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.
Developer: Camelot Software Planning
Platform: Nintendo Switch
ESRB Rating: E
Release Date: June 22nd, 2018
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 Smash” on 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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
Developer: Ryu ga Gotoku Studio
Platform(s):PlayStation 4 (Played on PS4 Pro)
ESRB Rating: M
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?
Platforms:PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch (Reviewed on Both)
Release Date:August 24th, 2018
ESRB Rating: E
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?
Gamescom is fully underway, and with the release of Shenmue I+II HD what better time than now to announce the official release date for Shenmue III. You can pick up this hotly anticipated crowdfunded sequel on PlayStation 4 and PC on August 27th, 2019! It has been a long road for Shenmue fans, but the end of the road is now in sight! In the mean time, take a look at the latest trailer for the game right out of Gamescon:
In an interview with Edge Magazine, Yakuza series creator and SEGA Executive Toshihiro Nagoshi confirmed that F-Zero GX sold a total of 1.5 Million copies world wide. This is what Nagoshi-san had to say in regards to the development of F-Zero GX and the success of the entry.
Compared to us, in the big picture, we are similar. But in the finer details – their decision-making and timing – things are different, and I learned a lot from them. In short, it’s about objectivity. (…) It’s hard to describe, but when I’d say about some part of the game, “It’s okay like this, isn’t it?” they’d say, “Our company does not allow this kind of thing. Ever.” I didn’t manage to change their minds about anything. Not even once. But that’s why Nintendo has such a solid brand, even after all these years. That is why we lost the hardware war.
I really liked the Super Famicom game, and while we made a few proposals – Metroid for instance, and others – I was most confident in making a driving game because of my experience in the genre, though I’d never make a sci-fi one
Even though we’d lost the war in the hardware market, I wanted Nintendo to see how great Sega was as a company. We made lots of characters and courses, and we did the best we could for the graphics using the best technology of the time.
Even though we’d tried really hard making games for Sega hardware, they never sold too well, but F-Zero sold over 1.5 M copies worldwide. We realized the only thing we needed to admit was that Sega did not have the ability to sell hardware (laughs). That as a developer (…) we did not need to be pessimistic at all.
After it released, I got a call from Nintendo. They said they wanted to see all the source code for the game, and wanted me to explain how we’d made that game, in that timeframe and with that budget, in detail. They were wondering how we’d done it – they couldn’t figure it out. We were able to achieve something a lot higher than what Nintendo had expected.
This is honestly some pretty big news regarding F-Zero GX. It has been wildly accepted that the GameCube cult classic was a commercial failure, but if what Nagoshi-san is saying is true, this would have F-Zero GX’s sales be up there with the other entries in the series. Maybe one day we will get lucky and Nagoshi-san and his team will have the chance to work their magic again on a brand new F-Zero.
This morning Atlus USA has confirmed that we will be getting a Limited Edition of Persona 3 and 5 Dancing. The Limited Edition we will be getting will be similiar to that of the Japanese one, which also included a digital copy of Persona 4 Dancing All Night.
ATLUS is happy to announce that every Persona Dancing game under the sun (and the moon and the stars) is heading to the West in the Persona Dancing: Endless Night Collection! This bundle contains the complete catalog of Persona Dancing games, including the all-new Persona 3: Dancing in Moonlight and Persona 5: Dancing in Starlight, as well as a digital download for Persona 4: Dancing All Night, all wrapped up in an exclusive hardcover artbook package! The Persona Dancing: Endless Night Collection will also be available digitally on both PS4 and PS Vita.
You can expect the following things to be included in this Limited Edition:
- Jam out to all your favorite Persona music with both Persona 3: Dancing in Moonlight and Persona 5: Dancing in Starlight in an exclusive hardcover artbook package featuring character art by Shigenori Soejima.
- Also includes a digital download code for Persona 4: Dancing All Night for the PlayStation®4 – the only way to get P4D on PS4!
The Dancing Endless Night edition of the game will run you $99.99 on the PlayStation 4 and $69.99 on the PlayStation Vita. The game will remain digital only on the Vita but you can purchase all three games for the reduced value for the system. Currently there seems to be no other way to get Persona 4 Dancing All Night on the PlayStation 4 other than buying this collection. You will be able to purchase all of these games on December 4th, so keep a look out for our review of these games!
During the airing of the latest episode of the Persona 5 anime, Atlus has finally graced us with some more information on the upcoming game Persona Q2 New Cinema for the Nintendo 3DS.
Persona Q2 New Cinema will be a crossover game of the cast of Persona 3, 4 and 5 mixed with the Etrian Odyssey all wrapped together in a film noir type aesthic. Persona Q2 New Cinema will launch exclusively on the Nintendo 3DS in Japan on November 29th. There is currently no word on a western release from Atlus USA, but hopefully this will change soon.
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: