Category Archives: Reviews

Labyrinth of Refrain: Coven of Dusk Review – Don’t Sleep on This

Developer: Nippon Ichi Software

Publisher: Nippon Ichi Software USA

Platform(s): PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch

ESRB Rating: M

A Review Copy Was Provided by Nippon Ichi Software USA for the Purpose of Review

 

It’s always interesting to see companies branch out from what they normally do. Granted, NIS has been branching out for the past few years to a point where the only real current staple  series they have is: Disgaea and for being known for having some needlessly complex systems. some games. Unfortunately, this review isn’t about the marriage of these two things as Disgaea in some ways can be considered complex on its own. Instead, this is about NIS adding needlessly complex systems to a genre they’re unfamiliar with.

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Valkyria Chronicles 4 Review War Changes You

Developer: SEGA

Publisher: SEGA USA

Platform(s): PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, PC, Xbox One

ESRB Rating: T

A Review Copy Was Provided by SEGA USA for the Purpose of Review

Valkyria Chronicles is honestly one of my favorite IPs by SEGA. This tactical JRPG mixes my love of strategic gameplay, World War II and engrossing narratives to create a mix of game that I can not help but fall in love with. Finally after nearly eight years, western fans have a chance to delve into a Valkyria Chronicles game again. For those of you confused as to why isn’t this Valkyria Chronicles 3, Valkyria Chronicles 3 was a PSP exclusive that sadly was never officially localized for an English release. That said I am glad that the fourth entry has been able to make its way over.

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Mario Tennis Aces Review – A Refreshing Curveball

Developer: Camelot Software Planning

Publisher: Nintendo

Platform: Nintendo Switch

ESRB Rating: E

Release Date: June 22nd, 2018

MRSP: $59.99

Thank you, Nintendo for providing a review copy!

Mario Tennis Aces is the most recent in Nintendo’s line of Mario sports spinoff games. After the mediocre reception of “Mario Tennis Ultra Smashon the Wii U, Camelot Software has attempted to rekindle what made the earlier games in the series enjoyable while also adding a modern touch and new mechanics. Do they achieve the harmonious balance between the two? Today we dive in and take a look for ourselves.

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Story:
The story in Tennis Aces is… well its something. On one hand it has very creative and fun boss battles, and on the other hand it tries to tell you a story about a secret kingdom of tennis player and a demon possessed magical tennis racket. Yes, you heard that right. In a very Mario fashion, Wario and Waluigi are up to no good and come across a haunted tennis racket containing an ancient tennis spirit who wants to take over the world. As per tradition in Mario games, you’ll go from world to world, playing tennis matches and gathering the five infinity ge-….I mean “Tennis Stones” that grant the magic racket power so you can take him down. It’s silly, nonsensical, and honestly forgettable. It is not the worst story mode I’ve played in a sports game by any means, but Camelot would not be winning any writing awards for sure.

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Graphics:
Tennis Aces features a very vibrant color palette and great technical performance as any Mario sports game should. Some of the effects on special attacks look particularly good despite there being no antialiasing in the game. One weird visual design choice I noticed is the framerate going down from locked 60 fps to a locked 30 fps anytime you stop moving on the Adventure mode story map. Not a negative to the game by any means, but it did take some getting used to. The courts have a wide variety of visual styles and greatly help with making tennis seem a lot more visually stunning than it actually is.

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Audio/Music:
Most of the music found in Aces is your typical generic Mario fanfare. Most of the tracks are upbeat songs that occasionally coincide with the court you are playing on. None of the songs in the soundtrack were particularly bad but most of them just tend to blend in with the backdrop of the level instead of separating itself from it. The sound effects consist of your usual classic mushroom kingdom sound effects but there are a few sound effects such as the special shot that have a very good impact sound and make you really know you either did a good thing or messed up terribly.

-Sample of the Soundtrack-

Gameplay:
Gameplay is this games biggest strength. It has the perfect skill ceiling for anyone to be able to pick up the game and have a good time while rewarding players who sink a fair number of time into the game. New mechanics introduced add a ton of depth to the gameplay formula. With the ability to eliminate someone from the game by breaking their tennis racket, matches truly become fights with players having to balance keeping their racket’s health from getting low and returning special attacks sent at them. Zone speed allows players to use some of their special meter to slow down time to allow for better saves and ball returns. These abilities create situations that are almost as fun to watch as they are to play. The only major issue the gameplay has is found in its Adventure mode. During the second half of the story, the courses and enemies become less about the A.I getting increasingly better and more about introducing unfair mechanics that rubber band enemies to beating you with seemingly nothing you can do. It’s honestly one of the craziest spikes in difficulty I’ve seen in a long time.

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Content:
While Aces manages to easily beat out the amount of content found in Mario Tennis: Ultra Smash, it is not by much. A Story mode called “Adventure” has returned for the first time since the Gameboy iteration of the series. It’s very short, clocking at about 5-6 hours in total including the bonus levels. There is no post game single player content or modes besides local play which is a huge bummer for anyone playing on the go or without an internet connection. There is a mode called “Swing Mode” but all it amounts to being is a basic vs mode with sometimes poorly functioning motion controllers. The majority of your time after you beat Story mode will be spent in the online modes which are not too bad but also do not offer a ton of variety. You have your basic “Play with friends” mode and your average casual online matchmaking. One fun addition is the tournament mode, which allow you to rake up online ranking points by playing in Smash-esque bracketed tournaments. If you get eliminated you can hop right back in at any time with a new tournament, as they are always going on. A nice bonus from playing this is you will unlock new characters added in monthly updates early for playing these modes. Unfortunately, aside from tournament mode there no fun mini games or non-vanilla tennis modes to play with online friends. The character and court roster are decently sized this time around, with 15+ characters and 7 courts with 1 night variation to choose from. More characters will be added with free updates for the next 3 months which is a nice touch.

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Overall:
Mario Tennis Aces is certainly a step in the right direction for the series. A short story mode, weird enemy difficulty scaling and lack of single player options keep it from being worth the full price game it’s being sold for. With that being said; fantastic gameplay, a great roster, and decent online functionality make this definitely one of the best iterations in the series.

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428 Shibuya Scramble Review

Developer:Abstraction Games

Publisher: Spike Chunsoft

Platform: PS4, PC

Release Date: September 3rd

A Review Copy Was Provided by Spike Chunsoft

It’s been a long time coming, but 428 Shibuya Scramble finally makes its way westward after its initial release in Japan almost 10 years ago on the Nintendo Wii. Now on PS4 and PC, the west gets a chance to see why people have been clamoring for this title.

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Yakuza Kiwami 2 Review Return of a Dragon

Developer: Ryu ga Gotoku Studio

Publisher: SEGA

Platform(s):PlayStation 4 (Played on PS4 Pro)

ESRB Rating: M

MRSP: $49.99

Release Date: August 28th, 2018

SEGA seems to be on a roll with the Yakuza series as of late. This year, western fans have been graced with Yakuza 6 the Song of Life, the series debut onto PC, and the Yakuza X Fist of the North Star crossover localization announcement. Now today, we take a look at the second entry in the “Kiwami” remakes of Yakuza games, Yakuza Kiwami 2. Just like Yakuza Kiwami, Kiwami 2 is a groundup remake of the original PS2 classic Yakuza 2, this time made in the Dragon Engine. How does this remake of the original Yakuza 2 hold up, and does this game paint an interesting picture of the future of the Yakuza series?

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Little Dragons Cafe Review-A Return to Form

Developer:Toybox Inc.

Publisher:Aksys

Platforms:PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch (Reviewed on Both)

Release Date:August 24th, 2018

ESRB Rating: E

MRSP: $59.99

Little Dragons Cafe is the latest brainchild of Story of Seasons creator, Yasuhiro Wada, and is an attempt by the looks of it to return to his Bokujo roots. Yasuhiro Wada has had a checkered past of game releases since he left Marvelous. One needs to look no further than his first non Story of Seasons attempt Hometown Story, a game that left a lot of fans disappointed. Now he looks to be trying again with Little Dragons Cafe to try and recapture that initial magic, so how does he do?

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Yakuza 6 the Song of Life Potentially Heading to PC

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It’s that time of the year everyone, finacial reports are in for a lot of big gaming companies. Sometimes these reports can give some interesting early announcements for things to come. Such as today, in SEGA’s finacial report, they seemed to have list Yakuza 6 the Song of Life for a PC release sometime between the end of this year and the start of next year.

While this may not come as a surprise with Yakuza 0 having a pretty stellar launch on PC and Yakuza Kiwami heading to PC later this year, it’s just good to see SEGA committed to bringing the entire Yakuza catalog to the platform one game at a time. It will be interesting to see if we get an official announcement of this at Gamescon. The PC could be where The Dragon Engine truly shine! In the meantime we will keep you all posted if any news break, meanwhile you can check out our review of Yakuza 6 the Song of Life here.

Or you can watch our video review:

Hyrule Warriors Definitive Edition Review – A Royal Comeback

Developer: Omega Force/Team Ninja

Publisher: Nintendo

Platform: Nintendo Switch

ESRB Rating: T

Release Date: May 18th, 2018

MRSP: $59.99

Thank you, Nintendo for providing a review copy!

Hyrule Warriors Definitive Edition is the re-release of the 2014 collaboration project between Koei Tecmo and Nintendo celebrating “The Legend of Zelda” as a franchise. This repackaging includes a load of new content not found in the original release as well as some updated visuals. Do these changes warrant buying the game again? Today we take a look and decide for ourselves. Please note that this will not be so much of a review as a comparison to the original release of the game not including any of its season pass DLC.

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Story:
The story is the original Wii U release of this game was surprisingly decent. It was not a masterpiece of storytelling but for a musou game it had a fun number of battles and the story never felt too serious or comedic for the tone of the Zelda series. The added DLC campaigns from the season pass included within the definitive edition re-release really help develop some of the characters who did not get too much time in the original story. The added the Wind Waker arc after the completion of the main story was a very fun addition as well. While there are your standard character misunderstandings that lead to battles, it checks out as a decent story mode. Nothing amazing, but it works for what it is.

5

Graphics:
The Wii U was not a technical powerhouse by any means, but neither is the Switch. While the original game ran at 720p 30 fps with an extremely variable framerate that often went below 20, the Switch version has made some pretty big strides. The Resolution has received a bump to 1080p and the framerate is now an unlocked 60 fps. While it is not stable, it makes a humongous difference in battle. The actual art style of the game is quite nice and compliments the various conflicting visual styles of the games in the franchise pretty well. Handheld mode on the other hand, is an absolutely atrocious experience. If you thought the Wii U version was a mess performance wise, the handheld mode will have battling constantly at 20 fps and below. It actually hurt my eyes at times, which alone is a testament to its poor performance.

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Audio/Music:
Musou games have been known to have very fun power metal variations on the themes and songs taken from the source material and this game does not disappoint. Most classic Zelda fan favorites are here with very fun and upbeat remixes. Most of the sound queues and alert noises are also taken from games throughout the franchise’s history. The sound design aspect of the original did not disappoint, and nothing has changed for the better.

-Sample of the Soundtrack-

Gameplay:
Hyrule Warriors has your standard musou gameplay of mashing X and Y a bunch of times to destroy hundreds of braindead enemies, but there are a few new additions to the mix. The new equipment such as the hammer will introduce new ways to go about fighting bosses. The “My Fairy” system allows you to tackle the Adventure mode with bonuses and adding buffs to your character. Another great added mechanic is the ability to switch characters, which makes multitasking much easier of a feat to accomplish mid battle. These are only a few of the mechanics not found in the original release, and I have yet to find one that hinders gameplay.

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Content:
Of all the musou spinoffs out there, this one is up near the top in terms of content. The main story mode including all of the extra missions takes about 15 hours, which is 5-6 more than the original game. Adventure mode which includes more than 5 maps each of which can take of upwards of 4-5 hours to complete, and there are almost twice as many characters in the roster compared to the Wii U release. The only major complaint in terms of content is that you’ll be repeating a lot of the same levels in the story mode, and especially in the extra side missions.

3

Overall:
Hyrule Warriors Definitive Edition takes some of the best aspects of Zelda and musou games and blends them into a somewhat monotonous but mostly fulfilling experience. Fans of the Wii U release and newcomers will appreciate what they have added here. With terrible handheld performance and a lot of repeating levels being its only major drawbacks, this is definitely the better of the two Nintendo Warriors games.

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Shining Resonance Refrain Review- Not a Shinning Example

Developer: SEGA

Publisher: SEGA

Platform(s): PS4*, Nintendo Switch, XBO, PC

Release Date: June 10th, 2018

ESRB Rating: T

MRSP: $49.99

It’s been quite a while since we’ve seen anything Shining related here in the west, the last game being a 2016 fighting game featuring characters from Shining games that were never localized, Blade Arcus from Shining: Battle Arena. Before that, despite the constant release of Shining games in Japan on PSP, Shining’s presence in the west more or less disappeared after the release of Shining Force EXA for the PS2 back in 2007. That said, Shining moved back to consoles in 2014 with the release of Shining Resonance on PS3. That version wasn’t localized, but it has been remastered for current generation consoles.

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Death end re;Quest Heads to North America and Europe Early 2019

Today during their pannel at Anime Expo, Idea Factory International has confirmed that Death and re;Quest will be heading westward on the PS4 in Early 2019! Death end Re;Quest has quite a few names behind it who are working on it, such as developers who worked on Corpse Party and Mary Skelter. You can expect to find the following in this interesting game:

  • Beyond Belief: Fact or Fiction? – Jump between reality and in-game modes, as players will need to investigate in real world view to solve the mysterious inner-workings of the World Odyssey, and switch to an in-game view mode to battle against glitched-out monsters. Choose options wisely, as your decision can change the game’s ending!​
  • Turn-Based RPGs Flipped Upside Down – In this turn-based command battle system, you can roam freely and duke it out with fearsome monsters. During battle, players can change the game’s genre from a first-person shooter to even a fighting game!
  • You’re Buggin’ Out – While exploring, players will need to activate character-specific dungeon skills to access hard-to-reach areas and hidden treasures!
  • ​Follow the White Rabbit and Discover a Bug Infested World – In this hyper-realistic game world, players must help out Shina escape a game universe filled with infected bosses and mesmerizing environments!

While the game is quite a bit far away, stay tuned for future coverage on this title! In the meantime check out some screenshots of this game.