Developer: Pixel Titans
Publisher: Devolver Digital
Platform: PlayStation 4, PC*
ESRB Rating: M
Release Date: May 9th 2017
*The PC Version was used to review this game
A retail copy was purchased by the reviewer for this review.
“Strafe” is what some would call an ode to the FPS games of the early to late 90s. It tries to create a procedurally generated roguelike game with the gunplay of such games as “Wolfenstein” or “Quake.” After being kickstarted years ago and being delayed earlier this year we finally have our hands on this unique game. Does it manage to deliver a polished experience to the fans of old school FPS? Let’s dive in and find out.
Developer: Arc Systems
Publisher: NIS America
Platform: PC, PlayStation 4
ESRB Rating: E
Release Date: May 9th, 2017
“Birthdays the Beginning” is the latest brain child of Story of Seasons (formerly known as Harvest Moon) creator Yasuhiro Wada. Instead of living life on a farm, raising your own crops and trying to start a family, you are now tasked by an unknown deity to create entire ecosystems of life (on a cube,) in hopes of being able to return home. Quite the drastic turn, I know. That said, I think the stark departure from what he is known for was quite the interesting idea.
This morning the Persona series director Katsura Hashino came out today to thank all western fans for the love and support of Persona 5. The message is as follows:
As a developer, I’m very happy to hear that Persona 5 is being played by so many people overseas. To be honest, it’s really hard to gauge its popularity in the West when our team’s in Japan; we’re not able to see everyone’s comments and discussions. It’d be great to interact with the fans abroad, but sadly, I’m stuck in the development room slurping instant ramen (laugh). Persona 5 is a very “Japanese” story with some political aspects to it, so I couldn’t imagine how Western players would react to it. I did know, however, that Persona 5 was highly anticipated by gamers overseas even back when we were developing the game, so I was curious to see how its story would be received.
I’m going off on a tangent here, but I think that traditional Japanese superhero stories tend to be about fighting off invaders from outside their society, while Western ones focus on fighting against villains and misfits that come from within it. There’s a sense of society being responsible for creating this evil, and such a setting lets the audience’s imagination run wild, like “it could’ve been me.” For instance, doesn’t the Joker from Batman make some valid points that resonate with you?
Persona 5 is also a superhero story in which you fight villains that are born from within society, so I thought that it might be received differently than the previous entries. Of course, it could’ve missed the mark completely and been criticized for it, so my anticipation and anxiety were split half and half. Since the game just launched in the West, I’d like to look back on it at a later time, once I receive feedback from the Western audience—how their gameplay experiences were, what kind of things they felt, etc. I hope that the tale of Persona 5 will leave a lasting impression on everyone who plays it. No matter what kind of project I take on going forward, I love creating RPGs that are both moving and relatable regardless of cultural differences—in fact, I’m most interested in strengthening those aspects right now.
Last year, with the milestone of the Persona series’ 20th anniversary, I handed off the series development to my successors and announced the start of my new RPG project that takes place in a fantasy world. Be it a game set in modern day, like the Persona and Shin Megami Tensei series, or a game set in a new fantasy world, I aim to create games that provide an invaluable experience of reflecting on oneself through a journey, while roleplaying as characters that players can deeply relate to.
These efforts are only made possible thanks to the positive reception we receive from fans—not just in Japan, but worldwide—of the Persona series and Atlus RPGs in general. I appreciate all your support for the newest entry in the Persona series, and I hope that everyone will enjoy the new Atlus RPGs to come.
Persona 5 has been a smash hit outside of Japan, and the game deserves every ounce of sales it gets. I am glad to see all of their hard work paid off. To see our review of Persona 5 you can check out our video one (written still pending):
Platform: Nintendo Switch
ESRB Rating: E
Release Date: April 28, 2017
Mario Kart 8 was one of the first must have games on Wii U during the first half of the systems’ life cycle but there was always something missing that Mario Kart 8 Deluxe manages to fill with the revamped Battle Mode. Content additions weren’t the only focus of the game as Mario Kart Deluxe features native 1080p visuals at 60 frames per second for a sharper experience that feels good to play. From Joycons on their side to the preferred pro controller, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe offers one of the most diverse control schemes in any multiplayer game out there. This is, of course, on top of being one of the best racing game or party game experiences out there.
As always, the track design is outstanding and offers so many hidden details that add a sense of world building making the experience feel like a racing game set in the Mario World, rather than a racing game with Mario characters and some guests from other Nintendo franchises. Due to the appearance of Link, Isabelle, and the Inklings from Splatoon it almost feels like the game is trying to step away from the “Mario Kart” branding; but I doubt many would object if other characters manage to make their way into the franchise for the sake of variety.
The original release contained thirty-six playable characters, but seven of those characters were the Koopalings and that made the roster feel padded out compared to other entries where characters such as Diddy Kong and Petey Piranha were playable. In Deluxe there are over forty-two playable characters (unless you count Bowser Junior as a Koopaling,) making the roster will feel much more varied. The addition of King Boo in particular was the favorable choice due to how different he looks compared to the rest of the cast.
Battle Mode is the biggest addition to the remaster. In the Balloon Battle mode, two to twelve players battle it out in arena to score the most points and achieve victory under the allotted time given. There are many returning modes such as “Shine Thief,” where players have to try to hold onto the shine sprite until the time runs out to achieve victory; “Coin Runners” where players collect and steal coins from each other to achieve victory; and “Bob-omb Blast,” where there are explosions everywhere. There is a brand new mode in the form of “Renegade Runners,” which is essentially cops and robbers with Piranha Plants. The cops send the opponents to jail and the opponents can try to break free until no one remains. This new mode was probably the highlight of this new battle mode due to the excitement that can be had with a group friends.
All modes including the races can be played online with a very good experience. Every match tested was lag free and may just be one of the best online experiences Nintendo has ever created. Even with subtle changes such as allowing characters and kart changing between matches makes it a much smoother experience than the 2014 release. However, on the flip side, as a modern game it lacks various features such as voice chat and messaging making it too simple of an interface. This is a problem with the Nintendo Switch in general and, unfortunately, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is bogged down by this.
For those that played Mario Kart 8 back in 2014, maybe this may not be a reason to pick up a Switch or once again pay full price for this product. The package feels much more complete, and will be a satisfying purchase for those that have not played Mario Kart 8 before.
+Great Track Design
+Frantic Battle mode
+A much more diverse character roster
+A control scheme for everyone
-Online interface issues have not been addressed
Platform: *PS4/Xbox 1
Developer: Square Enix
Publisher: Square Enix
Release Date: November 29th, 2016
Final Fantasy. Whether you like Japanese video games or not, and whether or not you even play video games, there’s a good chance you’ve heard of this franchise somewhere. Each numbered entry typically takes place in a new explorable world and always gives a new cast of characters. It’s been a long time coming since the previous single-player main entry Final Fantasy XIII, and it’s been ten years since this game itself was announced under the name of Final Fantasy VS XIII.
Developer: Gust Co. Ltd.
Publisher: Koei Tecmo
Platform: Playstation 4, Playstation Vita, and PC
ESRB Rating: T
Release Date: March 7, 2017
A review copy was provided by KT America
This game was ran on an i5 6600k with 16gb of ram and a Nvidia GTX GeForce 970
The second installment of the Mysterious arc in GUST’s annual series is by far one of their most ambitious takes on the franchise. “Atelier Firis: The Alchemist and the Mysterious Journey” sets out to validate itself as a game that needs to be played by anyone who enjoys RPGs with a cute anime aesthetic. With a more in depth alchemy system and intriguing battle system, Atelier Firis seems to be a step forward in many directions whilst taking a step back in other areas.
Back when Persona 5 came out earlier this month, Atlus USA had shared a warning for all streamers and Let’s Plays advising they do not stream beyond 7/7 in Persona 5. However it seems like Atlus USA is loosening up their grip on this.
When Persona 5 launched, we put out a set of video/streaming guidelines that we hoped would limit online spoilers for fans who have yet to play the game.
To our surprise, we then saw numerous reactive news articles go up, opinion videos post, and received many emails asking us to please change our Persona 5streaming/video policy. We recognize that our fans are the reason why the game is the major worldwide success it is, and we continue to want them to be able to enjoy the game without fear of being spoiled. However, we also heard your issues with the guidelines and have decided to revise them. Because we want to give players the most access to the game while respecting the original goal, we’re now asking players to refrain from streaming or posting video past the end of the in-game date of 11/19—when the main story gears up for the final act.
We also want to apologize to those of you who saw the previous guidelines blog post as threatening. We want to be transparent about what we do, and the reason we released the guidelines was to give streamers the right information up front. It was never our intention to threaten people with copyright strikes, but we clearly chose the wrong tone for how to communicate this.
Lastly, we want to thank our fans around the world for supporting Persona 5 and ATLUS. The game is a global success because of your passion for the series, and we’re happy that so many of you are enjoying it.
While it is unfortunate there are still some restrictions on the game, it’s good to see Atlus USA easing up on this. It seems like only a matter of time before the embargo is lifted from the entire game.
Developer: Playtonic Games
Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC*
ESRB Rating: E10+
Release Date: April 11th 2017
*The PC Version was used to review this game
A retail copy was purchased by the reviewer for this review.
Nostalgia is a powerful thing in the gaming community these days, as it serves as one of the main factors of success in most kickstarted games. A few examples of this are “Shenmue 3,” “Mighty Number 9,” “Bloodstained,” and the newly released “Yooka Laylee.” Yooka Laylee serves as a love letter to the late 90s era of 3D platformers, but does it show the age of the games it tries to imitate? Today we take a look and find out for ourselves.
Developer: Nippon Ichi Software
Publisher: Nippon Ichisoftware America
ESRB Rating: T
Release Date: April 11th, 2017
Nippon Ichi Software has been on an interesting path where they decide to make “indie-like” titles. In 2014 (localized in 2015) there was the bizarrely gruesome 2D puzzle platformer, Firefly Diaries; in 2015 (localized in 2016) my new favorite adventure horror game, Yomawari; and in 2016 (localized in 2017) Rose in the Twilight follows Firefly Dairies as (despite the aesthetic,) it has no problem being gory while also being a 2D puzzle platformer.
NISA has just released a ton of new screenshots of the english version of Birthday the Beginnings check it out!
One of the features of the game is the “Challenge Mode” where you are given a set amount of years and special conditions to accomplish a challenging task, like creating and capturing a plesiosaurus or the infamous tyrannosaurus rex.
In Birthdays the Beginning, you accumulate dozens of items throughout the game to alter the topography, temperature, and moisture – but one of the more interesting items is the Mysterious Glass Jar. This item saves the genetic information of an organism and let’s you decide when and where to convert it back into an organism. What will happen when you force a creature into a habitat it’s not accustomed to?
Birthday the Beginnings launches in North America on May 9th on PlayStation 4 and on Steam.