Friday, 29 November 2013

Review: Awesomenauts (Ps3/Xbox360)

Another PSN game review comes to the fore! With talk of a Ps4 port in the works, this review could be of some relevance to my fellow Europeans who are lucky enough to be acquiring a Ps4 today. While I was going to wait it out for a bit with regards to the Ps4 Ive decided to get one ASAP as it will need covering and Im not sure if any of the other staff will be acquiring one soon. Enough about next-gen plans anyway, time to continue with today's review!

Review: Tear Away (Playstation Vita)

Tearaway is one of those games you will have to play to understand the hype. This is the first game that really made my girlfriend giggle. For the first time she enjoyed a game as much as I did. She enjoyed it that much that she wanted to borrow my vita. Just to play Tear Away. That ladies and gentlemen means this game is enjoyable for all people. Gamer or no gamer this game is something really special. In this review i choose to be Iota , but you can also choose to be Atio ( pronounced as ah-twa).

The game starts with an introduction. The one who is being introduced is YOU! You are the godly being who is looking down on a world of paper. You are the one who is holding this magnificent paper world in the palm of your hands. From the paper world you will get an invitation to tell a new story. Before I even realised a hole ripped open before me, spewing shredded strips of paper, and then I fell in the wonderful papery world of tear away. 
The story starts with you and Iota. You as I mentioned before is the godly being who is looking down on a world of paper. Your task is to guide Iota through the papery world  and help him with the  dangers that are ahead. Iota is a messenger and he has a message for You. The message is inside his ( or her) envelope shaped head. This all has to be done in hope for you and Iota to be reunited and the message to be delivered to the you.
Graphics and feel 
The world of Tear Away is made all out of paper. Every plant, rock or animal is constructed in a magnificent way. The environments you encounter range from grassy woodlands areas to rain-battered harbours to scrubbed laboratories and far beyond. Each is made completely with papercraft: colourful paper that is folded like only you have seen in the art of Origami. Your presence in the world is directly noticeable because the sun is your face. When I saw this I giggled because it reminded me of my childhood memories watching the Telletubies ( the creepy baby sun god). This doesn't feel weird because your world and the world of Tear Away feel so connected.

The sound design is superb. Every area in the game has a different song. Furthermore, the sound effects are something you wouldn't expect on a handheld device. This game is in the same league as Killzone Mercenary. 

The gameplay is a simple 3D platformer. You move with the left stick and you can change the camera with the right stick and gradually you will learn new skills that can help you in your quest. These include the ability to jump, to roll and to play accordion that sucks in air and forces it out with tremendous power . Sometimes the camera feels a little bit floaty and this resulted in me dying a couple of times ( I'm also terrible at platformers but boy i love them). However, the checkpoints are forgiving so it never came to the point it felt cheap. Some people were concerned the controls had the floaty feel that is common to the Little Big Planet games. Let me tell you all, this time Media molecule did everything right. Iota is responsive in every way. If you press X Iota immediately jumps, if you push O Iota rolls himself up in a fluent animation.
Media molecule did something special with this one. It's not just a simple 3D platformer but one that is crafted with love and creativity. Every level is full of detail. Squirrels jumping on a trampoline to elks eating paper grass to inhabitants of the world sitting at a campsite. This game feels alive and you feel like you are visiting a vibrant living world. The moment the you interact with this world is the moment this game turns from great to a system seller. With the back touch something magical happens, your finger appears in the world of Iota. With your finger you can help Iota to defeat his enemies and clear the obstacles that are between Iota and his goal to deliver his message to the you. The camera is used is an innovative way. At some point in the game an elk told me his skin was stolen by scraps (Nasty little things and the main enemy of this world). He ask me if i would redecorate his skin. I took a picture of a flower in my living room and at that moment the red crimson colour covered the elk. He loved it, in fact , he started at trend. Other elk in the area started wearing it, too. This camera function is used far beyond this example. Everything you take a picture of in the world of tear way can be uploaded to the Tear away website. Some objects like squirrels, elks and wendigo's can be created in the real world. You do this by going to My favourite godly action was to use the front touch which is used for simple and frivolous tasks like drawing a crown on a sheet of paper so that you can cut around it and place it on a creature. This can be a squirrel king who has lost his crown thanks to the scraps or a pig who is considered ugly by his owner. At some point at the base of the mountain you're asked to make a snowflake. I felt like a child because i envisioned something that you wouldn't see every day. I giggled and drew some magnificent breasts ( Yellow ones with pink spots on them). Rendered in the game, the alpine scene looked stunning and my special snowflakes looked like something you only see in cartoons (gigidy).

This game manages, even when you imagine things that aren't appropriate, to make things look cute. Media Molecule has achieved something that should have been delivered at launch of the PlayStation Vita though. This game is a system seller in every way. What elevates this game above any other game on the vita for me is the ending. The ending was heartbreaking. When Iota delivered it's message the game has ended. The ending  was so sad because the bond you and  Iota had was something special. The story I and Iota had is something I will always remember. Everyone has a different story and that people is something special. The only negative is that this game is too short. I wished there was more Tear Away. This reaction is normal because the game has delivered in every way.

Tear Away is something you will have to play to believe the hype. Tear Away is about delivering the story of Iota and the you. It achieves its ambition to be something more than a 3D platformer. The moment that you interact with the papery world of Tear Away, this game becomes a system seller. This game is worth buying a PlayStation Vita for because you cannot experience this game on any platformer.

一 二 三 四 五 六 七 八 九/O

Scoring Policy

Thursday, 28 November 2013

Otaku Mobile Games v3.0

So here we are again. Its become something of a monthly ritual looking at a few mobile games, but with how fast the mobile scene moves along its no wonder. I hadn't looked into any other games for a few weeks and then decided to do so last week only to be met by a barrage of new titles. I managed to get about another dozen last week so I'm able to do another post although Ive only managed to try out a handful of those dozen, which I'm going to look at today. With me having a Vita & 3DS (and a PsPgo recently purchased again), I don't tend to look to my phone as being my go-to handheld device so I don't have as much time to spend on these games as I do others. Still, I'm sure you'll be intrigued as to what Ive managed to dig up!

フェアリーディフェンス - Fairy Defense (Android) [FREE]
A FREE Tower defence game featuring a host of cute fairies battling Orcs n the like? Why not! The app stores these days seem to be filled to the brim with all manner of tower defence games, mainly military orientated so its refreshing to find one that goes all Kawaii with a moe style. In truth, Ive never really been a fan of these type of games as it always seems to be that theres only a couple of set patterns to deploy in so if you don't match one then you fail. This game sometimes falls into the same trapfall, but for the most part it seems to be a tad easier. A total of 15 levels await your completion and there are 12 unit types to collect altogether. While it won't take up too much of your time to finish off, it may surprise you how enjoyable it is compared to its peers (The game is in Japanese. The UI is intuitive enough and theres enough English used to be able to play the game perfectly well though so don't let that deter you)

Smack☆Holic (Android) [£0.79]
Now this is what I would refer to as a hardcore Otaku mobile game. It will only interest those that are an ardent Otaku. The entirety of the game is based on this one simple premise - spanking your moe styled maid girl. Its that simple. Theres nothing else to the game. Once it starts your maid is stood up against the wall and you tap your phones screen to give her a smack. Yeah. Even myself, the moe fan that I am, didn't really see the appeal with this one though. There are unlockables in the form of costumes, items & titles but they don't unlock often enough (1k hits only unlocked a few items & titles) Id say its only worth getting if you just have to spank some moe, otherwise its not worth your time. If you do decide to take a punt, Id also recommend turning the volume down. The cries and moans Meiko lets out will get you some funny looks indeed.

Save Toshi (Android / iPhone) [FREE]
Save Toshi is not what you would expect it to be from the screenshots you first see. The screenshots show a girl dancing on a disco dancefloor so I assumed it would be some kind of rhythm game but it instead turned out to be a 3D physics based puzzler. Your objective in the game is to ensure you get Toshi to the dancefloor with as little moves by yourself as possible to make sure you get the full 3 star rating. This is harder than it sounds at first when other materials aside from wood get thrown into the mix. 100+ levels and some surprisingly nice 3D graphics will keep you coming back to beat your ratings.

Destroy Gunners SPa (Android) [F2P]
What we have here is a 3rd Person Mech game. Levels consist of the usual destruction of enemies and objectives that you find in almost every other game of this type. Here though, RPG style loot drops have been added that allow you to customise and equip your Mech with all manner of gizmo's & weapons. The graphics and style the game has is impressive at times. Those fond of Anime mech series may enjoy this aspect of the game a lot. Unfortunately, the controls can be a tad iffy at times. Instead of using the standard 2 thumb approach, the camera rotation is given its own control aside from the aiming. It takes a little getting used to. Micro-transactions for more levels beyond a few also rears its head, but its till worth a try as the base game is free.

Theres a lack of iPhone links this time. I do indeed look on iTunes as well when doing these posts but for the most part these games just aren't available on that platform. I can only surmise that Apple have a stricter policy in play for their app store compared to Google. Still, Ill keep providing links for the games to each platform when available. As noted in the opening paragraph I still have even more titles to look at from the batch last week so I may do another post next week if there are any more games worth passing on. If there's any mobile games in particular you feel we should let the world know about, get in touch and let us know either here or on our Twitter

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Review: Malicious (Ps3)

While this is a game that's not exactly new, with the 'Rebirth' version being released about a month ago on Vita I thought Id take a look at the original the remastered version is based on. With the game currently priced at £6.49 (£9.99 for the Vita remaster) a Short & sweet experience is to be anticipated. So how does it fare?

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Retrospective: Red Ninja End of Honor (Ps2/Xbox)

The game is set in the 16th century Japan during the Sengoku period. After a young Kurenai witnessed the brutal execution of her father Ryo by the Black Lizard clan, the girl herself was brutally hung with a tetsugen from a tree and left to die. Miraculously, she survived and was rescued and adopted into a ninja clan where she obtains complete mastery of her adopted weapon, the tetsugen. Pledging her undying loyalty to her new family, Kurenai now lives to avenge her father's death and will go to any means necessary...
....And that's exactly how the story continues to play out. Its your typical revenge Ninja yarn. You wont be coming back to the game for its story or characters that's for sure, but its serviceable 
 Red Ninja is a third-person stealth title, similar to the Tenchu series. Levels tend to consist of having to dispatch enemies with either a kunai blade or fundo (a blunt iron weight) attachment to the tetsugen (The tetsugen also has a hook attachment that allows Kurenai to swing to various places) When the element of stealth fails you, Melee combat can be entered with either the blade or fundo. By dispatching enemies and avoiding injury, you can build Kurenai's ninjutsu gauge, which allows you to enter a sort of "bullet time" in order to quickly eliminate targets. However, as Kurenai is without Armour and significant reach compared with her enemies as they tend to be armed with bows, spears, or katana, most encounters will either injure you or kill you easily. It is best to avoid combat whenever possible by either sneaking, stealth-killing, or using Kurenai's feminine charm to eliminate threats. Indeed you can use your female characters charms to dispatch enemies! A seduction stealth kill is possible to unleash on a single enemy: Kurenai will perform a vaguely suggestive activity and when the character approaches, will drag him down and kill him. Stealth attacks are available if you manage to sneak up on an enemy undetected or use the blade to slice off an unaware enemy's head from a distance if your lucky. All the usual hallmarks of a stealth game also make it into this title IE hiding bodies. You also have several different methods of movement to aid with your stealth. Kurenai can wall-jump, from surface to surface, up to three times in order to find a vantage point or progress. You can flatten yourself against certain walls too, cling to ledges, hang upside down from her tetsugen to kill people, and if running fast enough, can zoom straight up walls until you either run out of momentum or hit something (Wall running cannot be done on all walls though) The game seems to fall squarely into Tenchu territory. Anyone playing those will feel right at home with this game. Bosses will also have to be dispatched
Outside of the, at times, horrendous camera: Red Ninja actually isn't too bad the graphics department. The graphical engine the game uses seems to do well enough, and everything moves at a pretty brisk pace, with no slowdown or clipping of note (The Xbox version has added light bloom effects) The game features a hefty amount of blood that spurt every which way from decapitated foes, which looks eerily similar to how its portrayed in the gory Japanese movies. There's really not much to the game's visuals though to be honest. All the levels & characters are well detailed, With some smooth textures and well detailed characters (The cloth physics for Kurenai 'clothing' are well done) but there's nothing to separate them to any other game set within the same time frame. Other similar games have managed to do creative and interesting things with the whole ancient Japan style though and Red Ninja fails in that regard to make itself stand out from the crowd of Ninja titles we had on Ps2. You could quite easily mistake it for a Tenchu title quite easily. I suppose they thought having a scantily clad female ninja would do more than suffice in that regard.
I picked the game up from a second hand store for £1.49 a couple of months back. I duly fired it up and played through the first few levels before taking a break. Maybe its just that I'm way more tolerable than most gamers, but I actually didn't find it at all that bad, which is probably why I just kept playing. Obviously the camera and lack of imagination in the game design I pointed out are issues, but aside from that nothing else really bothered me. Considering Ninja games have been a little illusive during this generation, its good to go back and see just how many we had then. This is worth a try if you can find it cheap as I have as you may find it to be enjoyable if your tolerant enough and don't expect every game to have perfect mechanics.

Monday, 25 November 2013

Retrospective: Team Buddies (Ps1)

One fine and sunny day in the land that Buddies roam, there was a great and mighty disco in a tent. This tent would bob up and down with the music. All of a sudden, a large, flat, grey, flying THING blocked out the sun (The Great Eclipse) and began to drop crates. These crates were filled with all sorts of goodies such as Uzis and Bazookas. Inevitably, chaos broke out and the buddies became segregated according to color...
...and with that the game begins. The story does open up a lot when playing through the games campaign which was suprising for me the first time around. Its nothing fanciful but it does more than good enough of a job for a game of this type.

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Hooray It's Persona Day!

I personally requested to write this article. I'm going to present you with all the known information then provide you with my personal thoughts and feelings on this matter.

Geoff has stayed pretty level headed on this matter while our very own Remy has flown off the handle. Me? I'm fairly happy about all of the news, but more on that after the announcements.

All in all a collection of new titles for a highly popular series. While I won't be touching the dancing title that honour will be for Geoff, I will talk about Persona Q! 

Persona Q: Shadow Of The Labyrinth

New 3DS crossover game involving talent from Persona & Etrian Odyssey

Persona 4: Dancing All Night

Dancing All Night is a Vita bound rhythm game along the lines of the Project Diva series. It is being developed along side Dingo who make the PSP Project Diva games. More info on this to follow in a later blog post .

Persona 4: Ultimax Suplex Hold! 

The follow up to Persona 4: Arena continues the story where it left off & reintroduces some old characters and stages! More on this in the coming weeks

Firstly a bit about me, iv been playing Shin Megami Tensei games for countless years. My first time was with SMT:III Lucifers Call (Nocturne everywhere else) and I was hooked from that. Since that game I have gone onto completing Shin Megami Tensei 1 & 2 SNES, Digital Devil Saga 1 & 2, Raidou Kuzunoah 1, Persona Revelation, PSP port of Persona all quests, Persona 2 Eternal Punishment, Persona 2 Innocent Sin PSX version, Persona 3, Persona 3 F.E.S, Persona 3: The Answer, Persona 3 Portable, Persona 4 Ps2, Devil Survivor and Strange Journey. I have started a play-through of Devil Summoner:Soul Hackers, Devil Survivor:Overclocked, Devil Survivor 2 & DemiKids on GBA, I burnt out half way with P4:G and sold my Vita & I'm in the process of tracking down a copy of P4:Arena to finish that before the new version drops. Also I am eagerly awaiting the release of SMT IV on 3DS and due to being in Europe I only have the means to play Devil Summoner:Raidou 2 on PC which will happen once I have completed Soul Hackers. I even have a copy of Maken X for Dreamcast ready to play because it has the same art! 

Ontop of all that I have also watched the Persona 4 Anime, Devil Survivor 2 and Persona Trinity Soul & the Digital Devil Story OVA. Why I have listed all this is simple, so you know that my views are from a long time fan of the series who hasn't just gotten off the Persona 4 train.

So where to start with Persona Q, first thing that will strike you is the art style, Chibi art style doesn't really bother me too much, I got used to the anime art style of 3 & 4 after A while so I would imagine same applies here. It's obviously a spin off with this art style and the inclusion of a certain main character, a fun take on the detective storylines of 4 and to an extent 3.

I like the different interactions if you pick SEES or Investigation Crew. I'm interested to know what will happen with mix and matching characters and making your Persona dream team. 
Upon seeing a member of staff from Etrian Odyssey is working on P:Q peaks my interest greatly. For anyone who hasn't played any of them they are hardcore old school RPG Dungeon crawlers. 

What this says to me is hopefully it's going to be despite it's art style a more hardcore SMT style dungeon crawler. I would even be more than happy to see the first person exploring return, another nod to the previous Persona games. 

The fact it is on 3DS for me is personally a great move. Atlus has graced the 3DS with several titles already and all have sold well. As Persona has a huge fan base now it only makes sense to move it to a more popular and better supported console. In Europe I believe Nintendo has actually helped bring SMT IV over to our shores in 2014 which was a huge shock to everyone. 

I understand Persona has been near enough exclusive to the Sony platforms but considering how well Atlus titles do and the larger fan base why this is a shock to people is beyond me!. 

Fans didn't really seem to cheer up until the announcement of Persona 5, it's good to see they are finishing the story from P4:A with a sequel though hardly shocking. 
A large amount of complaints are from people who own the Vita and have come in from Persona 3/4 and have little to no experience with anything SMT barring Persona. 
Could it be that sense of entitlement that is causing such unwarranted feedback?, yes it blows that you invested so much time into P4:G and now the spin off is on a different handheld. For someone like myself I have to miss out on Golden because I can't justify the purchase for 1 game when I can own the 3DS and have access to more SMT titles than I would with the VITA.
Maybe it's the art style? I'm not trying to blow my horn here but iv been a fan for years and wasn't too taken with the anime art style brought in with 3. The key difference is I had enough faith in Atlus and SMT/Persona as a product to overlook this and go onto enjoy P3 in various incarnations. 

You can quote me on this, I for one am more than excited about Q. It looks to me like it will fuse the character development from P3/4 with the dungeon exploring and challenge from P1/2. Anyone who ignores this title due to art style, the fact it's a spin off or that it's on 3DS is being foolish and should think long and hard before they comment on Persona or SMT in general.

I don't know enough about Dancing All Night! though I will say i'm generally not a huge fan of those type of games but being Persona I will keep an eye out on info when it lands. Persona 4: The Ultimax Suplex Hold is another with a little bit of info but as it's releasing in the arcades very soon I'm sure i can speak to my Japanese friend and get a bit of info out of him!

As a leaving note i will say I am curious about Persona 5 & leave the teaser trailer with you here, my thoughts on this game I will keep till more is revealed about it! Till then i eagerly countdown the release of Persona Q!