Tag Archives: Opinion

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!

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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 Hakuoki: Kyoto Winds

 

I am not exactly new to Visual Novels or Otomate games, but Hakuoki: Kyoto Winds is the first title I have picked up in the Hakuoki series, so I can’t really compare and contrast to the previous entries of the series.  I have played a few visual novels before, so this round I came in with a bit more experience and was able to make the best of this game.  Once I figured out the pattern, I wasn’t able to put the game down.

About

Hakuoki: Kyoto Winds will be released by Idea Factory May 16, 2017 for the PlayStation Vita/ PlayStation TV.  You can pre-order the special edition bundle for $72.99 or pick it up for the game for $39.99.

Story

You play as Chizuru Yukimura who travels from Edo to Kyoto in order to find her father. Your first day in Kyoto not fruitful and, to make matters worse, you’re attacked by a group of ronin!  If that wasn’t bad enough, you encounter the Shinsengumi.  Sure, they save your life, but they take you hostage and threaten to kill you because you accidentally stumbled on one of their secrets. And so your journey begins! Will you find out why your father disappeared? Who will you fall in love with at the Shinsengumi headquarters?

The story itself is fun to play through.  There’s a nice balance between action, historic drama, romance, and humor.  Depending on the choices you make within the game, the story can drastically change.  Core elements still remain the same. For example,the battles in Kyoto will still happen. How involved you are in each scenario depends on the choices you make throughout the game.  And of course, there’s no shortage on endings.

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Visual

While visual novels are hardly similar to triple A titles in graphics or game play, Kyoto Winds looks beautiful.  There are a variety of back drops that take you to different places the protagonist encounters. Action is portrayed very well with sword slashes and splatters of blood where necessary.  Another interesting plus is the lip flap, gestures, and expressions characters make.  While not on a huge scale of variety, it’s enough to bring the characters to life.  Of course, we all know the reason anyone really wants to pick up this game is the handsomely drawn men.  When you encounter intimate moments between the protagonist and the Shinsengumi men, you get a beautiful cut scene to emphasize the moment.

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Audio

The game has an amazing soundtrack and is used to create the tone of each scene ranging from cheerful to melancholic, and even utilizing silence where necessary.  All audio is based on the classic Japanese sound and puts you in mid/late 1860’s Kyoto; or at least our imaginings of it.  The only major sound effects are footsteps, blood spurts, the clash of swords, and some other minor effects here and there.  Sound effects are used to a minimum, but I appreciate it that way. I think I would have lost my mind if I heard a pouring sound effect each time tea was poured. Mostly because the sound makes me cringe (but that’s a personal problem).

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Game Play

If you have never played a visual novel before, you’re basically just pressing X until you are prompted to make a decision either regarding what to say or the next action you want to take. This is where the “Save” option is your best friend.  Saving every time a prompt comes up lets you go back and Load if you didn’t like the outcome of your choice.  There are plenty of save slots (99 of them!) so you can drop off and resume when and wherever you want to. Or, you can use the Quick Save option.  However, I prefer the old fashion method of saving since I like to jump around the story to check out all possible outcomes.

This title was incredibly fun because there are so many routes that you can take. The more you play, save, and go back the easier it is to find the paths you want to take. Normally, I pick up visual novels after all the walk-through’s have been put up, but not having the resources that lead me in the right direction made the experience that much better. Of course, I got about 3 bad endings but it helped me start to pick and choose the paths I wanted to take and where they would lead me. I have managed three good endings so far, working on my fourth.

Another enjoyable feature about the game is the quick read/auto read options.  They are available if you want to just sit back and read, or just skip through all the stuff you’ve already read before.  One plus about the game is that if you unlock a new scene, the game won’t let you fast forward through it.  This has kept me from passing through multiple scenes on accident and works for the player’s benefit.

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Verdict

PROS: Once you get a feel for the game, you really start to have fun with it. You can predict the actions you need to take to woo over the samurai of your choice, but it isn’t always easy.  The graphics are beautiful, the background music brings the story to life, and the overall story is so much fun.  This isn’t a game you can only play through once; you have to pick it up again, and again..  While the core story remains the same through each play through, there are so many side paths to take that the game feels new each time you encounter them.

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CONS: I might be nit-picking. Yes, I guess I am nit picking.  And here I go:  Chizuru has to pretend to be a boy in order to stay with the Shinsengumi.  Only the captains know about her gender and to spare her from bad rumors so it is decided she must continue the facade.   Chizuru tries to hide her gender, however, sometimes it’s obvious to most characters around her.  Now, I don’t know Japanese, but I know enough about the language to understand what certain words imply.  I smacked my head multiple times when characters referred to her as “chan” upon first meeting her and then about five minutes later reveal that they knew she was a girl, and then my character is… surprised?  They knew five minutes ago, specifically calling you by the female honorific. I’m not sure if this is a translation issue, or writing from the developers end, or if I completely misinterpreted how –chan can be used.  If anyone has some insight, let me know.

I guess while I’m nit-picking, some translation of character paths are a little bit off.  “Okita” was accidentally referred to as “Okida”, and during Iba’s ending, there were a few places that didn’t make much sense.  But, not enough to ruin the context of the scene/story.

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Aside from my nit-picking, I think the only major con of this game is it can get repetitive.  If you get two bad endings, it’s pretty easy to feel disheartened and uninterested in the game.

 I had so much fun playing through the story and even though I got a bad endings I wasn’t so upset because the samurai action was so much fun.   The down side of the game is that it certainly can feel repetitive when you play it through for the nth time, but the fast read options make it easier to skip through so you can make it to the juicy parts.  Getting a good ending is somewhat difficult, but rewarding when you get them. Otomate fans, visual novel enthusiasts, and anyone who likes a good story should pick up this game.

Will you be picking up this title? Are you a fan of the Hakuoki series? Who is your favorite character?  Let me know in the comments!

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NCG Reviews Psycho Pass: Mandatory Happiness (Steam)

Psycho Pass: Mandatory Happiness is available now on Steam!  Are you ready to re-enter the world of Psycho-Pass?

Story

Taking place during Season one of the anime series, Psycho-Pass: Mandatory Happiness introduces two new characters: Enforcer Takuma Tsurugi or Inspector Nadeshiko Kugatachi.  Enforcer Tsurugi is searching for his lover while Kugatachi has lost all memories of her past.  You follow each detectives through a series of events that eventually lead to Alpha, an AI whose goal is to provide happiness to all humans.

 

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I am not quite sure how I felt about the story.  I enjoyed the concept of a rogue AI trying to create happiness the only way it can understand; a path of pure lethargy where decisions that would create unhappiness cease to exist.  I wanted to see what would happen with the AI, and furthermore, the connection between the two new characters to the AI.  I feel like this is where the story falls short.  Either because the concept of Psycho Pass itself forbids the exploration of the characters (searching into the past will cloud their hues making them latent criminals) or the characters themselves weren’t as developed as I had hoped they would be.  I was also slightly annoyed that detective Ginoza was so hot-headed.  I felt like it contradicted the character established from the anime series.

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Visuals

Visual novels are not heavy in graphics and Mandatory Happiness is no different.  The story takes place inside the Public Safety Beareu headquarters and in the newly introduced city Sado Marina City. Some scenes are rendered as they were in the anime but the general landscape of the game felt extremely lacking and most scenes were reduced to only dialogue. Cut-scene art was far and few between; and even action scenes were merely sound effects. There were quite a few scenes that could have benefited from a more detailed cut-scene; it would have drove home the drama just a little bit more.  While I understand the series itself takes place in a bland dystopian Tokyo landscape, I felt like the game could have used more imagery to bring the game to life.

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Audio

I can’t say the sound track brought about anything new to the series.  Sure, helicopters and other background effects were utilized, but at a minimum.  Every now and then when I was prompted to make a choice, the music tempo increased to show the intensity of the decision, but otherwise, there was nothing noteworthy.

Game Play

Visual novels are basically pushing “enter” until you are prompted to make a decision and the decision is what determines your course at the end of the game.  After playing nothing but romance visual novels, I came to realize that it’s damn near impossible to get good endings without a walk-through and that’s the fun part about them; it’s why I keep going back to the story because I like to test out each and every option to see where it leads.  I felt let down when my final choice in Mandatory Happiness felt like the only thing that determined whether I got a True End or Bad End.    Even after saving a few time and going back to change my decisions, the story progressed essentially the same way, say for one or two things. The decision line felt very linear which took the joy out of playing a visual novel. I questioned whether there was a point to monitoring my hue (which you are frequently prompted to care for), if my relationship with the other characters even mattered, and whether or not my choices in the game really made a difference to the outcome.

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Verdict

I think this story would have been a wonderful release between season releases of the anime series. After having watched the entire series and sobbed like a baby, the desire to be placed back into the Psycho Pass world is long lost.  However, I think anyone who has been newly introduced to the series would certainly enjoy the story of Mandatory Happiness.

Visuals, audio, and game play were a let down.  I would have enjoyed alternate endings, or at least a path that made me really question my decision making though the game.  After my first play through, I thought Mandatory Happiness would have made a wonderful novel instead.

I played this title on Steam.  Steam has a vast collection of visual novels but I always feel like they’re better off on a portable console versus PC.  If you’re used to playing on PC, looking to expand your Steam library, and just love Psycho Pass, this is a great buy. However, I think it’s a better fit on the Vita.


Are you a fan of the Psycho Pass series? Will you be adding Mandatory Happiness to your collection? Do you like playing Visual Novels on your portable console or PC? Let us know in the comments!

 

Konosuba Returns!

If you didn’t know it already, Konosuba has returned for a second season as Konosuba 2 ,much to my excitement! It picks up right from where season 1 left off, Kazuma and the gang saved their town but now he is suspected of working for the Devil King due to his actions in the first season. Long story short and spoiler free, Kazuma and his group must now pay off a lot of debt and basically start over in terms of gathering riches.

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So far there are 3 episodes in and can be watched on Crunchyroll or if you have VRV and the lunch combo subscription, you can watch it there too. I’m enjoying it so far and look forward to their adventures, how about you? are you watching? let us know!