Friday, 27 September 2013

Retrospective: Touch My Katamari (Vita)

Waiting on the Eurogamer expo to finish up and then I can begin to scour on various websites for some information. Hopefully there's some Niche/Jrpg titles going to be making there way to the EU and I'll drop some news onto the blog. So today I'm going to carry on with the retrospectives. I do enjoy these and hopefully you guys are piqued into trying one every now and again. So what's in store for today? I'm going to look at Touch My Katamari for the Vita. With it currently sitting on the EU's PS+ service, it may interest you if you have a Vita...
 Story (Wikipedia)
One day, a boy asks his Dad "Who is more awesome, the King of All Cosmos or his principal?". When the dad is trying to make up his mind, the mom says they are both equally awesome. The king overhears the conversation. Shocked, he becomes a train wreck. Somewhere else, a slacker named Goro, who puts off studying for video games, television and the Internet, sees a news broadcast telling of the King's apparent depression. Goro believes that this is his moment to start his life anew, so he runs off to make a new lifestyle for himself.
 Never played a Katamari game before? This entry in the series carries on with its staple gameplay from previous entries, there's little different. The player is tasked with rolling a sticky ball, a Katamari, around levels filled with objects. Objects stick to the ball causing it to get bigger, The bigger the size the bigger the objects that can be picked up by your Katamari. Most 'quests' in the game involve you having to reach a certain size within the allotted time with bonus points being awarded for targeting specific objects in each level. As you would expect from a portable release, the time limit's and targets for each level are reduced compared to the console releases to keep the game more bite-sized. There are numerous other quest types too, like making your Katamari as big as possible while only picking up a set amount of objects, but most don't deviate from the norm. That's probably the main issue for those coming back to the series. It features levels & scenario's that you've no doubt played before as veteran. The game kinda feels like a re-run if I'm honest. For newcomers though, or those like me who have only played 1 or 2 previous entries, the game feels good to play and its obviously been refined. Controls can either be touchscreen or dual analogue too. I went with dual analogues myself, but I use the rear touchpad to shape my Katamari. This is pretty much the only standout addition. Using the touchpad/screen you can make your Katamari longer (to fit under low structures) or taller (to fit between small gaps). Its quite a useful addition. Completing levels nets you candy, the games currency, and the higher your score the more candy you get. You spend candy in the shop to unlock extras. There's also extra characters to unlock by seeking them out in the levels. While the game itself is relatively short, the bonus extras will keep you grinding for that candy!
Id say the graphics with Touch My Katamari are obviously stylised this way. Sure the character models are blocky, textures are flat & devoid of detail and the game as a whole is lacking the sheen of modern titles. But I think that's intentional. Even on the Xbox360 the game was styled the same way, although a tad more detailed (obvious given the hardware compared to a portable platform) The smaller screen and with it being OLED makes everything look sharper & more colourful than you would expect once the games in motion. Framerate is pretty much rock solid too but a little AA would've gone a long way. It has a distinctly colourful & Japanese style that probably makes it a little too quirky for most though. I like it. The soundtrack is also another good aspect. As you would expect its littered with all manner of catchy J-pop songs which supplement the visual style perfectly. While most reviewers have stated the soundtrack isn't as good as other entries in the series, I still found it to be very good! As long as you like a stylised presentation, you'll be quite pleased with Touch My Katamari.
Id recommend if you have a Vita & are in the EU that you consider a 3 month PS+ to give this a go. While the game can be had for around £8/£10 preowned the extra couple of £'s (3 month PS+ costs £11.99 [€14.99/$17.99] would net you a few months of extra games to play too (Street Fighter X Tekken is also available for Vita currently). Ive been enjoying Katamari again since I downloaded it, its been played more than EDF 2017 & Persona 4! Then again I haven't played one since the launch of Beautiful Katamari on the Xbox360 so Ive been away a while. I may be keeping an eye out for Katamari Forever on Ps3 too for some big screen action but that's tough to find these days. While it is short, it is enjoyable but I doubt if the series has never appealed to you or you haven't enjoyed it before, this one wont change your mind.

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Retrospective: Onechanbara: Bikini Samurai Squad (Xbox360)

Thanks to anyone coming back today who read the post yesterday! At least now if anyone starts throwing slurs around about the JRPG's you play, you'll be able to put em in their place with some simple logic. So whats in store today? I'm going to do a retrospective on Onechanbara: Bikini Samurai Squad. With OneChanbara Z: Kagura still not looking like its going to be localised (although the Ps3 version is a viable import with the Ps3 not being region-locked) I thought it might be good to look at its previous entry in the west.
Story (Wikipedia)
 After the defeat of Reiko, Saki regains control of herself, and the two sisters return to a somewhat more normal life. However, this newfound peace isn't set to last, as once again Tokyo is infested with zombies, and the cursed bloodline of the two (Aya & Saki) sisters is set to clash once again with their own fates.

Wait! Isn't this clearly a perverted game? Look at the screenshots!!?? I suppose it could be so. I wouldn't quite put it on the same level as something like Dead or Alive: Extreme Beach Volleyball though and it does depend on how you want to dress your character. Whereas that DoA release was blatant perverted fan-service, this has more of an Exploitation/Grindhouse feel & look to it. The story and overall setting of the game is as trashy n camp as it gets. Never watched any of that trashy cinema from the late 60's to the early 80's in the states? Man you mustn't get out much. I can see why your gushing about it apparently being perverted.
 So how does it play? As you'd expect its a hack & slash adventure. Its your typical button mashing affair with a couple of quirks. You'll spend most of your time cutting through waves & waves of lumbering zombies that you can dice up at will. The game features 2 bars that fill during combat, the first shows the current character's splatter gauge, which increases as the character is covered in blood. Once filled, you enter rampage mode, dealing more damage but also taking more damage from enemies while gradually losing health. The second shows how much gore is on your weapon, uncleaned swords become blunt for example, dealing less damage. If the meter is filled, the character's weapon will begin to lodge in enemies forcing you to remove to continue fighting. These two aspects mix the gameplay up a little bit. Boss battles appear during the game too and these range from easy to frustrating. In total there are 20 missions to play through, although there is some re-treading during some of these.  There are 3 characters to control. Aya is probably the most balanced and she can wield 2 swords, Saki only wields one sword but moves & attacks quicker and finally Anna wields guns instead of swords & has basic melee attacks. Also a few other game modes are thrown into the mix like free play, quest and survival. The 3 characters combine to give the game a different play style depending on the character you choose, plus each character has their own unlockable costumes etc. There is a dress-up mode to the game that allows you to tweak costumes, allowing your character to be as dressed, or undressed, as you like. Split-screen co-op is also thrown into the mix to liven things up a little.
Graphically its nothing to write home about. As you'd expect from a budget niche title, it looks a bit rough around the edges. Textures are lacking the refined detail of the bigger budget releases out there and would probably be regarded as last gen if it wasn't for the current generations better filtering techniques. Your character is fairly well detailed, as you would expect, but the animations at times look a little too stiff. Enemies are average in the detail stakes but they do dismember quite nicely. Blood goes everywhere, covering your character and splattering on the screen. the game does have a stable frame-rate but be warned, loading times can be a tad long on the odd occasion. An install would rectify that I suppose. The 2 player co-op can cause the occasional drop in framerate but its never too bad to actually ruin the gameplay for the 2 of you. Anyone expecting sumptuous visuals or a gorgeous art style will be most disappointed.
Personally Id recommend you watch the film instead. While the game does have its moments, the film is more enjoyable to watch and still contains all the same content & characters pretty much as the game. Eri Otoguro is quite delicious as Aya too. Back when I first played the game I was watching a lot of Grindhouse cinema so it appealed to me a lot then. Now when I look back on it, it was an alright game but maybe not as good as I thought it was. I do enjoy trashy games though (Recently completed Captain America on Ps3 lol) and this is one of the better ones, but If you had the choice in the shop, Pick the film up instead. If you find the game cheap enough, its worth a punt! It does have that B-movie charm that so many of D3's published games tend to have. Its just a shame its gameplay isn't as well developed as the likes of EDF. It does come recommended if the price is right as there's easily 15+ hours of mindless action here if you wanna go for all those collectibles n the like.

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Who's the Perverted one?

Today's plan was to write up another retrospective for you guys to feast on but that changed earlier. While I was scouring the internet for more information on Hyperdimension Neptunia: Rebirth 2, I decided to look at forums. These are good places for getting snippets of information as the odd person tends to have a bit more info than the journaslists do on websites it seems. As always though, as with any topic about a niche JRPG, the usual 'dude-bro' gamers were wading in with their 'weeabo' comments. That doesn't bother me. Im an Otaku, not a Weeabo, so they are the idiots for not being able to discern the difference between the two. It's the 'loli loving pedo' comments that cheesed me off. According to these people, anyone that plays an Otaku JRPG (moe, anime styled JRPG with a sprinkling of fan-service) is a Pedophile. A little extreme I know, but thats the world we live in today where people who don't fall in line are ridiculed in such obscene ways. After thinking on it for a while, I came to a startling conclusion. For them to label someone else a 'pedo', they would have to find the game sexualised themselves. Thus, wouldn't they be having sexualised thoughts about the characters thereby making them the pervert? You following me? Let me explain using Hyperdimension Neptunia and my own perspective on this debacle.

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Retrospective: Kessen II (Ps2)

With the news from the Tokyo Game Show starting to dissipate, It allows for calmer days here so today Im gonna take it easy a little n post a retrospective. Tonight when I get home from work I may be firing up the Dreamcast and playing a few games so I may have another, more nostalgic, retrospective tomorrow. So what's today? I decided to delve back a generation and have a look at a game that saw release on Ps2 back in 2002: Kessen II.

Monday, 23 September 2013

SEGA's arrogance to the West knows no bounds.

You enjoy the latest review? I hope so. Ive enjoyed being able to play EDF wherever I go. I used to play EDF Portable 2 on the PsP but that wasn't too hot, 2017 on the Vita is exactly what you'd want for that arcade shooter fix though that we barely seem to get these days. Now, Im gonna counteract that great Vita game review that no doubt put a smile on ya face, with some Vita news that is gonna leave you no doubt annoyed....
Phantasy Star Nova. Looks good doesn't it? Im sure to be interested! I've played Phantasy Star Portable 2 about 5/6 months ago on PsP, the servers are still up for that if your interested, so the universe is still fresh for me. Would look quite nice on the Vita too Id bet. Oh, You looking a little worried? Relax. Ive no snippets of news thats too bad, Just this snippet from the Role Playing Video Games community on Google+. - 

Sega West’s ignorance of recent Phantasy Star franchise stars appears to not be limited to just Phantasy Star Online 2.  You can now not expect the just announced Phantasy Star Nova for PlayStation Vita to make the trek across the Pacific, either.

A conversation published by Sega Addicts with Sega of America community manager Kellie Parker affirms there are no plans at the moment to localize Nova, putting it in the same limbo as PSO2.

“There are currently no plans to release Phantasy Star Nova in the western market,” Parker said.  “Should this change, we will ensure the information is shared as soon as possible.” 

Yeah I lied. Its bad news. Well they haven't officially announced its not coming though have they? Just that they currently have no plans to release to the western market for now? *SLAP* Snap out of it. You and I both know what this quote from SEGA of America entails. Just give me a minute to relax...
Right. Now I could publish an entire post ranting, but whats the point? If the Yakuza 5 situation has taught us loyal SEGA fans anything by now, its that we can longer get excited for new releases from the company. While games developed in the west for SEGA are always going to be around, the culling of its eastern endevours releasing in the west continues. Id recently bought Vanquish, and its a prime example of why I love SEGA. Its a wonderful 3rd Person shooter that's a throwback to the more arcade orientated days of gaming (might have a retrospective at a later dae) In the current climate, That would probably have not made its way here due to its development in the east. Its worrying times ahead for SEGA loyalists. Still, I love SEGA. Which is why I have wired up my Dreamcast again n I may be looking into a retrospective or 2 later in the week for a couple of games.
Some good news for Vita, and some good news for a Hyperdimension Neptunia fanboy like myself. Mk2 will be recieving a remaster for the Vita entitled Rebirth 2. Personally I dont think Mk2 even needs to be remastered as it played perfectly fine to me, except for the odd insane difficulty spike. If by remaster they mean 'ported with extra's' then that deosn't sound too bad. Compile Heart also announced Chou Megami Shinkou Noire Gekishin Black Heart has gone into production. Noire gets her own spin-off game which apparently also has a Chi-Bi styling, amusingly. Ive never really understood everyones fascination with Noire though, personally Im a Neptune guy myself n failing that - Its Blanc all the way. To each their own. Theres still no word on localisations but with them already done for the Ps3 versions Id hazard a bet that we may see these for the Vita in the west at some point, even if they do end up as digital only.

While there are snippets here n there of more news from TGS, Ive not been able to spend much time, if any, on trying to get it all into a post for the blog. Work has been busy today for a change so the usual downtime I have at work hasn't been available today for news gathering. So for that I'll point you towards the Role Playing Video Games community page on Google+ as there's tonnes of gameplay videos and links to stories detailing numerous games. Some I mentioned last week, some new.While its mainly for RPG's, you can find some news on other games shown at TGS too!
Hopefully the rest of the week is buisness as usual with regards to the blog and Im able to start getting some previews & retrospectives rolling. Ive decided to forego a review this Sunday, mainly to give myself another week to see what I can look in to for reviewing. Anything you would like me to look in to? Let me know!

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Earth Defense Force: 2017 Portable Vita Review

Not really been much in the way of news from the public days of Tokyo game show so Ive decided to post a review. Ill have a look into numerous sites tomorrow just in case for a news post. The review is coming a little later in the day than I would usually post due to me wanting to give people enough time to digest Andi's Deadly Premonition post. The review will be looking at the portable version of EDF 2017 for the Vita. While the Vita is going through something of a rough time at the moment, Im hoping a thorough review like this shows that we here will still be covering its games. The Vita does have quite a few JRPG's afterall! Hopefully its fortunes improve as its a wonderful device.

As always, here is the conclusion
While the game deos little to belie its budget nature, practically reveling in its B-movie charm, Its the prime example of a gamers game. Gamplay is king and with Sandlot having made sure the most basic mechanics of gameplay are well developed, a lot of fun can be had by anyone who gives it a chance.  The secondary character, Palewing, doubles the content and is great bonus for those that have played the original due to her different play style. Will it appeal to everyone? No. Its budget nature ensures a niche audience but for those looking for pure gameplay goodness, There aren't many games that betters it and the amount of content for £23.99 is more than worthy. Take a chance and I gauruntee you'll be chanting 'EDF EDF EDF' or shouting 'Come on you apes. You wanna live forever!' in your best Micheal Ironside impression before the war is won.

Full review is over at PushSquare: LINK

Sat here I look down deep into my coffee wondering about the events that led me here. It sounded like such a simple job, small town that now housed a sadistic killer. I went over the details on the drive down, working my way through my most recent packet of cigarettes. I run my fingers along the deep scars on my cheek, forget me nots from a previous case.
I finish my prep work and close my laptop, reach down and grab a smoke. Thick rain is baring down onto my car and I haven't seen civilisation in well over an hour. Out of nowhere a dark figure brandishing an axe appears with a flash, I swerve to avoid him and crash deep in the woods. 
I wish I could say that this would be the worse thing that would happen to me today. Between ghostly visions, an axe murderer and a primitive police force, I would say that I Agent York Morgan have my work cut out for me!.
To start my day right I pour milk slowly into my coffee, words appear in front of me "FK in the coffee". 

From normal to obscure in a matter of minutes welcome to Deadly Premonition. 3rd person survival horror/psychological thriller, released as a budget title over in Europe by Rising Star Games originally on X Box 360, this game has recently seen a re-release as a directors cut on Ps3 and soon STEAM get a taste of the coffee.

Credited with having the most polarising review scores in gaming we have the definitive Marmite of video games. With its last gen graphics, awkward voice acting and at times mental controls it is hard for some to see why it's so special. 
Presented with a crazy yet memorable cast of characters including a women constantly worrying about her cook pot, a secretive gas station owner, an ex general who will work on your car & York Morgan himself with his coffee fortune telling and Zack!. 

 I'm not going to say anymore as this is a cast you need to meet and experience!. Greenvale is a living breathing place with its own time scale and patterns for people to be. Need to question someone? No problem go to where they work, want to waste some time? Sure there is a dart bar and plenty of fishing locations, want to fight evil sprits for upgrades, got it!.
Yes it is full to the brim with content, be it side missions to help your case or just making sure a certain someone gets home before her pot is cold. Also on offer is a whole collection of trading cards found throughout the map of Greenvale!. A collection of cars to be had and looked after, if you're planning a long drive make sure you have enough gas!.

Other little touches include shaving York in the mornings, making sure he is fed and well rested and that he has a set of clean clothes. If all this sounds appealing I fully recommend Deadly Premonition!. Another thing I feel I must point out Twin Peaks fan? Here is the game you never got, it has far too many similarities for it not to be a homage. 

 The key to Deadly Premonition is experiencing and exploring. I'm going to leave this here as I feel I may say too much and ruin what is a fantastic journey one which stands out as so fresh and unique in today's world of call of duty and grand theft auto. Not a game for everyone as the quirky nature is offputting for some people as are the aged graphics. On the Ps3 Directors Cut there is a frame rate issue when in the free roam mode but it's nothing you can't look past if you want to experience this underrated classic. 

In a world covered in Call of Duty, Grand Theft Auto & Fifa, Deadly Premonition is a bastion of light with a different take on nearly all aspects of this game. Bizarre side quests, strange characters and a living breathing world makes it sound so close to GTA V but in reality it's more the Anti GTA. Complex story with twists and turns everywhere, very japanese inspired zombie sections and a shoe string budget power this title. I implore anyone who likes classic B Movie horror & Survival Horror games in general to come visit the little town of Greenvale. 

Till next time..........Zack! 

Tune in next time for a write up about Shin Megami Tensei: Soul Hackers and expect soon one for the fantastic Disgaea D2 as it's currently threatening to consume my life! 

Prinny d00d!