Posts Tagged ‘2015’

eden* PLUS+MOSAIC Review

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

Most of the time, my reasoning for selecting one version of a visual novel over the other is to get the original, authentic experience regardless of any potential negatives or positives associated with that release. eden* posed a different sort of challenge. For those who aren’t aware, the original version was actually a so-called all-ages release, with more content being added afterward for eden* PLUS+MOSAIC. This review is for that latter version, and it honestly impacted my opinion.

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The Royal Trap Review

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Developer: Hanako Games
Publisher: Hanako Games
Platform: PC – Direct, Steam

I’ll admit, after falling in love with Hanako Games’ Long Live the Queen I didn’t believe there would be any game in their library able to even come close. As such, The Royal Trap was quite a pleasant surprise. Unfortunately, because so much of the story reveals itself upon multiple playthoughs, I’ll just stick with sharing the starting point.

You play as Madeleine Valois. She has spent her life protecting (and effectively raising) Prince Oscar into a proper and well-rounded gentleman. His goal? Get selected by another nation’s Princess as a worthy partner, at which point he’ll no longer require Madeleine’s services. We start off with Oscar and Madeleine visiting Princess Cassidy along with others looking to win her hand. Unfortunately, things won’t play out as anyone expected.

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As with any good visual novel, the storyline is intriguing and each character brings something unique to the table. In my play time I discovered a handful of typos, but those could easily be resolved with patches (if that hasn’t already occurred). There are also 15 endings to uncover, meaning you’ve got a lot of potential hours of gameplay available. It’s definitely recommended to see The Royal Trap through to conclusion.

The release on Steam is an “HD Version” which of course updated the resolution to 1440×900. Background art has also been redone, though as I never played the original I can’t comment on the upgrade. CG scenes are gorgeous and even a bit steamy at times, which is great! Most of all I love Madeleine’s character. In comparison to most other otome game protagonists, she is truly her own character, rather than a blank slate for players to envision themselves as.

My only real complaint with the game is that there is apparently a recommended order to do the routes in, which I was unaware of going in. By doing so you get the best unveiling of the story/world so definitely check this post out if you intend to play the “right” way. But beyond that, The Royal Trap is a lovely visual novel worth your time.


Score: 4

4 out of 5 alpacas


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JumpJet Rex Review

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Developer: TreeFortress Games
Publisher: TreeFortress Games
Platform: PC – Steam

There’s one creature I love more than alpacas… The tyrannosaurus rex. As such, I always adore games featuring dinosaurs of any sort, but JumpJet Rex immediately stood out. Not only did it feature a cute little dino, but it also wears cute jumping boots! The 2D pixelated platformer seemed simple enough, so I jumped right in and found it totally exceeded my expectations.

Unlike most platformers, Rex’s boots allow for infinite jumps. They also allow for horizontal speed boosts, and speedy, vertical rocket jumps. To descend quickly, Rex does a great butt stomp. Levels rely on speed, although it’s not necessary to play things quick if you don’t want to. Your main goal on each of the 40+ levels is to fly through gold rings which unlock an exit. Along the way you can nab gold coins to spend on t-rex customization.

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What I like most is that JumpJet Rex gives a taste of speedrunning to folks like me who have no chance at otherwise jumping into that community. Every stage offers players three stars if they can survive without ever dying and also beat their par time. The latter proves quite a challenge, requiring careful Rex control and continual second shaving. After a while I gave up but it was fun to be super speedy while it lasted!

It’s only near the end that the game faltered. I beat the final boss in less than a minute on my first try – awesome! Then came the last stage. No spoilers, of course, but it amped up the challenge more than anything else before and threw in a count down timer and hard to see landscape for added fun. If not for banging around on that stage for half an hour my enjoyment would have remained high. With that said, there’s still tons of the game which was totally worth it.

JumpJet Rex brings platforming enjoyment to players of various skill levels and is fun almost the entire way through.


Score: 4

4 out of 5 alpacas


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Steven Universe: Attack the Light Review

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Developer: Grumpyface Studios
Publisher: Cartoon Network
Platform: Mobile – Android, iOS

As fantastic as RPGs are, many folks simply don’t have time to play them. They’re long, full of grinding, and sometimes the battle mechanics are more complex than necessary. Steven Universe: Attack the Light distills the turn-based RPG formula into something short, and immediately enjoyable. This is true even if you haven’t watched the show, though existing fans are the target audience.

Steven Universe: Attack the Light positions players in control of a four character party – Garnet, Amethyst, Pearl, and Steven. Each offers their own attacks and special skills, while Steven serves primarily as support. Fights themselves take inspiration from Paper Mario wherein timing touchscreen presses lends to stronger attacks from your team or weakened hits from enemies. As a fan of Paper Mario it was news of this mechanic which urged me to give the game a download (despite having not watched a single episode of Steven Universe at that point!).

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With that said, even at the price of $2.99 it’s obvious this isn’t as expansive a product. Each dungeon is quick and story interludes are incredibly brief, serving more as dressing than anything else. My biggest complaint is simply that I don’t know what device Steven Universe: Attack the Light is made for. On tablet, the wide distance between areas you’re meant to touch is cumbersome. On smartphones, the radial attack menu is quite small and imprecise. Basically, the game presents a literal strain on my hands after a chunk of playtime when compared to others.

Despite my frustration with the game’s interface, the actual RPG play is easily enjoyable. If not for my troubles I would have blown through chapters far quicker! If you’re looking for a simple RPG to play on the go this is a fine option. Finally, if you’re opposed to paid products, Steven Universe: Attack the Light is a much better proposition than those free games littered with ads and confusingly labeled in-app purchases.


Score: 3

3 out of 5 alpacas


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No, Thank You!!! Review

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No, Thank You!!! Boxart

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

I am amazed at the continual proliferation of visual novels in the West. With that said, it seems that certain types of titles (eroge, etc) might never be met with the same level of respect. It’s such shame because the content of these games tends to bother people enough to not even give them a shot. In the case of No, Thank You!!! there’s quite a loss as this game delivers a strong storyline and mostly believable cast along with some serious twists.

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Willy Bear Beach Episode 1 Review

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Developer: Artdecade
Publisher: Artdecade
Platform: PC – itch.io

As a fan of visual novels, I’m more than pleased to see how they’ve gained so much acceptance in the past few years. Even so, eroge titles tend to continue slipping under the radar instead of getting much recognition. However, it appears itch.io may become a method for indies to distribute them! The first I’ve seen on the platform is Willy Bear Beach Episode 1 by Artdecade. It’s cute, furry, and a nice bit of fluff between the more dramatic or dull visual novels out there.

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In the City of Alabast ~ The Menagerie Preview

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In the City of Alabast ~ The Menagerie is not your typical eroge. You’re not a boy chasing after girls in some everyday setting. Actually, it’s something quite the opposite – and that’s what makes it worth looking into.

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Life is Strange Episode 1 – Chrysalis Review

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Developer: DONTNOD Entertainment
Publisher: Square Enix
Platform: PC – Steam PSN – PS3, PS4 Xbox 360, Xbox One

I still find it hard to believe that after all this time the thing which brought point and click titles “back” was one of Telltale Games’ licensed games, but it’s hard to complain. Since The Walking Dead, it seems many have followed in their footsteps to create titles with a similar feel. Life is Strange definitely has that sort of vibe, but manages to be its own unique creation. At least, that’s how it feels by the end of Episode 1 – Chrysalis.

You play as Max, a teen who just turned 18, loves photography, and attends a private high school. Her day starts out as bleak as usual until she witnesses a murder. Terrified, she reacts and amazingly manages to rewind time. Thus begins Max’s incredible journey from regular teenager to “everyday hero.” Unfortunately she still has to deal with annoying peers, cliques, and school security.

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Much of Life is Strange plays out like a typical modern adventure title. You walk around in third person, examining objects and talking to others. Where it diverges is with the time rewinding mechanic. For example, you may talk to someone and say the “wrong” thing. Instead of living with that issue, you can simply rewind before saying it and choose another response instead. Oftentimes it seems there is no best choice – but it’s still neat to see how every option plays out.

Things are off to an intriguing start in Life is Strange, although most characters feel ‘2D’ and events incredibly staged. Perhaps that’s just the result of integrating gameplay components. Despite these small detractions I’m interested to follow the game through its 5 episode series.


Score: 4

4 out of 5 alpacas


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Grim Fandango Remastered Review

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Developer: LucasArts / Double Fine Productions
Publisher: Double Fine Productions
Platform: PC – GOG*, Steam PSN – PS4 Vita

I have chased the specter of Grim Fandango for years. When it first launched my attention was captivated by magazine articles and photos. I wanted this game – but my computer was not nearly capable enough of running it. Fast forward years until I found a copy at the thrift store… but my computer was far too modern to play it correctly. Finally, Grim Fandango Remastered has given me the chance to play this beloved point and click adventure!

Well, honestly I wish this had happened years ago with the original release and not Remastered. Buuuut… we’ll get to why that is in a moment. First, one must get all the obvious discussion about Grim Fandango out of the way. It tells a phenomenal story with an awesome cast of characters who all exist in El Marrow – the “Land of the Dead.” Manny is a salesman trying to work off his debt by selling travel packages to spirits. Unfortunately, he only ever seems to get lowlives who qualify for super cheap packages. Everything changes when he steals one customer from his coworker and things spiral out of control.

Nearly everything is pitch perfect: the visuals, music, voice acting, and overall story arch are a joy to watch unfold. Some puzzles aren’t particularly logical but this was still a big issue in the 90s. Grim Fandango Remastered leaves most everything alone aside from implementing a new control scheme and giving characters less pixelated bodies. There’s a pretty neat commentary track as well but beyond that it doesn’t feel like enough work to warrant a word like “remastered.”

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Then there are the glitches. Oh boy, those glitches (on PC at least) are monumental. I encountered multiple visual glitches as well as game-breaking bugs that would not allow me to progress in three puzzles. Considering the “puzzle logic” in the game, it’s very easy to simply not realize that an integral part of the puzzle isn’t triggering or has suddenly disappeared. Oh, sometimes it freezes too because why not? Here’s hoping a ton of patches arrive soon to sort the game out because right now Grim Fandango Remastered is a mess.

So what is the end result? This is most assuredly a classic game with amazing characters, art, and a multi-year tale but the current release makes it a challenge to enjoy. Some folks out there have played without glitches rearing their ugly head and that’s fantastic! I just wasn’t one of them. Grim Fandango Remastered, as it currently stands, could cause irreversible damage to the original’s reputation.


Score: 2

2 out of 5 alpacas


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HuniePop Review

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Developer: HuniePot
Publisher: HuniePot
Platform: PC – MangaGamer*, Steam

I never would have thought that HuniePop was going to be a game that I’d be playing for over 11 hours until 2 in the morning. At a glance, it looks like your typical mediocre anime dating sim. There are plenty of those floating around, so why bother with HuniePop?

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