat and huge. Unlike most action shooters, this one doesn’t have a tremendously inspiring soundtrack either, which is a definite shame.

Still, Gigantic Army is a ton of fun to play. It feels great to be in control of such a powerful mech as it sprays enemies with bullets, boosts up to higher ground, and defends against weakling attacks. The ponderous movement definitely enhances the concept that you are in control the minute you enter a stage. Kicking robot butt is always entertaining and if you love that then Gigantic Army is a game you should play.


Score: 3

3 out of 5 alpacas


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Steve Jackson’s Sorcery! Part 1 Review

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Developer: inkle
Publisher: inkle
Platform: Mobile – Android, iOS

As a huge fan of visual novels, it will probably come as quite a shock that I’ve barely ever touched any gamebooks. Gamebooks, as their name implies, are books that grant the player some direct control – or gameplay – at many junctures throughout the story. Many have played something from the Choose Your Own Adventure catalog. However, Steve Jackson’s Sorcery! is a  huge step above that. Initially a part of the Fighting Fantasy series in the 1980s, developer inkle has smartly re imagined it for the mobile market.

Sorcery! Part 1 is just the first leg of an epic journey and it is a blast to play. The storyline is fairly common: You are a young, inexperienced adventurer who must travel to many dangerous locations to obtain the Crown of Kings. Along your way, there are many choices to make that shift the whole tone of the story that’s unfolding for the player. With so much choice, you really feel like the narrative matches your decisions.

For example, I imbued my hero with a very courageous, smart, and caring personality. She would fight for what was deemed right if it were necessary but not get into battles for the heck of it. When offered food from poor townsfolk, she would refuse it as they needed it much more than her. Any time it seemed a dangerous situation was around the corner I would even tense up a bit, trying to rightly perceive which option would be the right one. It’s all thanks to the great writing that made me invested in my character as well as her quest.

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Alongside the many choices of what to say and where to go, there is also a battle system that is quite neat. When you’re in an inescapable battle the screen switches to show both your hero and the enemy as cool black and white art. It then plays out a bit like rock, paper, scissors where you must determine when they’ll strike hard or when they’re bluffing and only going to defend. It’s not random as the descriptions hint to what will come next. Unfortunately, sometimes the touch controls didn’t function properly which made it hard to switch fighting stances without trying multiple times. This touch screen issue also persisted on the map menu at times.

Although Sorcery! Part 1 is just the first of Steve Jackson’s fantasy adventures, it is still a great start that will last players a good deal of hours (especially considering the likely short gameplay sessions on phones). It comes tremendously recommended if you enjoy those sort of classic fantasy adventure tales as well as gamebooks. If you’ve never played a gamebook before then this is also a great way to start thanks to its superb writing and fun gameplay!


Score: 4

4 out of 5 alpacas


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ef – the latter tale Review

ef - the latter tale Featured

Ef - the latter tale Boxart

Developer: minori
Publisher: MangaGamer
Platform: PC – MangaGamer*

Playing ef – the first tale was an unexpectedly emotional experience for me. The twenty something hour visual novel was interesting and a far more heartfelt story than most games of the genre ever muster up. As such, I was very excited to see what would follow in ef – the latter tale. If you’ve already played and enjoyed the first, then this one must definitely be played. It somehow manages to surpass its already excellent forebearer.

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Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc Review

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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


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