Tag Archives: Game Reviews

NCG Review – Mary Skelter: Nightmares (PSVita)

Details

Title: Mary Skelter: Nightmares
Platform: PlayStation Vita; PlayStation TV
Genre: First-person dungeon RPG
Release Date: September 19, 2017 (NA)/September 22, 2017 (EU)
Developer: Idea Factory/Compile Heart
Publisher: Idea Factory International

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Story

Jack and Alice live of life of suffering within the prison walls.  Everyday they are taken by the Marchens and mercilessly tortured yet, somehow, their spirit has not broken.  Alice, however, is  close to the brink of insanity.  When her emotional state becomes unstable, her eyes turn pink.  In order to ease her suffering, Jack offers Alice his blood which always returns her back to normal.  One day, they are rescued by a girl with scissors and pink blood.  She claims Alice is a Blood Maiden which is why she has come to rescue her.

Alice and Jack are saved! They are taken back to a group called Dawn that live in the “Liberated District”.  Although, Dawn’s intentions seem questionable,  Jack and Alice vow to help them, and the other Blood Maidens, figure out how to escape the Prison for good.

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The story is fun to play through because there are so many mysteries you want answers too.  For example, what is Dawn and what are their true intentions? You meet another group called the Order, who seem like a religious cult, but you can’t tell if they are good or bad so you want to continue playing to find out.

Between chapters are story-like cut scenes that tell a fairytale-esque story.   The stories allude to what is happening to the characters in that chapter, or at least one aspect of the mystery that you are trying to solve while playing the game.  While not graphically stimulating, the stories are fun to read.

The highlight of the game is the theme.  At lease for fans who really enjoy Alice in Wonderland/fairy tale themes. Character names are taken straight from the classics, for example: Alice, Red Riding Hood, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, etc.   Even monsters look like they’ve been plucked from a twisted story book.  In addition to the overall look and feel of the game, there are many story telling elements that keep you intrigued. It’s hard to put the game down when you just want to see what happens next!

Characters (3)

Game Play

Mary Skelter: Nightmares plays as your typical first-person dungeon RPG.  You explore the dungeon and try to get to the next event point so the story will progress. What I really enjoy about the dungeon in Mary Skelter is how interactive the dungeon is.  Character abilities help you open up new areas and you must solve puzzles to unlock more areas.  Maps are massive and you can easily spend a few hours lost in one area. This, like every other dungeon crawler, can get very tedious, especially if you choose to go back to HQ and restore your health and re-stock on items.  You might end up wasting more time and energy getting back to the point you left off at.  Fortunately, there is an auto-walk option so you can set your location and the game will automatically move you.  Although the maps are massive and can feel tedious, there are many secrets and paths for you to find and explore.  Another major plus to the game is that you can walk more than 10 steps without encountering an obnoxious battle.  You do get to explore the dungeon to some length before facing enemies.

Since the “Prison” you are exploring is a living thing, the dungeon has three desires: Hunger, Libido, and Sleep.  Each interaction you have in the dungeon (finding objects, covering an area with a lot of blood, etc.) affects the desires and triggers a “Dungeon Bonus Roulette” round where you can get a buff or bonus.

Dungeons (2)

The  point of exploring the dungeon is to find the Core of the dungeon and destroy it.  There are two types of monsters you will encounter: Marchens and Nightmares.  Marchens are the monsters you encounter during a typical battle.  Nightmares are the big boss of the dungeon.  While you are exploring, a Nightmare will randomly try to pursue you.  Without having destroyed the core of the dungeon, you cannot defeat the Nightmare.  If you encounter the Nightmare without  having destroyed the core, you have a chance to run away since the Nightmare will chase you, or you can to try to knock it down and then run away in case you’re stuck in a corner.  Note: try to stay out of blocked areas if you think a Nightmare is headed your way!  After you destroy the core, you can fight the Nightmare and, of course, as per RPG game play rule number 67 (I just made that up, right now) “you cannot escape the battle until the Nightmare is defeated, so be prepared.”

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Battles are all turn based and fighting options are the RPG game play rule number 26 (yes, I just made up another number) standard . You can attack, use a skill, lick (when the option is available), defend, or escape.

Battle (4)

Blood is a central theme to the game.  When you hit the Marchens with critical hits or target their weakness,  blood will splatter on the Blood Maidens (yes, this is going where you think it’s going). When the blood splatter meter maximizes, the girls will go into a Massacre mode where their stats increase and they gain a new skill. This is where Jack comes in.  He is a support character whose sole responsibility in the party is to keep the Blood Maidens from entering the Blood Skelter, and to help keep them alive.  You do not want the Blood Maidens to go into Skelter Mode because they become OP and can potentially knock out your entire team. The blood splatter from the Marchens can get “corrupted”, so it is up to Jack to use a weapon called a Mary Gun to “purify” the girls by rubbing his blood all over them.  And yes, this does go into a physical touch scene (a little bit later in the game) where being rubbed with Jack’s blood purifies them and it “feels so good”.   Keep in mind, there is a limit to how much blood Jack can produce so you need to find a balance between purification and restoring blood.

Blood Skelter Mode (2)

Jack is a versatile support character.  You can use him to purify the Blood Maidens, or he can guard (take damage from the enemy instead of a Blood Maiden), and use items; he doesn’t necessarily have to be used strictly for purification.  As mentioned earlier, during battle the Blood Maidens can “lick” the blood from one another.  This not only clears the blood meter but will come with HP or SP bonuses, or a buff.  The downside to using “lick” is you don’t get to hit the enemies. But,  the Blood Maidens do start to get pretty shy when this happens…

Battle (9)

Equipping your characters is also pretty basic.  Weapons can be upgraded and reach maximum potential.  At the end of each battle you collect Blood Stones which can be used at Dawn Headquarters to upgrade weapons.

Lastly, Headquarters.  You can rest at headquarters, save, upgrade weapons, and buy items.  In addition to the basics, you get to visit the Blood Maiden’s rooms. And yes, you have to give them things in order to gain their favor because it will affect the outcome and ending of the game.  This is my least favorite part of the game because it feels so contrived.  I think the game itself would have been fine without the obligatory fan service aspect of the game.  But, if fan service is what players always want, fan service is what players will get!

Overall, the dungeons have a nice pace to them.  Once you figure out one aspect of a dungeon, the next becomes slightly more difficult with more elements you’ll have to utilize.

Graphics

Graphics aren’t too impressive, however, I love the themes of each dungeon. But, even though the backgrounds move and the themes are fun, when you’re stuck in the same dungeon for over an hour, everything starts to blend together.

Battle graphics are also nothing to get excited over, either.  You don’t get to watch the girls in action, but rather a customized slash. For example, Sleeping Beauty shoots out daggers during a regular attack.

The monsters look like they’ve been pulled from a twisted fairy tale.  Of course, as per RPG developer laziness, monsters in different areas at different levels are all just re-skinned so you encounter the same creature over and over again, just with different colors.

Battle (10)

Audio

The music sets the tone for each dungeon.  My favorite is definitely the initial City Streets dungeon.  You feel like you’re in a fun house, and rightly so because of the maze-like/ wonderland aspect of the dungeon.

Verdict

Pros:

The dungeons are fun to explore.  There are many secrets to discover and a lot of ways to interact with the dungeon through puzzles and character skills.

What I really enjoy is the overall theme of the game.  I’m a huge sucker for fairy tale/Alice in Wonderland themes so it was easy for me to get into the game.

The story feels basic, but it builds up enough that you want to see what will happen next.

Cons:

Dungeons are extremely large and if you aren’t looking at your map, it is easy to get lost.  The repetitious design and large map area  make dungeon exploring feel monotonous and daunting. Especially if you set the game down for a day or so – you forget where you’re supposed to go.

Overall design is not that impressive.  There is variation to the dungeons, but when you’re in the same dungeon for a while it all becomes the same. If you don’t like getting lost in giant mazes this probably isn’t the game for you.

I find the attempt at fan service to be very forced.  I feel like the story is meant to be a dark tale, however, elements are incorporated into the game just so the game can provide fan service which I feel is completely unnecessary.

Score

Overall, I would rate this title an 8/10. Yeah, the dungeons can get tedious (this is a dungeon crawler, after all), but I think the concept and mysteries are enough to keep players interested in the title.

Hover: Revolt of Gamers Review

When I heard a game was coming out that was inspired by Jet Set Radio I was so hyped to play! I first played Jet Set Radio Future, before I even knew it was a sequel? or something? I forget. Anyway, all I know is I liked both Jet Set games. Hover somewhat reminds me of Jet Set in the music and the art style -but that’s about it.  Keep in mind, this review will mostly be a comparison between Jet Set Radio and Hover.

You start out in an underground science facility and told that your body is “new”.  I wondered if my character had died or if this was just an opening for tutorial reasons. After completing the tutorial I could explore the city and interact with NPC’s. Immediately, I was thrown into races and other mini-games that felt similar to basketball. I completed a few missions (mostly races), but there seemed to be no real story behind the game.  You would get bits of characterization from the NPC’s, but nothing beyond a few quips and phrases.  Aside from the races and basketball-esque game, there are delivery missions where you deliver packages (game consoles to be exact) around the map. I can’t say I was impressed by much of the gameplay, however, what I really did like was the soundtrack. I did see a lot of inspiration from JSR and rightly so since the music was composed by Hideki Naganuma.

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Hover is a little odd. One of the inspirations it takes from JSR is the abilities to do tricks and grind on edges, which is cool, however the characters don’t seem to be wearing skates.  Instead, they wear shoes that glow on the bottom. My character pretty much looked like he was running at high speeds all across town which looked awkward. Another oddity to the game was grinding. In JSR, if you want to grind simply jumping on the rail will automatically begin the grind, however, Hover forces you to push a button in order to grind.  This can get very tedious while playing and hard to adjust to.

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I only have four real gripes about Hover. First, the music only changes when you’re in a mission. Second, the missions aren’t all that exiting. Third, the ambient noise is almost non-existent.  Fourth, what is the story? Is there even a story? As I stated earlier, the missions I played were only racing, delivery,  and that basketball-like sport. Yes, JSR and JSRF had similar missions, but those were in different locations, there was more differentiation in music, and more variety of characters. It feels like this game was created with a multiplayer game style in mind  but interestingly enough, every mission I played had no extra people in them. I was always alone vs NPC.

 

Overall, Hover ISN’T a terrible game. It gave me the nostalgic feeling to go play JSR and therein lies the problem, how can I continue playing Hover when I have JSR already? I will probably go back to Hover at some point, but right now I don’t think I want to. Since it is an online game, maybe it will get updates.  Maybe it will improve and become more interesting. This is all I can hope for. I still think you guys should try it out and see for yourself. It’s currently priced at $19.99 USD on Steam. Have you tried it already? What do you think of it? let us know in the comments!

Akiba’s Beat Review

The Deets

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Title: Akiba’s Beat
Console: PlayStation 4
Genre: Single-player Action role-playing
Price: $49.99
Publishers: Xseed Games; PQube
Release Dates: May 16 2017 (NA); May 19 2017 (EU)

Story

You play as Asahi, a NEET (Not in Education, Employment, or Training) who lives in Akiba.  On Asahi’s way to meet his friend, whom he is often late to meet with, he’s dragged into a Delusionscape.  He meets Saki and her side-kick Pinkun, and together they fight to take down the Delsionscape by defeating the Grand Phantasm (the big boss of the Delusionscape).   Even stranger than the Delusionscape is the repeating Sunday; after his first encounter with the Delusionscape, Asahi re-lives the same Sunday in Akiba. Along with Saki, Pinkun, and other companions you pick up along the way, you try to solve the mystery of the delusions, take down all Grand Phantasms, and put an end to the repeating Sunday.

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Game Play

In order to solve the mysteries behind the delusions, you need to investigate every corner of Akiba.  Every. Single. Corner.  The game mostly consists of running back and forth across the map to event spots.  And I literally mean back and forth.  Events will pop up on opposite ends of the map so once you reach a destination you get to turn right back around.

Aside from the main events, you have a fair amount of side missions.  But the side missions also consist of running back and forth across the map. The real benefit to completing the side missions is learning more about the side characters.  The more side missions you complete, the more you reveal about your companions. Of course, there is also the item bonus, too.

Dungeons are fairly easy.  Monsters can detect you, but it is also possible to run past them and avoid them entirely. Similar to all RPG’s, monsters pace around the map and initiate combat if you attack them or if they are close enough to attack you.

In battle you have a meter that limits the amount of actions you can do at a time.  This disables you from just bashing buttons to defeat a monster.  It’s a little clever in that you have to time your hits and dodge attacks, however, the controls are frustrating.  Your character automatically locks onto a target and it is difficult to switch between monsters and free motion feels non-existent.  Basically, all you can do is dodge and fight.  To switch it up, you can change fighters by using the direction pad. That’s a plus?  Customizing your special moves also feels clunky.  I’ve customized mine to every direction, however, only one special move is ever activated despite which direction I’m pushing. Could also be user error.

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Graphics

For those who have played Akiba’s Trip, the map will feel very familiar. In fact, Akiba’s Beat has taken the old map and pretty much left it the same except for one or two changes.  The main differences are navigation -most roads aren’t open for free travel so you have to take certain routes to reach your destination- and pedestrians have been re skinned into generic bystanders with no characteristics or features -just blue, pink, and green silhouettes.

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Characters are simple anime style who have some lip flap, blink now and then, and wobble from side to side during dialogue.  I’ve witnessed one cut scene, so far, and still feel entirely unimpressed.   You’re basically listening to the dialogue with no action. Of course, the true highlight of Akiba’s Beat is getting back into Akiba and solving the mystery behind the Delusions.

Verdict

Pros: If you have played Akiba’s Trip then you’ll be happy to return to the same streets of Akiba.  Although the battle system has changed from it’s predecessor, you are required to think before you attack.  The mystery of the story is intriguing.  I often found myself running through the dungeon, avoiding all monsters, just to get to the next part.

Cons: The battle system, while unique, is limiting and clunky.  There’s a loophole to avoiding the limited move gauge (activating Imagine mode) and you can just smash and bash away.  Lack of free motion, the ability to select targets, and clunky move controls limits the game play experience.  Running from one end of the map to the other to unlock event scenes can also feel extremely tedious.

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I have one major gripe about the game: I absolutely hate how the culture of fandom is being satirized.  Asahi is quite often put down by Saki and her familiar Pinkun.  They constantly insult his intelligence (Pinkun’s favorite insult is for Asahi is “dingus”) and hobbies.  I’m not saying being a lazy slacker should be glorified, but aside from him being a NEET, nothing else about him is revealed which makes it easy to poke and jab at his lifestyle.  While many can argue that Saki is the typical tsundere archetype, she is often insensitive to the fandom passions of the people in Akiba.  Her character shows disgust or discomfort when dealing with mega fans and this action is supposed to be portrayed as… funny? I am not amused.   What I enjoyed about Akiba’s Trip, at least the animated series, is that it embraces the passions that arise from the fandom.  Akiba’s Beat is the opposite.  I feel like this issue comes up because the characters are all shallow archetypes lacking in any real depth.  Having unlikable characters, and even portraying them as unlikable, is a serious flaw to the game. In addition, Pinkun is a very obnoxious mascot.

If I had to rank this game I would give it a 6 out of 10.

Score

Have you been looking forward to this game? Will you pick up this title? Are you a fan of Akiba’s Trip? Additional comments? Let us know!

NCG Reviews: Disgaea 5 Complete for Nintendo Switch

DOOD! Disgaea 5 is coming out on the Switch next week! May 23rd to be exact. Guess what? We have a review for you today! I have put 20 hours into it and I am only at the 4th Act and I have another 12 to go for the main story. I have dived into the item world and traveled far enough to see what’s new and I have also completed the side stories that unlock the protagonists from the previous games. Here are my thoughts….

 

The story:

Let me start out by saying, not all Disgaea game stories are super memorable. I can remember the 1st, 2nd, and 4th stories but not so much the 3rd (not sure why). Anyway, this isn’t a bad thing. The story is not really the point of these games.4

Regardless, in this game the main characters are Killia, the wanderer, and Seraphina, the Overlord of Gorgeous (the richest netherworld). Side characters include: Red Magnus, the Scorching flame Overlord; Christo, the Overlord of a certain giant netherworld (hehehe); and that’s all I know, for now. I think I am about to meet another side character that involves a yellow Prinny but I have yet to learn if they join the group. There’s also an annoying kid named Zeroken, I don’t know if he joins either, but he has made several appearances fighting the same enemy as me.

The story revolves around the main group fighting against the army, The Lost, of the most powerful overlord, Void Dark, who is trying to take over all netherworlds. Killia and company want to: 1) Kill Void Dark for revenge 2) Kill Void Dark because he ruined their life style 3) Kill Void Dark to prove they are the strongest…You get the gist right? They want to kill Void Dark for various reasons. Long story short, the group creates the Rebel Army and recruit more overlords to fight against Void Dark. If you you feel that there are lots of overlords in this game, you’re right! But there is a reason for that which I will explain in the next part…1.png

Game play:

Disgaea 5 brings more of the same from previous games with some new additions (of course) some for the better and some for the meh. The reason there are so many Overlords is because in D5 we get a new mechanic called Overload, a unique move that only Overlords can use and is specialized to the overlord. For example, Seraphina’s Overload is called Balor Gaze which when used causes male demons to become infatuated with Sera and fight each other for a while. Overload can only be used after filling a new gauge introduced in D5, the revenge gauge. The revenge gauge is filled every time a team member is hit and or defeated. Once filled, all attacks will critical hit and you can use certain attacks like Overload. The one drawback to this is that enemies can also go into revenge mode which makes them more difficult to face but also makes them drop certain items if defeated which makes it worth it to have enemies go into revenge mode.6

The training ground from D4/Clubs from D3 are back in the form of squads. Different squads do different things like share XP and Share Mana, these are still pretty useful to help level up characters you hardly use. The assembly is back, nothing much changed here as far as I can tell sbut one thing did change: you can no longer create characters using mana. There is now a recruiter for this and it uses money! This is good and bad in that some characters are more expensive than others to recruit. Making them strong is also more expensive but this makes sense. Before, it was a ton of mana needed. Now, it’s a ton of cash.

The item world of course is back with more of the same but with some additions. As you may or may not know, the item world is used to strengthen items by traveling through randomly generated dungeons and diving as deep as possible. Invaders still exist which, if memory serves, were first introduced in D2? Anyway, there are also now leveling fish which add an extra level to the item if you finish the map while you are lifting the fish. There are bottles that drop scrolls if you defeat them and then there’s these bunny creatures that give you random prizes for beating them, like extra XP. Finally, there’s this stork thingy that some times drops by and drops an egg that could have any of the things mentioned above OR a super strong baddie that enhances your item if you beat them. I ran away because I met a level 250 monster and I was only level 20, so yeah….10

Too long? Didn’t read? D5 has lots of familiar elements with just enough new and enhanced ones to keep it fresh, at least in my mind.

DLC:

D5 Complete doesn’t have any technically because it’s complete. Personally, I didn’t buy D5 for PS4 but I know what is DLC, so was it worth it at the time? Probably? I mean I’ll admit I am a super big Disgaea fan, I mean my nickname on here is DarkLaharl for goodness sake! I always love playing these games and I have dumped hours and hours into all them and I have bought pretty much every re-release that was on the PSP just to enjoy them again and on the go! So you can bet I love D5 for it being on the switch where I can take it anywhere or play on my TV…where was I….oh right, DLC. I probably would have bought it; I love all the previous protagonists so I would have gotten all those characters, Laharl, Etna, Flonne, Valvatorez, Rozlain, etc. The stories you play to unlock these guys are pretty fun too. The fact that it is complete in D5 makes it all the sweeter.

Overall, if you are a Disgaea fan, like myself, I know you will enjoy this game as well. Never played it before? You would definitely enjoy it if you like: Turn based games, super long games that can give you 100+ hours past the actual story, strategy games. The graphics are not super high quality but that doesn’t matter; the graphics have hardly changed from Hour of Darkness and that’s OK. Disgaea doesn’t need them. If you want crazy HD graphics in your turn based strategy then go play Final Fantasy.

7If I had to give D5 a score, it would get an 9/10 from me. What about you? did you play this already on the PS4? Are you waiting for it on the Switch? Let us know in the comments Dood!Score

Review: Touhou Genso Wanderer (PS4)

NIS has brought us another game from over seas, this time its Touhou Genso Wanderer by AQUA STYLE. It is a rouge-like RPG game which if ,that means anything to you, you know you’re in for a hard game.

GW_ss02.pngStory:

Story wise this game is kinda simple. You play as Reimu Hakurei who is hanging out with her friend Rinnosuke. He gets possessed by an evil entity and beats up Reimu so now she’s out to investigate what truly happened and to stop Rinnosuke. So as not to spoil the story, suffice it to say that if you’re a Touhou fan you are sure to enjoy it there are references to their other games along with new things to experience.

GW_ss01.pngGame play:

As I mentioned this game is a rogue like RPG which means it’s very hard but fair, if you die you go back to level 1 with only personal experience and some items. I’ll be honest, I’ve never really been a huge fan of rouge likes because of how easily you can lose all your progress. I, personally, want to have my progress saved and see the ending. In this particular game its turn based; you move a space and the enemies move a space as well. You attack, then the enemy attacks. I have played games like this before but the style is not something I’m used to. I prefer turn based like Disgaea turn based.

As I mentioned the game is hard but fair. It is fair in that it gives you all the tools to succeed; if you lose then it’s pretty much your own fault and this is evident right from the get-go in the tutorial. Small spoiler for the tutorial, they give you an item to protect your other items from harm and shortly after acquiring this item you step on a mine that spoils your food (SERIOUSLY! COME ON!!!!) that was my own fault for not paying attention to the item I picked up. Later, I picked up a float potion. They go on to tell you that sometimes there’s hidden rooms that are only reachable by using certain items, and lo and behold I use it and get to a treasure room -Woo, free coins! Then another warning, “Hey if you touch this thingy it will lock you in this room” I pay attention and avoid the thing. Like I said, hard but fair, you have your fair warning and your tools, use em!

GW_ss03.pngGraphics:

So maybe I’m just being critical but, well, this is a PS4 game so why are the graphics so PS1/PS2 like? Not that it’s a bad thing, but it would be way cooler, in my opinion, if the fighting was a little more animated. Overall, the graphics are nothing to write home about. Some may be turned off the game because of them but honestly this is a fun enough game to look past this.

Overall, if you are a glutton for punishment I definitely recommend this one. It has its perks. I’ve been enjoying the game in smaller sessions; I can only take so much punishment, after all (damn you traps!). Give it a shot if you’re a fan of Touhou and/or Rouge-like games, this one is worth it!

You can find Touhou Genso Wanderer in stores March 21, 2017 for the PS4/PS Vita. Let us know if you try it out!GW_ss04