Tag: Adventure

Adventure Game, Animals, Anime, anthromorphic, City Building, Collectibles, Costumes, Dressup Games, Fashion, furries, Game Review, Games, Gaming, Girly Girl, Home Decor, Indie Game, Kawaii Cute, Kawaii Review, Life Sim, Nintendo, Nintendo Switch, Otome Game, PC, PC Gaming, Restaurant Simulation, Review, RPG, Shoujo, Simulation

Calico – Cute Cat Cafe Game With Tons Of Customization & Inclusivity

I just purchased Calico and began playing it over the weekend. Calico is a cute anime style Cat cafe game. The gameplay is simple and relaxing. You collect cute animals and run errands for towns folk while baking cute treats to sell in your cafe. You can also buy and unlock new recipes, new furniture, and new outfits.

What I love most about this game is how inclusive it truly is. You can be fat, slim, short, tall, black white, or green, or yellow, red, pink, whatever. You can have long hair, short hair, curly hair, straight hair, bangs, no bangs, side bangs, etc. I mean my character looks almost exactly like me in real life. And within game, the NPCs are various body/skintone types too. read more

Adventure Game, Branching Plot, Casual Game, Decisions Matter, Game Review, Games, Multiple Endings, Review, Videogame, Visual Novel

Tell Me Why – PC Game Review – LGBT Visual Novel Puzzle Solving Adventure Game

I would best describe “Tell Me Why” as an LGBT+ visual novel puzzle solving adventure game. The gameplay is similar to Tell Tale’s Walking Dead, or D4 Dark Dreams Don’t Die, or Quantic Dreams’ Detroit Become Human, and of course DONTNOD’s other adventure games such as Life is Strange. All of which I love. So It comes as no surprise that I would then also love Tell Me Why.

So let me tell you why (pun intended lol).

Although it is a game about transgendered youth and homosexuality, and I am a straight born this way female, I have always accepted gay rights and had no issues with that being the focus of the game. Most my family has always been against gays but even from a young age I would try to argue that they should be allowed to love who they love. read more

Anime, Casual Game, City Building, Crossover, Fantasy, Farming Simulation, Game Review, Kawaii Cute, Kawaii Review, Nintendo, Nintendo DS, Nintendo Switch, Otome Game, PC, PC Gaming, Playstation 4, Retro Game, Review, RPG, Shoujo, Shoujo, Simulation, Sony, Videogame

Nelke & The Legendary Alchemists Ateliers Of The New World PC Game Review

Nelke & The Legendary Alchemists Ateliers Of The New World
Nelke & The Legendary Alchemists Ateliers Of The New World

Nelke & The Legendary Alchemists Ateliers Of The New World is a brand new game by Koei Tecmo Games to celebrate 20 years of the series. Wow has it been that long already? I still remember the first 2 games way back when. And you know what else I remember, a little-known Nintnedo DS offshoot game in the Atelier Series called Atelier Annie: Alchemists of Sera Island which came out about 10 years ago.

So why Am I mentioning Atelier Annie? Because, if you’ve ever played it, then you know what to expect from Nelke & The Legendary Alchemists. Both games are unlike any of the rest of the Atelier Games, and instead put you in a role of managing a city and completing missions to advance.

Nelke has some really negative reviews – at least on Steam, but I purchased Nelke anyways, on a hunch it’d be like Atelier Annie, and you know what, I’m not disappointed. If you liked Annie, you’ll like Nelke. Conversely, if you hated Annie, you’ll hate Nelke, and if you’ve never played either game, well there’s only one way to find out then, and that’s by giving it a go for yourself.

The reviews on steam are complaining how different Nelke is — and to some — how boring it is… But honestly Atelier Annie was one of my favorites in the series. I loved the humorous story / humorous main character, and yes, I enjoyed the more “Sim Like” gameplay of building a city.

Nelke is not without flaws however; Unlike Annie, it lacks the humor and charm, and feels a bit dry and dull so far in the story. I’m 4 hours in at this point… which brings to another flaw, in that 4 hours in, I’m still in the tutorial… This game is very very very linear in the tutorial… Like almost everything will be on lockdown… for a long while… expect your first 8+ hours to be linear AF….

After that though there really is a TON of stuff to do in this game. It is NOT boring at all. You can craft items, gather materials, build new buildings, talk to your villagers, discover new recipes, sell items in your shops, and invest in new routes and tools to use in your adventures. There are simplistic turn based combats and different characters to recruit to your village.

You have to complete some required, and other optional tasks within a set number of days within the game. This can make it difficult and frustrating, so save often and in multiple save slots to try to minimize time lost if you miss a goal.

The game either runs slow on my laptop, or just is really slow by design, to the point where its a little frustrating. It may just be my laptop though and can probably be improved if I adjust some settings.

The main complaint a lot of people have is that while exploring you do nothing but watch your characters walk by on the screen. They will converse, gather items, and occasionally run into random enemy encounters. The battles are also slow and tedious. I do agree with these basic gameplay flaws. However, they don’t detract from my overall enjoyment of the other aspects of city building and mission completing and watching my city grow and evolve based on my decisions and choices made in where to invest and what to build next, etc.

The graphics are insanely adorable as always with the Atelier series.

Unlike a lot of the other games in the Atelier Universe, this one does not have English voice acting. I do like to have the original voice actors, but I also sometimes like to have an English cast too. I was disappointed they didn’t offer both.

I assume replay value is high because each city you build will be pretty unique and you will attract different stores, different npcs, and different quests based on how your city is developing.

All and all I’d rate the score card like this:

Title: Nelke & The Legendary Alchemists – Ateliers Of The New World –

Platform – (for this review The PC version was used.) It’s also available on PS4 and Nintendo Switch.

Where to Purchase: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07FMZZYK1?tag=amz-mkt-chr-us-20&ascsubtag=1ba00-01000-org00-win10-other-nomod-us000-pcomp-feature-scomp-wm-5&ref=aa_scomp

Geeky: 3/5 – Points for bringing back some of the popular characters from this series over the past 20 years.

Sweetie: 5/5 – For the casual gameplay and kawaii art

Overall: 53/70 78% C+ “Good Game For Girls”

Gameplay: 7/10 – I do love the sim aspects, having been a huge fan of Atelier Annie (easily one of my top 3 games in the Atelier universe). But I do agree that the game is slow and the wait for the payoff/reward is pretty steep. The game also doesn’t run great, can’t tell if it’s just my PC though maybe.

Story: 3/10 – I’m not loving the story, or lack there of. I’m 4 hours in and there’s not much of any story to be found; it does keep hinting at solving a mystery about a fruit from a legendary tree. But compared to other Atelier games the story feels less engaging so far.

Characters: 10/10 – I love seeing popular characters from the Atelier games return all in a brand new game. I also love the new characters that were created just for this game.

Voice Acting: 7/10 – The original Japanese voice cast does a great job and sounds super cute, but where’s the dual English voice acting? A bit disappointing especially for a 20th anniversary edition, you’d think they would have put a little more time and effort into the localization on this one. It feels cheap and rushed to not have both to choose from.

Music: 10/10 – Always love the music in the Atelier games, and Nelke doesn’t disappoint here either.

Replay Value: 8/10 – I think replay value will be very high, but I’m not looking forward to dredging through 5+ hours of linear handheld tutorials each time.

Overall: 53/70 78% C+ “Good Game For Girls”

Overall I would recommend this game to anyone who does not mind slower paced casual simulation games, or to anyone who remembers playing Atelier Annie on the DS. I like Atelier Annie a lil bit more because of the humorous story; but Nelke’s story may pick up and become more interesting. I may come in eventually and update my review scores if I find the story to improve as I get further into the game. Gameplay wise though it is almost identical to Atelier Annie, so if that’s your thing, be sure to check Nelke out.

Anime, Anime Review, Drama, Fantasy, Featured, Film and Television, Review, Slice of Life, TV and Film

Windaria Anime Movie Review

Title: Windaria

Alternative Title: Once Upon a Time

Genre: Romance, Fantasy, Action, Adventure

Release Date: 1986 (Japan initial release), 1992 (US, (VHS) first US release), 2004 (US re-release (DVD) with title change)

Where to Watch: I don’t support piracy here, but as a heads up, ALL of the “US Releases” of this film are very severely edited. And YES, that includes even the subtitled versions! I highly recommend that you watch the original Japanese version at least once before passing judgement on this beautiful movie. Of course, I grew up with the VHS in the 90s, and I STILL loved even the heavily edited dubbed version of the film way back then. Last year, I finally got the chance to watch the original Japanese version. A lot of content was cut from the English version, including significant amounts of story content. They change the order of certain scenes, remove most of the violence (and drugs and sex) and have completely re-written the script of the original film to better suit an American audience (where cartoons were (and still are) primarily intended for children). Also all of the music is different in both versions, although it’s very good in both versions as well. Still the overall theme and plot and moral of this heart breaking anime remains the same in both versions. That’s why I really recommend you to try to watch the original film – and then still go ahead and buy the English DVD or VHS to support the creators :). I’m not going to tell you where to find the original online, but you can find it if you look. And then you can purchase the Windaria North American DVD here.

Geeky: 3/5 The music is beautiful, but the artwork is very outdated (losing 1 point). Interestingly enough, the Japanese DVD includes 2 versions of the film, 1 being a “pilot film” where the animation and coloring style is different. (I have never seen this version). Despite the outdated artwork, the character designs are cute and memorable, I often think someone working on Pokemon drew inspiration (perhaps even subconsciously) for fan-favorite Eevee from the little pet squirrel/cat like creature in this film. The story is dark and full of action (and sex and drugs and gore in the original Japanese version). Therefore I feel this film would appeal to all geeks regardless of their genders. I’m removing one more point for the heavy handed editing of all of the US versions of this film. It’s been almost 15 years since the film has been brought to American audiences (for a 2nd time) – so perhaps some day we will see a company pick up the license for this film and do it justice with a more faithful English adaptation.

Sweetie: 5/5 – The story is soul crushingly sad. If you like sad anime, this is for you. Both versions of the film, even the mangled US version(s), still show the tender love stories of the central characters, and demonstrate the costs of war and greed. I happen to be a fan of sad love stories, and this particular anime reminds me of almost a Romeo and Juliet type of fairy tale, 2 lovers who can never be together, and 2 other lovers who have everything but still manage to mess everything up in the end. It’s also a story of regret, love, and greed. It imparts morals to the viewer, to value the love you have or else it may slip away. And that even if you are poor, if you have love, you can be happy. Or you can overlook the happiness you have right in front of you and only realize what you have once it has slipped away. The emotionally engaging story is also heightened by a fantastic music score which further draws the audience into the film.

Overall: 33/45 73% C “Good Anime for Girls”

Story: 9/10 – I removed a point again for the poor handling of every commercially available North American release of this film. Otherthan that small complaint, I give the story 10/10. Even the badly edited version. I loved the anime back in the 90s, and I still love it today. It’s a tale that withstands the tests of time. Universally relateable to anyone who has loved and lost.

The story of Windaria intertwines the fates of 2 very different couples. One couple is a princess and prince from neighboring kingdoms. As tensions mount between the kingdoms, and war seems inevitable… Can their love survive? The other couple lives in a small farming village caught between both warring nations. Their village has remained neutral for years, but as war descends around them, can that peace last? The people of the neutral village are poor, but live happy lives not knowing the tragedies of war, and protected by spirits who live in a giant tree. But can people be influenced to take a side when wealth and adventure knock on their door? How will the war change the lives of the people in this tiny village?

Everything is connected, and you cannot escape war. You can’t remain neutral. You must make a decision and take a risk. What will you risk? Will you risk your life? Your love? Your Home? And how will the war change you? Can you return to your old life after the war ends? Will there even be anything left to return to?

Windaria examines all of these heavy hearted deep thinking questions.

The setting of the story is also very intriguing. We have 2 nations at war. The haves and have nots. One kingdom has plenty of water and wealth and prosperity. They control the flow of water to the neighboring nations. The other nation does not feel they have enough water. They are not nearly as wealthy or powerful as their political neighbor. The lands between the two nations are full of magic and mystery. There is a river where people go crazy and see horrors which are merely reflections of their own fears and feelings, there is the giant magic tree which protects the neighboring farming village, and there’s the ghost ship which takes souls to the other side.

Interestingly enough, although the setting and time of this anime appear to be fantasy based, there is no magic or “fantasy”, instead we see a strange blend of technology in a fantasy world. Airplanes, motorbikes, guns, grenades, tanks, etc.

Characters: 7/10 – I’ll be honest here, it is REALLY hard to like the main character of this film. He is a giant D-bag. Not even gonna lie. You’re going to hate him. He rather have drunken sex and spend all day exploiting his power to get more drugs and wealth and concubines, than return to his girlfriend even after the war ends. It’s not until his own life is in danger that he flees and comes back to his village… or what’s left of it anyways. – Maybe at the end, he has a change of heart, but that doesn’t make up for what a huge D he is in the majority of the film.

The first 15-20 minutes of the film, they build this character and his love up to have this idealistic beautiful love. Everyone in the village recognizes the love between this pair. They are utterly adorable together. They have it all. But that’s not enough for our main character.

In stark contrast, his lady love waits patiently for his return, even when the rest of her village leaves and tries to get her to come to safety with them. This made me hate the main character even more. And when she forgives him for everything, that too amplifies my anger at this character.

But I suppose this is the point of the entire movie. It still isn’t easy to watch or to like, sympathize, or side with the supposed main character of the film.

Our other 2 main characters are considerably more likeable. They are victim of circumstance. They never get a choice in the events happening to them. They are bound by duty. They don’t get to choose a peaceful life of love – which puts into perspective even more, the stupidity of the main character for never realizing the happiness he had back in his own village.

The relationship of the prince and princess is doomed from the start, however, they often dare defy the duties and responsibilities forced upon them, and meet in secret anyways to profess their love and promise each other that one day they will be together. I have never really been 100% sure about the end of their relationship. I can’t tell if what she did was intentional or accidental like perhaps she was playfully chasing and playing with his gun / flirting around. Or if perhaps, she felt the weight of her duty, and decided to put her kingdom above her love and pull that trigger to once and for all, end the war. Either way, their relationship ends in spectacular Romeo and Juliet fashion.

 

There are a number of minor characters too with very intricate and detailed back stories, including a “crazy” woman who never talks to anyone as she waits for her love to return. Her love chose to become a captain of a ship taking souls to the other side. The captain cannot leave his ship for a specified number of years. (I believe it was 10 years? I can’t recall right now).

At the end of the film, we see that our main character wishes to become the captain of this ship to follow his lady love to the other side. (This is more clear in the Japanese version of the film). The crazy woman and main character both meet in the end (I think maybe the main character was contemplating jumping off the cliff) and he sees the crazy lady still there, waiting for her husband to return. So he resolves also to wait for his love as well. (although I’m pretty sure she can never come back – although a lot of Asian religions believe in reincarnation and so perhaps it is that which he is waiting for, or for his own life to end so then in the afterlife, they can be reunited.) This shows how much thought went into even the most minor of characters to make them have heavy plot focus.

Art: 2/5 – The artwork is dated, because this anime is from the 80s. On almost every website I’ve visited in the past, this anime has horrible reviews. I feel it’s not judged fairly and people are overlooking the beautiful love stories and tragedies and focusing solely on the artwork and animation quality. The character designs are still cute though, and some of the background environments are very pretty. But overall, I’d tend to agree the animation is not clean enough and the character styles are outdated by today’s standards. That still never detracts from my enjoyment of this film.

Music: 5/5 I love the music in Windaria. Both the Japanese and English tracks fit perfectly with the themes and scenes of the film. The music carries much emotion and helps tell the story, complementing the action scenes, and especially painfully highlighting the sad tragic scenes of the anime. I especially love the vocal tracks.

Voice Acting: 2/5 I really dislike both the original Japanese, and the English voice acting of most of the characters. I guess it’s typical for how old this anime is, but almost all of the performances were cringe-worthy. That’s even more reason why someone should pick this license back up and bring in a fresh English cast. The story is so good, and the performances here just do not do it justice at all.

Overall: 33/45 73% C “Good Anime for Girls”

Action RPG, Adventure Game, Anime, anthromorphic, Disney, Fantasy, Featured, Game Review, Kawaii Cute, Mobile Game, Nintendo, Nintendo 3DS, Nintendo DS, Playstation, Playstation 2, PSP, Retro Game, Review, RPG, Videogame

Kingdom Hearts 1.5 and 2.5 HD Remix PS4 Videogame Review

14 Year Old Sora in Kingdom Hearts 1
14 Year Old Sora in Kingdom Hearts 1

Title: Kingdom Hearts 1.5 and 2.5 HD Remix

Platform: PS4 (note this release combines various Kingdom Hearts games originally found on the PS2, GBA, Nintendo DS and 3DS)

Genre: Action Roleplaying Game ARPG

Publisher: Disney + Squarenix

Where to Buy: $49.99 on Amazon (at time of this writing)

Overall: 68/80 85% B “Very Good Game for Girls”

Geeky: 3/5 The games have fun gameplay, good graphics for the age of the games, and a great soundtrack. However, the Disney segments can be a bit too kiddie for some more serious gamers, and although the entire series is about the juxtaposition of light and dark, the light hearted disney characters can sometimes take away from immersing yourself in the deeper darker story of Sora and his friends.

Sweetie: 5/5 – This game is cuteness overload by combining well loved Square and Disney characters. It also has a surprisingly deep, relatively dark (for a Disney product at least), and mature storyline, which evolves and grows deeper and darker from game to game as characters grow and evolve.

Gameplay: 10/10 Kingdom Hearts is an action RPG. You play as Sora, a young boy who dreams of leaving his home town on a tiny island. When the game begins you are asked to choose a weapon. You may choose between shield, sword, and magic wand. You’re also asked which weapon you will give up. This allows you to customize your fighting style to match your preferences. You’ll also be asked a few questions. These questions do not have any significance on the story, but they do have a large impact on how quickly you will level up throughout the game.

A tutorial will give you a taste for how combat is in each of the games. You can run, jump, push and pull objects, climb, and use your chosen weapons as you chain attacks, dodge, defend, and parry to take down your foes. Enemies will drop small glowing orbs which can offer XP or sometimes restore health or other benefits. You will have to run around and touch the drops, because they do not get added automatically.

After settling into the game, you are allowed to freely explore the island, interact with NPCs, and engage in several minigames, such as fighting or racing with your friends on the island. You will see many familiar faces from both Squaresoft and Disney franchises.

Fairly early in the game, Sora gets his wish of leaving the island, and the rest of the game is played through traveling between different worlds, each representing a key franchise from Disney or Squaresoft. There are numerous battles to fight, areas to explore, sidequests, mini games, and hidden goodies. In fact, to find everything, across all games will take you almost 300 hours (and you’ll be awarded with an extra ending in each game). There’s plenty of content here to sink your teeth into, even for the most seasoned of gamers.

The action based combat is fun and snappy, while the mini games and interaction with a wide variety of characters gives you a break from the hack n slash combat, creating a well balanced game that equally values action as well as adventure.

Story: 8/10 I find it jarring at times how the story jumps between worlds, and I sometimes cringe at some of the Disney characters (and I consider myself a Disney fan! But it can really take away from the story, just when things are getting interesting to flash back to Goofy or Donald, especially with their well known silly voices and all). This can all make the story less immersive. However, at the heart of the story, you have a coming of age tale and a love triangle between 3 best friends. You watch throughout each game as Sora and his friends evolve and grow and change and how their friendships and relationships change as well. The story from each game is directly related from one game to the next. We’ve already watched Sora age by 2 years (and gotten a glimpse at a very young Sora as well). When Kingdom Hearts 1 starts, Sora is 14. By the end of Dream Drop Distance, he is 16. Many speculate he will be 16 or 17 in Kingdom Hearts 3. We witness Sora’s changing emotions as he transitions from adolescence to young adulthood. The main theme song in Kingdom Hearts 1 even hints at this with the lyrics of the chorus stating “Don’t get me wrong, I love you, but does that mean I really have to meet your father? One day when you’re older you’ll understand what I meant when I said No, I don’t think life is quite that simple.” Those lyrics perfectly describe the relationship between Sora and Kairi. An innocent love, a boy who still quite often views love/girls as “gross”, and a boy embarrassed by his emerging feelings of love for Kairi. And we witness not only how friendship can grow to love, but also how platonic friendships can change to rivalries when two boys love the same girl. The depths of both Riku and Sora’s love for Kairi is perhaps the best thing about the story.

I recently picked up Kingdom Hearts 1.5 and 2.5 HD Remix. I had played the original KH1 and KH2 on Playstation 2 but that was over 12 years ago now. And I had not played the other side games.

Every game in Kingdom Hearts is connected, and contains the same 3 characters, Riku, Kairi, and Sora, and the story gets deeper and more complex as the games go on as more is revealed building upon back stories and prequels and sequels and spin off games. It can be intimidating for someone new to the franchise to pick up the games now with almost 15 years of games to catch up on.

Many people recommend the following order to play the games in to get the most out of the story:

Kingdom Hearts 1 (1.5 remix)
Re: Chain of Memories (1.5 remix)
Kingdom Hearts 2 (2.5 remix)
358/2 Days (1.5 remix)
Birth By Sleep (2.5 remix)
Re:Coded (2.5 remix)
Dream Drop Distance (2.8 remix sold separately)
0.2 Birth By Sleep – A Fragmentary Passage (2.8 remix sold separately)
X Back Cover (2.8 remix sold separately.)
Unchained X (free mobile game, available separately)
Kingdom Hearts 3 (sold separately – coming soon)

So you will need bare minimum to purchase 3 games

Kingdom Hearts 1.5 and 2.5 HD Remix
Kingdom Hearts 2.8
Kingdom Hearts 3

And optionally download and play Unchained X on your cell phone.

Some of the “games” above are actually “cutscenes” because they could not emulate the nintendo DS “touch screen” on the PS4. So each of these nintendo remakes are movies which reuse old, and add new cutscenes to tell the story.

You can alternatively purchase and play these Nintendo games separately. But you should be fine with just the cutscenes from an understanding the story standpoint.

Characters: 10/10 I really enjoy watching Sora and friends evolve, age, mature, and change over the course of multiple interconnected games. I also really do enjoy seeing favorite characters thrown in from Final Fantasy and Disney. It’s a strange mashup but it works surprisingly well. If you are either a Disney or Squaresoft fan you will love the cast of characters in these games.

Graphics: 7/10 – Taking into consideration the age of the games, I think the graphics are beautiful and memorable. They are vibrant, full of color, detail, and fun. The character designs blend Disney’s whimsy and charm with Squaresofts more stylistic approach. Sora also reminded me of a brunette Cloud wearing Mickey’s big “clown” shoes. The bobble headed appearance of the characters, makes them cute, but it’s almost a bit too juvenile, given that even when we first meet Sora and friends in KH1, they’re already teenagers. I feel like they look like Precious Moments dolls, and about 7-10 years old because of the proportions of their heads to bodies. — Luckily, the artwork does improve in later games.

Take a look below:

Sora from Kingdom Hearts 1 (Does he look 14 to you? Not even close in my opinion).

Sora from Kingdom Hearts 2 (He is supposed to be 15 here, looks about right.)

Sora from Kingdom Hearts 3 (Speculated to be 16 or 17 here) (meh this design is alright, I expected to see something like Final Fantasy XV quality here. There are very few details in the hair/face and almost no shading on the clothing, it just looks kinda flat/plastic-y… not what I’d expect from a PS4 title. He does look a tiny bit more mature, slimmer face, etc.)

Music: 10/10 I’m a big Utada Hikaru fan, and I love the opening theme “Simple and Clean” – as I mentioned, I feel the lyrics foreshadow the coming of age story and changes that our little island buddies are about to experience. She also sings “Sanctuary” the opening theme of Kingdom Hearts 2. And it has been confirmed that she will also be involved with the opening for Kingdom Hearts 3. My favorite Utada Hikaru song though will always be “First Love”. The Japanese versions of the tracks are also quite catchy even without knowing the lyrics or understanding Japanese. The background music is also fitting and full of adventure and wonder.

Voice Acting: 6/10 – The voice acting is definitely hit or miss for me. Some characters I think are perfectly cast, and others way off mark. Some give pretty convincing performances, while others are too overdramatic and/or the opposite, lack any feeling or emotion in the deliverance of their lines. The iconic Disney characters also can tend to annoy and detract from the story with their overly cartoonish voices for which they are so well known.

Replay Value: 9/10 Although the games are linear, there are multiple games in this “bundle”, and each game has a secret ending, usually only uncovered for completing all side quests, or playing on the hardest difficulty settings, which will take you around 270 hours total according to How long to Beat. Even if you don’t want to go for the secret endings, you’re still looking at over 130 hours of gameplay just for the main stories of each game. For just $40something, that works out to around 30 cents per hour of entertainment. Therefore your return on investment is quite high in this title, even if you might only play each of the games once.

Overall: 68/80 85% B “Very Good Game for Girls”

Adventure Game, Branching Plot, Decisions Matter, Game Review, History, Point and Click, Review

Curious Expedition – Indie PC Game Review

Title: Curious Expedition

Genre: Adventure Game, Rogue Like

Developer: Maschinen-Mensch

Platform: PC, playable over Steam and also right in your web browser, stand-alone DRM free client coming soon

Release Date: May 19th, 2015

Retail Price: $14.99

Where to Buy: Steam: http://store.steampowered.com/app/358130/The_Curious_Expedition/ or Direct from the official website at http://curious-expedition.com/

Overall: 58 / 80 73% C “Good Game for Girls”

Overview: 8/10 Curious Expedition is a rogue-like adventure game with retro style pixel graphics. It puts you in the role of one of several famous explorers from history and lets you compete for fame and fortune. If you become the most famous explorer, you win, and are honored with a large statue in your likeness.

That is, if you can survive long enough to even return home from your expedition. The game uses some interesting mechanics such as a sanity meter, which when it gets low, bad things begin to happen. Mutiny breaks out among your crew, or random disasters begin to befall the group.

You can restore sanity by eating, drinking, or sleeping. There are also certain units you can recruit, or perks you can receive that increase your max sanity, making it a bit easier to explore without going insane.

There are other resources for you to manage as well, such as fresh water, ammo, first aid kits, torches to explore dungeons, ropes and climbing kits, and numerous other tools to help you discover treasure.

While out exploring you will sometimes enter into battle using various dice (amount of dice and colors of dice are determined by which party members you have with you at the time.)

You can always select from 2 different expedition routes, and are presented with a randomly generated objective to complete while on expedition. You can choose to return home after completing your objective, or continue to search for treasure to bring back.

Your movement speed is greatly reduced when your inventory is over burdened. This will make it even more challenging to manage your sanity and other resources. Terrain obstacles such as sand, snow, ice, mountains, and forests will also slow down your expedition and require careful resource management.

Perhaps the most unforgiving element is if you die, you get one chance to load your auto save, and then that’s it, you’ll have to start a new game. And you will die often. 6 expeditions may not sound like much, but I have yet to make it past the 5th.

The overall experience of the game left me both addicted, and annoyed. I have yet to successfully complete a full series of expeditions. But yet, I played all night, and can’t wait to get home to go on new expeditions.

Pros: Strangely addicting Gameplay paired with retro pixel graphics. D&D style dice-rolls and turn based combat system. Fairly large maps (I typically have to return home without fully exploring the maps). Rogue like elements make it great for multiple replays (but admittedly need some tweaks).

Cons: Normal mode is very challenging… like seriously challenging (There is an easy mode (which I have not tried) and an even more difficult mode as well though so this is not really a bad thing). My chief complaint of Curious Expedition is that there’s not enough choices in places to explore. Maps all feel very same-ish. Scenarios seem to repeat, and even when you get a new scenario, there’s nothing terribly unique about the quest to make it memorable or exciting. Need more maps, more variety in quests, more variety in classes, npcs, treasure, random events, etc. My other chief complaint is there’s no multiplayer mode. This seems like a great game for some multiplayer fun as it does show you how much fame/fortune your competitors are earning. It could even make a great persistent online game with credit going to players for being the first to discover new regions, items, animals, native people, etc. So much potential here for interesting multiplayer options, but instead, your competitors are always controlled by the computer. And lastly, my last complaint is that there’s no Steam Achievements. A game like this would be PERFECT for steam achievements. There are steam trading cards, but no achievements which seems once again like a missed opportunity to add some fun gameplay elements.

Geeky: 5/5 – The retro vibe and random rogue like elements, as well as references from D&D and other old school games make this a blast for all geeks who grew up with fond memories of the 80s/90s.

Sweetie: 3/5 – Although it is very text heavy, a lot of the text repeats and is not very interesting on subsequent playthroughs. However, there are some notable female playable characters that represent real women throughout history, which is just awesome. This game highlights women who did extraordinary things and emphasizes their brains over beauty, making this a great game for young girls.

Gameplay: 7/10 – When the game begins, you select which explorer you want to play as. Some will be locked and can be unlocked through game play to be used on subsequent playthroughs. You will be given a few supplies and some animal and human companions.

You’ll then be shown a map of the world. It will have many expedition points, but only ever 2 at a time will be selectable as your competition will be exploring the other parts of the world. Select one of the two routes and you’ll be offered a quest. You can either accept or reject the quest. I assume if you reject it, you can just freely explore the expedition area without a quest in mind. Or maybe you’re presented other quest options before embarking on your voyage. I’m not really sure.

If you can successfully complete a quest objective you’ll get a large bonus to fame and/or fortune. But if you fail the quest after choosing to accept it, you’ll lose a great deal of fame or fortune as well.

Before leaving the docks, you’re given time to buy supplies, and sometimes you will find new crew members who wish to join your expedition. You can only take 5 members at any time, so if you find new members you wish to recruit, you will have to part ways with someone else first.

While out exploring you are shown a map with perhaps a few areas uncovered, but largely, hidden from your view. You click around the map to move and explore. Points of interest or interaction are designated by a white question mark symbol. As you approach, they will reveal themselves to be one of several different locale such as:

Native Villages: Here you can recruit members for your expedition, buy, sell, trade, rest to restore sanity, compile research, complete various quest objectives, and more. Your likelihood of success depends on the villagers feelings towards you. These are determined by how long you’ve stayed in the village, as well as decisions you make to story prompts both inside and outside of the village, as well as certain class roles of your crew, and any special status conditions possessed by your crew, and lastly, the amount of trading you’ve done with the village thus far.

Caves: If you have a torch, or a class member with “perception” skills (blue dice roll with white eye symbol), you can usually safely explore the caves. If you choose to loot treasure, you may anger the gods, villagers, or spring a trap, but it’s almost always worth the risk, as you can trade the treasure in for fame or fortune after you return home.

Stone Circles: You can use these monuments to reveal more of the map.

Temples and Pyramids: Similar to caves, mostly used as a place to loot treasure which usually has some negative consequences as mentioned above, but still is imperative in raising your fame and fortune which is how you ultimately win the game.

There are different types of maps / expedition areas such as:

Icelands, Jungles, Drylands, Deserts, Mountains, etc. I find the Jungles to be the easiest to traverse. Icelands can be conquered with Snowshoes and sled tickets. Drylands and Deserts requires you to carry more water.

While exploring your food and water rations deplete, and also your sanity begins to dwindle (rapidly). You must eat or sleep or drink to restore these meters. If you ignore them, you will suffer a lot of negative random scenarios, such as killing your crew, sometimes you’ll eat them though which will restore your sanity at least lol.

Encounters with various “monsters” (typically wild animals), happen when you enter an area designated by a red border, you can also see a circle icon representation of the beast in question as he also moves around the map. Should you draw attention, he will likely chase you, and be faster than you. Sometimes it’s better to face your opponents head on. If they sneak up on you, they get a free combat round before you can react.

Combat takes place using various dice rolls. Different items in your inventory, and different class roles of your party members, determines which dice you have available.

Each “turn” consists of 3 “rounds”. Each “round” allows you to either keep or re-roll dice. If you have a combination of dice that result in a combo move, they will shake on your screen. Mousing over a shaking die will show the other dice needed to activate the combo – they will shake too. If multiple combos or other dice had been shaking, their shaking will stop when you’re moused over a die from a combo they don’t belong to.

You can activate your combos each round.

For example, your first roll could reveal that you have 3 dice that activate a combo. You can click on those dice to “hold them” once all three have been held a dialog box will appear – click the box to activate the combo, then select reroll. Your next roll may have another 3 dice that activate a different combo, you can again play this combo in the same way, and roll again for your final round. Each time you hold dice, or activate a combo, however, will remove those used dice from your available dice pool, making it less likely to get good combo rolls as the rounds go on.

If you survive, you may be given items, or fame and fortune. If you should die, you will be taken back to the main menu where you can reload your game. Should you die again, when returning to the main menu you will notice there is no longer an option to continue and you must start a new game.

Also as you explore and fight your way to glory, you will be able to promote your party members to make them stronger. There are also numerous random events that may impact your party members’ skills, stats, and abilities.

Return home with your treasure. You can choose to donate to the museum for fame, sell for fortune, or hold onto various items. When you return home you’ll also be presented with any applicable quest rewards and allowed to select one “perk” from a handful of randomly generated ones. Some of these perks are really neat and significantly alter your gameplay, such as allowing you to do culture studies on native tribes, giving you additional dice rolls, permanent boost to max sanity, increased viewable map areas, or more benefits. After choosing your perks and preparing again for your next adventure you’ll again have an option of 2 expedition areas to explore and be shown a random quest.

Survive all six expeditions and have the highest fame to win the game.

Story: 5/10 – You write your own story. This game plays much like Oregon Trail, Horizons New Dawn, or Banner Saga, so if you’ve played any of those, you have an idea of what to expect here. Unlike Banner Saga, however, Curious Expedition is not very well written, nor engaging, simply because it is almost too random, and at the same time not random enough, so that when you hit subsequent playthroughs, it becomes a bit repetitive. I know the game is only just now at patch 1 point something, but after being out for 2 years now, that’s rather concerning too that there hasn’t been more big content updates. It needs more scenarios and random events, but even that can’t save the story because of the nature of the brief random encounters and quest. Lacking a central story, does not detract from how fun and enjoyable this game is, but for those looking for a solid story and great characters, look elsewhere.

Characters: 8/10 – There are a lot of randomly generated characters including various races, classes, genders, likes, dislikes, stat bonuses, ailments, and little quirks, that really make your party more interesting. There are a few, but not many, scenes that may endear some of these characters to you, but most of the time, they are of little consequence from a story standpoint. As mentioned earlier in the review, I am quite pleased to see the inclusion of many female and minority historical figures as playable characters. Curious Expedition is a great game with great rolemodels and unique characters inspired from historical events.

Graphics: 7/10: Pixel graphics are hot right now. I understand they’re not to everyone’s taste, but as an older gamer myself, I enjoy retro feeling games such as this. I did deduct a few points in this area though simply because of the “sameness” of all of the maps / areas / npcs / etc.

Sound: 6/10: The soundtrack is also extremely retro which gives it a fun 80s feeling with lots of nostalgia. But ultimately, the soundtrack is just not too memorable overall.

Replay Value: 9/10: Although it desperately needs some more variations, more options, and more items, npcs, places, and skills, the game does indeed present a fun randomly generated gameplay element that makes each playthrough unique. The challenge of the game also dictates the need for subsequent playthroughs.

Overall: 58 / 80 73% C “Good Game for Girls”

Other Games You May Like

Include Horizons New Dawn on SNES and Oregon Trail Classic or Banner Saga on the PC. read more

Anime, Anime Review, Drama, Fantasy, Featured, Film and Television, Mystery, Review, Slice of Life, TV and Film

Big Fish and Begonia Anime Review

Big Fish Begonia Anime Review
Big Fish Begonia Anime Review

Overview:

Big Fish & Begonia (also known as Da Yu Hai Tang) is not technically an anime since it is from China instead of Japan; however, it is a beautifully animated fantasy adventure with a lot of heart. The quality of the animation is on par with Disney or Studio Ghibli.

The story has a few plot holes and pacing issues, but overall, the emotional impact of the story telling makes this film a must watch. The story may feel familiar if you’ve watched Disney’s the Little Mermaid, or another Chinese animation from the 90s, Chinese Ghost Story. Despite the similar concepts, Big Fish & Begonia still manages to add its own unique twists and takes on concepts of forbidden love and reincarnation.

Review:

Title: Big Fish & Begonia (Da Yu Hai Tang)

Release Date: July 2016 (China) (Not yet licensed for North America)

 

Production: Bejing Enlight Media

Geeky:  5/5 – The production values are top notch. The quality of the animation, music, and acting are all on PAR with Disney or Studio Ghibli. Many consider this film to be the “dawn of animation” in China. It took 12 years to complete, and the level of dedication, time, care, and skill that went into making this film really shows.

Sweetie: 4/5 – I did decide to deduct one point for a few major plot holes and pacing issues. However, the themes of love (often times unrequited), life, death, and reincarnation make this film very “sweet” indeed. I was not expecting to cry as much as I did by the end!

Overall: 47/55 85% B “Very Good Anime For Girls”

Concept:

Concept: 10/10 I am in love with the concept behind this film. I am a huge fan of Chinese Ghost Story and also the Little Mermaid.

I even prefer the old 80s Japanese version of the Little Mermaid over the Disney one (blasphemous, I know, right?). Don’t get me wrong, I love Disney’s Little Mermaid too. But the reason I love the non-Disney version so much is because of how sad it is.

Spoiler for the Japanese Little Mermaid below:

+*0+*

Action RPG, Adventure Game, Android Phone, Anime, Casual Game, Featured, Free Game, Guest Post, Handheld or Portable Gaming, Ipad & Iphone, Monster Taming, Nintendo DS, Playstation 4, Videogame, Xbox One

5 Best Anime Games of 2016

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Continuing the long standing tradition of converting shows and comics into video games (or vice versa), 2016 has delivered us a slew of very decent games. Compared to their predecessors, these games have come a long way from the old days when Bandai meant a relatively short and generic gameplay experience. read more

Action RPG, Adventure Game, Console Gaming, Downloadable Content for Games, Drama, Fantasy, Featured, Game Review, Playstation 4, Review, RPG, Videogame, Xbox One

Final Fantasy XV Review

It’s been awhile since we’ve done a review around here with the holidays and all. It’s time to fix that. Having just finished FFXV over the weekend, that seems the best candidate for a review this week. I’ve been a fan of Final Fantasy for a long time, ever since “Mystic Quest” on the SNES. Final Fantasy 6 (3 in America) is still my favorite in the series. I’ve played every Final Fantasy Game since the 16 bit era. And I’m “strange” I know, but I don’t really like FF7, not as much as everyone else seems to be in love with that game. But Final Fantasy in general always holds a special place in my heart. If I had to rank my favorite FF games that I’ve played from best to worst, it would look something like this when using the corresponding Japanese numbers for each title… With the newest game, Final Fantasy XV somewhere solidly in the middle. Although I’ve played 11 and 14, I didn’t include them in the list since they are a different genre (mmorpg)

  • FF6
  • FF8
  • FF4
  • FF10
  • FF13
  • FF15
  • FF9
  • FF5
  • FF7
  • FF12

Honestly, my most favorite thing about the new FF game was Prompto’s Photography skills lol. My twitter and facebook looked like a giant marketing website for the game for the past few weeks. Pretty smart move by SquareEnix, getting the public to help promote their game like that on social media. The characters are quite likeable in the game, and although the story starts slow, it eventually builds with a lot of emotion. The first half of the game features an open world environment where you can travel, explore, and quest freely, but the last several chapters are much more linear, and it’s within the later half of the game that the story becomes much darker. The emotions are felt stronger due to the first half focusing on friendship between the main character and his friends and the light hearted feeling of the early chapters.

The story however, is not without flaws, and that is where I have to deduct points. People are killed off much too early in the game to feel any sense of loss or attachment to them. Furthermore, some characters are mysteriously killed off without ever showing exactly what happened to them. The character development between the 4 “bros” is the highlight of the game – and it is beautiful. On the other hand, supporting characters are introduced only to be almost forgotten in later chapters. For example, I really liked Iris in the first half of the game. In the end it’s eluded that she too has become a daemon hunter, but it never shows her again nor does she ever rejoin the bros. Aranea is another forgotten female as well.

The game is supposed to be receiving numerous updates in the coming weeks and months. Among which include new story sequences, special dlc for each of the bros, gameplay enhancements for the later chapters (chapter 13), and the ability to create your own player character. But I shall base my review solely based on the content that was available when I played through the game.

Title: Final Fantasy XV

Platform: PS4 and Xbone (I played the PS4 version, but they are both the same).

Publisher: SquareEnix

Release Date: November 29, 2016

Genre: RPG

Where to buy: Amazon

read more

Anime, Anime News, Comedy, Drama, Fantasy, Film and Television, Funny, Kawaii Cute, Magical Girl, Manga, News, Preview, Shoujo, Shoujo, Slice of Life, TV and Film

New Cardcaptor Sakura Anime is “In the Works”

Crunchyroll shared news lastnight that a new Cardcaptor Sakura anime has been announced to coincide with the 20th anniversary of the Cardcaptor Sakura manga. Earlier this year it was reported that a new Cardcaptor Sakura manga would be released that would continue the adventures of Sakura and her friends as they enter into Junior High.

No information is available at this time as to if the new Cardcaptor Sakura anime will follow the newly announced manga, or whether it will be a series or stand-alone movie, or perhaps a reboot or remake of the original series (for example, taking the route of fellow magical girl Sailor Moon and what she did for her anniversary with the new Sailor Moon Crystal anime), or perhaps this new Cardcaptor Sakura anime will be something new entirely. Also no release date or voice actor cast or further info has been released just yet, which indicates it may be well into 2017 or even 2018 before we actually get to see this new anime.

Crunchyroll currently has all of the original anime to view on their site. I personally need to sit down and marathon them all at some point. Over the years, I’ve seen a dozen or so episodes and at least 2 of the movies, and from what I’ve seen it’s a very cute show! Just so much to watch and so little time that I never “got into it” as much as I would expect to be into a magical girl romantic comedy / fantasy adventure such as this.

Now that the new show has been announced that motivates me to want to hurry up and watch the original episodes 🙂 I know what my plans will be this weekend lol. Anyone else?

Action RPG, Adventure Game, Branching Plot, Fantasy, Featured, Game News, Indie Game, Kickstarter, Multiple Endings, News, PC, Playstation 4, Preview, Retro Game, Videogame, Xbox One

Pixel x Pixel Games Announces Guardian of The Rose Action RPG With Branching Plot and Multiple Endings Based On Your Choices

If there’s one thing that I love in a game, it’s a branching plot and multiple endings, as you’ll see from many of the games reviewed or news given here on this website. So I was really excited when Pixel x Pixel Games emailed me yesterday to promote their new Action-RPG.

This game looks really great for retro game lovers. It was clearly made with a lot of love and fond memories of someone growing up in the 90s playing all of the classic games.

I’ll just include the message I received from Pixel x Pixel Games below because it pretty much highlights all of the features that I would want to highlight about this game. I’ve bolded the bits that I thought were the most exciting. Check out what Pixel x Pixel Games has to say about Guardian of the Rose below.

Guardians of the Rose is a story of high adventure, taken on by a small group of companions, that are seeking to overthrow the Great Witches that have assumed control of the kingdom. You are a newly christened member of the Royal Guard, the magic-keepers of the king. With the Royal Guard now tainted by witchcraft you have no choice but to take it upon yourself to form a new Guard that will overthrow the witchcraft that has enslaved the kingdom. Encounters with river spirits, groundlings, giants, and dragons alike are some of the adventures that will befall you.

Open-Ended Adventuring – The world is laid out specifically so that you can choose to explore in any direction you want. You can choose to progress the storyline at your own pace while immersing yourself inside the lore and sidequests of the kingdom. These sidequests are not your typical “save my chicken” type quests but instead are designed to make the player feel like he is making a significant difference in the lands around him.

High Fantasy pitting Magic vs Witchcraft – Magic was taught to the people by a legendary hero that saved the world from the Great Witches long ago. Ever since, witchcraft has been outlawed and users of the craft have been hunted mercilessly by the Royal Guard. Now that witchcraft has risen to power again, you are tasked with saving the Kingdom but you have no magical ability like the great heroes of times before.

Compelling Story – Guardians of the Rose was heavily inspired by the classic tales of Homer, Viking Sagas, and high fantasy novels like Lord of the Rings and Winds of Fate. Not only is the main storyline compelling but there is a focus on enveloping the entire game in epic world lore.

Choose your own way to play – The player must choose what path to take, good or evil. The only goal of the game is to restore peace to the land. How it is done is up to the player. You can choose to incite revolution from the stealth of the shadows or you can wage all out war. With a completely customizable stats and skills system there is very little the player does not have control over.

Multiple Endings – Depending on how you play the game, which path you take in your exploration of the lands, and who you decide to party with, the game’s story and ending can change fairly drastically.

Guardians of the Rose is a story-driven 2D action adventure RPG. It controls like a modernized, fast-paced version of old-school Zelda and Gauntlet games with the RPG elements of the Elder Scrolls Series.

Along with the inspiration from classic books and stories the games style was inspired by old school Arcade games that I would play as a kid at Pizza Hut and the local bowling Alley.

Check out the press release provided by Pixel x Pixel Games below:

Press Kit

 

  • Kickstarter: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/broc/guardians-of-the-rose-story-driven-2d-action-rpg
  • Developer: Pixel x Pixel Games
  • Platform Availability: DRM-Free Download; Steam and all of it’s counterparts for PC, Mac, and Ubuntu/Tizen (Linux); Xbox One and PS4
  • Press Contact: [email protected]
  • Socials: Kickstarter, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Vine
  • read more

    Action RPG, Anime, Book News, Books and Manga, Branching Plot, Decisions Matter, Fantasy, Featured, Game News, Indie Game, News, PC, Playstation 4, Preview, Release Date, RPG

    Third-person Action RPG *Anima: Gate of Memories* due June 3 on Steam (Windows/Linux), PS4 & Xbox One, North American PS4 launch to take place June 7

    The folks at Badland Games just emailed me their press release for their upcoming title: Anima: Gate of Memories which is based on a series of books. It is being developed by a small team and heavily involving the author of the novels.

    This looks to be a really fun, story-rich RPG with multiple endings, choice-based dialogue system, beautiful graphics, and fun combat system. I’m seeing if I can get a key so I can share some more details and possibly stream or upload some videos for you guys – but until then, enjoy the press release and official trailer below!

    Third-person action RPG *Anima: Gate of Memories* due June 3 on Steam (Windows/Linux), PS4 & Xbox One, N. American PS4 launch to take place June 7

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

     

    Action RPG Anima: Gate of Memories Available June 3rd (Steam, PS4, Xbox One)

     

    North American PS4 Release on Tuesday, June 7th read more

    Adventure Game, Featured, Game Review, Giveaway, PC, Point and Click, Puzzles, Review, Videogame

    Broken Age – Point and Click Adventure Game for PC – Review and Giveaway

    Our new alternate winner is Ccaminha – Congrats, an email will be going out shortly to inform you of your prize. Please reply to that email letting me know you’re interested and I will send over the key.

    EDIT: TatsuKaji never claimed his prize, so we will hold another drawing for an alternate winner sometime this weekend (Approx 3/20/16).

    We’ve gained a lot of members since announcing this contest, so anyone that posts between now and Sunday will go into the drawing. 🙂

    EDIT: The contest is now over. Congratulations to TatsuKaji – please check your email and reply back to receive your free steam key. If you’re not interested, or already have the game, please also reply back so I can draw an alternate winner. – If I don’t hear back within a week I will draw another random winner.

     

    Title: Broken Age

    Genre: Point and Click Adventure Game

    Platform: PC

    Release Date: January 2014

    Where to Buy: Steam

    Geeky: 3/5

    Sweetie: 5/5

    Overall: 74 / 90 82% B- “Very Good Game For Girls”

    Concept: 10/10 – The Point and Click genre was really popular back in the 90s, but then it just faded away. In a record breaking kickstarter, Tim Schafer, creator of other Point and Click titles such as Grim Fandango, Psyhconauts,  and the Secret of Monkey Island, successfully funded his return to gaming by reaching his kickstarter goals for Broken Age, his first new game in over 16 years.

    Broken Age was hyped that it was supposed to revitalize the genre and bring it into the modern age. Most critics say that it fell short of it’s expectations – however, I really enjoyed this game.

    Gameplay: 8/10 It features cute story book styled graphics and typical point and click game mechanics. Interact with your environment, solve puzzles, talk to NPCs etc. The puzzles are challenging and thought provoking and you want to keep playing because of the cute characters and story. However some of the puzzles can be frustrating at times and there will be times when you spend time just using every  item or talking to every NPC and back tracking back through places trying to find if you’ve missed something. This can sometimes take away from the fun and screw with the pacing of the game, but it’s much better and much preferred than a game in which the puzzles are too simple.

    Story: 7/10 There are two games in one essentially as you switch control between the different characters freely throughout the game.  In one world you’re in a very primitive like setting where the people believe in offering tribute to monster-like “gods”. In the other world you’re in a scifi setting, in a spaceship with robots. I don’t want to spoil anything for you, so I’ll keep it brief / vague. The story is very cute, in some points it has child like innocence but it’s always tinged with a deep sad and lonely feeling. At first the story doesn’t seem connected, but the more you play, the more things fall into place. It can sometimes be annoying when the story progression is held up when you get stuck on a challenging puzzle. Also for over a year, the game was incomplete, Chapter 2 did not release until April 2015. It is provided for free and is not DLC. However, since when many of us first played the game, we were left waiting with an open-ending for what seemed like much too long. My biggest complaint with the story is simply that it can be jarring switching between worlds/stories. Still I loved solving all the mysteries and how slowly and carefully the story was revealed.

    Characters: 10/10 In the primitive world you play a very strong willed African-american girl which is a refreshing choice of characters as minorities and females are often under-represented or relegated to mere sidekick status and rarely ever appear as the main hero. She challenges the beliefs and ways of her people. She dares to ask questions and be different

    In the space world, you play a lonely little boy who is fed up with his mundane routine boring life. While the ship provides him with toys, food, and even a “mother” and “father” figure, it is no replacement for human interaction. It also tries too hard to protect and keep him save, never letting him “Grow up” or take risks or challenges for himself. It’s like he lives in a bubble where everything is the same, day in day out. Until one day when he finds a hidden door in the ship which leads him to new worlds.

    Graphics: 10/10 The graphics are really unique and cute. Everything looks handpainted or like it came from a storybook or “pop-up” book or like “paper craft” or scrapbooking. I liked this approach because you don’t see it often in games.

    Music: 10/10 The music is composed by Peter McConnell who also did the music for Psychonauts. It features a beautiful score with soft melodic harmonies which fit well the cute/childlike graphics. Critics have called this some of Peter’s best work. I really like how light and “airy” the tracks sound full of violins, flutes, clarinets, cellos, etc. It almost sounds “dreamlike” in a way, or like a fairytale. I also like how both the music and the graphics juxtapose themselves against a story which seems fairly childlike but is tinged with sadness and isolation.

    Voice Acting: 10/10 – No expense was spared for the casting of this game. It features big budget hollywood actors such as Jack Black, Elijah Wood, and talented voice over artist Masasa Moyo.

    Replay Value: 1/10 Given the nature of this game, I’m not saying, I’d never ever replay it… but certainly it would diminish the enjoyment of the game on multiple playthroughs since you’d know all of the answers to the puzzles and already know the plot and story. Since it’s a linear and also fairly large and lengthy game, I’d say it’s one you’d visit maybe once every 5 to 10 years for nostalgia’s sake but beyond that I don’t see much replay value here.

    Overall: 74 / 90 82% B- “Very Good Game For Girls”

    And we are giving away a FREE Steam key for Broken Age to one of our lucky readers. This contest begins now 2/27/2016 and will end on 3/5/2016. To enter simply leave a comment on any blog or forum post. Make sure you have a valid email tied to your username as I will be using that email to send the key to the winner. I will also post winner’s name to this post no later than 3/6/2016. Thank you and goodluck!

    *By providing your email, you will also receive one email each saturday with a summary of posts. I never put ads or any garbage in the emails and only send new post summarys for that week. I also never sell your email. You can also unsubscribe at any time by clicking unsubscribe from the email.

  • Now you can stream Lara Croft from the cloud, with a Nvidia Shield
  • The International Mobile Game Awards announces its nominees for 2016
  • 11 old-school PC games that need modern remakes
  • Instant NPCs for Fifth Edition D&D
  • Developer Commentary In Video Games: Why’s There Not More of That Then?
  • Kickstarter has gone to the dogs with Pugmire
  • Broken Sword just achieved an unusual Guinness World Record
  • Twisted Teen Murder Game Danganronpa Is Still Great On PC
  • Three Kickstarter games that delivered
  • Best PS4 Games 2016
  • read more

    Animals, Anime, Fantasy, Featured, Game Review, Kawaii Cute, Life Sim, Monster Taming, Mystery, Playstation 2, Raising Sim, Retro Game, Review, RPG, Simulation, Slice of Life, Videogame, Virtual Pet

    Monster Rancher EVO | Monster Rancher 5 | PS 2 | Monster Taming | Retro RPG | Review

    Monster Rancher is a series of games (there’s also an anime) in which you (at certain prompts) insert another cd, dvd, or game disc into your machine to generate a monster which you then take back to your ranch to train for battle.

    I’m reviewing Monster Rancher EVO today because it stands out the most for its story and characters, although its gameplay deviates significantly from any of the other games in the Monster Rancher world. I recommend this game, but I also would recommend any of the other Monster Rancher games as well. I’ve played them all (with the exception of the hand held ones). It is truly a great monster taming series.

    Also, although no new games have been released in over half a decade, there are 2 different mobile games which come close to capturing the spirit and fun of Monster Rancher for fans who miss this series. These two mobile games, include one actual real Monster Rancher game by Mobage. And another app called Monster Nursery.

    Of those two apps I prefer Monster Nursery because it has the monster generation mechanics (It uses your facebook friends to generate a monster – they don’t get spammed or notified either, it just reads their “name”).

    You can check the apps out at the end of this article I will put some links there for you. But first, here is my review of Monster Rancher EVO.

    Title: Monster Rancher EVO (Monster Rancher 5) (Also known as Monster Farm 5 Circus Caravan in Japan)

    Platform: PS2

    Release Date: April 2006

    Where to Buy: Amazon – prices range from $10 to $40 depending on the condition of the game. Buy Monster Rancher EVO on Amazon.

    Genre: Monster Taming RPG

    Geeky: 5/5 stars

    Sweetie: 5/5 hearts

    Overall: 68/80 85% B “Very Good Game for Girls”

    Concept: 9/10 The concept of these games is truly unique. I don’t know of any other games that allow you to insert CDs (or DVDs) as part of the actual gameplay. That was the most fun and addicting element of these games. And I had a massive huge collection of games to try too. Still have most of them too, though I have sold parts of my collection over the years. Would love to see a new Monster Rancher Game (maybe on PS4 :)).

    Beyond just generating random monsters from your CDs and DVDs, you then take that monster to your ranch to train him for battle. In Monster Rancher EVO you can have up to 3 monsters in your battles while adventuring at once, which is different from most of the other games in the series which allowed only 1 on 1 battles. Though in this entry tournament battles have been replaced with a circus minigame. I kinda do miss the tournament style from the other games. I would’ve liked to see the tournaments also used, but I understand they didn’t fit the story or theme of this installment so I won’t deduct a point for that.

    As mentioned above, Monster Rancher EVO also introduces a Circus minigame element to the mix. You must perform different tricks with your monsters through a series of minigames to progress through the game. The tricks start out simple, but increase in difficulty as you progress through the game.

    It also had a decent story – more so than most of its predecessors. You play as Julio, a circus performer who trains monsters for his traveling circus troupe. You begin to doubt your training methods when one of your monsters runs away from the circus and dies as a result. A mysterious girl also shows up and joins your group.

    Each week you must meet with your Ring Leader in order to review the schedule for the upcoming week. You can choose from tasks such as Training, Performing, Adventuring in dungeons, or just going to town to shop for items to talk to NPCs

    Also in this series, the number of main species is only about half as large as Monster Rancher 4 which is rather disappointing (deducted 1 point here).

    Gameplay: 6/10 – While the concept/theory of this game sounds good on paper, many of the minigames in the circus performances – which are required to progress through the game – become very challenging, to the point that they can become more frustrating than fun later on. Also, although generating the monsters and caring for them is a novel idea, the gameplay in all of these games, not just EVO, does have a tendency to become very repetitive if you play for long periods of time.

    Still, it is kept fresh with a huge variety of things to do, from the circus performances, to adventuring and battling with a party of monsters, to just going through your CD and DVD collection looking for rare monsters to add to your book. Also more than any other Monster Rancher game this one feels the most like an RPG because it focuses more on story, character development, and NPC interaction.

    It was also nice how the circus theme was tied to every single thing in the game – even at the cost of losing the beloved feature of the tournaments. It kept me feeling like I was playing in part of a world, with a goal, a story, and characters that I cared about, which ultimately caused me to enjoy the Gameplay more. It was more structured in this game, and less sandbox style as its predecessors.

    Losing the feature of the tournament style gameplay was super disappointing though. It is a hallmark of the series and well, in a way, what makes Monster Rancher, Monster Rancher. I’m not sure how they could have tied it into the circus theme, but I really did miss the tournament style gameplay throughout.

    Story: 8/10 Out of all of the Monster Rancher games, this one easily has the most immersive story. It’s not the best RPG for story in the world, but it was highly engaging with characters and a unique theme that pull you in right from the start. Then it develops more mystery and intrigue which keeps you wanting to continue to play to see how things evolve throughout the game. Story in most Monster Rancher games takes a back seat to gameplay. I would say in Monster Rancher EVO, the gameplay and story are of equal importance. Sadly, the story is executed better than certain aspects of the gameplay. But both story and gameplay are joined together with the overarching theme of the traveling circus troupe. I enjoyed the unique setting and unique characters and feel that it’s worth playing for story alone, even without the other gameplay elements which make the series so unique and engaging (such as generating monsters from discs, etc).

    Characters: 10/10 As mentioned a few times above, this is a very story and character driven RPG which focuses a lot on NPC interaction and really makes you care about the cast of unique and unusual characters. The characters are also all drawn in a very cute, colorful, and bold style. The monsters themselves have also always been “characters” within these games with many species making a return, and a few new arrivals as well. Having more of a focus on story in Monster Rancher EVO really lets the trainers and NPC cast members shine just as much, if not even more than, all of the cute monsters in the game.

    Graphics: 10/10 I fricken love the graphics in this game. They mix in Cell-Shaded 3D graphics with 2D anime cutscenes to give it a very colorful anime feeling. There’s also character portraits that are nearly full body when talking to NPCs which have a bright vibrant style. The monsters are always cute in these games. While EVO and MR4 both feature slightly more “realistic” designs, and less “cartoony” artwork for the characters – all of the human trainers in EVO are very “cartoony” or “anime” feeling. EVO upgrades all of the textures, environments, and character designs SIGNIFICANTLY even from Monster Rancher 4. It’s hard to believe both of these games are on Playstation 2, because EVO looks so much better than Monster Rancher 4 that it looks almost like it should be a PS3 game. Everything about this game is super colorful, stylized, and unique helping it to create a lasting impression.

    Music: 8/10 The music, while bright and innocent sounding, and rather simplistic or even childish in a way, fits perfectly with the circus theme. The music is just another testament to how the theme of the circus was carried out into every single aspect of this game. It fits with the cute vibrant nature of the Monster Rancher series, and helps to further immerse into the game world.

    Replay Value 7/10: While this is a linear game, and while there are other Monster Rancher, or even other Monster Taming games in general, this one definitely keeps you coming back – In fact, you may find yourself putting in 100+ hours or more just trying different CDs and combining your monsters before you even complete the story mode. It offers a ton of things to do and is very fun – but ultimately since it is a linear game with very repetitive gameplay and sometimes unforgiving difficulty and minigame mechanics, I’d say there are some people who would probably prefer to play other installments in the series or move on to other similar games.

    Overall: 68/80 85% B “Very Good Game for Girls”

    Other Games You Might Like: As mentioned in my introduction, there are 2 mobile games which you may enjoy if you like Monster Rancher. These are Monster Rancher by Mobage, and Monster Nursery. Check out the links below to get these free games.

    Monster Nursery for IOS

    Monster Nursery for Android

    Monster Rancher by Mobage for IOS

    Monster Rancher by Mobage for Android

    Edit: apparently Mobage has closed the US version of Monster Rancher. However, if Monster Nursery above is still not enough to satisfy your Monster Taming goals, I did find Neo Monsters – but it is a paid app. (99 cents) and looks closer to Pokemon than Monster Rancher – You can grab it here: Neo Monsters on IOS.

     

    Don’t forget to check out the rest of the Monster Rancher Universe. These are great games, and if you like one, chances are you’ll like the others.

    Also I recommend Dragon Seeds on PS1, Digimon, and Pokemon. I also presume that you’d like Yokai Watch although I’ve not played it myself yet :). Lastly, check out the Petz games, especially dogz and catz 3, 4, and 5 for the PC.

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