Tag Archives: visual novel

Hakuoki: Edo Blossoms Coming Next Spring

The next installment of the Hakuoki is coming next spring to the PS Vita; prepare yourself for more romance with 12 handsome men!

Hakuoki: Edo Blossoms will follow Chizuru back in her home town, Edo, and the next chapter of the fallen Shinsengumi.  Who will Chizuru fall in love with next?

Key Features

  • 12 Charming Bachelors – Start by choosing from one of 12 handsome bachelors and fall in love with Japanese history’s most famous warriors.
  • Multiple Endings, One True Love – Explore the gorgeous world of Hakuoki through narrative choices that unlock branching storylines and up to 30 different endings.
  • Beautiful History Comes Alive – The dramatic romance, friendship, and betrayal unfolds on your screen through fluid animation, vibrant art, and detailed CGs.

Will you be looking forward to this title? Do you already have an idea of who you want a romance with? Let us know in the comments!

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Chaos; Child Character Trailer for PS4/PS Vita

Most of us who love the Chaos series have probably already watched the anime and are pretty familiar with the cast.  But that shouldn’t stop you from checking out the latest trailer for the game coming to PS4 and PS Vita this October.

For those unfamiliar with the story:

A series of bizarre deaths strike fear in the hearts of citizens in Shibuya, Tokya.  A streamer dies on-screen, a street musician dies horribly on the street.  No one knows how or why.

As part of the school’s newspaper club, Takeru Miyashiro becomes fascinated with the mysterious deaths when he notices that the dates of the incidents match up with a series of murders that happened shortly before a fateful earthquake that killed his parents and changed his life years earlier.

Together with his friends and fellow newspaper club members, Serika and Shinji, his adopted sister Nono, a mysterious fellow student by the name of Hinae, and scientist names Mio, Takeru begin to investigate the phenomenon referred to as the New Generation Madness, and uncover hidden secrets that will put them all in more danger than they ever imagined.


Are you a fan of the Chaos series? Which is your favorite?  Are you excited for the upcoming game? Let us know in the comments!

NCG Review – Danganronpa V3 Killing Harmony ( PS4/PSVITA )

Details

Title: Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony
Genre: Interactive Visual Novel
Platforms: PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita
Developer: Spike Chunsoft
Publisher: NIS America
Release Date: September 26, 2017 (NA)

 

Story

I would LOVE to do a segment on the story, however, this is one of those titles where I definitely don’t want to ruin it for everyone. Maybe in the future when it’s really eating at me… We shall see.  The game has been released in Japan since the beginning of the year, but if you’ve stayed off the internet what happens will be, like all Danganronpa games, a twisted ride.

What I really enjoyed about the plot line is that it is not centered on Despair, rather, there’s an overwhelming theme of identifying the truth.  Whether it be trusting what you see, political or religious beliefs, what is presented to you by the media and what you yourself experienced, there’s this underlying desire for truth and a need to uncover it through all the deceit around you.  And yet, even if you reach a truth, there are many lies still circling around it.

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Getting into the title felt difficult because the cast is initially off putting but as you go through the story, characters really start to grow on you.  Heck, I even think Keebo is pretty cool.  Character personalities tend to take a drastic turn, and while they develop to some extent, sometimes they fall flat into a character arch type.

Despite all the tragedies that occur in the killing game, there is still a good balance between humor and horror. With all the pop-culture and nerd references peppered throughout the game, there are still a few laughs mixed in with the tears. What? No… I didn’t cry!

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Gameplay

With Danganronpa V3 Killing Harmony, gameplay is pretty much the same as previous titles, but with a few new twists.  The pacing of the overall story is similar to past titles: Free time, Investigation, Class Trial. This is nice because you feel right at home in the Danganronpa world; you already have a good “feel” for the game.  When you get into the class trials, you are prepared for all of the changes that will be thrown at you.

If V3 is the first title in the series you are picking up, tutorials will guide you through the debates.  They are not overwhelming or excessively annoying.

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The class trials run similar to previous games where you play mini-games to uncover the Blackened but most mechanics for the mini games have been upgraded.  Non-stop debates offer more stylish text effects that can throw you off. Text also interferes more often with statements.

In addition to the basic non-stop debate, you have the ability to lie.  This replaces taking a statement and using it against a classmate.  I found the lying aspect to be humorous.  Mostly because the protagonist is such a terrible liar!

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Another addition to the non-stop debates are the Mass Panic debates. You need to find the inconsistency and shoot the contradictory statement… with three voices talking at once.  Not only is there text flying in all directions, voices talk over one another.  Throughout the Mass Panic Debates, sometimes one voice will be louder than others and will need to be shut down in order for you to hit a contradictory statement (if there is one present) from another speaker.

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Hangman’s Gambit has evolved to Hangman’s Gambit Ver. 3.0.  Instead of selecting visible letters floating across the screen, all letters are hidden.  The board will occasionally light revealing the letters, but it is difficult to discern the word you are looking for without all given letters visible.

Psyche Taxi takes over Logic Dive.  You must drive and hit letter blocks to reveal the question, then you pick a lane to answer it. This was my second least favorite mini-game.  I had more fun and more of a challenge doing the Logic Dive from Danganronpa 2.

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The Rebuttal Showdown, where you slice words with a sword, is still present but the controls have become more clunky and difficult to control. This is because you have to use your joystick to move the sword rather than the Vita touch screen.  It was much easier to swipe the words away than to line your pointer up with the letters.  This definitely made it much more challenging.

Argument Armament has replaced the Panic Talk Action.  Argument Armament is the same concept, but also incorporates more rhythm game mechanics. Panic Talk Action was always my least favorite mini-game during class trails, so Argument Armament also takes the title for my least favorite mini-game of DRV3.  I love rhythm games, however, I always struggle to find the beat or the right pattern for the debate which makes my timing completely off the mark.  Argument Armament also “strips” the character down, so each successful hit takes off a layer of clothes… Do we really need to keep stripping down every damn anime character?

There are two mini games added: Mind Mine, where you will need to clear away all the blocks to reveal the board and select the correct object out of the three presented to you.  There is also Scrum Debates.  Scrum Debates happen when the class is divided in opinion.  As the opposing side presents their argument, you need to find the keyword of their statement to counter their opinion.

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What makes the mini-games more interesting compared to previous titles is the Casino.  During Free Time you have a chance to visit the Casino and re-play some of the mini games.  Plus you get the slot machine; it’s just like gambling in real life -you hardly win big!  The coins you win from the mini-games can be exchanged for gifts.  The Monomono machine is also still in the game.

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Graphics

I played this title on both consoles.  While I definitely prefer the comfort of handheld systems, playing on the PS4 brought the game to life.  Generally, visual novels aren’t graphically stimulating.  Playing on the PS4 made a noticeable difference for class trials. The frame rate runs much faster, and the layers of  characters and text make the scenes feel more interactive.

One thing that really jumps out is how bland the overall color scheme of the game is.  Compared to previous titles where colors are vibrant and eye-catching, DRV3 uses a lot of blues and purples.  I think this gives the game a darker tone, but also doesn’t make the title jump out the way its predecessors have.

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Audio

What I love about Danganronpa is that when you hear the soundtrack, you definitely know you are playing a Danganronpa game.  DRV3 brings in old favorites with a new mix that perfectly fits the overall tone for certain areas you explore.

PS4 VS Vita

I am always right at home on a handheld.  I find it much easier to get into a game if I have the convenience of playing it wherever the heck I want to.

That being said, Danganronpa being available on the PS4 and Vita was something new.  I haven’t really picked up visual novel titles for anything but a handheld and I always have a hard time getting into them if they’re not on a handheld system.  However, I recommend playing Danganronpa on the PS4. Not only did I get a bigger screen to watch the action of Danganronpa unfold, the class trials really stood out as a new experience.  Frame rates were much higher making the pointer a bit harder to control on the PlayStation 4 system, but the layered text effect and motion across the screen really  made the game feel more up close and personal.

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Of course, I still played the majority of the game on my Vita since I am out of the house more often than home but I definitely noticed the slight change in graphics and the slower frame rates made a huge difference in the overall feel of a class trial.

Keep in mind, if you can’t decide which system you want it for, buy the title for both consoles! It’s easy to cross save your game and switch between portable and stationary.

Verdict

Pros: Sprinkled with humorous pop culture references and being the same ol’ killing game we all love, DRV3 always keeps you guessing until the very end.  You’ll laugh; you’ll cry; and maybe you’ll sit in disbelief for an hour because how could that character die?!  Despite this being the 3rd entry of the High School Killing game (Despair Girls and Future Foundation don’t count) there are still many surprises thrown at you.  Even if you know the formula, from beginning to end you still can’t predict what will happen next.

There are plenty of new game play styles for class trials.  I think developeres did an excellent job making something feel old, yet still be entirely new.

Graphics on the PS4 give you a different game play experience compared to a handheld, but cross saving options will let you jump back and forth between systems.  That is, if you want to throw down the extra cash.

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Cons: This is mostly my fan opinion, but this is my least favorite entry to the series.  Characters were difficult to warm up to and fell flat in the end. The ending didn’t feel quite as moving as previous games.

During class trials, the pointer can be extremely difficult to control.  Being unable to control the cursor made some class trial aspects feel tedious and just straight up annoying.

The color scheme is muted, so the title does not pop in ways the previous titles have.

I would love to give Danganronpa a 10, but I am going to have to take it down to an 8.  Characters were hard to warm up to, the story doesn’t feel entirely compelling, and while some of the mini-games have been upgraded some of the controls felt clunky.

Score

This is a must-have for all Danganronpa fans.  Not only do you see what is happening in the Danganronpa world but also because of how the game itself has evolved as far as mechanics and story.

Which is your favorite title in the Danganronpa series? Have you picked up V3 yet? Have you encountered anything that took you completely by surprise? Let us know in the comments.

Time to meet the Monokubs!

Now that we have a feel for the participants of the new killing game in Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony, it’s time to meet the masterminds controlling the game. Upupupupupu!

Monosuke

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Opinionated and no patience for foul language, Monosuke is the most rational member of the Monokubs.  “Monosuke believes that the Monokubs should be hostile toward each other, and approves of infighting among the group.”

Monokid

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Short-tempered, foul mouthed, violent, spouts incoherent nonsense, unattentative, and completes sentences with a “Hell Yeah!”, Monokid is pretty much the jerk of the Monokubs.

Monotaro 

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“The childish, scatterbrained leader of the Monokubs. Monotaro often struggles to keep his rambunctious siblings focused on the task at hand. ”

Monophanie

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The only female of the group. She is kind and can’t handle violence.  Monophanie often tries to settle quarrels, but ends up joining them anyway.  Cute, endearing (can that even be said about a Mono anything?!), Monophanie suggests the killing game should be less violent.

Monodam

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Enduring years of bullying from Monokid, Monodam has closed his heart and rarely speaks to the other Monokubs.  He’s also the only Monokub to look like a robot.

What do you think of the Monokubs? I’m slightly concerned since they seem highly reminiscent of the Lil’ Ultimates from Ultra Despair Girls.  But we are going back to a visual novel, so I think the Monokub’s might be really fun characters.  Why do you think they are “Kubs”? Do you think there might be more Lil’ Ultimates trying to bring about more despair? Any theories? Let me know in the comments!

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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