Category Archives: Gaming News

NCG Review – AI: Somnium Files (Switch, PC, PS4)

Basic Info

“The mind never lies…

In a near-future Tokyo, Special Agent Kaname Date is on the case of a mysterious serial killer. Date must investigate crime scenes as well as dreams on the hunt for clues. From the mind of Kotaro Uchikoshi (Zero Escape series director), with character design by the Yusuke Kozaki (NO MORE HEROES, Fire Emblem series), a thrilling neo-noir detective adventure is about to unfold.”

TITLE AI: THE SOMNIUM FILES
RELEASE DATE Digital (PSN, NSW, STEAM): September 17, 2019
Retail (PS4, NSW) : September 24, 2019
PLATFORM(S) PlayStation®4, Nintendo Switch™, Steam® (PC)
PRICE Standard Edition: $59.99/ €59.99

Special Agent Edition: $89.99/ €99.99

PLAYER(S) 1 player
GENRE Adventure
WEBSITE http://spike-chunsoft.com/ai | Steam Store
RATING ESRB: M/ PEGI: 18 / USK: 16
LANGUAGE(S) English/Traditional Chinese text, Japanese audio/English audio
DEVELOPER Spike Chunsoft, Co., Ltd.
COPYRIGHT ©Spike Chunsoft Co., Ltd. All Rights Reserved. Licensed to and Published by Spike Chunsoft, Inc.

Story

A woman’s body is found with multiple stab wounds and missing her left eye.  She is bound to a merry-go-round in a long abandon amusement park. When the main character, Kaname Date, arrives he immediately recognizes the woman. Shoko Nadami, the ex-wife of his close friend and mother to the young girl he is housing.

You mission? Solve the mysteries around this murder. Can you find the truth behind the incident and capture the killer?90

Throughout the game you play as Kaname Date.  With no memories from 6 years prior and missing his left eye, Kaname Date encounters Boss.  Boss helps Date get hired at the Metro Police as a detective in the Advanced Brain Investigation Squad (ABIS) and replaces his left eye with Aiba, an artificial intelligence directly wired to his brain.  Aiba, who has been with Date for 6 years, assists him with his work as a detective by providing him with instant information, x ray vision, the ability to see long distances, and predict actions that will get Date out of some sticky situations.   Aiba also acts as Date’s avatar when he needs to “Psync” into another person’s consciousness within Somnium (the subconscious world of another character).  Along with Aiba, Date investigates Shoko’s murder to find her killer.c00

There are many twists and turns as you meet new characters and learn their connection and/or involvement in the murder. One story line, based on your choices in Somnium, will play out in a completely different way compared to another route.  Some characters will live in one line, and some characters will die in another.  Can you make it to the “true” ending?

Gameplay

AI: Somnium Files is a mash-up of visual novel and puzzle game.  The basic story line carries core elements of a visual novel, however, rather than reading text on the screen you’re given an opportunity to interact with the room and characters around you. This is all presented to you in a limited way (your character cannot get up and walk around the room or explore new areas on your own), but you have the ability to look around you and take in the environment.01

In additional to visual-novel elements, you’ll be presented with the ability to “psync”.  The concept of this is diving into the sub consciousness of another character and unlock a repressed/hidden memory, which you will need to do in order to further your investigation.  During the Psync, you need to solve puzzles to find the secret hidden in a characters sub consciousness.  In order to solve the puzzle you interact, through Aiba, with the items in an area.  Unlike the limited presentation of the “investigation” aspect of the story, you can control Aiba and move her through the Somnium space.  How you interact with the objects is the key to unlocking the “mental blocks” put in place.  A Psync can only last for 6 minutes (game time), but each interaction you make with an object depletes the remaining time you have.  There are TIMIEs you can use which will decrease the amount of time spent on an action but there are also Negative TIMIEs which will increase the time for your next interaction.  Interactions with the objects are not obvious and you’ll end up burning through time to find the correct interaction.  Fortunately, you get 3 retries but sometimes finding the right order of interaction will take you more than 3 attempts.  There are some actions you perform that will have a Negative TIMIE in order to progress so on your next action so you need to figure out how to maximize the use of your time.10

How you complete the puzzles in Somnium determines the path of story.  Based on which “Mental locks” you open, the story will proceed down that path. Not every Somnium puzzle has separate paths, but ones that have two will lead you down a different story line.AI: THE SOMNIUM FILES_20190417131431

What really sets this game apart from similar titles is that you do not have to repeat the entire story to take a different path in the game.  Instead, you can go back to a “psync” and replay it. This increases the replay value and doesn’t make the game feel so tedious, which tends to happen with visual novels if you don’t know where and when to save.

Visuals/Graphics and Audio

Most visual novels can be very bland and fall flat when it comes to animation and graphics, however, the all dialogue of the game is voiced over which makes the story that much more engaging.  Characters are also animated when talking, moving their arms, making facial expressions and simple gestures, and this is a nice touch since it brings the characters to life.13

Verdict

Pros: Unlike most visual novels, the game doesn’t fall flat.  The story line itself is enough to keep the player intrigued and curious to know all the secrets of the game. Although frustrating at times, the puzzles are challenging.  You’re given hints on what you need to do, but finding the next action isn’t obvious. Although graphics aren’t “triple A” status, the animation and voice overs give enough to the player to bring the story to life.  While in Somnium, when performing an action, rather than the game telling you you’ve made a bad choice, the dialogue between the characters becomes ridiculous, either with Date and Aiba mocking each other or making jokes at Date’s expense.

Cons: The only real qualm I had with the game is the lack of opportunity to save before jumping into a Somnium puzzle.  Save points in games are incredibly important to me because I have to jump on and off of a game (hours of sit through game play? Not in my adult life!).  Sometimes a “Psync” will just start (it will be obvious when it does but almost unexpected) and I do not have the chance to save the game before jumping in.  You cannot save before or during a “psync” so I’m either stuck putting my game in “Sleep Mode” until I can play again, or hope that AutoSave will take me back where I left off.

I would rate this game an 8 out of 10.Score

Overall, I really enjoyed the story and even though the Somnium puzzles took me a few attempts, I found myself going back to unlock different story lines without much hesitation or feeling “too drained” to keep going.

Have you heard of this game? Will you pick up this title? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!

A List Of Everything from the “Nintendo Direct 9-4-19”

  • Overwatch Legendary Edition: Tracer, Mei, Hanzo and all the other colorful characters from massively popular online game Overwatch are coming to Nintendo Switch. The fast-paced multiplayer game is scheduled to hit Nintendo Switch on Oct. 15. Pre-purchase in Nintendo eShop starts today.
  • Terry Bogard Comes to Super Smash Bros. Ultimate: Releasing in November, Terry Bogard from the classic SNK fighting franchise Fatal Fury joins Super Smash Bros. Ultimate as a playable fighter. Terry Bogard is part of the Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Fighters Pass, which includes five Challenger Packs as they are released, each with one DLC fighter, one stage and multiple music tracks. The Fighters Pass can be purchased at a suggested retail price of $24.99, with individual Challenge Packs available for $5.99 each.
  • Banjo & Kazooie Join the Battle: Starting today, Banjo & Kazooie from the popular Banjo-Kazooie series of games are joining Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. The new fighters are part of the third Challenger Pack DLC (sold separately). In addition to the characters, players will also get to enjoy the Spiral Mountain stage, as well as music tracks from the classic games.
  • Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition: MONOLITHSOFT’s epic Xenoblade Chronicles game, which originally launched in 2012 on the Wii system, is destined to be reborn on Nintendo Switch as Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition. The game, which chronicles the adventures of Shulk and Fiora, is scheduled to launch for Nintendo Switch in 2020.
  • Super Nintendo Entertainment System – Nintendo Switch Online: Super NES games are coming to Nintendo Switch – and they are free for anyone who has a Nintendo Switch Online membership! Starting tomorrow, Sept. 5, 20 classic Super NES games will launch for the Nintendo Switch Online service:
  1. Super Mario World
  2. Super Mario Kart
  3. The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past
  4. Super Metroid
  5. Stunt Race FX (Available for the first time since its original Super NES release!)
  6. Kirby’s Dream Land 3
  7. Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island
  8. Star Fox
  9. F-ZERO
  10. Pilotwings
  11. Kirby’s Dream Course
  12. BRAWL BROTHERS
  13. Breath of Fire
  14. Demon’s Crest
  15. Joe & Mac 2: Lost in the Tropics
  16. SUPER E.D.F. EARTH DEFENSE FORCE
  17. Super Ghouls ’n Ghosts
  18. Super Puyo Puyo 2 (Available for the first time in the U.S.!)
  19. Super Soccer (Available for the first time since its original Super NES release!)
  20. Super Tennis (Available for the first time since its original Super NES release!)

All of these Super NES games can be played with online functionality on Nintendo Switch Online, including multiplayer gameplay in select games and voice chat via the Nintendo Switch Online app*. Suspend points and an easy-to-use Rewind feature that lets players replay sections of the game will also be available at launch. More Super NES games will join the collection in the future, adding to the growing library of classic games available to Nintendo Switch Online members, including more than 40 games from the original Nintendo Entertainment System. To access the games, Nintendo Switch owners must have an active membership to the Nintendo Switch Online service.

  • Super Nintendo Entertainment System Controller: To recapture the original feel of Super NES games, a wireless Super Nintendo Entertainment System Controller will soon be available as a special offer only to Nintendo Switch Online members**. Once the controller is available for purchase, it will be possible to order up to four controllers per Nintendo Account at https://www.nintendo.com/super-nes-controller/, at a price of $29.99 each.
  • Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE Encore: The game that brought together the worlds of Fire Emblem and ATLUS is coming to Nintendo Switch. Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE Encore is the Nintendo Switch version of the acclaimed RPG that originally launched on the Wii U system. This new version of the game contains a new song that wasn’t in the original, new story elements and the ability to take it on the go! Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE Encore launches for Nintendo Switch on Jan. 17.
  • Tetris® 99 – Ver. 2.0 + DLC Update: The digital version of the Tetris 99 game is getting an update! Tetris 99 Invictus mode is here … but it’s not for the faint of heart. Players can’t even play it unless they achieve TETRIS MAXIMUS status, which means getting first place at least once in the traditional online mode of Tetris 99. In addition to Invictus mode, Daily Missions will be added to Tetris 99 for everyone to enjoy. By clearing these missions, players will acquire in-game tickets to exchange for a variety of custom themes. To show off accomplishments, new player icons will be added as well! Beyond all this, the second wave of content is coming for those who purchased the Big Block DLC. In 2P Share Battle mode, share Joy-Con controllers for a two-player game against each other and the CPU. In Local Arena mode, friends can get together in person to battle via new local wireless multiplayer. The version 2.0 update and new paid DLC for Tetris 99 will launch tomorrow, Sept. 5. Also, a physical version of Tetris 99 will be available starting Sept. 6, and will include all Big Block DLC plus a 12-month individual membership to Nintendo Switch Online at a suggested retail price of $29.99.
  • Pokémon Sword / Pokémon Shield: New details (and two new Pokémon!) were revealed for the Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield games, launching exclusively for Nintendo Switch on Nov. 15.
    Polteageist is a ghost-type Pokémon, and makes a home for itself by hiding among dishes at hotels and restaurants. Its body is made of tea, and it may even let a trusting Trainer have a taste of its tea. The flying- and water-type Pokémon Cramorant will swallow absolutely anything that looks hearty enough. It has an exclusive ability called Gulp Missile. While using Surf or Dive in battle, it will counter when attacked.
    Players will be able to travel through the new Galar region in style. In this game, players can outfit their main Trainer in tops, bottoms, outerwear, gloves, new hairstyles and even a little makeup. During their journey, players can camp any time at Pokémon Camp. While there, players can play with Pokémon and get to know them better. In the new Wild Area, players can visit other players’ camps as well. Up to four players and their Pokémon can hang out at a camp together. Pokémon Camp is also a great place to cook up some Curry on Rice. In Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield, there are many types of delicious Curry on Rice that can be registered to the Curry Dex.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening: Link’s latest adventure is almost here! In The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening, players can place chambers earned in the adventure to create custom Chamber Dungeons. Finished dungeons can be saved to a compatible amiibo figure in The Legend of Zelda series or Super Smash Bros. series so they can be shared with friends. A new Link amiibo figure inspired by the style of the game will launch on Sept. 20, the same day as the game.
  • Luigi’s Mansion 3: Every floor of the haunted hotel in Luigi’s Mansion 3 is a different theme, including the pyramid setting of Tomb Suites, a disco floor and a pirate-themed restaurant. In the newly announced ScreamPark party mode, two to eight players can battle against each other as a Luigi team and a Gooigi team even with only one Nintendo Switch system.*** The teams will compete to see who can defeat the most ghosts, collect the most coins or break the most targets. Luigi’s Mansion 3 opens the doors of its haunted hotel on Oct. 31.
  • Animal Crossing: New Horizons: Players join the Deserted Island Getaway Package by Nook Inc, and start a relaxing new life full of creativity, charm and freedom in this next installment in the Animal Crossing series, launching for Nintendo Switch on March 20, 2020.
  • DAEMON X MACHINA: This new action-mech game launches on Sept. 13, but players that want to take those powerful mechs for a spin can try out the free demo version of the game starting today. In the Prologue demo, players will pilot their mechs through the beginning of the game, and all progress earned will carry over to the main game. A key feature of the demo is the ability to play in local co-op mode with up to four players***.
  • Super Kirby Clash: To defeat bosses this wicked, it’ll take a whole team of Kirbys! In this free-to-start multiplayer*** action game, players can choose from four unique Roles and join up to three other players to take down tough bosses. Puff up power by crafting weapons, or use Gem Apples, which can be earned as in-game currency or purchased using real-world money, to recharge Vigor (a resource that recharges over time), unlock new quests or trade for weapons, armor, support items or stickers. Pass a Joy-Con controller to a friend to play locally, and if you have a Nintendo Switch Online membership, you can even play online****! Super Kirby Clash launches exclusively in Nintendo eShop on Nintendo Switch later today!
  • Divinity: Original Sin 2 – Definitive Edition: This critically beloved and fan-favorite role-playing game is available on Nintendo Switch beginning today! With the power of Nintendo Switch, players can slay monsters and unleash magic with up to three other friends at home or on the go.
  • Return of the Obra Dinn: The critically acclaimed, stylish indie game is coming to Nintendo Switch this fall. As an insurance investigator for the East India Company, players must board a ship, explore its surroundings, turn back time with the Memento Mortem pocket watch and record logical deductions to solve the ship’s mysteries.
  • Little Town Hero: In this new RPG from Game Freak, the developers of the Pokémon games, players must battle monsters and gather support from townspeople, all while staying within the borders of a single town. Little Town Hero, which also features music by Undertale creator Toby Fox, makes a stand on Nintendo Switch on Oct. 16. Little Town Hero is available today for pre-purchase in Nintendo eShop.
  • Deadly Premonition 2: A Blessing in Disguise: A sequel to the cult classic Deadly Premonition is headed to Nintendo Switch. When FBI agent Aaliyah Davis opens an investigation into an old serial-killer case, she also opens a door to the unknown. Deadly Premonition 2: A Blessing in Disguise boggles and beguiles on Nintendo Switch in 2020. The original game in the series will launch in Nintendo eShop as Deadly Premonition Origins starting today!
  • Rogue Company: Introducing Rogue Company, a 5-v-5 online**** shooter from Hi-Rez Studios. In this new IP, players can play against friends or instantly match up online with a similarly skilled team in a variety of objective-based modes. Mercenaries can be fully customized to match the player’s style. Rogue Company sneaks up to Nintendo Switch in 2020.
  • Star Wars: Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast: May the Force be with this Star Wars classic. Kyle Katarn, agent of the New Republic, is our only hope to stop a rogue Jedi. Get your lightsaber at the ready, Star Wars: Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast is coming to Nintendo Switch on Sept. 24.
  • DOOM 64: There are at least 64 reasons for fans to get excited about classic first-person shooter DOOM 64 coming to Nintendo Switch, with the ability to play it anywhere being one of them. DOOM 64 launches on Nintendo Switch on Nov. 22.
  • The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt – Complete Edition: As Geralt of Rivia, players have a massive world to explore at home or on the go. In this version of the game, all DLC and story expansions are along for the ride. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt – Complete Edition comes to Nintendo Switch on Oct. 15.
  • Assassin’s Creed: The Rebel Collection: Become the most feared pirate in the Caribbean in Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag and then transform into the ultimate assassin hunter in Assassin’s Creed: Rogue. That’s two action-packed games from the award-winning Assassin’s Creed series for one great value! All past single-player DLC is included, as well as new features like touch control and motion aiming. Assassin’s Creed: The Rebel Collection launches for Nintendo Switch on Dec. 6.
  • Dauntless: Battle for survival at the edge of a savage frontier in the online, free-to-play action-RPG Dauntless. Whether they’re a veteran looking to take slaying on the go, or a rookie ready to forge a legacy, players can craft hundreds of gear options and team up with others to take down boss-sized Behemoths. The Nintendo Switch version of Dauntless launches this year and features full cross-play, cross-compatibility and feature parity, so players on Nintendo Switch can join a global community millions strong and, for the first time ever, take their Slayers on the go.
  • Trials of Mana: A remastered version of this fantasy adventure will come to Nintendo Switch on April 24, 2020. This new version of the classic game features fully voiced characters and upgraded graphics. Players who want to play the original can enjoy it as part of the currently available Collection of Mana game for Nintendo Switch.
  • Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020: In addition to playing classic multiplayer events with Mario, Sonic and all their friends, Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 also features a single-player story mode, new minigames and 10 retro-style events. These new events are displayed in old-school 2D graphics, perfect for retro fans around the world. Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 goes for the gold medal on Nov. 5.
  • New amiibo – Three new amiibo figures in the Super Smash Bros. series – Incineroar, Chrom and Simon Belmont – will launch in stores on Nov. 15.
  • NBA 2K20 – In two days (Sept. 6), players can take to the court in NBA 2K20 for Nintendo Switch.
  • The Outer Worlds – Explore the furthest reaches of space and encounter a host of factions all vying for power in The Outer Worlds, bounding to Nintendo Switch soon.
  • Just Dance 2020 – Bust a move to some of the hottest music hits today in Just Dance 2020, headed to Nintendo Switch on Nov. 5.
  • Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch Remastered – The critically acclaimed and fan-favorite RPG can be taken anywhere when it launches for Nintendo Switch on Sept. 20.
  • Devil May Cry 2 – Starring iconic video game character Dante, classic action game Devil May Cry 2 launches for Nintendo Switch on Sept. 19. Pre-purchase in Nintendo eShop starts today!
  • GRID Autosport – Vroom! The high-speed racing game GRID Autosport comes to Nintendo Switch on Sept. 19. Pre-purchase in Nintendo eShop starts today!
  • Vampyr – Players who have a thirst for … moody third-person action-RPGs are in for a bloody treat when Vampyr launches for Nintendo Switch on Oct. 29.
  • Call of Cthulhu – Answer the call in this survival horror RPG game when Call of Cthulhu launches for Nintendo Switch on Oct. 8.
  • Farming Simulator 20 – Hop on a tractor, bite on some straw and pick up a Nintendo Switch system. Farming Simulator 20 plants itself on Nintendo Switch this winter.

 

NCG Review: The Caligula Effect: Overdose (Switch, PS4, PC)

Wanting to forget about the pain of our daily lives is something a majority of us are familiar with, after all, we spend countless hours glued to our phones mindlessly browsing through social media or playing games.  But what would happen if a sentient being created a world for us to live in and be forever happy? Would you want to live in this paradise?21.png

The Caligula Effect: Overdose takes us into the world of Mobius where the lines of fantasy and reality are blurred.  Will you want to live in Mobius?

Story

Created by the sentient vocaloid program, μ (Mu), Mobius is a place for people to forget about their everyday problems and re-live a blissful high school life.  In a setting where fantasy and reality are blurred, the “Go Home Club”, who have awaken to the falsehoods of Mobius, attempt to escape this false paradise.

To be honest, I wasn’t quite familiar with the premise of The Caligula Effect, but I had watched the first couple episodes of the anime and completely forgot about it.  After picking up the game I decided to revisit the anime series.14.png

I played the game for about 5 hours before jumping into the anime series, which was a decent amount of time spent on the game.  In many instances, I usually say the game is better since there is a lot of time to build the story, however, I hate to admit that the anime captures the emotional impact of the game in a clearer and more concise way.

While playing, I found it difficult to balance my interest in the story with the variety of game play elements.  When presented with story line topics, the game fell flat.  The characters want to escape Mobius, but in game there’s an overall apathy about actually trying to escape.  The characters don’t quite come off quite as strong in the video game.

Gameplay

What makes the Caligula Effect: Overdose stand out is the unique combat system.  Although battles are a turn-based, you have the option to customize your battle.  You can pick from your character skills and attack with a single character up to three times.  What’s really cool is that the game will go into a prediction mode and you can watch how the actions and battle moves will play out before you commit to them.  In addition to seeing how moves will play out, you have the option to adjust the timing of your moves.  You can adjust the timing of a hit to be delayed or for the character to attack sooner; it’s like crafting your own battle.  You can do this for each character on your team and strategize your attacks based on the character skills.  Of course, predictions are not 100% accurate and sometimes will not indicate when the opponent will be defeated.  You have to pay close attention and take some risks when designing your battle. Overall, this was an element I really enjoyed since it takes basic “turn based” game play to a different level.08.png

The Caligula Effect: Overdose is your basic RPG game so you have the options to complete missions and side quests.  Accessing side quests is a bit unique since it’s based on your relationship with NPCs.  All the students walking around are the people that inhabit Mobius.  Based on your social connections and reputation you can talk to them and learn about their problems and struggles.  When you reach a certain level of friendship you’ll learn more about what is troubling them and will have to help them resolve their issues. To take it a step further, you can access a sub menu called “LINE” and communicate with the friends you have made by sending texts.  However, the prompts are repetitive and even if you’ve already asked the question the prompt will reappear.  Responses are all generic and you can get the gist of the character personality, but there are so many characters to chat with it’s easy to get overwhelmed and bored with this function of the game.06.png

Audio

μ (Mu) is the creator of Mobius so it’s fitting to have her songs performing in the background.  It’s her music, after all, that influences the characters and keeps them brainwashed.  You get a really fun J-pop track playing throughout the level.  While the songs are all fun and catchy, I didn’t feel inclined to stay in a particular area too long since the chorus is on permanent loop throughout the level.

Verdict

Pros: The battle system is a lot of fun and the game offers a variety of game play elements to delve into.17.png

Cons: The story doesn’t hit quite as hard during game play.  After a while the music can start to irk your nerves.

Overall score:

I’d give it a 5.  It isn’t a must-have, but might be something worth picking up on sale. You might have a better time catching the anime instead.Score

Have you played this game? What did you think? Are you a fan of the anime?

Let me know in the comments!

 

NCG Review – Steins;Gate Elite (PS4, Switch, PC)

Steins;Gate Elite is a remastered version of the original titled. Based on the original game, 80,000 lines of text and over 7,000 anime scenes were analyzed in order to piece together this Elite version of the game.

I attempted picking up the original Steins;Gate visual novel, but struggled to make it through to the end.  Can players find themselves making it to the end of the Elite version?

Story

If you are unfamiliar with the story, Okabe Rintaro AKA Hououin Kyouma is a mad scientist set to oppose “The Organization”.  Most of this is part of his own self-created delusions, but his lab mems (lab members) Mayushii and Daru go along with his flow.  After discovering the body of Makise Kurisu at a conference about time-travel, something strange happens to Okabe when he makes it back to the streets of Akihabara.  After sending a text message to fellow lab mem, Daru, about Makise Kurisu’s death, Okabe finds himself alone on the streets of Akihabara. As the people come back, Okabe notices that his memories of the events at the Radio Kaikan building, where the conference took place, do not seem to match those around him.  Instead, the Radio Kaikan building has been closed down because a satellite has crashed into it and Mayushii, who attended the even with him, has no recollection of being inside of the building.

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It isn’t until Okabe finds Makise Kurisu, alive and well, that he starts questioning what has happened.  Events start to unfold after the re-appearance of a mysterious self-proclaimed time traveler (who no one remembers from 10 years prior), strange phenomena occurring with the use of the latest gadget “Phone Wave (name subject to change), and a living breathing Makise Kurisu.  What has happened to Okabe Rintaro? This story has a very clever use of time travel theories and the butterfly effect.  If you haven’t watched the series, you’ll find yourself wondering how the events unfold, diverge and reconnect together.

Graphics

Deviating for normal graphic novel story telling, Steins;Gate Elite incorporates anime into the overall game play.  Rather than looking at a static figure and dialogue, you experience the scene as though watching an anime.  This approach to visual novels makes the story so much more engaging! I struggled to stay awake while playing the previous game. The Elite version just feels more satisfying to play.

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My only gripe about this transition from static to moving is that the overall style of the original visual novel is removed.  The hand-drawn representation and unique look is removed in the Elite version and comes off very bland. I would have liked to see the original style in-tact.  This, of course, makes sense since scenes were taken from the anime itself.

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Gameplay

Graphic novels follow the same formula.  You are presented with dialogue, and when the protagonist needs to make a choice, you choose between 2 or 3 responses.  In turn, these responses determine which kind of ending you’ll get.

Steins:Gate is unique in that, rather than a pop up of multiple responses, the outcome of your story is determined by how you respond to other characters via text message.  This is a creative device since so much of the story is based around the usage of cellphones and text messaging.  Choosing a response, or lack thereof, can set you down your ending path.

10

Steins:Gate Elite uses a very similar mechanic to the original.  However, the responses you will need to make will not align with the original game since new communications between characters have been added; this makes the game feel a bit newer and less like the original but still maintains the original story and pattern.  Elite adds new animations and scenes for each character route.  This will have you going back to see the variety of ways the story could end.  I am aiming for a Mayuri route! Needing to check the cellphone is a bit more guided.  When I first jumped into the original Steins;Gate I didn’t even look at messages because I didn’t realize you were supposed to! This takes away from the exploration aspect, but it also emphasizes the relevance of the communications, which wasn’t very clear in the original title.

SGE Phone SS 1

Verdict

Pros: Steins;Gate is definitely one of my favorite series.  I like all of the characters, and although the series is very harem, it’s not overly fan-servicey and sticks to the main plot.  The exploration of time travel through these characters is unforgettable.

Using animation for the story telling aspect is basically what I have wanted for every visual novel I have played. This is a win, hands down.

The addition of new animations to unlock and different story routes are what brings you back to the game; you want to get all endings.  The new animations are going to keep me hooked since I want to see scenes that were not in the anime.

Cons: While I really like the animated story telling, the overall style of the series is lost.  I felt the characters were really beautiful in the original title, but their overall design was lost in the transition.  I guess some sacrifices needed to be made.

I would rate Steins:Gate Elite a 9 out of 10.  Sure, you know what you’re expecting, but the Elite version is a new approach to visual novels that I thoroughly enjoyed.

Score

 

 

NCG Review – Persona 3: Dancing in Moonlight and Persona 5: Dancing in Starlight (PS4, PSVITA)

Not going to lie, I played the pants off of Persona 4: Dancing all Night.  I went as far as getting all the trophies and buying all the DLC.  Now, Persona 3 is definitely my favorite in the series, with Persona 5 coming in at 2nd so I was ecstatic when I heard they were also making a music game for those titles!  Did the games live up to my expectations?

Story

What I loved about Persona 4: Dancing all Night was the story.  It was as though it was a side story  that brought the team back together again after the adventure was over.  Not to mention the introduction of new characters, Kanami Mashita and the idol group Kanamin Kitchen was a nice touch. Sure, the dialogue and plot were kind of cheesy, but it gave you a goal and a new mission; dance your butt off to satisfy the shadows!  Something about the tone of the story combined with the remixed soundtrack made the game a fun experience: there was a theme, there was a resolution!P5D 1.png

Persona 3 Dancing in Moonlight and Persona 5 Dancing in Starlight didn’t quite live up to that expectation.  The team has been taken to the Velvet Room for a competition but no cast members will remember what has happened in the Velvet Room when they wake up which makes this story null and void to the series.  It’s not a supplement, just an extra game.  There is also no variance in story for either title; the story for each game is essentially the same, just with a different set of characters. This simplifies the game, but at the same time the plot for the two titles doesn’t feel, in any way, compelling.  Sure, a dancing game doesn’t really need a plot, but I thought it was an aspect that made Persona 4: Dancing all Night stand out and I was hoping to see again with Persona 3 and Persona 5.  I really wanted to see what creators could come up with for each cast…P3D 1.png

The story is not essential to enjoying the game.  I just thought it would have been a nice touch to include a unique story that pertained to each cast, similar to P4: DAN.

Gameplay

If you played Persona 4: Dancing all Night, then picking up Persona 3 and Persona 5 will be a piece of cake.  Game play is simple in that you have icons that move outward from the middle and you need to push the corresponding button(s) on the left side, the right side, or both at the right time. You can get a “Perfect”, “Great”, “Good”, or “Miss” based on how accurate you hit the notes. Notes are the same as P4: single note, double note, hold, and scratch.  Persona 3 and 5 have added an additional double-tap note which is easy enough to pick up.

What I forgot about the Persona dancing games is the pacing is not as fast as other music games. Notes do not feel like they’re flying at you at inhuman speeds.  For me, this was difficult to keep up with since I am not used to actually watching the notes crawl into place; I use my gamer sense and mash accordingly.  To compensate, I added a modifier which speeds up the notes.  Slower notes movement is an aspect that might be fun to players who love the Persona series, but aren’t too big into music games and who do not play them regularly.P5D 3

Since there is not a central story to either games, you gain your unlockables and modifiers through social links.  In order to unlock social links you need to play the game.  There are a lot of fun ways to unlock social links, for example, wearing different accessories and costumes, or getting a certain number of combos.

Playing through the social links wasn’t my favorite part of the game, but it did bring me back to my favorite characters.  Persona 3 is my favorite game in the series, so seeing my favorite characters was a lot of fun.  I forgot how much I loved Elizabeth’s (or “Elle-P”‘s) quirky personality!  And although sitting through each social link could be boring at times (the dialogue is extremely cheesy!) I was rewarded with a variety of items and modifiers.unnamed.png

Like the previous entry, you can change the game by adding modifiers.  Some modifiers will help you in the game, or make it more challenging.  Helping modifiers subtract from your final score, and challenges will add to your score.

The criteria that determines whether or not your passed a song is very unclear.  P3 & P5 play similar to P4 in that you need to get the crowd excited, but it’s hard to determine if you are.  Maybe I am still salty, but I had nearly a full combo and missed (not hit it too late/too early) 2 notes toward the end of the song and did not clear it! I played the same song again, with weaker combos and hit rates, and passed the song…P5D 2.png

The overall game play is very fun for both titles.  The downside: both games are EXACTLY THE SAME.  This is down to the modifiers and social link criteria.

Audio

I’ll be pretty honest and come out and say that I am not a big fan of any Persona sound track.  Persona 4 was a lot of fun for me because of the remixes.  I jumped right into Persona 5 since it was the latest and freshest in my mind, but I just could not get into any of the tracks.  Jumping into Persona 3, though, was much funner since the audio tracks have a more up-beat music game sound to it.

Each game has around 25 songs, and follow the same pattern where you play four songs with individual characters, and then get either an animated song, or group song. This pattern follows until the end, where you get the concert rendition and then the “final” group dance song where all characters are dancing in the video.

When it comes down to picking which game has the better audio list, it comes down to preference.  For me, it was hands down P3 with the pop remixes of the original sound track.

Graphics

I played P4 on my Vita so the transition to PS4 was much welcomed.  The graphics have been enhanced and there’s an increase in the frame rate for all 3 entries.  You may need to adjust your TV settings and calibrate the buttons to ensure there is no lag.P3D 2

Verdict

Pros:  The game is addicting, easy to pick up, and revisits the cast from P3 and P5 titles. When playing you feel compelled to challenge yourself to see if you can get a King Crazy combo or beat your previous score.

Since the story is simplified, you don’t have to sit through a story plot that may or may not be interesting to you.

While you can unlock social links and get more items, it’s not really a requirement to go through them.  You can play through the songs as normal.  Social links are only relevant if you like modifying your characters and unlocking items.P3D 3

The sound tracks are unique to each game and you can play through some really awesome remixes of your favorite songs from each title.

Cons:  P3 and P5 are basically the same game.  Same plot, same way to unlock things, and to be honest, some of the dance moves even looked the same.  They’re basically the same game with 2 different skins and playlists.  Maybe this isn’t a con, but a gripe since I was hoping to view these as two separate entries.unnamed(1)

I rate Persona 3: Dancing in Moonlight and Persona 5: Dancing in Starlight an 8 out of 10.

I don’t like how both titles are basically the same game.  If you want to save money, you’re better off picking your preferred cast and picking up that title.  But despite the sameness, the overall game play and game structure is still a lot of fun and worth the price tag (for a single game).  There is a lot more to the game than just dancing and you’ll enjoy going back down memory lane when you hear your favorite jam.Score

Have you picked up either of these titles yet? What did you think? Which is your favorite Persona game? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!